Welcome to Jester's Trek.
I'm your host, Jester. I've been an EVE Online player for about six years. One of my four mains is Ripard Teg, pictured at left. Sadly, I've succumbed to "bittervet" disease, but I'm wandering the New Eden landscape (and from time to time, the MMO landscape) in search of a cure.
You can follow along, if you want...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

COTW: How far is too far?

Comment of the week honors goes to this anonymous commenter:
As a somewhat prolific scammer, the GTC rule is a very clear and important one to abide by. The EULA forbids you to convince another player to spend real life cash for in game currency with the intent to scam (or take without their consent) it from them.
I was told this or variations of this by at least a dozen people, some in game and some in anonymous comments here or on EVE News 24.  Most of them immediately begged me not to use their in-character names or made it clear to me that they were sending me EVE mail or contacting me in-game from throw-away scam alts.  ;-)

Before I go down this road one more time, I want to make it clear what my KOTW post on Friday was not about.
  • All you people saying "Every time someone scams me, if I ever bought a PLEX, I'm going to..."  Nope.  My post wasn't about that.  PLEXes are in-game items.
  • All you people saying "Every time I buy a ship with PLEXes and I lose it in PvP, I'm going to petition it because..."  Nope.  My post wasn't about that, either.  PLEXes are in-game items.
  • All you people saying "We don't know what the laws in Iceland have to say about..."  Nope.  My post definitely wasn't about that.
  • All you people saying "He was only trying to be helpful and show the guy how to fit his Hel..."  Nope.  My post definitely wasn't about that.

This is a right and wrong issue.  It's a question of where the line is, and how far is too far.

Let me bring out one of my famous analogies.  You tackle a Rorqual far from its support.  The pilot offers a ransom and you are open to this.  You decide that you want a cool billion.  There are four ways you can demand your billion:
  1. "Give me one billion ISK."
  2. "Contract me two PLEXes."
  3. "Buy a GTC from Somer Blink and EVE mail me the confirmation code."
  4. "Send $35 U.S. to my Paypal account so I can buy a GTC."
Number one is clearly OK.  This happens in-game all the time, and nothing outside of the game has been lost.  The EULA makes it clear that once CCP has your money, they are giving you access to in-game assets, but you don't actually own those assets.  CCP does.  By this logic, number two is also clearly OK.  Again, nothing outside of game has been lost.

Number four is clearly not OK.  If you think number four is OK, get out of my gaming universe.

Number three is blurry.  That's what my post was about.  Real-life money gets involved at that point, which is an out-of-game item.  The only question is exactly when and how that real-life money gets involved.  Whether you agree with me or disagree with me on this topic, you have to admit that we're in an edge case here.  It can tip either way and it's smart to just avoid the line if you can.  I personally think number three is not OK.

Where are we on this issue?  Somewhere between two and three, leaning toward three.

Enochia Starr has contacted me about this issue, and has been good enough to share with me all the logs of his conversations with his victim.  I'm not going to share the contents of those logs because I do not have permission to do so.  However, the logs make it clear that he worked alone on this.  And the logs also make it reasonably clear that he never actually demanded his victim go out and spend RL money on this scam.  However, the logs do show this, which I am fine with posting because Enochia has already shared this log in public.
[ 2012.04.08 16:28:38 ] Ochee > anyone have a good site to buy plex? :(
[ 2012.04.08 16:28:53 ] Keshiv > one cloaky transport ship kill would make it worthwhile
[ 2012.04.08 16:28:53 ] Anterous > iskbank
[ 2012.04.08 16:29:06 ] Enochia Starr > ^ dont buy from there you'll get banned
[ 2012.04.08 16:29:16 ] Keshiv > i'll bet they are carrying 75 pith a meds
[ 2012.04.08 16:29:17 ] Enochia Starr > go to somerblink, at least you can get blink credit :)
[ 2012.04.08 16:29:37 ] Ochee > trying to fit up my hel lol
[ 2012.04.08 16:29:51 ] Ochee > shattered crystal ran out of plex lol
[ 2012.04.08 16:29:54 ] Enochia Starr > how many damn characters you have lol
[ 2012.04.08 16:30:04 ] Ambedrake > hehe dont ask
That log makes it clear that Ochee is an alt of the victim.  And there's Enochia right in the middle of it suggesting the victim buy GTCs from Somer Blink.  The victim says that the money from these GTCs will be spent on Hel fittings.  The very same Hel that dies exactly six hours later.  The very same Hel fittings that, in the TS chat on the Youtube video(1), Enochia said were now his.

