Authors: Dániel Eszteri PhD * and István Zsolt Máté PhD candidate
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  • * Hungarian National Authority for Data Protection and Freedom of Information
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In Hungary, there is an active practice for inspecting crimes committed in information technology environments as well as crimes affecting intellectual property as the two areas often overlap. Recently a criminal infringement of copyright occurred in a very special environment — the virtual world of Second Life. In this paper, the questions raised by the above-mentioned case from a legal and IT forensic perspective will be present along with the recommended answers from the authors.

The first half of the paper will present the specialties of virtual world environments and how the criminal investigation was started. General criminal procedure norms governing IT forensics will be discussed. The question of how copyright law protects avatars or virtual items in Second Life and how the financial value of a virtual item can be determined will be answered. The remainder of the paper will present, in detail, the IT forensic examination of the concrete criminal case where illegal copies of avatars appeared in Second Life. The question regarding how digital evidences can be obtained from simulated virtual environments from a legal and IT forensic perspective will be discussed in details.

The paper was written in order to stimulate interest in the special field of relationship between IT forensics, criminal law and virtual worlds because there are hardly any articles dealing with the aforementioned problem in scientific literature.

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