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