Metaverse and digital property: Understanding rights. The Metaverse is quickly growing and has sparked interest in protecting presence in this new virtual environment.
The Metaverse is a collective virtual reality that people can access through virtual reality devices. Users create avatars and interact with each other. In other words, it is a digital universe for humans to communicate and interact with each other uniquely. This new digital space will impact everyone’s lives in the coming years, so we must get used to using it now. It may be some time before everyone can enter this new world, but the more people learn today about their potential and that of those around them, the better opportunities available.
Digital property vs. intellectual property in the Metaverse
For a better understanding, digital and intellectual property are distinct but related concepts in the context of the Metaverse. Digital property refers to digital assets within the Metaverse, such as virtual objects, avatars, and virtual terrains. These digital assets may have economic value. People can buy, sell, and exchange them on the Metaverse. Intellectual property refers to legal rights that protect creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary works, music, art, designs, and trademarks. In the Metaverse, intellectual property can also apply to user-generated content, such as digital artwork, music, virtual fashion designs, and other creative elements.
Owners of digital assets can have ownership rights over those assets, allowing them to control their use, reproduction, and distribution. In addition, content creators in the Metaverse may hold copyrights over their creations, giving them legal protection against unauthorized copying or use of their work. However, it is critical to note that the concept of ownership in the Metaverse can be more complex than in the physical world, as digital assets can be easily replicated, modified, and distributed. Companies use Blockchain technology and Smart Contracts in the Metaverse to establish and enforce digital and intellectual property rights more securely and transparently.
Although digital and intellectual property are different concepts, both are relevant in the Metaverse, and mechanisms exist to protect and enforce the rights of owners and creators in this virtual environment.
Metaverse and Digital Property: Exploring Rights in the Virtual World
In law, property is the absolute right of an owner over the thing he owns. It confers the ability to possess, use, or transfer. Whose property are the assets in the Metaverse? Although from the legal aspect, some experts established theories on intellectual property rights, data property, and property of goods, these theories and ideas cannot cover all the characteristics of property rights in virtual worlds, mainly in the Metaverse. For example, in 2007, there was a litigation called Bragg vs. Linden Labs in which a Second Life user sued the service operator for confiscating his virtual property and denying him access to the virtual world. The user argued that land purchases on the platform were tantamount to purchases of actual real estate. However, the case was settled before reaching a final decision, and Linden Labs agreed to return the account to the plaintiff.
One of the doubts is whether the digital environment will create its own rules apart from traditional law. For Dr. Ernesto Rengifo, director of the Department of Intellectual Property of the Externado, “It’s impossible because there are fundamental notions of classical law that serve to extrapolate to the world of services in a digital environment service economy.” He added: “That is the challenge for law today: whether we can extrapolate to the digital world the protectionist logic of consumers in an economy of physical things.” Finally, Hernando Parra Nieto, rector of the Universidad Externado de Colombia, said that “Coexistence in the Metaverse will lead to the emergence of rights and obligations for individuals who interrelate in this reality, so it is relevant to consider the adequacy of existing regulatory provisions and whether their application has the same legal value as traditional analog environments.“
Security in the purchase of virtual land
There are still many years to go before we see this new virtual arena become a safe and secure space regulated by laws and regulations. In the meantime, investing in the purchase of virtual land remains a high-risk activity, mainly because the market is still unregulated. The channels for resolving any scams are in the building. Therefore, transactions must be securely stored. Blockchain technology securely protects transactions, decreasing the risk of property theft or suffering any scam.
Avatars and intellectual property
Once you enter the Metaverse, the conditions and agreements between the different avatars signing the contracts, the jurisdiction between virtual worlds, will be based on trust. Users could get their protection from Blockchain and Smart Contracts at the time of contracting, so there will no longer be intermediaries, and the same system will be in charge of sanctioning in case of non-compliance.
Likewise, and depending on the type of avatar used, it will be necessary to respect image rights as fundamental, independent, and autonomous rights, which would imply establishing and providing for limits to the exploitation of the image or avatar, as well as express consent regarding the use of the avatar by third parties. This raises a question from the point of view of intellectual property: could the user claim intellectual property rights over the avatar with which he identifies himself in the Metaverse?
Thus, the specification of the user’s rights over her avatar in the Metaverse is complex due to the interaction of different regulatory frameworks. Some regulatory issues include the rules established by the Metaverse license, intellectual property rights, and, in some cases, the user’s image rights. These regulatory frameworks will determine whether the user has intellectual property rights over their avatar and, if so, the extent of those rights.
The legal rules of the Metaverse and their relationship to the real world
In short, the rules of the Metaverse must comply with real-world legislation regarding privacy, copyright, and other accepted Internet standards. We’re facing a new, more developed digital marketplace whose operability will require legal compliance.
Tim Cook once said: “The regulation of the Metaverse is a balance between innovation and protection, where creativity and individual rights must coexist in a constantly evolving virtual environment.“