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ToS Changes - why?


Phil Deakins
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There has been, and still is, quite an outcry against the recent changes to the ToS, whereby LL now have every right there is over the users' works, except actual ownership. I believe it mainly affects textures, meshes, sculptmaps, and such. So a user can create a texture/mesh/sculptmap and upload it. The user retains ownership of the copyright but s/he now gives LL absolute freedom to do whatever they want with it, including selling it for profit, giving it away with full perms to anyone they choose, etc..

The outcry is understandable, of course, and I don't want to discuss the rights and wrongs of the new ToS. What I'm interested in is why LL has done it. What made LL grab all the rights? Does anyone have any ideas as to why they've done it, or what benefit is can be to LL? I can think of a few possibilities but there may be more fundamental reasons for it. My possibilities are:-

 

1. People who sell things in the marketplace sometimes quit SL With the new ToS, LL can keep selling their stuff and get 100% of the sale values instead of the 10% commission they normally get. They probably can anyway, but it's a thought.

2. LL may want to use some of the excellent stuff that's made in SL in other of their projects, and new projects seem to be blossoming lately. I haven't looked at their newer projects so I don't know if they could make use of it.

3. LL may be developing something not too dissimilar to SL but complete with content. The current CEO has a games background so that isn't out of the question.

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My guess is it has more to do with when LL shuts down SL. It has closed the door to what can and can not be done with all the items on the servers. LL is now free to do anything they like with all the items, not just the ones I purchased that I don't own, but now everything. Will save them a ton on legal battles over content. Just a thought.

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All we can do is speculate.

You do touch upon the only really viable reason why the new terms might be needed.  In the eventuality if LL should ever sell SL.  I personally don't think they are planning on selling it like some have been claiming for years now.  And it's really a question I don't know the answer to, whether under the old TOS if they could "transfer" your content over to a new owner of SL.  With the new TOS, any content uploaded after agreeing to it, there would be no question that they could.  So the new terms could be a 'just in case' measure.

What bothers me most is how they have gone about implementing the new changes.  By using a blanket Terms of Service to cover all their properties they have caused a lot of confusion, confusion that could actually come back and bite them.

Second Life is a unique property.  It is unique enough to need its own separate TOS.  Some policies/terms are buried deep in other documents.  A big example is the age requirements for SL.  These additional terms are described in the Knowledge Base as "Linden Lab Official."  Googling the phrase "Linden Lab Official Knowledge Base" returned 77,000 page results for me.  That is just nuts!

The old TOS did a good job of cross referencing some of the details, specifically directing us to them.  Now we are left to search them out on our own.

Would a Court hold that it was reasonable to expect of us to search through 77,000 page results to find that nitty gritty detail?

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Personally I think they decided to make one TOS for all their products and told the lawyers to write one for maximum a$$ coverage. 

I don't think they have any intention of shutting SL down.  I also think that if they all of a sudden started to steal people's content and sell it or give it away or use it in other games there will be a mass exodus of content creators from SL,followed by a lot of bad press and law suits.  They would shoot themselves in the foot while killing their cash cow.  On the other hand, and by current evidence,  LL is not known for wise choices.

This is what happens when you let a gamer run a virtual world.  Time for Rod to go IMO.

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Phil Deakins wrote:

There has been, and still is, quite an outcry against the recent changes to the ToS, whereby LL now have every right there is over the users' works, except actual ownership. I believe it mainly affects textures, meshes, sculptmaps, and such. So a user can create a texture/mesh/sculptmap and upload it. The user retains ownership of the copyright but s/he now gives LL absolute freedom to do whatever they want with it, including selling it for profit, giving it away with full perms to anyone they choose, etc..

The outcry is understandable, of course, and I don't want to discuss the rights and wrongs of the new ToS. What I'm interested in is
why
LL has done it. What made LL grab all the rights? Does anyone have any ideas as to why they've done it, or what benefit is can be to LL? I can think of a few possibilities but there may be more fundamental reasons for it. My possibilities are:-

 

1. People who sell things in the marketplace sometimes quit SL With the new ToS, LL can keep selling their stuff and get 100% of the sale values instead of the 10% commission they normally get. They probably can anyway, but it's a thought.

2. LL may want to use some of the excellent stuff that's made in SL in other of their projects, and new projects seem to be blossoming lately. I haven't looked at their newer projects so I don't know if they could make use of it.

