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World of Warcraft

A British MP asked for in-game theft to be treated like real-world theft

World of Warcraft in Parliament

Mike Weatherly is MP for Hove and Portslade, and a World of Warcraft player. He recently proposed that online criminals in the UK receive the same sentencing as IRL criminals who steal items of the same value.

The proposal was turned down. But can you imagine the ramifications for Eve players?

Mike Weatherley wrote to ask the British Secretary of State for Justice if he would bring forward “legislative proposals” - draft law, essentially - to ensure that “cyber criminals who steal online items in video games with a real-world monetary value received the same sentences as criminals who steal real-world items of the same monetary value.”

Clearly, Weatherley is thinking of the tendency for unscrupulous MMO players to trick and scam their way to weapons or ships that’d fetch a high price on eBay - a tendency turned into an art form in Eve Online.

However, fellow MP Mike Penning pointed out that theft and fraud online is already punishable with “severe maximum sentences”.

“Sentencing for individual cases is a matter for the courts,” said Penning. “The independent Sentencing Council issue guidelines to ensure consistency in sentencing.”

Cheers, Jas Purewal.

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BraveToaster's picture
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I guess he got really pissed off when someone stole his cool gear...

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Tim Edwards's picture
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Must not understand how bind on equip works.

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Neurosploit's picture
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There goes being a rogue pickpocketing!

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Dog Pants's picture
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Sounds like a legal minefield to me. How would you define the price when they vary by server (and over time)? What constitutes ownership when you have things like guild banks? Is it still illegal if it's within the game mechanics, and if not does that mean the game devs are setting what's legal and what isn't? If it is then are devs culpable for allowing it to be possible? I'm far from as legal expert, but I would have thought that if I can come up with these things off the top of my head then there must be some pretty big flaws.

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One thought that occurs to me is that, given that these days we tend not to "own" games, but merely a license, do we really even "own" the goods we have in game? Can they actually be stolen from us if we don't own them and they never technically leave the hands of the true owners, the developers?

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