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Friday, December 18, 2009


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Arcadia Codesmith

Making an archive copy may be "okay" as an exercise of fair use rights, but porting my work into another world? Cease and desist. If I didn't tell you it was okay at point of sale, then it's not okay. If I want my work to exist elsewhere, I will port it myself.

Mark Young

IMO, yes, its all OK. The expectation that bits purchased for one medium should be reusable in another medium is evolving. It used to seem reasonable that you had to buy the same IP *again* for new platforms, formats, etc. but I think that notion is shifting as the number of new modes of use increases. The explosion of platforms and mediums makes us wish that content support would converge and be more portable.

Adric Antfarm

Just because something feels like it should be does not make it so.

When someone markets and sells you an item in Second Life, you right to personal backup is not harmful to them. You taking that item off-world where it was not intended to be sold or may not even look and function right is indeed harmful to them.

When someone sells an item on Second Life they are chosing to do so. For that item to end up on OpenSim or wherever where they do not choose to be in business and have no idea what is going on is you assuming your rights trump their's.


This all comes down to SecondLife's dirty little secret doesn't it?

Under the EULA (that little bit of legalise most people don't read when they first log into SecondLife) Linden Lab own *all* rights to *all* objects created within SL. The only intellectual property rights maintained by the "Creator" are for the works that they originally uploaded (animation files, textures etc).

Any "payment" you make to "purchase" objects in SL does *not* constitute ownership or convey any rights to the "Owner", but affords you rental of the dataspace used to store the object's information. The L$ is *not* a currency, but merely a "transfer convention".

Legally (under this agreement that we all signed our agreement to) taking a copy out of SecondLife can only be performed with the express written permission of Linden Lab. Any time this isn't done - whether it be by someone "stealing" content for nafarious purposes, or "moving" content to another grid, or even simply backing up their inventory - the EULA agreement is broken.

Many, many arguments can be had regarding precedent set by LLs actions, whether the EULA is fair, or whether LLs standpoint and EULA are morally wrong but the above is the bare (and usually painful) facts.

The impression that creators have sole rights to every part of every object they make is an erroneous one.

LLs failure or apathy to prosecute when the average person breaks this agreement should not be seen as a ringing endorsement or confirmation that removing such data from their servers is in any way "legal".

It continues at their whim alone, not that of the "creator", and discussing the merits of inter-grid items or Copybot and all the rest any further is quite simply pointless.

It's not our decision to make. It's Linden Lab's.

Tenshi Vielle

It really depends on what the creator intends you to do with the item once purchased. Let's be honest here, the amount of money you pay for one item in SL is not the same as it would be in RL. If you want something on another grid, the polite and proper thing to do would be to contact the creator and ask their permission or, failing permission, request that they build it in the other grid.

This isn't a free for all.

Arcadia Codesmith

When you buy a dress, a pet or a chair in a virtual world, you're not buying an object, because there's no object to buy. You're buying the right to execute code on the server that will combine specific graphics, 3D models and possibly audio and scripting files stored on the server to allow the client software to render the physical appearance and behavior of an object.

You are not buying or even licensing the files that permit this presentation. You have zero rights to the individual textures, models or sound files that permit "your" object to be displayed. For a complex object, odds are good that even the creator doesn't have those rights for each component -- even if they wanted to allow export, they couldn't rightfully do so unless each and every one of those files was original work or duly authorized for export.

A non-digital analogy would be to a play. If you buy a script in a bookstore, you gain certain rights in regard to the physical obect, the script, but that does not convey the right to perform the play -- that's a seperate set of rights that you have to negotiate with the rights-holder, a process that usually involves greater compensation than merely buying the script. If you want to translate the play into German and perform it in Berlin, that's another set of negotions and another fee. And if you want to tape the performance and sell the video, not only is that more negotiation with the rights-holder, but now you have to get every performer to sign off as well (and they may be entitled to royalties each and every time the video is shown).

Hamlet Au

"Linden Lab own *all* rights to *all* objects created within SL."

As I understand it, Sable, LL claims the rights to the data associated with the content as it exists in Second Life (which makes sense, as it's on their servers), but makes no claims on the underlying IP rights associated with the content. Which again, speaks to the need of content creators to copyright/trademark register their content, so those rights are meaningful and enforceable in SL and beyond.

