Will Dutch Court prosecute virtual theft?
Dutch prosecutors have demanded 180 hours of community service and conditional youth detention with a 2 year probation in case of theft of virtual goods in Runescape. This is the first time a Dutch Judge will have to say something on the value of virtual goods.
The suspects, two boys aged 14 and 15 alledgedly forced a 13 year old to transfer virtual items to their account in september 2007. Aside from physical abuse, the main issue in this case will be to judge wether or not virtual items can be considered goods which can be stolen and this can be considered a crime. If these goods have value to the owner, and he can no longer use them, then by traditional law this is judged theft. We'll have to see if this classifies in the same way.
It's not the first time a Virtual World makes it to Dutch court, last year a Dutchmen was apprehended for stealing furniture from Habbo hotel worth 4.000 Euro. By hacking accounts the Dutchmen could transfer these objects. Because Habbo Credits were bought with real money, the man was charged with hacking and theft. Uptill now, no conviction followed though.
The judge is expected to make a ruling in the Runescape case next week.