Published: Jan 30, 2023
By Shweta Jain
PEOPLE always enjoybeing in their dream world of fiction or tend to dive into past experiences/thoughts. The past can't be changed and the future is always a dream, which may or may not turn out to be reality. Science has progressed tremendously and has developed a concept which is called Metaverse, which is science fiction. With Metaverse, a person can now experience or feel any fiction in a better way. Metaverse takes a person into the world of fiction.
As per the information available on Wikipedia, the "Metaverse" is a hypothetical iteration of the Internet as a single, universal, and immersive virtual world that is facilitated by the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) headsets. In colloquial usage, a "Metaverse" is a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection. The Neal Stephenson's science fiction novel Snow Crash was released in 1992 wherein the term Metaverse was, for very first time, coined.
Increasing Space of Metaverse
Virtual world has expanded drastically while the real one has remained static. Metaverse technology has slowly started gaining popularity and acceptance in different fields and areas and online video games are the best example for it. Meta Platforms Inc. makes money by selling ads on social media websites and mobile applications. It is believed that Metaverse technology can improve work productivity of e-commerce platforms, real estate and fashion industry. The Metaverse has ability to create better ways to communicate with someone who is far away. It could give users easier access to doctor visits, shopping, work, and styling
In India, among others, Infosys has launched its Metaverse Foundry and Virtual Reality Stores. Facebook Metaverse, is owned by the company founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Decentraland was created by Ari Meilich and Esteban Ordano for Metaverse Holdings Ltd, which along with other investors own the rights to the digital universe.
Metaverse offers plenty of usage opportunities for the Government. Metaverse has an ability to make available services and applications to citizens through avatars that will be available 24x7 for all 365 days anywhere, and anytime.
The Metaverse can help in learning in Schools/Collages and other fields and can take discovery to a new level. People will learn by doing and not just by absorbing information and can deepen their knowledge through 3D immersion.
There are many ways to invest in the Metaverse, primarily by
1. purchasing stocks of companies or Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that invest in the Metaverse ;
2. buying properties in Metaverse. The majority of Metaverse real estate at present is owned by Decentraland, Sandbox, Somnium Space, and Cryptovoxels.
- At present, there is no specific regulations or laws in India to deal with Metaverse. Users generate digital content such as avatars, virtual real estate, and artwork. The copyright law can be applied to protect the original work of creators. The Sandbox enables users to develop, construct and own 'LANDS' which are virtual regions. People spend money to acquire a piece of the Metaverse real estate.
- The Contract laws can be applied to many activities like renting and selling virtual goods and services. The copyright law can apply to user-created content avatars and digital artwork.
- Under Section 10A of the Information Technology Act of 2000, a company can opt for multi-class trademark registration. This can be used for registering trademark products and services in Meta. Platform owners have right to ban users who harm others or violate their terms of service. In case of grave criminal offences, prosecutions back in the real world are also possible.
- It is obvious that sooner or later, technology companies will compete with each other to create more sophisticated AR and VR tools, which will open up a door for Intellectual Property Rights, device patents and software.
- As we all know that Tort Law governs civil wrongs, including both property and personal damages, so Tort Law can be applied to make an accused (who did any wrong act in the Metaverse digital world) to pay for the injuries, medical expenses, and other damages resulting from the act.
Challenges with Metaverse
The Metaverse is not gearing up in fast speed because of the following reasons:
1. Lack of infrastructure for both hardware and software
2. Monopolistic approach towards development of platform
3. Lack of governance standards and laws
Dark side of Metaverse
1. Metaverse has cyber security risks. Hackers can get access to personal messages, bank information, photos and other digital assets. Companies often collect user information and share data without user knowledge as common practice, so privacy experts raise concerns that Metaverse experience opens bigger doors for privacy abuse and surveillance by companies.
2. There is a high risk of crimes as content in the Metaverse is similar to a copyrighted content in the physical world and unauthorised use of same is an infringement of the copyright.
3. It can be used as a tool to spread fake news.
In an article, McCollum suggested that Metalaw should emerge as the legal system that governs the Metaverse. As per data available on Wikipedia, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella had said that he does not distinguish Metaverse from a game. But in case of Epic Games v. Apple, it was held that plaintiff's software is a Metaverse, as opposed to just a game. In a 2007 paper, Privacy in the Metaverse, Leenes distinguished Metaverse from a game, arguing that Metaverse is a social microcosmos whereby ordinary people develop complex social behaviors and psychological effects unique to the Metaverse space.
There is a need for a lot of development, study and understanding of the Metaverse. There is also need to develop detailed Metaverse law and standardise the process and working of the Metaverse. Metaverse law can be called as a sub-discipline of cyberlaw. But some people think that Metaverse law is a new field of study that must be recognized as a legal field in entirety and reject the view that Metaverse law is a sub-discipline of an existing legal discipline. Metaverse demands an entirely new legal infrastructure, regulating government bodies and constitutions. For establishment of the Metaverse law as a legal field, it is important to study the intersection between existing legal theories and the Metaverse. The World Economic Forum is working on collecting views and data from various private sector, civil society, academia and policy to define the parameters of viable, safe and inclusive Metaverse focusing on two areas: governance, and economic and social value creation. We hope that soon new laws and regulations come to shape the future of the Metaverse& laws around it.