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Dutch Supreme Court Sees Game Objects As Goods

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the you-stole-my-cloudsong dept.

Crime 136

thrill12 writes "The Dutch Supreme Court ruled on January 31st that the taking away of possessions in the game Runescape from a 13-year-old boy, who was threatened with a (real) knife, was in fact theft because the possessions could be seen as actual goods. The highest court explained this not by arguing it was software that was copied, but by stating that the game data were real goods acquired through 'effort and time investment,' and 'the principal had the actual and exclusive dominion of the goods' — up until the moment the other guy took them away, that is."

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MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (5, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | about 2 years ago | (#38882267)

They left out an important fact in the summary... he didn't lose the things under the rules of the game, he lost them because the suspect threatened him with a knife. This puts it in the same category as "give me your password or else" threats. Maybe robbery might be the wrong charge to give him, but there's got to be something illegal about gaining game objects by real-world threats.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (5, Insightful)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | about 2 years ago | (#38882321)

Never mind that, there's got to be something illegal about threatening someone with a knife.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

balzi (244602) | about 2 years ago | (#38882427)

Exactly!

I don't get why he got 144 hours of community service - surely armed "robbery", or at least armed something, deserves something more severe?

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#38882483)

Maybe there were multiple charges involved? Assault is not the same as assault with theft. The suspect was also still a juvenile at the time of the crime.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1, Funny)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 2 years ago | (#38885291)

Bailiff, whack his pee pee!

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#38882453)

Never mind that, there's got to be something illegal about threatening someone with a knife.

True that.

The real story here: how fucked up is the world that kids are threatening to shiv each other over goddamn digital trinkets? What's next, kids killing each other over Xbox games? [hotbloodedgaming.com]

... Aw, fuck.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | about 2 years ago | (#38882529)

Nothing new about that, kids have threatened kids over possessions since time immemorial.

Someone getting beat up in school for their lunch money is pretty much a cliché now, it's brought up so often.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#38883079)

Beating someone up for money is one thing; murdering them because you lost a game of Halo, or you're too lazy to find your own Chaos Talisman, is an entirely different situation.

I lost plenty of games of Tekken back in the day, but not once did I even consider bleeding the other guy for beating me.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | about 2 years ago | (#38883613)

All I mean is, it's a very old story. People keep acting like senseless violence was invented at about the same time as video games; it couldn't be further from the truth.

All throughout history there have been incidents of people - adult and child alike - drastically, physically overreacting to things. I remember two of my friends nearly going a few rounds over whether they were looking at a picture of the front or the back of a pokémon.

The BIG difference today is that we have an extremely efficient mass media system that just wants to shock your pants off, because sensationalism sells, and they have access to news from the entire world.

Consider where these kids lived and then try to imagine if you'd even have heard about this "back in the day" - then go back another 20-30 years and try to imagine whether THEY would have heard of it.

But because of our modern mass media, you're reading a story about one human being out of seven billion knifing another human being about seven billion - and asking yourself what's wrong with the world today.

Perhaps a better question to ask yourself is: what's wrong with ME when I apply the statistically insignificant actions of one person (again, one in seven billion, that means he represents 0.0000000000143% of the population) to an entire generation?

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#38883811)

Perhaps a better question to ask yourself is: what's wrong with ME when I apply the statistically insignificant actions of one person (again, one in seven billion, that means he represents 0.0000000000143% of the population) to an entire generation?

Well, gee, Wally, when you put it that way, I guess what's "wrong" with me is that I'm human, and thus prone to sensationalism and statistical error. We all can't be infallible machines that happen to be immune to social norms like you seem to think yourself.

For the record, I hail from an area in which, 20-30 years ago, kids brought guns to school daily and no one (who wasn't a rabbit or squirrel) ever got shot. Of course, back then we didn't get into fisticuffs arguing about whether we were looking at the front or the back of an animal, we just shot the damn thing, skinned it, and threw it in the stew.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

ForgedArtificer (1777038) | about 2 years ago | (#38883921)

Sorry about that; I meant "yourself" as a generalization, not an attack on you specifically.

I'm trying to make a point, not start a fight. I know we're all fallible creatures. Otherwise, what'd be the point?

