March 27, 2024
UK Researchers, Metaverse Risks Copyright Infringement
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UK Researchers: Metaverse Risks Copyright Infringement

In the United Kingdom, researchers have undertaken a comprehensive examination of the effectiveness of existing intellectual property (IP) laws in adapting to the emergence of novel technologies, specifically focusing on the metaverse.

Identifying limitations and proposing recommendations, the study, titled “IP and Metaverse,” was commissioned by the U.K. government and published on March 7, shedding light on the intricate relationship between IP laws and the metaverse. The researchers elucidated metaverse-specific challenges related to IP governance within interoperable environments and the regulation of advanced technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) within virtual domains.

Within the report, a significant legal challenge associated with interoperability was underscored, specifically concerning the unauthorized dissemination of copyrighted content. Traditionally, the absence of interoperability has acted as a deterrent against the illicit distribution of copyrighted material. However, with interoperability assuming a pivotal role in the metaverse, the researchers contended that governing the use and circulation of copyrighted work in this dynamic environment may pose challenges.

Furthermore, the report addressed the nuanced challenges emanating from the unique characteristics of blockchain technology, notably its immutability and “tamper-proof” nature, complicating the enforcement of IP laws. As expressed by the researchers:

“Blockchain’s inherent resistance to change or correction undermines the ability to flexibly manage or update IP rights. This is an issue which becomes especially worrisome in the context of ownership disputes, as well as for navigating the termination of agreements and rights if licensors or rightsholders seek to leave the Metaverse.”

The integration of AI into the governance of metaverse-related IP also introduces anticipated challenges. The researchers argued that algorithmic management of infringements is “extremely vulnerable to misuse” due to the absence of human oversight, potentially compromising the legitimacy of enforcement.

AI-generated content emerges as yet another hurdle for IP enforcement within the metaverse. The study emphasized that reliance on AI tools could cast doubt on claims of inventorship in content. Notably, the research pointed out that “only works partially assisted by AI” might be eligible for IP law protection.

Given the foreseen challenges in IP governance within the metaverse, the researchers emphasized the imperative need for clarity on numerous key issues. This encompasses legal considerations spanning copyrights, trademarks, patents, designs, user-generated content, virtual property, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within the metaverse. Consequently, the researchers underscored the necessity of developing comprehensive IP strategies to effectively address the multifaceted governance and enforcement challenges unfolding within the evolving landscape of the metaverse.

Image by Neri Vill from Pixabay

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