Monday, September 30, 2013

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Get Real: ToS Aside, Most Second Life Content Isn't Very Valuable Outside Second Life (UPDATED)

Renderosity Bans Second Life

Last week's posts over Linden Lab's controversial new Terms of Service have generated a lot of interesting conversation (some here, some more here), and I wanted to highlight two harsh but apt comments from readers Masami and Ezra. Responding to the notion that Renderosity and CGTextures forbidding its content in Second Life was going to lead to a mass exodus of SL content creators, Masami argued this:

It seems [SL content creators] 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.

Echoing these points, Ezra noted this: "[T]he technical and creative realities [are] that most Second Life content is utterly useless outside of Second Life." Here's why:

Who would want all the textures for skins and clothing layers created for the default avatar's UV map?

Who would want mesh clothing weighed to the skeleton of the default avatar?

Who would want animations for the skeleton of the default avatar?

Who would want the default avatar at all?

Who would want a bunch of 10 second sound clips?

Who would want a bunch of prefabs with baked textures vs. sets of material maps game engines have supported for the last decade? Yes Second Life has materials now, but maps used for it are tainted with Second Life-only concerns like baked extra info in alpha channels of specular and normal maps, so for those too, who would want?

Who'd want all the triangle dense meshes with no proper resource limitations in mind?

Who'd want sculpties and tortured prims?

Second Life content is a marvel in the way all art is a marvel within constrained mediums, but let's not pretend our Second Life creations are in line with advances in content creation over the last 10 years.

This is all very true. The Second Life content that is most valuable is that which can exist in another form on another platform, after it's been totally recreated, or is already exportable now -- the underlying design and story assets to SL-based roleplaying games, for example, or machinima, which by definition has already been exported from Second Life. And if you're a content creator who makes content like that, you should protect your IP by registering the copyright and trademarks on it. [UPDATE, 10/7: To clarify, while registering the copyright and trademark of your IP is an extremely good practice for a number of reasons, note that it is NOT a remedy against the clause in question within Linden Lab's Terms of Service.]

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Cara

Stop telling people to register their copyright as the solution to the busted TOS!!! Your giving people false information. It doesn't matter if you register that copyright if your giving away HUGE parts of it in the SL TOS when you upload it!!! Please think before passing out tons of bad information to people. -.-

Wagner James Au

In this case I'm referring to content that exists outside of Second Life in another form, which you definitely want to protect through copyright registration. That holds true whatever happens with LL's ToS.

Iggy

Hamlet and Ezra, let's suppose--just suppose--that tortured prims and sculpties are NOT what the Lab would try to market. IP can include brand names, artwork, etc. that might look cool and sell well in other worlds.

Under this TOS, can't LL, say, market cool weapons under the Primus or Trident banner, without the creators' permission?

Theft is still theft, whether it is a 2013 Viper or a battered '69 Dodge Dart. And this TOS amounts to theft.

Tali

So because "most" content is not valuable outside SL, all should be up for grabs? That doesn't make sense.

And as for registering copyright, the ToS states that you "warrant that you own or have all necessary Intellectual Property Rights, licenses, consents, and permissions to [...] authorize Linden Lab".
A registered copyright would only serve as documentation that you own the materials, so you can give a license. LL is *not* trying to take ownership of the copyright. They are asking for a(n unlimited) *license*.

Jo yardley

Try telling all this to the Texture websites, till they are happy, I'll remain worried.

Abramelin Wolfe

'Who would want animations for the skeleton of the default avatar?'

Well, anyone that wants animation for there film or game character models. They would love to get there hands on the animated content in SL. Especially the large quantity of already cleaned, ready to go motion capture data.

Mocap animations often don't fit the skeleton of your intended game character model. This is why we have a process called retargeting to take animations from one skeleton and apply them to another. Its very easy and quick to convert animations this way. It is also perfectly possible to rig game characters for other engines like unity to use SL skeletal animations...Although perhaps a bit of an odd thing to do.

Industry level mocap systems are still very expensive and the cleaned up data is still very valuable for many applications. There are quite a few people with these systems in SL right now producing content. There are also multitudes of people expertly keyframe animating content which can also be converted using the same methods and is also desirable for many applications outside of SL.

