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Dutch Court Punishes Theft of Virtual Property

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the pick-a-fight-your-first-day-with-the-toughest-avatar dept.

The Courts 276

tsa writes "Last week, the Dutch court subjected two kids of ages 15 and 14 to 160 hours of unpaid work or 80 days in jail, because they stole virtual property from a 13-year-old boy. The boy was kicked and beaten and threatened with a knife while forced to log into Runescape and giving his assets to the two perpetrators. This ruling is the first of its kind for the Netherlands. Ars Technica has some more background information." In Japan, meanwhile, a woman has been arrested for "illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data" after (virtually) killing her (virtual) husband.

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It's funny and sad... (5, Insightful)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488395)

It's funny and sad...how imaginary pixels can run people's lives to do horrible things in a physical world.

Re:It's funny and sad... (-1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488469)

No different then doing things because of some imaginary sky cop told you to.

Re:It's funny and sad... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489715)

There's a bit of a difference. Video games are more real than gods are.

Re:It's funny and sad... (5, Insightful)

A Pancake (1147663) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489875)

How did this get modded insightful?

For the most part religious people are brought up to believe their specific religion.

There is a rather large difference between being raised and indoctrinated to believe something all your life compared to taking a video game seriously.Even the most fanatic 14 year old still knows what he's playing is not real and deep down may know it doesn't matter.

This has nothing to do with virtual property and everythign to do with some brat teen having a sense of entitlement that preceeds his understanding of consequences.

The decision wasn't likely "Hey, this is so important to me personally that I need to use violence to achieve this goal" but more likely "Our whole group of friends plays Runescape and if we do this we can be the best and everyone will love us." The only thing virutal property or virtual worlds would have played into it is that the perps may have expected to get off easy if caught because no real property was stolen.

Re:It's funny and sad... (5, Funny)

Waste55 (1003084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488683)

It's funny and sad...how imaginary pixels can run people's lives to do horrible things in a physical world.

Imaginary?! What are these tiny dots I keep starting at while I type?! Someone must have slipped something into my drink! ;)

Re:It's funny and sad... (5, Insightful)

TeacherOfHeroes (892498) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488903)

Its not as if real money is any more tangible when its sitting in a bank account.

Are things like wow gold really anything more than the electronic equivalent of gift certificates nowadays or banks that printed their own bank notes way back when? Surely the theft of either of those would be taken seriously - I don't see why this should be any different.

Re:It's funny and sad... (1)

Klaus_1250 (987230) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489157)

Except the consequence is that if "virtual property" is just like real property, it could be taxed. And you get the bizarre situation that you can be thrown in real jail for crimes against virtual objects and avatars.

Re:It's funny and sad... (5, Funny)

Pikiwedia.net (1392595) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489357)

I'm in big trouble! I've commited murder in numerous games, used weapons of mass destruction in civilization.

Re:It's funny and sad... (1)

Haoie (1277294) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489991)

Yes, but real money can buy real things.

Online currency can only be used in that medium, to purchase things which have no presence beyond the online community/game/whatever itself.

Re:It's funny and sad... (5, Interesting)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#25490069)

Its not as if real money is any more tangible when its sitting in a bank account.

Good point.

Are things like wow gold really anything more than the electronic equivalent of gift certificates nowadays or banks that printed their own bank notes way back when?

Not "more". LESS.

Surely the theft of either of those would be taken seriously - I don't see why this should be any different.

Because you don't "own" your WoW account. Its not your "property" to start with. You are paying Blizzard for access to THEIR GAME. And according them, everything in your account is THEIRs.

So if blizzard decides X is too powerful or valuable or whatever they can, at their option, simply remove them from the game, or substitute another item, or change the parameters of the item, etc, etc. And you can't say squat. They can also simply 'ban' you.

The same simply isn't true of your bank account. Your bank can't just decide you aren't a customer, and close your account. Transfering your funds to another account, or perhaps even just "deleting" them.

