Amber still did not seem pressured by Julia's revelations. The crowd seemed slightly agitated as this made the least sense to them.
Fine, you want your game to be realistic, so you removed automatic protections and instead put in law and order like protection.
Fine, your platform did not directly or otherwise cause r.a.p.e, it was just the evil of the players themselves.
But the least you could do was at least release these details, right?
The actions before, even if those who were emotional and judging based on morals still found them flawed, everyone could agree that the logic was solid.
This one, no.
It made no sense, so why were they trying to protect the perpetrators by withholding such information?!
Diao banged the gavel and called for order before gazing at Helen. "Miss Helen, did the same happen to you?"
Helen shook her head. "After I'd received the compensation, I didn't bother to go further since nothing happened in the end. I just warned all my friends to be very careful about where they go and who they go with."
Diao nodded and faced Amber. "Miss Amber, what do you have to say to this? Is there a particular reason your studio withholds this information from victims trying to prosecute the ones who have wronged them under the law?"
Nancy frowned as she gazed at Amber. "I'll have you know that refusing to provide legal evidence relating to a criminal prosecution is punishable by the law under the Evidence Decree of 2055, Act 345."
It wasn't that Nancy had specifically been on Amber's side, only that her argument had been logical up until now, so the older woman had merely followed the train of logic. Now that Amber seemed to have betrayed the side of logic, it was natural that Nancy would abandon her as well.
Amber nodded. "It was after careful consideration that we upheld the decision not to release the details of perpetrators to victims, not because we wanted to protect them, but because the law itself protects them."
This caused an uproar in the court as the crowd could not believe what Amber was saying. Even the five judges frowned deeply, but Diao simply banged the gavel, called for order, and gazed at Amber seriously.
"Please state which law grants such arbitrary protection to criminals."
Amber took three doc.u.ments on her table and signaled to the clerk. The male clerk walked over and took it, glancing at the three before his face changed, then he walked over to the judges' panel and presented it to them.
"As you can see, the Digital Privacy Act of 2033, Act 211 states that 'the details of any person on any digital platform may not be released by the owners, collaborators or moderators of said platform under any circ.u.mstances unless with a specific court order'."
"The Digital Rights Protection Act of 2033, Act 210 states 'Once on a digital platform, the rights of a person to reveal their identity is laid solely in their hands unless otherwise demanded by a court with sufficient jurisdiction'."
"And finally, the Digital Media Protection Act of 2033, Act 212 states 'An individual's vocal, physical, imagery and or otherwise recorded media cannot be shared or recorded without their explicit consent without the necessary demand from a court with sufficient jurisdiction'."
Amber placed her hands in a 'what can I do gesture'. "As you can see, these three laws have constrained our ability to move forward on this matter. As such, we too could only do nothing about this."
"Even releasing identity would not be too troublesome, but the third law states that we cannot even record players without their explicit consent, so to answer Miss Julia in regards to your question… there was no video we could have given her in the first place."
"Nothing anyone has ever done within the game has been recorded because such a thing is illegal and we could be punished for it." Amber concluded with a sigh.
The court, the witnesses, and even the crowd were left speechless. After pulling out these laws, how was anyone supposed to argue back? Only a lawyer could do that, but this was a hearing, not a trial.
Laws were absolute in a legal situation, and when laws conflicted, it came down to the prowess of each lawyer to present facts, precedents, and constitutional provisions to trump with what they have.
In a hearing, the judges could not do that. Once there was a situation like this with a conflicting law, it would have to come under the purview of the High Court at the minimum to be given an interpretation.
The five judges on the panel especially were solemn as they checked the provision and shared uncertain looks between each other. The laws were clear enough and even if they alternated between the various legal methods of interpretation relating to their jurisprudential opinions, it was inescapable.
Diao could only scowl slightly, realizing that things had come to a head and she had no advantages on her side. She banged the gavel and spoke with a cold tone.
"The judges will now have a review and make our verdict known in an hour's time."
The clerks rose to their feet and so too did the rest of the court as the judges filed out into the room allotted for their private discussion. After that, everyone seated themselves and waited patiently.
The rest of the court broke into low murmurs as everyone discussed their opinions or chatted about what went down. As for Amber, she took out a Holo-Tab and started checking on some measurements relating to Eva's pregnancy and her condition.
Julia lowered her head, her mind lost in thoughts and a look of sadness on her face after realizing she would never get justice for her suffering. Helen simply seemed bored but cautious. The compensation had allowed her to rise by leaps and bounds in the game.
She swore to herself never to end up like Julia. A brutal and very nasty thought, but very honest. After playing Boundless World for so long, Helen was already hooked and could not let go, so she had to make sure she was above such abuse.
