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Author Topic: Digital Currency - Legal Property in the UK  (Read 2431 times)
Stephen Gornick
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February 04, 2011, 05:06:03 AM
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Ashley Mitchell admitted accessing the system belonging to the Zynga Corporation and stealing 400 billion [Zynga poker] chips.

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This shows that the legal regulation and protection of virtual goods and currency, which historically has been fairly uncertain, is evolving fast - driven partly by the boom in virtual goods sales in games.

This case is particularly interesting because it involved a UK court recognising virtual currency - in this case, Zynga chips - as legal property which can be protected by existing UK criminal laws.

The court effectively found that, even though virtual currency isn't real and is infinite in supply, it still can deserve legal protection in the same way as real world currency.
[emphasis added]

  http://www.develop-online.net/news/36921/Zynga-hacker-faces-jail-after-12m-theft

  http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2011/02/03/133439898/-12-million-in-online-currency-is-worth-how-much
  
  http://www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk/news/HACKER-ADMITS-STEALING-12m-POKER-CHIPS/article-3170994-detail/article.html

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bitanarchy
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February 04, 2011, 08:59:07 AM
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The court effectively found that, even though virtual currency isn't real and is infinite in supply, it still can deserve legal protection in the same way as real world currency.

I am not sure whether I would favor legal protection of virtual stuff. In what respect does bitcoin, or the whole internet differ from a game like EVE online? Imagine that game goodies get protected by law. Right now I suppose that entering a game would be considered like entering a boxing ring... how does bitcoin differ?

Contracts should be supported by law, but not protected by the state because that would be protection-socialism. That is externalizing the costs of protection of property to the taxpayer.

When you go onto the internet there is always an implicit social contract that says what you can and cannot do on the internet, while this should be totally up to the internet provider who is sending you the bits.

Right now, the only way to setup a stateless domain on the internet, where your local state law has nothing to say, is through hard encryption like tor. Can this not be made easier by treating part of the internet legally as a game?
genjix
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February 04, 2011, 09:09:00 AM
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I'm not sure what to say really. Both arguments are reasonable.

Imagine if that wasn't 4 billion play money chips, but $10k of somebody's real-money.

While the other side of me says the internet is a game. If you don't like it, then don't play.

And once the amounts become too small, it becomes impossible to use the law. Would it be worth going after the person who stole your $5k? In that case then, it's a law for the corporations or rich only.
markm
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February 04, 2011, 09:29:33 AM
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Shoudla bought that unit of Freeciv gold while it was available for only $1000 usd... Wink

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caveden
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February 04, 2011, 09:50:55 AM
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Contracts should be supported by law, but not protected by the state because that would be protection-socialism. That is externalizing the costs of protection of property to the taxpayer.

Yeah, but remember they retain a monopoly over contract enforcement. If they don't do, they won't let anybody else do it. So, for such a fundamental service, better have it monopolized than not having it all.
And about cost externalization, that could be reduced... often is the party that loses the process that pays for everything.

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hugolp
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February 04, 2011, 03:10:43 PM
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The court effectively found that, even though virtual currency isn't real and is infinite in supply, it still can deserve legal protection in the same way as real world currency.

Ah, the irony.
kiba
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February 04, 2011, 04:16:19 PM
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I don't want the "court" to protect my bitcoin.

markm
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February 04, 2011, 05:37:34 PM
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But if someone steals four billion paperclipchips backed by real paperclips, who else would enforce it?

You surely aren't suggesting I'd refuse to honour the stolen chips, are you? Wink

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