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Friday, April 02, 2010

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Trinity Dejavu

The TPV conflicts with the GPL's provision that software under its license is provided as-is.

Adric Antfarm

It also appears to read the same for users.

"You assume all risks, expenses, and defects of any Third-Party Viewers that you use, develop, or distribute."

.

Samantha Poindexter

Linden Lab disclaims legal responsibility for its own software.

To say that the developer concern is warranted would be an understatement. This is a deal-breaker.

See also Tateru Nino's analysis and Boy Lane's response.

(So far, the only developer of any note to agree to the new terms is Kirsten, and as much as I love her work, she has a known track record of not paying much attention to the legal stuff.)

Thoria

A real concern is that fact that LL, after an outcry over the original draft of the agreement, stated that changes would be made to resolve the areas of concern. Yet they made few, if any, substantive modifications to deal with the concerns raised, provided no explanation as to why they didn't make these changes, and stated that no other changes would be made. To me, that demonstrates a distinct lack of communication.

It's fine to assert that Linden Lab will most likely not apply this agreement in a heavy handed way, but the fact that the policy was put forth in a rather ham-fisted way might argue to the contrary.

BTW, my friend Jacek Antonelli is a she, not a he.

Ignatius Onomatopoeia

Crap. Imprudence is a flat-out great viewer. I need a non-SL 2 viewer for building, so I guess I'll have to cast about for another.

I'm worried Hippo will follow, and that would be rotten.

That would just move me to work more in Reaction Grid, where I can build, and Heritage Key, where I cannot make content but the existing content rocks for education.

I guess LL probably had to state what should have already have been legally obvious, but the consequences for their user-base may be big if more third-party developers quit.

Peter Stindberg

Radegast is the best and most versatile text viewer for SL. Imprudence is the best planned, carefully yet innovatively developed viewer. Rainbow Viewer took over where Nicholaz left the field, giving the best stability and fastest results on standard hardware. Seeing those 3 devlopers/teams quit development or stop support for SL is painful and worrisome.

Theose developers might be wrong about the interpretation of the 3rd party viewer policy. And claims that the legalese in the policy 'does only look complicated' won't help when it comes to a court case, where only the legalese matters. None of those developers have the funds to hire their own lawyer to get legal advice on the policy. I can't blame them for wanting to be on the safe side.

If someone wants to do a great community service, then they should pay a lawyer with some track record in internet/software cases, who examines the 3rd party viewer policy and explains in detail what a 3rd party developer (AND a user) can expect from this policy.

Uccello

@Peter: The Lab is taking advantage of the fact that none of us have the funds with which to dispute the changes to ToS

"Proud Imprudence User"

Galatea Gynoid

"You assume all risks, expenses, and defects of any Third-Party Viewers that you use, develop, or distribute."

What this means is, you can't turn around and sue Linden Labs if you hang your business on your custom viewer and it blows up spectacularly because of some bug that was probably there from the get-go. Ultimately, this is no different from the GPL terms that say your software is provided "as-is" (and Trinity is simply wrong in saying this in any way conflicts with the GPL provisions -- it does nothing more than restate them more explicitly).

Galatea Gynoid

@Samantha: Well, if you're going to note Kirsten's track record, to be fair, you should also note Boy Lane's track record for histrionic overreactions to poorly understood legal matters (I say this as a Windows Cool SL Viewer user, which thankfully Henri Beauchamp started distributing himself after Boy Lane went nuts over trademark issues).

Trinity Dejavu

@Galatea Gynoid Um. The source code released by Linden lab is under the GPL and all viewers based on that must also be.

The conflict is that Linden Lab TPV explicitly holds developers responsible for bugs (say a permission exploit) in any viewer they release. EVEN if said exploit is original unmodified Linden Lab code. Yet the GPL states that the developer is not liable in any way and software is provided with no warranty or liability.

So user X uses 3rd party viewer with a permission exploit to infringe a retailers copyright, even though the code that allows that to happen is unmodified from linden labs sources, the 3rd party developer is held legally responsible instead of Linden Lab.

I could download the sources from Linden Lab, compile and publish with no changes on my part what-so-ever, and I would then be legally accountable for any issues arising from the use of my 'identical to the official' viewer.

oy Lane might be drama prone, and if that viewer alone that had ceased production because of this then you might have a point. But so far pretty much EVERY 3rd part viewer has stopped.

Ordinal Malaprop

For some obscure reason I am not encouraged by the fact that the official Linden Lab response to this is not only on Twitter, but _only 30% of the maximum number of characters_.

Samantha Poindexter

@Galatea Actually, I would note that Henri has belatedly come around to Boy's point of view, and is changing the name to "Cool VL Viewer." It might have saved everybody a lot of trouble if he'd done that months earlier, but oh well.

Regarding T Linden's response... here's a future tweet along the same lines: "Goal is to change bathwater."

(Pity about the baby, but I suppose all that matters is that the intentions are good...)

pan

"At least, that's the interpretation of Jacek Antonelli, a developer of Imprudence, a fairly popular TPV, who cites it as one reason to discontinue work on his viewer."

Indeed Jacek did not announce to discontinue her work on Imprudence. Not at the cited blog nor elsewhere. Just logins for SecondLife(tm) are going to be disabled.

Maggie Darwin

"We can't secure content as long as there are overt TPVs, so we're going to remove all possible incentive to produce them."

This sounds good, even though it does kind of gloss over the fact that most SL content can't really be secured anyway. (This is the same approach that has worked so well for Windows anti-virus vendors, and why no criminals ever have guns because it's illegal for a criminal to possess a gun.)

