Could Virtual Pet Owners Be Subject to Legal Liability in the Metaverse?

Virtual pets like Pokemon Go have introduced a new way for players to interact with blockchain technology.

If you own a virtual pet, you may be subject to legal liability in the metaverse. This is because most jurisdictions have laws that require owners of animals to provide for their care and upkeep. Read more in detail here: metaverse tax.

Meta introduced its Quest 2 at this year’s Super Bowl in a commercial that looked like a crazy episode of Netflix’s original series Black Mirror. In the commercial, an animatronic dog is brought into Meta’s virtual world, where he meets up with his old animatronic band mates and performs in a virtual reality — ushering in the newest endeavor into the metaverse of introducing pets. 

Pet adoption is one of the many aspects of Web3 and the metaverse that are currently being discussed in the community.

Many people in the real world may not be able to afford a pet, but the metaverse enables them to experience a somewhat detached version of what it’s like to own a pet without the real-world responsibility of caring for one. 

Finally, considering the prospect of legally adopting and/or having a pet in the virtual world isn’t absolutely out of the question. 

MetaPets, MetaGochi, Axie Infinity, and CryptoKitties, one of the industry’s original ventures, are now the four primary pet platforms for the metaverse. 

Existing rules, however, make notions like metaverse-based pet adoption more problematic, particularly when it comes to intellectual property, regulating virtual assets, privacy and cybersecurity, and, of course, regulating metaverse activity. 

What is the Metaverse, and how does it work?

Right now, the best approach to think about the metaverse is in the same way that most people talk about the Internet in the 1960s: most people are talking about an incomplete picture of what this new era would look like. 

The metaverse isn’t a new notion, having previously appeared in Neal Stephenson’s book Snow Crash in 1992. The “metaverse,” as stated in the book, is a virtual realm accessed by virtual reality (VR) goggles and controlled and owned by a global information monopoly.

As we advance further into Web3, the metaverse will serve as a new revolution and age in 2022, presenting us with an interactive, virtual environment in which we may cooperate, work, and play. 

In the Metaverse, Regulating Pet Behavior

New technology, on the other hand, requires a considerable deal of regulation and risk management. 

Unfortunately, we have already seen some players seek to abuse the metaverse for their own self-serving interests, perhaps causing damage to other users — posing a new legal difficulty of determining the legal bounds of activity, as well as who and how may regulate them. 

Virtual rummaging

Back in December, the issue of “Virtual rummaging” first arose after a beta tester for Meta’s VR social media platform, Horizon Worlds, revealed that her avatar was groped by a stranger, constituting sexual harassment. 

Another instance of this happened when gamer Jordan Belamire wrote an open letter on Medium about being groped on Quivr, a game in which players use bow and arrows to kill zombies.

Dog Bites

When it comes to situations involving pets, another issue arises: can (or should) a virtual pet owner be held liable for the behavior he/she/they display as an owner in the metaverse? 

Or, better still, should or should that owner be held liable for their pet’s actions in the metaverse, such as bites, trespassing, and/or any other unwelcome behavior or incident?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Humane Society of the United States, dogs attack over 13,000 humans per day, totaling over 4.7 million dog bites every year. 

Dog bite lawsuits are often classified as personal injury or tort law, based on the sorts of damages sought by the claimant. 

If the dog involved is classified as a “pet,” the wounded victim of a dog bite has the right to seek and receive compensation from the dog owner. 

While dog bite injury regulations differ from state to state, may same tort law concepts be applied in the metaverse as well?

A query that has yet to be addressed.

Is this the first legal firm in the Metaverse?

Fortunately, the metaverse now has one of the first personal injury practices to address situations like dog bites, slip and falls, trespassing, and other annoyances. 

According to Fortune, New Jersey personal injury attorney Richard Grungo, Jr. founded the first personal injury law business in the metaverse in December.

“Many attorneys and legal firms would be inclined to dismiss it as a gimmick and ignore it,” Grungo added. 

“However, before social media altered the way clients engage with attorneys and law firms in the late 2000s, those same lawyers and law firms were likely looking at it in the same manner.” We think the metaverse has the same game-changing potential as the physical world, and we’ve planted our virtual flag in the ground today to prove it.”

The virtual office, which will be situated in Decentraland in Parcel -36, 150, will provide instructional material concerning injuries and workplace discrimination while also guiding prospective customers to real-world legal firms. 

 

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