So while we EXPECT the contents of our bank account to be treated as real property. We don't really expect the contents of our WoW account to be held to the same legal standard. And I'm not sure we WANT to.

If Blizz catches you cheating, and bans you, should you be allowed to sue them for "damages"?

Re:It's funny and sad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25490205)

Because wow gold is only usable if Blizzard Entertainment says it's usable. In fact, you don't even own it - you're renting it for $15/month.

Re:It's funny and sad... (1)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489105)

It's funny and sad...how imaginary pixels can run people's lives to do horrible things in a physical world.

Is it really any funnier than how photons or pressure waves can influence people? MMOs, Second Life etc. are to some extent a medium for communication between people. People are real, no matter how they communicate.

Re:It's funny and sad... (1)

DerWulf (782458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489471)

it baffels me that so many people miss that ...

imaginary pixels..not the beating and menacing? (5, Insightful)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489445)

I've come to trust the Dutch as a serious and civilized people, so I suspect that it more the kicking, beating, and menacing with a knife that got these bozos punished; not the 'theft of imaginary pixels'.

bah (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25488419)

in Soviet Russia virtual property steals you!

Re:bah (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25488445)

in Soviet Russia virtual property steals you!

That explains the botnets, then!

Not Punished for the Violence? (4, Insightful)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488423)

Surely the first case would have revolved around the attack by the two boys, using the knife, threats and all that. I mean, that's a pretty straightforward criminal act right there without going further to look at the proceeds of crime (data).

I know, read the article, read the article. It's early, and I'm skimming headlines.

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (4, Insightful)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488565)

I think the point is that the theft counted as part of the offense. In other words, rather than being viewed as assault, it was viewed as a mugging.

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489937)

I think the point is that the theft counted as part of the offense. In other words, rather than being viewed as assault, it was viewed as a mugging.

Also, the particular value of this property is what makes this assault particularly horrifying (at least, in the eyes of news reporting agencies). I know that in my neck of the woods, if someone gets mugged, beaten, and their life threatened with a knife, it doesn't count if real money was involved -- that's what we consider in my neck of woods -- good cause -- although we don't use those exact words. And we say things like, well he shouldn't have been carrying that much cash on him, or that's never going to happen to me -- I never carry that much on me, besides I don't drive a corvette, etc.

But if on the other hand, the mugger almost kills someone only to get a few dollars, or just to steal a stick of gum from him, that's when we lose all respect for the perpetrator -- in fact that's when we really get scared our self. It becomes a new class of crime, one without good cause, and one with basically unlimited potential, and it just shows how senseless, stupid, and young some of our young criminals can be.

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25490241)

???

Is this your serious analysis of the situation? You've made my eyes bleed.

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (4, Insightful)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488677)

Surely the first case would have revolved around the attack by the two boys, using the knife, threats and all that. I mean, that's a pretty straightforward criminal act right there without going further to look at the proceeds of crime (data).

They were also charged for the violence, conditional jail-time of 1 and 2 months. Source [www.nu.nl] for the dutchies.

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (4, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488751)

It does seem odd. To make that fair the judge should have
the bailiff beat the attackers with a night stick
and then sentence them to a virtual jail.

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (2, Insightful)

Acapulco (1289274) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488767)

I agree totally. In the article, not *once* they mention if there would be charges or sentence for the violence. It's obviously bad enough that this kids stole something (vritual or not), but I would think that the important part was the violent one.

Does anyone know how many kids are bullied in schools everywhere by someone, so they can get their epic ultra-leet items? and getting away with it?

I have no idea about the latter, but it's sure as hell not anywhere near 0%. So stealing virtual items it's not really news, but doing it with so much violence.

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489717)

Shut up and give me your WoW account before I hack into your bank and fuck up your credit!

Re:Not Punished for the Violence? (4, Insightful)

anomnomnomymous (1321267) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488919)

The question was wether the virtual asset could be considered as a 'real' asset: And thus robbery could be charged.

Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488427)

Last week, the Dutch court subjected two kids of ages 15 and 14 to 160 hours of unpaid work or 80 days in jail, because they stole virtual property from a 13-year-old boy. The boy was kicked and beaten and threatened with a knife while forced to log into Runescape and giving his assets to the two perpetrators

Uh, so it was about virtual property and not about, uh, anything else?

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489145)

Uh, no. You should RTFA. The news story here is that instead of a simple assault for beating the kid, the judge ruled that forcing him to handover his virtual assets constituted an actual robbery.

Uh, do you get it , uh, now?

Re:Hmm... (4, Informative)

borizz (1023175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489199)

On the radio, they quoted the judge as saying that virtual property gives joy, you've worked to earn it and in this case, if one person has it another can't have it (well, the admins could easily clone it, but that's beside the point). So in essence, they said it's a lot like real tangible property.

Re:Hmm... (1)

thisisreallymyname (1392621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489389)

I think this is an excellent point especially if you consider the woman who killed her ex-husbands avatar. Vitrual property does give joy to its owners just like the virtual life of an avatar. THe punishment is warrented in both cases.

Re:Hmm... (1)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489413)

So I can sue someone that destroys my ship in EVE?

Re:Hmm... (2, Interesting)

borizz (1023175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489529)

Under this new Dutch ruling, I don't know. I hope they'll make an exception for when the game mechanics allow you to. In the Dutch case, the steal was not done by any programmed means for stealing, but just by putting a knife to someones body part and force them to use in-game give or drop. However, I'm not sure. We certainly have our share of I-don't-understand-the-internet-and-computers, Ted Stevens style judges.

Re:Hmm... (1)

thisisreallymyname (1392621) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489943)

sure, but only if they first beat you up and force you to blow up you own ships. t

Re:Hmm... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489757)

The point of property is not that you have it, it's that you've taken it away from someone else. If you clone an online object, then I could have two instead of you having one and I having one. In the real world, if I buy a Ford Mustang GT with heated leather seats and a glass roof, it's my $30,000 mustang; you can't have it, you can get someone to make one just like it but it's still physically mine and yours is not identical to mine on a base level, it's simply mine.

Re:Hmm... It's no Boy Wonder... (0, Offtopic)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489695)

"The boy was kicked and beaten and threatened with a knife while forced to log into Runescape and giving his assets to the two perpetrators."

Rob-bin would be impressed (or, impressed upon)... forced to LOG in to Rune's CAPE, and giving his ass sets to the two perp e trators.

Perhaps Rune should have worn a chastity belt? And kept his cape closed...

Anyway, moral of the story: don't store your real assets in the nether... (and, don't brag about the value of the assets...)

Re:Hmm... It's no Boy Wonder... Offtopic? (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#25490151)

Why you dismally humourless wretch...

wtf? (5, Funny)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488433)

They kicked/beat/threatened him with a kife and the most important crime was IP-theft. wtf. Did I mention 'wtf' ?

Re:wtf? (1)

BountyX (1227176) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488589)

Indeed wtf. Courts should have only punished the kids for the violence part. Makes you wonder whats the dutch will do when D3 scammers trick 13 year old kids into dropping items.

Re:wtf? (2, Insightful)

mmalove (919245) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489007)

I'm not sure whether the Dutch also charged the kids with assault, but I think the focus of the story, which has appeared in a couple other places on the net, is repeatedly that the judge made a point to allow the prosecution to push a theft charge for the virtual goods. I too am perplexed however that the bigger focus is on stealing the pixels and not beating the kid up and threatening him with a lethal weapon. But I guess it's the former that is newsworthy because it's setting a precident - there's nothing new about a judge claiming assault and battery is illegal.

