Top Texture Site Forbids Its Content in Second Life After Linden Lab Makes Draconian Terms of Service Change (UPDATED)
Update, 9/12: Read this statement from Linden Lab here.
From 6 September 2013 you are no longer permitted to add our images to Second Life or other Linden Lab products. The use of textures downloaded prior to this date is allowed.
This is directly due to Linden Lab's recent changes to its Terms of Service:
[Y]ou agree to grant to Linden Lab, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license 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), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats...
SL content creator Jo Yardley brought this to my attention, and has written on her blog that this is a "Huge problem for all creators in Second Life". However, in practice, that's not exactly true. I'm not a lawyer, but I do know Linden Lab pretty well, so let me explain what's probably going on with this Terms of Service change:
- Linden Lab, which is in the business of making user-generated platforms, is trying to protect itself from potential lawsuits by making as broad a claim as possible. If they did not, it only increases the chances that a developer who made some content on a Linden platform that subsequently resembles content in an official Linden-made product could claim IP infringement.
- Linden Lab in its 10+ year history has never been plausibly accused of intentionally engaging in content infringement of its own users. (By plausible, I mean in a way that would stand up in court.) It's simply not in the company's interest to do so, because the repercussions would be catastrophic.
- However, content creators in Second Life often accuse each other of IP infringement, and as said above, Linden Lab is probably trying to protect itself from being dragged into those frays with this language.
All that in mind, most casual SL developers probably don't have to worry about the TOS change with their own textures. At the same time, if they're serious professionals, they should officially copyright register or trademark their content before uploading it in Second Life. Don't take my word for it, here's an actual lawyer explaining that very thing. [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.]
And all that said, Linden Lab should probably add some language to their TOS which allays the fears of sites like CGTextures and developers like Jo Yardley.
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