The victim was given a deadline on an amount of ISK that it was "suggested" he spend on a proper combat fitting.  There was only one way to meet that deadline, and it was made clear to Enochia exactly how the victim intended to pay for that combat fitting in order to meet that deadline.  And instead of backing off, Enochia doubled down.

Whether you think he was being "helpful" about the fittings and where to buy GTCs with which to pay for those fittings, I leave to your opinion.  Whether you think what he did was wrong or not, I also leave to your own opinion.  Thank you to the anonymous commenter for your opinion, and thank you to all the other commenters as well!  The discussion on this post has been really interesting.  I also want to thank Enochia Starr for chatting with me, but... for myself, I still think you went too far.


(1) The Youtube video has been taken down, which is ironic.  Euripodes showed some very good flying in it, and as far as I'm concerned, is 100% clear of all wrong-doing.  The scam part of this was a one-man show, and the comments Euripodes associated with the Youtube video were, as one famous pirate has put it, "pirate tough talk."  ;-)

17 comments:

  1. "Give me one billion ISK."
    "Contract me two PLEXes."
    "Buy a GTC from Somer Blink and EVE mail me the confirmation code."
    "Send $35 U.S. to my Paypal account so I can buy a GTC."


    These are all OK. There is no real life threat accompanying the extortion. If he thinks his pixels are worth $35 that is his choice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I disagree and I think CCP would as well.

      Delete
    2. Extortion is not Fraud. Fraud is not Extortion. Convincing someone to spend money on that stuff with the intent of then mugging them for that stuff is fraud. Telling someone that they have to buy X or you will beat them up is extortion.

      Convincing a fool to spend money on something to help you deliver a promised service that you never intend to deliver is fraud: it cannot be more cut and dried than that, even if Enochia had vested interest in Somer Blink.

      Enochia assisted the guy to spend real money on goods as a condition for providing a service ("training") which Enochia never intended to deliver.

      As a parallel, imagine Enochia and yourself are at the fairground. You look at the rollercoaster and comment that you are scared of them. Enochia says, "hey, we can help you with that. Buy two tickets, I'll go on the ride and you can be reassured that it is safe because I am there." so you buy two tickets, hand them to Enochia, who then takes a friend on the ride instead of you. Is that fraud?

      Delete
    3. No. It might be a breach of an oral contract. But in Eve the only monitored and sanctioned contracts are completed via the existing in-game mechanism.

      The difference between an actionable fraud and an in-game scam is the difference between taking real-world money versus destroying/looting in-game items.

      Delete
  2. You are wrong, the last is clearly and obviously fraud (the assumption is that he won't get what he expects from the $35, ofc) and will get you into serious legal trouble.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Buy a GTC from Somer Blink and EVE mail me the confirmation code."

    This is actually not so blurry, since it involves an out-of-game RL item, with a RL value. As such, it is not permitted by the EULA/TOS.

    Also, just for you amateur lawyers out there, this may be considered as RL extortion (although you'd be hard-pressed to find any DA willing to press charges - the judge would just dismiss the case offhand without actually hearing it).

    The "line" is between GTCs and PLEXs:

    GTC (out-of-game item) --> PLEX (in-game item)

    Since CCP is the only legal exchanger of GTC to PLEX, the "line" is actually pretty sharp, between RL and in-game. Stay on the PLEX side and you'll be ok; step across to the GTC side and you are not ok.

    @IMortage - just for the record, $35 won't get you into "serious" legal trouble. It usually isn't worth the cost/trouble to take it to small claims court, and you'll never get anyone to press criminal charges. If it did go to small claims court, the judge would make a 5-min decision and, at worst, you'd end up having to reimburse the $35. You would probably get banhammered by CCP, too, though.

