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 Feb 07, 2005 - 10:00 AM - by Michael
* Online Property?

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PC Games/Hardware/Microsoft
MSNBC's taking a look at what virtual property looks like in court cases:

Take virtual property. "One of the questions is, how do we treat property in virtual worlds," said Noveck. "Should we accord them the same protection as property in the real world?"

Imagine your virtual world avatar wore a little amulet that was then stolen by another avatar, she suggested. Would that be classified as theft?

Probably not. In many virtual worlds, particularly MMORPG's (massively multiplayer online role playing games) theft is allowed; it's considered part of the role playing experience.

But money has a way of changing everything. If virtual world goods and money can hold value in a real-world economy, why can't they hold value in the courts? Actually it's already happened -- although the court ruling was in China. In 2003, a court that a virtual world developer had to compensate a player in cash after a hacker stole his virtual goods.
It's a decent run-through of property laws, though "virtual property" has been more of a fringe element, pissing off users who want to get their items the legitimate way but find 'bots or career item-farmers camping the spawns all the time.

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