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Police Investigating Virtual Furniture Theft

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the someone-has-been-sleeping-in-my-virtual-bed dept.

Crime 103

krou writes "Finnish police are involved in the investigation of up to 400 cases of theft from virtual world Habbo Hotel, with some users reporting the loss of up to €1000 of virtual furniture and other items. Users were targeted using a phishing scam that used fake webpages to capture usernames and passwords. There is no mention as to whether or not the thieves made off with the bath towels, gowns, shampoo bottles, and soaps."

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Get what they deserve (0, Flamebait)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433454)

Only a moron would pay for imaginary belongings. The idiots could have used their $1200 USD on real furniture.

Re:Get what they deserve (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433790)

Is "internet access" an imaginary belonging?
It's not like you can hold "internet access" in your hands.
Is it any more tangible than virtual furniture?

Re:Get what they deserve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433968)

Cops don't have enough to do. Heck they are now going after theft of Imaginary Property, too.

It's about time. (2, Funny)

The Altruist (1448701) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435064)

My imaginary friends have been stealing from me for years.

Imaginary Crime (1)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436072)

Imagine what the perps will feel when they are sitting in a REAL jail cell facing REAL charges for an imaginary crime. We need a sanity check. I'm hoping it will come in the form of a Finnish judge who looks at the case and laughs himself into a coma right after dismissing it and calling the "owners" and "buyers" of imaginary goods complete morons.

Re:Imaginary Crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32443534)

You could use the same argument with games purchased through Steam or any other online site where you never get a physical copy of the media.
You never get a physical copy of the software, so it's okay to steal it.

Nope, doesn't work that way. The victims paid real money for virtual furniture and as such the theft
can be considered real theft.

Re:Get what they deserve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434032)

"Is "internet access" an imaginary belonging?"
It's a legal right, starting next month.

Re:Get what they deserve (1, Troll)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434258)

The people you get internet access from are called Internet Service Providers. They are not Internet Imaginary Belongings Providers. Internet access is a service, not something you buy to keep.

Re:Get what they deserve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434918)

How about the money in your bank account (assuming you aren't one of the "all of my money is in paper and coins in a jar on my shelf" set)? Until you go to retrieve it from the bank, it is just ones and zeros in a database, just like the virtual goods in games. You could even argue that holding stock in a company is a virtual good (the certificate is just a physical token of the virtual good)

The value of the materials is not the only consideration in the value of a good. Even the paper that money is printed on is worth less than the denomination of currency it represents.

Re:Get what they deserve (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435792)

Banks are required to have lot of security measures, and they are responsible, have their own security stuff, not like virtual worlds.

Re:Get what they deserve (1)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436752)

"...How about the money in your bank account..."

Money or credits held by a bank (that's an accounting word debits/credits, etc) are recognized as an official representation for the exchange of goods and services by an authoritative body (e.g. the government). Unless there is an authoritative body that is willing to convert virtual goods into an official form (i.e. currency), the ones and zeros in a database will remain ones and zeros. A purchaser of virtual goods simply made a one way transaction with a company to exchange currency for bits and bytes. Furthermore, a bank can't pull additional ones and zeros out of thin air to reproduce lost/stolen funds. The rules of accounting (assets = liabilities + equity) and basic mathematics dictate the inability to pull additional ones and zeros from the air to recover lost currency. In case of a bank, an increase in liabilities (e.g. your deposit) has to be retrieved from the banks assets (I Know, this seems backwards but that's why they call it crediting your account for deposits and debiting your account for withdrawals.)

A stock certificate or share of a company is a different story. Stocks are the right to assets, future profits and liabilities of an organization. The sale of a stock is the one way exchange of currency for that right. The price is determined either speculatively on the open market, by a board of directors, or by the present value of all future dividends. The physical certificate is merely proof that you are entitled to those profits/liabilities. In a virtual world, your purchased furniture holds no value and at any time can be removed by the owners of the servers. A stock certificate can't simply be cancelled at the whim of the corporation, and the only terms of service you agree to is what is held by your local laws (state law for US citizens).

This is why this story is laughable. Since the virtual furniture can be reproduced at any time without incurring loss (other than a few electrons), there really is no loss at all. Phishing for the account information on the other hand may violate laws depending on your location.

Re:Get what they deserve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434612)

1200 British pound sterlings = 1756.8000 US dollars

Re:Get what they deserve (0, Troll)

kyrio (1091003) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434732)

How is this relevant to anything?