Coughran Mayo/Dick Dillon

A smart content creator should be delighted if someone buys an item to take to another VW platform. You get an economic benefit from a user of a world where there is not economics yet. It's like someone coming to the US, buying a pair of jeans and taking them home to Tibet. At the same time, creators should be explicit that a single purchased object should not be rezzed in two virtual worlds AT THE SAME TIME. With normal "no copy" items within SL grid, this is not an issue but when a copy can be generated, it could become one.

Maria Korolov

The issue of resale seems to be at the heart of this.

Of course, none of this discussion applies to closed worlds with EULAs like Second Life -- a World of Warcraft sword is owned by WoW, an SL object, owned by Linden Lab.

However, in the OpenSim universe, objects do exist as separate things -- as XML files. The same way that a Webpage, say, exists as an HTML file and not just as a collection of images and text.

As with all intellectual property, when I buy a license to use it, I am legally allowed to make a backup for personal use. If I buy a record, I can make a backup on a cassette tape. If I buy a video game, I can make a backup on my hard drive.

If I need additional rights -- such as the right to distribute the work, or publish the work in a public forum -- then I need to buy those additional rights from the copyright holder.

So if I'm a business owner and I buy an office chair from a creator on OSGrid (or from a website), I expect to be able to use a single instance of it in my private virtual setting (my private office on a private grid, for example).

If I intend to use it to furnish a public facility -- such as a conference center where I rent out space -- and especially if I will require multiple copies, I will request a site license from the content creator.

If I intend to resell this item in a furniture store -- whether on OSGrid or on my own grid -- I will need to get a distribution license.

This license, by the way, needs to be obtained from the legal person who created the content or acquired the copyright to the content -- not from a pseudonymous avatar.

It would be nice if there were central repositories of free-to-use, royalty-free content (similar to the royalty-free stock photo sites) that people can use to get free items to furnish their OpenSim builds. The OSGrid has the beginnings of this with its General Store, but it's currently difficult to search and use. A central repository (or several such repositories) will also make it easier for copyright holders to protect their rights, in that they will only need to check a few places to see if their work is being illegally copied. And repositories which are sufficiently large and comprehensive will also discourage people from making illegal copies of goods to pass along to friends and colleagues -- since those friends and colleagues can easily download legal versions.

It would actually benefit professional designers to place free items (such as out-of-fashion or discontinued items, or promotional items) on these repositories -- not only for the free publicity they could get, but also to help train people not to steal content.

-- Maria Korolov
Editor, Hypergrid Business (http://www.hypergridbusiness.com)

Doreen Garrigus

I believe backing inventory up to guard against inventory loss (servers do choke) is fair use.

Taking it to another grid may or may not be fair use, depending on a whole great number of factors, including what rights the creator was selling you in the first place---and what rights the creator had to the component pieces of the virtual object.

Keep in mind, though, that the music industry got bitten for trying to sell the CD and the mp3 separately. It is fair use to copy your CDs to your mp3 player. You don't have to buy the tracks in a different format, so we may find that we are not required to buy our virtual objects per format, either.

Second Life's whole permission system needs to be revamped to acknowledge that they are no longer the only grid out there, and to give creators the opportunity to set a multi-grid price, should they wish to do so. The Lab is doing exactly that.

Juanita Deharo

Unless it has changed substantially since I last looked, copy bot systems like Second Inventory don't just copy the object, they copy, and give you access to, all the files that were used to make that object, including textures, sculpt maps etc. Whilst many creators might be happy enough to have their objects move across boundaries, I think few would be happy with the way copybots go about making that possible.

Tateru Nino

SL users don't have any fair-use rights to back up or duplicate data-files stored in SL, except as permitted by the Lab. The TOS seems pretty unambiguous on that score.

Hamlet Au

What clause are you referring to, Tateru?


You have no license to export anything you didn't create period.

And to be crystal clear a civil violation is a violation of law. If you don't like the laws then you can figure out how the system works to change them or obey.

Oh, and BTW, civil disobedience reinforces and promotes bad lawmaking. The more these people promote TOS violations the harder things will get for them and their cause in the long run.

If you want to be in a free content utopia then why don't you close your SL account and go to some alternative place that does not obey the laws of the land. I'm sure those places have a long term future. Not.

Hamlet Au

What TOS clause are you referring to, Ann?

Hamlet Au


"We’re sometimes asked why Residents are allowed to have or sell copying devices. The answer is that there are legitimate uses of a copying mechanism. It’s the infringement that we don’t allow and won’t tolerate."

