Arrested For Deleting Online Game Weapons

from the the-horror dept

In the past, we’ve written about how unclear the law is as it relates to virtual worlds such as online games. How do the laws of the real world that you live in impact what happens within a virtual world? For example, if stealing from a character is part of the game, but virtual goods can be transferred outside of the game for real money… the law can get tricky. Someone could claim that even if stuff was stolen in the playing of the game, it cost real economic value. Over in Japan, a woman has been charged with a crime for breaking into an ex-boyfriend’s online video game account and deleting various weapons he had collected. She’s being charged with illegal computer access, for logging in as him, but you have to wonder where the line gets drawn. What if she, in the character of the game, had managed to take away the same items she deleted from within his account? This case is a bit more clear cut, but there are going to be a lot more cases where the line between the laws of the real world and the terms of service of the game itself get very blurry.

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Comments on “Arrested For Deleting Online Game Weapons”

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Steve Mueller (user link) says:

It Seems Obvious

It seems obvious to me. If you get the weapons in the context of the game, that’s part of the game and legal (even if you, say, hire a bunch of other gaming characters to help get those weapons). If you hack into the game or use somebody else’s account without permission, that’s a computer crime.

A more interesting scenario would be if you exploit a bug in the game to get those weapons. For example, if there’s a God mode for testers but you find out how to enable it for your character, then use that to steal the weapons, is that a crime? If so, does intent matter? If you accidentally invoked the bug, that may be one thing, but if you knowingly used a cheat, that could be another.

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