Sunday, October 20, 2013

FLASH! Update on Second Life Content Issue

Last time, I wrote about the controversial changes to the Second Life Terms of Service, in which Linden Lab appears to be claiming all rights to your Second Life creations.

On October 19, a group of lawyers held a panel discussion in world to discuss this issue, and an audio recording of the three hour session is available here:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Who Owns Your Second Life Creations?

Back in August, Linden Lab updated the Second Life Terms of Service.  Supposedly, this was done to make the TOS congruent across all of LL's products (they make some apps besides Second Life, such as Creatorverse and Block World.)

In particular, the changes to the intellectual property section has caused quite a stir among the creative community of SL.  For your convenience, here is the controversial wording:

2.3 You grant Linden Lab certain licenses to your User Content.
(4 paragraphs omitted)

Except as otherwise described in any Additional Terms (such as a contest’s official rules) which will govern the submission of your User Content, you hereby grant to Linden Lab, and you agree to grant to Linden Lab, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same. You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Service and future improvements to the Service. The license granted in this Section 2.3 is referred to as the "Service Content License."

(One paragraph omitted)

The entire TOS can be read here:

Wow, pretty sweeping, isn't it?  Any normally intelligent person reading that would conclude that LL is claiming all rights to your creations, to do anything they wish.  And that's what has the creative community up in arms.

Linden Lab has countered these concerns, in unofficial forums like Office Hours, saying that 1) these are standard terms for a service provider, and 2) they are necessary to allow your content to exist on the service and for LL to be able to provide it to others.  (By "provide", I don't mean "give it away."  I mean, the process of, say, you putting an item for sale in your store, having someone come in, buy it, and then wear it.)

But a lot of people are not buying that story.  A number of creators have stopped offering their wares in SL.  Others have left Second Life entirely.  One of the most notable and recent departures is Qarl Fizz.  You can catch his short rant against LL here:  What's important about this is that Qarl is a former Linden employee.  Surely he would know how the Lab operates, what their legal department is like, and whether they can be trusted.

Other blog posts about this controversy can be found by googling "Second Life Terms of Service Change August 2013."

There is a panel discussion among creators and lawyers on this topic this coming Saturday, October 19, at 1000 am Second Life time.  Get the particulars here:

For a service that depends so heavily for its success on its residents, I must say the change looks like LL shooting themselves in the foot again.  The original marketing slogans for SL were "Your World, Your Imagination" and "SL -- a world created by its residents."  If the creative people that made Second Life what it is (and that's NOT Linden Lab!) leave, Second Life will die.

If you create or sell anything in Second Life, you should keep up to date on this issue.  And, if you have a lot of content, you may want to consider pulling out and setting up on another grid.  I won't be doing that, I have too much emotional capital invested here, and not many original works at risk.  But Your Mileage May Vary.

See Second Life by Air, If You Dare

Way back in the old posts, I did a piece on Second Life vehicles, and it's time for a little update!

I've always loved vehicles, especially airplanes and boats, and I have quite a collection of them.  Some of them are amazingly realistic reproductions of Real Life vehicles, and some are wild flights of fancy.

But travel by vehicle in SL is chancy, for several reasons.
  • Region crossings.  If you whiz too fast across a region boundary, especially with a heavily-scripted vehicle, the servers may not be able to hand you off fast enough.  Crossing a region boundary can mean as little as a brief control freeze, or it could throw you out of control...or even leave you sitting on or under the seabed, without your craft around you.
  • Full parcels.  If you try to take a 30 prim vehicle into a parcel that already has all the prims it can possibly handle, you wind up on the seabed again, without your vehicle.
  • Ban lines.  You usually don't see them coming until you're hung up in them like a fly in a spiderweb.
  • Security orbs.  Sailboats in particular are too slow to escape most security systems before they eject you from the land they're guarding.
But an alert avatar can avoid most of these hazards, most of the time -- especially since the server upgrades of the last few months.  Region crossings have improved a great deal.  I can now reliably fly some fast jets that only a few months ago were almost guaranteed to crash every couple of regions.

There is a clever gadget called a "Ban Line HUD" that shows you ban lines, full parcels, void boundaries, and rezzing zones.  It's a great aid to navigation, and I highly recommend it.  When flying, stay above 100m to avoid ban lines.

Security systems can still be a bother, but if you stick to Linden Ocean regions you should be able to avoid those as well.

Trip Planning.
One easy way to keep your destination in sight is to first find it on the main world map before you set out.  Click your mouse cursor ONCE on the point you want to reach (twice will teleport you there!)  Now you can close the map, and a red arrow will point to that spot.  Once you get within about 400 m of it, the arrow is joined by a red vertical beacon.   But before you head out, check the Map once more for any void areas.  Plan your course so as to go around those, staying in "live" regions.

A look at the Map, a beacon pointing to your destination, and a Ban Line HUD to see and avoid hazards will help insure a safe journey!

Increase your draw distance.
If your graphics card can handle it, being able to see further both makes the trip more interesting visually, and gives you more time to see and avoid problems.  You might also want to turn off Shadows to improve your viewer's performance.

Slow down!
I mentioned my fast jets, and they are indeed lots of fun.  But even so, I recommend traveling Second Life at a slower pace.  Helicopters, balloons, sailplanes and ultralights all give you more of a chance to sight-see, and they handle region crossings smoothly.  I tried flying my WarBug airplanes over long distances recently, and found a bug in them.  If you open the Map, they go use them for local dogfighting only.

Here's a picture of one of my new favorites -- the F4U Corsair from EA Aviation.