Much praise has been showered on China's passing of its first private property law. Is it time now for one on virtual properties? From Virtual China (photo: QQ dolls via chinanews.com.cn):
CNNIC reports that 61% of gamers have had virtual assets stolen and 77% feel that the current online atmosphere is unsafe for virtual assets.
There are two distinct camps in the legal discussion of virtual assets. One side thinks that virtual assets constitute an investment like any other, and are exchangeable with real money, and therefore should be protected under the law like any other asset. The other side thinks that virtual assets are only valuable in the context of the game, and only for gamers. They're not universally recognized assets with a universally recognized value. They are also only retrievable if the server is available.
China University of Political Science and Law professor Hou Guoyun sees virtual assets as ill gotten gains and believes that giving them legal protection will not stop virtual asset theft, and will only encourage more young people to enter the world of gaming.
The Internet Crime section of the Shenzhen Public Security Bureau says they get roughly ten reports PER DAY of stolen virtual assets, which are hard to know how to prosecute given the current status under law. Should they be classified as robberies? Fraud? A judge in Shanghai says that virtual asset cases often cause vigorous debate inside China's courts as to whether they should be classified as crimes or not. [Full Text]
- Also WSJ's QQ: China's New Coin of the Realm?