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Linden Lab Amends Draconian Clause in SL's Terms of Service (Months After Anyone Was Really Angry About It)

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Way back in olden times (by which I mean last September), some Second Life users said they were very concerned and angry about a newly added clause in Second Life's Terms of Service, because it made draconian claims over content created in Second Life:

[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...

Some SLers saw the dubious clause as a sneaky bid by Linden Lab to re-use user content from Second Life on other platforms without their permission. But months and months after any SL user has expressed any concern over this clause -- seriously, hardly a peep about it all this year-- Linden Lab has amended the clause:

As part of an update to our Terms of Service today, we have made a modification to further clarify Section 2.3. The updated section still provides Linden Lab with the rights that we need in order to operate and promote Second Life, so you will see that we have retained much of the language as the previous version. However, the updated section now also includes limits that better match our intended meaning, and we hope will assuage some of the concerns we heard about the previous version. First, the modified version limits our rights with respect to user-created content in Second Life by restricting our use “inworld or otherwise on the Service.” Additionally, it limits our right to “sell, re-sell or sublicense (through multiple levels)” your Second Life creations by requiring some affirmative action on your part in order for us to do so. This language mirrors the corresponding User Content License currently in Section 2.4, which has been part of the Terms of Service for years.

Hopefully this amendment assuages any residual anger. If anyone was really that angry at all in the first place. Seriously, while the ToS clause in question was poorly worded, there is no evidence it was ever intended maliciously, nor that the clause caused any noticeable drop in the amount of Second Life content created, bought, and sold, let alone any dip in actual usage of Second Life. As a general rule, most user anger at Linden Lab is 20% legitimate, and 80% misdirected anger over deeper-seated issues. (Which would take two thousand words to even start to explain.) That said, speaking to the 20%: It's a good amendment to make.

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Adeon Writer

There's actually no legal requirement for a ToS to be an unreadable pile of legal techno-babble. Some companies have made the brilliant decision to write them in English:

Here's a great example: https://minecraft.net/realms/terms

DBDigital Epsilon

Hamlet,
With regard to "If anyone was really that angry at all in the first place. " If you really think that, then you are not in SL very much, or have very little to do with creators.

There were meetings with lawyers, several of them were in world and filmed. And I personally know MANY creators that either left SL or at the very least reduced their presence to a shadow of what they had before.

Also Renderosity said that NOTHING from their site could be use in SL. This was a large blow to creators as many used textures from the that site.

So again to say "If anyone was really that angry at all in the first place." Is HIGHLY inaccurate at the very least, considering that some well known sites put a out right BAN on any of their content being used in SL.

DBDigital Epsilon

I should have added, the reason you haven't heard much recently is because those that had issues either left SL for other grids or stopped creating until this was changed.

Ezra

"But months and months after any SL user has expressed any concern over this clause -- seriously, hardly a peep about it all this year"

Is this sarcasm? If not, I'm afraid you are very disconnected.

Also, no, these vague additions to the TOS fix little to nothing.

A.J.

Wow! I mean, Fox News wowee wow.

Yes, that whole TOS thingy was nothing at all. It was barely a speckle.

LL's freshly tossed word salad and non-clarifying clarification is very telling. It was meant to do exactly what this article is doing...shellac the issue and write off people with a legitimate concern about their property as being unreasonable. Just a tiny little subset of whiners who are not one of us.

I mean, really. If this was such a "nothing", why go to such extreme measures as posting that TOS agreement at every possible portal? Nobody gets in without surrendering everything. But don't worry your little pea brain about it. It's just an itsy -bitsy pin prick and it'll be over before you know it.

Mmm hmm.

Desmond Shang

I never really thought they could do much with the rights they assumed last year. Perhaps they could have, but more to the point there were two main areas of concern, in my view:

1) Contracts. No business in their right mind is going to contract anyone for original work, when some third party could do whatever they please with it, indefinitely, anywhere.

