ToS me like a salad…

Posted: October 27, 2013 in Monday Meme
Tags: , , , ,

It’s taken me a while to respond to this week’s Monday Meme.  Partly I’ve had a really busy week, other then when I slacked Wednesday night and enjoyed every minute of it, partly because this sort of stuff makes my head hurt and isn’t really my forte.  I had to look a little closer, study a few other responses… I’m willing to spout off from a state of half-ignorance, but I was starting at three-quarter ignorance so I had to school myself.  I also had to dress up in a sexy bunny costume and visit Serenity Gardens to take some pictures.  Priorities, you know.

And I can even recycle this look for Easter!

And I can even recycle this look for Easter!

Strawberry admitted this wasn’t a typical meme, more an informal straw poll of what we, her humble followers, (well, I’m more like one of her arrogant followers, but you know what I mean) thought about the latest tempest-in-a-teapot to sweep the Metaverse, the recent change in Second Life’s Terms of Service, particularly regarding intellectual property rights.  My use of the idiom ‘Tempest-in-a-Teapot’ is probably a broad brushstroke of how I feel, that there is much drama and reaction over unlikely possibilities.  And of course everyone is focusing on the idea that Linden Labs either currently wants to ‘steal’ the creative product of creators, or could change their mind in the future and do so under the new laws.  Several people have pointed out that the language is very close to other social media ToS wordings, that it is just standard boilerplate.  I agree with that read, and I feel Linden Labs is actually trying to preemptively block itself from involvement certain possible future nuisances lawsuits.  Let me give two hypothetical examples.

EXAMPLE 1: John Doe, designer, vs. Strawberry Singh and Linden Labs.  Recently Strawberry did a post about Linden Labs using one of her photos for the Second Life homepage, one of the entry portals whereby Linden Labs greets potential newcomers to second life and tries to encourage them to spend money to get involved with Second Life.  Because this is Second Life, every single thing in that picture is the result of somebody’s creativity and programming.  So Linden Labs is using the creative efforts and intellectual work of a huge number of people to advertise second life: Strawberry’s vision to make and take the picture, Rogan Diesel’s work in making the poses used by Strawberry and Manberry, all the skin and hair and clothes designers, the people who laid out the Tempura Island sim, the people who designed all the scenery components used in Tempura Island, even the people who did the coding to make the pose and clothes and setting design possible.  Now some of that intellectual work was already given in rights to Linden Labs because it was done by LL employees or was in the LL common library or done by someone working in a subcontract or for a third party viewer, but it is reasonable to assume there might be a anonymous designer John Doe whose work is somewhere in that picture, now being used by Linden Labs to bring in revenue, who wants his cut.  He sues Strawberry for taking the picture and Linden Labs for using the picture and insists upon his cut.

The labs have a few responses.  They can throw Strawberry under the bus, put the blame all on her because they accepted her photo in good faith.  However, Strawberry was also using stuff in good faith, some of which Linden Labs has the intellectual rights on, so they might still end up under the bus if they throw her.  Plus, they did subcontract her work, in a sense, which is enough of a involvement that throwing Strawberry under the bus may not be enough of a defense.  And of course, good luck getting further photos if they always use the bus defense.  They can try to contact people and get permissions- but we’ve just explained that there are whole lot of people involved, so that isn’t really feasible, particularly when you think how many photos and other intellectual creations Linden Labs uses.  They can just ‘man up and take it’ and give Doe his cut.  Linden Labs, however, is a for-profit company, and if they just let Doe get away this, there are a whole host of other designers who can go the same route.  Not really an option.  The ToS language is another option.  It’s a declaration that Linden Labs owns everything done in Second Life, after all they created the Second Universe, and they allow us to use it.  Because they own everything in Strawberry’s picture, John Doe cannot declare they profited off his work or stole his efforts.  When he designed the tree, or the jacket, or the code that makes Slink middle fingers possible, or whatever, he expanded Linden Lab’s sandbox.  The language boilerplate is basically “you cannot accuse us of misusing your Second Life content, because we make it possible for you to even have Second Life content and thus have a proprietary interest.”

Here comes Emily Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail...

Here comes Emily Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail…

EXAMPLE 2:  DC Comics vs. Linden Labs.  In my last post, (just a few hours ago as I write this, probably yesterday by the time I finish and publish this) I was wearing a very cute Wonder Woman costume.  I’ve owned it long enough that I don’t know any more, but I probably paid for it, some small pittance of Lindens that would correspond to coins not bills.  I may be wrong, but I’m guessing that no one is paying DC comics a royalty for the use of Wonder Woman.  Yet, do a marketplace search for Wonder Woman, and you get 619 responses, some of which just flagged the right keywords, but also many wonder woman costumes, by designers like P3, AdN, Dirty Princess, ArdyMesh, A&k, etc.  Enough so that if DC sues, they shouldn’t go after one designer, but after Linden Labs who have the deep pockets and obviously encourage a fast and loose approach to intellectually property rights.

