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Oct 18, 2005



That's flipping insane.


I'm sorry, I can't see how that mythology relates to this.

I also can't make any sense of #3, what you wrote seems to imply that everyone would think that the last case in which reimbursement should be made is when it's the fault of the service providers, which seems nonsensical, and that reimbursing for outages under 4 hours are more important than reimbursing for periods greater than that.

#8 - doesn't make sense to me. If you work under the assumption that someone needs these powers to deal with customer service issues, and to reimburse, who is going to do it?

#3 is just a killer. I can't imagine the burden placed on customer service departments to -prove- that someone lost something through a valid game mechanic and wasn't subject to lag every time they want to claim that was the case. I certainly agree that there's situations where it's only fair to reimburse people (characters dying due to a server crash or something), but doesn't this just legalise rebooting your machine to avoid losing something ingame?

Any clarifications much appreciated.


Absolutely fascinating. I take it that the mythology cited here refers to how the ruling promotes player interests while reducing the standing of game companies. So, much like the Korean creation story involved the descent of gods and elevation of animals to create the world of humans, so too are the animals/players here ascendant and the gods/companies somewhat fallen.

This is not to say that I think this is a good set of rulings (not knowing Korean society and law enough to judge confidently anyway), but it is fascinating that a national legal system has gone so far in acknowledging what is at stake for people in virtual worlds.



The rulings seem to be in complete denial of the nature of the medium and myopically focussed on the specifics of the cases they looked at ... specifically:

2) Compensation for downtime - is there no differentiation between scheduled downtime and service outages?

5) Terminate contracts for players' trivial breaches without prior notice - so, does that mean they can be terminated for trivial breaches, provided prior notice is given?

6) Automatically regard a parents' payment of subscription fees as legal consent for their children to play - so if agreement to pay isn't sufficient to engage the person in a contract, what is required? Will services have to directly contact an interested player, via phone, email, etc., to establish an account?

7) disclose at will their logs of chats between players - so there is now an assumed right to privacy for players? That begins to cross the threshold of ownership of content between players and the service(s) they participate on.

8) give gms judge dredd-like all-inclusive powers - have they defined GMs as employees vs contractors vs volunteers? And honestly - Judge Dredd didn't have powers that were "all inclusive" - I mean really - any average super hero could take him! ; )

I wouldn't be suprised to see non-Korean MMOs start excluding Korea from the "supported" territories as an easy way around those legislations.


> I wouldn't be suprised to see non-Korean MMOs
> start excluding Korea from the "supported"
> territories as an easy way around those
> legislations.

That in itself would be significant. I mean, Korea's, what, the #1 or #2 market for MMOs? (dunno where it ranks currently vis a vis China). And China, don't forget, just put in draconian "make your players log off when we say they've played enough" rules a while back.

I really would like to see more on this though; it seems on the face of it to be a fairly serious governmental beatdown of the Korean MMO marketplace.

I am still the law in Megacity One, though.


More specific news about rewriting the document will be released after 60 days of negotiation among the FTC, the representative of players & the companies.

At first, the news reminded me 'A Declaration of the Rights of Avatars' by Raph Koster.


While, the declaration links with the following images like struggle, bloody war, revolution...

At that moment, our KOREA's nation(more correctly a ancient community) founding mythology came across in my head.

It tells a community could also be finely established thru dialogue, blood mixing(wedding) and evolution for the happiness of all(both) new human being.

Ancient Futures of (Koean) VW; Learning from Dangun Joseon.


It appears that the Korean government are upgrading the minimum legal and socially acceptable SLA and increasing consumer protection.

This generally happens when a particular technology or service becomes mainstream. Regulation of phones, broadcasting, etc. Need to add a 911, 5 hours of educational programming per week, etc.

How's Korean MMO developer taking this ruling?



Good for Korea. Honestly, I wish someone would take the EULA to court stateside so the many unenforceable provisions in them could be stricken down as well. (In the US, those unenforceable provisions should have a lot of overlap with what's outlined here for Korea. One addition not mentioned is that the original manufacturer cannot restrict your right to resell software. The arguments about it not being a product but a license have been thrown out in court, see here. A similar case can probably be made for "it's a service, not a product".)

The only thing in this ruling that's even worth getting nervous about is the "real-money trade" item, but with a bit of thought, even that's a non-issue. Buyers can still be temporarily banned; they can still have the goods they purchased deleted. All it appears to say is that you cannot apply "capital" punishment without first warning. It's like getting a traffic ticket before they can take away your license.

Of course, the seller can still be outright banned.


In January, many of beta testers and players of WoW had protest against some policy of Blizzard Korea.

So, the FTC has been investigating the ToS/CoC of WoW Korea(the content is somewhat different those of Korean companies).

Sooner of later, the result will be published.


There's so much here to horrify me, I don't know where to start.

Case 1) is bizarre: you keep the right to ban RMT, but not the right to enforce it. Uh? Could you nerf the item you found they'd bought, would that be allowed? What if it was a general nerf of all such items, not just their particular one?

Case 2) appears to be missing a "not", but even so it seems a little over the top. If the state TV company had a problem and couldn't broadcast for 4 hours, would they have to pay compensation to viewers?

Case 3) is a nightmare. We had this in MUD1 and MUD2, and people were claiming ALL THE TIME that they'd died as a result of lag or line drops. It was only when we introduced a "log everything" policy and could show people exactly when our software received their commands (and their disconnect signals) that it stopped. We also had few enough players that organised (DOS-like) attacks on our customer service were easy to spot and easy to deal with. It looks like the Korean developers are vulnerable to waves of co-ordinated (or even random) complaints, made worse by the fact that should they identify the organisers they now won't be able to ban them.

