Joining the ranks of the virtual enforcers: Japan

Japan steps up and takes real life judicial action for a virtual crime:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/10/23/international/i063235D45.DTL&tsp=1

A 43-year-old player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and killed his digital persona, police said Thursday.

The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his ID and password to log onto the popular interactive game “Maple Story” to carry out the virtual murder in May, a police official in the northern city of Sapporo said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.

“I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry,” the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations.

The woman, a piano teacher, had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison or a fine up to $5,000.

It will be interesting to see what the court decides on this one. I’m also curious as to the consequences within Maple Story itself — how much he actually loses, if the character was “dead” (as in game-death) or if she deleted it, and either way, if he can retrieve it. Regardless, this is still an invasive act and he should be within his rights to take action — but the specific details on this case will also be interesting to discover.

(For those who missed the link(s) before, this is more in the virtual property vein of “We the Gamers” and “Someone Stole My Magic Sword”.)

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