The Linden Lab defense for this is to show they are not fast and loose with property rights, that they have firm policies about about them, and that creators are liable for misuse, and that if a property right violation comes to their attention that they deal with it.  Therefore the boiler plate also claims that the creator is responsible for not stealing others intellectual property.

Ironically, this is the biggest reason I see for a failure in the boiler plate: Linden Labs wants all the rights to the ideas, but none of the responsibilities.  Ultimately ownership confers both rights and responsibilities, and I predict if a serious suit occurs, LL will have to either pick both or neither.  However, the boilerplate is enough to prevent most nuisance suits (suits where the cost of dealing with the suit are more then the amount the suit is about.) even though it fails to truly resolve the issue.  Sadly, most of us mere hobbyists will only deal with Linden Labs on the nuisance level.

Now onto Strawberry’s questions:

Lighthouse, lighthouse, burning bright...

Lighthouse, lighthouse, burning bright…

Do you usually read the TOS thoroughly before you hit accept? I try, but my eyes glaze over as I can’t really follow all the legalese.

How do you feel about the new LL TOS changes, specially from August 15th and section 2.3?  Summed up by the phrase ‘Tempest in a Teapot’, but then again my creative content is pretty much all on WordPress rather than on Second Life proper.  Technically, my photos are creative content, but they are just props and pieces; the writing is everything for me.

Do the changes affect you directly?  Like Strawberry, I don’t think so.  I live to write (literally, since my firsty handles everything else.) so this has trickle down effects that effect the world I wander and journal and dress pretty in, but I’m not one of the fashion/building/posing creators who are directly affected by this.

What do you think people should do about this new change?  Well, the one thing I think they shouldn’t do is get in little huddles and bitch and moan about how unjust things they cannot control are.  If you have a plan on how you may be able to effect change, by all means propose the plan, share the plan, persuade the huddled masses to join with your plan.  If the best you’ve got is “this is awful, someone should do something” you are just spreading drama, bringing folks down, and helping obfuscate posts by that hypothetical someone with a plan.  Figure out how this affects you and decide accordingly.  If you are, like me, at the hobbyist level (you put in a relatively small amount of time in world, you pay for your Second Life experience out of ‘petty cash’ or break even) decide if you still have enough fun to justify the time and cash you spend.  If so, stick around.  If not, don’t.  If you draw First Life income off your Second Life activities, you have a tougher decision, because you have to factor in the risk and the uncertainty the new ToS creates.  Qarl Linden (aka Karl Stiefvater) worked specifically with programming and coding, the new ToS basically said LL owned his real life work, so he had no choice but to get out.  I would think most fashion designers shouldn’t see a change, just have to plan for a little more uncertainty.  Etc, Etc.

Are you or have you ever thought about leaving Second Life? What would you do with your time/blogs/career if you ever did?  I left it once for about eight months, when my firsty first picked up his second job.  It was for both time and money reasons, and I was delighted and chagrined when I discovered I hadn’t quit paying for it and I could come back.  In my return, I’ve been focused on squeezing in writing time, and if I left, I would continue to blog, probably more focused on Daily Post for ideas and maybe do some stuff with “What If?”.  Except I wouldn’t have the cutesy photos and I would miss them and be sad, and I would miss some of the other SL bloggers who I love to read because they make me smile.  This is my cue to provide links to Zee and to Cozey who are both great people and actually managed to deal with this topic and still be fun reads.  Whereas I’m a little more an over thinker… I tried to be fun, but this is almost as dry as the actual T.O.S….  But at least I have pretty pictures!

That's right, pretty pictures.  Bet your T.o.S. isn't illustrated like this!

That’s right, pretty pictures. Bet your T.o.S. isn’t illustrated like this!

Just to wrap up, let me get back to important/fun stuff: how I’m dressed!  The outfit is White Rabbit from [HTxDZ], I bought it in Katznip’s Wonderland during the Alice in Boobieland Hunt, a sexy take on the white rabbit character.  The outfit does come with tango apps, but I had issues (possibly because I have to convert) where my applied top clung to the sides of my boobs and my nipples were out for everyone to see.  That would be fine for some settings, but not for me today, so I ditched the Lolas and just used the 40PetiteDollyDDD shape from Alady Island, still pretty busty as you can see.  The outfit includes lots of cute fur and ruffles, but not an actual tail or ears.  Fortunately I have a furry avatar of a bunny girl, so I used those ears and tail (Thank you [AX] Avatars!).  The lovely skin was the Viola from WoW skins and my hair was “Red Messy Ponytail” source unknown.  The beautiful scenery is Serenity Gardens, currently one of the featured “Editor’s Picks” from Linden Labs.

  1. Bumblebee says:

    I figured out what can help the ‘dry’ ToS.. more steak sauce and more pretty bunny pics 😉

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