Keep in mind, there is still a huge difference between playing a game poorly and getting scammed/duped, vs someone using physical, out of game intervention to steal your virtual property. The former can be entirely within the ruleset of the game, such as in EVE, the latter would lead to clearly dangerous implications if considered legal. I really don't think this will skip to players being prosecuted for playing like a jerk, as long as it stays in game.

Re:wtf? (1)

borizz (1023175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489229)

I'm not sure whether the Dutch also charged the kids with assault

"We" did. But the emphasis in the media is on the virtual goods part, because it is setting a precedent.

Re:wtf? (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489969)

I think perhaps what is perplexing some of us is the apparent emphasis in TFA of the importance of the property crime. Would punishment for the assault be detrimental to the "rehabilitation" of the perpetrators? TFA was poorly writ. It looks like the lawyers may now have something of a precedent tho. shit

Re:wtf? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489201)

Why is the loss of control of a item that you primarily access using your computer not be theft?

If you download, purchased and installed Microsoft Office solely over the internet, and a hacker gets into your computer, copies your registration key, then deletes the key and Office from your computer, is that not theft? Sure, Microsoft could let you download Office again, and issue a new key, but that amounts to Microsoft giving you a new copy to replace the one stolen from you. Microsoft may even be able to prevent the hacker from using the old key to validate Microsoft Office, so they only experience a relatively small loss (just the time and effort to give you a new key, and disable use of the old key). But it's still a tangible loss, for both the individual and Microsoft.

If this isn't theft, then someone accessing your bank over the internet and transferring the money out of your account into theirs isn't stealing your money.

Re:wtf? (1)

easyTree (1042254) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489297)

Noone's saying it's not theft. At least two people *are* saying that the physical violence / threat of lethal attack should be considered as more important. Consider, which of the following situations would you rather be in:
  * "Oh no! someone's stolen my virtual pony, woe is me..."
  * "Oh no! I've been violently stabbed to death because I tried to stop someone stealing my virtual pony, woe is me..."
?

Re:wtf? (2, Informative)

DerWulf (782458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489621)

My knowledge about the justice system isn't great but at least I know that there is a difference between assault and robbery ... In germany you can get away with 6 month for assault but can expect a minimum sentence of 1 years for robbery.

Re:wtf? (1)

Grendel_Prime (178874) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488835)

In the land of Vikings, they're used to the former, but the socialist government will never tolerate the latter.

OK? (1)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488437)

When she virtually killed her virtual husband was it homicide of a virtual nature or was it virtually natural?

In other words, did she use a virtual weapon or was a weapon used virtually to kill her virtually virtual husband?

Re:OK? (2, Funny)

TinFoilMan (1371973) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488473)

No, it was Mr. Mustard in the Kitchen with a pipe.

Re:OK? (2, Funny)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488759)

Re:OK? (1)

bedmison (534357) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488549)

Doesn't matter. Because being virtually killed in virtual space is just as effective as the real thing, because you are only as dead as you think you are.

--with apologies to D. Adams.

She logged on with this virtual ex's character (2)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488969)

So, this is truly an illegal access (the character profile is password protected).
On the other hand, she got the password from her virtual ex, so she got the password legally.
If the game's policy forbids password sharing (most do), then her ex is also guilty (and none of them are criminally guilty, just broke the policy of the game).

Re:She logged on with this virtual ex's character (1)

XnavxeMiyyep (782119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489155)

This is why you never tell anyone, not even your significant other, your root password.

Re:She logged on with this virtual ex's character (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489893)

By the time you are ready to call someone your significant other, it should be apparent you can trust them.

Re:She logged on with this virtual ex's character (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489945)

Just hope that your significant other doesn't get a new 'friend' that has enough sense to use the single user mode backdoor in Linux to gain root access and reset the password as possible on default installations of various distributions. But of course that can easily be corrected by using an encrypted partition, that requires root password in order to mount, of which where all the goodies should be stored. ;)

Theft is theft (3, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488439)

This ruling is the first of its kind for the Netherlands

I doubt that. I'm sure there were other cases of teenagers being convicted for stealing something in the Netherlands. It was something of value, otherwise they wouldn't have wanted it so badly, and the victim was deprived of it. Obviously, there is the issue of beating and threatening with a knife, but even if that wasn't the case it wouldn't be any less of a theft than if they stole some physical object. Can someone tell me what is the complicated issue that tfa is talking about? Seems pretty straightforward to me.

