Welcome to the Law and Magic Blog. Let's see who out there is interested in this subject. I consider it cover a pretty wide area, because I define magic as both traditional magic and secular (entertainment) magic, and law as both traditional kinds of legal regimes and more indefinite, alternative collections of rules. What I think is fascinating is the intersection of the two, and analogies between or differences between the two.
Dave Hoffman (Temple University Law School) has an interesting post at Concurring Opinions on the intersection of fantasy literature, which necessarily encompasses magic, and law. He seems to suggest that few people have actually studied the role of law in such literature. I think he may be incorrect. Many law professors tend sometimes to be unaware of the research that folks in other departments are doing and have been busy doing for decades now. Indeed, lit profs, sociologists, and others take such literature seriously (sometimes too seriously). It is possible to take this material too seriously, as Professor Hoffman suggests. But it's now a fixture in departments in campuses across the U.S. and in other countries. Just check out Slayage (devoted to that classic tv show, Buffy), or my own An Introduction to Law and Literature Studies (Hein, 2000), 2 vols, and my site for cites. I've blogged about the current law and lit/magic favorite, Harry Potter, at Law and Humanities Blog several times (see here, here and here). As it turns out, Professor Hoffman isn't alone in his devotion to fantasy lit; Professor Bainbridge turns in a confession at ProfessorBainbridge.com, and offers an explanation for the co-existence of magic and law in such literature. But Professor Bainbridge also suggests that there isn't a lot of law in magic lit; I actually suspect that there is. Those of us in the legal academy interested in law and lit haven't yet turned our attention to it, but in literature departments literary types probably have done so.
Any novelist worth her salt sets up societal rules for her characters to follow even if they exist in a magical world. Otherwise, the story doesn't ring true. Consider Tolkein's The Lord of the Rings. Even though the rules governing the Shire are not immediately recognizable as English common law, they are recognizable as law. Think about Bilbo's disposal of his possessions. Property law! Think about Gollum's belief in his right to that ring. Finders keepers. Property law again. Frodo takes it from him. By what right? One of my current favorite tv shows is The Dresden Files, based on a series of books by Jim Butcher. That series mixes magic and law quite successfully. Indeed the series tracks two kinds of legal systems--human and magical--and Harry Dresden, the wizard hero, has quite a time trying to stay out of trouble with both sorts.
In a forthcoming essay, "The Laws of the Virtual Worlds," in the California Law Review, Greg Lastowka and Dan Hunter explore the rules of virtual worlds, a subject that has been taking shape for some time. Virtual reality is the "magic" of our day. It's extremely interesting to see how it and its law, are taking form, so to speak.