Friday, July 18, 2014

Crap Mariner on the Second Life ToS Controversy

Hi there. It's me. I'm back again.

The subject of ToS 2.3 has come up privately, so I thought I'd bring it up in here in order to stick all of my GoS feet and shoes in my mouth.

What's happened so far? Well, here's my biased and paranoia-fueled summary:
  • Back in August 2013, Linden Lab made some changes to the Terms of Service that looked to many like an over-reach and a content-grab.
  • Several third-party content sites such as CGTextures prohibited SL users from uploading their textures to SL because of the ToS.
  • Rod Humble and Peter Gray insisted that it was not a content-grab, some wiser heads realized that it's the ToS and not the smoke and mirrors around it that matter, groups were formed, and... um... not much else happened.
  • When Rod left and Ebbe arrived, he said that he was looking into the problem.
(If you're looking for a full unbiased history of the ToS 2.3 issue, read Thinkerer Melville/Selby Evans... or Inara Pey... or Mona Eberhardt... or Ciaran Laval. All have conducted themselves in a rational and level-headed manner with dignity and journalistic integrity.)
Flash forward to this week, and lo and behold, Linden Lab made a big noise on their blog about making a long-demanded change to Terms of Service 2.3:
http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Updates-to-Section-2-3-of-the-Terms-of-Service/ba-p/2777874

Here are the Terms of Service:
http://lindenlab.com/tos
(48,000 words, according to Tateru Nino. Sorry, Linden Lab, but you're 2,000 words short of a NANOWRIMO novel, and twice as boring.)

The difference between the two can be summarized as follows: That blog post is full of crap.

There are a lot of blog posts on the subject. One in particular is Mona, who points out the actual changes made:
http://monaeberhardt.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/linden-lab-amends-section-2-of-its-tos/#more-2329

Others followed suit:
http://sl.governormarley.com/?p=4113
http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/lab-updates-section-2-3-of-their-terms-of-service-will-it-calm-doubts/
http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2014/07/linden-lab-tweaks-terms-of-service/
http://slnewser.blogspot.com/2014/07/linden-lab-updates-terms-of-service.html
http://dwellonit.taterunino.net/2014/07/16/second-life-terms-service-part-problem/
(feel free to google for more.. Thinkerer has had a few updates over the past few months)

Interestingly, an attorney in SL looked over the changes and came to a disturbing conclusion:
http://insertfunnyname.wordpress.com/2014/07/16/linden-lab-whiffs-the-tos-again/

And most telling is CGTextures calling bullshit on Linden Lab:
http://sl.governormarley.com/?p=4117

But I think the strongest indicator that the Linden Lab blog post is full of crap is that James Wagner (Hamlet) Au swallows it - hook, line, and sinker:
http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2014/07/second-life-terms-of-service.html

He actually believes the blog post's claims despite all evidence to the contrary.

Really, dude. Stick to writing books, hawking the Oculus Rift, and having beers with the Labbies, okay? You're embarrassing yourself, and you're embarrassing us worse than the 80% with the misdirected anger.

Now where was I...

Look, the odds of Linden Lab selling a content-creator's pixel-panties in RL are zero, and I laugh when I see the mesh-makers cringe on various forums and sites. Yes, they rake in some bucks over their stuff, but outside of SL, not even the Japanese would buy nonexistent pixel-panties from a bullet train vending machine

If there's anything that has actual value in RL that could come out of SL, it's writing. And I'm a writer.

