Linden Lab

I know Tzimis Panousis didn’t have Second Life’s users in mind, but this sketch sums up the mindset and actions of quite a few people.

Offended? You shouldn’t be. After reading Inara Pey’s transcripts of the legal panel regarding the ToS changes, I think no one has any excuse for being a nincompoop anymore. All this time while blogging about this issue, I have been trying very hard to remain polite regarding much – actually, most – of the debate on the 15th August change to Linden Lab’s ToS, all the while facepalming like nobody’s business. Far, far too much of what is still being regurgitated comes from people who:

  • Lack basic text comprehension skills,
  • Have a propensity for drama-whoring,
  • Have axes to grind and want to agitate others,
  • Are hypocritical turds; although they go out of their way to offer everyone who never asked them a TL;DR tirade about how much they hate Second Life and the “evil” Linden Lab (if we believe them, we’ll end up believing that the Lab is what caused the Cataclysm as described in the Bible), they stay in Second Life and troll the related blogs and forums with one intention: to spew their bile.
  • Are idiots who mindlessly reproduce all the bullshit that comes from the people that exhibit any (combination) of the four aforementioned attributes.

Of course, I don’t expect the dramacrats, the “OH NOES! THE SKY IS FALLING!” idiots, the prokanoids and the agitators to sit down and honestly review their words and actions. Of course, that’s not to say the current ToS don’t need to be improved. But, as I’ve said before in a far more (undeservedly) polite manner, all this drama is sheer idiocy. Oh, do read Tateru Nino’s take on the matter too. But I digress – she’ll be summarily dismissed as an “LL groupie” or an “FIC member”.

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Mona

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

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; Inara Pey gave an 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 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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Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2pUmX-lU

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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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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