what rules in the metaverse?

Personal data, copyrights, copyrights, intellectual property … What will be the legal framework in the metaverse, a virtual space. Answers by Marc Schuler and Benjamin Znaty, Taylor Wessing’s lawyers.

What regulations regarding users’ personal data will apply to the metaverse?

There is no reason to think that the personal data protection rules, as they currently exist, are not intended to apply to these virtual universes. If we take the territorial scope of the GDPR for example, it applies to any processing of personal data carried out in the context of an offer of services offered to subjects residing in the European Union.

From the moment the virtual universe is made accessible to them, the GDPR will apply. On the other hand, and for the publishers of such virtual worlds, adapting their practices to the relevant public and applicable law will be a source of further complexity. On the Internet, it is now easy to differentiate processing based on the affected domain (.com / .fr). In the context of a single virtual world common to all, this partitioning may prove more difficult to implement.

We can also anticipate a complexity of obligations and responsibilities with respect to the new processing of personal data intended to be carried out through the metaverse. Such virtual worlds are likely to lead to an increase in the volume and type of data collected about users, such as more accurate behavioral data than that collected today by browsing the Internet. There will therefore necessarily be new question marks in terms of compliance.

What about copyrights and royalties in the virtual universe?

In the same way that web 2.0 has revolutionized the Internet through the appearance of publications and content creation by Internet users, here too we can anticipate the importance of user creations in the development of these new virtual universes. Publishers must therefore necessarily anticipate the conditions applicable to the exploitation of the rights connected to such works, a fortiori if they contribute to the creation as such of the virtual world in question.

Nothing prevents us from imagining that publishers in their general conditions ensure ownership or an extended right of use on the works in question, as is often the case today for content created by users of online services. It should be remembered, however, that in France, some jurisprudence has classified such clauses inserted in the conditions of use of some platforms as unfair, in particular due to the excessively broad scope of these provisions. A finer delimitation and management of the rights granted on the creations in question will therefore have to be considered which could potentially also allow a publisher to be more attractive to their users, thus allowing them to exploit and monetize their creations with greater freedom within. of the virtual world concerned.

Which legal framework will apply to the issues Intellectual property ?

Among the other intellectual property rights for which the development of the metaverse invites reflection, trademark law immediately comes to mind. Already today we can see a growing interest on the part of owners to exploit their brands in this new context, particularly through the sale of their products in virtual form within these universes.

Trademark owners must therefore anticipate and adapt their protection to this new form of exploitation. This implies in the first place the possible need to expand the classes of products and / or services for which their trademark is protected. Surveillance actions will also take on another dimension within these virtual universes, where the risks of counterfeiting are numerous and already exist. Questions also arise regarding the assessment of the infringement with respect to its intended use as well as the practical methods of implementing the means of action and enforcement measures.

What will be the rights and responsibilities of each party (publisher and users)?

The answer to this question will ultimately depend on the world concerned and the publishing house’s power of control and moderation over user actions. However, we can note here that, although the European Union is just beginning to modernize its regulatory framework in this area through the “Digital Services Act” (DSA), it is not certain that this text in its current version discussed in the European Parliament is fully adapted to these new virtual spaces.

The DSA is today strongly inspired by the existing interfaces and characterized by a centralization of the rules of responsibility and the obligations of moderation. However, some publishers are now highlighting the possible decentralization of the metaverse with sub-estates intended to be managed directly by the various “owners” of reserved spaces within these virtual worlds. Such decentralization could be difficult to reconcile with the moderation and accountability rules currently envisaged by the DSA.

Personal data, copyrights, copyrights, intellectual property … What will be the legal framework in the metaverse, a virtual space. Answers by Marc Schuler and Benjamin Znaty, Taylor Wessing’s lawyers.

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