Tuesday, October 08, 2013

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Linden Lab's Controversial Terms of Service Could Be Reformed With 10 Words, Says IP Rights Lawyer

Agenda Faromet SL lawyer Linden Lab ToS

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.):

"I think what Linden Lab is trying to do is consolidate its many new services under one set of policies, much like Google did when it consolidated its services under one big ToS and privacy policy," Ms. Faromet tells me. However, she adds, the search engine giant got into some trouble for doing so: "Google ended up having to explain itself to the FTC when it made its drastic Terms of Service and privacy policy changes." She goes on to add this:

"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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Hector Cupril, Jr., Esq.

I have an even better 5 words solution. "Creators move to OpenSim."

Ai Austin

Nonesense.. this is not simple lax legal draftng... nd thes uggestion is not helpful... most company articles and areas of defined areas of business are essentially open ended ande asily modified anyway. LL knew what they were doing when reversing the previous clear policy for an individuals or orgganizations rIghts over their own creations.

Now what about content uploaded on private regions, content on regions not licenced for genereal use, restricted rights material, material with some specific licences and by attribution licenes, etc, etc.

LL really have made a mess up heremd nave made is consider of we need to (disruptively) actually start ro selete already uploaded oc tent, let alone the current koratorium on ulloading any new content intil this matter is resolved.

Thankfully openSim is there for our rescue.


Personally, I'm very impressed by what Kitely is doing in response to this mess.



Dear Linden Lab:

Here are ten words that go to eleven:

"We ran over our lawyer with his own BMW. YouTube here."

Watch the YouTube favorites pile up.


I can't really say why Linden Lab's talent seems to be telling its significant users to get lost. I can say that this mess has got some of those significant people looking carefully at beginning exile communities in Kitely. Once that door opens.... well, you've heard it before.


The Tier Is Too Damn High Party

I feel either content creators should retain all rights to their material, or, rather then content creators giving up all rights, LL should pay content creators out of a pool of royalties, a kickback if you will, so content creators receive some compensation, are all covered.

Realistically, since ToS's are not negotiable, this kind of agressive corporate overreach has one solution: vote with your feet.


Does anyone realize that the ToS language is old news? It's been like this for several revisions now. If you don't like the ToS, don't agree and go someplace else. You won't see me on FB for that very reason. I do not agree with the ToS.

Shockwave Yareach

"you hereby grant LL the right to store on its servers, in perpetuity, all sounds, textures, and creations you create in SL. Legal ownership of the IP remains with the creator, but materials may not be deleted from LL asset server (indeed, there is no way to do so). You understand that deleting creations in SL would cause damage to the world (as items people purchased would then vanish) and so any and all data uploaded to LL servers will forevermore remain on LL servers. You the creator will still have all legal rights and ownership -- you simply authorize LL to have a copy on the server with no possibility of deletion when you upload/create in SL."

Simple, fair, does the job, covers LL's ass-et servers, and doesn't reserve a right they don't legally have to steal something anytime they feel like it.

Inara Pey


"Does anyone realize that the ToS language is old news?"

Incorrect. The ToS update of August 15th is a marked departure from previous ToS versions.

Firstly, it applies to all of LL's properties, not just Second Life (something I pointed out to be the case back in August when it first appeared).

Secondly, it has a substantial re-writing of several sections (notably Sections 7, 10 and 11).

Thirdly, it appears to have been boilerplated from a ToS in common use elsewhere (see: http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/tos-changes-never-attribute-to-malice-that-which-is-adequately-explained-by-short-sightedness/), which incorporates language not previously found within any prior version - notably Section 2.3, which is the section causing content creators, artists and performers considerable angst and upset.

Scarp Godenot

Saying they need to make all of their rights grab language the same is admitting that they have no idea that their products are different from each other.

This is the worst kind of bureaucratic thinking. When you lose your reason to a random made up rule that you yourself institute and then treat as though it was handed down by god herself.

There is no excuse for this. None.

Of course we are just spitting in the wind, because Linden Lab probably isn't even aware of a controversy as they completely ignore the Second Life community on a regular basis and have done so for years.

Just bend over kids...

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