Article

Bitproperty and Commercial Credit

Christopher K. Odinet

In the past several years, the growth of virtual property in today’s economy has been explosive. The everyday use of virtual assets, ranging from Twitter and Facebook to YouTube and virtual world accounts, is nearly absolute. Indeed, by one account, Americans check social media over seventeen times per day. Further, a growing number of savvy virtual entrepreneurs are reporting incomes in the six- and seven-figure range, derived solely from their online businesses. Nevertheless, although the commercial world has come to embrace these newfound markets, commercial law has done a poor job of keeping up. Scholars have argued that laws governing everything from taxation, to bankruptcy, to privacy rights have not kept pace with our ever-changing virtual world. And nowhere is this truer than in the law of secured credit. Doubtlessly, virtual property has come to represent significant wealth and importance, yet its value as a source of leveraged capital remains, in large part, untapped. This unrealized potential is not without good reason; the law—specifically Article 9 of the U.C.C. and the law of property more broadly—suffers from a number of deficiencies and anomalies that make the use of virtual property in secured credit transactions not only overly complex and expensive, but almost entirely untenable. This Article shines light on these shortcomings, and, in doing so, advances a number of guiding principles and specific legislative recommendations, all geared toward a reformation of the law of secured credit in virtual property.