Re:Get what they deserve (2, Insightful)

Zen Hash (1619759) | more than 3 years ago | (#32437768)

How is this relevant to anything?

Why was this was modded down?

The article mentions €1000 (euro), which is equivalent to ~$1200 (USD).

How is the fact that £1200 (GBP) is equivalent to $1756.8 (USD) relevant to any of this?

Re:Get what they deserve (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435842)

Truth should be a defense against Flamebait moderation.
Nothing in the above post is untrue or exaggerated.

Hmm (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433456)

There is no mention as to whether or not the thieves made off with the bath towels, gowns, shampoo bottles, and soaps.

What good are towels if the pool's closed?

Re:Hmm (5, Informative)

JayJay.br (206867) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433990)

Hey, towels are the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have!

Re:Hmm (2, Informative)

wwfarch (1451799) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435018)

I love that this is insightful and not funny

Re:Hmm (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435062)

Shh! If word gets out, then the towel will lose the immense psychological value it has over strags(strag: non-hitch hiker). They will no longer automatically assume that because a hitch-hiker has his towel with him, he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will no longer happily lend the hitch-hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch-hiker might accidentally have "lost".

What we want the strags to think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still know where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Re:Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32439654)

Lol :))

Re:Hmm (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32440580)

Why is the pool closed? Did someone get AIDS or something?

Re:Hmm (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 4 years ago | (#32440996)

The pool on the roof is open.

red vs.blue (1)

CapnStank (1283176) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433470)

We must protect this house.

Re:red vs.blue (1)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433976)

Actually, I was waiting for the *chan/habbo-related memes to start popping up.

Wasn't there something about a pool...

You're kidding... Tell me you're kidding (1, Flamebait)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433490)

Here's my thing... If someone is, say, "persuadable" enough to spend 1000 euros on *virtual fscking furniture* then what's to say they will have the sense to protect any of it? The police need to issue citations for criminal stupidity.

Oh, does anyone know if the pool is open?

They should (4, Interesting)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433638)

If someone stole your shares or "those bunch of digits" in your bank account, it's still theft. So it's the same in this case.

Some years back someone in China lent someone his virtual sword and the borrower refused to return it and actually sold it (for quite a bit of money), so the lender went to the cops but they laughed at him, so he took matters into his own hands and killed the thief. ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4397159.stm [bbc.co.uk] )

Not saying it was right for him to do that, but it's quite understandable. The sword was worth a lot of money at market prices (USD1000), and probably worth even more to the lender since he didn't want to sell it. I'm sure people get killed for far less than that in China (or many other places).

p.s. reminder copying is not the same as stealing. These people lost access to stuff.

Re:They should (2)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434266)

Also, regardless of what was or wasn't stolen, there's the whole unauthorized access thing.

Re:They should (1)

harl (84412) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434650)

What does the EULA/TOS say? Most have a clause stating that you own none of items/characters/anything in the game. You are merely paying for access to the game.

If you don't own it. Then it can't be theft.

Re:They should (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435522)

Can they sell the stuff?

Then it is de facto property. It has all the important facets:

1. Worth something in real money.

2. Transferable.

3. Transferable for real money, in practice (and perhaps in the intent of the designers, perhaps even if they make a surface statement that you shouldn't, but rely on it for increased sales.)

These things (like intellectual property) have all the important aspects of property so they can serve with the exact same benefit as real, physical property.

So if you're going to have these things ape property, then ape the police/theft angle, too.

Re:They should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32435562)

Habbo can sell this stuff. If you look at the EULA, you dont ever own anything you 'buy'. Its not transferrable, and you never get it transferred to yourself.

What next, If I get pked in UO, im going to sue because you "stole" my "phat lewt" that theoretically has cash value? What about EVE?

Its a video game, and these EULAs are in place specifically for this reason. People are insane.

Re:They should (1)

harl (84412) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436070)

These things (like intellectual property) have all the important aspects of property so they can serve with the exact same benefit as real, physical property.

No they can't. Users of Haboo signed a legally binding contract stating they were not property.

This is not my opinion as this has already been decided in court. Twice.

Habbo is run by a company in the States. In the States EULA are legal binding contracts. These has been decided by two separate districts. The cases are ProCD v Zeidenberg and Blizzard v bnetd (can't remember the real name of the defendant)

If the EULA says you don't own it then you don't own it.

Re:They should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32437928)

Actually in several cases in the US, EULA's have been ruled unenforceable. It has to do with the terms of the EULA.

