Dutch Supreme Court Rules That Free Virtual Items Theft Is Real Word Crime

The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that theft of virtual goods is a crime punishable by real-world criminal sentence, even if the stolen items were free.

The crime that prompted the ruling took place in 2007 when two teenagers beat a 13 years old boy and threatened him with a knife until he logged in to RuneScape and transferred a (virtual) mask and amulet to one of his assailants' characters.

A lower court has already sentenced the offenders to 144 hours of community service each in 2009, but one of them appealed to the country supreme court on the grounds that the stolen goods "were neither tangible nor material and, unlike for example electricity, had no economic value."

The Supreme Court however counter-argued that the stolen virtual items have value because of the "time and energy invested" to acquire them.

The court's logic sounds right to us. After all, people don't still worthless stuff at knifepoint. Make sure to express your opinion in the comments section below.

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I totally agree, but . . . enforcing what this means . . .

After playing Final Fantasy XI for over 8 years and paying a monthly fee for 3 POL accounts ($24.95 or so EACH per month now for 8+ years), I totally agree there is value in online games. Thing is the producers of these games really don't want it this way because of the implication to them should the shut down the game and/or something happens to their servers (e.g. lose your account). As I live in the USA this ruling doesn't directly affect me, but courts can take the ruling and logic under advisement to the extent it covers your local (in my case USA) law. It would be interesting / nice to have a similar court case go before the US Supreme Court. Would the MMORPG companies stand behind convicted criminals and try to get them off? It could have a negative effect upon their company's standing with parents, law enforcement, the public, etc. Yet, to have the court rule in a criminal case virtual items have value means in civil court it would be much easier to prove the same and thus . . . Time will tell the tale and I look forward to seeing how this one turns out. QUESTION: Did any MMORPG companies file briefs with any of the courts in this case??? It would be helpful to know.

I totally agree, but . . . enforcing what this means . . .

After playing Final Fantasy XI for over 8 years and paying a monthly fee for 3 POL accounts ($24.95 or so EACH per month now for 8+ years), I totally agree there is value in online games. Thing is the producers of these games really don't want it this way because of the implication to them should the shut down the game and/or something happens to their servers (e.g. lose your account). As I live in the USA this ruling doesn't directly affect me, but courts can take the ruling and logic under advisement to the extent it covers your local (in my case USA) law. It would be interesting / nice to have a similar court case go before the US Supreme Court. Would the MMORPG companies stand behind convicted criminals and try to get them off? It could have a negative effect upon their company's standing with parents, law enforcement, the public, etc. Yet, to have the court rule in a criminal case virtual items have value means in civil court it would be much easier to prove the same and thus . . . Time will tell the tale and I look forward to seeing how this one turns out. QUESTION: Did any MMORPG companies file briefs with any of the courts in this case??? It would be helpful to know.

punishment

you guys are all missing the point of why the court ruled it the way they did, and punished the kids for theft rather than for the assault. They punished the kids for the theft so that situation can be prevented from happening again in the future. If they were to punish the kids for the assault, yeah they'd be locked up, but that crime could happen again, and then it'd just have to be dealt with again. They were able to, because of that case, broaden what is all considered to be valued. This brought in video games, internet, and basically anything you spend time on.

lucky them

they should thank god thats all they got charged with, technically they could be charged with kidnapping for depriving him of his freedom and extortion and assault with a deadly weapon. so only an idiot would complain about they community service they recieved

You guys don't realize

That Mask is worth 200mil in the game the amulet 20mil, which can be sold fast for 100$ real money and I mean fast. This was Armed Robbery, don't judge it as a Video game item, judge it as 100$ because that's what they stoled.

its obvious

its obvious that the court had some runescape gamers..or gamers..that know the feeling of working so hard to get items..... but...still the punishment should have been for the assault and not the theft

O...M...G

seriously? so does this mean i can brutally assault that fella that camped me countless times in WoW? "Its was just self defence officer..i swear it!" or how about the numerous times i was ninja looted? seriously guys...anyone that doesnt think those guys should recieve psychiatric help (at the very least) has got problems... its just a game...get over it...this is stupid. hmmm...maybe a double barrel sawed off shotgun for the fella that stole that WoW account...i put plenty of time and money into that thing...and i never got it back......is that a legit reason to threaten somebody? over a mask....in runescape non-the-less...bloody hell people

