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The Almighty Buck Games

Virtual Currency Becomes Real In South Korea 203

Posted by Soulskill
from the license-to-print-money dept.
garylian writes "Massively is reporting that the South Korean Supreme Court has stated that virtual currency is the equivalent of real-world money. For those of you who might not be drawing the link, the core there is that selling in-game currency for real money is essentially just an exchange of currency and perfectly legal in South Korea. This could have sweeping implications for RMT operations the world over, not to mention free-to-play games and... well, online games in general. The official story is available online from JoongAng Daily."
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Virtual Currency Becomes Real In South Korea

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  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:38PM (#30822366) Homepage
    They need to do better jobs keeping track of currency levels in different games. As virtual currency becomes more common in game settings, better cryptography needs to be used to make sure that people don't change the numbers. Similarly, there becomes issues with income taxes and the like. In the long run we should probably all switch to cryptographically anonymous currency anyways which can be easily implemented using blind signatures http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blind_signature [wikipedia.org] so that even the bankers don't know who used which bills for which transactions. Unfortunately, many large institutions (such as governments) will likely resist such systems because they lead to a substantial loss of control.
  • Re:Legal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by istartedi (132515) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:43PM (#30822454) Journal

    You're probably referring to the "Liberty Dollar".

    Issuing a competing, aka "complementary" currency is not illegal! See, Ithaca hours, the Matole Petole, and a number of others.

    What made the Liberty coins illegal was that they had too close a resemblance to actual US currency, and were being advertised in ways that might lead people to believe they were legal tender. There may have been some other frauds revolving around the organization that sold them also.

    The fact that they minted silver (and maybe gold too, I don't recall) didn't make them illegal. The aforementioned Petole is silver, and nobody bothers them. They don't try to pass their coins off as valid US currency though, just 1.0 oz. fine silver. Nothing illegal about that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:47PM (#30822536)

    You realize that, in practice, laws don't apply to governments and anyone working on their behalf, right?

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @01:48PM (#30822564) Homepage

    The gamer blog has it wrong, the article poster didn't help, and the Slashdot "editors" blew it as usual. Read the article in JoongAng Daily [joins.com] (which they offer in English). The key issue here is that online gambling is illegal in Korea, and two game players were charged criminally for making money from an online game. The Supreme Court of Korea ruled that they were not gambling, so they don't get fined.

    This decision doesn't affect relationships between players and game operators. It's not about EULA enforceability or property rights. It's a criminal law issue. If you trade game currency, you're not going to be fined or go to jail in Korea. Whether a game site can ban you is a separate issue.

  • Re:Legal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by hrvatska (790627) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:19PM (#30823094)
    See local currencies [wikipedia.org] and list of community currencies in the United States [wikipedia.org] in Wikipedia.
  • Re:Legal? (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @02:34PM (#30823304) Journal

    Yes, it is illegal. See 18 USC Chapter 25 486:

    486. Uttering coins of gold, silver or other metal [cornell.edu]

    Whoever, except as authorized by law, makes or utters or passes, or attempts to utter or pass, any coins of gold or silver or other metal, or alloys of metals, intended for use as current money, whether in the resemblance of coins of the United States or of foreign countries, or of original design, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

    Liberty Dollars were not authorized by law, and therefore the minting of same is illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @03:41PM (#30824196)

    yes there is: food, air, fresh water, security for your family, comfortable shelter, tools, transportation, fuel, weapons. They are the real currencies of the world.
    & btw knowing the xenophobic Koreans, they can use this in 2 ways to screw over foreigner living in their coutry (which the little racists tend to do)

    1. Devaluation of in-game credit strategy: They can specify in a contract that you be paid in a legal tender to the value of xx korean won.
          Of course this would mean you're paid partly in in-game currency. As it devalues, u have nothing. This is exactly what I'd expect from Korean people who are unmatched in treachery. Only the Cambodians are more treacherous. They could always revert to this strategy if things went sour. They're Koreans!

    2. Inflation of in-game credit strategy: This would imply that foreigners would never be allowed to get the in-game currency. Koreans would rush to buy the in-game currency and dump won, perhaps to increase economic competitiveness with China through a cheaper won. Crazy as it sounds, Koreans do things in a one for all and all for one way just like this. The danger with this is, you could end up hurting your domestic economy as if the in-game currency collapsed with a panic, mmorpg players (usually the poorer element of Korean society) would become more poor and buy even less mp3 players and hand-held gadgets and other things that mmorpg players buy.
    Strangely enough, this seems more likely, as foreigners are already forbidden from being members of Korean-based email, chat, and mmorpg sites! I used to live there! It's a xenophobic society.

    My analysis:
    Koreans operate socially on the jung system. If you're family you're sacred, otherwise you're less than shit. 'Compassion' in Korea doesn't exist in the way we understand it - it's just nepotism, family, old-boys clubs.
    It's a strategy to compete with China by forcing devaluation of the Korean won (hence making exporters more competitive. If you know anything about economics, you'll know a devalued currency is always going to make your exporters cheaper.) at the expense of the poorer elements of Korean society. Korea has a track record of never giving a shi.t about it's poorer citizens/netizens so that would also fit the jigsaw puzzle. The poorer would have less money to buy Korean goods, but it's really the export market that Koreans care about anyway.
    In summary, they're going after a devaluation strategy.

  • Re:Legal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @04:32PM (#30824772) Journal

    What part of "intended for use as" do you not understand?

    Liberty dollars are minted with the intended use as current money.

    Since it has been awhile since silver and gold coins have been considered "current money" it would be reasonable to assume that is no longer against the law to mint, utter or pass your own

    Actually, no it would not be reasonable to anything of the sort. The reason it is not reasonable is because the liberty dollars are intended for use as current money, regardless of whether or not the federal government uses silver and/or gold coins as current money.

    for private use.

    But, liberty dollars are not for private use. If they were for private use, then the minters of the liberty dollars would not encourage people to try to pay for things with liberty dollars.

  • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @04:59PM (#30825194) Homepage Journal

    Actually Ron Paul, if he were abiding by the Austrian Economics playbook, (as he usually does) would never tell you that gold has "intrinsic" value, because nothing has an "intrinsic" value. Value is determined entirely by the transaction participants according to their own desires, and only at a specific point in time. Today, gold is worth ~1000/troy ounce to most Americans. Next week, post nuclear holocaust, you may have a hard time giving people 1oz of gold in exchange for 1 bag of radiation-free ramen.

    What Paul and most clever people _will_ tell you is that gold is very useful as a medium of exchange and a store of value within socieites because it is very hard to systematically manipulate [read: inflate], and because it is much better at both functions than "fractional cows".

    It was not an accident that many societies all independantly settled on weights of precious metals as their unit of monetary exchange and value.

  • by roscivs (923777) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @09:55PM (#30827810) Homepage

    Well, don't delude yourself. Removing the human factor from the equation; nothing has value, intrinsic or otherwise. Gold is perhaps the only material known to man that has, since the beginning of recorded history, maintained a value. Many times during our history this value was greater than that of other men's lives. Just sayin'.

    That's mostly because gold does a good job at possessing the characteristics of a medium of exchange [wikipedia.org]:

    1. transportability
    2. divisibility
    3. high market value in relation to volume and weight
    4. recognizability
    5. resistance to counterfeiting
    6. memory

    Other materials with similar characteristics have "maintained a value" the same way gold has--not because of any intrinsic store of value.

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