Soon, one hour came to pass and the court rose to receive the judges once more. Diao had a light smile on her face, while Nancy frowned deeply, Herbert seemed relieved, Luis seemed uncertain and Jamilee smirked.
Amber frowned when she saw this. The decision was set in stone and to try to twist things in the favor of those against her would be extremely short-sighted. She had kindly avoided pointing out Jamilee's bias, but she could pull it out - and more - to turn things around.
As such, Amber smiled lightly and allowed the show to play out. The crowd also noticed the strange atmosphere between the judges, and many in the crowd frowned.
The judges… weren't going to show open corruption and bias… right in front of them, were they?
Doing so would just be foolishly risking their careers.
As for the activists and victims, they showed delighted expressions, finally seeing some hope. It seemed that the lord was on their side, and despite the sweet lies from the witch called Amber, justice would be served!
The judges sat and arranged their doc.u.ments before Diao spoke. "After careful deliberation, we have made our decision. From left to right, each judge will state their position and the ratio decidendi of their choice."
"Judge Nancy, please take the lead." Diao stated as she nodded to the older woman.
Nancy twisted her lips and spoke. "I am of the opinion that regarding all five issues, the game Boundless World created by the GloryGore Studios has acquitted all of them. Anyone with a rational mind and a bit of common sense would be able to see that not only has the studio been an innocent bystander in all these crimes, and their inactions do not stem from any ill will but from following laws that have tied their hands on these matters."
"I vote against the claim that Boundless World has caused human rights violations."
Nancy's words were piercing, making many faces twist in anger, especially those who had been victims. They glared at her while calling her an old hag in their minds, but didn't dare to voice it out loud.
Diao seemed unbothered, as if it was a last-ditch attempt by a defeated enemy. She then nodded to Herbert, who leaned into his microphone.
"Oh dear, I am of the opinion that while Boundless World and GloryGore Studios are absolved of issues three, four, and five, they are liable for issues one and two." Herbert began with a sunny smile.
He then gazed at Amber directly and shook his head with a disapproving expression. "To me, this hearing has revealed that the studio has long predicted that such atrocities would occur, as well as the complaints that would ensue, and have found clever excuses to cover their backs and wash their hands off it."
"It is this behavior that leads me to believe that Boundless World and GloryGore Studios deserve my vote to be for the claim that they have caused human rights violations."
Amber didn't even bother to glance at Herbert as she had ruled out any support from him ever since she had dug up his background. Herbert was not offended by this, as this was his stance, whether or not Amber acknowledged it was not his concern.
He wouldn't feel right with himself and be proud before his kids at home if he took the side of such a cold and callous company.
Diao herself smiled and took the stage. "I have heard Miss Julia's complaints, Miss Helen's story, and Madam Amber's defenses and have come to the conclusion that the studio has indeed taken sufficient measures to protect, compensate and warn players of the possible abuse they might suffer."
Diao shook her head. "However, contrary to what Madam Amber has stated, this is not similar to a situation where one has a 'beware the dog' sign. After all, the owner does not have perfect control of their animal, not to mention that it is their property. They also have specific laws to protect them if such a thing happens."
"However, this FIVR game has no such laws, it is not a fixed property and as the creators, they have perfect control of their game. Simply chasing after realism does not allow one to create an obvious loophole where criminals can act without fear of repercussions."
"I, therefore, vote for Boundless World and the studio "GloryGore" causing human rights violations as well."
Amber could not have a more bored expression. If Herbert's final statement could be said to be fixed, then Amber had practically predicted Diao's word for word. In fact, Amber might have herself tested for hallucinogens if the lead judge had spoken any differently.
Diao smiled coldly when she saw Amber's nonchalance. She felt that everything was already in the bag, but she was also coordinating with her people to block any retaliatory attempts Amber might make.
Normally, a verdict like this would have to be passed on a later date, and that was also what had happened in the previous timeline. In fact, after Misha's attempt, the court had been adjourned to let the matter spread and attract more attention before the second half was dealt with.
This had given Diao and her people more time to get their advantages squared.
However, in this timeline, Misha's 'attempted murder' had been downgraded to 'assault and battery', meaning that there was no need to adjourn the case. Since this timeline's Amber had also dropped her trump card early and solidified her defense, Diao was pressured to force a verdict on the same day to prevent public opinion from swaying in favor of the game.
She couldn't give Amber any space to breathe or fight back, otherwise things could not move. By taking a majority decision against her today, they could still take some punitive measures ahead of time and use it to quickly strong-arm Amber into agreeing to their conditions.
As for her retaliation, they could not dismiss it but could delay it with ease. Such things happened in the legal system very often. Political parties that came into power would initiate cases against those who were now in opposition using vague and arbitrary claims hinting at corruption or the like.
