Linden Lab

UPDATE: The meeting will taketook place at UCCSL’s sim:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Angel%20Manor/161/215/29

tosOn the 15th of August, Linden Lab changed its Terms of Service (ToS) and considerable concern has been expressed over how Section 2.3 affects content creators, as the language contained therein grants LL rights that content creators may be unwilling or unable to grant regarding the content they upload to LL’s services, and especially Second Life. In response to the concerns raised, Vaki Zenovka, who is an attorney in real life, announced a panel of real life legal experts to meet in an open forum where the changes, their impact and SL content creators’ concerns will be discussed.

Vaki announced the meeting on her blog on the 15th of October:

Please join me (as my alt, Agenda Faromet), Tim Faith, and VIPO’s Juris Amat — all of us IP attorneys in real life — as we discuss the latest changes to Second Life’s Terms of Service. We’ll take a close, detailed look at exactly what the controversial section of the new ToS means, how it affects content creators (and regular users), what changed from the old terms, and why people are so upset. More importantly, we’ll answer your questions and discuss how the Terms of Service affects your rights now and in the future.

The meeting will be held at 10:00PM SLT (PST) and at the Justitia Virtual Legal Resource VillageAngel Manor. The meeting will be recorded and, given sufficient demand, a second session may be held at a later date.

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See also:

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

On 9 September 2013, stock content provider Renderosity followed the example of CGTextures and responded to LL’s recent ToS change by announcing that it prohibits use of its products in Second Life. This, of course, triggered yet another round of “LL IS TRYING TA STEAL MAH STUFFZ” drama, including various snarky comments from Renderosity users against Second Life users and content creators. In my original post on the ToS change, I have also quoted their announcement verbatim (in case they decide to rephrase or delete it). In that original post, I also quoted CGTextures’ announcement verbatim and commented on it, so for my thoughts on CGTextures’ announcements, this is what I’ll refer you to.

In this post, I’m going to focus on Renderosity’s announcement. As a reminder, you can find it on their website and here. What I wrote about CGTextures’ announcement holds in the case of Renderosity too. Determining how extensively a texture has been modified is not impossible at all. A .PSD (for Photoshop users) or .XCF (for GIMP users) file contains all the layers that were added to the original image, and it is really not impossible at all to determine if a whole texture or a small part of it has been used, or if it has been mixed with other images (either originally created by the user or bought from other sources and adapted to suit). However, this would need a thorough analysis, which could be costly to stock content provider that would want to take legal action against a customer that decided to use a texture of theirs in an SL build. This is something that holds true for both announcements.

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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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One thing that’s always said about Second Life and its clones is that content is created and provided by their users. It’s one of the major boasting points in any discussion on these platforms; providers and users alike take great pride in this fact. So, in this light, these virtual worlds are essentially technical and technological platforms that allow users to:

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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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