Thursday, September 26, 2013

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Renderosity Bans Its Products from Second Life -- Concern Over Linden Lab's New Draconian ToS Continues

Right now if you go to the front page of Renderosity, which is an extremely popular community site/online store for graphics content creators, you'll see the latest fallout over Linden Lab's new draconian Terms of Service:

Renderosity Bans Second Life

Full announcement from Renderosity here. Now that Linden Lab's new Terms of Service includes wording which claims rights over "all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats", Renderosity managers have rendered this decision:

"Given Second Life’s new TOS, any Renderosity product uploaded there (even for personal use) is in violation of our license because their TOS is ‘transferring’ the rights [to] them. This is a very disturbing TOS for the rights of anyone uploading items to use on Second Life."

This is the second large content creation site to make a statement like this -- CGTextures did so a couple weeks ago. This speaks to the fact that content creators in Second Life are a significant part of the online content creation community in general. So despite Linden Lab's insistence that they respect the rights of content creators, the negative reaction continues to ripple outward, far beyond the Second Life user base.

Hat tip: Reader Han Held. Please share this post with people who create content in SL:

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Iggy

Does the gaming industry have an award for "best at shooting self in foot?" If so, I nominate Linden Lab for the 2013 honor.

FWIW (and that ain't much, in terms of LL's bottom line) I just moderated an educators' meeting in-world. The attendees were, fair to say, hopping made about the new TOS. Several are in the process of copying their work to OpenSim grids now.

UCMO

I attended that meeting and agree with Iggy, lots of folks are pretty upset about this. I am personally considering pulling items, just to be safe. I am hopeful that the Lab is correcting and re-writing the ToS section at this very moment

wakeupandsmelltheroses

I said it before, they can claim to respect the work of residents, however: IT IS IN WRITING THAT THEY CAN AND WILL DO WHATEVER THEY SEE FIT WITH YOUR WORKS.

If you continue to allow your works into Second Life, legally you don't have a leg to stand on when they exercise the written portion of that ToS in relation to your creations-it is in writing! Get your stuff off the grid now and cash out, people.

Adeon Writer

Tick tock, LL.

Arioch

So, Hamlet, is EVERYONE being paranoid? I think not. LL's new ToS (which are actually a carbon copy of Desura's ToS, actually) are crap and will cause a world of trouble for LL, SL and its economy. If you're sooooo close to Peter Gray, perhaps it's time to tell him that LL's lawyers had better act posthaste to change the ToS pronto. And no, "statements" don't cut it.

Arioch

@wakeupandsmelltheroses: Actually, no. If LL decides to appropriate your work and you sue them, their ToS are NOT above the Law and they'll get hit hard.

wakeupandsmelltheroses

@Arioch

When they changed the ToS and you decided to log in, they say that logging after seeing the ToS window-reading it or not-constitutes agreement. You agree. That holds water legally, you are confused.

RiftRaven

@Arioch: Yeah but lawsuits can be expensive and emotionally exhausting. This is what LL is betting, will keep SL residents from defending themselves.

imho

While I don't' have "a dog in that hunt" - am a bit familiar with copyright and licensing, so here are a few thoughts....

With all due respect, I think some license Content creators/licensors are misunderstanding how running a public virtual world works with respect to having the creative Content/work uploaded by the users of the virtual world and then distributed to thousands or millions more to see, touch, etc. off servers as part of "the Service" one would provide.

In generally - no one is allowed to change your artwork - especially if you have 'licensed' it for some particular use - without your (the Creator's) express written permission. this means no one can change the color, shape, or otherwise the look of your original creation without your permission. And it needs to be in writing.

