Hey buddy! Wanna buy a Dragon Slaying Saber? Or how about a Judgment Mace?
Shady dealings in virtual, online weapons have landed three men in court in Shanghai's first criminal case of copyright violations involving an online fantasy roleplaying game, newspapers reported on Tuesday.
The software weapons -- essentially just bits of data -- are given out to players at high levels of the massively popular game Legend of Mir, produced by Shanghai-based Shanda Interactive Entertainment.
A former Shanda manager, Wang Yihui, is accused of manipulating the game's software to illicitly award weapons such as the highly coveted "dragon slaying blade," the Oriental Morning Post said.
Mir and games like it are hugely popular in China and Wang and two co-defendants who had registered characters who received the virtual weapons allegedly made more than 2 million yuan (US$250,000) selling them on to other players who hoped to increase their competitiveness in the game.
"Because top-grade game weapons are very rare and precious for devoted players, they are valuable in the virtual world," Wang was quoted as telling the court by the Shanghai Daily.
While customizing video games is a popular pastime for many, Wang and his co-defendants may have found themselves in trouble for copyright violation when they sold their creations for profit. It wasn't clear what penalties they could face and calls to Shanda and Pudong District Court were not immediately answered.
The popularity of such games has created growing concern over so-called "Internet addiction." Such fears bubbled over last year when a man was sentenced to death over the stabbing death -- this time real -- of a fellow player in a dispute over the ownership of a virtual weapon used in Legend of Mir III.