Friday, December 12, 2008

A Cool Virtual Yule

It's that time of year again, not only in this world, but the entire metaverse is gearing up for christmas. Time to put up the Christmas Tree and turn on the snow on Sogeti island in Second Life.
Here are some images from other virtual worlds getting ready for christmas:


Christmas in Runescape

Christmas in Club Pinguin

The worlds largest 3D chat, IMVU, is known for heavily advertising its service throughout the web, so small wonder they've put up special christmas ads.
Christmas in World of Warcraft


Through email I received a christmas teaser from Twinity

Also in the World of Entropia things are getting dressed up for christmas. In the Entropia Forum (clothing section) I found a number of christmas pants, jackets and hats.

No doubt christmas will be celebrated in more worlds. Please send your images to veejay [at] mindblizzard [dot] com to have your christmas posted here and a link to your site.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Court Ruling in the RuneScape Case (2)

I thought I was pretty fluent in English, and my Dutch beyond question as I'm a native speaker. However, when digging into the actual court ruling in the RuneScape case as a follow up to the brief summary I posted last week, I had a lot of trouble understanding the contents in Dutch, not being legally educated and at times had even more trouble finding a suitable translation.

I did give it a try though, as the Google translation of the original document, which now circulates various blogs does not make sense at times. As it is a very lengthy document I've left out a number of things, these are:

  • Proof Recital
  • Evidence Recital
  • Proof Declaration
  • Quantification
  • Verdict Motivation

If so desired, I'll take a shot on those as well.

Court Ruling

COURT LEEUWARDEN

Criminal Division
Prosecutor number 17/676123-07 VEV

Verdict of the full court for the treatment of the case of the declarant against the accused dated October 21, 2008

[suspect],
born on [birth date] 1992 [birthplace],
residing at [address suspect]

The court has paid notice to the investigation presented at the hearing held on October 7, 2008. The suspect appeared, assisted by RA Sch├╝tz, lawyer in Leeuwarden.

Criminal Charge

A photocopy, certified by the Registrar, of the subpoena is attached to this ruling from which the content of the charge should be considered in this ruling. Clerical errors in the verdict will be corrected in reading. These errors will not hurt the suspects' interests.

Prosecutor's Claim

The prosecutor has argued at the hearing

  1. Conviction for the primary charge
  2. Assignment of Civil Service for the duration of 180 hours or 90 days youth detention alternatively as well as conditional youth detention for four weeks with a probationary period of two years;

Consideration regarding the request of the counsel to the hearing of witnesses.

The counsel called for the case to be held at the hearing, as provided for in Article 328 in conjunction with Article 315 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as it has become a necessity that the principal, the co-defendant and the interrogators of the suspects will be heard as witnesses. The court quotes the argumentation by the counsel.

Client strongly denies the alleged conduct. He claims not to have used any violence and has not seen the co-defendent use violence as appeared on the charges. The violence and threats comitted by the [suspect] as the declarant claims does not correspond with the profile of [suspect] obtained from the report of the Council for Child Protection.. It is inconceivable that someone like [suspect] , as we have got to know him through various recommendations, would conduct such violent behavior all of a sudden. According to [suspect] the declarant has erroneously connected the acts the [co-defendant] allegedly comitted with those of [suspect] . Possibly the declarant was confused by the acts of [co-defendant] in such a way that the criminal charge may give a wrong interpretation of the facts. The file clearly shows the declarant was quite upset. The fact that [co-defendant] also incriminated [suspect] , can be explained from the fact that [co-defendant] hoped to get a better deal if he would lay off part of the charges with [suspect] according to [suspect] .

[suspect] states that he has denied all involvement at the police in a first interrogation, but when the police made clear they did not believe him and told him he would possibly have to stay much longer at the police office, he acknowledged the accusations. The charge does not reflect this first denial of [suspect] .

