Latest developments in the ToS issue: Peter Gray responds to the UCCSL

As I had reported earlier, a meeting was held on 29 September in-world to discuss the changes to Linden Lab’s ToS and, most importantly, Section 2.3. That meeting resulted in the founding of an (ad hoc?) group named United Content Creators of SL, whose aim was to form a “grassroots” movement that would attempt to influence LL to revise the parts of the ToS that affect content creators adversely. Since then, a legal panel was held on Saturday 19 October to clarify matters and provide more accurate information on the real impact of the ToS changes; Exotix (Inara Pey) gave – as usual – excellent coverage of the panel. RL obligations meant that I could not attend all of it and I haven’t had a chance to listen to the recording in full, so my thoughts on it will be presented in an upcoming post.

As Daniel Voyager reported, the UCCSL sent a letter to Linden Lab requesting a meeting to discuss the ToS changes. The letter is as follows:

October 22, 2013

Rod Humble, CEO

Peter Gray, Director, Global Communications

Linden Lab Headquarters

945 Battery Street

San Francisco, CA 94111

VIA: Certified Mail, Email & SL Forums

Dear Sirs:

The United Content Creators of Second Life is a group of residents and content creators, in both the commercial and artistic communities, who share concerns regarding the August, 2013 Terms of Service, specifically Section 2.3. To resolve these issues and concerns, we ask that you sit down and meet with the UCCSL Council.

Please contact Kylie Sabra in world to set a time.

Warm regards,

The UCCSL Council

Kylie Sabra, Council Facilitator

I shall refrain from commenting on the style and tone of the letter sent, as this is besides the point and won’t serve anyone. I will, however, go once again on record for saying that the conspiracy theories I saw ever since people caught wind of the ToS changes (the very ones to which they consented by clicking on the “I agree” button without even reading a single line) have only done a great disservice both to the platform and its community, further harming the reputation Second Life and its users “enjoy”. Now, I saw via Indigo Mertel that Peter Gray has responded via email, which has also been posted on Google Drive.

The letter in full is as follows:

Dear Kylie, et al,

Thank you for your email. We appreciate your group’s concerns and have seen others express similar concerns as well.

We greatly value Second Life’s content creators, whose collective contributions help make the virtual world the vibrant experience that it is today. We remain committed to providing Second Life as a platform on which residents can create and profit from their creations. This philosophy is central to Linden Lab, and is something that we are ultimately seeking to extend to all of our products and platforms. Accordingly, the revision to our Terms of Service was made in order to further extend the ability for content creators to commercially exploit their intellectual property through user-to-user transactions across Linden Lab’s other products and services (including our distribution platform, Desura), not just within Second Life.

We believe that it would be more fruitful to avoid further debate of the assertions made to date regarding the intent and effect of our updated Terms of Service, and instead focus on whether there may be an approach to address the concerns that have arisen in the community, while also ensuring that our policy remains applicable to our other products and services, and without reverting to the prior wording.

To that end, we are currently reviewing what changes could be made that would resolve the concerns of Second Life content creators, specifically protecting content creators’ intellectual property ownership while permitting Linden Lab to, among other things, act as an agent of content creators (such as yourselves), licensed to sell and re-sell such content.

We are optimistic that we will be able to arrive at a mutually agreeable and beneficial way forward, and ask for your group’s continued patience as we work to do so.

Best

Peter

As I suspected, the Lab sought to streamline its ToS across its entire range of products and services after the acquisition of Desura. In this effort, as was pointed out by Exotix (Inara Pey), they used a boilerplated text. This, however, meant that certain aspects of Second Life were not catered for and, in fact, were adversely affected. The rest is history – a history that was, once again, repeated as a farce: conspiracy theories, “LL IS TRYING TA STEAL MAH STUFFZ!!!!1111!!!!” screams, and all sorts of idiotic drama that I’ve seen far too many times before.

Now, let’s see what Mr. Gray’s email says, shall we?

  1. LL recognises that it makes money from enabling SL’s content creators to sell their wares.
  2. LL plans to use Desura as an additional outlet for SL’s content  creators to sell their products. To whom? Well, you can bet that these products would be utterly useless anywhere outside Second Life and its OpenSim clones. So, my guess is that SL content creators will now be able to sell their products to people who will use them in OpenSim.
  3. LL is not going to revert to the previous wording. Period.
  4. LL is willing to discuss limits on the licence users are expected to grant it w.r.t. their content.

