Is there any law in the Metaverse to infringe the virtual world?

The Metaverse can break free from the load of ready-made facts and legal rules of the real world, and provide human beings with an opportunity structure to redesign rationally from scratch. In the Metaverse, people can conclude a new social contract in the form of a mathematical contract, and reconstruct the effective link between individuals and society.At the same time, people can also use the twin technology to “run the virtual and the real”, and project the principle of order within the Metaverse to the real world.

——Ji Weidong

With the continuous development of emerging technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and VR technology, the concept of “Metaverse” has attracted more and more attention. What is the Metaverse? What is the difference between the Metaverse’s determination of legal facts and the real world? What tort-type legal issues are involved in the Metaverse?

Metaverse sexual assault, can it really be established?

At the end of May 2022, another “sexual assault” incident in the Metaverse field has attracted attention. The victim is a 21-year-old woman whose female avatar created in Horizon Worlds, a Metaverse concept online game released by tech giant Meta, was “sexually assaulted” by a male player due to the avatar’s The contact can cause the controller in the player’s hand to vibrate, and the victim feels very uncomfortable.

Similar cases include a sexual assault in a popular online VR social game earlier this year. As an online VR role-playing game, this game focuses on virtual social interaction. There are millions of users from all over the world. You can create your favorite cartoon image to wear on your body, allowing players to communicate online with a 3D virtual character image.

In this game, players can wear VR equipment to get physical performance that is almost the same as in reality. What is better than other ordinary VR games is that the game experience is more realistic, and its virtual image can be tracked in real time. Actions, gestures, mouth shapes, etc. of real players. When a Japanese female player was experiencing a VR sleep game, other players used the game characters they controlled to swing her waist on the female player, causing the female player to wake up from the sleep game and feel offended.

Could this kind of behavior in the Metaverse really amount to sexual assault? Tech giant Meta claimed afterwards that the victim did not turn on several security features in the game, including the “personal boundary” feature that generates a “shield” in a radius of about one meter around the player, which can make it impossible for other players to touch. to you to prevent harassment. But in addition, Meta did not mention whether the violated players can be identified as sexual assaults in the real world, and whether the platform can help victims defend their rights.

So, can sexual assault in the Metaverse really hold true?

To constitute a sexual assault in the traditional sense, three elements must be met: the act goes against the will of the victim (generally a woman); the perpetrator must take means that the victim cannot resist, dare not resist, or do not know how to resist, usually violence, coercion or other means; There should be actual physical contact between the abuser and the victim.

In the Metaverse world, the identification of sexual assault may have certain difficulties in the actual legal environment.First of all, from the perspective of the main body, both the victim and the perpetrator are virtual images. Even if they are considered to be controlled by real people, there is still a big problem to the extent to which virtual characters can replace real people. dispute.

Secondly, from the perspective of violations, physical contact occurs between virtual characters, and the perpetrator and the victim in the real world do not have real physical contact, gestures or words.

Furthermore, from the perspective of subjective elements, the motivation for sexual assault on virtual characters is likely to come from insulting and slandering the people behind them. It is precisely because they exist in the virtual world that they have a fluke mentality and intentionally hurt others. The mentality will also increase. .

Finally, judging from the results of the infringement, most people believe that the behavior of virtual characters will bring psychological trauma to people in the real world, and it has the meaning of insulting the personality and dignity of the real characters, so it can be considered that there are certain consequences of infringement.

Since the publication of an article called “A Rape in Cyberspace” in 1993, which has drawn attention to sexual assaults in online games, the article described a sexual assault incident in the online gaming community LambdaMOO. Through this controversy, People are starting to clearly recognize the huge positive and negative role that gender plays in games and gaming communities. Falling in love and getting married in MMOs is now commonplace, and the Korean online game “Maple Story” is designed with a complex marriage mechanism. Unfortunately, online sexual harassment has also become more common.

From the age of telephones to the age of the Internet, sexual harassment and sexual assault incidents using chat software are no longer rare, but there is no major controversy over the legal identification of related incidents, and the difficulty of identifying sexual assault in the virtual world lies in virtual characters and real people. The gap between the two, that is, the sexual assault of one avatar on another avatar, in addition to causing psychological and spiritual distress, does not produce coercive and irresistible harm to the real person.

