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May 03, 2004



I love trackback. It seems Hiroshi Yamaguchi is now blogging "Virtual Worlds Update Japan"


Many thanks, Hiroshi!


The comment of Greg Lastowka is correct in i) the crime was about unauthorized access to other person's account, and ii) yet the police had some consideration on real-world value of virtual items.

The Article 3 of the Unauthorized Access Prohibition Act prohibits unauthorized accesses, not modification of other's data, nor theft of virtual properties. The law can put its violators to jail, but in this case the "stolen" items were worth only 1,000 yen (about $9), which was too little for the boys to get punished.

But the police took this action probably because the virtual items had real-world values. The value of the theft items, 1,000 yen, is not the price in "eBay;" the site actually sells virtual items by the real money. Virtual items are "data" in Japanese legal system, and what the boys did would potentially be subject to civil trials. If the virtual item had no real-world value, it is somewhat questionable whether the police took this kind of move.


A story about Taiwan with some more anecdotes:

"In Taiwan, an angry loser killed a winner," said Chen. "He became very angry because the other person killed his virtual figure and took his virtual property. He found out the winner's IP address and went after him."

Chen said that organized crime organizations become attracted as more money entered the online environment. He cited a case in China where an individual developed and distrubuted cheating programs -- made to compromise user IDs and passwords for Lineage -- and made $120,000 US from their sale.


As I think we've mentioned before, there have been several reports in the media of arrests in Asia for virtual currency/property hacking. For example, see this news article regarding an arrest for the unauthorized creation and sale of $470,000 in virtual currency and this BBC article stating there have been over 22,000 gaming-related cybercrimes reported in South Korea.

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