Re:Theft is theft (1)

Idaho (12907) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488843)

How do you steal an item that doesn't really exist (a.k.a. virtual)?

The guy could have been convicted simply for beating someone up, or even just for threatening to do so unless he would give up those items (blackmail or whatever you call it). But instead, he got convicted for stealing something virtual, which only exists in a game.

This is news because, if the in-game money or item is considered property, should it therefore also be taxed? Can it be used (legally) as a real-life currency? Can game publishers claim that they "own" all your virtual property? Can you trade it on e-bay?

In games like Eve Online, where scamming is considered an art [slashdot.org] and is part of the game by design even according to its developers (!), could you get in real life trouble for planning a nasty Ponzi/pyramid scheme within the game? (which does not violate the EULA in any way, I might add)? Note that the scam I linked to is about $700B in-game money, which is worth ca. $25/B at the moment (probably it was more back then). So we *are* indirectly talking "nice down payment for a new house" kind of amounts here.

So if you play MMO's and like to play Dr. Evil *inside a game* (which, I should say, is a lot better than doing so IRL), should you still be afraid to get into trouble?

Obviously the guy is rightfully punished btw, I'm just arguing it should have been for a different "crime".

Re:Theft is theft (4, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489167)

"How do you steal an item that doesn't really exist (a.k.a. virtual)?"

So, if I take your Credit card and charge it up, I did not steal anything because the physical money never exsisted?

Or how about MP3's? Do those have any value? There as virtual as anything in a game is. Just 1's and 0's like the items in a game and the money on your credit cards.

Re:Theft is theft (1)

JesseMcDonald (536341) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489491)

So, if I take your Credit card and charge it up, I did not steal anything because the physical money never exsisted?

Exactly. You haven't stolen anything from me (other than the card itself), but you have committed fraud by claiming authorization to charge to that account. Using someone else's credit card is just another way of taking out a loan in someone else's name; ID fraud, not theft. There is a difference.

Re:Theft is theft (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489765)

So, If someone threatens you into buying them things with your Credit Card, you can charge them for the threat, butyour SOL for the stuff you bought them becuase your only out virtual cash and there was no fraud going on.

Re:Theft is theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25490199)

Then the same thing applies to virtual gold. Your argument doesn't help the case that stealing virtual gold vs stealing credit cards aren't both illegal.

Re:Theft is theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489931)

Or how about MP3's? (...) There as virtual as anything in a game is. Just 1's and 0's

There you go!

Re:Theft is theft (2, Interesting)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489403)

I know I'll be taking an unpopular stance on Slashdot in saying this, but I think it needs to be said (not to say I'm correct, but rather that it's another view point).

I don't believe in imaginary property, but I do believe in virtual property. The distinction is, imaginary property is infinitely reproducible, like an mp3 file. When you can sell the infinitely reproducible, you have a license to print money. It probably would have much larger implications for the economy if all movies and music were suddenly digitally distributed. No physical media costs, no transport costs, no staff costs in shops. All of those people suddenly get cut out of the chain and have to find a new source of income. I'm not an economists, so I can't see the full effect of this ripple effect.

On the other hand, in an online game, you use a currency, and the items you possess have value. An admin of a game could infinitely reproduce these items, but to the player they still have a quantifiable cost and amount of work that went into obtaining or producing it.

This isn't a simple case of in-game theft; I think the lion's share of the verdict was more to do with the assault than the theft. The thing that bothers me most about this though isn't that it recognizes virtual property as real, but that it sets a very small precedent (I say small because the verdict wasn't entirely about the theft, but the assault) for national laws extending into online games. What next? Animal cruelty laws begin to extend to in-game creatures? People being charged with assault in the real world for attacking in a PvP area?

