Unlike the CopyBot Protest, Controversy Over Second Life's ToS Leaving No Discernible Impact to SL Economy
Back in 2006, a technology called the Copybot first appeared in Second Life, and caused so much concern about potential user-to-user content theft, dozens (if not hundreds) of popular shopping spots and nightclubs closed up in protest. (As pictured above.) Shortly after that upheaval, Linden Lab updated their Terms of Service to explicitly make misuse of CopyBot a violation of the ToS, and announced as much on the company blog. You can read about it on New World Notes here, and also [plug] in my book on the making of Second Life [/plug].
Why bring up that 7 year old event now? Because after writing about the protest and concern over Second Life's draconian Terms of Service for several weeks, and posting an open forum I also highlighted to tens of thousands of SL users on Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, and Google+, I can find little or no evidence of direct impact where it matters most: The Second Life economy.
Yes, some SL content creators have said the new Terms of Service has caused them to consider selling their content on other platforms, or start experimenting with those markets like OpenSim-based worlds. But that's a somewhat different thing. (And frankly, it's only surprising and significant that many content creators haven't started looking into additional markets in addition to Second Life years ago.)
Let me be clear: I'm not personally advocating or supporting any kind of protest over Second Life's Terms of Service. It's for content creators to decide how they want to deal with the new ToS (if at all). But as someone who blogs about Second Life as much as possible (and has done so for over 10 years), I try to distinguish between policy controversies that cause much grumbling, but little substantial change to the socioeconomic ecosystem -- and those which have a measurable impact on it. So far, the ToS seems to be in the former category. That assessment may change, but that's where I stand so far.
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