Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Swords and Armor: Regulating the Theft of Virtual Goods
70 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2007 Last revised: 1 Jun 2014
Despite the daily occurrence of theft within Massively-Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games and virtual worlds, this type of theft remains unregulated in the United States. This Comment takes the position that not only should the United States prosecute the theft of virtual goods under current theft penal statutes, but also that such approach is desperately needed given the economic prominence of virtual goods and the increasing rise of virtual good thefts. This Comment demonstrates how the current United States legal system could classify the theft of virtual goods as legally cognizable theft, while considering: (1) whether virtual goods can be considered property; (2) if virtual goods are property, what property rights players need to protect virtual goods from theft; and (3) whether existing legal provisions are sufficient to protect the theft of virtual goods, taking into account arguments against their application. This Comment also considers whether other regulatory schemes, including those of other countries, would better address the theft of virtual goods, and concludes that penal statutes would regulate the theft of virtual goods most effectively.
Keywords: virtual property, MMORPGs, theft, criminal law, RMT, virtual goods, Real Money Trading, virtual crimes
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation