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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

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Laetizia Coronet

Does this makes us scabs, Hamlet? I'm not joining the strike and by the looks of it, neither are you.

Hamlet Au

I'm not sure what it's meant accomplish or what statement it's intended to make, I'm hoping the organizers can discuss here while they're on strike.

Kit Meredith

Hi Hamlet, I don't think we mean to ignore you, but our discussion is already going pretty strong over here.

Tiessa Montgolfier

I'm doing the opposite as the strike, I'm making more noise about it. I explain why I'm continuing to post in my blog.

IYan Writer

>I'm not sure what it's meant accomplish or what statement it's intended to make

I thought journalists are supposed to do their own research?

http://gwynethllewelyn.net/2008/03/26/second-life-bloggers-require-clarification/

http://secondlifebloggers.ning.com/forum/topic/show?id=2021825%3ATopic%3A11666

Hamlet Au

Yes, I did read Gwyn's thing; in fact, I linked to it in this very post. I'm still not sure what the strike's meant to accomplish or what statement it's intended to make-- as opposed to other strategies.

Rheta Shan

Dear Hamlet,

I suspect your chance of actually understanding what the strike « is meant to accomplish or what statement it's intended to make » would rise quite a lot if you would deign to take notice of the explanotory posts on the picket pages, and the posts they link too (it's called research, I think, though not being a real journalist liek you, I wouldn't know, of course). I'd suggest the links by iYan above, or this one maybe : http://tinyurl.com/6mtww7.

Always glad to be of service to the noble cause of journalism. Truly yours,

Rheta Shan (avatar)

Hamlet Au

Rheta, that tiny URL is a link to your blog post-- which I also already linked to in this post.

IYan Writer

It's a symbolic gesture. After unsuccessfully trying to explain our complaints to Robin Linden and getting nowhere (to paraphrase: "Yes, in theory we could suspend your account because of a perceived TM violation - but we *promise* we will not do that"), this is the next step.

A bit longer explanation on why I personally am doing this: " Can you bring considerable change to the environment? No. But you can have great fun trying to bring change about. There is nothing more powerful than joining a band of Davids, waving their puny fists at Goliath. And, as you know - every so often, David actually wins."

Rheta Shan

Dear Hamlet,

you don't say :) ? I guess that was just my way of telling you it might be a good idea to read the explanatory posts linked there (hint : they are linked under « as documented here, here, and here »).

Awfy sorry they are a bit lenghty, and that you'll also have to wade through the comments and some third party sites (and the comments there, too) to get a take on this. I fear that is the nature of political issues, not to be understood by one sharp glance at the first three sentences on display, however shrewd the glancer, and I apologise for putting you through this.

If it helps, I can offer that Gwyn (or me in a pinch, if she's not available) does a Q&A thingy with you (like for Tateru Nino, who did one of these, she called it « interview », weird, no ?), which would give you an idea of the intent, and what else we do, did, or plan to do...

Truly yours,
Rheta Shan (avatar)

Hamlet Au

Thanks, IYan, that's the kind of perspective I was inviting when I opened this forum. For this blog, I'm still talking with the Lindens in hopes of getting more clarification on their end.

Renmiri Writer

Hey what happened to Babbler ? The new "Symbolic Translator" is not nearly as good. I used Babbler a lot on my sim, attached it today and it's mute :(

starcomber Vig

I believe many people have good respect for Gwyn, I do since before joining SL in an active fashion as I do today. My issue with her initiative is a matter of understanding what this is going to accomplish and why. Linden Lab has every right to protect identity above everything and as paranoid their detailing of these rights may seem in the updated Guidelines, LL is legally fair and bound to law. I publicly invite Gwyn to speak out louder today and not go silent the very moment ppl need to understand more about her claims. A protest needs to lie on solid grounds and in this case it could be me but ground to this I can not see.

In order to make things clear I press Gwyn to post and Hamlet to host Gwyn's renewed claims about the matter on nwn for a larger audience to be able to make their opinion.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

I'll try to keep it simple...

1) It's thanks to fansites (blogs, e-zines, 3rd party websites about SL products and services, companies using SL) that Linden Lab, thanks to a very generous policy (embodied in the Fansite Toolkit trademark usage rules, released May 2004), that Second Life enjoyed such an overwhelming explosion in growth — from 10,000 to 13 million registered users.

2) Linden Lab's own marketing and promotional efforts were very limited (some scattered, boring press releases — 30 in five years; some appearances by Linden speakers on some conferences they've sponsored). They relied almost exclusively on the "fans" to promote Second Life.

