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Oct 23, 2008



Here's a link to the article I ran on this at Virtually Blind -- check the comments for links to the original doc (in Dutch) and translation (via Google) from one of my readers.


Super -- thanks so much, Ben.

So here's the Google-Translated text -- which is admittedly a bit wacky, but is at least suggestive of what is being said:

LJN: BG0939, Leeuwarden Court, ruling 17/676123-07 VEV Print
Verdict date: 21-10-2008
Publication date: 21-10-2008
Territory: Criminal
Type of procedure: First Instance - multiple
Contents Indication: Theft virtual goods, theft with violence, online computer game, conviction.
Criminal Division

Prosecutor number 17/676123-07 VEV

verdict of the full bench for the treatment of criminal dated October 21, 2008 in the case of the prosecution against the accused

born on [birth date] 1992 [birthplace],
residing at [address suspect]

The court has given the investigation at the hearing held on October 7, 2008.
The suspect appeared, assisted by Mr. RA Sch├╝tz, lawyer to Leeuwarden.

This is a verdict by the Registrar certified photocopy of the subpoena attached, revealing the content of the telastelegging should be considered to be over here.

Telastelegging occurring in the clerical or manifest miss layers improved read. The suspect is not in its interests.

Claim Prosecutor
The prosecutor argued at the hearing sought:
- Conviction for primary telastegelegde;
- Imposition of a labor for the duration of 180 days 90 hours jeugddetentie alternative and contingent jeugddetentie for four weeks with a probationary period of two years;

Consideration regarding the request of the counsel to the hearing of witnesses
The counsel argued at the meeting called for the case to be held as provided for in Article 328 in conjunction with Article 315 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, now it is necessary that principal, co-defendant and the compiling of the interrogation of suspects have declined as a witness be heard . The court gives the counselor put this back literally below:

Client denies the alleged conduct strongly. He claims himself to have used no violence and not to have seen that the co-defendant has used the violence that the declaration would be made. The violence and threats which the declarant would be made by [suspect], not totally fit with the image of [suspect] is obtained from the reporting of the Council for the Child. It is really inconceivable that someone like [suspect], as he described the various reviewers are, simply and suddenly a single such violent behavior would show. According to [suspects], the principal wrongly acts that may co-offender [co-defendant] has committed, also associated with [suspect] was the principal by the acts of [co-defendant] in the war, so that a false declaration picture of the facts. The file shows that the principal was quite upset. The fact that co-defendant [co-defendant] [suspect] also charged, in accordance with [suspect] may be explained by the fact that [co-defendant] may have thought themselves better from there to be partly to blame as he could buck or part by [ suspect]. [suspect] indicates that he initially denied to the police, but when the police that he did not believe him and told him that he possibly much longer at the agency had to continue, but then has echoed the suspicions. The minutes in the first instance, the negative attitude of [suspect] is not raised.
[suspect] considers it on the basis of the foregoing necessary for the truth that the principal, [co-defendant] and the compiling of the interrogation have declined, as witness be heard, the principal and [co-defendant] to take the extent to which the declaration or the statement is correct with regard to the [suspect] incriminating parts, the compiling to hear or [suspect] in the first instance, has adopted a negative attitude in the interview, and whether [suspect], the text included in his statement has totally spontaneous told, or parts of the declaration and perhaps the statement by the co-defendant who might be held, has echoed his comments.
Since due to a typographical error in the address in the letters that I [suspect] in the first instance sent these letters were returned (in a late stage) and [suspect] is not reached, the case could not Friday, September 26, 2008, being ten days before the meeting, discussed with him in the office, which is the reason that not ten days before the session is called the above-mentioned witnesses to call.

The court is considering as follows. The counsel has in his request - in short, the reliability of the statements in the disputed minutes. In the opinion of the court is requested to legal standards and are insufficiently substantiated in the documents and traded at the session, given also the statement of accused, no evidence emerged for these people to be heard as a witness. Therefore, the court finds that summons or notice of such persons is not necessary. The court thus indicates the request of the counsel off.

The constituent 'fine' as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal Code
The Public Prosecutor has - in short - argued in court that the virtual amulet and the mask virtual goods within the constituents are 'good' as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal Code and the counselor told the House advocated the opposite.

The court is considering as follows. In this case there is virtual goods, namely a virtual amulet and a virtual mask from the online computer game "Runescape". The following is the court ex officio known about "Runescape". "Runescape" is one of the larger online games and especially popular among the youth. Millions of players, so-called online gamers, all over the world play the game. "Runescape" is set in a virtual world where players with characters who could participate in virtual world. Players may include contracts ( "quests") perform, fighting against other players and other activities. This may involve, inter alia, 'items' as a mask or an amulet, procurement. The items each have a value. That value is in this game expressed in 'coins' value, which fluctuates based on demand and supply of those items. With these 'coins' can be as a player' skills' (skills) training. The more 'coins' the player has, the stronger he is in the game "Runescape".
Principal, and co-defendant had accused each one account, which gave access to the playing of "Runescape" and were also active player of this game. Principal had in his account a virtual amulet and a virtual mask.

Article 310 of the Penal Code aims at the ability of citizens to protect. In answering the question of whether virtual goods, goods in the meaning of that article, this in order to be considered.
There are a number of criteria that must be met for there to be a property within the meaning of that article.
First of all, is important or good for the possessor of value. This value does not have money to be expressed.
In today's society, the virtual goods from online computer game "Runescape" of great significance become. For large numbers of online gamers these goods have value. The more a player virtual goods has, the stronger he is in the game. Moreover, the money for virtual goods bought and sold, including via the Internet or on the playground.
The case also shows that the mask and the declarant as a talisman for both suspect and co-defendant had value.

Of interest is that not a mortal need to be. In the case law has determined that non-material objects - such as electricity and scriptural money - as well as in criminal sense. The virtual amulet and the virtual template as defined in this case are not material goods, although they are noticeable. Having regard to the said case law is that no impediment to them as well as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal Code to brands.

Furthermore, the jurisprudence that an important feature of a criminal sentence is that the actual theft wegnemer in power over the stolen goods and obtain the bestolene the actual power by removing it loses. The possession of the property must be of one to the other can pass. With criminal possession means having actual power. In the case law has determined that the foregoing is not the case with a PIN number, computer and a phone call minutes.
In this case referred virtual goods, namely a virtual amulet and a virtual mask, were in possession of principal. Only he had the actual power over such goods. Possession of such virtual goods can be transferred, for example, by goods from one account to another to transfer.
In this case the goods are also made, namely from the actual power of principal to that of the suspect and co-defendant. Suspect and the co-defendant, the goods account of the principal transferred to the account of suspicious. This principal is the actual power over the goods and have lost the suspect and co-defendant on the actual power obtained.

Now the virtual amulet and the virtual template as defined in this case to the above criteria, the court considers that these virtual goods under the concept of 'good' as provided for in Article 310 of the Penal Code and belonged to principal.

Proof Recital
The counsel has argued in court that the suspect goods are not unlawfully appropriated and should be acquitted of primary and alternative telastegelegde, now that the playing of "Runescape" the suspicious behavior and allow co-defendant and therefore not punishable acted.
The court believes that this defense should be rejected, now the actions of defendant and co-defendant outside the context of the game have taken place and thus nothing to do with the playing of "Runescape" deal.

The court suits related to the primary evidence telastegelegde the following resources:

1. suspect made the statement at the hearing on October 7, 2008, which, essentially, including:
On September 6, 2007 are [co-defendant], [victim] and I went to the house of [co-defendant] went in Leeuwarden. [co-defendant], [victim] and I play all the online game "Runescape". A day earlier had [co-defendant] and I talked with each other via MSN to virtual goods from online game "Runescape" from the account of [victim] to bring to our account. I've seen that [co-defendant] [victim] has beaten. I have also seen that [co-defendant] has caught a knife and direction [victim] walked. After I was gone from the house of [co-defendant] and in my house behind the computer Saturday, has [co-defendant] asked me via MSN to come back. I came straight to his home. A virtual amulet and a virtual mask by [co-defendant] from the account of [victim] transferred to my account. [co-defendant] and I would each provide half the value of those items get.

2. in the legal form formatted minutes of questioning suspect (pg. 30, 32 and 33), which, essentially, including:
I [victim] on September 6, 2007 in a stranglehold by his neck to terminals in my elbow. I stretched my muscles, so [victims] could get no air. We have [victim] beaten. I [victim] intentionally with my hand flat against his face beaten. Because [victim] was not cooperating, I gave him the throat clenched. We forced [victim] to log onto that computer. [victim] did not want to give his password and log on the computer to play the game. Because we threatened him, he at some point have to be logged and the game picked up. I threatened [victim] that he had to do work. If [victim] did not want to cooperate then I would give him more blows. Because we [victims] are threatened, he logged. If we had not threatened him, then he had never voluntarily allowed that we could come to his points. The keukenla I caught two knives. I took the blades of two knives on each other. My intention was that [the victim] this would be scared and would contribute to us to give password and such. Also, [victim] to the ground worked. We have beaten him. A day earlier [co-defendant] and I agreed that we [victims] the next day it would take to the house of [co-defendant] and that we would try to violence with these points and the money from [victim] to get and we agreed that we would go on to violence if our plan would fail.

3. in the legal form formatted minutes of declaration (pg. 17, 18, 19), which, essentially, including:
I am a long game on the Internet. I'm here every day on average more than 4 hours doing. The game is called Runescape. It is a game where you're a little doll that can earn money by working. I'm very rich in Runescape and rich because I'm also very strong. I'm in this game is almost impossible to beat. Because of my great hold on to Runescape money and goods to change almost every three days my password, because I'm afraid that someone finds out and hacked me.
[co-defendant] would like that I give him money and items in the game.
I cycled on September 6, 2007 along with [co-defendant] and [suspect] to the homes of [co-defendant] to Leeuwarden. I saw that [co-defendant] with a key to the door of the apartment house was open. I had then with [suspect] and [co-defendant] flour open to a bedroom in the house. Then I had to [co-defendant] and [suspect] to contribute money and goods from my account into the account of [suspect]. When I said that I did not want started [co-defendant] and [suspect] would hit or kicked. I was apparently intentionally, and with fists to force combined with hands against my head beaten. They beat me with intent and effect a lot of times against my head and against my ribs. By the blows that I got, I fell on the floor of the bedroom. Then I felt and saw that both me and deliberately kicked with force against my chest and my legs. I also saw and felt that they apparently intentionally and went thoracic effect on my stand. Because of the many blows and shovels and by both with their feet on my chest went to, I felt very much pain. I heard that she cried to me that they would kill me. Then I saw and heard that first [co-defendant] went to the kitchen and a knife was drawn and shortly after that [suspect] also ran to the kitchen and two knives drawn. With the knives threatened [co-defendant] and [suspect] me with death. I was very scared. I was nothing more than cooperate with [co-defendant] and [suspect]. I dared not refuse. I saw that [suspect] logged on his account at the game Runescape on the computer in the bedroom. I had then with both to a computer in the living room of the apartment where I had to log in to my account on the game Runescape. Then I had with my doll forced to fight against [suspects] who played the game from the PC to the bedroom. During the fighting with the figure of [suspect] was [co-defendant] always with me in the living room. I saw that [co-defendant] and [suspect] exchanged. When [suspect] to me and the computer came in the living room and [co-defendant] to the bedroom was, I was suddenly by [suspect] with the chair on which I was drawn back to. I was on the ground and was of [suspect] weather blows and kicks to my head and my body. When it ended, I saw that [suspect] on the chair was in the computer in the living room. I got up and saw that [suspect] all my money and property from my account on Runescape continued to his own account, mine stable. After [suspect] all the money and property from my account had been stolen, I saw that he uitlogde. Also [co-defendant] was there in the living room. Both, I was put off house.

4. in the legal form formatted minutes of questioning co-defendant (pg. 24, 25, 26 and 27), which, essentially, including:
Previously, I was richer in this game than [victims], but [victim] had a couple days ago lucky, because he had found belongings of a dead man and that man was very rich and had so many valuable things. That stuff had [victim] and therefore he was caught in a blow very rich. I was there actually jealous of. I have a couple of times to [victim] asked if I have some money or things could get from him. I mean stuff than you or coins used in this computer game. I have a friend who [suspect] (phonetic) is called. I asked in September 6, 2007 or [suspect] Runescape wanted to play and I said that I was planning to [victim] to hacking. I mean stuff that I wanted him to tackle. He felt good and cycled with [victim] and me to my house.
I'm with [victims] go fight, because he did not want to log. I kicked him, twice kicked hard against his legs. I [victim] also pushed and pulled. I got him to the ground worked. [suspect] went home. I got through MSN against [suspect] said that he had to come back, because [victim] did not want to log. [suspect] came immediately. [suspect] has [victim] beaten on his head. He also tweak in the minds of [victim]. [suspect] has [victim] on the ground and thrown [suspect] and I have top [victim] before. [suspects] and I were to take turns on his hips and on the side of his ribs. We were not really him, but expressed with a leg on him. I then walked to the kitchen and got a knife from a keukenla caught. This was a big and thick carving knife with a black handle. [suspect] also grabbed two knives. One of those knives was a sharp thin knife. I made threatening gestures with the knife in my hand. I slingerde out and get started. I was about three meters away from this [victim] off and walked toward [victim]. [suspect] made with two knives threatening movements by the blades to move back and forth. [suspects] and I wanted [victims] are scared, and I voted against [victim] said: "I make you dead." We have the knives back then and said that [the victim] had to log. [victim] gave in, because he was scared. He has logged on the computer in the living room. When I am behind the computer to play and have stuff from him dropped. This means that I stuff him in a different place and I wanted to have deposited it through those other computer address, so it was me. I have an amulet and a mask dropped. The mask, but the amulet in this game very much. [suspects] and I share many things in this game and I therefore also benefit from. I saw that [suspect] [victim] threw hard on the ground.
You ask me if [suspects] and I the theft of the coins had planned. [suspects] and I had the day before this is indeed already agreed through MSN. If [victims] do not want to work with us, then we would save him. This was an idea of us both.

5. in the legal form formatted minutes of findings (pg. 21), which, essentially, including:
We, compiling it, saw on September 6, 2007 that [the victim] visible pain and had to be under the impression was that everything that [victims] but difficult story was lost to us compiling it.

6. in the legal form formatted minutes of police (pg. 4), which, essentially, including:
After consultation with the public prosecutor was accused by the [suspect] by him and by co-defendant [co-defendant] in the game Runescape stolen goods returned to the rightful owner. Through a computer at the police station in Leeuwarden was suspicious [suspect] logged in the aforementioned game. It was also by providing the game started. Telephone by the principal to me, compiling Veldman, given that at any given moment by all the suspects had received stolen goods back, and the game ended.

7. a written medical certificate dated September 7, 2008 with respect to [victim] (pg. 37), which, essentially, including:
External injuries observed:
- Pressure on the right chest pain;
- Grazes pressure and pain on the right shoulder;
- Pressure sore right buttock and right ankle.
Date has been examined: 07/09/2007.
Estimated duration of the healing: 2 weeks.

The above legal evidence-related and mutually-together, the reason decisive facts and circumstances in which the decision of the court that supports proven below the suspect has committed stated fact.

Proven Declaration
The court considers it primarily telastegelegde proven, with the proviso that:

he September 6, 2007 in Leeuwarden, Leeuwarden in the town, together and in association with another, with the intention of misappropriation has removed a virtual amulet and a virtual mask of the online computer game called Runescape, belonging to [victim] , The theft was preceded and accompanied by violence and threats of violence against [victim], with the aim of that theft to prepare and easy to make, what violence and threat of violence so that he existed, suspicious, and his co-offender that [victim] repeatedly and forcefully with fists until combined hands against the head and ribs and elsewhere against the body and have beaten the [victim] against the chest and the legs and elsewhere against the body and kicked on the body of that [victims] are going and knives in the direction of the body of the [victims] have taken with knives and swinging and swaying movements for those [victims] have made and that [victims] have added the words "I don 'dead' , And [victims] have back in his chair and pulled to the ground have worked and the neck of the [victims] have taken a stranglehold.

The suspect will be of more or else telastegelegde be acquitted because the court that no evidence eight.

It provides evidence on the crime:

primarily theft, preceded and accompanied by violence and threats of violence against persons, committed with the intent for that theft to prepare and easy to make, while the offense is committed by two or more persons.

Criminal suspect
The eight suspected criminal court now not only defense is revealed.
Criminal Grounds
The court takes in the provision of the following type and state criminal sentencing into account:
- The nature and seriousness of the offense;
- The circumstances under which it was committed;
- The person accused, as it appeared at the hearing and this was reflected in the excerpt from the general registry documentation and the reports of the Council for the Child dated October 24, 2007 and September 19, 2008;
- The application of the Prosecutor;
- The argument of counsel.

Suspect has together with another guilty of robbery with violence. Advance appointment made with the approval of a school, they enjoyed back home and taken him under threat of words and knives and a strong physical abuse forced them to log into his account of the computer game "Runescape". They are victims in this way for him and also for the perpetrators of many goods are value for this game, namely a virtual amulet and a virtual mask, stolen from jealousy.
The victim shall have the effect of this plight physical and psychological injuries suffered.
The court tilt heavily to these facts.
Penalties, the court suspect that, although still young, has acted deliberately and takes no responsibility for what happened. Suspect has not shown an understanding of the criminal act and has a positive image of themselves. The fact that defendant does not have prior police and the judiciary been in contact and that much time has elapsed between the commission of the offense and the session sees the court as punishment decreasing.
The Council for the Child has accused two reports, showing that both the situation at school and at home no problems have been reported on the operation of suspicious. The Council refrain from giving an opinion punishment, because a suspect has adopted negative attitude.
The prosecutor has a labor and a conditional jeugddetentie pleadings. For a fact which in this case as there is in general an unconditional prison sentence is appropriate. However, the court will not proceed in view of the fact that suspicious at the time of the commission of the offense was 14 years, he has not previously with police and the judiciary has come in contact and also because there date between offense and the hearing is a lot of time expired. Also in the report of the Council for the Child states that a jeugddetentie no added value.
The court may therefore find themselves in the modality as punishment by the prosecutor declared a suspect and will impose strong labor. A contingent jeugddetentie suspect will be imposed, order him to stop again in the future the error in detail.

Application of laws
The court has given the articles 77a, 77g (old), 77i, 77m (old), 77n, 77x (old), 77y (old), 77z (old), 310 and 312 of the Penal Code.


Reject the request of the counsel to the hearing of witnesses away.

Explains the Basic telastegelegde proven, and to qualify as criminal acts in the aforementioned and punishable deswege suspect.

Does a suspect animal matter to:

A labor, consisting of the provision of 160 hours of unpaid work. The work must be done within 12 months.

Recommends that in case the convicted person's labor is not properly carried out, jeugddetentie replacement for the duration of 80 days will be applied.

A jeugddetentie for four weeks.

Determines that this jeugddetentie will not be implemented unless the judge later ordered otherwise, on the grounds that the convicted person has until the end of a probationary period in which it is set at two years, to an offense is guilty.

Declares no evidence to suspect that more or otherwise telastegelegd than the stated proven and suspected it goes free.

This verdict has been delivered by Mr. B.J. de Jong, President and childprotection, Mr. MJ Dijkstra and Mr. A. de Jong, judges, assisted by Mr. G. Sannes, Registrar, and pronounced in open court of this court on October 21, 2008.


FYI, belows are 310 and 312 of the Penal Code of Netherland.

Title XXII. Theft and poaching

Article 310
That any good that he fully or partially belongs to another away, with the aim of it is unlawful to be usurped, is as guilty of theft, punishable by imprisonment not exceeding four years or a fine of the fourth category.