(No you cant capture good quality data with a Kinect)


Metacam Oh

So most content is shitty so that means Linden Lab should be allowed to do whatever it wants with it? Brilliant thesis.

Ezra

Just so I'm not misunderstood, I believe Linden Lab should revert the TOS change. I just believe we all should be realistic about the worth of our content outside of Second Life. Believing our content will be sold on Desura for example, which that thread was about, distracts from other more realistic possibilities of the TOS change being abused.

2013

I'm still waiting on the max exodus to Inworldz (Inworldz Users Online: 251) right!

When one of the 5-7 big designers/creators flinches or makes mention of the NWN/SLuniverse/TOS doom and gloom, then I'll worry. Until then, "party on"

Ferd Frederix

Renderosity "products" are not theirs, and they cannot stop them from being used, according to their own TOS.

"Renderosity members remain the original copyright holder in all materials (software and content) provided on the community."

The member that licensed their content - that was once, or ever allowed in SL - controls the license, not Renderosity. And once licensed permissively, you cannot take it back.

Masami

@Metacam

So most content is shitty so that means Linden Lab should be allowed to do whatever it wants with it? Brilliant thesis.

It's not shitty, it's just very hard to market outside SL. In fact it is getting hard to market inside SL too, because new stuff is added every day and older stuff refuses to disappear.

SL is a bit like the music industry of the past. If you want to make a living off your art, you have to sign your rights away to Linden Records who own all the store shelves and radio stations in the country.

zzpearlbottom

No matter how you deny or ignore it, damage was done already, AGAIN, to poor Linden Lab reputation and Second Life, Outside it user base!

zzpearlbottom
Sebastian Fitzhugh

I'm just waiting on the lawsuits to start happening.

Shockwave Yareach

Fine. I'm done.

Their incompetence with sim sales cost me my island home where I had my business, and had games and mazes (which take up huge amount of space) on it. They screwed up the homesteads, so I no longer have an inworld store. Now they want to reserve a right which they don't legally have in the first place and claim ownership of everything I do with SL.

So I have closed my Marketplace store except for one item. This is in protest of the recent TOS change. And it's anyone's guess when I'll tire of paying for land rental -- friends and sims disappearing left and right have made SL as much fun as a parking lot.

I'm in SL to have fun. LL's last 6 years of incompetence in trying to run a virtual world as anything BUT is not fun. So... I'm all but gone.

It was a great experiment -- create a virtual world with a virtual economy and let the users do as they want. But LL couldn't just leave the customers alone with their purchases, could they?

Dartagan Shepherd

This has nothing to do with the fact that the agreement is overbearing, no matter who the artist, the company or the content.

Hanno Tietgens | Xon Emoto

After seeing enterprise being driven away, the Army being driven away, the educators being driven away, many people have become most sensitive to the Lab's policy changes and utterings. Even if this just FEELS like a serious threat to the creative people left in SL, it IS a huge and serious threat to its creative potential, and future—one of the few big assets the platform still has. And not ONE word has reached me from Linden Lab on any channel to provide clarification—a true disaster in crisis PR, once it gets to the core of your brand's reputation.

Remington Aries

odd blog, considering that the centre of last weeks fall out was *artists* leaving SL, not the marketplace people.

I have seen a lot of very shady product on marketplace, and I find it ironic that people accuse each other of piracy within world while remaining very quite about the source of some of these items, particularly mesh body extensions and skin. Some of the former without doubt being literally ripped out of Daz model meshes and the later requiring a published licence from a stock library. Unless these people have themselves and a lot of friends with perfect skin and are good photograpers, that is.

Ciaran Laval

Some of the content would be useful outside of SL, some of it wouldn't be.

The new TOS remains overbearing though, no matter what way the existing content can be used and LL should really address these concerns properly.

Lani Global

FACT: Prim builds can now be converted to mesh.
FACT: Textures can be applied to mesh.
FACT: Everything is valuable and exportable outside Second Life.

fineartzman

A friend lost a graphics contract today because the project was cancelled. Reason? The new TOS. Way to go Linden Lab. Another corporate customer out the door.

Masami
FACT: Everything is valuable and exportable outside Second Life.

