Saturday, 3 July 2010


We live in a world where, if I spend a few minutes or even many hours creating a tune, or a bit of software, or artwork, then I have rights over that. I can take a photograph in 1/1000th of a second and I have rights over that photograph. Those rights are enshrined in law.

Indeed, many things I do that take time and effort mean I either get paid for what I do or I own what I end up with in some way.

But there are exceptions, and it is hard to see how they could ever find their way in to a legal framework. What if I spend years of my life working hard to make, say, a World of Warcraft character. That is a lot of work. A lot of effort. And you accumulate gold and goods and armour and so on. Sorry, armor, it's American isn't it.

Well, WoW currency (gold, etc) is not real currency is it? But then what is real currency. Real money is just tokens, numbers, that are limited supply and are the result of your work. They show you worked to get it and so have value to others. Real currency is only valid because people believe it is valid. It is not intrinsically more worthy than WoW gold! There are millions of people for which WoW gold has value in their lives.

A friend just had his account hacked and all of his hard earned propetry deleted and his WoW gold and salable goods stolen. He is understandably devistated. WoW is something he spends a lot of time on and part of his social life. He will not be able to go on a raid this evening - i.e. his plans have been ruined.

There is no legal right to WoW gold or to the character. All that work has no legal worth. I doubt any legal framework could protect it. I can understand the otehr side - if I made some on-line game I would not want to find I was tied in to all sorts of property rights of the players all of a sudden.

The Computer Misuse Act covers it to some extent, except the hackers are probably from Korea where the action is not illegal (as I undertstand it), and the victim would be Blizzard not my friend anyway.

Just makes you think.


  1. I find the offline market for WoW items and gold really strange. What is the point of playing the game, but cheating by buying things offline? Really it's no different to playing chess with someone, and rearranging the pieces when they're not looking.

    I also wonder if people tend to get away with it in practice. I mean suppose I paid a 'power levelling service' to take my character to level 60 or something. Is it basically a con, where they do that but know the account will be banned shortly afterwards, or do people tend to get away with it?

  2. I tend to agree with PeteX.

    Where's the difference between the WoW problem and my son deciding to disrupt a two hour game of Monopoly by throwing the board on the floor just as I was about to make him bankrupt and win?

  3. I had like a week before Blizzard returned me everything. A week, but - everything. I've enabled blizzard's iPhone authenticator after that - tell your friend to check this out, it's nice.

  4. Yeh, it took a while for him too. They had raided the guild vault too. I think he got it all back in the end and has one of those iPhone authenticators now too.