Here is information on a recent ABA Business Law Section Cyberspace Committee presentation. I have attached the slide deck and link to the draft paper.
This program will explore 2021’s significant changes to streaming, gaming, and online social engagement with an emphasis on the rapid growth of virtual reality, augmented reality, and the implications of these emergent technologies on privacy, cybersecurity, financial transactions, commercial regulation, and contracting terms. The presentation and interactive discussion will provide participants key takeaways including:
- Understanding the emerging metaverse, and how the components are coalescing into a new user experience
- Identifying the key legal issues for large and small enterprises doing business to support new media and to conduct transactions using existing and emerging platforms
- Describing the current and potential regulatory environment at the state, federal, and multinational level
Legal Implications of a Ubiquitous Metaverse and a Web3 Future
Shepard Broad College of Law
Date Written: January 3, 2022
Suggested Citation: Garon, Jon M., Legal Implications of a Ubiquitous Metaverse and a Web3 Future (January 3, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4002551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4002551
The metaverse is understood to be an immersive virtual world serving as the locus for all forms of work, education, and entertainment experiences. Depicted in books, movies, and games, the metaverse has the potential not just to supplement real-world experiences but to substantially supplant them. This article explores the rapid emergence and evolution of the Web3 technologies at the heart of the metaverse movement. Web3 itself is a paradigmatic shift in internet commerce.
The article begins by exploring the competing economic and philosophical approaches to the future of the internet, which is being driven on one hand by the most successful internet advertising firms (Facebook and Google) as well as their videogame competitors (Roblox, Microsoft’s Minecraft, Epic Games, and Valve) and on the other hand by Web3 advocates focusing on cryptocurrencies, nonfungible tokens, decentralized finance (“DeFi”) and distributed autonomous organizations (DAOs). Limiting the focus on U.S. law, the article reviews three core areas for the development of the metaverse: the regulatory environment; the transactional essentials; and the limits on governmental intrusion into the metaverse.
The review of the regulatory environment includes state and federal gambling laws, money transfer laws, securities laws, and regulation of unfair and deceptive trade practices used to enforce privacy and cybersecurity obligations. The section on transactional essentials focuses on contracts between metaverse enterprises and their customers, antitrust and competition restraints, copyright protections, protections of biometric data and rights of publicity, and protections of customer speech in metaverse environments. Finally, the article addresses the need for the continuing evolution of the Fourth Amendment protection from search and seizures, the third party doctrine limitations on reasonable expectations of privacy, and the statutory protections under the Stored Communications Act.
The article highlights that although these doctrinal issues are not new, the scope of the metaverse and its potential social importance will reshape these doctrine in sometimes unpredictable ways. Technologists, practitioners, and regulators must be open to these shifts to appropriately develop the correct mix of user control, industry practice, and regulatory oversight.
Keywords: Web3, Metaverse, blockchain, cryptocurrency, DAO, Defi, Intellectual Property, Privacy, Cybersecurity, AML, KYC, CFIUS, Meta, Internet, deepfakes, synthetic media, FinCEN, SARs, ToC, EULA, Fourth Amendment, First Amendment, Social Media, Howey
JEL Classification: K12, K19, K22, K23, L12, L13, L23, L31, L41, L82, M13, M38