[MUD-Dev] Online gamer in China wins virtual theft suit

David Durant ddurant at cox.net
Sun Dec 21 14:32:13 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

Just to continue the old "Who really owns the virtual property in a
game?" thread:



BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- A Chinese court has ordered an online
video game company to return hard-won virtual property, including a
make-believe stockpile of bio-chemical weapons, to a player whose
game account was looted by a hacker.

Li Hongchen, 24, had spent two years, and 10,000 yuan ($1,210) on
pay-as-you-go cards to play, amassing weapons and victories in the
popular online computer game Hongyue, or Red Moon, before his
"weapons" were stolen in February, the Xinhua news agency said on

Li asked the company, Beijing Arctic Ice Technology Development Co
Ltd, to identify the player who stole his virtual property, but it
declined, saying it could not give out a player's private details,
it said.

Police also gave Li no satisfaction, so he took his case to court,
demanding 10,000 yuan in compensation, Xinhua said.

"I exchanged the equipment with my labor, time, wisdom and money,
and of course they are my belongings," it quoted him as saying of
the virtual property he collected online.

The company argued that the value of the virtual property only
existed in the game and was "just piles of data to our operating

In the end, Beijing's Chaoyang District People's Court ruled on
Thursday that the firm should restore the player's lost items,
finding the company liable because of loopholes in the server
programs that made it easy for hackers to break in.

China's online gaming industry has boomed in recent years. Analysts
say it is conservatively forecast to be worth about two billion yuan
this year, and is growing more than 100 percent a year.

Disputes over virtual properties have also soared, Xinhua said.
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