What I'm trying to say is that I'm against any individual or group blaming video games for violence.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

noh8rz2 (2538714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38884443)

You guys need to duke this out like adults, with shivs and bows.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38886855)

Then film it, put it on Youtube.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38885957)

What I'm trying to say is that I'm against any individual or group blaming video games for violence.

Agreed.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38885915)

Being 19 at sentencing and the crime happening the previous year he'd be 17 or 18 by then, not exactly what I'd call a kid. Some people simply have really bad issues, I went to class with a guy that as a 19yo stabbed a 17yo to death with 15-20 knife wounds over two bottles of whiskey. My guess it could have been an xbox game or just about anything, as long as it made him snap. Unlike this guy though, he was committed to a mental institution and was released after some years.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38886135)

Niggers kill each other over shoes, so what you say is a distinct possibility.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38888141)

There have been a couple of cases in Korea where someone was killed over an argument in an online game, or theft of equipment in an online game.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (5, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#38882397)

Pft... knives are only like a D6 damage. Not much of a threat.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (5, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#38882441)

Well, it is when you're his age [dandwiki.com] . The kid only has half hit dice!

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (4, Informative)

DM9290 (797337) | about 2 years ago | (#38882591)

Pft... knives are only like a D6 damage. Not much of a threat.

Thats a big knife! I think you're thinking of a short sword.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

iamhassi (659463) | about 2 years ago | (#38882865)

Pft... knives are only like a D6 damage. Not much of a threat.

Thats a big knife! I think you're thinking of a short sword.

No, short sword is 3 or better. With knife you have to roll a 4 or better.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#38882797)

Very low AC from a t-shirt as well.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

msheekhah (903443) | about 2 years ago | (#38882845)

but when you're six, you only have d6 + con hit points

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

LordLucless (582312) | about 2 years ago | (#38883073)

It was a +3 Nerdslayer dagger

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38888203)

No such thing. The only wizards that know how to make one of those would rather destroy the world before crafting that abomination. :D

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (5, Informative)

CimmerianX (2478270) | about 2 years ago | (#38883149)

Knives are a 1d4 roll my friend.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

Talderas (1212466) | about 2 years ago | (#38883617)

And the guy had 6+con hit points as a 1st level commoner. So the bully has to have at least 4 points of strength over the kid to be able to kill him with a single stab unless he rolls a 19 or 20 on his attack roll and confirms the critical.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38884185)

... daggers are 1d4 and threaten a crit on 19-20 for x2

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38885017)

A simple dagger, sir, does 1d4.
I would much rather pack a long sword (base dmg 1d8 vs. small/med, 1d12 vs. large).

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38887521)

Not in D&D. Those do d3. What game has them do a full d6?

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38888193)

Knife d3, Dagger d4, Short Sword d6, Great Sword 2d6
or
Knife d3, Dagger d4+1, Short Sword d6, Great Sword 2d8
or
Knife or Dagger +1, Short Sword +2, Great Sword +5

It all depends on which game system you're using, in some of them you can kill anyone with a single good hit. (Of course there are plenty of others where it'll take about an hour to whittle away someone with a knife before they start feeling wounded...)

Yes, I couldn't resist the geek-points :D

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882431)

Theft seems the right term to me as the real owner was denied their use/possession.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

Whatsisname (891214) | about 2 years ago | (#38882555)

It will be interesting to see if someone attempts a lawsuit later if a threat and stealing take place entirely within the virtual world, e.g. some PvP game, and whether this ruling will be used as precedent.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (3, Funny)

squidflakes (905524) | about 2 years ago | (#38883333)

Whelp, there goes EVE.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

Splab (574204) | more than 2 years ago | (#38884705)

Came here for this. Very first thought I had when reading the subject - don't pop a dutch in Eve :-)

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38887543)

In game it's like losing a baseball game and they take your trophy for not losing any games.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#38882565)

Yep, this article has zero to do with game objects.

It's more like they're saying "if they threaten you in real life and you transfer something under duress it's still a theft"

Which has zero bearing on the physical or non. This has been pretty much been settled and answered in judiciaries around the globe for a long time.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

SydShamino (547793) | about 2 years ago | (#38882607)

Yeah, I'm disappointed. I started reading the comments hoping to learn that we could now prosecute ninjalooters...

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882679)

Whether or not goods were taken is the difference between "aggravated assault" and "armed robbery."

