The metaverse and the legal frameworks surrounding it

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In modern times, a person’s personality is built more by actions on social media platforms than by actions in physical society. why is this the case? Simply because technology allows you to extend your reach well beyond your geographic boundaries. This has caused a paradigm shift in the way social value is expressed and exchanged by people.

A wise observer will notice that this online world transcends the physical world in far more ways than most realize. For me, the metaverse is the evolution of this social world, because we can facilitate digital property rights for the first time in human history.

What is the Metaverse?

Let’s explore ‘Metaverse’ from the basics up for those who have managed to navigate the internet today without coming across this voice acting and what it means.

Metaverse is a term coined by Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel “Snow Crash” as a science fiction concept. Today, if someone uses the term, they are trying to communicate the conception of a digital world where users have unique personas (similar to video game characters) to engage in social, economic and political exchanges information and value.

With the guarantee of ownership, people buy goods in various metaverses for millions of dollars because they believe that in the future this digital society will be as populated as the cities of New York, Shanghai, Delhi, Tokyo and Dubai.

Metaverse legal framework

When a market receives investments of millions of dollars of hard-earned money, legal and regulatory frameworks become a necessity to ensure a certain degree of ethics, trust and due diligence.

Let’s explore some of these frameworks to see how the law addresses this new phenomenon:

Copyright

Identity, digital artwork, and digital buildings are all subject to copyright law. Fraudulent actors can impersonate or unfairly use its designs to generate value for themselves because this digital society can be seen by all.

People can propagate real-world brands, identities, and creative works like their own into the metaverse. In this case, if someone creates something in a metaverse that is similar to a copyrighted work in the real world, they may be infringing copyright as well.

Additionally, if you create an avatar that is proven to impersonate another brand, entity, or organization, the courts will order you to stop and may also seek monetary compensation.

Contract law

Real-world contract laws govern the enactment of legal contracts made between two parties. In the metaverse, contract laws can apply to a range of activities, such as the rental and sale of virtual goods and services.

If you enter into a contract with someone, all entities must abide by the contract and the courts can intervene to ensure that this is done.

tort law

Tort law is set up to govern events such as property damage or bodily injury. Tort law in the Metaverse will apply to any harm that one user causes to another. This includes emotional distress and property damage in every way.

The courts could be used in the same way as in the case of violations of tort law in the real world.

Libel Laws

Lately, we have all become aware of the seriousness of defamation. This should point to most serious cases and the strong need for competent law firms for the same. Libel laws protect individuals and entities against false and harmful statements made publicly about them.

In the metaverse, the same standards will apply to users, meaning you will be held accountable for your words and actions in this digital world if they unfairly damage the reputation of another person or entity.

Also Read: What Will Learning Look Like in the Metaverse?

Conclusion

As a lawyer, I can see that the Metaverse will present its own set of legal and regulatory challenges, as it is a completely new structure of society. Components such as jurisdictional law and others will be difficult to equitably integrate with respect to digital property and careful consideration will need to be made to ensure a fair and comprehensive framework is built.

That said, I’m interested and invested in seeing how things evolve and take shape. I feel that the metaverse will evolve not only our digital interactions, but also the subject of law, as lawmakers will be confronted with fundamental questions of sovereignty, identity, ownership, deterrence and justice that will lead without no doubt to a conscious reform.

The author is a founding partner of Vis Legis Law Practice, Advocates.

The thoughts and opinions shared here are those of the author.

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