For legal purposes, I think online games should be defined as a foreign nation. No actual property or currency crosses the border into your real country of residence, since it all exists in game, and the Rules of Conduct or Terms of Service or whatever the game wants to call them should contain some clear-cut "laws" for that "nation".

Re:Theft is theft (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489247)

Can someone tell me what is the complicated issue that tfa is talking about?

.
There are no complications for anyone but the geek who can see no value in the "imaginary" property of others.

Propaganda (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#25490115)

TFA merely wishes to publicize the precedent that this was tangible property stolen. Some (expletive not found) will try to twist this around to apply to copyright infringement cases now. I hope it played a little different in the Netherlands.

I would like to take this opportunity (0)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488443)

To invite every avatar of Japanese origin to kiss my virtual ass, because what happened there is just silly.

Re:I would like to take this opportunity (2, Insightful)

BPPG (1181851) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488563)

The only thing sillier is the article itself. The story about the Japanese woman never actually says that she deleted her online "husband's" character, it repeatedly refers to the act as "killing" the avatar. Using the English language in that way should be punishable by a reading by William McGonagall.

Re:I would like to take this opportunity (1)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488685)

You know that's a really good point. Does anyone know if this kind of thing has been tested in a US court yet? I'd very much like to know how this sort of reference (killing rather than deleting, stealing rather than moving/copying, etc) would stand up under litigation, or whether it would be able to be used at all. (or whether it would actually be encouraged)

Re:I would like to take this opportunity (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488803)

> stealing rather than moving/copying

Um... You are aware that moving and copying are very different things? "Moving" is essentially the definition of stealing, i.e. I move something out of your possession into mine. Copying is, however, not stealing because you still have the original (and therefore the only person 'harmed' is the copyright holder).

Remember, just because it's digital doesn't mean it can't be stolen.

Re:I would like to take this opportunity (1)

yttrstein (891553) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489713)

I'm referring to the way these files exist on the servers involved. For example, some MMORPGs (I'm sorry I cant name any, I never know what NDA is active)never move or copy any object, because they exist somewhat plurally inside a database. When activated (an inventory is taken, an object is "worn" or "traded") the object is "constructed" in-world on the fly from it's database constituents. In this case, giving an object to someone else isn't actually doing anything except replacing a UID (something equivalent, close enough) in a field.

In this sort of a case it occurs to me that simply replacing the original UID is trivial enough that it might not technically be considered "stealing"--though if pulled off, most definitely "hacking" if it happens that an object is moved into the inventory of another person without the original "owners" consent.

I suspect this is a very important ethical issue and shouldn't be dismissed quickly, but instead studied carefully, even if the answer at first seems obvious.

Re:I would like to take this opportunity (1)

Lobster Quadrille (965591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488937)

"Pirating" rather than "Infringing copyright" has been used in court for some time. I'm not really sure what you're asking.

Re:I would like to take this opportunity (1)

jaguth (1067484) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489153)

Dude, I know exactly what would happen if this were taken up in US court: The Judge would through it out because its a waste of tax dollars.

I mean, come on, if you read the EULA for Second-Life, you know that your pretty much fucked if you a) Willingly share your account logon credentials and b) The other person deletes it.

Sometimes I can't believe how stupid Japan's law enforcement can be. They wasted 620 miles of gas on such a stupid accusation.

The Dutch ahve never (1, Redundant)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488447)

sent anyone to jail for Assault and battery?
I find that..odd.

Re:The Dutch ahve never (2, Insightful)

borizz (1023175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489269)

We have, but that's not news-worthy. The stealing virtual goods (regardless of how I feel about it) is the new part that is being reported.

I didn't know the Dutch had Ag Assault (4, Funny)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488451)

Erm... while I'm not too horribly offended over the theft of virtual (game) property, the fact that it was a matter of Aggravated Assault is a totally different matter.