First off, the kids should be

First off, the kids should be punished for the assault, not the theft. Assault would earn more punishment time than theft, especially if the theft is under a certain amount of dollars, in my state $500. Since you can't actually put a price on a vertal item unless it was actually bought with real currency in the first place, it would count as a misdimeanor at best. Hacking is a crime, as well as profiting off of copyrighted material(gold selling) and have laws written specifically for them. Threatening or griefing a player is normally bannable in most games, but not necessarily a crime. The game publishers can't do anything about out of game violence, the out of game courts can't actually do anything about something that happens in game either. Had there not been the actual assault, their case would not have held up in court at all because technically, the child gave the items to the assailants. There is also the case that games actually put in an option to steal items from other players such as looting a corpse if you defeat them or pickpocketing. At one time, years ago, Runescape had something similar to this. If it still has those mechanics(I wouldn't know since I've graduated to much more mature games), I don't see why they didn't just do that. Or... maybe offer a trade to the kid. Or hack his account since its not as bad a crime as assaulting a kid. Well... apparently assaulting a kid isn't such a big crime after all if all they got was community service. That would have ended up getting the kids juvy in my day. To be honest, the title should say, its not worth it to beat up a kid in real life for virtual materials or something if they're trying to steer kids away from moronic deeds.

The Supreme Court however

The Supreme Court however counter-argued that the stolen virtual items have value because of the "time and energy invested" to acquire them. what........ f**k of... its a f**king game..... you dont punish someone over a game WHAT you sould punish them over is the fact that they treatened someone with a knife, beat them up, then made the punishment worse because it was over a game... which is sad.... "oh im gonna rape because you shot me in the face on call of duty"......... ...SAD ACT!

They said counter argued, the

They said counter argued, the point of a counter argue is to counter their argument... Not to change the subject to anywhere else, the boys said they have no economical value, the court said people invest time in them. Read more carefully next time.

misunderstood article

The Dutch Court never said that the ingame theft was a crime. They only stated that the time and effort can be valued. It's the beating and threatening that was the crime, and the judge only found that the 'value' argument was not good for lowering the punishment. Beating someone up and threatening him must be punished. Then you can't say, 'well, i wasn't going to steal anything'

i agree that something should

i agree that something should be done about those boys cause if they are going to do something like that over a video game (not saying im not a hardcore gamer cause i spend time bata testing games) but just think what these boys are going to do to people in the real world when they get older....... makings for a serial killer if u ask me!!!!!!!

Wait, these kids were still

Wait, these kids were still playing runescape in 2007???? Hahahahahahahaha fucking losers. Even when I played runescape I never thought, oh shit I want that dudes shittily rendered cape I'm gonna go to his house and put a box cutter to his jugular and force him to give it to me. Anyway, these kids should be punished but yes violence begets violence and you are only inviting bad Karma with that so I say, being teenage gamers, lock them in a room with no electricity for about 6 months while you play video games right outside just loud enough for them to hear lol

get over yourself

Yes, because being a beta tester meas that you helped make a game....Get over yourself. The only thing you do is check for and report bugs in a game that is already made...And given the gaming market of today, you're more like an alpha tester, as most games are being released in beta .

As I'm a studying game

As I'm a studying game designer and active beta tester myself, I know the value of beta testers. While they don't offer the initial creativity in a game, if the publisher/designer listen to their input the way they should, a beta tester is a very valuable asset and in many cases. Certain features you see in a game may not have ever been added without a beta tester. So in a way, you are as wrong as you are right. However, you are right about the gaming market and its a sad thing that a person has to beta test after they pay money for the game. I also agree with his comment though. I don't want people killing over the games I make any more than the next designer/publisher does. There is a line between what is real and what is not and what you can and should be able to get away with in game and what you can and should in real life. There is no fine line hear. It is common sense and those that can't accept that should not be playing games to begin with. If they don't know better, they are either too young or too stupid to be allowed this priviledge.

