Pooja Entertainment recently purchased virtual land, naming it Poojaverse, to promote its release of Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, the first Hindi film released in the metaverse. This unprecedented move proves film producers are tapping into and utilising new and evolving mediums and markets to maximise the viewership of their content.
The metaverse is the digital twin of the physical world, where people can create avatars, place them in virtual spaces, and manipulate them with virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence tools, effectively living a virtual life. To understand copyright issues in the metaverse, it is important to distinguish between an open and closed metaverse. An open metaverse consists of platforms where users can create new features such as buildings and marketplaces, such as Decentraland. A closed metaverse features platforms where users cannot create additional elements, and one company owns and manages all aspects of a platform such as the video game Fortnite.
As the metaverse is itself a software computer programme, it enjoys copyright protection under the Indian Copyright Act, 1957 (act). What remains to be ascertained and assessed is the copyright protection in the elements created in the metaverse. In answering this it can be said that in a closed metaverse, the platform owner owns all the elements within that platform since the users do not have autonomy to create any works/features. However, the challenge is to ascertain who owns the copyright in works created in an open metaverse – Whether it is the platform owners or the real-world creators, or whether through avatars or otherwise, or both may claim to be the owners of such works?