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China stands by verdict on virtual thief

Court dismisses appeal by man found guilty of selling stolen passwords and online equipment from 30 players.

China has upheld a guilty verdict and fine against a man who stole and sold players' games IDs and online equipment amid growing calls for more concrete virtual property laws, state media said Monday.

A court in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of China's southern province of Guangdong, dismissed an appeal by Yan Yifan, 20, found guilty of selling stolen passwords and online equipment from 30 players of the online historical quest game "Da Xihua Xiyou" last year.

Upholding Yan's original 5,000 yuan ($620) fine, the court said that online game players had spent time, energy and money gaining the game's equipment and adding value to the virtual goods, Xinhua news agency reported.

Yan stole players' personal information while working at U.S.-listed Chinese Internet company and sold counterfeited identity cards and other online possessions to other players for more than 4,000 yuan ($500), Xinhua said without giving details.

More and more virtual property disputes are being brought before China's courts, prompting calls from intellectual property rights lawyers for more strongly defined virtual property laws, the China Daily reported.

The Guangzhou ruling follows a suspended death sentence delivered to a Shanghai online game player last year for stabbing a competitor to death for selling his virtual cyber-sword.