Cheong on Avatars in the Metaverse: Potential Legal Issues and Remedies

Ben Chester Cheong (Singapore University) has posted “Avatars in the Metaverse: Potential Legal Issues and Remedies” (International Cybersecurity Law Review 2022) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

This article discusses some of the issues surrounding an avatar of a real-life person in a metaverse. Given that the anticipated rise of metaverse is a developing area, the first part of the article discusses what the metaverse would entail, some suggestions on what these avatars would be like, why such avatars’ rights should be protected and whether consciousness should be a defining characteristic before these rights are granted. The second part of the article analyses incorporation techniques to grant legal personality to avatars in the metaverse as well as some of the potential harms that avatars could cause there, potentially leading to an extension of the real world. The third part of the article deals with imposing liability on a real-life person by lifting the ‘veil’ of the avatar to identify the real person behind the avatar through four foreseeable scenarios, i.e. fraud, defamation, identity theft and crime. The article briefly explores other potential legal issues in the metaverse. The article makes two final recommendations, the possibility of statutory remedies and judicial interpretation to rectify torts committed by avatars.