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (5, Interesting)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#38882999)

I rarely see any of my monthly wages in cash, it just gets added to the "total" number in my bank account.
In practice, money isn't much more tangible than in-game goods and most would say taking away money is theft, even if it was taken from a bank account.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38883169)

It still sets an incredibly dangerous precedent for developers. With balance patches be considered vandalism? If the was a knife threat let that be the charge, are threats of violence and possession of a weapon not serious enough crimes without adding in theft of something whose value should be in obtaining it?

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38883441)

You're missing the point. These virtual items are goods for the purpose of discerning robbery from assault. A patch threatens no one in particular.

Now if a game admin were shaking down people, then that would be a new case to be decided.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38885083)

Well it's not really that different to threatening someone with a knife and forcing them to transfer money from their bank account to yours.

The money is virtual too, no real money is exchanged.

It's still robbery either way.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (1)

Whibla (210729) | more than 2 years ago | (#38885857)

Unless the summary has been changed, and I see no edit addendum you appear to have failed your speed reading / skimming test:

...from a 13-year-old boy, who was threatened with a (real) knife...

And, despite most of the comments I've read so far, this is something new (tm). Money stolen from you (or your bank) at knife point has a real world equivalent and use. Car keys stolen from you at knife point have a physicality, and real world use. A book stolen from you at knife point has a real world, physical, existence.

This ruling puts (some) virtual items on the same footing. Now, I don't think this is an earth shattering precedent, but it is interesting for a couple of reasons: It goes some way towards legitimising virtual currencies (with attendant tax implications); it raises questions regarding the sale of virtual (game) goods, between players in mmo's, in violation of the tos of the game (according to first sale doctrine, and hence with additional legal implications); and it drives home the point, as if it really needed it, that 'on a computer' is not a valid distinction for avoiding laws, or something that requires new laws.

In reality I do suspect that none of the above (except maybe the taxable side of online 'earnings' will ever arise from this, but it is, to my mind anyway, still interesting, and not nothing. A rare display of common sense from a judge, if nothing else.

Re:MOD PARENT DOWN... oops, it's the story (2)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38887435)

OP here, I left out the knife part originally because for Slashdot I figured the real interesting fact was the "game data equals good" part. The original ruling already had the other person convicted because of the knife thing, but the defense argued that the crime could not constitute actual theft because there were no goods to be stolen. That is what the supreme court overturned, and that is the 'news' part in this story.

For Sale! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882313)

Widgets for Sale!

Valueless, digital Widgets for Sale!

How many can I sign you up for? It raises your artificial prestige.

Something-something tulip bulbs, something-something lessons learnt?

Re:For Sale! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882487)

Farmville called, they said something-something patent lawyer.

Re:For Sale! (0)

NalosLayor (958307) | about 2 years ago | (#38882635)

As messed up as Reddit already is, can you imagine what that place would be like if they allowed users to transfer karma from one person to another? No need to make it do anything, just allow it to flow. The site would implode in a week.

Aren't they actual goods per law? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882345)

If I purchase a song on iTunes, that's a "good."

If I share said song with all of my friends, that's apparently theft according to the RIAA/MPAA.

Why would it be any different than an abstract file/data purchased/acquired in a game?

Re:Aren't they actual goods per law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882459)

If I purchase a song on iTunes, that's a "good."

No, what you're buying on iTunes is a license

Re:Aren't they actual goods per law? (1)

Pope (17780) | about 2 years ago | (#38882695)

If I purchase a song on iTunes, that's a "good."

No, what you're buying on iTunes is a license

Same thing if you buy a record album. You get a license for the music that is tied to ownership of the physical good. It's been like for decades, but no one seems to have read that part of the liner notes. Hell, it's usually printed right on the label in the middle.

Re:Aren't they actual goods per law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38884945)

usually with some statement concerning the owner being prohibited to use the media for mass entertainment.

Re:Aren't they actual goods per law? (1)

SlithyMagister (822218) | about 2 years ago | (#38883455)

If I purchase a song on iTunes, that's a "good."

No, what you're buying on iTunes is a license

And therein lies the source of the whole fubar mess.
If I purchase something -- In other words I exchange money for the possession of ANYTHING -- the original owner can no longer expect to control my actions in relation to that item.
The so-called "licenses" are not valid contracts whatever the courts of whatever country may decide, since there is no negotiation involved.
Furthermore, they are coercive by their very nature, and the only thing that supports them is the threat of force. That force may be held to be legal -- in some cases, the mere threat of lawsuit cause economic harm to those even suspected of breach of one of these so-called implied agreements.
The law itself is sometimes the weapon wielded by the enforcers.

