Linden Lab's controversial new Terms of Service could be made much less troubling with the addition of just ten words, a lawyer with deep experience both with Second Life and intellectual property law tells me. The latest ToS claims rights over "all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats", which has caused much concern and confusion among SL content creators. The wording, SL Bar Association member Agenda Faromet tells me, is probably an effort by the company to create a single policy for its many products (Second Life, Desura, Blocksworld, dio, etc.):
"Linden Lab's actions here are tremendously short-sighted," says Agenda Faromet, "and the entire problem could be remedied by less than ten words. Linden Lab's refusal to understand the needs of its customer base is far more troubling to me than its poor contract drafting."
What are those ten words? Something alone these lines:
"All they need to do is limit their license to uses within the scope of their business purpose," says Agenda Faromet. "People might still be mad, but then it isn't nearly as stupid a license grant."
I'm not a lawyer, so I can't speak to these points, but I can observe that we seem to be seeing a fundamental clash of corporate cultures play out in legal wording. Most of Linden Lab's new executives are veterans of major media corporations like Electronic Arts and Sony Online Entertainment, and are bound to have a perspective that'll change a small company that got its start (and formulated its philosophy) as a scrappy Internet startup advised by Lawrence Lessig.
Agenda Faromet, by the way, is giving an in-world presentation on the new ToS soon; more details when I get them.
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