Turkey: Virtual Property And Contractual Issues In The Virtual World

Last Updated: 8 October 2019
Article by Kağan Dora

Today, we live in a world surrounded by virtual reality. Virtual reality is commonly used in advertising, video games, cinema, entertainment, education, training, simulations, architecture, engineering and the defense industry.

Applications of virtual reality in the entertainment industry can give rise to several legal questions that need to be addressed when determining the relationship between stakeholders, especially when the transaction volume in the virtual world and virtual market trades are considered. In this article, we address some of the questions that may become important in the virtual world.

Virtual property and ownership issues in a virtual world

The legal characteristic of virtual items are subject to debate under Turkish law. It is widely accepted that, as an intangible asset, virtual items do not qualify as a “property” under property law. On the other hand, virtual items can be protected under intellectual property law. For instance, the environment, story line, dialogues, maps and other items in the virtual reality created by an author can be protected under copyright law, provided they meet the originality requirement.

Who owns the characters created by users in the virtual world? In certain virtual reality environments, especially in online role-playing games, users are allowed to create characters, shape their abilities, direct their stories; and, the users experience the virtual environment through these characters. Do the rights connected with the characters and the items in these characters’ inventory belong to the creator and/or operator of the environment, or, do they belong to the users that created these characters? These questions become relevant especially where the users sell or otherwise dispose of the characters outside the control of the environment’s operator. These questions can be tackled from two opposite points of view:

  • The users can argue that they invest time and effort in the environment to create and find these virtual items and the characters; and, the characters, in some ways, reflect their choices and originality. Therefore, it can be claimed that the user-created characters are derivative items based upon an existing environment and the user that created the character holds the rights in such derivative items.
  • Conversely, the environment operators can argue that they created the environment that allowed the creation of the virtual items and characters by the users. The creators/operators of the environment have made possible all of the choices the users can make and the users can only make choices that were foreseen and defined in the environment. Hence, the characters created by the users do not qualify as derivative items, since the user’s area of independence in creating them is limited by the environment and they do not meet the originality requirement under Turkish law. 

Contractual relationship between the stakeholders

Depending on the subject matter of the contract, contracts between stakeholders can qualify as a license agreement, production agreement, sales agreement etc. Below we have briefly analyzed certain types of contracts that are often concluded by the virtual environment stakeholders.

  • Contracts between third party providers and environment operators: The operators of the environment do not always produce each item in-house and they sometimes outsource certain aspects or functions to third party providers under a contract. In these contracts, it is essential to address the necessary economic rights to avoid future copyright claims by the third party providers, and to have adequate defense mechanisms (such as an obligation to cooperate in case of disputes or to provide necessary evidence to allow the operator to defend itself before courts, panels or tribunals) and indemnification schemes in case of third party copyright claims.
  • Contracts between the environment operators and users: The operators usually prepare an End-User License Agreement (EULA) and make users accept its terms and conditions before experiencing the environment. Under Turkish law, non-negotiable terms and conditions drafted unilaterally by one party may be deemed invalid where they have adverse effects on the counterparty against the principle of good faith. It is therefore important to consider that certain provisions in a EULA will not be binding on the users where they are against the principle of good faith and adversely affect the users.
  • Contracts between users: The users often make their characters or the items in their characters’ inventory subject to transactions inside or outside the virtual environment. The volume of these transactions has become an important part of the environment and economy of virtual games.The environment operators usually wish to prevent these user-to-user transactions taking place outside the environment. For this purpose, they add clauses in EULAs to prevent the sale of characters and items. The validity of these clauses can be debated, since they can adversely affect users and prevent them exercising their rights in their characters (if the approach granting the right ownership to users is taken). 

Governing law and jurisdiction issues

In a digital world, digital contents can be illegally copied, communicated to the public or otherwise distributed with several clicks of a mouse within seconds from anywhere in the world. Fighting piracy and infringement of rights, including copyright, on the Internet becomes more and more important for right holders each day. Enforcement of rights on the internet, where huge amount of data are exchanged across the world every second, is another challenging subject. This is also the case for virtual environments.

Having created a virtual environment and making it accessible from multiple territories via the Internet increases the risk of right infringements. Environment operators should therefore include provisions in their EULAs to prevent their rights being infringed and the copyright material being unlawfully copied, distributed, modified, adapted, displayed, communicated to the public.

Jurisdiction and determination of competent authorities before which the dispute should be brought is another challenge that needs to be considered where multiple jurisdictions are involved. In case of a contractual relationship between the parties, they may have chosen the law governing their contract and the dispute resolution mechanism applicable to their disputes. In the absence of such a choice, international treaties and local rules for determining the law governing the relationship between the parties and competence of courts should be further evaluated.

Determination of the law governing the contracts taking place between the users is another challenge in the absence of an explicit choice by the parties. According to the rules of conflict of laws under Turkish law, the characteristic nature of the obligations of the parties in each specific agreement as well as the parties’ countries of residence will play a major role in determining the applicability of Turkish law in such agreements.

About Dentons

Dentons is the world's first polycentric global law firm. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, the Firm is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality and value in new and inventive ways. Driven to provide clients a competitive edge, and connected to the communities where its clients want to do business, Dentons knows that understanding local cultures is crucial to successfully completing a deal, resolving a dispute or solving a business challenge. Now the world's largest law firm, Dentons' global team builds agile, tailored solutions to meet the local, national and global needs of private and public clients of any size in more than 125 locations serving 50-plus countries. www.dentons.com.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions