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Aug 02, 2012



I'm becoming a pedant in my dotage but " Bad as in 4 years later " seems to refer to "6 January 2010."

If it's a typo you may wish to alter it. If you've been time traveling you may wish to rush down the Patent Office.


Stabs - doh, thx for spotting the typo. Now corrected.


I imagine that what the court said about why Twitter is a public form of communication is important and would lead (or could be cited in a future case) the definition of public for the purposes of this Act. According to your summary:
"it relies on the internet and the public timeline is available to anyone that want’s to look at it."

(typo on wants btw).

Now Facebook relies on the internet but games like WoW don't. Public timelines aren't quite comparable to anything on Facebook. And in a game like WoW there's no public timeline of trade chat but one could be made using screenshots.

Also if one of the key elements is that it relies on the internet then perhaps players of browser based games might be more at risk of being prosecuted then players of other types of game.


Thx for more typo's (I really can't proof read).

On the face of it what you say makes sense. I'm sure, should there be a case, that's what would be argued by one side.

But I'm wondering if there would be different jurisdictional interpretations and different interpretations based on what area of law was brought forth - in the Twitter joke case the defence tried to use case law relating to Blackmail.

For example, is WoW or Facebook 'private' in the sense of a 'right of privacy' - under US law I wonder if it is as the notion of the public sphere as been extended so much. And if it's not private, then it's public, right?

Also in the US we had some interesting arguments around the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the idea of 'public accommodation' (http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2010/03/is-everquest-a-place-of-public-accomodation.html) here people argued both sides of the coin.

Lastly there are company town arguments (http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2004/07/chickasaw_in_cy.html) which again people argue both ways.



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What's your take on the guy who tweeted "You let your dad down I hope you know that" about diver Tom Daley? Daley's dad died of brain cancer last year, so it's definitely unpleasant, but is it really what "malicious communications" was meant to address? After all, if he'd said it to his face would he be arrested? http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/diving/9442445/Hunt-for-Tom-Daley-Twitter-troll-seaside-police-raid-nets-suspect-17.html

Also, what's your take on the guy who tweeted "If there is any consolation for finishing fourth at least Daley and Waterfield can go and bum each other #teamHIV"? They arrested someone over that (I'm not sure what the charge is) but he denied having sent the tweet. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/08/03/tom-daley-gay-hate-tweet-footballer-arrested/

This might be getting a bit off Terra Nova topic, but since we're on the subject...



I'm not sure it is off topic as these are the kinds of things that one sees in chat within games.

I suspect the news reports are actually wrong. But I've not had time to look into them. I find that the news tends to report what it thinks the police have done and focuses the more famous aspects of acts, rather than what the police actually do. For example as I commented on TN (http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2011/03/english-zynga-case-property-but-not-theft.html) the Zynga case widely reported as 'theft' was not, problem for the press is that it was a crime that hardly anyone has heard of.

In the Tom Daley case I suspect that the person was detained for other tweets in the time line which directly threaten violence and that the 'dead dad' one simply alerted people to the content of the timeline but was itself not criminal. Some press reports do alude to this, and careful reading of others show that they don't actually 'say' that he was arrested for that tweet they just heavily imply it.

I don't know the latter case, and I'm not familiar with the UK law's relating to 'hate speech', so I can't comment on that one.

My main point is that had the case gone the other way, and if such cases do go other ways in other jurisdictions I think there is at least a danger that some authorities will start to look at what goes on in games. I hope that this will serve as a good test case for common law jurisdictions.


Ah, yes, press reports can be a problem. You read things like "man jailed for stealing £3.26" whereas he was actually jailed for beating up an old lady and stealing her purse, inside which was £3.26.

In game management, I remember getting criticised for kicking someone out of MUD for ganking a newbie, whereas I hd actually kicked him out for ganking a newbie after having been repeatedly told not to gank newbies and then given a final warning that the next time he ganked a newbie he'd be out. Eventually, I reduced such complaints by banning them for "disobeying a direct arch-wiz order". Ah, the days when those with godly powers could use them...


Mr. Reynolds, thank you for interesting post. Being a Russian lawyer I can contribute to the discussion with an expected interpretation in my jurisdiction, I hope it may be of some interest for the readers. Russian law pertains to general framework of civil law systems. We have not observed any relevant trials yet, although our internet users sometimes make similar "Twitter jokes" in ru-net. Such act certainly would not fall within the terrorism definition, as this activity implies menace intentionally directed to state authorities. However, the interesting thing is that the prosecution may deem the message as an deliberately false notification about preparation of a terrorist act. The article of Criminal Code which penalizes the latter does not require that the menace should be addressed to state authorities. As regards considering Twitter as a public communication network - most likely, the answer is positive. The most recent Resolution of the Supreme Court on such kind of crimes (February 9, 2012) qualifies blogs, forums and "other" media (presumably, Twitter) as public communication network. Legal notice: this is not a legal advice, just a private professional opinion. :)


Oh, and please, don't kill all the lawyers.


Game forums are another element that merits consideration. Are they private or public? In most MMOs only people with registered accounts can post but anyone can read. And they're certainly targeted towards the members of a particular club, the players of that game.

A while ago I got fed up with the casual use of the word "jew" in Eve Online. For people who don't follow the Eve community the word is widely used as a synonym for industrialist or trader. It's so widely used and so endemic in many of the Eve communities now that it's lost its pejorative meaning to the people who say it. In fact The Mittani actually used it in this day in a statement apologising for poor behaviour (I'm sure quite inadvertently).

When I posted a civil request on the Eve Official forums for people to stop using it in this way it provoked an impassioned reaction from many players. Some were supportive, some offered well reasoned defences of free speech but several posted quite astonishing tirades against the jews justifying hatred for them. The "Hitler had the right idea" crowd.

I really think that there's a brewing crisis here. Hate speech in public is usually illegal. Many gamers however see their online games as relaxed social environments, mens clubs, where they don't have to respect the boundaries of polite society, havens where they're freer than they usually are. I'm sure most of us have seen quite astonishing homophobia, antisemitism and racism while we've been playing our games. Surely these two elements are mutually incompatible and both regulation is growing and hate speech is, I'm sorry to say, becoming more prevalent.

Another issue is jurisdiction. What if someone in America says something in World of Warcraft that's offensive to people in Egypt? Is that a less serious crime than if someone in Egypt says something offensive to Americans? Do the EULAs we sign agreeing that jurisdiction is handled as specified in the EULA (usually agreeing to settle any dispute in the game's company's country) mean that a dispute in Eve relating to hate crime should be tried in Iceland under Icelandic law?


"in this day" should read "in this way".

Comment editing functionality would be a very welcome enhancement to this blog.

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