3. LL may be developing something not too dissimilar to SL but complete with content. The current CEO has a games background so that isn't out of the question.

Didn't LL come out last week to clarify that they've no intention to take user content? I thought they explained that the ToS change was to encompass all their products and they apologized for the confusion. I'm sticking by my belief that incompetence can explain all of this.

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I have been very involved with this situation both in the Merchant Forums, reading blogs, and attending the meeting yesterday from which a group has formed to continue, as a grassroots effort, to stay informed and doing what we can to either have LL clearly define in plain English what they mean (and do it in their official forum - not some vague statements made "across the street") or to change it back to the pre-Aug. 15 TOS.

One of the reasons I have seen given by well-informed content creators is that LL may be positioning themselves to sell either LL or SL.

Toysoldier Thor presented the results of a TOS survey here.  While it was generated from approximately 100 respondents, many/most of whom are already very plugged-in to the issue, it is an interesting overview.

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Czari Zenovka wrote:


Amethyst Jetaime wrote:

 

This is what happens when you let a gamer run a virtual world.  Time for Rod to go IMO.

Seconded!

I'm gonna disagree. Being a gamer does not make someone incapable appriciate other peoples property. More like this is what happens when soemone who works for a big company who is used to owning everything comes in. This is how gaming,animation,and design CEOs work. Disney for instance makes you sign over rights to ANYTHING you draw or create while working for them. That's why animators hide there creations while working for big companies.If they think think they can make money on you they will. This isn't an issue of gamers vs us (It never was as virtual worlds are a subset of gaming weither you like it or not) It's an issue of big company thinking versus us.

 

Basically what I'm saying is cool it on the gamer hate. Gamers have nothing to do with this.

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Gamers don't (and I'm a gamer) but Rod's comments in this article disturbed me when I read it the first time.  I took a lot of heat for my commentary on his statements when I first brought this to the forum's attention a year ago.  Over time, some who disagreed with me have now changed their position.

It *is* somewhat interesting, and disheartening, to read the comments from the gaming community in responses to the article.  They basically boil down to "SL sux" and "What a boring game" - generally expressed more colorfully.

 

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Czari Zenovka wrote:

I have been very involved with this situation both in the Merchant Forums, reading blogs, and attending the meeting yesterday from which a group has formed to continue, as a grassroots effort, to stay informed and doing what we can to either have LL clearly define in plain English what they mean (and do it in their official forum - not some vague statements made "across the street") or to change it back to the pre-Aug. 15 TOS.

One of the reasons I have seen given by well-informed content creators is that LL may be positioning themselves to sell either LL or SL.

Toysoldier Thor presented the results of a
here.  While it was generated from approximately 100 respondents, many/most of whom are already very plugged-in to the issue, it is an interesting overview.

I'm not sure what group he posted that survey in, I cant find any reference to SL content creators community (aka SL-CCC). I don't know why he didnt send it out to the Second Life Commerce Merchants.

Personally, I'm not worried about the changes.  They have always said they own any content uploaded into SL. They just defined it more this time.

As to all of the people jumping ship and leaveing.. Thanks.. More sales for the rest of us.

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Drake1 Nightfire wrote:


Czari Zenovka wrote:

I have been very involved with this situation both in the Merchant Forums, reading blogs, and attending the meeting yesterday from which a group has formed to continue, as a grassroots effort, to stay informed and doing what we can to either have LL clearly define in plain English what they mean (and do it in their official forum - not some vague statements made "across the street") or to change it back to the pre-Aug. 15 TOS.

One of the reasons I have seen given by well-informed content creators is that LL may be positioning themselves to sell either LL or SL.

Toysoldier Thor presented the results of a
here.  While it was generated from approximately 100 respondents, many/most of whom are already very plugged-in to the issue, it is an interesting overview.

I'm not sure what group he posted that survey in, I cant find any reference to SL content creators community (aka SL-CCC). I don't know why he didnt send it out to the Second Life Commerce Merchants.

Personally, I'm not worried about the changes.  They have always said they own any content uploaded into SL. They just defined it more this time.

As to all of the people jumping ship and leaveing.. Thanks.. More sales for the rest of us.

He posted the link to it in the Merchant Forums, Drake.  You know that is where the indepth discussions of these issues take place.  Many well-known SL bloggers disseminated it on their blogs and others are doing so within their spheres of influence.  I had a link to the survey in my forum sig until the survey was completed.  Toy was just trying to get a "reading" on where we/Merchant Community is at.  The info for yesterday's meeting was also announced over there...many bloggers have the text of the meeting on their blogs.