I really don't see how that matters though. Even if these things aren't tangible property, and were "licensed" for their use, they now do not have the use of that licensed product that they paid for, which makes it.... theft. If someone stole your license codes for Windows, and you were then not able to use it, I'd be pretty sure you would consider that theft.

Re:They should (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#32438920)

> In the States EULA are legal binding contracts.

Sometimes.

> These has been decided by two separate districts.
> The cases are ProCD v Zeidenberg and Blizzard v bnetd

Narrow decisions providing little in the way of precedent.

> If the EULA says you don't own it then you don't own it.

Nothing here to own.

Re:They should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32439658)

How exactly are two cases, from separate districts, that clearly state EULA are binding legal contracts not precedent?

Re:They should (1)

protektor (63514) | more than 4 years ago | (#32439918)

Blizzard vs. Bnetd wasn't the case name, it was Vivendi vs. Bnetd and it had nothing to do with virtual property. It was only a small part about the ability to enforce the EULA, and it was much more about supposedly copying and reverse engineering, sections of the EULA, to make a compatible server.

ProCD vs. Zeidenberg was also about EULA's and if a list of phone numbers can even be copyrighted, which they held they can NOT. The case was around the EULA's ability to limit people from redistributing the data.

So actually both of the cases you cite have nothing to do with virtual property and they don't make it clear that such a thing would hold up. You have to remember that these cases are about specific EULAs and if those clauses are legally enforceable. There is nothing saying that the Haboo's EULA would be legally enforceable until it gets before a judge/jury.

If fact I seem to recall a few cases with Ultima Online and Linden Labs about how you can actually sue over loss of virtual property at least in the US and other countries it appears.

Bragg v. Linden Labs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bragg_v._Linden_Lab [wikipedia.org]

Virtual Currency Extortion
http://www.pcworld.com/article/165447/china_sentences_virtual_currency_extorter_to_prison.html [pcworld.com]

http://services.martindale.com/internet-law/article_Sheppard-Mullin-Richter-Hampton-LLP_689960.htm [martindale.com]

Dutch Teens Convicted of Virtual Theft
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,442322,00.html [foxnews.com]

So it is clear that you can say in a EULA that virtual stuff has no value, but the courts are not seeing it that way at all.

Re:They should (1)

harl (84412) | more than 4 years ago | (#32448800)

I never claimed either had to do anything with virtual property. They both clearly state that EULA are contracts.

Ahh yes Bragg v Linden Labs. One sentence in one motion with no ruling. Quite the precedent there.

The dutch teens ruling is immaterial as according to the news no dutch are involved.

Re:They should (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436860)

So if you're going to have these things ape property, then ape the police/theft angle, too.

Sure. Have the virtual police do a virtual investigation, try the perps avatars in a virtual court, and if found guilty, put them in virtual prison.

Then return the virtual furniture to the virtual victim.

The game company can do all of this themselves. No need to waste the real cops time.

Re:They should (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32440308)

That might actually be fine with the players and the game companies. But the Government might one day wake up and realize that it has lost a fair bit of power.

Trust me, after a while the Government will want in on the virtual property and cash stuff so that they can get taxes and control money laundering.

Re:They should (1)

Eightbitgnosis (1571875) | more than 3 years ago | (#32438034)

Killing another human being over an item in a videogame was "quite understandable"?! No I think that's more under the "completely insane" category

Re:They should (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32440282)

If you were an online gambler and someone stole USD1000 worth of your online casino "chips" I'm sure you'd be rather upset about it.

I'm not saying he should have killed that person, but I understand where he's coming from. Go factor in a typical Chinese wage and then multiply the USD1000 accordingly to get a comparison figure that's more appropriate for you. Then add in the element of betrayal - apparently he lent it to the other person. If you lend someone an item and he then sells it, it's not just about the value of the item. Even if he promises to give you the proceeds of the sale, it's not going to make you feel good about the whole thing. The cops laughing at him (that apparently happened) and refusing to take action definitely didn't help - two lives might have not been wasted if the cops had taken action - even if it's not formal action but just mediation and telling the other guy to give the stuff back.

People may think it's just a videogame just because it's all a bunch of bits in computers somewhere, but the 2008 financial blow up was only a bunch of bits in computers somewhere too. How real was it? The "finance whizkids" took the "slightly more real" money as bonuses, commissions etc, the rest of the "value" turned out to be not real enough :).

<amtrix>your mind makes it real</matrix> :)

Re:They should (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32445012)

If by copying, you mean, making a copy and giving it to someone else, that is the same as stealing. The person selling the product just lost access to stuff (money) due to your illegal actions. Or if you meant something else, then nevermind. :)

Re:They should (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 4 years ago | (#32445700)

1) The big difference is the person selling the product does not have automatic access to MY money, yet...
Actually in Canada there's already a levy on stuff.

2) Making a copy and giving it to someone else is not the same as stealing in my country, yet...
The USA + ACTA might convince my government to change that.

Re:They should (1)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 4 years ago | (#32447526)

Well this is different, because what the hell is Habbo Hotel?

I know I can google it, but these pay-for-premium mmo's that are out there everywhere are in such huge numbers to where it is hard to keep track of them all.

Searches?? (5, Funny)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433646)

"We have done five home searches in five cities in Finland," he said.

Unfortunately, the virtual furniture was nowhere to be seen.

Great use of police resources (1, Interesting)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433676)

How many people in Finland are getting away with real theft while the police are busy investigating imaginary theft?

Re:Great use of police resources (2, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433838)

My guess is most were getting away with it before as well.

Finnish IRS coming next? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433696)

Finnish IRS coming next?

Great use of police force imo (5, Funny)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433710)

I can only feel bad for the people of habbo hotel, losing their fake furniture that they paid a totally reasonable price for. I wish the for the police working on this case to catch those evil criminals, and of course for their safety. It's a dangerous job catching internet tough guys, and I can only hope that these police return to their families in one piece.

Re:Great use of police force imo (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434022)

It's a dangerous job catching internet tough guys

I think you mean it's dangerous catching the Internet Hate Machine.

Re:Great use of police force imo (1)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32440190)

Yeah, that's one way of putting it.

this FPC for GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32433736)

people's face5 at

"Stealing" virtual property? (4, Insightful)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433792)

Ok, if someone takes a physical object from you without your consent, that's theft. If they break into your house to do it, that's B&E + theft.

If you have an online account with "things" that are sellable/transferable out of it, is taking those "theft"? Obviously the B&E part is some form of computer trespassing, etc, but do the items exist in such a fashion to be considered "missing" if stolen?

I get they are no longer accessible from your account, but if they can only be viewed through "the web" do they really exist?

If I buy a physical book off amazon, I get a physical thing. If amazon goes the way of the dodo, I still have my book.

If I buy a virtual couch from VirtualCouchGuys.com and they go out of business, my, as well as everyone elses couch, goes bye bye. Just the same as a cell phone service/plan would go bye bye if the company simply folds and turns out the lights.

So wouldn't virtual goods be services then? It is a service to log in and see a blue pin striped couch more than it is an item. But what about the whole "theft" portion? How can you "steal" service? The only thing I can think of is akin to stealing bandwidth through WEP Wifi or cutting someones phone line and splicing yours into it or doing the same with cable.

You're not stealing a physical object, you're stealing a service. I guess that's the only rational way to go after "virtual furniture" thieves. But, now, if I steal cable, can the cops arrest me? Apparently, yes [go.com] . The actual charge appears to be "unauthorized use of computer, cable, or telecommunications property" which seems to fit with virtual items as well (correct me if I'm wrong).

Now, I know this is in Finland, but it seems it would apply here in the States too.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0, Offtopic)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433898)

Theft of services is still theft. If you have sex with a prostitute and then don't pay her, it's still theft.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434480)

Then you have to answer to the Mack Daddy.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (2, Interesting)

Tom Womack (8005) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435014)

No; it's rape (since the consent was dependent on the payment); I believe someone in the UK has been convicted of rape for paying a prostitute with counterfeit money.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436928)

If you could be convicted of rape for not delivering on some promise in return for sex, then most guys would be in prison.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (2, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433902)

If someone steals money from your bank account, is that not theft? It's a virtual object in an account.

These objects that were stolen can and are sold for money. It's theft.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434058)

And I think you should notice that I came to the same conclusion. However, I take exception to your analogy to bank account information/funds.

If you log into my bank account you can steal something from me that is linked to a direct physical object (in theory its gold). If you transfer a virtual couch from my Couchville account, there is nothing in real life that I could have used that virtual couch for.

There might be a perceived value to it just like there is a perceived value to stealing cable television. And I get that stealing the service is illegal and punishable. I'm merely drawing the distinction between "stealing" a service (cable, virtual furniture, etc) and stealing a good that exists in the real world (gold) and is "stolen" online (bank account break in).