2) Insincere partnership. I don't misconstrue Linden as any kind of 'formal' partner, but they are in essence a de facto partner of anyone doing business on the grid. Meaning: if they are in trouble, so are we. And vice versa. When one party suddenly without any provocation says "I am taking a significant share of rights, sign here or get out Now" ~ it's really, really strong evidence that you aren't dealing with a sincere partner, but perhaps something more akin to a pit viper. This affects *all* decisions going forward.

* * * * *

I do agree that the average Joe Resident won't worry too much about this kind of thing. It's a very serious matter, however, for those that invested large amounts of time and creativity into the medium.

Ebbe did the right thing. Yeah, the result might turn out to be C+ result, but this was the first time in years we saw a response to honest negative feedback by sane, intelligent people: Qarl, Shava, &c. Up to now, for years it's been a combination of dead silence punctuated by rah~rah stuff shared with reliably obsequious residents. This is a vast improvement over that.

Supposedly they want the next platform to be creator friendly. For anyone to believe that, they need to be, you know, friendly to... creators.

Arcadia Codesmith

The vast majority of the creator community found the bad boilerplate utterly shrugworthy in the absense of any evidence that the terms had ever been abused (or that they would have held any weight in court when they were clearly unconscionable).

The clarification is a prudent move.

2014

TOS TOS TOS... yet everyone hit the "I accept" button and kept on playing. A big whopdedo about nothing.

Jack Abraham

Yeah, I'm so not-upset about the not-new TOS that I stopped creating in SL when they first changed them. Talking with my partners now about discontinuing sale of our existing items and leaving SL altogether.

Vaki

...Hardly a peep about it all year?

Wow.

Okay. I mean, other than (to my knowledge) every time Ebbe appeared in world, which was actually frequently comparatively speaking, or popped up in forums (which, again, was remarkably frequently), or the numerous attorneys working with LL for months to try to revise the ToS, or the near-constant grumbling from the artist and machinima community...

I guess that's hardly a peep, if you discount all that peeping.

And if anyone was really all that angry about it in the first place...other than all the artists and content creators (someone — Inara Pey, maybe? I can't remember offhand — was maintaining a list for a while...) who left because of the ToS, and then there's all the third party companies, like CGtextures, who amended their terms to specifically forbid their work from being used in Second Life because of the extensive reach of the ToS.

I guess that's no one being all that angry, if you discount all the people who are angry about it.

I'm surprised by this post, Hamlet. When you asked me for a quote yesterday, and I pointed you at my blog post breaking down the legal flaws with this new wording, I thought you might at least acknowledge that the new wording is problematic.

And it is problematic, primarily because it highlights what appears to be a massive disconnect between Linden Lab's leadership and its legal department. If its leadership truly wants a policy that respects content creators' rights and limits the Lab's ability to intrude impermissibly on the works users create while still allowing the Lab to do its job, the legal department does not seem to be able to deliver that policy. And that's unsettling.

Julia Hathor

When that TOS came out last year stating that LL can exploit everything and anything...it put a 'Goodbye Kiss' to any inclination I had to give LL the 'benefit of the doubt' on their (frankly)antagonistic treatment of creators (who are supposedly their 'life's blood'. I haven't created anything new for SL since, despite my customers in InWorldz (who have a foot in both worlds) requesting me to bring in my newest creations.

I see no change with this new TOS. It does not address the concerns of creators when it is just a bit of wishy-washy gloss on the problem.

You think that people aren't still up in arms about this, Hamlet? Most creators are introverts like I am...we'll just quietly pack up and leave... or find new creative outlets that appreciate us. And it definately won't be any new project that LL has a hand in!

R. Crap Mariner

You know that moment in The Crying Game when Fergus has a vision of Jody with the cricket ball, then chuckling and backing off of the pitch?

Yeah, Fergus. That kind of reaction.

