A Dutch court confirms the obvious: virtual goods, such as Facebook gifts or World of Warcraft gold, are real goods. And if you steal them, it’s theft.
The novel legal finding comes after two punk kids in the town of Leeuwarden attacked a 13-year-old boy, beat him up, and forced him at knifepoint to log in to the online game RuneScape and transfer an amulet, a mask, and his game credits to their account. (Now that’s engagement.)
The judge ruled “goods don’t have to be material for the law to consider them stolen.” Sentence: 160 hours community service.
It’s noteworthy than a judge (at least in the Netherlands) said that virtual goods, which naysayers will contend are nothing but ones and zeros with no intrinsic value, are real goods that can be stolen. 30 years ago software in general had to make the same struggle for recognition as an actual product. But one question we have for any Dutch legal scholars in the audience: Why did the judge focus so closely on the theft of virtual goods and not the assault of threatening someone with a knife?