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Virtually Policy #6: Transmedia story telling and the crisis of authorship

Virtually Policy #6: Transmedia story telling and the crisis of authorship

In Episode 6 of Virtually Policy, Burcu Bakioglu (Postdoctoral Fellow in New Media at Lawrence University) talks to Michael Andersen, senior editor of the Alternate Realty Gaming Network (argn.com), about transmedia fiction and games.

In the show, they explore how transmedia storytelling and multiple authorships are challenging the ‘romantic’ notion of author as solitary creator and how emerging issues are casting legal shadows on the inclusion and acknowledgement of fan content in developing creative forms.

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The co-creators: audience, artists & the future of music
All Episodes Next episode coming soon

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Virtually Policy #4: Bitcoin

This episode of Virtually Policy is the second half of atwo-part interview with virtual currency expert Jon Matonis. Jon is editor of The Monetary Future, an economics blog.

In this second part of the interview we look at Bitcoin: what it is, how it works, why government don’t like it and how it might revolutionise the online gaming industry, and how it relates to human rights.

<< Episode #3
Virtual Currencies & Roach Motels
All Episodes Episode #5 >>
The co-creators: audience, artists & the future of music

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Virtually Policy #3: Virtual Currencies & Roach Motels

Virtually Policy #3: Virtual Currencies & Roach Motels

This episode of Virtually Policy is part one of a two-part interview with virtual currency expert Jon Matonis. Jon is editor of The Monetary Future, an economics blog that examines the intersection of free banking, cryptography, and digital currency. His work on digital cash has been published by Dow Jones and the London School of Economics, and he was previously CEO of Hushmail and Chief Forex Trader at VISA. Currently Jon is a board advisor to startups in Bitcoin, gaming, prepaid and mobile payment systems.

In this part of the interview we focus on the nature of currency and characteristics of virtual currencies, including Facebook Credits, Warcraft Gold and Linden Dollars.

Next week, in the second half of the interview Jon focuses on Bitcoin – what it is, how it works and how it relates to human rights.

<< Episode #2
Public diplomacy in the digital age
All Episodes Episode #4 >>

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Virtually Policy #2: From Ghana to Second Life – public diplomacy in the digital age

Virtually Policy #2: From Ghana to Second Life – public diplomacy in the digital age

In the second episode of Virtually Policy, Bill May talks with Ren Reynolds about using social media and Second Life in public diplomacy.

After 30 working in the US Government, NGO’s and the private sector, Bill is now working on international public diplomacy initiatives and a social-technology start up venture. He recently left his position at the US State Department as Director of the Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE) where he led public diplomacy initiatives using new media and social networks to engage the world in support of the President, the Secretary of State and key strategic policy objectives. Previously in the State Department, Bill worked with international exchange programs, within the State Department’s Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), where he received a Hammer Award from the Vice President’s office for developing an innovative information system, which improved the information flow between the USG and NGO’s.

In the podcast, Bill talks about using appropriate technologies and themes to engage with people across the globe and across cultures. Including the use of SMS and traditional media for President Obama’s visit to Ghana to bringing American and Egyptian students together in Second Life to create architecture.

<< Episode #1
Dutch Supreme Court on Virtual Theft
All Episodes Episode #3 >>
Virtual Currencies & Roach Motels

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White Paper: Virtual Items and Public Policy Q1 2012 update

the Virtual Policy Network’s white paper on virtual items and public policy has been updated to include the Dutch Supreme Court RuneScape case.

RuneScape Theft – Dutch Supreme Court Decision

On the 31st of January 2012, the Supreme Court of the Netherlands found that items in the online game RuneScape had been stolen from a player. This is a ground-breaking case as it is the highest national court in the West to rule that taking virtual objects in this way is theft under national criminal law. This ruling may have broad implications for the online games industry.

The case dates back to 2007 when two youths used violence and threats of violence to forced another player to log into the game of RuneScape. After the victim logged in to the game one of the defendants transferred virtual items and virtual currency from the victims account to their own. The Supreme Court upheld the conviction for theft but reduced the number of hours of community service to be served (taking into account Juvenile detention served).

The appeal did not turn on the material facts, i.e. whether there were threats were made or items were transferred. Rather, the appeal centred on the question of whether what had occurred was ‘theft’ as defined by the law of the Netherlands.

