Metavers: is there a legal basis?

The Metaverse, a parallel universe where we interact as in the real world, gives rise to legal issues at the level of individuals, companies, and institutions. One of the emerging questions is whether it can be combined with the existing legal environment.

What is the metaverse?

The term metaverse, long associated with science fiction, means “beyond the universe”; it is a virtual community space that can be accessed through a variety of media and in which many users have the ability to connect with each other and interact in the form of avatars that they choose for graphical representation.

The integration of the physical world into the universe of the virtual world thus formed the economic realm and social interactions, while the users of the metaverse can do almost everything they do on planet Earth, in particular, enter into contracts, but in the virtual world. mode.

In order to spread across the Metaverse platform, the user must create an avatar that represents them graphically to others. This virtual self can be similar to or completely different from the real self in both appearance and behavior.

Economics in the Metaverse

Goods purchased on the Metaverse Platform lead to contracts; they can be resold or exchanged with other users. Such is the case with the buying and selling of land or real estate, which, just like in the real world, is booming today. Offered on specialized platforms such as OpenSea for example, they sometimes require a very large portfolio of cryptocurrencies to be acquired by those who are in the best position.

However, not all banks allow the purchase of cryptocurrencies. Among those authorizing this transaction from a professional or personal account, some offer the option of investing directly in cryptocurrencies, while others make transfers to and from crypto platforms.

On the other hand, we are not talking about real estate transactions as we know them in the real world, with the intervention of a notary to establish a certified document. The purchase of land or real estate in the metaverse is carried out in the presence of documents of ownership registered on the blockchain.

What legal framework should be given to exchanges in the metaverse?

Avatars and legal entity

With the advent of the metaverse, the difficult question of the legal personality of the avatar arises. If for some lawyers he should be able to retain the user, then for others it is preferable to consider him as a digital person developing within certain legislative frameworks in relation to his civil and criminal liability, as is the case with companies that have a legal personality.

For proponents of a digital identity, certain conditions must be met, such as registration on a metaverse-specific registry with the exact name of the avatar and nationality, in order to quickly identify the avatar involved in the dispute. This registration can be regarded as a constituent act, provided that it is accompanied by the contribution of a minimum capital.

Responsibility for avatars

For avatars that have the ability to enter into contracts and therefore perform legal acts, it is desirable to be able to take responsibility on a civil and criminal level, and this without geographical restrictions, since the exchanges in the metaverse are international.

Legal Qualification of Purchases in the Metaverse

Assuming that the avatar remains legally capable, the purchases could be considered as purchases made remotely, i.e. in the absence of the contracting parties or outside the premises, given that the avatars, the parties to the contract, are present at the same time.

Dispute Resolution in the Metaverse

Operations performed in the metaverse through the avatar’s personality have an impact on the legacy in the real world. In the event of a dispute, questions immediately arise as to what is the applicable law and competent jurisdiction.

This is why it seems that contract law may need to be adapted to the very specific conditions of transactions in the metaverse, such as determining the place where the contract is signed, the place of residence of the parties, the location of real estate, many of the legal concepts that underlie the rules of private international law.

There are two types of disputes: those that involve the Metaverse platforms and those that arise between users. The best way to prevent this is to check if the contracts are well drafted because this allows the judge or arbitrator to navigate in the event of mediation or arbitration in resolving a dispute. They must include general terms and conditions of sale that take into account all the features of virtual transactions, such as the management of personal data and digital assets.

(Photo credit: iStock)

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