Wait, the knife and beating happened in the real world, right?

Re:I didn't know the Dutch had Ag Assault (1)

BigAssRat (724675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488703)

Do not confuse "Freedom of Choice" with "Free Will".

Or with "Free Wii"

Re:I didn't know the Dutch had Ag Assault (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489989)

"Wait, the knife and beating happened in the real world, right?"

it happened in http://maps.google.com/maps?q=the%20netherlands [google.com]

I've heard that pot, and some other drugs are legal there, and that pictures of children in unclothed state is not illegal, if they are paid actors. i don't know if a non-police state can be considered to be part of 'reality'

i mean commercializing substances that they consider as safe enough, under legislation rather than illegal, in most of the rest of modern the world... and in a country with the 10TH highest GNP, (the last stat according to wikipedia) oh yeah, and the country is below sea level in some places, thanks to dikes and water pumping systems designed centuries ago. when they only had stonework and windmills to keep the land dry.

just imagine if dikes and pumping systems had to keep an american city dry and if electricity went out for a week, and you have hurricane katrina. it's quite amazing that the dutch recovered so much land from the sea with old technology. i wonder if they put a big wind turbine close enough to new orleans that they could switch on water pumping systems without restoring the grid, what might happen in future overtopping and breaches of the channel walls.

First of its kind? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25488453)

How is this any different from stealing shares of stock, or other "paper money"?

Is that real jail? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25488461)

Or virtual jail?

What a treat... (3, Funny)

Emb3rz (1210286) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488477)

"Gimme loots or I PK u IRL lol"

160 hours (1)

PearsSoap (1384741) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488487)

160 hours of unpaid work

Surely it wouldn't have taken that long to actually get the items in-game?

Digital crime? (5, Informative)

psychicninja (1150351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488521)

The Japanese lady was actually charged for fraudulently accessing the guy's account, not for what she did after logging in.

Re:Digital crime? (1)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488921)

The Japanese lady was actually charged for fraudulently accessing the guy's account, not for what she did after logging in.

While there should be some legal protection of any kind of secured account or well-established identity, there's got to be a line drawn somewhere between a harmless but annoying prank and a more serious crime.

For instance, way back in the day, if people got careless about their login info on forums and other places (specifically WoW and Ultima Online), I had a nasty and totally reprehensible habit of logging in with that info, proceeding to strip their characters as naked as they could get (but leaving everything in inventory), and logging out with them in an embarrassing compromising position. It was just a prank, one I'd fallen prey to before, one that I still think is funny (because I'm a bastard).

This Dutch thing doesn't apply, but in the case of the Japanese lady - if killing his character was no more than a minor annoyance, it was at worst just simple harassment. Anything more than a slap on the wrist would fall short of being justice.

It is Good That The Assult Wasn't Virtual! (0)

BigAssRat (724675) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488665)

Thank God those teens didn't kick the crap out of him, virtually, while in the game, they may have really been in trouble besides the "virtual" theft!?! WTF is up with the Dutch people...did they not think to try them for assault and battery in the REAL WORLD???

RL: Where the women playing women are really men (2, Funny)

acon1modm (1009947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488673)

from T2ndFA:

The woman, who is jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification...

So even the real-life woman playing as the virtual woman is a man? My head is spinning.

Re:RL: Where the women playing women are really me (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488779)

No, used the ID of the real guy to whom she was digitally married.

Re:RL: Where the women playing women are really me (1)

whitehatlurker (867714) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488873)

So even the real-life woman playing as the virtual woman is a man?

No, the murderess (the woman) logged into the victim's (man, i.e. "his") account.

I wonder if the virtual divorce came about because there wasn't enough "manipulating of electronic data." Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Kids these days (3, Funny)

J.R. Random (801334) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488689)

If those punks had kicked, beaten and threatened that boy with a knife inside the virtual world of Runescape instead of of because of Runescape it would have been perfectly legal and they'd have gotten his stuff from his corpse and leveled up. Some punks have no common sense.

