September 22, 2019 Feature

Legal Implications of Public Spaces in Virtual Reality

Daniel B. Koburger

©2019. Published in Landslide, Vol. 12, No. 1, September/October 2019, by the American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association or the copyright holder.

The concept of a virtual public space is the stuff of science fiction: a virtual shopping mall, street, or park—a virtual place that is freely accessible to anyone from anywhere with a device that allows one to freely move and act as if one were in a public space. Garnered by sheer technological advancement, such a space would imitate the sights, sensations, and possibilities of stepping out of one’s actual front door. A virtual public space would allow the user of a virtual reality (VR) headset, or otherwise yet unknown technology, to roam freely among other users, engage in conversations, stroll through a park, or try on the newest sneakers as one’s virtual self to fit one’s real self’s feet, without ever leaving one’s home.

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