UK MP Calls For Laws To Deal With Large-Scale Virtual World Thefts

UK Prime Minister David Cameron's chief adviser on intellectual property and Member of Parliament Mike Weatherley is pushing for penalties related to theft in virtual worlds and online. According to several reports, Weatherley, an avid World of Warcraft player, has asked members of Parliament to consider new laws that would make it so that “people who steal online items in video games with a real-world monetary value receive the same sentences as criminals who steal real-world items of the same monetary value."

Weatherley said that any change in laws would be about creating parity in sentencing for stealing things online or in the real world.

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Weatherley pointed out that players sometimes spend large amounts of real world money on in-game items.

"If you’ve spent £500 on building up your armed forces and someone takes them away online, I guess you can feel hard done-by and you want your £500 back," he said. “People shouldn’t be doing it."

"The perception from some people is if you steal online it’s less of a crime than if you steal physically," he continued. "If it genuinely is someone who’s paid in the game and they’ve had that stolen, that’s probably no different to something in the physical world."

Weatherley went on to say that new laws would be focused on large-scale item thefts, and that he does not want to see people going to jail for small-time stealing.

"If it was a minor thing, a £5 item, then I probably wouldn’t bother with anything, but if I found someone doing it a thousand times over then it’s obviously a problem," he said. "It’s a scale thing as well. If you’re a genuine hacker, so to speak, and you’ve stolen the money out of thousands of accounts, then I think that’s a general theft problem that needs to be addressed very seriously."

Source: Buzzfeed

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  1. 0
    Waraila says:

    I think the intent is more on the account hacking aspect of the stealing tree.  Not legitimate ingame actions you can use to take items from another person, such as EvE's system of being able to blow up your opponent's stuff.  PvP in games like Runescape allow you to take items from another person in certain areas… but that isn't what the law is addressing.

    I would imagine it's down to taking items from an account itself, when you are not the legitimate owner of said account .. note they mention hacking in the article.

  2. 0
    Wraith108 says:

    Wonder how that would work with things like EVE where subterfuge is a part of the game that can lead to people having items stolen that sell for large amounts of money on places like ebay?

  3. 0
    Neo_DrKefka says:

    I agree, let’s say an MMO existed in a DND type world or even if Elder Scrolls allowed you to play as a thief and you can loot another toon. Or let’s say of you died like in Diablo and your gear was left in your old body how would this law work? Want to know? By not selling games in countries that have laws like this.

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