Two tales recently spotted about international virtual mischief -- and real arrests -- after the fold...
- Two Dutch teens have been convicted and sentenced for virtual theft -- thanks to Arno Lodder for passing on the story a couple days ago (before it reached the English language). Apparently, real knives were used to prompt the transfer of a "virtual amulet and a virtual mask." As Unggi Yoon noted by email, the ruling is interesting because it seems to be based on a theory that the virtual items are akin to goods and hence subject to criminal conversion. See this student Note for more on how this might apply in US law. And I'll plug Orin Kerr's paper again while I'm at it. While these news stories are evocative, I'm hoping that some legal documents might eventually surface.
- A student in my Virtual Law seminar sends this one -- you can get the full AP story here:
"A 43-year-old Japanese piano teacher's sudden divorce from her online husband in a virtual game world made her so angry that she logged on and killed his digital persona, police said Thursday. The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his identification and password to log onto popular interactive game 'Maple Story' to carry out the virtual murder in mid-May..."
So, unlike the Dutch case, this falls under the category of computer trespass & data integrity crimes. If you've been with us for awhile, you know this is nothing new -- we talked about a very situation (and the same Japanese statute, I imagine) back in 2004.
Any predictions about how long before we get the first US case on this?
Update: TechnoLlama has more fine cogitations on the Japanese case.
Also, in my opinion, there are some interesting connections to be drawn between the "crime" of avatar deletion in Japan and the doctrinal woefully CFAA prosecution in the US of the tragic Lori Drew case. For several years, I've been nursing along a draft of an article about the theoretical instability of "unauthorized access" hacking crimes -- one of these days I'll have to get around to finishing it.