NM, I see you posted over there. ;)

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I think the LL legal team are dotting their i's and crossing their t's, so to speak. 

I think some *second life* users are in the throes of a Linden Lab third life.  And that's ok because it really isn't that painful or difficult for most. 

Imo, LL has positioned itself properly for an IPO; and with a substantial valuation, to boot (no pun intended.) Where Twitter has just figured out how to make money from their service, LL has been raking in dollars for a long time.  Where Twitter has just learned to be profitable (have they?) LL is a cash cow.  Twitter is now rushing their offering; LL is not.  Kudos to LL.   It is still a soft IPO market right now, but that is changing and we will see more change over the next 8-14 months and beyond.  Disclaimer: providing, of course, the U.S. of A. is not in a global Middle East or African war.

The CEO spoke to some very good numbers recently (I think he was only referring to SL, I have to check to see if he was talking about LL as a whole) and the numbers looked pretty good to me.  Actually, the sign-up numbers for SL on a daily basis are better than Twitter.  And if we are talking retention--I don't know the Twitter numbers to compare--but I can say with a level of certainty that *all* new Twitter sign-ups are not retained for any lengthy period of time, either.  LL has all the right tools in their toolbox.

It would have been foolish of LL to attempt IPO fate at anytime in the past 4 years.  However (or in lieu of?), LL has recently acquired or developed several new companies, with the latest acquisition only a few months ago.  LL has incorporated the 'feeds' (the feeds is a SLuser-named facebook-like (but certainly not facebook) environment that is growing every day) implementation into their day-to-day business model.  The 'ads' that appear (assuming you are not using an ad-blocker mechanism) are becoming another financial sink, just as the L's generated from the upload of textures and objects, for them to draw upon.

As LL owns the words we write within their social network, they must have complete ownership of any textures or objects within their environment.... they *must* own it, if only just to make healthy their forward-looking business model. Ergo, the new ToS additions.

 

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Storm Clarence wrote:

 

The CEO spoke to some very good numbers recently (I think he was only referring to SL, I have to check to see if he was talking about LL as a whole) and the numbers looked pretty good to me.  Actually, the sign-up numbers for SL on a daily basis are better than Twitter.  And if we are talking retention--I don't know the Twitter numbers to compare--but I can say with a level of certainty that *all* new Twitter sign-ups are not retained for any lengthy period of time, either.  LL has all the right tools in their toolbox.


I've read some of his comments also.  He has also said they have improved new user retention.  (I don't have a citation for that at my fingetips).  Now that puzles me because at least at this point in time it is not being reflected in Concurrency.   http://www.gridsurvey.com/economy.php?page=1

 


Storm Clarence wrote:

 

As LL owns the words we write within their social network, they must have complete ownership of any textures or objects within their environment.... they *must* own it, if only just to make healthy their forward-looking business model. Ergo, the new ToS additions.

 

Isn't "healthy" here a relative term?  Users have begun pulling their content out of SL.  Providers of content who had previously allowed their content to be used in SL have recinded those rights.  Can LL claim ownership of content that was uploaded before the change to the TOS?  Will new content creators look at the new Terms and say "sure you can haz all my stuffs?"

 

Does the potential of lawsuits over copy right infringements and the potential costs add or subtract to this "healthy" image?

 


Storm Clarence wrote:

I think the LL legal team are dotting their i's and crossing their t's, so to speak. 


This I do agree with.  I don't know if SL could be sold without claiming full ownership to all content first.  That a lawyer would have to answer.  I have some vague ideas about it but that is way outside of my business acumen.  What I do know is that IPO's do get a lot of legal scrutiny, some even requiring appproval from the Dept of Justice.

 

 

 

 

eta:clarity

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Perrie Juran wrote:

 


Storm Clarence wrote:

 

As LL owns the words we write within their social network, they must have complete ownership of any textures or objects within their environment.... they *must* own it, if only just to make healthy their forward-looking business model. Ergo, the new ToS additions.

 

Isn't "healthy" here a relative term?  Users have begun pulling their content out of SL.  Providers of content who had previously allowed their content to be used in SL have recinded those rights.  Can LL claim ownership of content that was uploaded before the change to the TOS?  Will new content creators look at the new Terms and say "sure you can haz all my stuffs?"

 

Does the potential of lawsuits over copy right infringements and the potential costs add or subtract to this "healthy" image?


