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
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.
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.
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?
- LL recognises that it makes money from enabling SL’s content creators to sell their wares.
- 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.
- LL is not going to revert to the previous wording. Period.
- 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).
- A scrutiny of the recent changes to Second Life’s ToS – page 6 (this blog)
- Terms of Service | Linden Lab (Section 2)
- ToS changes: Legal panel discussion – audio recordings and notes – by Exotix (Inara Pey)
- UCCSL group sends letter to Linden Lab – by Daniel Voyager
- Email from Peter Gray to United Content Creators of SL – Google Drive – Plurk by Indigo Mertel
- Peter Gray’s email to UCCSL on Google Drive
- ToS changes: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by short-sightedness” – by Exotix (Inara Pey)
- Coverage of ToS-related issues on this blog
- ToS-related articles by Exotix (Inara Pey)