UGC infringement in the Metaverse, legal protection?

The digital assets in the Metaverse can be roughly divided into two categories, one is UGC (User created content, user-generated content), which is the main form of digital assets in the Metaverse; the other is the services or content provided by the platform itself , such as the interface design of the Metaverse world, background music, computer code, etc.

Generally speaking, the ownership of the content provided by the platform itself in the Metaverse belongs to the platform itself, which is not controversial. Many Metaverse platforms also state this in their rules, such as Roblox stating that UGC is user-controlled, capable-licensing, and proprietary content. Moreover, Roblox points out in the intellectual property terms that for any UGC created by the user alone or jointly with other users, between the user and Roblox or between the user and other users, the user retains all copyrights to the UGC that the user may hold.

However, due to the fact that there are certain non-original rights holders in the user-generated content and illegal use without authorization, it is easy to generate copyright infringement disputes. For the Metaverse platform, users’ infringements may also require the platform to take responsibility. For example, in 2021, the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) filed a lawsuit against Roblox, publicly accusing the massively multiplayer online game company of illegally using numerous musician’s songs and demanded at least $200 million in damages. 1

In this case, the NMPA alleges that the songs used in Roblox’s online games included tracks recorded by musicians such as Ariana Grande, Imagine Dragons, deadmau5, Ed Sheeran and Rolling Stones, and that the company did not provide compensation to the authors or copyright owners, Therefore, the lawsuit requires Roblox to recklessly use music without authorization for compensation, and to ensure that music creators can receive full compensation for their works on the platform, so that Roblox can fulfill the corresponding platform obligations.

Is there any law in the Metaverse to infringe the virtual world?

Figure 2: Screenshot of Roblox Metaverse Platform

Another example is a case judged by my country’s Internet Court in April this year regarding liability for infringing works uploaded by users. It also believes that platforms have an obligation to review the behavior of users, and platforms that fail to fulfill their review obligations need to bear corresponding legal responsibilities.

Article 1195 of the “Civil Code” stipulates, “If a network user uses network services to commit infringement, the right holder has the right to notify the network service provider to take necessary measures such as deletion, blocking, and disconnection. The notification shall include preliminary evidence of infringement and The real identity information of the right holder. After receiving the notice, the network service provider shall promptly forward the notice to the relevant network users, and take necessary measures according to the preliminary evidence of infringement and the type of service; The expanded part shall be jointly and severally liable with the network user. If the right holder causes damage to the network user or the network service provider due to the wrong notification, he shall bear the tort liability. If the law provides otherwise, such regulations shall apply.”

Therefore, when the platform fails to fulfill its obligation to deal with it in a timely manner, it needs to bear indirect tort liability. Due to the NFT confirmation function, the Metaverse will also involve the platform issuing NFTs to users. In this case, if such NFTs are infringing works, according to Article 1194 of the Civil Code, “Internet users . Network service providers who use the Internet to infringe on the civil rights and interests of others shall bear the tort liability. If the law provides otherwise, the provisions shall be followed.” As a network content service provider, the platform needs to bear direct legal responsibility for the infringement.

In addition, when there is relevant evidence to prove that the platform knows or should know that the user-generated content may infringe the intellectual property rights of others, in order to take necessary measures, it should be in accordance with Article 1197 of the Civil Code, “The network service provider knows or should If it is known that a network user has infringed upon the civil rights and interests of others by using its network services and fails to take necessary measures, it shall bear joint and several liability with the network user.” The platform needs to bear joint and several liability with the user.

Under such circumstances, for the determination that the network service provider knew or should have known, in accordance with Article 6 of the Supreme People’s Court’s “Regulations on Several Issues concerning the Application of Law in the Trial of Cases of Infringement of Personal Rights and Interests by the Use of Information Networks”, “the people’s court shall Article 1197 of the Civil Code determines whether a network service provider ‘knows or should have known’, and shall comprehensively consider the following factors:

(1) Whether the network service provider manually or automatically handles the infringing network information by recommending, ranking, selecting, editing, sorting, and modifying it;

(2) The ability of network service providers to manage information, as well as the nature and method of the services provided and the possibility of causing infringement;

(3) The type and obvious degree of personal rights and interests infringed by the network information;

(4) The degree of social influence of the network information or the number of pageviews within a certain period of time;

(5) The technical possibility of the network service provider taking measures to prevent infringement and whether it has taken corresponding reasonable measures;

(6) Whether the network service provider has taken corresponding reasonable measures against the repeated infringement by the same network user or the same infringing information;

(7) Other factors related to the case.

