As modern lawyers know, issues of innovation, technology, and law go hand-in-hand. While virtual reality gains attention in the headlines, potential legal concerns associated with the metaverse are emerging. So, what should lawyers know about the metaverse?

First, What is the Metaverse?

The metaverse is a virtual world that allows users to interact with each other, sell and buy items, attend events, play games, and more. Users can access the Metaverse through several different programs, such as The Sandbox and Decentraland. Current estimates suggest over 470 million users visit the Metaverse through a platform monthly. As more and more people flock to the online spaces of the Metaverse, inherent issues with life in a digital world have begun to crop up.

What Should Lawyers Know?

The key practice areas seeing a rise in Metaverse issues are intellectual property and data security.

When it comes to intellectual property, much of the metaverse is uncharted territory. Are products that exist only in the metaverse subject to copyright or patent claims? How much freedom do users have to create meta-versions of branded products online while remaining free from trademark dilution and infringement claims? These intellectual property cases are just getting started, and many questions remain unanswered.

Data privacy issues also abound. Existing data privacy regulations may not be enough to protect metaverse users from bad actors attempting to steal their biometric or other identifying data. The metaverse also provides ample opportunity for novel strategies for data collection, including human-to-AI interactions that have not been possible prior to the expansive digital space of the online world. Companies will need to minimize risk to users by beefing up data privacy protections. Ethical issues involving AI and human interactions will also crop up and require technologically skilled lawyers to resolve.

Looking Forward

Lawyers interested in maintaining a competitive edge in an increasingly digitalized world should pay heed to the growing popularity of the metaverse. While the pace is relatively slow now, the user base and ubiquity of the metaverse will continue to grow exponentially as the technology improves. Opportunities exist in virtual reality both for lawyers versed in traditional practice areas and for lawyers looking to learn more about cutting edge technology issues.

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