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F & F


Castronova's Notes on Hacker Court
posted by scubacuda on Thursday July 31, @09:47AM
from the virtual-space-not-so-virtual-at-all dept.
Criminal Law /.: Cal State Fullerton's Edward Castronova (featured on GrepLaw for his analysis of gender inequality between male and female Everquest avatars) has just updated his notes on "Hacker Court", a mock trial held at Vegas' Black Hat Conference on whether virtual items destroyed during the hack of an online video game constituted real loss. "No verdict was reached, but the jury and audience agreed that the damages were real," says Castronova. (C|Net article here)

(lifted from website):

In a mock trial convened before U.S. Circuit Court Judge Philip M. Pro, the Hacker Court's jury accepted the proposition that the virtual items destroyed during the hack of an online video game constituted real loss. The jury hung on the question of whether a certain 'Weasel' actually conspired with a certain 'Terron' to hack into a game server and destroy items, so no verdict was reached. However, the value of the potential loss of the hack was not in dispute. A subsequent poll revealed that the overwhelming majority of the 200-strong audience of computer and networking specialists (drawn from the Black Hat conference of cybersecurity professionals) agreed with the jury's opinion regarding the existence of real value in the case. Defense counsel Jennifer Granick mounted a strong counter-argument, namely that we might, as a society, decide that it is just too difficult to classify game-related damages as real, just as we shy away from taking cases of lost sexual favors to court, even though there clearly are damages. This powerful argument suggests that losses in something we agree to call a "game" should also be free from legal oversight, even though, in fact, the distinction between game and life is arbitrary. In the end, jury and audience disagreed with this cultural stratagem, preferring instead Prosecutor Richard Salgado's argument that human activity in the allegedly virtual space is not virtual at all. It is real activity and haggles real values and thus, in principle, it deserves the full attention of policy and law.

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