TL;DR, stealing a virtual item is theft of service, not theft of an item, at least in my opinion. Both are still illegal.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434194)

If you log into my bank account you can steal something from me that is linked to a direct physical object (in theory its gold).

I don't know where you live, but in many countries (most?), including the USA and UK, currency has no link to gold. There isn't enough gold in the entire world to cover the currency circulating in the USA alone.

Even though the money in your bank account can be exchanged for currency, there's very little actual physical value in those small pieces of paper. They are only valued for what they represent, not what they are. Same thing with virtual goods.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

bazorg (911295) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435664)

(IANAL)

£1 may not be converted to 1 pound of sterling silver, but it is declared legal tender by the authorities, ie: worth something.

Now the virtual couch (or the right to use a picture of a couch in a game) was bought with real money and the owner of the game has protections in place to ensure that the couch is associated with the holder of the game account. If someone breaks in and takes the virtual couch, it may not be a theft, but it should be treated as any other computer fraud.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436152)

£1 may not be converted to 1 pound of sterling silver, but it is declared legal tender by the authorities, ie: worth something.

One has to wonder what the people in the southern half of the United States thought of the value of their government's legal tender after the government that authorized it collapsed. I have heard anecdotal stories of it being sold for toilet paper.

I'm stretching the point, but money isn't valuable, it merely represents value. The same can be said of gold or silver; they're rare, but not particularly valuable in and of themselves.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32437944)

but it is declared legal tender by the authorities, ie: worth something.

The government's declaration of fiat money as being legal tender does not in and of itself make the money worth anything. See: Germany in the 1930s, and Zimbabwe in the past few years. In both cases, currency proclaimed by the government as legal tender became absolutely worthless anyways.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435714)

If you log into my bank account you can steal something from me that is linked to a direct physical object (in theory its gold).

WRONG! No major currency these days is backed by ANY physical assets. The gold standard was abandoned by just about everybody back in the 1930s.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (4, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434370)

Pretend for the sake of argument that today's money is NOT imaginary... a stretch, I know, but work with me here.

If someone breaches your bank account, takes out your money, they have money. They can use that money to buy stuff.

If someone takes your virtual furniture, they have virtual furniture. You can't do shit with virtual furniture unless you find another cretin to buy your virtual couches in exchange for MONEY. There's a big difference.

If I go get obscenely drunk tonight and invent "virtual bear hugs" and a web site where they can be traded, and someone "steals" a bunch of virtual bear hugs, it's still just mass hysteria built atop a pile of bullshit. The fact that there are some seriously deranged people willing to pay for this bullshit, does not mean it should be a matter of public interest worthy of police oversight. At the heart of it all, these people are arguing over nothing.

Ultimately, if anyone can do something about the "theft", it's the sysadmins of Habbo Hotel. Check the logs, find out who "stole" the shit, and return it. Maybe ban the user if this is considered grief-play. If we let this kind of thing get out of hand, next time we'll be throwing twelve year olds in PMITA federal prison for ninja'ing in World of Warcraft...

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32434910)

Ultimately, if anyone can do something about the "theft", it's the sysadmins of Habbo Hotel. Check the logs, find out who "stole" the shit, and return it. Maybe ban the user if this is considered grief-play. If we let this kind of thing get out of hand, next time we'll be throwing twelve year olds in PMITA federal prison for ninja'ing in World of Warcraft...

Read the news article and stop being so 1900's. Not only did they steal the furniture, they also stole the accounts altogether and made phishing sites to mimic a login to cheat accounts from 11 year olds. Now you go and tell the kid that nobody stole anything from him and the only thing you can expect is to be punched in the nuts.

The other thing is that the if suspects _are_ liable for their actions (in Finland you need to be over 15) it is an offense and they _should be held_ liable for their actions to teach them and the ones who do not understand that virtual property is pretty much the same as today's toys or baseball cards for that matter. And what comes to banning, ban what dynamic ip-ranges from let's say a complete ISP the whole country so nobody gets to play? And if they get away with building phishing sites for "just Habbo Hotel" what's going to prevent them from trying to do the same thing with banks, facebook, online stores etc.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435606)

As long as there are people willing to pay money or trade real goods or services for a thing, then that thing is "worth money" no matter how worthless it is to you. That said, I'd never pay for a thing that I didn't have a good understanding of how it could be or needed to be protected from theft.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (3, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435678)

You seem to think there is something magic about the word "money". When you call it "money", that makes it automatically of intrinsic worth. Don't work that way. The only difference between virtual furniture in an account and virtual money in an account is that one is more widely accepted.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32441110)

Which is actually important right?