Concluding from the previous arguments [suspect] thinks it is necessary that the declarant, [co-defendant] and interrogators will be heard to find the truth. The declarant and [co-defendant] to review the accuracy of the charge and interrogation concerning the incriminating facts to [suspect]; the interrogators to verify if [suspect] indeed was in denial at first and whether [suspect] has spontaneously told the story as it appears in the charge or if parts in the interrogation report or the charge have been adopted from the declaration of [co-defendant] which [suspect] may have acknowlegded.

Since due to a typographical error in the address on the letters which I sent to [suspect] these letters were returned to sender (in a late stage) and did not reach [suspect] , this case could not be discussed with him before friday september 26, 2008, being 10 days prior to this hearing which was the reason for not calling for the aforementioned withnesses 10 days prior to the hearing.

The court is considering as follows. In short, the counsel has argued the reliability of the charge and statements in his request. According to the judgement of this court this request is insufficiently substantiated according to legal standards and the documents and the argumentation at the hearing, also considering ther argumentation of the suspect , no indication has risen to further hear these persons as witnesses.

The constituent 'good' as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal Code

The Public Prosecutor has, in short, argued in court that the virtual amulet and the virtual mask are goods which fall under the constituent 'good' as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal code, whereas the counsel has argued the opposite during the hearing.

The court is considering as follows. In this case we have to deal with virtual goods, namely a virtual amulet and a virtual mask from the online game "RuneScape". The following is known ex officio to the court about "RuneScape". "RuneScape is one of the larger online games and especially popular among the youth. Millions of players, socalled online gamers, from all over the world play the game "RuneScape". "RuneScape is set in a virtual world in which the players can participate with their carachters. Players may fullfill assignments ( 'quests'), fight other players and deploy other activities. To this end players can procure 'items' such as a mask or amulet. The items each have a value. This value is expressed in this game in 'coins', fluctiating on the basis of supply and demand of these items.With those 'coins' a player can train skills. The more 'coins' a player posesses, the stronger he is in the game "RuneScape".

Declarant, suspect and co-defendant each had an account, which gave access to playing "RuneScape" and were also active players of this game. Declarant had in his posesssion a virtual amulet and a virtual mask.

Article 310 of the Penal Code aims to protect the property of citizens In answering the question whether or not virtual goods are 'goods' in the meaning of that article, this aim has to be taken into consideration. There are a number of criteria that must be met for these virtual goods to considered 'goods' in the meaning of this article.


First of all, it is important if a good has value to the posessor. This value does not need to be expressed in money. In today's society, the virtual goods from the online computer game "RuneScape" have become of significance. To large numbers of online players these goods have value. The more virtual goods a player has, the stronger he is in the game.Moreover, the virtual goods are bought and sold with money, e.g. through the internet or schoolyard. From this case it also shows that the mask and amulet had value to both the declarand and the suspect and co-defendant.

Of interest is that a 'good' need not be material. It has been determined by case law that non-material goods, such as electricity and giro transfers, are labelled 'goods' as well in a criminal sense. The virtual amulet and the virtual mask as considered in the case at hand are not material goods, albeith they are noticable. Regarding case law this is no prohibition to declare these as 'goods' under the meaning of Article 310 of the Penal Code.

Furthermore, jurisprudence shows it is an important feature of a 'good' in a criminal sense that the taker receives control over the goods in theft and the victim loses actual control of these goods. The posession of a good must be transferrable from one to another. When speaking of posession in a criminal sense, it means having actual power. Case law has previously determined the foregoing is not applicable in case of a PIN number, computer data and phone call minutes in a subscription bundle. In this case the virtual goods, namely a virtual amulet and a virtual mask, were in posession of the declarant. Only he had actual control over these goods. The posession of virtual goods can be transferred, e.g. by moving these goods from one account to another.

In the case at hand these goods have transferred, namely from the actual control of the declarant to that of suspect and co-defendant. Suspect and co-defendant have transferred the goods from the account of the declarant to the account of the suspect. In this act the declarant has lost actual control over these goods and suspect and co-defendant have obtained actual control over these goods.

