Jump to content

The Permission System

You are about to reply to a thread that has been inactive for 4061 days.

Please take a moment to consider if this thread is worth bumping.

Recommended Posts

I have been thinking about the permission system.  I think it is deficient in certain areas.  Tomorrow, I will have been in SL six years;   other aspects of SL have improved enormously, but I don't think the permissions system has changed significantly during that whole time.

First, what would an ideal permission system do? It would protect everyone's rights, infringe no one's rights, and not provide technical means to prevent people from exercising all of their rights.  The current system does not meet this standard.

Second, there are fundamental differences between SL and RL in terms of what IP rights mean.  Because everything in SL is IP everything is subject to copyright law, under which both creators and consumers have certain rights.  In RL most tangible objects are not protected by copyright, but may be protected by patents.

Third, the entity that has rights and obligations under IP law is the human owner of the SL account or, perhaps, her RL employer if the SL account is used to carry out duties as an employee.  The only way to enforce IP rights is through the RL legal system, and it can only target RL people and other legal entities.

Fourth, the permissions system is not the same as a licensing system.  A license is a contract between seller and buyer that sets out what the buyer can and cannot do with her purchase.  It cannot say just anything, and there are certain rights buyers have under the law even if the license denies them.  One is the right of first sale, which is the right to sell the copy or copies that they purchased.  Another, in the case of software, which all SL creations are, is the right to make a backup copy.  It goes without saying that buyers have an unrestricted right to modify anything they own.

The current system does a pretty good job of protecting creators' rights, as far as I can tell, although, as I see things from a consumer's point of view, I could be overlooking something.  What it does not do is give creators tools that allow them to protect their rights without depriving buyers of theirs.  It is too simple and limited, and, obviously, was not designed to make it possible to place limitations that correspond to actual rights as closely as possible.

Creators' legitimate need is prevent more than one copy for every copy sold being in use at the same time, and it is limited to that.  Consumers' legitimate need is to be able to use, backup, sell, give away, and modify their property as they see fit.

It seems to me that a few simple changes would go a long way toward making the limitations imposed by permissions closely correspond to actual rights.  One is to change "no transfer" to "delete copies when transferred."  The expected behavior would be that all copies that had been made by the transferor, wherever located, would disappear forever when one was transferred. This is quite similar to most RL software licenses that I am familiar with, which prohibit using more than one copy per license simultaneously, and require that no copies be retained if ownership is transferred. This alone would work for items that are ordinarily worn, such as clothing and body parts, since one can't really use multiple copies at the same time.  For items that are ordinarily rezzed in world, something more is needed, since it can be useful to rez multiple copies.  One way to deal with this would be to have a "copies to rez" property that would be incremented every time the buyer bought another copy of the same item and decremented each time a copy was rezzed.

Obviously, since everyone has a right to modify her own property, it should not be possible to sell no-modify items.

Scripts are a special case, since they are made no-modify to prevent people from copying them as text.  A good way to deal with that would be to have a "no display" property for them.  That would have the side benefit of eliminating the confusion that occurs when no-modify scripts are included in items that are otherwise modifiable.

Most of the above discussion implicitly addresses transfers between users.  There are a couple of other aspects that are significant.  One is that sometimes sellers defraud buyers by lying about permissions, a situation in which buyers have no effective recourse.  That would become impossible.  Another is that it would be possible to freely transfer things among alts.  That should be possible because it's necessarily the account owner who paid for and received the license, not the account.  Since the original buyer clearly has the right to transfer her property to another person's account, it seems to me that she must have a right to transfer it to another of her accounts.

I'm sure there'll be objections to these ideas.  One will be that if we can sell and give away our stuff, creators will go out of business.  There are still plenty of people creating RL content profitably, even though we can sell it freely.  "But RL stuff wears out and SL stuff doesn't."  That's right, but SL stuff becomes obsolete.  Skin makers get better, so the skin that looked good six years ago doesn't now.  Lights and shadows, which look so good that I almost always have them on, rendered a whole lot of shoes that relied on invisiprims to hide feet obsolete (for people who are unwilling to invest considerable time in making alpha masks, anyhow).  Sculpties made a lot of old prim stuff obsolete,  The increase in prim size limits made a lot of old structures obsolete.  Scripters have become more skilled, and LSL has become more powerful.  And now we have mesh, which will eventually render a huge amount of content obsolete.  I sometimes just delete things I paid money for years ago because, by today's standards, they are of such poor quality that it's not worth the trouble to store them in a prim.  In addition, many of us enjoy shopping in SL and aren't going to stop just because there are more yard sales offering stuff the sellers don't want because it is old; we don't want it either.  Creators who keep innovating and improving, as they should if they expect to thrive, won't go out of business.  Creators who just want to keep selling the same old s__t year after year need to go out of business.