In the transaction and circulation of user-generated content, if the content is suspected of infringing the intellectual property rights of others, if the Metaverse platform fails to fulfill its relevant obligations, the court may also refer to Article 42 of the “E-commerce Law” to require the platform to bear the liability for compensation , the article stipulates, “If the owner of intellectual property rights believes that his intellectual property rights have been infringed, he has the right to notify the e-commerce platform operator to take necessary measures such as deleting, blocking, disconnecting links, terminating transactions and services. The notification shall include preliminary information that constitutes infringement. evidence.

After receiving the notice, the operator of the e-commerce platform shall take necessary measures in a timely manner and forward the notice to the operators on the platform; those who fail to take necessary measures in a timely manner shall be jointly and severally liable for the enlarged part of the damage and the operators on the platform. If the operator on the platform is damaged due to an error in the notification, he shall bear civil liability in accordance with the law. If a wrong notification is sent maliciously, causing losses to the operators on the platform, the liability for compensation shall be doubled. “

In addition, when the user-generated content does not meet the statutory licensing conditions stipulated in my country’s “Copyright Law”, if it meets the reasonable use conditions stipulated in Article 24 of the Law and Article 6 of the “Regulations on the Protection of the Right to Disseminate Information Networks”, the user Unauthorized use of another’s work is not an infringement.

For example, Article 24 of the Copyright Law stipulates, “If a work is used under the following circumstances, it may be used without the permission of the copyright owner and without payment of remuneration, but the author’s name or title and the title of the work shall be specified, and the normal use of the work shall not be affected. , but also have to reasonably damage the legitimate rights and interests of the copyright owner:

(1) Using the published works of others for personal study, research or appreciation;

(2) In order to introduce or comment on a certain work or explain a certain issue, properly citing the published works of others in the work;

(3) In order to report news, it is unavoidable to reproduce or quote published works in newspapers, periodicals, radio stations, television stations and other media;

(4) Newspapers, periodicals, radio stations, TV stations and other media publish or broadcast current affairs articles on political, economic and religious issues that have been published by other newspapers, periodicals, radio stations, TV stations and other media, but the copyright owner declares that they are not allowed to publish or broadcast except for ;

(5) Newspapers, periodicals, radio stations, television stations and other media publish or broadcast speeches delivered at public gatherings, unless the author declares that they are not allowed to be published or broadcast;

(6) Translating, adapting, compiling, broadcasting or copying a small amount of published works for the purpose of classroom teaching or scientific research in schools for use by teaching or scientific researchers, but shall not be published;

(7) State organs use published works within a reasonable scope for the performance of official duties;

(8) Libraries, archives, memorial halls, museums, art galleries, cultural centers, etc., for the needs of displaying or preserving editions, copying the works collected by the library;

(9) Performing the published works for free, without charging the public or paying the performers any remuneration, and the performance is not for profit;

(10) Copying, painting, photographing and videotaping artworks installed or displayed in public places;

(11) Translate works created in the national standard spoken and written language that have been published by Chinese citizens, legal persons or unincorporated organizations into works in the languages ​​of ethnic minorities for publication and distribution in China;

(12) Provide the published works to persons with dyslexia in an accessible manner that can be perceived by them;

(13) Other circumstances stipulated by laws and administrative regulations. The provisions of the preceding paragraph shall apply to restrictions on copyright-related rights.

However, in practice, none of the 13 situations listed in this article may be applicable to scenarios in which users use unauthorized works to generate and use content. For example, the “personal use” clause emphasizes that the purpose of using works is limited to “personal learning, Research or appreciation” three purposes, but users in the Metaverse already have a certain network communication effect when using other people’s works, which obviously exceeds the purpose of “personal use”.

Data infringement in the Metaverse, how does the law intervene?

In 2021, some users claim that their Roblox accounts have been stolen. In fact, the theft of Roblox accounts is not accidental. Users often have their accounts stolen due to leaked passwords, browser plug-ins, etc. However, it is usually difficult to recover due to the loss of account items or currency.

