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S.J. Blodgett-Ford, Woodrow Barfield and Alexander Williams

Virtual and augmented reality can be used to project advertisements in the real or virtual world. This chapter discusses case law, statutes, and regulations that apply to advertising in virtual and augmented reality as well as the possible evolution of the current law due to new challenges. Particular issues of interest include the Lanham Act, nuisance law, virtual trespass, right of publicity, and copyright.

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Marc Jonathan Blitz

Free speech protection is not absolute. Even as it protects individuals’ rights to speak to each other in public spaces, it leaves government with room to assure these public spaces are suitable for shared activities: It lets officials regulate, for example, to assure the free flow of traffic or protect against “visual blight.” Virtual and augmented reality have the potential to alter this aspect of free speech law by enabling individuals to “privatize” public space:  Signs, art work, or other expression that may have once been forced on unwilling audiences might now instead emerge only in the custom-designed VR or AR world of a willing viewer. This chapter looks more closely at this First Amendment implications of VR and AR, and also at the reasons that some VR or AR images and words may still be subject to government regulation, either because they do not count as First Amendment “speech” or because they count as speech which government has power to regulate.

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Autonomous Vehicles and the Law

Technology, Algorithms and Ethics

Hannah Y. Lim

Autonomous vehicles have attracted a great deal of attention in the media, however there are some inconsistencies between the perception of autonomous vehicles’ capabilities and their actual functions. This book provides an accessible explanation of how autonomous vehicles function, suggesting appropriate regulatory responses to the existing and emerging technology.
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Gilad Yadin

This chapter presents the crime of virtual reality hacking and suggests that it challenges the inherently flawed legal doctrine governing unauthorized access to computers and data. Thirty years ago, lawmakers in countries all over the world enacted new and specialized computer misuse legislation, acting on the notion that existing criminal law is insufficient to the task of prosecuting and resolving computer hacking cases. Unfortunately, the resulting unauthorized access regime has created significant problems. One is the potential criminalization of everyday technological behavior, brought about by an overly extensive normative scope; another is chronic underenforcement; and yet another is a wider chilling effect on creativity and digital freedoms. Lately, interest in virtual reality, a fairly old concept, has reawakened. Unlike other information technologies, virtual reality is built to deliver a psychological effect believably simulating the physical world; it possesses three-dimensional spatial characteristics, infuses users with real legal expectations, and mirrors human social institutions and values. Many actions within virtual reality, lawful and criminal, are subjectively and conceptually closer to physical acts than to user actions in cyberspace. Consequently, considering some forms of virtual reality intrusion may warrant reverting back to the ancient common law doctrines of burglary and trespass as an alternative to the severely flawed modern computer misuse laws.

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Matthias Herdegen

A growing number of human rights treaties contain provisions specifically addressing biotechnological concerns. Human rights bodies constantly deal with biotech-related cases. Human dignity has inspired and guided the development of human rights in this area. Many human rights have a bioethical dimension. The right to life involves fundamental bioethical questions, such as the beginning of human life and the personhood of embryos. Biomedical research is linked to the protection of health. The right to adequate food may lead to an enhancement of support for agricultural research. The respect for personal autonomy requires respect for the principle of informed consent in biomedical and genetic research. The right to privacy protects confidentiality of genetic data and the individual’s right to know (or not to know) about the results of genetic tests. The right to family life might also be a relevant factor in the management of genetic data. Finally, biotechnology raises new risks of discrimination (e.g. discrimination based on genetic features).

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Matthias Herdegen

Biodiversity is the source of genetic resources capable of being used in industrial processes. While the exploitation of genetic recourses has been dominated by industrialized countries, the world’s most biodiverse regions correspond to developing or emerging economies. The Convention on Biological Diversity has sought to strike a balance between the ‘global north’ and the ‘global south’ in this sensitive area, seeking to counter the unfair appropriation of genetic resources. In this vein, it introduces mechanisms of access and benefit sharing (ABS). The Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing facilitates the implementation of these mechanisms. Further steps towards a fair use of genetic resources have been taken in the context of the FAO. The FAO Seed Treaty seeks to line the FAO regime for plant genetic resources with the Convention on Biological Diversity. In this context, the rights of indigenous peoples are an important concern which includes the protection of traditional indigenous knowledge.

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Vanessa Mak, Eric Tjong Tjin Tai and Anna Berlee

At the outset of this book the question was put forth: do data-driven technologies require regulation, and vice versa, how does data science advance legal scholarship? While there is no resounding answer one way or the other to the first question, we can deduce from the analyses put forward by our authors that the rise of the so-called data economy does pose challenges to regulators. The challenges are diverse and the answers to the – many – questions put forward in the previous chapters will likely be manifold. We nevertheless perceive some common issues that regulators are likely to encounter in each of the areas of law that were examined. We summarize them in section 2 of this conclusion, and elaborate some thoughts on the direction in which future research on the regulatory aspects of data-driven technologies may be headed. The second part of the book considered the increasing use of data science in legal scholarship and legal practice. Here also, challenging questions for future research have been identified by our authors. While the replacement of lawyers and judges by robots may still be a science-fiction dream (or nightmare), the use of data analysis in law is changing the way in which we approach legal (research) questions. We summarize the tentative findings in this field in section 3 of this conclusion. We round off the book with a final question: with data science and law, are we witnessing the emergence of a new discipline?

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Matthias Herdegen

Biotechnology poses significant challenges to States, international organisations and the international community at large. Differing risk perceptions and varying levels of risk aversion influence regulation of biotechnology. Normative, ethical and technical standards justify and limit regulatory decisions. In the long run, regulatory choices may affect consumers’ preferences. Still, the individual’s choices in favour or against biotech products are rooted on personal freedom and autonomy. In this subjective realm, preferences require no objective justification.

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Gabriel Hallevy

Virtual worlds are created by computer code that generates each aspect of the virtual environment, which includes the visual scene, the 3D spatialized sound presented to the user, and the tactile and force feedback that the user may experience interacting with virtual objects. Criminal offenses may be committed in any environment, including real, virtual, or augmented. From a criminal law perspective, when considering a human offender immersed within a virtual environment and performing criminal activities, the nature of the virtual environment may not be a major factor considered by the court; instead, the law will generally focus on the offender’s understanding of what can be termed the physical reality of the crime (which consists of what is true about the physical world and the person’s beliefs about the physical world); that is, the “real” reality associated with the offense, and not the virtual reality associated with the offense. When the virtual or augmented reality experienced by the user is different than the physical reality in a certain level of detail, the question of criminal liability then focuses on the offender’s belief which is the basis for determining the offender’s fault. Most legal systems around the world prefer using the offender’s belief as the basis for fault rather than what actually happened (that is, the factual reality of the crime). To legal actors in these jurisdictions, it seems more just and fair to impose criminal liability on the basis of the offender’s subjective view of reality. This is, in short, for the factual mistake doctrine (“mistake of fact”): we prefer the offender’s factual mistake (subjective) rather than the factual situation (objective) that actually occurred as the basis for the offender’s fault. This chapter discusses the above concepts in the context of offenses occurring in virtual reality.

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S.J. Blodgett-Ford and Mirjam Supponen

This chapter discusses US and European data privacy and data protection case law, statutes, and regulations (including the General Data Protection Regulation) that apply to advertising in virtual and augmented reality, as well as the possible evolution of the current laws due to new challenges.