-ls/cm

Ciaran Laval

The new TOS changes very little and is extremely badly worded. I am not at all sure why Linden Lab are continuing on this path of such an unfriendly TOS.

The idea that has been hardly a peep all year is odd, it has been brought up regularly, groups have been in touch with LL, Ebbe was asked about it when he joined in January and it was brought up again in discussions about Linden Lab's new virtual world.

The TOS remains a problem, Linden Lab should lance that boil and get back to the drawing board.

zzpearlbottom

It is obvious now that the Tos will never be amended unless to say clear and without any doubt:
ALL belongs to us!

Hamlet Au

"When you asked me for a quote yesterday, and I pointed you at my blog post breaking down the legal flaws with this new wording, I thought you might at least acknowledge that the new wording is problematic."

I'm blogging your post later today, Vaki.

That to one side, the fact remains that there's been no noticeable drop in SL usage or Marketplace activity since this controversy cropped up. Yes, a few dozen or maybe even a few hundred SLers have expressed a lot of concern, but the overall data tells a different story. Like I said before, it's caused nothing like the first CopyBot protest of 2006 or the Open Spacesfreakout in 2008.

Ciaran Laval

@Hamlet Au, that's because unlike CopyBot and Open Spaces, this change doesn't fundamentally alter the ability of a content creator to create or a sim owner to meet tier, it just makes people uncomfortable.

However this TOS is problematic, especially when it comes to collaboration. Linden Lab aren't the only company with a TOS like this but there's a glaring gap between the TOS of a company creating Textures for sale for commercial purposes and the Linden Lab TOS, they are simply incompatible.

Tracy RedAngel

Has anyone ever had their content they created stolen, abused, or misused by Linden Labs?
Please don't say "That's not the issue", because that's just an evasive answer. The question...has Linden Labs ever, in their 11 years of running Second Life, stolen, abused, or misused any content created by residents?

Pussycat Catnap

You know I'm pretty freaking pissed at Congress these days...

But it doesn't mean I decided to "quit" the USA and move my bum to Jupiter...

I think it's been pretty flat out obvious that people in SL were none too pleased by the TOS change.

There has been very nasty commentary on it for some time now, and it didn't let up one bit.

But only the crazies actually try and fly off the planet when these things happen. Especially when there's no other planet to go to.

"the fact remains that there's been no noticeable drop in SL usage or Marketplace activity since this controversy cropped up."

Yeah you know... that's just looking at it all wrong...

SL is a community first, and you need to pay attention to attitudes and general conduct. Not just numbers. Perception is a whole lot more important in the longer picture.

Even if its just the content uploaders / re-propagators that are ticked off... that can viraly spread - and they alone are still a significant community.

But to just pretend like they don't even exist?

That's just irresponsible.

R. Crap Mariner

@Tracy

LL mishandled Emily Short's content for over a month before coming to their senses and setting it free.

I expect equally-hamfisted and unexpected manhandlings of user content when SL 1.0 becomes deprecated (or even sold off) as a result of SL 2.0's launch.

-ls/cm

Ciaran Laval

@Tracy RedAngel That's really not the issue because this TOS is only one year old, for the other ten years the TOS wasn't anyhwere near as unfriendly as this.

However in answer to your question, yes there have been controversies on how Linden Lab have used content, that's why they ended up creating another Flickr group.

Hamlet Au

"But it doesn't mean I decided to 'quit' the USA and move my bum to Jupiter..."

It's vastly vastly vastly easier to stop using a free online service which has a number of direct and indirect competitors (including social networks where you can keep in touch with your SL circle) as opposed to physically leaving a country. Yet somehow, hardly anyone ever really does. But you're kind of right; as I said at the time, angry Second Life users are kinda like all those angry Kerry voters who swore they'd leave the US after Bush won. I think a whole dozen actually did.

Ezra

"It's vastly vastly vastly easier to stop using a free online service which has a number of direct and indirect competitors"

It's also vastly vastly easy to leave products on marketplace and accounts active in Second Life because they cost nothing. It's actually passive income for the already established.