Healthy is not a relative term in the context you ask.   Healthy is relative when speaking revenue to debt, ownership, product, user numbers, business model, and things of the like.  If someone needs a lawyer to understand all of this then they should certainly seek a lawyer.  IANAL.  I don't know how many users have pulled content, but I would think it is trivial in the scheme of things. If some have pulled content, where did they put it?  Inworldz?  Don't be ridiculous... Inworldz has NO numbers that would justify such an 'emotional' move away from LL. 

ETA: LL is not worried about *my* business model, they are worried about their own. 

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Storm Clarence wrote:


Perrie Juran wrote:

 


Storm Clarence wrote:

 

As LL owns the words we write within their social network, they must have complete ownership of any textures or objects within their environment.... they *must* own it, if only just to make healthy their forward-looking business model. Ergo, the new ToS additions.

 

Isn't "healthy" here a relative term?  Users have begun pulling their content out of SL.  Providers of content who had previously allowed their content to be used in SL have recinded those rights.  Can LL claim ownership of content that was uploaded before the change to the TOS?  Will new content creators look at the new Terms and say "sure you can haz all my stuffs?"

 

Does the potential of lawsuits over copy right infringements and the potential costs add or subtract to this "healthy" image?


Healthy is not a relative term in the context you ask.   Healthy is relative when speaking revenue to debt, ownership, product, user numbers, business model, and things of the like.

I understand beter now what you were referring to.  Using the term "relative" may not  have been best in this context.

 


Storm Clarence wrote:


Perrie Juran wrote:

 


Storm Clarence wrote:

 


  I don't know how many users have pulled content, but I would think it is trivial in the scheme of things.

 

At this point in the scheme of things it may indeed be trivial.  But if lawsuits start popping up that could change rapidly.

 


Storm Clarence wrote:


If some have pulled content, where did they put it?  Inworldz?  Don't be ridiculous...


Diferent content providers have done different things.  Some have been diversifying for several years now.  I believe Medhue is one who has been.  C. Mariner has stated he has deleted all his writings (note cards, etc) from his inventory.  There may only be a few so far who have removed content.  Some are taking a wait and see position at the moment.

 

 


Storm Clarence wrote:


Inworldz has NO numbers that would justify such an 'emotional' move away from LL. 

 

 

Whether or not any of the actions taken by some so far is purely emotional I don't know.  Some have stated they have contacted Legal Counsel and are acting on the advice they have been given.

 


Storm Clarence wrote:


ETA: LL is not worried about *my* business model, they are worried about their own. 

 

No question about this. 

 

 

eta:clarity

 

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Madelaine McMasters wrote:


Phil Deakins wrote:

There has been, and still is, quite an outcry against the recent changes to the ToS, whereby LL now have every right there is over the users' works, except actual ownership. I believe it mainly affects textures, meshes, sculptmaps, and such. So a user can create a texture/mesh/sculptmap and upload it. The user retains ownership of the copyright but s/he now gives LL absolute freedom to do whatever they want with it, including selling it for profit, giving it away with full perms to anyone they choose, etc..

The outcry is understandable, of course, and I don't want to discuss the rights and wrongs of the new ToS. What I'm interested in is
why
LL has done it. What made LL grab all the rights? Does anyone have any ideas as to why they've done it, or what benefit is can be to LL? I can think of a few possibilities but there may be more fundamental reasons for it. My possibilities are:-

 

1. People who sell things in the marketplace sometimes quit SL With the new ToS, LL can keep selling their stuff and get 100% of the sale values instead of the 10% commission they normally get. They probably can anyway, but it's a thought.

2. LL may want to use some of the excellent stuff that's made in SL in other of their projects, and new projects seem to be blossoming lately. I haven't looked at their newer projects so I don't know if they could make use of it.

3. LL may be developing something not too dissimilar to SL but complete with content. The current CEO has a games background so that isn't out of the question.

Didn't LL come out last week to clarify that they've no intention to take user content? I thought they explained that the ToS change was to encompass all their products and they apologized for the confusion. I'm sticking by my belief that incompetence can explain all of this.

Even if they don't intend to at the current moment, they have still given themselves the authority to do so. So the 'clarification' is meaningless, their intentions could change a few years from now, or they might go out of business and sell off to another organization with different intentions. And that's assuming you believe what they're saying now.

 

Which still doesn't help when it comes to using content from third party sites: under the current TOS, you cannot use anything that's not your own personal creation or completely public domain, no matter what their intentions may be.