imho

Also - I believe the point being missed is exactly how a virtual world disseminates and distorts one’s original Content (work/data) that was uploaded onto the servers that run the virtual world. In much of the discussion of what appears to be rather harsh TOS put out by LL, there seems to be a rather limited knowledge of copyright law, licensing, and such.
A few key words/phrases of LL's TOS to focus on:
‘non-exclusive license’ - The ‘license’ is just the ‘permission’ to use the creative work, and the ‘non-exclusive’ translates that the creator of such Content/work can grant anyone else the same permissions. When LL has that “non-exclusive license,” it means the artist/creator license/let anyone else use their artwork too; and LL can’t complain.
‘unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide’ - This should be pretty obvious that if one is running a virtual world, one needs permission to show that stuff anywhere around the world. One ‘could’ limit the use to only North America, or only England, etc., but that would be impractical as far as running a world-wide virtual world. So it should seem reasonable that LL needs that ability, otherwise any artist would be able to come back and say ‘don’t let Americans see this texture’ or don’t let users in Sweden use this animation.” Anyone providing a virtual world – “the Service” – needs this if they are to be truly functionally international.
‘Irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free’ - If one is operating a public virtual world where the users are uploading their own original content, one needs to expect that there won’t be expiration dates on the uploaded material – it only makes sense that the ‘use’ be ‘perpetual.’ Cost-free’ comes in by way of saying users don’t get to charge the virtual world operator a fee to ‘use’ (distribute) their work (textures, etc.) It is not unusual for a creator/artist to charge a few for every “use” (copy) of their original work. Taking that logic to the extreme, then residents would expect a ‘royalty’ (fee) for every time their original Content were copid by LL onto someone else’s computer. In short, don’t expect to upload a texture and then send LL a bill for then copying it onto other people’s computers.
“right and license” – this is a key term – a license is not ownership. It is a permission slip to use something. Licenses are generally for a certain use. This term gives LL permission to do the following to the original Content users/residents upload.
“to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof)" – This is all the stuff that happens to those original files that get uploaded onto LL servers and then sent out over the internet to other users/residents. Anyone who operates a public virtual world does this to the data. This only gives LL permission to put your original content out into the virtual world for others to “see.” LL needs to copy things, needs to record stuff; has to 'distribute' and 'reproduce' stuff for others to see it; LL sells (charges) for certain levels of residency - so they do need permission to 'sell' without, again, paying back the Content provider; and by providing a virtual world one does modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate and make 'derivative works' etc. the original content uploaded - that is what happens in one way or the other to Content in a virtual world.
“or any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same” – Again, this is the stuff that servers do to your original data files. They use software, formulas, etc. to transmit your original work to others. This also includes the ability for the public virtual world provider to use your work in advertising, marketing and promoting SAME. Considering that the content in SL is almost 100% created by the users/residents, it only is really logical that LL needs that permission to be able to show off any inworld content for advertising, marketing, or promotion purposes.
“You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Service and future improvements to the Service.” – This statement is very clear – by using only the word “include” it means it LIMITS their use of your ‘Content’ – original work - ONLY for the purposes of debugging, testing, etc.; and ONLY for stuff connected for them providing “the Service”
LL is in the business of providing ‘THE SERVICE’ – that is, making all the data files that make up the virtual world Second Life available to users who logon.
Bottom line on LL TOS - When looking at the TOS, one should try to think what it is like operating a virtual world available to the public – particularly a world where (mostly) all the content is created or provided by the users who logon. LL is taking all that original stuff (data) and pushing it around, changing that original Content so other users can see and use your content.
For example: Bottom line on a Content provider pulling their content one might think they would realize that LL needs to be able to manipulate the content they have licensed to others so that it functions inworld. In fact, by content providers ‘pulling’ their content off SL, they have succumbed to just the thing LL is trying to deal with. LL does need to have the ‘non-exclusive’ right to do all that needs to be done to show off the user's Content inworld.
The question might be: How does a Content Provider/licensor grant their customers the use of their licensed Content in SL if that Content has to be copied thousands or even millions of times by LL to put on the computers of other SL residents?

Tali

@imho, I agree with your description of the various parts about non-revokable, worldwide right to reformat etc.
That is common wording for all hosting providers, and it took quite some years and mistakes to stabilize on that.

Where it all falls down, though, is when LL decides to change one part of that common wording: "for the purpose of providing and promoting the service" to "for any purpose whatsoever". Notice that it is "for any purpose whatsoever AND to market and promote". While arguably somewhat redundant, it is *not* a limiting clause on the rights.

This switches it from a right to do all the technical things needed to actually send data across the wire all over the globe (like you describe), to quite literally what they write: A license to use your content for anything they want, including reselling it under any license they choose.