What the hell

Really, they beat the hell out of and nearly killed a 13 year old for a virtual mask? is that what this world has come to these days? 1. The shit heads who did this should be put in a detention centre. 2 . those people need to get a life, no offence to other gamers (I'm a gamer to) it's just that if you are going to hurt people for game content you shouldn't be around any electronic games at all, you don't deserve it.

Theres more to it than that, that this article doesn't cover.

That mask, if it's one of the H'ween masks as I'd imagine, is worth around 100-200 million of RuneScape's ingame currency. This translates to between 50-100$ of real world cash, if sold. They most likely planned on selling it, and they would have made a nice chunk of money off of it. The game my be free to play, but people have put their own prices on the things within it.

This may be the legal ruling

This may be the legal ruling needed to put a dent in account thefts and the sale of stolen accounts from MMOs. By assigning a value to the account when they try to sell it the thieves are conceding that the account and the data associated with it have an economic value.

WTF?!

I'm sorry, but WTF is wrong with these people? The assailants physically, in the real world, beat the hell out of the kid and threaten to kill him... yet the "theft" of virtual in-game merchandise is what they get punished for? How about assault and battery? Attempted murder?

Illegal

No government has the authority to pass such a law as the developer owns all rights to you character, inventory, and even the character name once you input it in there game. No, assault charges are enough. Plus, how would you be able to prove this? Also, would the court have ruled the same way if the assault victim stole the assailants' items in retaliation?

legal

So are you saying its legal to take things from peoples accounts because the developer owns everything? So if somebody decided to beat the crap out of a military commander to reveal troop locations on his government account that person should only get an assault charge? The point is even if the items stolen didnt belong to him they belong to the developer and therefore they are still stealing from somebody.

Subject

Inventing a new law for that is insane! They should have charged the agressors for attempt of murder or something else, but what the authorities did is ridiculous and they've only proven their stupidity

Reply

This is also against the law in the US. Not only were these kids lucky as hell, but in the US, they would have been charged with Armed Robbery, Online Piracy, and Assault on a Minor. Just goes to show though how stupid people can really be. I mean, it's a game, for Christ's sake. My question is why would you do that in the first place? O_O

how stupid can who get? the

how stupid can who get? the people making the laws or those kids? No mater what is being taken, stealing and beating a minor is wrong, and it's stupid to steal something of no value at all. It's idiots like that who ruined, is ruining, and will ruin our world.

Maybe if kids had been taught

Maybe if kids had been taught how to behave acceptably before being spoilt with consoles/video games that they don't deserve in 1st place the incident probably wudnt have happened.kids get gadgets far too easy these days if the boys who did that to another boy were my son ldve given the poor victim their console n games,call it karma.

I hope they don't play EVE Online!

I realise i am commenting on an old ass story, but What exactly would the punishment be for Scamming someone out of money or stealing someones goods in EVE Online [which, in the rules of the game, is perfectly acceptable and there are quite a few elaborate ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes that are set up specifically to scam people] Would these people, who scam items worth sometimes Billions of ISK [EVE's In-Game Currency] or money itself, be illegal according to Dutch Law. I wonder what the sentence would be for the guy who stole 1,034,000,000,000 ISK [Real world value approx $51,677.50 USD]

Actually a woman in Japan was

Actually a woman in Japan was arrested for the Murder of a Avatar in Maple Story because he divorced her and she logged into the account and deleted the Avatar aka Killed him back in 2008. I do not know if she got charged but if she did it would have been a 5 years in jail or a fine of $5,000. Also people have been jailed for stealing in game items from people. Though for them two boys to be not charged with GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm which is causing GBH with intent in this case intent to steal and threaten) and Attempted Murder is beyond me. (BTW I am British so our laws are different again)

Missing the point, much?

Ummm... so, they were sentenced for theft of a virtual item? Not for, oh I don't know, beating little kids and threatening them with knives!? Why does it matter WHAT they stole or WHY they did it!? This is assault, not theft!

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