Recently, a British politician suggested that theft of virtual items in online games should be punished like real theft. Mike Weatherley – by day the chief adviser on intellectual property to the Prime Minister, by night a mighty hero of Azeroth in the MMORPG World of Warcraft – asked the British Minister of State for Justice to propose legislation “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.” So if you steal an in-game magic item worth a real-life $100 (or £50, since we’re talking about England), you would get charged with theft of £50. (If this does become a real thing, I’d like to propose that this area of law be dubbed “WoW-Crimes.” “World of WarCrimes” has a clever ring to it, but it also sounds too much like a Rwandan genocide simulator, and the world really doesn’t need that to exist.)
This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on September 13, 2014. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.
Castree, Sam, "Real Jail for WoW-Crimes?" (2014). AELJ Blog. 50.