Given how the boilerplate wording evolved and is now standard across most hosting providers, I do not understand why LL felt they needed to - and could - reword it. (Unless, of course, they truly do mean to turn your work into active assets they can trade. We are running up against Hanlon's Razor here. Take your pick).

It really, simply is that lack of the "for the purpose of providing and promoting the service" which completely changes the scope of the otherwise necessary boilerplate rights, and which 3rd party sites now point out makes the ToS incompatible with their licenses.

Shava Nerad

@imho

I used to be, effectively, an entertainment licensing paralegal, a member of LIMA, and negotiating seven figure contracts with F100 companies on my own and handing them to a lawyer to proofread. I usually came out pretty well on that.

So I think I know what I'm saying when I tell you that what they have in the TOS could be easily fixed by turning it into a LIMITED LICENSE from the pretty much UNLIMITED LICENSE they revised it to in August.

Tali has it pretty much nailed. It isn't restricted to internal use. It's transferable to third parties, for example in the case of M&A or bankruptcy (or if they felt like it when money got tight which I find unlikely but has been proposed by others).

That they have to have property be able to be sold internally is just dandy. They could split that out as a special case of resident-to-resident sale or resale and everyone would feel so much better.

There are so many ways to fix this and vendors, artists, and creators would not be pulling out.

So if it takes 2-4 hours of legal time to fix it and it's causing all of this unrest in the community? They've already spent more than that in PR...

Why haven't they fixed it?

We've done just about everything for them but drafting the language for them.

Having the language be the same across all products can't be that important.

If you were running a trucking freight company and an air freight company, you wouldn't have the same liability and safety and terms of service for both companies. It's not rational. Lawyers tend to be rational people. Certainly they'd come around if that were the only issue.

Perhaps your opinion isn't that humble -- or it's Humble's opinion?

Cube Republic

When you think about it, say hypothetically linden lab want to sell SL, and the residents wanted to keep playing, wouldn't they need a TOS like this to do so?

RiftRaven

@wakeupandsmelltheroses: "Yeah but lawsuits can be expensive and emotionally exhausting. This is what LL is betting, will keep SL residents from defending themselves."

(I put the wrong user name in my previous post, this is the correct user name)

CronoCloud Creeggan

Mountain, molehill, for free PR at LL's expense.

LL does a CYA TOS and people start incessant drama. Lighten up.

There have been a ton of "the sky is falling" over various LL decisions over the years and the sky didn't fall then and it's not going to fall now. Be patient, and they'll eventually clarify or explain. I'd also lay odds that renderosity's TOS is broader than people expect as well.

Keith Selmes

At first I did think this was just another case where a company phrased things poorly, and would rapidly issue a new version. However LL have already responded, and in essence have said

a) there's a clause buried somewhere in the SL TOS that already negates the new LL TOS
b) we're all stupid for not knowing that
c) LL don't care anyway
d) and we should trust them

I doubt this has a terrible impact on them, there are so many comitted SL users not much will obviously change. However they have discouraged yet another batch of regular users and cut of content sources, so it's like another step in a downward spiral. They're not attracting enough new users to make up for this. Unless they are really planning a rights grab, it's very stupid behaviour.


Masami

In Linden Lab's forum, creators are threatening to pull out of SL and warning that their departure will turn SL into a wasteland.

Delusions of grandeur.

It seems they are not realizing that SL is literally drowning in content. There is just too much stuff on the marketplace competing for the almighty Linden Dollar. Each creator actually pulling out of SL would improve business conditions for those who stay. Also, stopping people from monetizing CGTextures and Renderosity content will benefit those who create meshes and textures from scratch. Nothing wrong with that, if you ask me.

And again, what is the alternative? Inworldz and Avination have already shown that "If you build it they will come" does not apply to virtual worlds. SL is, first and foremost, a social network. People will not leave their friends and communities just because some OpenSim grid has a marketplace too. They will not throw away years worth of inventory and restart from scratch just because a few creators are unhappy with LL's new TOS.

There will be no exodus. It's all talk but no action because the choice is between a business on LL's terms and no business at all.

DMC Jurassic

We pulled our business from Linden Lab around April 2013 after making a 4-region investment for approximately 6-years, including several premium accounts. Considering the change in ToS now, it appears our decision to leave Second Life was the 'right choice'.

