Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

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.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Steve Mueller, Jan 20th, 2005 @ 2:44pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Spunky, Jan 22nd, 2005 @ 7:10am

    Re: It Seems Obvious

    Um, this is just way to sad.

    I can accept that a crime may have been committed *if* she illegally hacked into his account, but other than that anything done in a game is just that - a GAME!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    lol, Sep 4th, 2006 @ 3:21pm

    and lol

    bunch of weirdos good revenge haha

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    JRawkus, Jan 25th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    The problem these guys face is that, in the eye's of the law - everything that is obtained in the game is the intelectual property of the game designers - and can therefore never be owned by the play. It's similar to buying computer software - you dont actually buy the software - just a license to use it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Jon, Jul 21st, 2010 @ 10:13pm

    Re: Re: It Seems Obvious

    Fuck you I lost the GAME.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Michiel Drenth, Nov 29th, 2012 @ 12:56am

    Bizar situation

    It had to come to this one day... Like stated here before, breaking into a computer is really illegal and they have a case with that. I do get the case about selling virtual weapons in the real world, but nevertheless this is really bizarre!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    chris, Mar 29th, 2013 @ 1:06pm

    Oh myy

    Wow, this is unbelievable!
    Unauthorized access to someone's account is definitely a crime though...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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