Key Arguments

The key arguments against the incident being defined as ‘theft’ considered by the court they were as follows:

  1. Virtual items are not goods but an ‘illusion’ of goods made up of bits & bytes i.e. they are data
  2. Virtual items are Information
  3. The point of the game is to take objects from each other
  4. The virtual items are and remain the property of the publisher of the game not the victim or the defendant - hence they could not have been stolen
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Policy Bites: EU Commission’s Proposed Data Protections

On the 25th of January 2012, the European Commission published a set of proposals relating to data protection. The proposals are not law and will not be law unless agreed by the members of the European Union but if they are agreed, they will make large changes the balance of power between EU citizens and all companies, giving greater power to the former and increased duties to the latter.

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“I don’t speak on behalf of…” Agile Movements, Fluid Politics and the new Democratic Bargain


The internet has brought about a radical shift in politics through three As: Amplification, Association and Agency. The combination of these factors is leaving traditional politics in its wake, yet power is still largely controlled through established institutional structures. This widening gap is problematic for everyone.

Online politics is the flowing, ever-shifting practice of micro-political decisions and stances, which might be termed “Liquid Politics”. The powerful currents of these Liquid Politics tend to go unnoticed until they come together in one of the many “Agile Movements” that emerge from time-to-time. Movement such as Anonymous and the Tea Party are not political organisations as traditionally understood. They are generally leaderless and coalesce around a vague yet simply stated ideology. But if we look inside these movements we see complexity, and we can detect a core of deeply rooted pre-industrial human behaviours mediated through a digitally interconnected global society. This combination of ancient practices and new technology means that Agile Movements, or something like them, are unlikely to be a fad.

The result of this widening gap between the powerful flow of Liquid Politics and the static institutions of traditional politics is hard to predict. However we can speculate about the spectrum of outcomes that may lie before us. At one end we may see very little change as the power of institutions withstands these social forces. At the other end we may see collapse in party politics and asynchronous processes of representative democracy, as we know it. What seems likely is a mid-point where traditional institutions and structures become more open, participative and malleable recognising that a connected society needs a new dynamic democratic bargain.

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Online Games impacted by Canadian ISP

In September 2011 CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) reported that Canadian ISP Rogers had used traffic prioritisation (i.e. breaking Net Neutrality) which negatively impacted online computer games.

CBC reports that CRTC (the Canadian Telecoms Regulator) too action after a complaints from the Canadian Gamers Organization. Rogers recognised that the problem impacted World of Warcraft and it is suspect that many other games, including Call of Duty Back Ops, have been impacted.

Full Story: Rogers asked to fix game throttling problem (16 Sept 2011)

Policy bites: Net Neutrality

Network Neutrality

What is it?

Net Neutrality (NN) is the debate over whether the internet should operate pretty much as it does at the moment or whether ISPs should be able to block or charge differently based on the application that a user is using, or alternatively give preferential treatment to a company e.g. Media Company X’s content streams just that bit faster than everyone else’s.

Net Neutrality stems from fact that some users consume a lot more bandwidth than others and often this is for services that are damaging the business models of existing companies. For example someone using Skype no long has to pay for their local phone company for long distance calls. The debate tends also to be linked with illegal downloading hence peer to peer services can find themselves being blocked.

Why it matters?

Net Neutrality seems like one of those obscure policy issues that never has an impact in the real world. But already companies have been caught out by non-neutral ISP policies. The kinds off issues that Net Neutrality presents for any game company with an online component (even if it’s just downloading patches), include:

  • Online games can be inadvertently blocked
  • Games that use peer-to-peer (p2P) networks for downloading can be blocked as bi-product of trying to cut down on illegal downloads
  • Voice over IP (VoIP) services can be blocked, impacting the increasing number of games that have integrated in-game voice
  • Ping time, which is critical to some games, is generally not part of the discussion but could be impacted
  • To avoid these blocks companies may be charged by ISPs

For social media the potential direct impact on big providers is that ISP’s may come asking for more money for preferential treatment. This will be an additional cost of business for big providers and possibly a killer for small providers. What’s more users on different ISPs may start to see the internet very differently impacting the kind of sharing that fuels Social Networks.

See more from tVPN on Net Neutrality: http://www.virtualpolicy.net/tag/netneutrality