If I told the cops someone stole 1 zimbabwe penny from me, would they go and arrest the criminal?

So, who determines the worth of virtual furniture? Would not the proprieters of this online site be able to manipulate that? They can increase the virtual price for furniture, thus making it supposedly worth more.

This could, effectively, be mirrored in the real world. All Furniture could have an increase in price, making them worth more. Except there is a reason this doesn't happen: No one has a monopoly on furniture. Habbo or whoever, has a monopoly on their virtual good. Which would be illegal in the states, if you consider it a good.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32443132)

The only difference between virtual furniture in an account and virtual money in an account is that one is more widely accepted.

It's like the difference between Discover and Visa.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32437350)

If we let this kind of thing get out of hand, next time we'll be throwing twelve year olds in PMITA federal prison for ninja'ing in World of Warcraft...

That's a bad thing?

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32437558)

If someone takes your tangible, original Picasso paintings, they have tangible, original Picasso paintings. You can't do shit with tangible, original Picasso paintings unless you find another cretin to buy your tangible, original Picasso paintings in exchange for MONEY.

Same difference.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#32446494)

Difference being that a Picasso painting is widely accepted to be:

1. a rare and irreplaceable item
-and-
2. valuable

A virtual couch is just a series of bits. Habbo can immediately replace these things at negligible cost. Try replacing a Picasso at negligible cost.

I steal your car, you lose the car. The dealership can't snap their fingers and make a new car appear in your driveway.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

WNight (23683) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434236)

If you steal virtual objects in a game they shouldn't do anything outside the game. If you cheat outside the game (phishing) then it seems more reasonable.

That said, those people, ROFL! If you'd pay money for virtual furniture you're shit stupid.

What's the difference between the thief who gave them pictures of furniture for 1000Euros and the thief who took the pictures away? Why are the police only after one of them?

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

harl (84412) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434770)

According to most EULA/ToS for games the end users own nothing. They are paying for the access to the game.

The people running the game had ownership before the event. They had ownership after the event. Theft is impossible.

tl;dr fake things are fake.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435234)

That is a very interesting point.

Say, I purchase the right to use a fictional item in a fictional universe (say WoW) and in the EULA/TOS Blizzard explicitly states that the items have _no_ "real world" value, they own the item in question, and you're merely paying for the service to use said item in their fictional world for an amount of time they dictate. What is it considered if you log into my account without my consent and you transfer the item to your account and then _sell_ it on fleabay for $100?

It seems the only party that can press charges is Blizzard and my only recourse is to contact Blizzard to see if they can re-enable access to said item.

Really, in that scenario, nothing was stolen and I've only "lost access" to the service of holding said item. Computer Trespassing (hacking) occurred, but on Blizzard's servers. The "thief" also potentially sold an item that belongs to someone else (Blizzard). I should have zero reason to contact police. Blizzard can if they choose, but that's their call. Interesting.

So the question is, what is the TOS/EULA for the game in the article? Does the person who "bought" it have any real right to the item? Or is it all virtual property owned by the corporation that offered the service in the first place? If that's how it is laid out, police should never have gotten involved. Nothing was ever "stolen" from the complainant, service has just been lost. It's up to the person who lost service to attempt to go through official channels to get that service back.

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

harl (84412) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436038)

You nailed it. Legally Blizzard would be the only wronged party. This isn't even that theoretical. The company in question is located in the the States and there have been two separate cases that have decided that EULA are legally binding contracts in the States' legal system.

Now if the group installed malware to get the login info that's obviously a completely different story.

Some bits of their ToS

"The activities and games on the Site or on other Services are just for you to play with while on the Site. You can't sell them, give them to anyone, trade them for anything or pretend you made them."