The only answer is for everyone to say, out loud, "No thank you" as they click the "I agree" box. If the one-sided "contract" can be held to be legally binding, they such a one-sided rejection of it is equally valid.

Re:Aren't they actual goods per law? (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38884531)

If the license isn't valid, then you're truly fucked, because the default copyright terms are even more restricted. I don't know if you want to argue for that...

Re:Aren't they actual goods per law? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#38882469)

I'm divided between wanting to point out that your examples were American, and that this is a Dutch case... and being too lazy^Hbusy to confirm that the same precedents exist in the Netherlands. Your choice!

Re:Aren't they actual goods per law? (1)

dkf (304284) | about 2 years ago | (#38882743)

I'm divided between wanting to point out that your examples were American, and that this is a Dutch case... and being too lazy^Hbusy to confirm that the same precedents exist in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands is a country that uses a pure statute law system (in common with many other European countries, but different from the US and the UK); precedents are technically not relevant as each case is supposed to be judged from the law as written. However, arguments as presented before a court can be looked at for their persuasive power, especially when those are from the relevant supreme court, even though they have to be reevaluated in terms of the facts of the case every time.

Legal systems: amazingly complex in subtle ways, even more so than programming languages.

Same Questions, Different Systems (1)

andersh (229403) | about 2 years ago | (#38882745)

The US uses Common Law, that's a very different system from the Civil Law (Roman) system used in most European countries (with the exception of the UK and Ireland).

Precedents don't have the same value in other legal systems, or rather they don't have to. You can't apply American law to European courts :)

Re:Same Questions, Different Systems (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 2 years ago | (#38882841)

Precedents don't have the same value in other legal systems, or rather they don't have to. You can't apply American law to European courts :)

And yet we have SCOTUS occupants who want to apply European law to US courts.

Re:Same Questions, Different Systems (1)

pseudofrog (570061) | about 2 years ago | (#38883379)

[citation needed]

All justices have mentioned foreign laws in their opinions, and none have ever stated that they want European laws to apply to the US.

No Islands of Law (3, Interesting)

andersh (229403) | about 2 years ago | (#38884007)

You don't seem to understand my point, this is not about sovereignty, the reason you can't apply American law to European courts is because the systems are vastly different. It's like using Imperial measurements in a Metric country, or even better like speaking Russian in China.

For example the Common Law principle of caveat emptor, "buyer beware", does not work the same in most European systems, where there are other balances, duties and rights for both seller and buyer. The equations are different, therefore different results.

Laws and their interpretations are not formed in a vacuum, international sources are considered, but not applied directly in most countries. They can function as guidance or useful examples. After all the UK is the original source of your legal system, laws, methods, rights and oldest precedents. You don't seem to mind those? Never mind the international treaties and conventions on trade and standardization.

Now, who's pushing that ACTA set of laws on Europe?

Even if they are good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38883089)

You own your download/cd/record that doesnt give you rights to reproduce it except for backup/archival purposes.

Discontinued service (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882389)

OK, what happens when a game company decides to shut down their MMO server and remove all your objects of "value"?

Re:Discontinued service (2)

Bucky24 (1943328) | about 2 years ago | (#38882413)

If it was WoW that got shut down we'd have riots in the streets...

Re:Discontinued service (1, Flamebait)

DogDude (805747) | about 2 years ago | (#38882499)

People who play WOW couldn't riot. They'd get winded by the time they got to the end of their driveways, give up, and order in some pizza and watch some Netflix.

Re:Discontinued service (2)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 2 years ago | (#38883583)

To be fair they would also send lots of angry emails.

Re:Discontinued service (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38884719)

People who play WOW couldn't riot. They'd get winded by the time they got to the end of their driveways, give up, and order in some pizza and watch some Netflix.

End of the driveway? We'd get winded halfway up the stairs. </basementjoke>

Re:Discontinued service (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38884779)

That's much, much better than mine.

Re:Discontinued service (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38887919)

That's much, much better than mine.

I play WoW. I know of what I speak.