The current ToS makes any sensible case for future return business and/or investment in Second Life practically unworkable.

We spent over $40K investment on SL only to have Linden Lab provide average customer support and change their business model many times virtually invalidating our investment. Fortunately, we have learned a lot about virtual worlds and 3D virtual environments, and thus have since successfully tested our own test grids operating within our own company servers offline.

I just removed billing information for our final remaining premium avatar.

The question I ask to any would-be SL content creator or land owner is: "Considering the current Second Life Terms of Service (ToS), what Business or enterprising Individual can afford to spend or invest 3, 6, or even 9-months of their lives developing user content or a region for SL users with virtually no guarantee of control or copyright over their work?"

The current ToS is a deal breaker Linden Lab. Revise it, or in our case, never get our business again.

"The current ToS contradicts the very content creation user premise SL was built upon."

SL is now nothing more than a "Game" and Linden Lab is cashing out on all Second Life players. Play it for your own entertainment, or otherwise, play it at your own risk!

zzpearlbottom

Sadly i don't see that there will be any changes on LL Tos in a near future that will ensure and remove any doubts!

zzpearlbottom

But i still wonder if the solution would not be much easy then any thinks.
Just remove the option to upload!
Build in world, period!

Ajax Manatiso

LL doesn't want to sell you stuff. The reason for the new TOS should be obvious. LL has a legal obligation, under its old TOS, to investigate all copybot claims. Of course, with their skeleton crew of service people, claims were backlogged and piling up fast, so LL had to either hire more people to investigate claims -- or -- come out with this new TOS. They own everything anyway so all claims become invalid. Saves them on salaries but it sends out the message "copybot all you want, we ain't gonna do nuthin." BTW -- I pulled all my stuff out of SL -- and keeping my stuff on Renderosity.

Arcadia Codesmith

Linden Labs has the right to cover their asses... but not by stealing our pants. This is an unconscionable contract of adhesion, and prospects of defending it against a lawsuit are iffy. They need a rewrite and they need to do it transparently with creator input. Broad agreement that the terms are reasonable is the only solid legal defense for an adhesive TOS.

Keith Selmes

remove the option to upload ???
cut off the neck to cure the headache ?

zzpearlbottom

Back to basics!

zzpearlbottom

Be sure im kidding, but what who is kidding with us 1st? It was not time for LL to rectify the Tos already?
And i have to agree with one thign, after i read (and i did) the comments on the renderisity posts i must say, screw them!
When some says, Sl! get a life, i piss on those!

Keith Selmes

I thought it might be a joke. But with LL you never know!

Yes, some remarks at Renderosity were a tad harsh, some people there seemed not to be very much in touch, in fact, living a bit in the past.

Keith Selmes

I think it's true that SL is primarily a social network and a game system.
There is still some academic presence there, and I've noted Maria Korolov's opinion that it's still the place for educators to network, even if classes take place elsewhere. And for now I think that's true, it's the central location that most people involved with 3D worlds have an account and are familiar with. But my feeling for a long time has been, it's mainly entertainment, it's like the gambling industry, you shouldn't spend any more than you can afford to lose.

Many of us didn't get involved with 3d worlds for a social life, we went there because of involvement with training, education, or business meetings. For that, a private OpenSim like MOSES or a service like Kitely are more appropriate.

To me, the two services that are evidently healthy and growing and continually adding new features and users are Kitely and Cloud Party.
I haven't looked closely at Cloud Party for a while, and it's time I did, bcause it's changing rapidly.

Kitely I have been watching, and it seems to offer a more flexible and cost effective solution than SL or other OpenSims, very well planned and competent both from the business and technology aspects and with excellent customer service. It's early to say whether it will grow the social life that SL has, although I think it will, but it already is an impressive service for the education, business or private world user.

The growth of other options doesn't mean SL will disappear. It has too many committed users who will not just up and leave, but it might have trouble getting new people in to replace those who do decide to go.

Rex Cronon

Do you think that the new ll tos is draconian?
Maybe you think is poorly written?
Do you want ll to change the the tos?
Than come and vote here: rcds.nfshost.com
Lets show to ll that we stand united.
If enough of us do it, than maybe ll will listen.
After all we are its customers and supporters.
We are the users and creators of the things that fill this virtual word.
I don't know what are our chances of success, but I know that is better than doing nothing.

