An interesting tidbit on internet and intellectual property law is buzzing around the gaming circles: South Korea has passed a law banning the trade of in-game items (think Diablo 3 trading). According to Gamespot:
Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently announced a new law that will halt virtual item trading. The ban is meant to target the use of bots that allow the automatic collection of in-game items in mass multiplayer online titles. The ministry calculated that over 60 percent of the items exchanged were collected by those bots. Users who violate this law will face up to 50 million won fine ($43,000) and five years in jail.
At first glance, this may seem like one of those wacky legal updates you would only see out of a country where giant stadiums are packed with fans cheering a giant video projection of a StarCraft match. But for those of us in the intellectual property sphere, if we really think about it, it seems that South Korea has pretty much just nationalized a major sector of intellectual property.
Suddenly, copyright owners (game developers and publishers) no longer have the right to decide how their intellectual property (virtual in-game items) are exploited by the consumer. Perhaps I am overreacting, but this could be the first step in a troubling trend…
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