3) With the new guidelines for using LL's trademarks, LL did a very nasty legal trick. They made a violation of LL's new trademark guidelines a bannable offense.

So now effectively what this means is that if anyone in the world writes something *positive* about Linden Lab, any Linden employee is allowed to immediately ban the corresponding avatar. No questions asked.

If you wish your avatar back, you need to sue LL for that, and prove in court that you had no intent to infringe the new trademark policies but just wished to promote LL's excellent platform... outside of SL.

But you'd be banned first.

There is absolutely no problem for LL to ban avatars whenever they wish, for any "offenses" committed in-world (including, but not limited to, any infringement on LL's trademarks). That's section 2.6 of the ToS that we have all agreed with when signing up to SL.

There is also absolutely no problem — in fact, it should be *encouraged*! — to have LL send cease & desist letters or takedown notices to all fansites that are perceived to be in violation of LL's trademark usage guidelines. These are fought in court, like they should.

It is, however, a completely different question when people are banned from a service that they've been aggressively promoting world-wide, under a 4-year policy that *encouraged* that promotion, and their only recourse is to appeal to the courts to get back access to LL's services!

It's not just an issue of "freedom of speech". It's effectively shutting down the current network of worldwide evangelists of LL and SL, by banning their avatars — one by one — disallowing us to talk about SL any more.

Or, if we do, it's at our own risk — I certainly will continue to risk promoting SL! — but that's a personal choice that not everybody is willing to take.

Now, Robin Linden (and probably not only here) repeatedly stated that this was nothing of what LL intended, and that they certainly won't "ban first, ask questions later", and that this behaviour was never intended.

If that's the case, why persist in adding section 4.4 to the ToS — and force us to sign it, or be excluded from SL? LL's claims on the trademarks are enforceable in any *court of law* world-wide. LL doesn't need to threaten anybody with a ban — they can simply send them a c&d letter.

The purpose of the "strike" is just to show that LL's most enthusiastic supporters are not happy about being threatened to be banned for promoting SL. So we stop promoting SL — by refusing to talk about SL — until there is a clarification.

If Robin Linden's repeated statements are in fact the official position of LL, the ToS *must change*. We cannot sign a contract with LL that states the *opposite* of what LL's VPs are claiming. Only one of them is correct.

Which one is it?

And where can we know for *sure*? Even a "blog post" with a "clarification" is not enough. A signed contract with LL has far more force of law than a "statement". "Statements" can be retracted at any time; contracts are valid until refuted in a court of law.

Nobody really believes that LL is acting under badwill, but that they just intend to prevent both genericide and dilution of their trademarks, and aggressively take down the abusers. This is all that LL's most enthusiastic promoters wish as well. However, that's not what the ToS *says*. We cannot accept LL's "goodwill" when they force us to sign a contract with them that states exactly the opposite of what they (allegedly) intend. Either their lawyers have no goodwill at all, or they have misunderstood what their management wishes. In either case, it's obvious that the contradiction has to be removed somehow.

After the strike is over, we hope that someone with a bit more sense at LL gets in touch with their legal advisers and have a long talk with them. Robin's aware that we requested a further round of conversation with them — either directly, or, well, after they brief someone at the LL's management, granting them powers of clarification — but clarification that solves the ambiguity (ie. a change of ToS), not simple "statements of goodwill" which are nice, but legally, not worth anything.

Skeptics point out that the impact of the fansites on the real media is very minor. Just to give some anedoctal evidence, only four hours after 30 bloggers announced their participation in the strike, a major newspaper immediately covered the issue. There is nothing surprising there. It was always like that — it's truly the millions of SL users that feed the journalists the stories about SL.

The strike is short — deliberately so — and will finish with a rally on Governor's Mansion in Clementina next Sunday, so that we can get some video footage for the TV networks, and pictures for the magazines, and not only nice text articles on newspapers.

Afterwards, we still have about 60 days until getting banned for promoting SL, and there are already a few very creative initiatives planned ahead :)

Hamlet Au

Gwyn, I understand the reasoning behind the protest, I still don't understand why a three day boycott was chosen to be the most effective response. Most SL bloggers just post content once or twice a week, if that, so how is a 3 day lapse even going to be noticed or seem out of the ordinary? And due to the way Technorati and Google archive content, isn't awareness of a strike through the blogosphere (and then into the mainstream media) actually *lessened* by a content boycott?

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