Loot Sharing Is Not Stealing
There is an interesting article over at WoW.com dealing with the issue of whether a player who wins loot in a raid and then transfers it to another member of the raid (through the use of the 2 hour default trade timer) has stolen the loot. You can read the article here.
After wading through 7 or so pages of the comments, I wanted to weigh in on the issue.
Loot sharing is not stealing. It is unfair, but it is not stealing.
Let me explain.
Stealing is traditionally defined as unlawfully depriving another of their property. In the example quoted in the article, and as skillfully noted in the comments by Lilbanshee, the alleged victim has exactly the same odds of winning the item whether or not the collusive players eventually share the item. There has been no deprivation, and therefore, the collusive players cannot have stolen the loot.
Even though the alleged victim has not been deprived of the opportunity to receive loot, the beneficiary of the collusion has had his/her odds significantly improved. This is inherently unfair to the first player.
Unfairness, however, does not transform the loot sharing into stealing.
I respect the author of the article for his courage to criticize an unethical practice, but respectfully submit that he erred in calling the practice stealing.
And as a final note, unfairness is best prevented by having clear and visible loot rules, not by reliance on understandings or impressions of what a typical player would or would not do.