As the virtual amulet and virtual mask as defined in the case at hand meet the aforementioned criteria, the court is of the opinion that these virtual goods are to be included in the concept of 'goods' as provided for in Artcile 310 of the Penal Code and belonged to the declarant.


Application of laws

The court has taken into consideration articles 77a, 77g (old), 77i, 77m (old), 77n, 77x (old), 77y (old), 77z (old), 310 and 312 of the Penal Code.

THE VERDICT OF THE COURT

Denies the request of counsel to hear further witnesses

Declares the primary charge proven, qunatifyable and punishable

Convicts suspect in this case to

Civil Service consisting of 160 hours of unpaid labor. Labor has to be done within a 12 months.

Orders, in case the convict does not carry out his civil service in good manner, alternative youth detention will be applied for the length of 80 days.

Youth detention for four weeks.

Determines this youth detention wil not be executed, unless the judge may rule otherwise in a later stadium, based on a probation period, which hereby is set at two years, if convict has commited a fellony.

Decalres not proven which is charged to suspect more or other than the proven and dismisses charges against suspect.

This verdict is ruled by mr. BJ de Jong, president, mr. MJ Dijkstra and mr. A. de Jong, judges, assisted by mr. G. Sannes, Registrar, and pronounced at the public hearing in this court on October 21, 2008.

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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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..

Community Service

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.

Important precedent

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.


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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

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.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Runescape upgrades Player Kit

Runescape, one of the more popular JAVA based MMORPG's is tweaking its userbase a little with a new Player Kit.


"The player kit update brings you a whole new selection of outfits and customisations for your character that you can choose from. If you have ever felt the need for a new set of clothes or a funky new hairstyle then you will be pleased to know that you can now visit Thessalia in Varrock and the Hairdresser in Falador to add that special touch to your appearance. Members can also visit Reinald in Keldagrim for a new selection of armguards!




At Thessalia's clothes shop, you will find a new range of styles for both men's and women's clothes, ranging from the highly tailored princely outfits down to the ragged clothing of the local peasantry. Visiting the Hairdresser in Falador, you will be able to sculpt your hair into fascinating new styles including braids, ponytails and more. If you are of the male persuasion, give yourself a fancy new beard or moustache style such as the 'Vizier' or even the 'Dali'! Reinald offers a range of designs for your wrists, in both silver and gold, so you can accessorise to go with your favourite clothes.




Most importantly, it can be a hard task to find the right clothing fashion and hairstyles to suit you, so for the first week Thessalia, Reinald and the Hairdresser will allow you to change your kit for free!"

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Intergalactic news

Here's some interesting news from other media


Second Life resident demographics

Both 3pointD blog and the Dutch webwereld report on the current statistics for Second Life. For the first time the US visitors were not the most active SL users, in march 2007 SL was visited by 207.000 US citizens, but were topped by the Germans with 209.000 residential immersions.
Numbers 3 to 5 are France, UK and the Netherlands. These figures were produced by a comScore research.

Based on the comcast publication, serious Dutch Press (Nu, De Pers and Elsevier) reported that about 9% of the Dutch have stepped into Second Life already. Linden Labs says otherwise, more like 2%). Anyway it would all wrap up to about 40.000 active Dutchmen in SL.


Hails from a different Galaxy

RuneScape, an MMORPG, reports that it has hit 1.000.000 (one million) subscribers. In the Wild Wild West only World of Warcraft can boast more subscribers. Of course, Cyworld Korea has many many more.

Thene there's news from yet another Virtual World, this time it's Entropia who's auctioning banking licenses. One of the most remarkable new bankers in Entropia is Second Life's inworld mega real-estate dealer Anshe Chung who acquired the licence for a lousy 60 US bucks. Superchung is perhaps one of the most cross-reality entrepeneurs at this moment, having commercials ties with IMVU and There.com as well.

update


Some of this blogs readers have pointed out that there was a serious error in this post. They're right. Chung purchased the licence for US$ 60,000 -and that ain't lousy anymore.

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