MAR 2022
The rules of the game in the metaverse: a new reality pending regulation?

The rules of the game in the metaverse: a new reality pending regulation?


The head of Ontier's Fashion and Luxury department, María Jesús Dehesa, has written a timely and precise article in the specialised magazine Luxonomy about the 'rules of the game' in the so-called metaverse, as popular as it is unknown, coming into the spotlight within the market

María Jesús Dehesa says that 'if regulating the coexistence of human beings, ordering their activity, and protecting their rights has been, and continues to be, a challenge in the real world we know, imagine the difficulties that can arise when physical reality and virtual reality coexist. Today, the metaverse is not here to replace reality - will that time come? -but rather to be thought of as a parallel universe in which all the activities we do in the real world can take place as well: studying, working, having fun, playing, buying, selling, socialising, and so on. The metaverse is meant to be whatever our imagination is capable of creating and whatever technology allows.

'What we still don't know,' says María Jesús Dehesa, 'is whether this legal framework already exists, whether it is sufficient or whether, on the contrary, it needs to be created. And if so, whether we should look into global regulation or self-regulation instead.'

Today, each entity that creates a virtual environment does so with its own rules of access, content, currency, rights and obligations, conflict resolution systems, etc., so that the technical specifications, legal requirements, content, limits of liability, are different in each case. One only has to read the 'Terms of Use' of the different platforms to realise this.

The answer to this question is neither simple nor unequivocal for the author, since, to a large extent, the legal systems we know are based on location, and the metaverse has no borders or territories.

In addition to the above, an increasing number of regulators are converging on each activity, on each sector of the economy. This is the case of the fashion and luxury industry, among others.

For María Jesús Dehesa, companies in this sector need to adapt their activity to the rules of the game of the business world in general and the particular rules that arise from consumer rights, the regulation of digital services, the rules on unfair competition, advertising, industrial property rights, image rights, intellectual property rights, data protection regulations, the regulation of foreign investment, the taxation of operations, the regulation of trade, anti-money laundering rules, etc. And now, with the emergence of cryptocurrencies, cryptoassets, non-fungible tokens and blockchain technology, without the existence of which the metaverse would probably not exist, we must also take into account the new regulations to be approved in this area.

Another major player in the metaverse is the avatar: does our avatar have rights and does it have obligations? In its 'journey' through the metaverse environments, should our avatar be subject to any rules of conduct beyond those established by the platform itself, and what if the platform does not have rules for certain situations, or if such rules are not enough to preserve our avatar, and what responsibilities would arise?

The full article in Luxonomy can be downloaded here.