    ReplyDelete
  4. HAHAHAHA... LMAO!

    1) Helicity says "hey, I didn't do it - it was THOSE guys".
    2) Euripodes pulls down the YouTube video.
    3) Enochia threatens Jester with a GM petition, if he doesn't delete the blog post.

    Seems like some "bad-ass hardcore *l33t* veteran PVPers" are experiencing bladder control problems and need a diaper change. Didn't you fails know that "Eve is hard"? Wipe yourselves up and grow a pair.

    Much, much better than carebear tears....

    ReplyDelete
  5. @IMortage, even if he did get what he expected from his $35, it's clearly a breach of the EULA for offering out-of game money for in-game services.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I have to say I agree with Jester on his analysis. Option one (1 billion ISK) is clearly ok within the EULA, where option 4 is not. and the two options in the middle are, well, grey.

    Based on the chat logs provided however, the really is only Ochee requesting a place to buy PLEX - nothing about being pushed into doing so. At this stage, it may just be a player looking for a legit place to buy plex to do some market speculation with, there is no "evidence" to demostrate he was pushed into pimping the fit (I did not see the youtube comments, and after the fact, it may have just been The scammer's ego at that stage, and not really have occured).

    But definately a very grey area, and another potential minefield with the upcoming Dust release where one assumes the Dust players will buy into the EVE economy via PLEX or some similar mechanism.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I was online and saw that convo you posted. Funny shyt tbh, and I dismissed him as a newb who bought a SC off the char bazaar. The idiot deserves to lose the money he spent, both on the character and the ship with fitting.

    Too far? Perhaps, but it weeds it the idiots with more money than sense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll go along with "weeding out the idiots", assuming that Enochia and Co. also get banned for their stupidity.

      Delete
    2. Don't kill the golden goose! The long con might have been worth far more than one killmail and a few mods...

      Delete
  8. i dont see how enochia did anything wrong?

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Korvus

    By thinking the same way you are, it's legitimate to strip all rich morons in the world and get their spoils because they're idiots ?

    There's a very fine line between real life and in game in eve when GTC is involved (I also think that PLEX should be included in this fine line, but it is a game item indeed).

    How far is too far ?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Just another example of asshats who hate their life, screwing with other people and trying to make them miserable too. In an environment with limited rule sets, people will always eventually push things too far, more rules will be added, usually overly restrictive at first, and then all the griefers will cry foul. More restrictions will happen in Eve too, it's already happened and more will come, likely especially after Mittens takes revenge on CCP for a month. It'll be interesting to see the backlash that happens when console players get introduced to a game world with so many assholes in it. It'll be interesting to see what Sony forces CCP to implement to protect their console players.

    ReplyDelete
  11. "Number one is clearly OK. This happens in-game all the time, and nothing outside of the game has been lost. The EULA makes it clear that once CCP has your money, they are giving you access to in-game assets, but you don't actually own those assets. CCP does. By this logic, number two is also clearly OK. Again, nothing outside of game has been lost."

    There are a couple of problems with your statement. First, you assume that EULA is enforceable in RL court. Obviously, CCP as well as other MMO companies state that it is enforceable but it is not as clear cut as they want you to think. In general, MMO EULAs have never been really tested in the US courts. Known few cases had US courts rule not in favor of EULA but those rulings focused only on individual EULA provisions. The best example is the ruling in Bragg vs Linden Labs case in which California court invalidated provision in the Second Life EULA mandating arbitration. This and similar rulings give at least an indication that courts would be willing to treat favorably cases contentsting click-through EULAs.

    Secondly, EULA is an agreement between a player and a MMO company in this case CCP. Therefore, it is ill-suited to resolve in-game disputes between players and it is likely to be rejected as a guidance should this in-game dispute go to a RL court.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Just read this, yea I might have gone to far as to killing him. But he asked where to buy plexs, i'm sure if you knew where to buy plexs you would tell him to do so. Instead of one his alliance mates telling him to go to ISKBank.

    Thanks for your post clearing up the skies, however you still didn't see that I never told him to do it. I just told him a legal site to buy plex in order to save him from penalties from CCP.

    ReplyDelete