Dutch Teens Convicted Of Virtual Theft

Dutch Teens Convicted Of Virtual Theft

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Two Dutch teenagers have been convicted of theft in a case involving virtual items taken from a computer game.

The pair, aged 14 and 15, were sentenced to a total of 360 hours of community service for "coercing" a 13-year-old boy into transferring a "virtual amulet and a virtual mask" from his account to theirs in the game Runescape, according to a report by Yahoo News. In its ruling, the Leeuwarden District Court said, "These virtual goods are goods (under Dutch law), so this is theft."

Eurogamer says this is the first time such a ruling has been made in Holland, and that cases involving virtual items are rare and often not prosecuted. In February, police in the city of Minnesota in the U.S. refused to look into the case of a player who lost all his items and in-game currency after his Final Fantasy XI account was broken into. Despite having a real-world value of about $3800, the police said "game points were 'devoid of monetary value'," and thus no actual theft had taken place.

There is one potentially mitigating factor in the Dutch case that may have helped the courts reach their decision, however. The virtual theft was preceded by a real-life ass-kicking: The two thieves beat up their victim and threatened him with a knife.

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Its intellectual property, but theoretically its an asset of RuneScape, not the boy. Its an unprecedented hearing, but really, these kids are barely into their teens and seem to be just mucking about. Its not as if having items in RuneScape is the epitome of skill or effort or anything, really. Still, this is probably a decent ruling in terms of both putting the boys back on the right track to morality, as well as setting an example for the scammer community.

The two thieves beat up their victim and threatened him with a knife.

I get the feeling the case may be more centred around this part rather than the theft of two runescape items.

Amnestic:

The two thieves beat up their victim and threatened him with a knife.

I get the feeling the case may be more centred around this part rather than the theft of two runescape items.

Couldn't agree more.

Gxas:

Amnestic:

The two thieves beat up their victim and threatened him with a knife.

I get the feeling the case may be more centred around this part rather than the theft of two runescape items.

Couldn't agree more.

Indeed... even if they didn't qualify under theft statutes surely they were under extortion statues, right?

(Nice forum you have here. It'd be a shame, y'know, if something... happened to it, understand?)

-- Steve

What people tend to forget is that actual money (coins and notes) are just as virtual in worth as online virtual items.

In this case the court decided correctly.

Yeah, but he was playing Runescape. I'd have congratulated them and then thrown the book at them for playing Runescape, too.

I do not sympathise for the loss of virtual items (a mask and amulet if my short term memory serves me well) and believe that it's simply a risk of playing MMORPG's...sooner or later someone is going to be after your gear/money.

I am largely concerned with the part that detailed the threats with a knife (this is in fact a serious crime rather than petty gamer behavior).

I would treat both parts of the incident as seperate and deal with them accordingly.

rob_d:
What people tend to forget is that actual money (coins and notes) are just as virtual in worth as online virtual items.

I agree that the items themselves are worthless bits of data, but the true value comes from the work done to get them. If someone wants to pay for something then that item has value. If you want a grain of sand badly enough to pay for it then that worthless grain now has real world value. It's the same way with actual money: Say everyone gets paid for doing nothing. Since no work was done to get the money, it becomes worthless, and vice versa.

but the true value comes from the work done to get them

As our friendly neighbourhood goblins are quick to remind us...
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Time is money, friend

I believe that the 'theft' (virtual theft) in Runescape being taken to court and the kids being given community service is a world gone mad. It is a game! If the boy was so scarred but such an act in a game, then when he gets out into the real world he is going to be wetting his pants every five minutes.

But the knife attack just shows how low people will stoop over online gaming, and makes you think how sad the world is truly becoming.

Regardless of the knife incident, this sets a precedent for future cases... in my opinion, a 'landmark' case in VOs.

Iron Mal:

I would treat both parts of the incident as seperate and deal with them accordingly.

Yes, this particular case was independent from the physical threat, it was ruling solely on the value of the goods stolen. They are treating them separately, and so this is definitely a notable case, though it's not the first time the justice system in the Netherlands has taken action over virtual property:

http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2007/11/dutch-police-ar.html

It comes as absolutely no surprise to me that Runescape was somehow involved here. Worst community EVER.

 

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