Order supported by law : the enforcement of norms in virtual communities

Suzor, Nicolas P. (2012) Order supported by law : the enforcement of norms in virtual communities. Mercer Law Review, 63(2), pp. 523-595.

View at publisher


As online social spaces continue to grow in importance, the complex relationship between users and the private providers of the platforms continues to raise increasingly difficult questions about legitimacy in online governance. This article examines two issues that go to the core of egitimate governance in online communities: how are rules enforced and punishments imposed, and how should the law support legitimate governance and protect participants from the illegitimate exercise of power? Because the rules of online communities are generally ultimately backed by contractual terms of service, the imposition of punishment for the breach of internal rules exists in a difficult conceptual gap between criminal law and the predominantly compensatory remedies of contractual doctrine. When theorists have addressed the need for the rules of virtual communities to be enforced, a dichotomy has generally emerged between the appropriate role of criminal law for 'real' crimes, and the private, internal resolution of 'virtual' or 'fantasy' crimes. In this structure, the punitive effect of internal measures is downplayed and the harm that can be caused to participants by internal sanctions is systemically undervalued.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

541 since deposited on 12 May 2011
28 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 41664
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: online governance, legitimate governance, contractual terms of service
ISSN: 0025-987X
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law not elsewhere classified (180199)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Past > Institutes > Institute for Creative Industries and Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Author
Copyright 2012 Mercer University
Deposited On: 12 May 2011 22:13
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2013 19:43

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page