Copyright in the metaverses

Copyright in the metaverses

Metaverses offer new ways to create and distribute content. What if you’ve created content that’s part of a metaverse: is it covered by copyright?

Let’s start with the basic principle: in practice, any content that’s considered original is protected by the Copyright Act.

That being said, there are various other factors to take into consideration as the metaverses become more integrated into our lives:

  1. — Nature of the creation
  2. — Digital conversion of the content
  3. — Terms of use
  4.  Challenges of protecting intellectual property


1 — Nature of the creation

The first question to ask is whether the content meets the originality criteria in the Copyright Act.

In that case, a work of visual art created in a metaverse would automatically be protected by copyright.

However, if a user created a common object such as a shovel, their creation may not be considered “original” unless the creator exercised their skill and judgment in creating it.


2 — Digital conversion of the content

More and more artists and authors are being offered the opportunity to have digital versions of their physical creations produced for resale purposes.

The owners of the copyright in the original work are responsible for deciding whether to allow their content to be reproduced in a digital universe.

For that reason, when you’re negotiating agreements with business partners, it’s smart to include provisions that determine whether or not content can be used or reproduced in metaverses.


3 — Terms of use

Content created in a metaverse is subject to the general terms of use applied by the companies running the relevant virtual reality platform.

Those terms of use govern the relationships between metaverse users and owners, and among users themselves.

In many cases, the metaverse terms of use give third parties — i.e. other users — a licence to take advantage of content they didn’t create. The metaverse companies are also granted very broad licences covering the content created on their platforms.

This approach is similar to the one followed by social media companies, which require users to grant the companies a very broad licence for using content.

Authors, artists and creators should read the terms of use to make sure they don’t include clauses that would impact them negatively. Certain clauses in the metaverse terms of use have already raised eyebrows among experts.

For example, Meta intends to retain 47% of the selling price of digital objects created by its user members.


4 — Challenges of protecting intellectual property

So far, there have been very few legal rulings about copyright in metaverses but we can expect there to be more in the future.

Until more case law has been established, authors and artists will have their work cut out for them if they want to defend their copyright and other rights related to their digital creations or digitally converted physical creations.

Creators can try to assert their rights directly with the metaverse owners. Those companies can be expected to turn to their terms of use in an effort to settle disputes in their favour. 



Content creators own the copyrights for their creations available in the metaverses. Those rights include reproduction, adaptation and translation. When it comes to actually applying the principles of the Copyright Act on those platforms, the “how-to” remains unclear for the time being. 


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