Virtual reality in sports – privacy risks and revenue opportunities for players

Virtual Reality and sports
Published: Wednesday, 05 September 2018. Written by Nan Sato, Sam Beer No Comments

Virtual reality (VR) has become one of the hottest buzzwords in recent years owing to its potential to revolutionize many industries. The sports industry is arguably where VR is being put to use in the most effective and aggressive manner. The advent of VR technology will likely fundamentally change how sports are played, advertised, and watched. Increasing numbers of professional sports teams are incorporating VR into their training programs; content distributers and technology start-ups are racing to deliver more games in the VR format; and advertisers are itching to capitalize on the commercial opportunities created by an all-immersive fan experience.1

At the same time, the adoption of VR technology in sports will create new legal questions or at least require an expansion of existing legal doctrines. VR brings unprecedented opportunities for players to enhance their brands as well as perils for their names and reputation to be destroyed overnight. This series of articles will explore a number of legal matters, including privacy (particularly data privacy) of players and fans and issues related to distorted sensescape (the simultaneous presence of several sensuous experiences) and pervasive display.

After first reviewing the current adoption of VR technology in sports, this first article focuses on player privacy and data protection issues. Specifically, it looks at:

  • The growing role of virtual reality in sports

  • Impact on players’ privacy rights

    • Intrusion into private physical spaces

    • Privacy in public spaces

    • Data created by VR technology

  • How can players protect their privacy rights and proprietary data?

    • Option 1 – generally prohibit use of personal data and privacy violations and tightly regulate licensing on a case-by-case basis

    • Option 2 – broader licensing of use of the data / privacy rights player associations with limited regulation

    • Option 3 – licensing directly by individual players

    • Option 4 – license collection of the data rather than use

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About the Author

Nan Sato

Nan Sato

Nan Sato is an attorney qualified in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. She advises international and Japanese players’ associations, commercial sponsors, clubs, and athletes in a number of sports, including football, baseball, rugby, and American football. In addition to contractual and labor issues, she has developed a strong focus on the intersection of technology and sports. Nan works in English, Japanese, Chinese, and Spanish.

More information about Nan, including a list of publications and speaking engagements, can be found here. You can connect with Nan on LinkedIn.

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Sam Beer

Sam Beer

Sam Beer is an (England & Wales qualified) solicitor based in Herbert Smith Freehills' Tokyo office. He advises a broad range of international and Japanese clients in relation to complex cross-border disputes – particularly focussing on international arbitration. Sam has experience working in a number of sectors but is developing a specialism in sports-related disputes and is currently studying for a Master's degree in International Sports Law at ISDE in Madrid.

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