I know some people would say “no, LL must revert back to the previous ToS”, but that’s not going to happen. That LL is willing to discuss limitations to the licence SL content creators are expected to grant w.r.t. their uploaded content is a good thing and an opportunity worth using appropriately. So, now’s the time for a proper, level-headed negotiation to take place – and for the tin-foil hat brigade to stop yelling (yeah, right).

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Mona

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See also:

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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-lU

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31 thoughts on “Latest developments in the ToS issue: Peter Gray responds to the UCCSL

  1. yelling and screaming is good even when uninformed

    serious people notice when it happens and they start thinking about it and commenting publicly

    when serious people in their commentaries communicate their unease, without there also being a cacophony of screaming and yelling from a mass of others (informed or not), then the linden response typically has always been to ignore these kinds of communications

    in polite business speak they say that they will take it under advisement. and then they shelve it

    its shelved bc the business speak rationale is that the received communication is only one persons view (or a self-appointed small group view) for which there is no mass public clamor

    +

    so public clamor does serve its purpose. informed or not. tinfoil or not

    1. Furthermore, Linden Lab is not a government that can be forced into resignation. It’s a company that owns the virtual world of Second Life and also enjoys a dominant position in this market; a market with no real competition or alternatives, as none of the “alternatives” has the infrastructure or the finances to fund the acquisition of an infrastructure capable of supporting a mass exodus of Second Life users. I’ll also have to remind everyone that, from a technical standpoint, OpenSim pretty much rides on LL’s coat-tails and that, should LL go under, OpenSim won’t last for much more than six months.

      1. linden is a corporation. when some of their customers are raging at them, corporations don’t say fcuk you. is not like the corporation is a bunch of homies gangbanging it

        +

        opensim will survive as it is with or without SL surviving. it works fine now for people who are interested in hosting their own little worlds and hook up together as and when they feel like it. whether SL stays or goes isn’t going to change that

        is not a commercial model like SL is for sure. but as something to do for people into 3D to entertain themselves then its ok. same way people use Unity, UE3/4, Cube Sau, etc. Minecraft even

        1. Actually, corporations say “fuck you” to their customers quite often. Paypal anyone? As for OpenSim, it doesn’t have the resources to push for new technologies – instead, it reverse-engineers the Second Life viewer. If LL go under, there’s no entity in the OpenSim universe that has the (technical, technological, financial) ability to absorb SL’s users.

          1. for every example there is a counter-example. like Cadbury got tinfoiled as monkey killers. to stem their losses they stop buying palm oil from habitat clearers

            +

            dunno how opensim ended up as a talking point

            if you are suggesting that there is no commercial operator currently able to manage a massive influx of SL refugees at this moment then you be right

            but if linden did turn off the SL login (which is unlikely) and there was an influx of account/tier paying customers into a current commercial provider(s) then they would start hiring techies and support staff as fast as they could. linden staff let go would be the no. 1 targets

            so i dont think the problem is technical so much tho. is financial

            +

            other business players not in the world provider game yet would think about coming in. prime candidates being one or more of the SL barons. either setting up their own. or buying into an existing operation

            also: while SL revenues are declining it will settle at some minimum level. the only question then is whether that min level number is high enough to sustain ROI?

            i think the min number is the main thing. same as it is for linden now. and for any new providers in the future sans linden. maybe/somehow/one day/if ever

            like what is the min number of paying customers that would move to another similar world if SL did close?

            how will that number fragment?

            and is the revenue that a provider might get from the fragment that comes their way, enough to sustain their business?

            these are the kinds of questions that are make or break. the technicals don’t matter. can always hire/buy technicals when have enough revenue

  2. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. Had there not been some yelling, I would have never heard about this. Please don’t discount raised voices in this matter. They have done me a service. And you as well, the more of us that get on board, the more likely we can negotiate in faith with LL. If there’s only a few of us, they’ll just say ‘screw off.’ If half the grid is up in arms, they’ll have to work with us, or face severely bad publicity and a mass exodus.

    And the last thing Second Life needs right now is bad publicity. It’s already taking a BEATING over this debacle.

    1. The problem is that the tin-foil hat brigade is too large, and this discourages those who want to help, because they end up receiving flak for not going on the offensive with torches and pitchforks.

  3. Also, Second Life sinking would be the best thing to ever happen to OpenSim… the flood of users would be a huge boon to OpenSim, and people looking to profit and create would start finally flooding into OpenSim and making it even better than Second Life. If you believe otherwise, you’re pretty silly.

    OpenSim would finally be able to cast off the shackles of LL’s protocols and methodology. Trust me here, the last thing LL wants is for Second Life to sink and watch OpenSim take over their business.

