The metaverse, while exciting, deserves some legal scrutiny.
Art Courtesy: Mason Rothschild and Eric Ramirez
Was the ‘Baby Birkin’ NFT, an animation of a baby growing in an Hermès Birkin bag sold for $23,500, an interesting interpretation or an IP infringement?
NFT marketplaces are rife with digital art and avatar clothing that borrows (or arguably steal) from luxury.
In the gaming world, there are recreations of the real places or people inside the games and some of these ran up against an unexpected piece of copyright law in the past. Wherever there are in-game avatars and creation tools there is the potential for a user to knowingly or unknowingly step on the IP of a real company.
For instance, in VR chat metaverse, users can choose to wear as their avatar a character ripped from another game, a reproduction of a famous brand mascot, or even stylized 1:1 recreations of real people. This has implications for brands whose IP can be co-opted for use in situations that are clearly not brand-safe.
Then, how will brands preserve their value in the metaverse?
As cross-promotion between games like Fortnite and Rocket League is getting common. It is also incredibly difficult for automated detection of IP infringement in metaverses like VRChat, requiring investment in tech or human moderation to ensure it does not occur.
All of the real-world learnings can be implemented into the metaverse. For instance, in online retail environments like Amazon, there’s pressure from manufacturers around counterfeit, or piracy, or fake products. Similarly, other online platforms like Youtube operate under pressure from predominantly music and other rights holders about activity on the platform.
There should be internal rules and copyright policies for self-regulating the virtual world- metaverse.
As the metaverse is becoming more complex, it is important to have proper rules around IP, copyright infringement, and brand safety. Greater interoperability of metaverses will proliferate brand content – legitimate or otherwise – across a vast array of new situations and new platforms.
Shriya Madan, an ardent learner, a digital enthusiast, aspires to make an impact in the real world with the power of technology
Pranjali Apurva, driven by curiosity, converging design principles with digital transformation