This is part two of a three-part series.
Virtual worlds now defy geographical limitations and companies are invited to connect with markets in creative new ways, leading to legal questions and issues.
On May 18, 2023, BLG’s Julie Bogle moderated a discussion with a panel of industry experts and lawyers including Ryan Kieffer, chief metaverse officer and chief operating officer at TerraZero Technologies Inc.; Scott McKinney, technology transactions partner at Wilson Sonsini; Mortiz Holm-Hadulla, competition/antitrust partner at Gliess Lutz; and LuAnne Morrow, intellectual property counsel at BLG to discuss how certain domestic laws apply in virtual environments and how to protect your intellectual property.
Below is a summary of how existing laws in various jurisdictions can be applied to metaverse-related issues in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. To get full details on what legal issues companies operating in the metaverse need to be aware of, check out the full 30-minute webinar recording or skim the transcript*.
Current metaverse laws across jurisdictions
As emerging technologies develop, governments need to review existing laws and explore whether new legislation or common law should be developed around certain issues, including the metaverse.
There is no dedicated metaverse laws in Europe; however, all the existing laws, such as privacy, consumer protection and IP laws, are applicable. In addition, some laws that are tailored towards the digital economy more broadly will have an impact in the emerging metaverse space. Two examples include:
- Europe’s Digital Services Act, a platform law dealing with take down obligations to fight fake news or hate speech and combat dark patterns.
- Europe’s Digital Markets Act, which only applies to very large platforms, but has far reaching obligations that could play a role in the metaverse such as data portability rights, and rights of users to access that data from one platform to another.
There are rules and regulations dealing with security and safety of AI systems and cyber resilience in the pipeline. The EU is awaiting a policy communication from the European Commission that is specifically going to deal with regulatory needs in the metaverse.
Like Europe, there are no (or very few) statutes in the U.S. that that would apply solely to the metaverse. The existing laws and frameworks of the U.S. – privacy laws, U.S. intellectual property laws, and the statutes and frameworks that internet-based companies rely on to operate in the U.S.— are applicable to the metaverse. For example, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which internet providers rely on to insulate themselves from copyright infringement claims based on content that their users upload to the platform, would apply to the metaverse.
Canada also has a similar outlook to Europe and the U.S. There is currently no legislation that is specific to the metaverse, but there is some AI legislation in process that might have some impact in the space.
Canada has been quite progressive in terms of privacy laws (provincially and nationally) and privacy legislation is continually being updated. However, if bespoke interpretations need to develop through common law, it will likely be a slow process due to Canada’s market size.
Canada’s legal landscape is heavily influenced by both the EU and U.S., and therefore Canada is likely a long way away from seeing any real implementation of metaverse-specific laws.
Find out more
To better assist companies on their digital transformation journey, BLG’s 3-part webinar series covers artificial intelligence, the metaverse and the Internet of Things. If you have any questions about jurisdictional laws applied to metaverse-related issues, or other topics covered in this series, please reach out to any of the authors or key contacts listed below.
*Recording and transcript are available in English only.