Tateru Nino

3.3 - covered this earlier in the week: http://www.massively.com/2009/12/15/property-second-life-backups-and-you/

Hamlet Au

That's a highly debatable reading of that clause, Tateru; while Linden owns the data on its servers, a back-up copy of SL content is *not* on its servers and is not data that it owns. So I don't see anything there explicitly forbidding fair-use time shifting with 3rd party programs not on their servers. Did you consult a lawyer when you wrote that post, or are you claiming expertise to make that inference?

Hamlet Au

Also, if your reading were correct, that would seem to prohibit making SL screenshots and machinima, since those are also copies of data on Lindens' servers. Are you saying those are prohibited by this clause as well?


OK Hamlet I want you to go use DRM cracking software to crack Kindle and make a human readable copy to your hard drive and explain how that is perfectly OK.

Or do you think Amazon's Terms of Use are OK but not Second Life's terms of use that are pretty much identical in this area. Now go hire a lawyer to explain what I am talking about because it is you that has to perform the due diligence not everyone else who already has.

Doreen Garrigus

There are a couple of issues with all of this.

The first one is detailed nicely in a New York Times article about copy protected ebooks and the consumer uproar they are creating. The gist is that while it is legal to lock ebooks down so they may only be read on one device, it makes your customers angry---just like it did when music companies locked CDs down.

Should eBooks be copy protected?

The second one is that everyone seems to be treating the TOS (swimming in amateur legal interpretation up to its eyeballs)as though it is a document that supersedes US law. It does not.

Remember when a federal court threw out parts of Second Life's Terms of Service?

Tateru Nino

Absolutely, Hamlet. Like anyone else's property, your use of it is prohibited except where they allow it. And it *is* allowed in some cases.

The whole situation may or may not be lawful. We agreed to it, and only a judge can resolve such a dispute. However, this TOS isn't the one that was in force when the Bragg case came up.

This is a whole new TOS that's been hammered and polished to reflect a whole new kind of ownership to what was the case in the old days and to present it firmly.

Hamlet Au

That's a fascinating interpretation, Tateru. So it's your contention that Linden's current Terms of Service prohibits any copying of Second Life data on their servers, even fair use back-ups, or republishing it as screenshots or machinima?


Ever been to Tuna Oddfellow's Oddballs? What you see on the screen during his performances carries a Creative Commons License.

I run a Public Photo Garden so anyone using it has a perpetual royalty free license to use the images they make there for any purpose including commercial.

When people ask on the forums if it is OK to film in various regions they always get told they need to check with all parties involved.

When I film and there are other avatars present I ask if anyone objects.

There is a reason for all that permission asking. I have yet to see anyone be told no. People tend to like free advertising. However, considering what sort of things people might do with videos or screenshots, it might be wise to place conditions on them such as cannot be used for certain types of activities, etc.

So yes there does happen to be a solid requirement for people to be subject to litigation for using content without a license. There are journalist escape clauses you are familiar with. Those clauses have their limits.

Tateru Nino

@Hamlet Yep. Of course with screenshots and machinima, the use of Linden Lab's property is within a tacitly authorized framework - though there's separate intellectual property issues with creators - and *that* is subject to IP-law, but also allows fair use.

It's not really as complicated as it sounds. The IP belongs to the creator, with all the rights, restrictions and fair-use exemptions that go with that.

The data representations, we have all agreed, belong to Linden Lab, to be used and accessed only in authorized ways, and aren't otherwise tractable to fair-use exemptions, except when accessed in authorized ways.

See? Simple :)

Doreen Garrigus

Linden Lab's Terms of Service do not trump federal law. If they are found to contradict federal law, they will be thrown out when challenged---unenforced, as in the Bragg case.

It happens with companies' ToS all the time. They all write restrictions in that are unenforced and unenforceable. MySpace did, and Lori Drew was acquitted.

The language in the Second Life ToS seems to be of a CYA sort. They don't care what you do with the items in your inventory, as long as it is legal---fair use, or within the agreement you had with the person you purchased it from. But they don't want to have to reimburse you for it if they accidentally make it disappear.

Tateru Nino

There are plenty of spots where there does indeed appear to be such a contradiction in the TOS. The matter of ownership of data-representations doesn't appear to be one of those. Remember, there's no purchase taking place here, because there's no change of ownership.

I think the only part that might need a little additional scrutiny is the validity of the rights-assignment which tends to be a fairly fluid piece of federal legislation and precedent.

A more interesting question is whether you agreed to the terms of service believing that you acquired ownership of virtual goods that you paid for.

Doreen Garrigus

"One of the most exciting aspects of Second Life is its vibrant marketplace for virtual goods and services. Second Life has a fully integrated economy built on the residents' ability to buy and sell their virtual creations."