How well is Linden Lab doing in metrics where they actually charge money and customers can speak with their wallet, like land ownership? Oh right.

Serene Jewell

People are peeping about the TOS all the time. I run into people in OpenSim every week who are setting up space to create there for three reasons:

1. The TOS
2. A region of their own with 100,000 prims for $20 a month (fun!)
3. OAR backup and restore (safety!)

Some of them sell the new things they make over on SL. Some leave only the old inventory in SL and are seeking out new markets in Kitely, Unity and other places. All of them are still peeping about the TOS.

Tracy RedAngel

The simple answer to my question above is yes, they have misused content. It is a little disturbing.
No, people aren't going to pay attention or care when some content creator that only a handful of people have heard of cries, "That's it, I'm packing up and leaving!". But it will matter if someone like Truth Hawks (Truth hair) or Onyx Le Shelle (Maitreya) leaves. Granted, we have no way of speculating whether those new worlds will be any better or worse than Second Life. People leave services when there are better perceived options. There's really no other viable (viable being the operative word) option to Second Life. For now. If someone is making serious income from Second Life they're not going to leave because of the TOS. But if there is an option to leave to a different platform where they can still make money, then it certainly will become a factor.

Serene Jewell

People who can create 3D content do have other options for selling their creations. They can sell models on Turbosquid, The 3d Studio, 3D Export, and Renderosity among others. If they learn Daz, there is a pretty large market there. They can print things up and sell them on Shapeways. There is also a market among 3D contractors who have taken on too much work and need to outsource a little.

3D content creators who know modeling software are in SL because they want to be, not because there are no other options. I love SL. I want SL (old and new) to thrive and grow and be awesome. That's why I wish SL would give a little more love to the people who create the "user-created" world that they are so proud to tell the media about.


Tracy RedAngel

Yes Serene, they could, and it's possible some may gradually move over to doing those things. That's certainly not a bad thing, it's aways good to give yourself as many options as you can.
To be perfectly honest, there are some very successful SL creators who, while they do very nice work have very little experience working in other formats outside of SL. I think migrating to another virtual world format would seem less alien than working as a professional freelance 3D modeler. It also opens up a different field of competition where you have people who have years of gaming and modeling experience.

Pussycat Catnap

It's vastly vastly vastly easier to stop using a free online service which has a number of direct and indirect competitors (including social networks where you can keep in touch with your SL circle)
**************
None of which offer what we get in SL.

You make a serious mistake presuming this meant people were mostly OK, because they didn't destroy their own communities in protest...


**************
angry Second Life users are kinda like all those angry Kerry voters who swore they'd leave the US after Bush won. I think a whole dozen actually did.
**************
And that actually motivated us to get active - to destroy the Bush legacy by pointing out and exposing its flaws, and to sweep in Obama.

We now have a coming generation that is arguably more progressive, and we have boosted up common support for some key issues in the areas of LGBT and women's rights, and made people aware of the 1%/99% disparity.

We burned the GOP brand over that.

So... are you trying to saw Dems were ok with Bush, because if so... that shows a pretty poor awareness of recent history.

Nobody fled to Cuba or Canada because that is the traitor's way out.

If you love something, you don't flee - you work to get it fixed. And you put feet to the fire over it.

I'd argue we managed to get a CEO fired over this one.
- I'd call that a successful attention focuser.

Jack Abraham

Pussycat, I manage to disagree with every aspect of your politically loaded example while still agreeing with the essential point. I'll be staying engaged with SL insofar as I can while still using the best tool I can to influence a business: my wallet. I will not be putting any more money into Second Life, and I'll be actively discouraging others from doing so. I'm informing my customers that the reason we're not updating or producing new content is the TOS. I'll confront Linden representatives at every opportunity with my opinion and the business consequences of it. Hopefully, they will eventually adjust their legal verbiage to match their professed desires.

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