Re:Discontinued service (5, Insightful)

darkwing_bmf (178021) | about 2 years ago | (#38882503)

It's the difference between "contract" law and "threaten someone with a knife" law.

Re:Discontinued service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882895)

OK, what happens when a game company decides to shut down their MMO server and remove all your objects of "value"?

That's when the said game company releases the sourcecode of their servers and lets the community take over.

Right?

Right?....

Re:Discontinued service (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#38883823)

Because the community will spend the millions of dollars every year to run the servers...

Re:Discontinued service (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38884575)

Where exactly do you think the company gets the money to do that, if not from the community of players?

Re:Discontinued service (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38888191)

By the users in the community who bought the game from them?

Amie Street (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882405)

So when Amie Street was sold to Amazon and I lost my song collection, it was theft. I just feel sorry that it would be too expensive to sue a US company for a non US citizen.

wow (1)

johnvile (2560845) | about 2 years ago | (#38882421)

I've invested loads of 'effort and time (and) investment,' in loads of stuff that got me no where. I wish I was Dutch. At least the courts would be on my side.

Subjective value. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882543)

People find value in the configuration of electrons in any given medium valuable for different reasons.

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38883315)

Too true. Not that I think threatening someone with bodily harm is ok, but these types of assertions by the courts perfectly exemplify how ignorant of reality with regards to economics the state is and how arbitrary and contradictory such definitions are. Defining goods as a function of 'effort and time investment' is fine so long as one uses that definition consistently and correctly. One could define love as rape for all I care, so long as that definition isn't then used to talk about how romantic love is. Unfortunately, that is exactly how laws work; they set up definitions not through deductions from axioms, but through political power. The inevitable contradictions that arise are patched as best as can be done, but such constructs are still poor simulacra of reality. It often reminds me of the Ptolemaic solar model and how complicated it became in order to approximately describe how things really are as seen from Earth.

Interesting (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882443)

I found that http://www.earthsquotes.com is the best quote site on the internet, free for all to use!

now taxable :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882467)

So if the courts have not classified these as objects, could they now not be TAXed since everything as an object is taxable :)

This seems bizarre (2)

maroberts (15852) | about 2 years ago | (#38882509)

The knife threat and kicking were obviously a form of assault/ bodily harm and should have easily swamped in terms of sentencing any charges for a very minor act of theft.

I am very surprised that the Supreme Court simply didn't say that the issue of whether virtual items are real property or not was moot in view of the more serious offences committed by the defendants.

Re:This seems bizarre (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882631)

yeh I would assume a robbery is still counts a robbery even if the victim doesn't have any money

Re:This seems bizarre (5, Interesting)

Carik (205890) | about 2 years ago | (#38882649)

It could be that the judge wanted to tack on more time... since it looks like he could only impose community service (possibly because everyone involved was a minor?), it may have given him an option to impose a harsher sentence.

I could easily see that: "OK, the max I'm allowed to impose on a minor for a single offense is 100 hours, and that's for threats of violence. But you deserve more punishment, so what else can I do? Oh... you also stole something. That's another 44 hours. If I could think of anything else to add, I would, so count yourself lucky, kid, and don't do it again."

Re:This seems bizarre (1)

Meeni (1815694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38887999)

Sentences are usually not cumulative in european law. But I don't know about the specifics of Netherland.

Re:This seems bizarre (2)

rhysweatherley (193588) | about 2 years ago | (#38882985)

The theft is MOTIVE. Assault with a deadly weapon or threatened assault can have many motives: robbery, jealously, bigotry, random act of cruelty, etc. The motive helps determine the type of sentence handed out. If reassigning game objects under threat isn't a theft-related motive, then what is it? Which sentencing rules should the court apply? The court in this case chose to be conservative and stick with ordinary theft - it would be up to the Dutch government to create a wholly new "virtual theft" sentencing category if there was some reason to do so. Frankly I don't see how forcible transfer of game objects differs from someone threatening me if I don't electronically transfer the contents of my bank account - that's also a virtual number in a computer somewhere. So I think that this is the correct approach for courts to take.

Re:This seems bizarre (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | more than 2 years ago | (#38887611)

If you declare the game stuff stolen then the kid gets it back. That's a very real benefit for him.

Makes perfect sense (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882563)

Money is created electronicly by central banks. No real "printing" only virtual. If you threatened somebody with a knife at their throat and forced them to electronicly transfer $10,000 it's the same thing.