Tateru Nino

How did you reconcile that statement with the contents of the terms of service? Do you feel that it is misrepresentation?

Melissa Yeuxdoux

It's going to take a consumer revolt. At some point I will want to have a presence in multiple virtual worlds, and at that point vendors can kiss my patronage goodbye if I can't use what I purchase from them wherever my avatar is. I will publicize, to the extent I can, which vendors are reasonable in that respect, and boycott those who are not.

Doreen Garrigus

I think the PR people wrote the statement I quoted and the lawyers wrote the ToS.

I believe LL truly intends for people to own their goods---They have promoted it that way and that's what made this platform different from the others. Their reputation is built on it.

But they cannot reimburse us for inventory loss if a server malfunctions, or if they ban us and delete our account, or if they make an upgrade to the system that breaks our stuff. That would open them up to too many costs and too much litigation. The lawyers wouldn't stand for it.

I'm with Melissa, on this one. The future is a Hypergrid. We'll all want to be able to move from grid to grid with a stable avatar identity. That will require that we be able to take our inventories with us. Eventually, we'll only buy things that we can do that with.

Right now, however, I'm sensing an opportunity for content creators, and I hope they are paying attention. Hey everyone---I'm willing to PAY MORE for content I'm allowed to take with me into other worlds.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

Oh, there is absolutely no problem for content creators to distribute content among different "SL-compatible" grids (SL included) and not violate any ToS.

All you need to do is to create your content in an OpenSim box *first* (if you don't want to trust a third-party grid operator, just install it on your own computer), and use Second Inventory or a similar tool to upload it to Second Life.

Then you can use that same tool to upload it to any OpenSim grid you wish your content to be available as well.

Since you're not ceding authorship or intellectual property rights to LL when you upload/create content on their servers, this will allow you to use your content on *any* grid really. Of course, LL will "own" the data representation of your content on the SL Grid, but who cares?... the data representation of your content on any OpenSim grid will be different anyway. So long as you can prove that you created your content *outside* SL *first*, and did *not* back it up from the SL Grid, you'll have no problem, no matter how good LL's lawyers might be :)

Of course, they *could* change ToS and make sure that all property rights are transferred to Linden Lab once you use their services for anything. I hardly expect that to happen (specially now when there is a "nice" alternative like BM, and a economically-feasible alternative like IMVU), but it's a possibility for the future.

In the mean time, just develop on OpenSim first and copy to SL next, and you're free to do whatever you wish with your own content.


If someone sold you milk in the real world, but only on condition that you could only drink it, you could not cook with it or even drink it outside your home, would you buy it?

If allowed, creators all over the planet would have you believe consumers have no rights, except to give creators money. The people know better better and so we see drm begin to fade away. A consumer of any creation has the right to do anything they wish with it, without creators permission, except to sell that creation themselves.

Don't quote me laws, you're wasting your time. The fact is, people are sick of being abused. Governments are grasping to find laws to make the drm of the people who bribe and pay them, work. But it's not working, it cannot work. Companies are beginning to see this and are starting to un-drm their goods.

The people, virtual or otherwise, have a very simple defense to drm induced hysteria; don't buy from creators who use it. The hysteria in this case, is creators fear that you will sell their creations in another world.I agree with them that this shouldn't be allowed. But, it's up to them to defend their product. They should have a presence in that other world if it worries them. (it's why Microsoft has offices in china) Or lock their creations down and smart consumers will stop buying them. Which many creators worldwide are beginning to see.

The RIAA and other such organizations are fighting to convince the governments that it is government's place to police their drm. Just like in secondlife, they want laws to control everything so they don't have to make any effort to protect their creations.

Don't buy anything that restricts your use of it. If you are stupid enough to reproduce and sell it, that's a different matter. If you wish to steal and sell though, all these rules are not going to stop you anyway.
All these rules will cause some people to "rip" things they buy to get full use of them, even if they have no intention or trying to sell anything.

So basically, lock your creations down. Pass all the laws and rules you possibly can. Because the more you do, the more people are going to rip your products and one day laws will actually protect fair use and consumers.

Arcadian Vanalten

So, basically, Lili's argument is, "Nobody has any rights but ME! And don't tell me otherwise!"


so according to SABLE any this built in sl isn't the property of the builder, so not even they can move out of sl, not if sl owns all rigt to items built. but linden labs has the right to market anything you build. using that logic.

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Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
Dutchie Evergreen Slideshow 29112021
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