Metaverse is the “new new” technology term. It does not refer to any specific emerging technology. It refers to the way these emerging technologies will interoperate to implement new efficiencies like autonomous driving and virtual adventures like augmented reality that combines aspects of the digital and physical worlds . The metaverse is the convergence of the physical and digital worlds The metaverse also translates to a digital economy involving decentralized autonomous organizations transacting in cryptocurrency and digital assets refactoring ownership in real and personal physical property. The new era of the metaverse will have implicate all aspects of our society, including our health, finance, entertainment, and the economy.
The metaverse will also have legal implications . For example, how do we handle intellectual property ownership involving artificial intelligence; can an AI system be named as an inventor on a patent? The metaverse could have virtual creations by avatars and AI aspects built into them. If such creations are deemed to be AI creations and not human creations, they may not be allowed certain types of intellectual property protection. Materials produced solely by nature, by plants, or by animals are not copyrightable The confrontation between computer code and law will reach an entirely new level in the metaverse. The metaverse could also pose issues for content owners, as monitoring copyright infringement will be near impossible in the metaverse.
For example, if consumer law is to effectively protect users from unfair or abusive practices in the metaverse, it will have to be able to access the commercial arrangements in which users transact in the metaverse happening entirely in the virtual world.
Transacting in digital assets will also mount a significant challenge to regulation in the metaverse. Non-fungible tokens (“NFTs”) are digital assets that represent ownership in a unique item or content. NFTs representing music or art, for instance, may involve royalty payments that are automated on the token being transferred between users. New laws and regulation will need to ensure that the ownership and transaction in NFTs can be enforceable as users attempt to evade enforceability based on their virtual location or identity settings.
Additionally, given that metaverse activity will emanates from individuals and businesses existing in the physical world, the computer code which implements the metaverse code may collide with the regulatory bodies. Existing laws will not always be able to address virtuality. New legislation developed by tech savvy attorneys will be needed. Laws and regulatory bodied that do not adapt to the challenges posed by the metaverse risk being displaced by governance provided by computer code. The question will be whether computer code or law will regulate conduct in the metaverse. The law must align with computer code or it will be replaced by computer code. With a cast of experts in this new emerging metaverse, we will be introducing and analyzing how the metaverse will change our lives and how lawyers can prepare themselves and their firms for this eventuality.
Program Co-sponsor: NYCLA’s Law and Technology Committee
Program Chair: Joseph Bambara, Co-chair NYCLA’s Law and Technology Committee Faculty: Joseph Bambara, CIPP/US, Of Counsel, Withersworldwide.com; M. Ridgway Barker, Withersworldwide; Ron Espinosa, SoftServe; Shahryar Shaghaghi,Quantum Xchange; Adam Wandt, Esq., John Jay College of Criminal Justice