Then they would have the judges adjourn the case repeatedly and delay without going anywhere for the next four years. This would keep the persons in question simmering on the frying pan, preventing them from taking any actions.
Otherwise, before they could do anything substantial, they would quickly be called forth and sentenced by the court faster than even a military tribunal.
Diao gazed at Luis, who sighed and spoke. "I am of the opinion that Boundless World and GloryGore Studios are partially liable for the issues mentioned by the court. On one hand, the defense made by Miss Amber is perfectly logical and aligns with the rules and spirit of the law."
"On the other hand, I also agree with Herbert that those things seem afoul, and the group must have been aware these types of things could occur and prepared beforehand."
Luis paused as he seemed strongly uncertain before he firmed his expression and pushed on with a powerful voice. "However, it does not change the fact that Boundless World and GloryGore Studios had their hands tied as Miss Nancy pointed out. They followed the law and common sense, which is expected of every citizen of this country and the world at large."
"As such, I vote that Boundless World is not a cause for human rights violations!"
With Luis' powerful declaration, he seemed satisfied, as if a great weight had lifted off his shoulder. Diao frowned deeply when he changed his stance from what they had agreed on, and Herbert also seemed troubled.
Nancy nodded as she was glad that Luis saw sense, while the crowd was startled. There was a long period of hushed murmuring and discussion, as they felt that the tension was rising greatly as things were reaching a boiling point.
In truth, this was quite intense. Just waiting for the verdict felt like waiting to see the winner of the World Cup finals.
Amber herself was quite surprised. After seeing the expressions of the judges as they came out, she had lost interest in the verdict and had been spending her time calculating her next steps carefully.
She had been considering which concessions to make to the various powers that wanted a piece. In the future, she and the AI would have made sure to tear more than a pound of their flesh when the game reached the projected popularity level.
However, with the sudden change in Luis' stance, Amber was once more interested in this verdict. It seemed like things might not go as planned for Diao and her ilk, but seeing that the last was Jamilee, Amber lost interest once more.
If Luis could be considered a neutral party who was f.o.r.c.i.b.l.y swayed by one side and decided to break away, then Jamilee could be considered as someone in Diao's pocket, her 'mini-me' of sorts.
Diao gazed at Jamilee with a smile and nodded, Jamilee smiling back before speaking. "I am of the opinion that while Boundless World and GloryGore Studios did well to acquit themselves of the various issues, they are still liable for the claims lodged against them."
"To ignore the plight the studio put their players through what I feel is purposeful negligence and calculated omission would be against my own better judgment."
Amber frowned, while Diao nodded. It could be said that even if immature, Jamilee's words were extremely sharp and could incite the emotions of those listening, judging by how the victim party and the activists were red-eyed.
Diao could not do such a thing as it was her job as head judge to remain calm, unbiased, and neutral. As such, she arranged for Jamilee to be added to the panel despite her age so that she could have the young judge do and say things she couldn't.
"However, the fact of the matter is that the game does not promote the abuse of human rights, did take some sensible measures to protect the rights of their consumers, did provide means for compensation to aggrieved consumers, was not the direct cause of the complaints received and was legally bound in the matter of providing evidence to authorities."
Jamilee sighed. "As such, based on the specific issues of this particular hearing, I vote that Boundless World did not cause human rights violations."
For a split second, the court became deathly silent as everyone paused. It felt like their brains had lagged, and that the words they had been expecting to hear and had already simulated in their minds did not coincide with those that had just been spoken.
This sharp contrast caused their brains to pause for a bit as they tried to correct themselves, then process the new information. Once this task was completed, the entire court burst into an uproar.
The crowd could not believe this upset, how everything changed at the drop of a hat! The activists burst into tears, but instead of tears of catharsis and joy, they were ones of defeat and anguish.
Amber sat there dumbfounded, her mind still struggling to understand what had happened as it made no sense, logically, emotionally, or morally for such a change to occur.
Nancy displayed utter shock while Herbert sighed bitterly and wiped his forehead. Luis gazed at the young judge beside him with incomprehension, while Diao glared at Jamilee in an open manner.
It was as if she was purposefully ignoring what Jamilee had said and provided her with a chance to take back what she had just said and correct herself. However, Jamilee did not even look her way, rather glancing at a row of men in suits who sat at the back.
They grinned widely while nodding at Jamilee, and one could notice that their skins were unusual, with some of their features being slightly strange like bulkier shoulders, longer legs, and strangely colored eyes.
Even as the court continued to roar in chaos, the police quickly moving around to calm things down and protect the safety of the judges - as well as the defendant - from the crowd who looked to be on the verge of explosion, Jamilee only kept her eyes on the group she was looking at.
Jamilee also grinned while gazing at them, and if one looked closer, they might notice that her fangs were far longer than should be for a normal person.