Jane at Gamegirl Advance reported on the slaying of a man over virtual property earlier today. As she put it, "The China Daily reports that a 41-year-old man stabbed an acquaintance who stole and sold his Dragon Sabre in the MMORPG Legend of Mir III." This could have just been the case of a crazy, obsessed gamer, but the fact that he reported this to the police first and was turned away changes all that.

Qiu, the accused, was told by the police that virtual property doesn't count, even though the sabre was eventually sold for $871. That sounds pretty real to me. It seems obvious that the police should have followed through and arrested Zhu, the man who stole the sabre, but I can see why they didn't. It's not very likely that they have someone on staff who knows how to determine whether it was stolen. This is aside from the preconceived notions they likely possess.

This is a great example because it is something quantifiable. If Zhu had stolen the sabre and traded it for money within the game, it would be much harder to rationalize for a lot of people. I would be curious what would happen if someone were to copy every music file I bought online and then deleted them from my computer. Forgetting about copyright issues, I would likely have to re-purchase those files but I doubt I would be able to file a report with the NYPD.

I also wonder if this would be connected to intellectual property in some way. I'm far from a lawyer, but it seems to be something else that has monetary value but can't be held in your hands.