Court Ruling in Runescape Case
Last week I blogged a little newsbite from the Netherlands, where the case of theft of virtual goods was laid before the court in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. As expected, the court has reached a virdict and has sentenced two boys to conditional detention and civil services because of the virtual theft from the game Runescape.
On September 6 last year the boys from Leeuwarden, at the time both 14 years old, forced a thirteen-year-old victim to hand over virtual goods, a mask and an amulet, and to transfer the items to their account. The thirteen year old had collected a large amount of credits with which artifacts could be purchased. The boys forced him to a house and there he was kicked and threatened with a knife, until he transferred the goods and credits..
The lawyers argued during the meeting that virtual goods do not really exist, and transferring it does not conflict with the rules of the game, but the court thought otherwise. The court charged one boy with 160 hours community service and 1 month of conditional youth detention, where the second received a sentence of 200 hours of community service and two months probation. a month conditional jeugddetentie, the other 200 hours of labor and two months conditional detention. The prosecution had demanded 180 hours of service and 1 month detention with a 2 year probation.
Christiaan Alberdingk Thijm of SOLV Lawyers considers it an important ruling. He had been convinced that virtual theft should be punishable prior to the lawsuit. "It is a confirmation of standards which we find perfectly normal in the physical world, but still had no legal framework in the virtual world . Of course the use of physical violence played an important part in the ruling, as well as the fact that both boys showed no repentance. " Alberdingk Thijm expects the verdict will have a broad impact. In the past it has already been determined that electricity is a good, but not software. Virtual furniture are now in any case under the definition of a good, hence can be prosecuted under normal civil law and also concepts like fencing, computer misuse and destruction may be applied to virtual worlds or games.