A Right Not to Be Mapped? Augmented Reality, Real Property, and Zoning
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The digital mapping applications underlying augmented reality have strong public benefits but can also have unappreciated effects on real property. In recent litigation on Pokémon Go, an enhanced digital mapping application in which players participate in a digital scavenger hunt by visiting real
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The digital mapping applications underlying augmented reality have strong public benefits but can also have unappreciated effects on real property. In recent litigation on Pokémon Go, an enhanced digital mapping application in which players participate in a digital scavenger hunt by visiting real world locations, homeowners alleged that the augmented reality application harmed their residential properties by increasing the number of people in their residential areas. However, neither the existing laws on intellectual property nor those for real property are designed to address these types of harms. On the one hand, real property torts, such as nuisance and trespass, on which the homeowners relied, are ill-suited to address harms from a digital application as they are based on a right to exclude and consent. On the other hand, intellectual property laws have not focused on harms that could result from the intersection of intellectual property rights and real property. If it were to be framed anew, the basis of the homeowners’ claims would be most analogous to asserting “a right not to be mapped.” However, there is not yet a “right not to be mapped” in law, and there are compelling reasons for the law not to create one. We recommend three alternative mechanisms to regulate the relationship between augmented reality and real property. We recommend the application of zoning principles as a legal mechanism designed for location-sensitive regulation, which can balance the concerns of individual real property owners, as well as the larger context of community and city interests, and be adapted to innovative technologies such as augmented reality. Additionally, we suggest that catalogues of augmented reality applications be created to support zoning decisions and to provide public notice. We also consider the possibility of licensing schemes with micropayments for real properties affected by augmented reality.