Article 312
1. With imprisonment of not more than nine years or a fine of the fifth category will be punished theft, preceded, accompanied or followed by violence or threat of violence against persons, committed with the intent to prepare for that theft or convenience, or, in caught on hotter action, to themselves or other participants in the crime or the flight as possible, or the possession of the stolen services.

Titel XXII. Diefstal en stroperij

Artikel 310
Hij die enig goed dat geheel of ten dele aan een ander toebehoort wegneemt, met het oogmerk om het zich wederrechtelijk toe te eigenen, wordt, als schuldig aan diefstal, gestraft met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste vier jaren of geldboete van de vierde categorie.

Artikel 312
1. Met gevangenisstraf van ten hoogste negen jaren of geldboete van de vijfde categorie wordt gestraft diefstal, voorafgegaan, vergezeld of gevolgd van geweld of bedreiging met geweld tegen personen, gepleegd met het oogmerk om die diefstal voor te bereiden of gemakkelijk te maken, of om, bij betrapping op heter daad, aan zichzelf of andere deelnemers aan het misdrijf hetzij de vlucht mogelijk te maken, hetzij het bezit van het gestolene te verzekeren.


In similar cases, S. Korean criminal court have applied Article 350 of Criminal Code.

Article 350 (Extortion)
(1) A person who, by extortion, causes another to surrender his property or obtains pecuniary advantage from the latter, shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than ten years or by a fine not exceeding twenty million won.

Unlike Dutch court, S. Korean courts have regarded virtual goods not as goods(property) but as informatical interest(pecuniary advantage)of player.

That is, in case of seemingly virtual theft where no violence engaged, S. korean court applied the next statues in information protection law, rather than theft in Penal Code.

Article 49 (Protection of Secrets, etc.)
Any person shall be prohibited from damaging the information of other persons or from infringing, stealing or leaking the secrets of other persons, which are processed, stored or transmitted by information and communications network.


They didn't need to bring virtual goods into this to bring about a prosecution, surely?

If I broke into someone's house and threatened them at gunpoint to cut my hair, then there would be no goods involved. However, there would be a service involved - cutting my hair. Could I expect to escape punishment under the law for forcing someone to perform a service? Well, no. I don't know what law would apply, but that's because I'm not a lawyer.

It seems that what happened here is that some two kids ordered at knifepoint another kid to hand over some items in-world. Why is that not a service? Are there more serious punishments if you hold someone up at knifepoint and take items from them than if you ask them to perform a service?

I'm guessing that if the threats had come within the context of the game, rather than outside of it, that would have been OK?



At least in the U.S., a haircut at gunpoint would certainly be prosecutable as something, but not "theft of goods." I suspect that most U.S. prosecutors would have simply charged this as assault and sidestepped the question of virtual property, but in the Netherlands case, somebody decided to go for "theft of goods," so it was an issue.

Depending on how the specific statute is written, it's certainly possible that someone could be prosecuted for in-game threats, just like they could be prosecuted for threats by email, but that would likely be a different crime as well.


Yes. On that tangent, as mentioned here before, it is not surprising that, in some cases like this, courts are willing to declare that an intangible thing meets the definition of property (or a good). It has happened in the U.S. as well, though not with virtual property.

See this former post, e.g.

In a way, the interesting thing is not when individual decisions make this move, but when many decisions start to form a consensus around it. South Korea is perhaps the only jurisdiction that has really taken the time to develop a considered collective stance on this. As Unggi says (here and in his excellent work that can be found on SSRN), the decision there has been against treating the crime as theft per se.

And yes, Richard, if the manipulation of the data had occurred within the game (meaning by means of the authorized use of the software interface without external coercion), that conduct would presumably be governed by the rules of the game, which might permit theft to occur. In the Dutch case, we have external force used to prompt internal transfer. In the Japanese case, we have unauthorized access plus the deletion of the avatar.


I get nervous about these cases, and how they might interact with a game like EVE where defrauding the foolish of their stuff is an accepted part of the game.

Fully down with the second case however. No different from breaking into an email account.


current crime up date

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