Dutch Court Says You Can't Beat Someone Up & Steal Their Stuff, Whether It's Real Or Virtual

It’s pretty cut and dry when a kid beats up another kid and takes his sneakers, but what if the fighting results in one party having to give up his virtual possessions in an online game? The Dutch Supreme Court says it’s theft no matter what items were stolen, after a youth was beaten and threatened into surrendering his virtual property.

The Associated Press says a 13-year-old boy had an amulet and mask in the online fantasy game RuneScape. Another boy wanted those items so badly, he and another youth beat up the owner and threatened him with a knife in 2007, until he logged onto the game and dropped them. The thieves then swooped in and took them for their own.

The youth who had appealed his sentence was sentenced to 144 hours of community service, while the other involved in the crime was convicted in 2009 and hadn’t appealed.

One of the suspect’s lawyers said the objects were “were neither tangible nor material and, unlike for example electricity, had no economic value.” But the judges ruled that virtual objects had value to the victim, because of “the time and energy he invested” in winning them while playing the game.

It’s sort of like when I tried to bring my pal in front of Judge Judy for stealing my Sims husband. But that didn’t work out so well.

Online Game Theft Earns Real-World Conviction [Associated Press]