Is stealing a virtual good deserving of a real-world criminal sentence? According to a recent ruling
by the Dutch Supreme Court, the answer is "yes."
The court recently upheld a ruling of a criminal case in which teens attacked another youth and forced him at knifepoint to relinquish his possessions in RuneScape
, including an in-game amulet and knife.
The incident happened in 2007, and a lower court convicted the two thieves in 2009. One of the defendants then appealed to the country's supreme court on the grounds that the stolen goods "were neither tangible nor material and, unlike for example electricity, had no economic value."
However, the judges declared that these virtual items had value because they represented "time and energy invested" to acquire. The thieves were sentenced to 144 hours of community service.