    1. No. OpenSim doesn’t have its own technology. It depends on reverse-engineering SL. And as for “casting off the shackles”, that’d be the mother of all content breakages and all content creators would be up in arms. OpenSim has no choice but to remain compatible with SL and, if the companies active in it know what’s good for them, they’d better pray that LL sticks around for much longer. Don’t forget also how small they are.

  4. Hard to have a ‘proper, level-headed negotiation’ with someone who refuses to talk to you. LL is only interested in dictating terms – further alienating their users.

        1. They are relevant. They provide services under certain terms of service, which they unilaterally formulate, enforce and modify at will. And their stance on their ToS is always “love it or leave it”, which is something they can get away with due to their dominant market position. Mind you, they enforce their ToS every bit as arbitrarily as LL – if not more. For instance, Google/Blogger has repeatedly refused to take down blogs that published people’s personal info and called for their murder. Or Facebook, which has some of the worst terms of service. Or LinkedIn, which says that everything you say or post there becomes their intellectual property and that they have the right to commercialise it. How is LL any different or worse than these services?

          1. They are irrelevant to my point – which is your finishing statement has no value.
            You say the time is now for a negotiation – however your article quotes from LL’s letter stating clearly they have no interest in debate/negotiation with the community.
            I’d also point out that calling opposing viewpoints the ‘tin-hat brigade’, is not a way to negotiate either. It’s cruel and unnecessary, obviously untruthful, and does nothing to add credence to your opinions/arguments.

          2. In all my years in SL, I’ve seen lots of conspiracy theories. From the FIC bullshit to all the “LL ARE THE DEVIL” screamathons that have contributed just as much as LL’s chronic ineptitude w.r.t. management of its products and services to the dire view SL “enjoys”.

            LL said with Peter Gray’s email “OK, we’ll negotiate, but we’re not reverting to the old ToS.” They have the right to say that, actually. They’re telling people “here’s what we won’t do, but we’re willing to improve our current ToS. Give us your proposals.” I don’t see something wrong with that. Negotiations are seldom unconditional.

          3. The email specifically says they will not negotiate.
            “we believe that it would be more fruitful to avoid further debate…”
            There is nothing in that email that declares any intention to consult users, nor ask us for our proposals.
            Simply that they won’t meet, and may change the TOS further.

  5. Content will not go outside SL. Not OpenSim, not anywhere, since those platforms have no valid IP protection. Linden Lab will make The Marketplace available using Desura. So, you can buy stuff for SL inside the Desura shell. I suspect OpenSim (clones) are not on Desura. If it (OpenSim) would be available on Desura a Merchant would have to Allow (as a seperate option) for it’s stuff to be sold on OpenSim (so that everybody can copy/ modify and upload it).

    1. Perhaps LL is planning to make some sort of API that will enable SL content creators to make their wares available to users of InWorldz or Kitely. But that’s pure conjecture.

      1. One of my old wishes (on the Forums somewhere) is Linden Lab becoming a provider of content for OpenSim derivatives. However as long as OpenSim has holes like Swiss cheese (great for baking) it is unlikely LL will go that path. I don’t think many merchants like the idea of their items being exported to OpenSim because of that.

          1. LL has it’s own power. It created OpenSim, one of their mistakes. My wish is that LL finds a way to protect IP rights across grids and then (and only then) make our stuff available there.

          2. All I can say is “wait and see,” as the only thing I can do is guess what the Lab might intend to do. They are – unsurprisingly – secretive w.r.t their business plans.

  6. Some content creators will stay. Others who need more control over the licensing of their work will go elsewhere. I spoke to two people this week who are working on developing a gaming app and entertainment series using avatars and sets that they originally drafted out in SL. Now they draft their work on their own computers using Open Sim so that any future creations will NEVER be on SL servers. Will SL die because these people take their creativity elsewhere? Nope. And their old objects will stay in the marketplace for as long as they keep selling. But the new innovations will take place elsewhere. Maybe that is best for everyone.

  7. My honest wish! After reading all!
    Grab a copy of snowstorm, ripp all SL content you can, spread it over Open Sim and as Some said here, Fuck You!

  8. Truth must be said, i vent cause i feel so frustrated, by LL refuse to engage more then it is, with part of the community that is concerned about the changes!
    But i also feel that there is no reason to accuse Linden Lab now, as there was never before of trying anything else then to improve Sl and bring more to it!
    Perhaps not as clever as one could judge, but for sure not as the Demon some are painting it!

    1. *sigh* As we speak, there is a discussion process for the amendment of the ToS going on. Don’t expect things to change overnight. There will be talks, proposals, counter-proposals etc. It’ll take some time. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in one day.

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