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A coworker recently said they have a small side business in which they were selling cracked gaming accounts.

Is this legal?

It sounds very illegal, but I haven’t found anything definitive on Reddit or forums. It clearly goes against the terms of service....

  • Having pointed out that "[i]t clearly goes against the terms of service", why do you ask whether the transaction or business is legal? – Iñaki Viggers Apr 19 at 16:36
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    Does this answer your question? Is It Illegal to sell passwords? – Charles E. Grant Apr 19 at 16:44
  • @IñakiViggers: I am not familiar with this part of the law. To play the Devil's Advocate: perhaps if somebody breaches the Terms of Service (ToS), then perhaps the terms of the agreement -- including any promises not to hack -- are nullified. Just because the company asks you not to do something may not make it illegal to do that thing. (The company writes up a contract which users agree to, but I do not know the degree to which breaking contract terms breaks government laws.) – jvriesem Apr 19 at 16:45
  • @CharlesE.Grant: Thanks. My question is essentially (probably effectively, unless some law distinguishes gaming accounts/passwords from other types). I also have an open comment/question there. – jvriesem Apr 19 at 16:58
  • @jvriesem The company is not “asking” they are “telling” and by continuing you are entering a contract with which you will abide. Breaking a contract is illegal. – Dale M Apr 19 at 22:07
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Is it legal to sell cracked gaming accounts?

Usually not. Your mention that "[i]t clearly goes against the terms of service" purportedly refers to a prohibition to deliver credentials to access the game. It is otherwise impossible to address specific ramifications without a detailed knowledge of the terms of service.

As for your follow up comment, the agreement primarily is between the company and the licensee. However, the licensee's breach of contract (here, the unauthorized distribution of credentials) does not void the company's rights on its product with respect to everyone else. At the very least, the company would have a viable claim of unjust enrichment wherever a non-party to that initial contract obtains the product without making the corresponding payment to the company.

Furthermore, proving that the non-party knew or should have known the terms of service would establish the non-party's mens rea, and/or his breach of [an independent] contract. This independent contract is formed when the new user installed and/or accessed the product using the rogue credentials. Formation of contract occurs during the common practice that the terms of service are presented to the user when installing the product or doing the account settings, and that user accepts those terms in order to proceed with the setup.

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