Date: July 12, 2022 14:00-16:00
Dr. Chien-Liang Lee (Institutum Iurisprudentiae Academia Sinica, Director & Distinguished Research Professor)
- Mr. George C.C. Chen (Taiwan Association of Information Technology & Intellectual Property, Chairman)
- Mr. Taka Kao (Taiwan Association for Blockchain Ecosystem Innovation, President)
- Prof. Li, Gi-Kuen(Institutum of Law For Science and Technology, NTHU, Professor)
- Prof. Hsiao-Yue Tsao (Interaction Design Department, NTUT, Department Chair)
George C. C. Chen (president, Taiwan information intellectual property association)
Chen felt that there remains much to explore when it comes to metaverse. Several important elements that have surfaced include: blockchain, smart contract, Artificial Intelligence, edge computing, quantum computing, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), mixed reality (MR), cryptocurrency, and non-fungible token (NFT). The essence of metaverse is experience and interaction; namely, creating experiences in collaboration with others. Important legal issues arise in these applications. For example, users will have to provide personal identifiable information (PII) such as biometrics, personal preferences, and consumption habits in order to interact with other users. Adequate protections of such PII are extremely important. Other possible legal issues include: intellectual property rights, trademark rights, innovative digital crimes (deepfake and insulting digital identity), financial regulation of cryptocurrency, information security, jurisdiction, and preservation of evidence.
Chen shared several examples of metaverse lawsuits, one of them being Hermes‘s trademark lawsuit against an artist for selling “MetaBirkins” NFTs. The NFT trend has also created multiple legal controversies including copyrights, trademark, property rights, unjust enrichment, transaction security, delivery, money laundry, and fraud. NFT is a unit of data stored on blockchain. In theory, it is distinct from the referenced physical objects. However, the NFTs being sold have to show the original trademark of their references, and this invokes legal problems. The anonymous nature of blockchain technology also makes delivering legal documents to both parties of the lawsuits difficult. NFTs are not yet deemed as financial products. However, there have been cases where the FBI arrested and indicted suspects in connection with an alleged insider trading operation on an NFT platform.
The NFT trading platforms are decentralized and subjected to little regulations. As a result, it is difficult to determine legal responsibilities in lawsuits. The Supreme Court in Taiwan acknowledges the property rights of NFT owners as NFT technically is digital evidence thus protected by property rights. Chen suggested that the Taiwanese government can slow down on developing laws regarding metaverse. It is better to review existing regulations in Taiwan and identify relevant laws and regulations after observing as many cases in other countries as possible.
Taka Kao (President, Taiwan Association for Blockchain Ecosystem Innovation)
According to the definition of Coinbase, metaverse is a massively-scaled, persistent, interactive, and interoperable real-time platform comprised of interconnected virtual worlds where people can socialize, work, transact, play, and create. Metaverse is open to everyone. Blockchain is the fundamental technology of metaverse, and its decentralized nature enables a more transparent operation and decision process.
A smart contract is a computer program or a transaction protocol which is intended to automatically execute, control or document legally relevant events and actions according to the terms of a contract or an agreement. Kao found smart contracts useful for its unalterable nature. According to Kao, blockchain data governance model can be applied across disciplines, borders, industry types, and platforms. He also believed that blockchain can be used to prevent monopoly and build industry consensus.
Blockchain is not flawless. Owners of blockchain asset cannot deal with the asset directly without third parties providing relevant information. It is also true that blockchain is not yet capable of complicated computing. Kao emphasized, however, that there is no such thing as totally centralized or totally decentralized; there are only different models in various degrees. The objectives of smart contracts are reducing needs in trusted intermediators, arbitrations and enforcement costs, fraud losses, as well as the reduction of malicious and accidental exceptions. However, the success of smart contracts relies on users’ trust of blockchain technology and willingness to store their asset on blockchain. As long as the public trust the existing centralized system, Kao suggested, blockchain would not be necessary. Efficiency and high transaction cost remain the downfall of blockchain technologies.
Questions remain whether blockchain can popularize and replace centralized data processing models as the mainstream. One thing is certain, Kao claimed, that it is impossible to build a purely decentralized world in the near future.
Li, Gi-Kuen (Assistant Professor, Institute of Law for Science and Technology, National Tsing Hua University)
Li thought Meta is correct about metaverse being still far away despite the introduction of relevant products and services. Compared to how mobile games popularize thanks to the prevalence of mobile phones, metaverse games have higher hardware requirements. It remains to be seen whether metaverse games will become popular.
Li also touched on the legal problems of metaverse. For example, virtual identities in the metaverse could still face harassment. Current solutions are platform providers setting restraining rules for its users in technical ways.
There are three major regulative issues concerning metaverse. Firstly, whether the government should regulate metaverse, including the innovative risks and controversies arise from metaverse. Secondly, the legal responsibility and status of platforms in the metaverse. Thirdly, whether business transactions in the metaverse are as legally binding as contracts in the physical world. As for now, most games in the metaverse are controlled by platform providers, which risks creating asymmetrical relations between platforms and users. The fact that platforms play the roles of lawmaker, arbitrator, and enforcer at once without providing complaint mechanism is problematic.
Li suggested that gaming rules in the metaverse could learn from online game’s users terms and conditions.
Hsiao-Yue Tsao (Professor and Chair, Department of Interaction Design, National Taipei University of Technology)
The National Taipei University of Technology founded the first metaverse XR research center. Tsao shared the application cases of the students, including fashion design (virtual Terresa Teng appeared in Taipei Fashion Week this year), virtual influencers, virtual outfits, and virtual tourist spots.
Tsao thinks that the ability of providing joy and sustainable experience without physical products is what makes metaverse attractive. She thinks the younger generation values user experience more than money and material products, which enriches the unlimited potential of metaverse.
Q1.Roleplay is one of the critical elements of metaverse, but the online identity can distinct from the real-world identity. Does this create the problem of digital identities not having rights to personality, only rights to property?
Chen noted that many other countries are having similar discussions. As the characters in metaverse are extremely real, he expected that it is only a matter of time before digital identities owning rights to personality. He also concurred Kao that the public opinion on decentralization varies and relevant regulations ought to accommodate the evolution of metaverse.
Li explained that most metaverse lawsuits are game-related and concerning public insult. According to recent rulings, digital identities are not only deemed by the court as property but also personality.
Q2.Can Professor Tsao share more about how user experience and experience sharing are keys to metaverse?
Tsao observed that the younger generation share the tendency of merging entertainment in social activities, which aligns with the nature of metaverse. Community participation is the key to success for metaverse; users can live in the stories of metaverse, creating relations through their interactions with the metaverse.