01 February 2008

Rethinking Value and Law

A lack of understanding about what's going on in the modern world should not excuse anyone from their responsibility.
(Geoff) Luurs collected jewels, charms and rare coins - some 50 items - over four years while playing FFXI, an online role-playing game where he adventured as Sots, a tiny magician. Worse yet, Luurs suspected a fellow gamer and friend by the character name of Ayri had emptied him of treasure worth 75 million Gil, the currency used to measure success within the game.

Luurs decided to get justice and took his virtual beef to Blaine police. He told them Ayri could make real money, he said about $3,800, from selling the loot to gamers who would rather pay for it than play for it.

So, would police charge Ayri with theft? No.
If I steal names, addresses and social security numbers from a source via the internt, I could sell that "valueless" information to someone in the identity theft business and it would be a crime. Why is this any different?
"What happened here is somebody stole almost $4,000 and got away cold," said Joshua Fairfield, an associate professor of law at Washington and Lee University in Virginia. He said he thinks if the monetary value of the goods had been higher and if a corporation instead of individuals had been involved, cops would have investigated.
"This is just a matter of zeros," Fairfield said. "The first time IBM loses $10 million, we're going to see some police action."

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