Rex Cronon

this is the actual location:
rcds.nfshost.com/blog_show.php/?id=_blog_09262013091334_llsl=Rex-Cronon

fineartzman

I've been meaning to get out and investigate the opensims. This is just the kick in the pants I needed. There's an interesting world out there. I was shocked to see I could get 2 regions and 100,000 prims for $5 a month at Kitely. I'll always use SL for networking, but 100k prims for $5? I cannot resist that.

Renmiri

The only thing SL had over Opensim was it's years of content and the ability to keep it secure. On Opensim you are at your host's mercy.

Well now LL has made it clear you are at their mercy.

I'd rather give all my IP for free on Open Source than let a multi million dolar company rip me off. They want my IP ? Sure, let's see how much money LL can make with something available for free for anyone using Opensim.

Can't fight LL stealing your stuff ? Give it away yourself and get all the good will and credit to the person who deserves it: you, the creator.

fineartzman

Well they have a marketplace on Kitely that promises inter-world purchase and transfer of items with permissions intact. Of course there will be people hacking and stealing. I look it as the itunes music example. Most people will pay a small amount for real goods even though they could steal them for free. InWorldz has marketplaces too. Maybe better to take my chances with the new people and systems if LL is planning to steal my stuff anyway.

Emperor Norton

Petty impressive how LL gets on everyone's hate list. Like repeat of the Dune and Battlestar Galitica stuff a few years ago.

Wolf Baginski

From my experience, I've thought SL has always been in a bit of a grey area, as far as Second Life is concerned. Most of what is sold there couldn't be used in SL, then Mesh came along. And this tipped the balance.

Before Mesh, about all I can think of that would be usable in an SL context were the texture packs, things like pictures of real fabric patterns that could be used via such as Photoshop to produce the texture for a 3D model. Maybe a few animations, but they depend on the rigged skeleton, and the SL figure is different to most.

And SL really doesn't work well with the much more complex sets of mesh data used for most CGI.

The thing is, getting that texture into an SL-usable format might be a one-way function. LL wouldn't have a copy of the original texture. But a Mesh object is something that LL, via Desura, could sell to somebody making a game mod. And the new TOS allows LL to do that.

I wonder what TurboSquid has to say about SL? I haven't checked that site for a couple of years, but they sell low-res game-quality models, and that is open to the same SL -> Desura resale path.

Just what were they thinking?

pixels

It seems that LL is covering their asses and assets with this language should they decide to sell SL or shut it down.

I seriously doubt they would sell individual content and the fact that the content is still protected by IP copyright and belongs to the creator, despite where it happens to reside, would be a snarl fest in court. And should it come down to that, it would more likely be a class action against LL than a bunch of individual David's going up against a virtual Goliath.

But anyone who hitches their original content to a vr world someone else owns -- that's not very smart. If content creators are all a flutter over the TOS, they should NOT create content for any virtual world they themselves do not own.

Besides, so much stuff in SL is lifted from texture and 3D library sites. And then there's the nauseating plethora of mesh clothing templates which is turning SL into Walmart.

I rather miss the pre-mesh days when there seemed to be a lot more originality in content creation.

What LL should be concerned about though is the competition that offers a lot more bang for the buck when it comes to sim pricing and the number of prims on a sim.

As someone noted above, other VR worlds are simply far more affordable. AVN (Avination) charges $40 USD for the first two months and $60 USD per month after and the rate for NGO/EDU sims is $40 USD/month. Those are the prices for a full sim with 45K prims.

Growth and stability issues will continue to be challenging to other grids but that was the case when SL first popped onto the scene. SL was successful because they were the first to really pull this off in addition to being very ambitious in their goals and they had some capital behind them.

Given time, other VR worlds will be just as good as SL.

So while the other worlds may not be populated as much as SL still is, for those who want to build sets for machinima, special art projects, closed community RP or edu sims, SL is no longer the only game in town and it is pricing itself out of the market.

LL seriously need to come up with competitive pricing offers.

But technology also evolves...

Let's not forget there's that new "game changer" that Phil Rosedale is cooking up.

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