My take on it, scattershot-style as usual:
  • This has been and continues to be a thorn in the side of collaborative writing, whether it's content creation or peer-review and sharing of material that might one day be published professionally.
  • The Terms of Service is a typical Silicon Valley over-reach and quite a few have said that it is not defensible in court. They are claiming rights that they don't have and cannot demand.
  • If you have content that is original and copyright-protected, you do have the right to accept the ToS and then copy it back out to Word or Notepad or Google Docs if you don't have it backed up already. It shows intent that you do want to continue using the service, but want the opportunity to remove the material you do not grant the right to.
  • If Linden Lab can't effectively grow their subscriber base or retain interest in their flagship product, they're unlikely to have the skill, competence, or prowess to exploit user-made original content in the ways your paranoid fevered brain worry about at night.
  • If you have content in textures, notecards, or objects, you already agreed to the August 2013 ToS. Doing anything rash about it now is a bit too late. (But now is a good time as any, I suppose.)
  • Music streams do not travel over any part of Linden Lab's service. It's from source to Shoutcast/Icecast server to your client. Musicians and Deejays can get their pixel-panties out of a wad, now.
  • Unless Linden Lab has an infinite number of monkeys listening to Voice and transcribing everything you say at open-mikes, I think that's relatively safe for original spoken-word content.
This is why I do not notecard, texture, or text chat my stories within SL. I do not offer up my stories in notecard form for line-readers. When I perform them over voice, I'm confident that the imaginary rooms full of transcription monkeys are too busy flinging shit at each other to bother listening and typing down what I say. And I make it clear that the Weekly Challenge and my daily stories are not covered by the ToS and they are Creative Commons 4.0 Non-Commercial share-and-share-alike. (Or is that up to 5.0 now?)

So, in the end, I'm disappointed in the fact that the Lab is doing this, lying on the blog about the nature of the actual changes, and expecting people to swallow their bullshit and call it Starbucks. (Bullshit Mocha Latte, anyone?)

But I plan on staying in SL, enjoying my pretty park, my pretty bridge, my pretty friends, and my pretty me (with those pixel panties, no less) until somehow Linden Lab tries to fuck that up too.


PS: At least SecondLie is having a blast with all this, right?

11 comments:

nicki-clary said...

As always, you have cut through the crap and sorted it out - thanks! Now I'm heading off to get some more digital panties.

Rhianon Jameson said...

I try not to pay attention to things like this, but one can't help noticing the rhetoric. My entirely uninformed guess is that (1) the changes in the ToS in August were because Linden Lab wanted to do X and some lawyer said they needed the new ToS to have the right to do X; (2) X is nothing particularly nefarious - I've read speculation that it could have something to do with the new virtual world that was recently announced - so that content creators of any sort needn't worry that the Lab will rip them off. (2) is more or less what Crap wrote.

People making money in SL should understand that, however important that revenue stream is to anyone personally, it's a drop in the ocean in terms of a real business making real money. Trying to steal that drop isn't worth any company's time and effort. Much as I appreciate Crap's stories, the same goes for them, too. (Not that taking low-cost precautions, such as pointing out how the stories fall outside the ToS, is a bad idea.)

I'm no lawyer, but, as screwed up as IP law is, I have trouble believing that, for example, JK Rowling reading a bit from "Harry Potter and the Onset of Puberty" in SL makes Harry the property of Linden Lab. Could the Lab claim rights over works created entirely or partially within SL? Could the Lab sell "A is for Avatar" because the illustrations are of SL avatars or (hypothetically), Botgirl and Crap exchanged in-world messages over the text? That seems like a tougher call, but I think it's also unlikely. Adobe doesn't claim any rights to the images of a celebrity when a magazine uses Photoshop to make her look less wrinkled, and for good reason.

It seems to me that life is too short to worry about this sort of thing. If content creators want to worry themselves awake at night, it should be over nefarious individuals stealing, not the Lab.

Mr. Crap Mariner said...

@Rhi - That's a track I did not choose to address, but let me gloss over it briefly and hamfistedly here:

The most realistic danger is in LL launching SL 2.0 and the deprecation/end-of-life process for SL 1.0 going haywire in unexpected directions. The ToS appear to make the unlimited rights to content in SL transferable. What if SL 1.0 is sold as scrap to individuals who ARE nefarious, as we've seen with other properties passed between corporations? (They locked Emily Short out of her content for a month or two before coming to their senses, after all... what other boneheaded moves do they have in their playbook?)

No, I don't think that LL has the manpower or skill or competence to act in a nefarious manner with our content. Residents of Silicon Valley can only be so willfully evil. But through copybot and impermanent permabans and other boastful failures, they have proven themselves to be poor guardians security-wise for the pixel-panties crowd, as can be seen with Lilith Heart creations growing all over OpenSim. And I dread that they will drop the ball again when it's Last Call and Closing Time for SL 1.0.