"Unless otherwise specified in writing on the Site, all materials that are part of the Site (including past, present
      and future versions), including, without limitation: graphics; layout; text; images; audio and/or video; designs;
      advertising copy; logos; domain names; trade names and marks; service marks and trade identities; any and all
      copyrightable material (including source and object code); the "look and feel" of the Site; the compilation,
      assembly and arrangement of the materials of the Site; and all other materials related to the Site (collectively,
      the "Site Materials") are owned, controlled or licensed by Sulake and are protected from unauthorized use, copying
      and dissemination by copyright, trademark, patent, publicity and other laws, rules, regulations and international
      treaties. Your ability to use the Site Materials is governed by these Terms of Use. The entire contents of the
      Services (including the Site Materials) are copyrighted as a collective work under the United States copyright laws
      and/or similar laws of other jurisdictions. Sulake owns a copyright in the selection, coordination, arrangement and
      enhancement of such content, as well as in the content original to Sulake. Third-party content providers own the
      copyright in content that is original to them. Habbo(r), Habbo Hotel(tm) and Sulake(tm) are trademarks and service
      marks of Sulake or its parent or its or their affiliates. All rights are reserved. All other trademarks and service
      marks appearing on the Services are the property of their respective owners, including, in some instances, Sulake.
      All rights are reserved. Use of any of our trademarks, service marks or names as "metatags" on other web sites is
      prohibited. You may not display our Services or content in frames or "in-line links" without express written
      permission from Sulake"

"You agree not to encumber, license, modify, publish, copy, sell, transfer, transmit or in any way exploit, any of
      the content of the Services (including the Site Materials other than your own User Content (defined below)), nor
      will you attempt to do so. You agree not to copy, redistribute, publish or otherwise exploit material which you
      download from the Services"

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

zoward (188110) | more than 4 years ago | (#32450240)

...And what if I find a way in WoW to steal someone's virtual horse, which Blizzard themselves sold to that person for $25 of US currency? Is it still worth $25? Who owns it - Blizzard, the buyer ... or me?"

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435624)

If you have an online account with "things" that are sellable/transferable out of it, is taking those "theft"?

How about if those "things" are dollars? An online account with dollars that are transferable out of it is how most of us store our savings these days...

Re:"Stealing" virtual property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32436312)

If I buy a physical book off amazon, I get a physical thing. If amazon goes the way of the dodo, I still have my book.

If it's an EBook that you can only access on the web and someone steals your login is it stealing?

Identity Theft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32436404)

Rotide seems to think that it must be a physical object in order to be "theft". What about identity theft?

Virtual Goods (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 3 years ago | (#32433920)

I can only shake my head at someone who spent around 1000 euros, dollars, etc on some string of 1's and 0's in a database for virtual furniture and/or pets. At least my real dogs will have a shot at chewing up a thief before they get out of the house unlike the virtual counterparts. :)

Re:Virtual Goods (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434378)

At least my real dogs will have a shot at chewing up a thief before they get out of the house unlike the virtual counterparts. :)

Or your couch, or the neighbour, or they'll get sick and crap on the carpet.

Don't get me wrong, I'd never spend a grand on digital items, but some of them do have their advantages compared to their analog counterparts ;-)

Virtual money too (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434660)

I can only shake my head at someone who spent around 1000 euros, dollars, etc on some string of 1's and 0's in a database

What is your checking account balance other than "some string of 1's and 0's in a database" at your credit union or bank?

Re:Virtual Goods (1)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435752)

It's just as crazy as paying money for a string of 1s and 0s in an mp3 file.
So maybe these criminals were not thieves at all. They must have been pirates.

Re:Virtual Goods (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436206)

If you think that's stupid, you'll go nuts when I tell you that I actually sit at a desk for 40+ hours a week instead of hanging out in the sunshine, just so I can see some digits appear inside some account I have somewhere.

It's not the virtuality of the item that makes this story ridiculous, it's the fact that the item could easily be restored to its rightful "owner" at the push of a button. We're not talking about money where there are, you know, laws against just synthesizing money at will. But here, the owner of the virtual world could set things right in a matter of seconds.

Re:Virtual Goods (1)

Zen Hash (1619759) | more than 3 years ago | (#32438004)

I can only shake my head at someone who spent around 1000 euros, dollars, etc on some string of 1's and 0's in a database for virtual furniture and/or pets. At least my real dogs will have a shot at chewing up a thief before they get out of the house unlike the virtual counterparts. :)

Why would they store data in a string [wikipedia.org] consisting of only of '1' and '0' characters?

Pool's closed... (2, Interesting)

bragr (1612015) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434256)

Due to theft.

Re:Pool's closed... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32435670)

They should have bought a dog.

Just Another Example (2, Funny)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 3 years ago | (#32434296)

Socialist Europe denying its citizens the right to protect themselves and their property. If those Habbos had been armed this never would have happened.

How ironic... (1)

mackil (668039) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435168)

is it that I couldn't even get the cops to come out to the scene of the crime when my "reality" based car was broken into.

Re:How ironic... (1)

Tranzistors (1180307) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435824)

Do you live in Finland?

