UK Consumer Rights in Digital Content

On the 13th July 2012 the UK Government’s Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) launched a consultation titled “Consultation on enhancing consumer confidence by clarifying consumer law” *. The consultation proposes a range of options that seek to harmonise UK consumer law. What marks this out for digital industries such as social media, cloud computing, computer games and others is that as part of the consultation the UK Government is proposing options for a set of consumer rights designed specifically for ‘Digital Content’. What’s more the consultation document includes a number of examples from computer games. The deadline for the consultation is 5 October 2012.

This is not of mere intellectual interest. Some of the options proposed in the consultation will have an impact on any and all providers of digital content and / or related services available to consumers in the UK. Indeed, the consultation is quite specific that the proposed consumer rights will also apply to non-UK based services and that the consumer rights cannot be contracted out of.

The full consultation document is over 250 pages long and there are two related documents. The questions asked in the consultation are wide-ranging and detailed. They span from whether digital content should even be considered as a separate category to specific questions about remedies. The summary below points out the key elements of the digital section of the consultation. However because of its length and depth, if you are a business considering responding you are advised to read the full work and see professional advice and your relevant trade association(s), the full set of links for the consultation and response options are as follows:

tVPN will be putting together a response to the consultation from a civil society / academic point of view (as we believe that industry responses are being created by trade associations).

The tVPN response can be found in this Google Document which is open to public comment. If you want edit access to the document email us: info AT virtualpolicy DOT net.

Read more…

White Paper: Virtual Items and Public Policy

7 February 2011. Today the Virtual Policy Network has released a White Paper on Virtual Items and Public Policy. The Paper provides an overview of virtual items and virtual currency are – covering the spectrum from Xbox points to MMO characters. The paper defines what the key public policy interests are in virtual items, and provides a survey of the legal responses to issues involving virtual ‘goods’ from jurisdictions as diverse as China, Korea, Finland the US, citing a number of cases of virtual ‘theft’.

Released today as a .pdf under Creative Commons, the white paper will also be a living document held as part of the Virtual Policy Network’s database of resources. See the new Global Policy section of the site for details.

the Virtual Policy Network is looking for people to support this work, extend the number of countries covered and keep our database up to date with legislative changes impacting convergent media – if you would like to become an associate of tVPN or support our work in other ways please contact us at: info AT virtualpolicy DOT net.

Download Virtual Items and Public Policy (.pdf)

tVPN supports UK’s DotGovLabs R&D project


tVPN is supporting the UK’s DotGovLabs with it’s engagement with academics and the games industry as part of the ‘Games’ R&D project.

DotGovLabs is “is a shared R&D programme backed by Directgov, (including the RDA face-to-face arm of Businesslink) and NHS Choices. DotGovLabs looks to identify, explore and test areas of innovation to determine what benefits they could offer to provide better services to businesses, patients and citizens.”

The Games project is summaries as ” This DotGovLabs project is exploring whether there are any opportunities, in the games medium, that the government could be exploiting. The remit is wider than just building games in that the project is looking to gain input from industry experts into all elements of this medium. For example can the technologies of games (in terms of how it visualises context through computer graphics or virtual worlds) be exploited outside of a games scenario to allow us to communicate particular concepts better? Are there opportunities around gaming platforms to access different users groups?”

tVPN on Twitter

tVPN has added twitter to its stable of social media resources. The twitter feed can be found at This compliments the tVPN Facebook group and YouTube Channel.

tVPN Site Update

tVPN Site Update


tVPN has just moved to a CMS based web site. This allows us to bring you many more resources and use the power of social media to make you part of the policy debate.

New features include:

  • Category based database of resources
  • Discussion threads
  • Social media links

As with any technology change there may be a few teething problems. If you find a problem with the site do mail us at info AT


University of EdinburghEIFthe Virtual Policy Network is in festival mood. Our next event is the Digital Interactive Symposium: Edinburgh (DIS:E) – a half day event organized in conjunction with The University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Interactive Festival.

This year’s DIS:E will focus on education and training for the games and virtual world industries.

See events for more information.