Online game theft earns real-world conviction

The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that forcing a 13-year-old boy to relinquish a virtual mask and amulet in an online game amounted to real-world theft.

Tyrus Lackman, 15, plays the online game Runescape at his home in Center, N.D., Monday, Nov. 5, 2007.(AP Photo/Will Kincaid)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- The Dutch Supreme Court has ruled that forcing a 13-year-old boy to relinquish a virtual mask and amulet in an online game amounted to real-world theft.

The Netherlands' highest court confirmed Tuesday that a boy who threatened the 13-year-old with a knife to make him drop the objects in the online fantasy game RuneScape was guilty of theft and ordered him to perform 144 hours of community service.

The court did not release the suspect's name, only his year of birth -- 1992. It said he and another youth beat and kicked the boy and threatened him with a knife until he logged into RuneScape and dropped the objects in 2007.

The court ruled the 13-year-old owned the virtual objects because of the time and energy he invested in winning them.


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