Re:Kids these days (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489117)

Well, some PvP fights you just can't win... differences in gear, disparity in skill, that kind of thing. I mean, to be blatantly obvious, I am awful at PvP in WoW, because I don't play enough to not panic and lose my combat skills in a PvP situation. Also because I don't play enough to have good gear in a PvP situation.

So, logically, if you can't win in-game, win IRL. Think outside the box.

Pretty seriously wrong.

(Although I'll admit to wishing some pretty terrible RL fates on the d-bag players camping me for hours straight.)

Bad Article Summary (3, Insightful)

MWoody (222806) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488729)

The second link is getting passed around as the Japanese woman "killing" her husband, which (rightly so) sounds ludicrous to most gamers. In reality, she logged into his account and deleted all of his characters and information, an act that is certainly worthy of some sort of punishment. Whether or not it needs to be brought to the attention of real world police is arguable, but quit making it sound like she's guilty of PvP.

A fine lesson learned (1)

Ieatsyou (1383005) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488747)

Moral of the story? Beat, kick, and threaten people with knives. But don't you DARE force him to give you his items in runescape. ............as long as you are dutch

punching, kicking, knife, and then theft (1)

funkelectric (931604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488799)

The summary sounds decidedly stupid. I assume that sentencing was for the punching, kicking, and knife threatening as well. Alas, the stupidity carries over to the fine article itself. Hopefully the verdict itself was saner. That said, money is not so different from virtual property, so that aspect makes perfect sense.

Re:punching, kicking, knife, and then theft (1)

borizz (1023175) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489365)

We're not morons. Of course they also tried the assault part of the event. But that's just not very interesting to the media. Dutch news reported (translation mine): "The duo have also been charged with threatening and maltreatment."

When did this occurr? It's not possible anymore. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25488841)

This must have happened more than a year ago because you can't give away virtual property in Runescape. The system put in place prevents anyone from giving away any item valued at more than 3k. (For perspective 3k doesn't buy much of anything in RS, the valueable items are in the 100m+ range)

Re:When did this occurr? It's not possible anymore (1)

Zarquil (187770) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489877)

From TFA: "On Sept. 6 last year"

And this in part establishes just why the new rules were instituted.

Hold on just a second. (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25488889)

What made you think you had the right to kill that murloc, buddy?
You're coming downtown with me...

Virtual killing = jail? (1)

philspear (1142299) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489031)

The case of the tokyo woman involved her killing his maple story character. Anyone who has played maple story for a few minutes knows this was an act of kindness, not criminal.

But anyway, what are the chances we see the vice versa: Real murders get you virtual jail time. After all, turnaround is fair play. Making murderers play Maple Story to punish them would be fitting.

As C Heston said... (2, Funny)

elfin_spectre (838439) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489177)

I'll give you my avatar when you take it from my cold dead hands.

mod 04 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489233)

tops responsibility those obligations. I won't bore you things in A LOSING BATTLE; hapless *BSD users. BSD/OS The mobo blew are inhere)ntly Let's keep to to die. I will jam

"kicked and beaten" more significant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489363)

Wrong title.

"The boy was kicked and beaten and threatened with a knife while forced to ..."

Very little to do with "virtual property".

He was attacked and forced to give access to some electronic system.
The motive or worth of the system access is secondary.

Why is this news?

Is the following news:

"The man was kicked and beaten and threatened with a knife while forced to ... give access to his ATM account"?

Stole? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25489431)

From the description it sounds like they mugged him for virtual property, not stole it.

Virtual Lunch Money (1)

Buddha-licious (1220446) | more than 5 years ago | (#25489601)

Let's break this down to it's simplest form: Geek gets beat up for his virtual lunch money.
Why's everyone so steamed? That's been happening since the dawn of the abacus.
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