Two highly admired, longtime SL content creators have entirely removed their work from Second Life, in protest over Linden Lab's new Terms of Service agreement, which claims rights over "all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats". Now when you visit the SL land of Tuna Oddfellow and Shava Suntzu (IRL: Fish Fishman and Shava Nerad), you will find nothing but darkness, and a note dispenser explaining why they've left and taken their Odd Ball magic show, which has run in Second Life for many years, to other worlds.
"These Terms of Service would give Linden Lab permission to recreate the show, the methods, the scripts, everything about what we do as well as the images and art primitives, and resell it as a kit, or print posters, create textiles, whatever they wanted," as Nerad explains, "or sell the rights to the art to another company who bought their company, or have that company sell the textures on the open market."
They are doing this, even though they've copyright registered their SL work, and even after Linden Lab has issued a statement saying they respect the works of content creators, raising some very good points in the process:
Fishman and Nerad's Oddball in Second Life (image credit: Tillie Ariantho)
"'Oh, but we wouldn't really [take your content]!' doesn't rate," Nerad argues. She also notes that many large real world corporations and government entities also have their content in Second Life, so Linden Lab's Terms of Service is claiming rights over content it can't possibly claim. "[H]ow does this relate to notions such as Coca-Cola's limited license to creators to use their logo in-world to create fan art? Does that art 'belong" to Linden Lab? I'd think not. Do private logos for Harvard University or the US armed forces automatically devolve to being Linden Lab property due to the Terms of Service?"
And even though they've copyright registered their SL work, that doesn't protect them against all likely scenarios:
"If they [Linden Lab] go bankrupt, I have to establish my rights to the receivers, who will assume anything not locked down is with the property. Date by date. Image by image. How likely might it be that Linden Lab goes into receivership someday, you figure? Want to bet your creative output on it?" (And their show has thousands of copyrighted images.)
So asserting their copyright would be practically unfeasible: "Tuna and I are small fish. This would be worse than the IRS audit from hell, if it went poorly, and relative to many artists, we're likely savvy and relatively prepared." To be sure, many (if not most) SL content creators are not anywhere near as prepared as they.
"And Linden Lab can fix it on their end by replacing that paragraph [in the Terms of Service] with a limited license," she argues. "So why don't they?"
That's a good question. In fact, I'm asking Linden Lab about that very thing now.
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