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Perrie Juran wrote:

C. Mariner has stated he has deleted all his writings (note cards, etc) from his inventory.  There may only be a few so far who have removed content.  Some are taking a wait and see position at the moment. 


The idea of removing digital content is quaint, and reminds me of the non disclosure agreements I got from clients, all of which I rejected because it was impossible to comply with requirements like "you will destroy all the stuff we gave you at the end of our relationship". All they ever got from me was "I'll keep your secrets as I keep mine."

In this digital age, it's nearly impossible to delete anything. I might empty my e-mail baske or remove something from my website, but my ISP's servers maintain backups just in case of a failure. I once asked them how long they archive. There's a difference between how far back they can go to find what I want, and how far back they must go to find nothing. In my case, they can recover any hour for the last week, midnight for the last month, the first of the month for the last year and that's it. But they didn't think it would be possible to erase any trace of my 11 years with them.

Before passing on my old computers to local charitable organizations, I reformat the drive, fill it with copies of a random data file I made (1GB long), then erase it using Apple's "Overwrite 7 times with random data" facility. You have to work hard to delete something in the digital world, if you can.

Removing content from SL simply takes it out of your inventory, not out of the system. If I really could delete a texture I uploaded, it would vanish from everything I ever gave away that contained it. When you give someone something in SL, all you are passing them is the 128-bit UUID. The actual thing goes nowhere, not even when you delete it.

If LL has the nefarious intent people are presuming, expect that they've saved everything they want and are amused at the notion you can take it back.

The only way to keep LL from having something is to never bring it into their realm in the first place.

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Hitomi Tiponi wrote:

This is all part of a Linden Lab tradition. 
Just when you think they are getting their act together they shoot themselves in the foot.

In what I read in the new ToS rants posted, including this OP, it seems like LL is shooting *others* in the foot; certainly not themselves.  However, imho, they are not shooting anyone in the foot! 

So, wtf are you talking about?

 

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Madelaine McMasters wrote:


Perrie Juran wrote:

C. Mariner has stated he has deleted all his writings (note cards, etc) from his inventory.  There may only be a few so far who have removed content.  Some are taking a wait and see position at the moment. 


The idea of removing digital content is quaint, and reminds me of the non disclosure agreements I got from clients, all of which I rejected because it was impossible to comply with requirements like "you will destroy all the stuff we gave you at the end of our relationship". All they ever got from me was "I'll keep your secrets as I keep mine."


The idea may be quaint but LL also covers the removal of content and it does have legal implications. 

 


Madelaine McMasters wrote:


If LL has the nefarious intent people are presuming, expect that they've saved everything they want and are amused at the notion you can take it back.

 

 

They know it's not ammusing.  LL knows, as most lawyers and politicians do, the difference between legal and illegal theft.

Lastly, I don't think any one has accused LL of having nefarious intent.  Greedy, yes.  Nefarious, no.

 


Madelaine McMasters wrote:


The only way to keep LL from having something is to never bring it into their realm in the first place.

 

Well, that holds true for anything you may say or do any where on the interwebs.  ;)

 

 

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Perrie Juran wrote:

 

Lastly, I don't think any one has accused LL of having nefarious intent.  Greedy, yes.  Nefarious, no.


Several people have suggested that LL put this in the ToS so they can sell our creations on Desura.. That would imply nefarious intent.

Personally I don't think LL is that stupid. No matter what the ToS says they still can't sell our items without our express authorization. Copyright laws take precedence over any ToS.

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Madelaine McMasters wrote:

The only way to keep LL from having something is to never bring it into their realm in the first place.


Which is exactly what many content creators are doing until this is sorted out.  Especially those who sell original artwork from RL or even from photos they've taken in SL.  Same with authors. The artistic community stepped up to get the word out.

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Drake1 Nightfire wrote:


Perrie Juran wrote:

 

Lastly, I don't think any one has accused LL of having nefarious intent.  Greedy, yes.  Nefarious, no.


Several people have suggested that LL put this in the ToS so they can sell our creations on Desura.. That would imply nefarious intent.

Personally I don't think LL is that stupid. No matter what the ToS says they still can't sell our items without our express authorization. Copyright laws take precedence over any ToS.

I don't know much about this so be nice, but in order to “play the Copyright card”, don't you need a registered Copyright, and isn’t that expensive? And do builders in SL go that far?

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