In fact, the Metaverse has a lot of data security issues. Metaverse providers will be able to access more user data, including biometrics, location and banking information, which will exist almost entirely in virtual form.

In the Metaverse, whether it is provided by the user or produced by the platform based on the user’s behavior, some information that can identify the user’s identity should be considered as the user’s personal information, such as face, fingerprints and other biological information, financial information, etc.

In 2021, my country will implement the “Data Security Law” and “Personal Information Protection Law”, and in addition to the “Cybersecurity Law” that came into effect in 2017, the three legal cornerstones of my country’s data compliance are basically formed. For example, the “Personal Information Protection Law” and other regulations have made specific regulations on the collection and processing of user information. When the Metaverse Platform collects and processes user information, it should meet the relevant laws and regulations of the country where it is located.

In addition, the most applicable field of the Metaverse is online games, so the laws closely related to the Metaverse also include laws involving consumers and minors. For example, the U.S. Fair Credit Reporting Act (Title 15 U.S.C. § 1681 ff.) protects personal financial information collected by consumer reporting agencies. The law limited those who could obtain this information, and subsequent amendments simplified the process for consumers to obtain and correct information about themselves. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6506) allows parents to control the information collected about their children (under 13 years old) online. Require operators of websites that target or knowingly collect personal information from children to post privacy policies, obtain parental consent before collecting information from children, allow parents to determine how the information will be used, and provide parents with the choice to opt out of their Information is collected from children. 2

In terms of liability, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Brian Quintenz suggested that smart contract code developers could be prosecuted if it is clear that smart contract code can be foreseen to be used by Americans to violate CFTC regulations.

Article 22 of my country’s “Network Security Law” also stipulates that if the provided network services or products have risks such as malicious programs or security defects, loopholes, etc., remedial measures should be taken immediately, otherwise, corresponding legal responsibilities shall be borne.

last words

We believe that for the Metaverse platform, both pre-examination and post-incident prevention and control are indispensable. Especially in the pre-examination process, it is not advisable to simply use the default user agreement to assign responsibility to users who have committed infringements. . For individual users of the Metaverse platform, in the event of infringement disputes, they should make good use of the advantages of the Internet and blockchain technology, keep relevant evidence in a timely manner, and actively take legal measures to protect their rights and interests when necessary.


1. The National Music Publishers Association files a lawsuit against Roblox,×tamp=1659008976&ver=3948&signature=J5fl7cGqvzwQFHsTtahitMa0syq1RAkskaxRP3rYpoGv*wYGy7lV9hhAwuQrcCAhCxKCLq1mK2THMOjhyLjfnXnoiVu6yXpOr*e-2DrRTr4GM-M13*z9nbCnZdBqED2W&new=1。

2. Footprint Statement: Data Protection and Privacy in the Metaverse – Legal Compliance Issues Involved in the Future Development of the Metaverse (2),

About the Author

Lawyer Liu Lei, head of the “Digital Economy and Fintech Team” of Beijing Yingke (Shanghai) Law Firm, Master of Laws. He is also a part-time researcher at Tongji University Artificial Intelligence Social Governance Collaborative Innovation Center, a researcher at the Institute of Artificial Intelligence and the Rule of Law of Gansu University of Political Science and Law, a member of the expert database of GLG Group, a legal consultant for Asia Digital Bank and Asia-Pacific Investment Bank, and the publication of the book “Digital Currency and Law” .

Zhan Qing, Master of Laws, Paralegal Assistant of Beijing Yingke (Shanghai) Law Firm. During his legal service work, he participated in a large number of non-litigation, civil litigation, foreign-related contract disputes and other cases of the team. He has conducted in-depth research on legal knowledge in the direction of financial law and civil and commercial law for a long time. He has published 3 Chinese core journal papers, published the book “Research on Legal Innovation in International Financial Centers”, and participated in the compilation of “Digital Currency and Law”.

Posted by:CoinYuppie,Reprinted with attribution to:
Coinyuppie is an open information publishing platform, all information provided is not related to the views and positions of coinyuppie, and does not constitute any investment and financial advice. Users are expected to carefully screen and prevent risks.

Like (0)
Donate Buy me a coffee Buy me a coffee
Previous 2022-08-02 10:28
Next 2022-08-02 10:29

Related articles