I would not mind being proven otherwise, though. (Proven otherwise... not given a blog post that only SAYS that the mission was accomplished when it wasn't.)

-ls/cm

serenejewell said...

I haven't had time to examine the word-by-word changes yet - my weekend reading project. I am so glad there are bloggers doing the heavy lifting of closely examining the TOS.

Regarding your comment about Lilith Heart's products being all over OpenSim. Heart Botanicals actually sell products on the Kitely Marketplace. She has them marked for export which means that anyone on Opensim can purchase them for use on their own region. You can't assume the Heart trees you are seeing are copybotted.

http://www.kitely.com/market/product/3722694/Heart-Maritime-Pine-Trees



Mona Eberhardt said...

Crap, I'll paraphrase Umberto Eco here. He had said "the problem isn't Berlusconi, but the stupid Italians who vote for him."

Likewise, the problem isn't Hamlet Au. The problem is the people who still take him seriously, respond to his requests and queries, read his blog, and consider him to be a viable source of information and commentary.

Mr. Crap Mariner said...

@seren

Interesting... however, I'm seeing Flickr posts from another content creator that had their stuff stolen and transported to InWorldZ now. Yeah, people hate DRM, but if there's no way to tag digital content to secure value for the creator, there will be theft. Only an entity as large as Apple with iTunes or other digital content clearinghouses/cloudstreamers can ensure people have the option to play fair and pay fair, but it comes at a price of reduced royalties which threaten the livelihood of the creative class.

-ls/cm

Mr. Crap Mariner said...

@mona

Hamlet is entertainment value, and his comments are a good way to check in on the gullible and crazy classes who continue to mistake his posts for valid commentary or reporting.
(Just like Prok's blog was, I suppose.) Every now and then, you'll see a Desmond or other rational-type in there, slumming by offering their valid rebuttals of Hamlet's six-impossible-errors-before-breakfast.

-ls/cm

serenejewell said...

@crap

Certainly copybotters are stealing content from creators in both Second Life and OpenSim. The question at hand was whether Linden Lab is stealing or planning to steal content via the TOS.

As an aside if someone sees stolen content in InWorldz they need to report it to the InWorldz grid manager. First they might want to check the InWorldz market to make sure it's not legitimately for sale there. Lately I've been seeing people get upset when they see the same content in OpenSim that they saw in SL because they don't understand creators are selling in multiple marketplaces.

Shinigami Kayo said...

I always thought the heavy handed ToS was designed purely to stop having people sue the Lindens, for lost stuff, inappropriate handling of stuff, marketing third parties on their server stuff..etc. Now if someone sues they say go away, we technically own it all and thus can freely take and give as we feel like and you have no leg to stand on as a grievance for lost of profit or other perceived slight.

Mona Eberhardt said...

Incidentally, Crap, I really have to call bullshit on both CGTextures and Renderosity.

http://monaeberhardt.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/revisiting-the-announcements-of-cgtextures-and-renderosity-re-lls-new-tos/

I've explained (again) in the post I pushed out yesterday why you need to grant LL and other virtual world providers certain rights to your content.

Obviously, CGTextures and Renderosity have a problem with things like you going to your virtual world provider's tech team and saying "look, this thing I made, it doesn't work right. Is it a bug in the system's code, or am I doing something wrong?".

They have a problem with you using their precious stuff to make your own builds and sell them through SL's or Kitely's or InWorldz' marketplace.

If they didn't, they wouldn't have highlighted the exact rights LL and other virtual world providers need to provide their services to their users.

These announcements by CGTextures and Renderosity affect OpenSim as well. Hell, Renderosity's EULA even considers cloud storage and content-sharing within a creative team to be non-kosher.

As for OpenSimmers... They'd better read the sodding announcements and what has been explained about their impact to their favourite virtual world platform, rather than get their knickers in a bunch. But I digress...

Mona Eberhardt said...

@Shinigami:

If a contract of adhesion contains clauses that break the law, it doesn't matter what the contract says. The law is above the contract.