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Supreme Court acquits two in cyber money game case

Ruling holds only for skill contests not based on luck

Jan 11,2010
The Supreme Court acquitted two defendants in a case related to the legality of using cash to buy and sell cyber money for online games.

The court conditioned its ruling on the fact that the cyber money was earned through skill, not luck.

Supreme Court Justice Min Il-young ruled in favor of the suspects surnamed Kim and Lee.

The two allegedly purchased “Aden,” cyber money in an online multiplayer role-playing game “Lineage,” worth 234 million won ($207,558), which was lower than market price, through game item-trading Web sites.

Then they allegedly resold those purchased items to some 2,000 other players and earned about 20 million won.

Aden is used to buy accessories, cyber weapons and other items that appear in the game so that players’ avatars - characters living in the online virtual world - in the game can gain more power.

Currently, 100 Aden can be purchased for 8,000 won through game item-trading sites.

When Kim and Lee were fined five million and three million won, respectively, in a summary trial in March 2008, they filed a claim for a full trial. They were then fined four million and two million each at the first trial.

An appeal court, however, overturned the case last July.

The second trial also ruled that Lineage’s Aden are not obtained by means of either luck or coincidence. It said that constant efforts to get as much Aden as possible can also be regarded as a game that requires much time and effort. Game industry and online item-trading firms expect that trading either items or cyber money with cash could be more active following the ruling.

For game providers, a new business model can be created since those providers could engage in trading themselves. In particular, small and medium providers look forward to getting opportunities to grow.

“Room for game providers to directly enter a market that trade cyber money with cash has been created,” said Yun Sun-hee, a law professor at Hanyang University in Seoul. “But the court did not rule in favor of trading cyber money with cash in either online poker or “Go-Stop” games that require luck in competition.”



By Choe Sun-uk, Lee Min-yong [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]




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