Virtual Crime? (1)

Favonius Cornelius (1691688) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435304)

If that is a punishable offense, then I should be doing hard time for my exploits in early Ultima Online. It was like the wild west online.

Good related book (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435688)

Don't have much to add other than Halting State [wikipedia.org] by Charles Stross is a great read if you're interested in this sort of thing.

Easily fixed (2, Insightful)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435846)

How the fuck can there be theft in a world where the game administrators can reinstitute the accounts WITH THE PUSH OF A BUTTON? It's not like these people "deprived" anybody of anything that can't be instantly recreated. Hell, applying the word "create" is even too generous.

The lunatics who spent €1000 on "virtual furniture" needs to be committed to small, padded cells until they can get a grip on reality. And if the game admins refuse to give the furniture back to them, toss them in jail for fraud.

This isn't cute. It's fucking nuts, and it scares the crap out of me that people are losing their grip on reality and people might go to prison for it.

Re:Easily fixed (1)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 3 years ago | (#32435982)

While I mostly agree with you, people can spend their money on what they want.

What should happen is the police should call the developers and server operators and say, refund their money or duplicate their purchases.

Re:Easily fixed (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32442106)

Not everything has fraud protection. Banks should be so kind that in the advent of fraud you may get your money back. But how is this any different from phishing internet banking passwords and emptying users accounts?

If you give someone your login and 1000 Euro magically disappears from your account the bank manager isn't legally obliged to give you your money, no fraud has been committed.

Or a more physical example. You rent a space at a local storage depo with no light. So you buy a light for your storage from the depo owner. You lend your key to someone and he runs off with your light. Why should the owner give you another light without you paying for it again?

This happens all the time in World of Warcraft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32435924)

Scammers create new accounts and send a tell to many on-line players, pretending to be a representative of Blizzard. Some of them say your account has been disabled (or will be disabled unless you immediately visit their site), some of them promise a beta key or a downloadable item, etc. The message always includes a website address, which usually contains words that people associate with blizzard (e.g. "us-battle.wow.net" or something). Some of these messages are gramatically correct but most of them are in laughably broken English.

So then what happens? Some small fraction of curious or gullible players go to the sites, and maybe even enter their account name and password to "log in", thinking they are logging into an actual Blizzard account management service. I've seen fake sites that look like exact copies of the WoW Armory login page, for example. Even if they don't enter anything, the sites might exploit browser vulnerabilities to install malware that specifically targets WoW, trying to collect your password with a keylogger.

Once the scammers have access to your account, they wait until you've been offline for a couple hours and then they log in as you and pillage your account for everything valuable. Items that are locked to you, which you potentially worked for MONTHS to acquire, are sold to NPC vendors at the fixed vendor price (which often under-values them by a factor of 1000 or more; a crafted epic item that cost you over 10,000g for the materials and took you two months to produce, will get vendored for about 20g the same as any other epic item of that level).

Then they launder the gold they acquired through lots of accounts to try and hide where it came from. Maybe they do the same with valuable tradeable items, too; I'm not sure. I only know a couple of people who've been hacked like this, and it was devastating to them -- all of the stuff they'd spent months acquiring, destroyed by some scammer for the equivalent of about $10 USD in gold. You can petition Blizzard to freeze your account and restore it to an earlier state, but if your computer was compromised with a keylogger, its just a matter of time until it happens to you again. (I know one poor guy who has been hacked 3 times. Ordinary folks don't have much of a clue when it comes to securing their Windows computers against this kind of malware.)

Anyway, why do the scammers work this way? Why not just farm up the gold using bots or chinese wage slaves? Well, its like spam -- there's just enough gullible people out there, to make it a profitable endevour.

funny story (1)

xyph0r (1153429) | more than 3 years ago | (#32436990)

Funny story, back when I as a young-mid teen, I made a simple little phishing site aimed at habbo. Made accounts, told people to visit it. Filled rooms with furniture, used the acquired accounts to tell all their friends... I'm sure I could've worked out how much it was all worth, but who's stupid enough to spend money on virtual furniture anyway?

Why am i not surprised? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#32437000)

They call non-destructive duplication of (multimedia) data theft..

I'll help... (1)

OzJD (1613377) | more than 3 years ago | (#32438098)

I'm almost tempted to re-create the items, Tell the police I found them on the interwebs and they should return it to the owner. I'm being serious, but then i'd probably be done for IP theft against the games creators. Sad that this has come this far. P.S. I wonder if I'd get a reward?
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