So... (5, Interesting)

forkfail (228161) | about 2 years ago | (#38882661)

Jail time for ninjas?

Import tariffs for overseas gold farmers?

Sales tax on the WoW auction house?

Income tax on raid loot?

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38882857)

Sure, but it would be in-game jail time and in-game currency taxes, since the acts happen within the game.
In the case here, however, the act of theft (or rather armed robbery) was committed IRL.

Re:So... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#38886241)

The tax situation is why gold selling is almost always frowned upon. If it had a legitimate exchange to real world money you might have the tax any gains (sort of depends on the rules around gambling income wherever you live). It would get very ugly very fast.

Re:So... (1)

houghi (78078) | about 2 years ago | (#38883105)

Extension of ACTA to include these kind of thefts.

Re:So... (3, Funny)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about 2 years ago | (#38884179)

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

Are you running for president, by chance?

This is kind of a grey area. (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 2 years ago | (#38882785)

The crux of the argument IMHO is whether or not the person from whom the data was taken still had access to the data after the fact. Data is tricky because it can be both taken or copied depending on who has control over the data. In a game, data can be stolen from one individual because he has no access to the data after the fact stemming from the fact that the game creator likely has control of the data on their servers.

It guess it could be best viewed as, if somone electronically transfers funds from your bank account, it would be considered theft. No physical property was taken, but at the same time you lost access to your 'wealth'.

Re:This is kind of a grey area. (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 2 years ago | (#38882961)

This is probably the best analogy to use since hard currency is becoming much less frequently used. Your "wealth" is entirely data until you actually go and have it converted into something physical (whether currency or other goods). The fact that this particular data had no mechanism for conversion to tangible property isn't really relevant; it still had some form of measurable worth, and the controller of it was deprived of its use via threats of physical violence.

Re:This is kind of a grey area. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#38883319)

The fact that this particular data had no mechanism for conversion to tangible property isn't really relevant

Not only that, but it could, at least theoretically, be converted to tangible property. In-game items being sold for cash is not unheard of. If it has potential cash value, it's real property.

Re:This is kind of a grey area. (1)

EnempE (709151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38885229)

The important point here is that something that does not physically exist, and the person never had any physical possession of, as the data resided on a server somewhere, that were not obtained in exchange for real world goods, services or currency were considered to have an intrinsic value. This is important because the player did not create the items, but only had them attributed to him through the act of playing the game. It acknowledges that something can have a value even if it cannot be measured in any physical sense, and that depriving one of that value is a form theft.

Sheldon (2)

spyder-implee (864295) | about 2 years ago | (#38883133)

Sheldon would be very happy with this ruling.

Interesting... (1)

DaveHowe (51510) | about 2 years ago | (#38883567)

Given that jagex have always stated that in-game objects are theirs, and can't be (eg) sold outside the game, I wonder if having a court ruling to the contrary will (again for example) make disabling accounts for real-world trading "theft" by jagex?

you fail 1t (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38885907)

lesson 4nd fuelin6 internal

Uh oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38887405)

Glad I'm not there. :) If I were, and anything done representing an expenditure of time and effort is suddenly considered to have value, regardless of the motivation for doing it... I would owe my ex-wife for all the sex we had... especially since it turned out she was a whore... gosh I'd owe her a fortune!

The Law of Unintended Consequences suggests that court may have to revisit this nonsense, because what they just did was make anything done for any motivation potentially lucrative. Meaning there could be not only income tax on game winning, loot, trades resulting in more value for one party than another... but what about all the assaults, batteries, and murders that take place in cyberspace? Can you imagine...

"So you have like, a level 56 Paladin?"

"Yeah, and a Sword of Mygar, it's pretty sweet!"

"How many experience points does he have?"

"Here, look... 56,012, 278 E.P."

"Do you know what the average number of E.P. you get for each kill?"

"I think about 25."

(56012278 over 25 is 2240491.12 ) "Okay, you're under arrest. Place your hands on your head. You have the right to remain silent..."

"What?!? Let go of me! What did I do?!? Seriously!"

"You're going to be charged with 2240491.12 counts of murder... all the goblins, orcs, flying killer whatchamacallits you killed... you're going to burn, pal... we'll probably just round it to 2240490, though. Makes the paperwork easier."

Yeah, something like that.

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