High Fidelity founder Philip Rosedale stopped by this blog to comment on the topic of how his upcoming virtual world will protect user-made content, a concern for many SL brands considering or preparing for the leap:
"High Fidelity will protect content by issuing certificates that validate authentic content by providing a proof-of-purchase and link to get your own copy, etc.," Philip writes. "Server operators will have the ability to require all content on their servers to be authentic. As you say, we agree that the most important thing for content creators is to be able to make money selling content if they choose to."
(By "you", he's responding to my point that the ability to reliably earn revenue from what they create is the key requirement for content creators when choosing a platform.) The certificate system he's describing sounds similar to SSL Certificates commonly used on the web today. On the face of it, this is a much stronger form of content protection than the permission system that currently exists in Second Life. In any case, hope to get more details on this from Philip and company soon.
Speaking of which, NWN reader "Leni" recently raised a question about High Fidelity's Terms of Service, which on the surface, seems to make some pretty draconian claims over user-created content (see "License Grant to High Fidelity" section):
You hereby grant to High Fidelity, and you agree to grant to High Fidelity, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, royalty-free, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and sell, re-sell or sublicense (through multiple levels), and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, on and outside the Platform, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same. You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as High Fidelity may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Platform and future improvements to the Platform
Before freaking out, however, keep in mind that that very top of the same section starts with this clause:
You retain any and all Intellectual Property Rights you already hold under applicable law in Content you upload, publish, and submit to or through the Services, Platform Servers, and other areas of the Platform, subject to the rights, licenses, and other terms of this Agreement, including any underlying rights of other users or High Fidelity in Content that you may use or modify.
So basically, the seemingly draconian clause is to protect High Fidelity from infringement lawsuits and other concerns related to user content hosted on their servers, while also giving them the right to access that content "for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support". I'm not a lawyer (but I played one in an off-Broadway, all-stilts production of Inherit of Wind*), but that just seems like common sense precautions a company must take in a lawsuit-addicted age.
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* Stilts and such not actually true.