User Content

linden-lab-logoThis post is certainly going to be one of the most difficult for me. No, it’s not personal, intimate or anything. It’s just that what I see makes it very difficult for me to maintain a civil tone – and it’s not only about Linden Lab’s decisions, but also about the way things are affected by the appalling mode of discourse in SL forums and blogs on important matters. I’ll try to do the best I can, though.

It’s already well-known to pretty much everyone that follows SL-related news that the changes incorporated to LL’s ToS on August 15th, 2013, caused significant controversy among SL users, most notably certain content creators. They also spawned two controversial announcements by CGTextures and Renderosity, which I have covered rather extensively here. It’s been nearly a year since then. Throughout this time, much was said, and very little was done. On Wednesday, the Lab announced (in an almost self-congratulating way) that they amended Section 2.3, which caused the controversy. For comparison’s sake, in my previous post, I covered the announcement and also linked to a Google document where I present both the post-8/15/2013 ToS and the new ones side-by-side.

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linden-lab-logoLast August, Linden Lab revised its Terms of Service. The most important changes were made to Section 2, which governs content licences and intellectual property rights. While the entire section was overhauled severely (you can read about the changes in greater detail here and here; I have also covered the issue as exhaustively as I could), it was the changes to Section 2.3 that caused certain content creators to protest in various ways, and led to two controversial announcements from stock content providers CGTextures and Renderosity – for my assessment of these two announcements, please read here. Today, July 16th of 2014, the Lab announced that it has amended the offending section.

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Allegations of IP theft and copyright infringement are extremely common in Second Life; all you need to do is have a look at social media used predominantly by Second Life users. Personally, I’ve lost count of the often heated discussions regarding who has copied or ripped off whom, what, how, to what extent etc. Oftentimes, the allegations and claims made in such discussions are wide of the mark. Sometimes they’re correct. This, of course, shows that there is a certain degree of confusion regarding fair use and copyright as they are applied to Second Life and similar virtual worlds (most notably OpenSim).

Thus, someone with actual knowledge needs to step up to the plate and inform people. Personally, I can’t really think of anyone more suited for this task than Vaki Zenovka. People who watched the ToS debate closely will remember that, back on October 19, 2013 Vaki (through her alt, Agenda Faromet), an RL attorney, along with other RL lawyers active in SL, held a legal panel to provide proper, precise and concise information on how LL’s new ToS really affect users and content creators. The panel was very successful and answered crucial questions, thus helping to counter a number of widespread misconceptions. This, however, is not the only informational initiative that Vaki has participated in. Last year, together with Tim Faith, another RL attorney (SL username: Yoss Kamachi), she held a panel to inform and educate SL content creators on the topic of copyright and fair use for SL content creators, and they are going to repeat it this year.

As she comments:

We did this last year and it was really successful, so Tim and I are doing it again this year. Are you interested in learning more about what we mean when we talk about “fair use”? Would you like to hear some actual lawyers talk about what it really means, what the current state of the law is, and how it applies to content creation and use in SL?

Of course you would.

So, tomorrow, Saturday, March 1st, 2014 and at 10AM SLT, Vaki/Agenda and Tim Faith will host this legal panel again, offering a great opportunity to those who missed last year’s panel and/or need clarifications on issues like LL’s current Terms of Service, Intellectual Property and Fair Use. The panel will be held at the Justitia Legal Resource Village. Of course, questions are welcome.

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Mona

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

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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