Copybots will continue to be copybots, and there's zero chance they will identify themselves as such. They'll spoof as something legit as they do today, and the smart ones will hide behind IP proxies and throw-away accounts.

But the Linden legal department will have a warm feeling and plausible deniability when the next content creator sues their deep and identifiable pockets for "allowing" their work to be copied. Sad that LL's idea of "content theft" also includes moving stuff *you* built or bought full rights to out of their proprietary servers.

Boy Lane

As my name was mentioned here let me just add my 2c.

SecondLife is LL's (M's) playground and they control who they want to let in to play. This they do by their policies and actions. I as a "player" decide if want to play in *their* sandbox by their rules or not. If the rules are not acceptable I go somewhere else. Simple as that.

For a viewer developer that means stopping development for SecondLife after the TPV policy goes into effect. So far 4 projects have announced exactly that: Imprudence, RealXtend, Luna and Rainbow. With OMV partly pulling out already too. Don't need to go through all this discussion again. I put my points of view here:
http://my.opera.com/boylane/blog/linden-labs-final-3rd-party-viewer-policy-tpv

If you think that one or two viewers are enough for you and these may be 2.0 and Snowglobe, that is your choice. Others enjoyed the freedom to choose what works best for them. And people with epilepsy may think completely different and LL kills their second lifes altogether:
https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-17249

So who will lose in the end? It is you, the resident. Because that freedom of choice is taken away from you by killing 3rd party viewers. It is also LL as a lot of valuable code contribution will disappear. The winners will be the creators of malicious viewers who don't care about any policies anyway. Well done Linden Lab!

Oh, and regarding Henri. The proud frenchman finally has to accept and follow trademarks and policies he refused to for a long time. That drama could indeed have been avoided as the end result is the same, to remove trademarks one does not own.

Boy

Ann Otoole

Yea well the little lawyer trick of putting in the clause that says you will not ever sue LL is a neat trick. Looks like it is intended to damage the in progress litigation by eliminating the potential class.

Eventually we won't be allowed to log in without a lawyer by our side to defend us from the LL assigned lawyer at our other side that monitors us and requires a signature every 5 minutes.

Wouldn't it be easier for LL to just fire the remaining copy leftists and deal with the problem the right way by filing unauthorized network access charges against enough criminals so it becomes known they will incur real live police investigations if they log in with counterfeiting capabilities and the cockroaches move to some other place to do their copy leftist thing?

Melissa Yeuxdoux

"Did third party viewer developers think they weren't legally liable for their software before this?"

Have you never read a EULA? They are notorious for containing denials of liability and language to the effect of "we guarantee only that this is a large string of bits." I'm sure that the TOS includes precisely that sort of language, so that LL denies that it is liable for precisely those things they now assert third-party developers ARE liable for.

Ted

Worse yet, with not being able to remove items from the Linden grid due to Linden's belief that they own the data and that they can grant a "usage license" on everyone's content puts them in legal jeopardy. The position of providing a "usage license" over the rights of the content creators licenses will eventually be a large issue for Linden. Especially with items that are governed under other such licensing such as the GPL, Creative Commons, BSD, etc...

Linden is therefore stating that their "usage license" overrides any parties licensing agreements. Thus enabling them to clamp down on content being removed from their servers.

I've heard it several times that Linden never granted any rights to remove any content from their servers. Well, in my opinion, they don't have too, it's illegal for them to tell you that you cannot remove the the items for other use.

The Linden TOS in my opinion wouldn't hold an ounce of water in front of a judge.

Ted

"The TPV conflicts with the GPL's provision that software under its license is provided as-is."

Yes it does, and so does Linden's own viewer. It would not pass the TPV rules they create themselves.

Boy Lane

As the commencement date of TPV comes closer I've compiled a list of the known 3rd party viewers and their current status. Please add if I missed anything or there are any news.

Viewers stopped development for Secondlife:
Imprudence (full)
RealXtend (full)
Luna (full)

Viewers stopped development:
Nicholaz (full)
Rainbow/Cool (full)

Viewers partly ceased/unsure:
OMV, some code removed (full/text)
Emerald, no statement (full)
Marine's RLV, no statement (full)
Hippo, no statement (full)
Radegast (text) (?)

Viewers continuing and self certified to TPV:
KirstenLee (full)
MetaBolt (text)
Mobile Grid Client (text)

Viewers continuing without viewer directory listing:
Cool VL (full)

*(full) refers to a graphical viewer, (text) refers to a text client

Source: http://my.opera.com/boylane/blog/the-status-of-the-community

Talvin Muircastle

Now Joe Linden has said he will have a "Brown Bag" meeting about the TPV. IN VOICE ONLY.

https://lists.secondlife.com/pipermail/opensource-dev/2010-April/001623.html

He has openly been accused of doing this so there is no transcript of his words, even though it excludes many who cannot make use of Voice. Henri, for instance, is a native French speaker. He has made no response to these accusations other than "sorry you won't be able to make it."

The Lindens complain about the hostility shown them, but then they pull stunts like this. After the stuff that Pathfinder pulled on us, I frankly find it difficult to trust ANY Linden. Philip was decent, but this new crowd doesn't understand the concept of dealing in good faith.

McCabe Maxsted

Dear Hamlet Au,

Our blog post said nothing of the sort. Rather, we enumerated our concerns over the TPV policy in order to explain our decision to cease supporting Second Life--a decision that was anything but flippant. Due to recent changes in the policy, we've since modified our position (although I maintain that the policy, as currently written, is still highly flawed for its intended goal), but nothing you've said above reflects--in any way--our views. I hope you'll correct this bit of misinformation.

In the future, please read links before you post them.

Sincerely,

An Imprudence developer

(Jacek, by the way, is a she.)

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