This intriguing, tickling, curiosity about China may well be something I share only with Brian Micklethwait but perhaps he, like me, is forever being goaded into continuing scrutiny by these little streams of fascinating information coming out of the place.
The court in Beijing ruled on December 18, 2003 that Beijing Artic Ice Technology Development must return the virtual goods to the player, Li Hongchen. Hongchen had spent two years and over US$1,200 on ‘pay-as-you-go’ access cards playing the online game “Hongyue” (Red Moon) and had built up an account of virtual money and weapons in his playing account.
In February 2003, Hongchen discovered that his account had been hacked through the game’s central servers. He complained to the company but was told that the virtual goods had no real world value. The company also refused to identify the hacker, saying that it could not reveal private details of players, reported Reuters, an international news agency.
So not only are Chinese Courts going to protect private property, they are even going to protect virtual private property.
A columnist for TechNewsWorld, a U.S. news Web site, said the Chinese court case appeared to be the first in the world.
I am not aware of any similar ruling in either the UK or Europe so maybe the chappie from TechNewsWorld is right and this is a world first. Who would have imagined even a few short years ago that property law precedents would be set in China?!!
All shock and awe aside, I wonder if it is a precedent that will followed elsewhere, especially in the West? It just might. I noticed some time ago that laws relating to technology in general, and the internet in particular, are taking on a very global hue.
If that Court in Beijing manages to start a global ball rolling then I foresee very interesting implications for the future of ‘cyber’ wealth.