Professor and Chair of the University of Illinois-Chicago Department of Communication Steve Jones wrote Reality and Virtual Reality an exploration of the interaction between intellectual property and virtual reality.


This article examines and probes the possibilities of an intellectual property regime in virtual reality (VR). It uses the example of Virtual Harlem, a VR project that recreates the history of Harlem, New York, during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s, to question the nature of, and need for, intellectual property protection in VR. It also discusses the consequences of existing intellectual property laws for projects such as Virtual Harlem that rely on multiple elements of intellectual property (audio and visual, but also trademarks and architectural plans and buildings). The crux of the issues expressed in the article reside in the increasing blurring of the boundaries between the real and the virtual. The argument is made that it is not too soon, nor too late, to use virtual environments like Virtual Harlem as a wedge with which to begin a reconsideration of intellectual property schemes in virtual reality. It should not be a given that existing schemes, originating and evolving in the non-virtual world, should automatically apply in virtual worlds.

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