Metaverse and its legal implications
The future of the internet is here, as we see it. Remember a decade ago, when video calls on a
handheld device seemed too far-fetched to contemplate? Well, it just got more real than ever. Now
we are looking at virtual spaces to conduct our meetings or family gatherings, playing yourself a
match inside fortnite rather than mouse-clicking your character around, all through the comfort of
Metaverse: What's the Catch?
The future of Internet lies at the footholds of Metaverse, as it is called, being conceptualized by
Facebook, now rebranded as Meta. So what is it, exactly? Metaverse, is an online, 3D universe, that
combines multiple different virtual worlds. You can think of it as a future iteration of the Internet. If
you replace the word metaverse with cyberspace, its meaning won't change significantly.
In more simple terms, think of metaverse as the Internet and different virtual worlds as analogue to
the websites in the Internet. These various virtual worlds offer 3-D virtual spaces to the users using
advanced computerized hardware systems, to feel, smell and touch as you would do in Real World.
The name was coined in the 1992 novel "Snow Crash". It described a virtual reality people could
explore through their avatars.
Metaverse was, sure thing, conceptualized by facebook first. But there are other techno-giants
working, developing their own virtual worlds. They have their own impetuses as to what metaverse
could turn out to be, with facebook wanting as a space for family or social Interactions, while
Microsoft brands it as space for virtual Workrooms for its employees attending from their homes.
This is important, as the recent Covid-19 Outbreak pushes for Social life being realized virtually. We
need to be extravagant while using this advanced form of approach to the world wide web. Whether
metaverse will really turn out to be the silicon valley's next big thing remains to be seen. These
virtual worlds offer services as analogue to in the real world. Adidas, among others, set out to
virtually raise consumer awareness and bought digital land on The Sandbox, a virtual world. At the
beginning of this year.
The Economist reported soaring virtual-property prices in SuperWorld, another virtual reality.
Brands now focus on establishing their presence in the virtual world. Recently, world's first
metaverse mansion, Hampton Hall, goes on sale at $40 Million. Whoever buys the house in real life
will be offered its digital copyrighted blueprint in the form of an NFT.
While this is understandably excitingly new and unique, it comes with its own shortcomings. With
such a world taking form, it becomes increasingly hard to regulate it.
The metaverse have its own digital financial system cropping up. With the absence of physical
money, cryptocurrency and NFT's would prove to be popular in the metaverse. Now, this kind of
transactions are done with the aid of a blockchain platform. These systems are highly unregulated. A
Non-Fungible Token, is a unique digital asset: it could be an image, a piece of music, a video, a 3D
Ownership in the real world is twofold. One, the ownership is of the intellectual property of the
particular artwork and second, a fair use license to reproduce and share the artwork. Now what
could it mean in the metaverse when you buy a digital art? International Reed Smith has said that
"ownership" in the metaverse is nothing more than a licensing, or provision of services. In such cases
true ownership resides with the owner. The buyer cannot sell the art without the permission from
The metaverse may highly be susceptible to hosting unwanted marketplaces such as the 'Silk Road'
which was a dark web marketplace dealing in illegal drugs, weapons and, allegedly, 'murder for hire'.
What laws could be put in place to safeguard against these kinds of activities? It would be ideal to
have regulatory authority over metaverse.
Interactions between different users in this virtual world could also have some vague repercussions.
This world assigns a virtual avatar to a user, which would enable you to move around and feel things
with the help of haptic vests and gloves. Since you can buy property with real money, who is to
define or bring justice to the aggrieved when a user trespasses or inflicts damage to another user's
property? Such altercations equate to breaking the law in the real world. Such incidents could be in
breach of tort law (which covers civil claims such as negligence or nuisance) or criminal law.
Imagine one user assaults another. Could we apply the laws of criminal or civil law to this situation?
Proving 'actual bodily harm' here becomes extremely difficult. It would also mean that we need to
attribute a legal persona to the avatar, giving them rights and duties within a legal system; allowing
them to sue or be sued. Already, reports of groping in the metaverse has surfaced even when the
metaverse isn't fully conceptualized.
All of these issues must be addressed before parting ways with the internet onto something
Majestic. Something like the Metaverse has all the potential which would embolden Immoral
activities, which the primitive and modern society alike has always despised, and so it becomes
extremely necessary to draw a line.