Case 4) strikes at the heart of operations, too. Taking a server down for maintenance or patching becomes impossible with this in place.

The effects of case 5) depend on what's "trivial". It also depends on what "contracts" means. Personally, as a developer I'd like to be able to cancel accounts basically on a whim, and let the free market deal with me if my actions make no sense. As it stands, this rule would stop people creating game worlds with deliberately capricious behaviour on the part of developers (kind of the equivalent of those cafes where the table staff are deliberately rude as part of the format).

Case 8) is an utter nightmare. It stomps on so many creative flowers, it makes so many assumptions about the nature of the worlds it applies to, that I'm staggered. Trivially, it would seem to rule out a game set in the Judge Dredd universe; more substantially, it would rule out worlds such as SL where everyone has substantial world-altering powers.

If it's the relative powers between players and GMs (CS reps?) they're complaining about, this is still outrageous. For some virtual worlds, for example Castle Marrach, it's the GMs that make the game world what it is - without them, there would pretty well be no game. For the rest, if the GMs don't have the powers then who does have them? Someone must, in order to deal with the in-game issues that come up every moment of every day.

I wonder what would happen if companies demanded similar rights from the government? How would the FTC work if it didn't have its Judge Dredd-like powers to strike down EULAs?

This is a laudible attempt to protect customers, but it works to destroy what it is they're customers of. Maybe that's the plan...



It wouldn't be too terribly surprising when you consider that in Korea, online games are already heavily regulated. Online services, including MMOs, fall under Korea's telecommunications laws and regulations. Each MMO publisher has to set up shop just like a cell phone provider, like keeping truly accurate and up to date logs and customer info for three years and having a physical location for customer support.

(I'm told the latter has led to many fist fights between players and the GMs/CSRs of whatever game the player is playing on, and hosptial visits are not unheard of.)

But I can't see those suggestions as doing anything except driving off publishers from Korea, or at the very least significantly curbing that desire.

This reminds of the guy from last year's SOP2 who said he wanted to create laws to empower MMO publishers to create their games... well, we laughed, and then we all cringed about what would happen if someone in Washington "empowered" us through their legislation.

And this sounds exactly like the type of horror story we were thinking about then.


Hmm, it's not showing the trackback, so I'll leave a link:

Nightmare Scenario on Psychochild's Blog.


#4 seems very confusing to me in the context of playing EVE. E-O's servers go down every day for an hour of maintenance but that seems like it would be considered a part of the regular subscription. Would that type of practice become illegal under the new regulations?


Have being doing some research and it appears that the ruling is done in parallel with the development of Free + Item Sale business models that's gaining popularity in Asia.

I don't understand the whole context in which the rulings are made, but it appears that the government is putting in a place a minimum level of acceptable service.

In the US there are already a lot of consumer protection and operators know to treat customers with a min. level of CS. So, the legal backlash seen in Korea will be less likely in the US.

Lastly, this is not a new legislation, but an interpretation and ruling of Korea's Adhesion Contract Act (haven't read it) on online game operators' TOC and perhaps EULA.

Wonder how US FTC or the courts will rule the EULA and TOC that almost nobody reads anyway? For the children, law could be enacted to set a min. level of protection or an uniform EULA/TOC.



Oh, to expand on the parallel of this ruling with the development on Free + Virtual Item Sale business models: no one touched the legal status of virtual items, but the FTC did rule to give certain protection to the players for the virtual items they purchase and by extension the value of the items as they are used in their normal context.

Maybe I'm reading into this more positively than in actual reality, as I am filling the gaps of info with assumptions.

Unggi, can you give more details of the Adhesion Contract Act?



Frank wrote:

Wonder how US FTC or the courts will rule the EULA and TOC that almost nobody reads anyway? For the children, law could be enacted to set a min. level of protection or an uniform EULA/TOC.

You don't really have to wonder. Software EULAs are not new, and have been upheld repeatedly. The scenario above is not likely to happen in the US, I believe.



Unggi: I'm curious to read more about this, but don't see a source referenced in your article. Can you post a link with details on this ruling, in the original Korean if nothing is available in English?


Looking at the rulings through my Philippines-oriented lens:

Ruling 1 is just pulling the teeth out of the tiger. How do they expect the companies to enforce the no-RMT rule?

Ruling 2 is, IMHO, nuts, though fair to a player perspective using the pre-paid model that we use in the Philippines; I pay for my time and you cut off my service, while still deducting from my time. But unlimited/subscription and free+item business models, which I hear are popular in Korea, are hit hard with this.

Ruling 3 is, again IMHO, nuts. The new mantra of the 21st century merchant, with the proliferation of e-anonymity and e-crime, is the customer is almost always wrong or actually trying to cheat you. The MMO operators need a bit of protection and the burden of proof from the customer is one of those things.

Ruling 4 is meh. That sort of thing actually never comes up here. I think I agree with it.

Ruling 5 is weird, same as 1; how do you enforce the contract then without threats?

Ruling 6 is smart. Parents are sometimes dumber than their kids. ^_^;;;;;

Ruling 7 is meh. No one logs chats here in the Philippines and we respect privacy well enough. I agree with it on the basis of right to privacy.

Ruling 8 is weird. Why give GMs all inclusive powers? Koreans are weird. Seriously, GMs should be defined; some GMs focus on the community, some on customer service, some on game development/design/balance.

That's my two cents, plus cool Korean mythology lesson. ^_^


For More Info

* Adhesion Contract Act (In English)


* Full content of the FTC's finding (in Korean)


*KAOGI(Korea Organization of Game Industry)'s official statement about this decision and Junsok Huhh's analysis on this matter.



As noted in Pacific Epoch, the Chinese government is looking to revise their standard online user agreement.

Will the action in Korea spill over into China? Seems likely to me.


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