There will probably be an objection that making everything modifiable will allow people to break things and that they'll be asking creators for free replacements.  That doesn't seem to be a problem in RL and it shouldn't be in SL.  It probably would be a good idea to have one of those popups that keeps appearing till one checks the box that warns people to make a backup every time they buy something.  There could even be a Backup system folder into which a copy would automatically go.

I probably overlooked something.  I hope that this stimulates discussion of what the best and fairest permission system would be.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Jennifer Boyle wrote:


Creators' legitimate need is prevent more than one copy for every copy sold being in use at the same time, and it is limited to that. Consumers' legitimate need is to be able to use, backup, sell, give away, and modify their property as they see fit.

I was interested in your perspective on the above from a consumer's perspective.

I've gone back and forth between making the items I sell (small household goods and novelties) mod/copy or mod/trans.  A number of months ago I began a thread here asking for consumer preferences between the two.  There was a split, but the majority was mod/copy.  The reasons given were primarily:

*The possibility of lost inventory due to SL glitches.  With copy perms one can keep a copy elsewhere in inventory or store in world.

*For consumers who like to mod their items, sometimes a mod goes wrong and it's good to have a fresh copy.

*Not having to buy multiples of especially expensive items, such as dinner chairs.

Those who preferred transfer permissions mainly liked being able to purchase an item and gift it in person to someone or give the item away/sell it when no longer wanted.

A merchant with the present permissions system can't make everyone happy, so has to go with the majority.

As for backing up, that was something LL changed two years ago.  Formerly anything that one had full perms for could be backed up to one's HD.  There was even a program sold on the MP to facilitate this called Second Inventory.  In 2010 LL changed the policy so that ONLY items 100% created by someone could be backed up.  Creators/merchants were racing the deadline to get all their builds that included full perm textures, sculpts, animations, scripts etc. backed up and also was the impetus for many merchants to either move to another virtual world entirely or set up their businesses in the other world in addition to their SL presence as a hedge against SL closing.  Second Inventory was renamed to Stored Inventory.

Just some thoughts that came to mind as I read this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Main subject because the permission system (and beyond intellectual property) on objects, scripts of textures influence the current economic situation of virtual goods market.

From my point of view, LL must first seek to eradicate the inworld copyboting and the illegal importation of objects from the outside. How can assume have the right to sell (and therefore allow permissions) products that have been stolen or imported without license ?

Then I think the permission system is pretty much done. It could be improved by providing two levels of modify changes. That which we know and one which would only authorizes to modify the dimensions of the object (not textures). This would avoid the use of added scripts and respect the artistic choice of the creators.

Then indeed it would authorize the transfer between alts. We do not pay twice its underpants or rent to my knowledge. I'm not against it. Remains to find the technical means to control this.

The licenses are too important to let them the sole use of the creators (yes I am creator and I support this view.) LL should provide a preformatted form that complies with international trade laws. A sort of "fill the gap".

Here are my initial reactions and thoughts on this subject. :)

Warm regards

Pierre Ceriano

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tamara Artis wrote:

Why do you break words in two lines? 

It was an accident.  The new post window timed out before I finished the post and wouldn't let me post, so I pasted into Word and back into a new forum messgae window.  It happed by accident somwhere in the copying-pasting.  I'll try to fix it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i think that the 3 basic permissions is kinda OK with additional functionality




- normal. mod all

- restrict. eg. can mod anything except texture. can mod links but cant unlink. etc



- normal. can make as many rez/wear copies as you want

- norez. can only make inventory copies. can only rez/wear one at time



- normal.  can give to other and lose your own copy

- retrans. can keep your copy. but next person has normal transfer (good for resellers)

- no resale. normal or retrans. cant resell it. not even for 0$. can only give


other thing is that it should not be copy OR trans. creator should be able to set any combination of permissions how they want


Link to comment
Share on other sites

There have been other suggestions made about ways to improve permissions -- such as next-owner ones for full perm items, to prevent someone from buying a bunch of full perm items and opening up his own full perm shop, for example.  I dont see Lindens listening much to resident ideas, tho. 

As far as working within the current system, whatever anyone's personal beliefs, it is the free market that will take care of how things are sold. Anyone should be able to sell no mod things, but anyone should be able to not buy them. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Czari Zenovka wrote:

...A merchant with the present permissions system can't make everyone happy, so has to go with the majority.

As for backing up, that was something LL changed two years ago....

Yes, exactly.  The current permissions system is too limited.  A merchant could offer both mod/copy and mod/trans, however.

I probably should have been clearer.  I was not necessarily talking about backup outside SL.  I would be content with being able to keep backups in a prim in world.  Even having a backup in inventory would be a major improvement, since it would protect against many hazards, like loss due to sim rollbacks and damage due to mod attempts gone wrong.  Parenthetically, inventory loss is not the only hazard.  SL glitches can change permissions, too.  One of my favorite shoes is no mod/no copy/no trans due to that; its mate retains the correct permissions.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

You are about to reply to a thread that has been inactive for 4061 days.

Please take a moment to consider if this thread is worth bumping.

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...