Opinion

Continuing my analysis of paragraph 5 of Section 2.3 of the new ToS, I want to focus on an aspect not really touched upon by most of the people protesting the “for any purpose” clause. It’s the issue of moral rights, which is introduced in paragraph 4. This paragraph is a completely new section which, as said, concerns moral rights for user content and, at first, seems more than a bit odd. Let’s have a look at what it says:

Except as prohibited by law, you hereby waive, and you agree to waive, any moral rights (including attribution and integrity) that you may have in any User Content, even if it is altered or changed in a manner not agreeable to you. To the extent not waivable, you irrevocably agree not to exercise such rights (if any) in a manner that interferes with any exercise of the granted rights. You understand that you will not receive any fees, sums, consideration or remuneration for any of the rights granted in this Section.

As ON SL comments, moral rights are not something US courts are generally swayed by when they try intellectual property cases. Many states, however, do have laws concerning moral rights in copyrighted works. For instance, a waiver of this sort makes sense in a state like California, which was the first state in the USA to provide for any sorts of moral rights in copyrighted works, would make sense. Moral rights, as Wikipedia tells us, include the right of attribution, the right to have a work published anonymously or pseudonymously, (n.b. This right is being eroded in our days by several social networks’ “Real Names Only” policies and also by several “intellectuals” who seek to discredit others because of their anonymity or pseudonymity) and the right to the integrity of the work.

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UPDATE (21 October 2013): I added one paragraph in the end of the article with another adverse implication of the new ToS – Many thanks to Exotix (Inara Pey).

In August, shortly after the acquisition of digital distribution service Desura, LL changed Second Life’s Terms of Service. About a month later, the changes in Section 2.3 of SL’s ToS were picked up by the community, leading to heated discussions everywhere (such as the forums). On Thursday, I presented a long post covering as many aspects of this matter as possible. I believe now is the time to break things down, in order to cover each particular topic. This is an important issue and, if we are to offer something constructive to the community, we must first understand the real impact of these changes. First, let’s have a look at them, as documented by ON SL:

Section 2 became largely a revision of Section 7

This means, in short, that the old Section 7 has now been incorporated into the new Section 2. More specifically:

  • The new Section 2.1 incorporates the old Section 7.6
  • The new Section 2.2 incorporates the old Section 7.7
  • The new Section 2.3 incorporates the old Section 7.1 and Section 7.2
  • The new Section 2.4 incorporates the old Section 7.3
  • The new Section 2.5 incorporates the old Section 7.4
  • The new Section 2.6 incorporates the old Section 7.5
  • The new Section 2.7 incorporates the old Section 7.6, Section 7.7, and Section 7.8

Of the entire Section 2, it is 2.3 that sees the most significant changes from the wording of its counterparts in the old Section 7. Other parts of Section 2 have changed as well, but these changes are minor and don’t point to any change in Linden Lab’s policy.

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About two months ago, shortly after the acquisition of digital distribution service Desura, LL changed Second Life’s Terms of Service. About a month later, the changes in Section 2.3 of SL’s ToS were picked up by the community, leading to heated discussions everywhere (such as the forums). Now, let us have a look at the changes made, as documented by ON SL:

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In Real Life, we have all witnessed the paranoia and even maliciousness of the corporations that “create content”: from the likes of Kluwer and Elsevier to the companies behind such organizations as the RIAA, the IFPI and the MPAA, they have all been going on about how “piracy kills music”, about how even a single photocopy that a student might make of a single page of a scientific book “hurts their business” and “deters innovation” and such.

Of course, as proven multiple times by such great resources as TechDirt and Ars Technica, this is all bullshit. Pure and utter bullshit. First of all, the RIAA has been proven to be lying off its teeth about the supposed impact of piracy. Matthew Lasar of Ars Technica called the RIAA on its lies here. TechDirt debunked the bogus data of the US Chamber of Commerce (fabricated at the request of the “content industry”) here. Even the (overly) conservative Cato Institute called the copyright industry on its bullshit, in a seminal article titled “How Copyright Industries Con Congress“.

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