A software agent is a computer program that operates within computing environments. The owners of software agents may instruct their agents to roam the networks, access desired information by exchanging data with other agents or people, and handle business and personal transactions. As the interactions between software agents and humans become more frequent, it is relevant to ask whether there are any issues of law that may guide their interactions and conduct. For example, as the agents become more intelligent and autonomous, who will be responsible for the mistakes that software agents make? Will software agents be allowed to contract with humans and with each other, and if so will such contracts be enforceable? And, will software agents have standing to sue and be sued? While there are a host of legal issues associated with software agents operating within virtual environments, the main issue addressed in this paper is whether software agents should be granted the legal rights associated with personhood. After discussing basic characteristics of software agents, and personhood in general, the paper concludes by outlining three possible scenarios that could represent the legal status of software agents in the future; these include the current status quo of property, the status of an indentured servant, and the status and associated rights of legal personhood.

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