UK Researchers Warn of Copyright Risks in the Metaverse

UK Researchers Warn of Copyright Risks in the Metaverse

UK study flags metaverse as a potential hotbed for copyright violations, urging updated IP regulations.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have examined the suitability of the current intellectual property (IP) laws and how they apply to emerging technologies such as the metaverse. The study’s authors pointed out the flaws in the current legal system and offered suggestions for improvement.

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The U.K. government released “IP and Metaverse,” an externally commissioned research report, on March 7. The study examined the body of research on intellectual property laws and their applicability to the metaverse. The study’s findings led the researchers to conclude that intellectual property (IP) issues are unique to the metaverse, such as regulating blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) within virtual worlds and IP governance in an interoperable environment.

Addressing IP laws

The report claims that interoperability raises several legal issues, such as the unapproved distribution of copyrighted works. The researchers emphasized that the lack of interoperability is one major factor keeping people from illegally distributing copyrighted content. Since interoperability is essential to a metaverse, controlling the use and distribution of copyrighted content may become difficult.

The “IP and Metaverse” report was commissioned by the U.K. government commissioned and released on March 7, 2023.

It examined the body of research on intellectual property laws and how they might be used in emerging technologies like the metaverse. The report focused on particular intellectual property (IP) concerns associated with the metaverse, such as managing IP rights in a mutually compatible setting and controlling technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence in virtual environments.

Sharing content across virtual worlds poses difficulties for regulating and controlling copyrighted works because they can be readily replicated and disseminated across numerous platforms.

The report pointed out that because blockchain transactions cannot be readily modified or altered, their intrinsic properties, such as immutability, can make it challenging to enforce IP laws. Additionally, the report noted that the inherent characteristics of blockchain technologies, such as immutability, can make it difficult to enforce IP laws, as blockchain transactions cannot be easily altered or changed.

The researchers added:

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

Metaverse and AI

However, there are some expected challenges in using AI in the potential metaverse governance of IP. The researchers stated that algorithmic management of infringements is “extremely vulnerable to misuse” because of the lack of human oversight to ensure enforcement legitimacy.

Furthermore, AI-generated content creates a new difficulty for IP enforcement in the metaverse. The study suggests that reliance on AI tools has the potential to invalidate content inventor claims. The research emphasized instances and situations that showed that “only works partially assisted by AI” can be protected by IP laws.

The researchers concluded that clarification is required on a “plethora of key issues” because of the anticipated problems with IP governance within the metaverse. This covers legal concerns about nonfungible tokens (NFTs) in the metaverse, user-generated content, virtual property, patents, trademarks, copyrights, and designs. As a result, the researchers concluded that developing IP strategies is essential to handling the governance and enforcement concerns associated with a metaverse.

RELATED TOPICS: AI, metaverse, NFTs, web3
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