The value of SL content outside SL is pretty much zero. Even in SL-compatible grids there is hardly a market for it.

http://cityofnidus.blogspot.pt/2013/09/your-world-your-imagination.html

That blog says there might be a way for LL to peddle SL content to indie game developers. Frankly, that is nonsense, and here's why:

SL content in general has a quality problem that makes it largely useless as game assets. This is because most SL content creators are either unable or unwilling to optimize their products for realtime rendering.

Most meshes in SL are either single-LOD or auto-LOD, depending on whether they are worn or rezzed on the ground. For example, furniture is usually auto-LOD, i.e. there is one insanely detailed mesh in the first slot, and the other LODs are auto-generated. Go to one of those high-profile mesh furniture shops and see how the exhibits behave when you step back a little. Most of them will turn into polygon soup. Merchants will usually tell their customers that the viewer's default settings are wrong and that they should modify the LOD distance factor to keep the high LOD visible at all times. Low frame rates? Blame Linden Lab!

Worn meshes are usually single-LOD because the land impact tax is not a concern for them. The next time you see someone wear fancy mesh shoes, switch your display to wireframe mode. Note that the shoes will not turn into wireframes; their meshes are so dense they will continue to appear solid. Low frame rates? Blame Linden Lab!

Mesh garment topology is usually the auto-generated type exported from Marvelous Designer and similar. Why retopo and bake to low-poly if you can just sell the high-poly stuff as is? Low frame rates? There is always LL to blame.

This is, in a nutshell, the state of the art of SL content creation. Lots of nice concepts and ideas, but poor execution in most cases. It is much more likely for content from outside (Renderosity, Turbosquid, Skyrim...) to get exploited inside SL than vice versa.

zzpearlbottom

I don't mind calling me a poor non gifted creator as i'm not one, i can only grab prims already made by some if mod/copy, and changing them create some unique! So im plame and simple a modder!
And i'm pretty sure LL will not change a word on the TOS, no matter what!
I just feel that Linden Lab deliberately is mining any ones trust on them as a company that does legitimate deals with their clients, is putting in any ones mind, of those that never knew about Sl, that Sl users are just plain thieves and all content is a rip off of any sort, while in fact like Lani posted, SL is now a tool where any can create from a simple square, some that can be used in any other plataform!

Ai Austin

Its not appropriate an appropriate viewpoint... for example we created material for our University regions and use licenced content on our private regions. This same material is used in our OpenSim and other virtual worlds. The arrival of Collada mesh and other portable formats for contents meansw we see Second life as just one platform for our users.

We are clear where we intend others to be allowed use of the content and encourage that where we can with suitable open source, creative commons and by attribution licences, some if which are restricted to non-commercial uses by their originators.

These cannot simply be appropriated in retrospect by Linden Labs or other companies who may acquire their assets.

We cannot allow Linden Labs unfettered rights over such material, yet we are forced to accept the modified TOS just to access our own private regions and continue to support our users in those regions. This clearly needs fixing or complications over inappropriate future use of assets will arise.

elizabeth (16)

if linden do open up SL made content/assets to desura indie devs to purchase for include in their games then that be a good thing

in the long game (as opposed to the short game) it don't make any sense for linden to do that without cutting the asset creator/designer in on a piece of the payments. is just a question of how much

if linden can make a relationship between desura devs and current sl designer/creators with linden as the broker then in the long game that be a good thing for pretty much everyone

elizabeth (16)

ps

just try be more clear

is the commercial relationship between the indie devs and the indie/SL asset/content creators that is the long game

not the actual content/assets that linden hold now on their servers. the actual holdings now and the transition of sl creators to markets beyond SL is the short game

elizabeth (16)

pps (:

if what i write above is true. just say

then why would linden want equal property rights as the creator? is 2 good reasons

1) Licensing: the TOS means that as a individual creator you cant deny any desura indie game dev from including your stuff in their games. the devs dont have to run around and try get a license off what can be 100s of individual asset creators all of whom can have any license they want at the mo sl-style. devs and user/players can get all on the desura store under the one license

2) Copybot Protection: as a property owner linden can delete/remove stuff from their servers at any time that they believe is copybot. like they won't have to wait for a formal DMCA complaint to act legally. is their stuff (as well as the creators) now. even the copybotted stuff. so delete

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