TPV: brown bag and changes?

On the 13th, Joe (Miller) Linden held the first of his brown bag meetings with TPV developers to discuss the Third Party Viewer Policy. The various transcripts and audio recordings make interesting (if headache inducing) reading / listening.

While it was unfortunate that LL decreed the meeting would be in Voice – thereby potentially limiting input and participation (specifics raised in chat seemed to be somewhat ignored) – the meeting wasn’t as fractious as might have been the case, given the amount of ire the TPVP has created. Certainly, despite the efforts of some to try an disrupt proceedings by crashing sims, etc., progress seemed to be made in the key areas of contention – notably Section 7 of the policy.

This section has caused contention largely due to the wording. If taken 100% literally, it would appear to be shifting all responsibility for TPV code onto the shoulders of TPV developers. While this was not LL’s intent – as I’ve said elsewhere, they are not malicious – the wording did leave a lot to be desired. And while some may disagree, part of the problem does stem from the fact Section 7 mixes the development of a viewer with its use by others. Beyond this, there is the problem that a literal reading of some of the clauses – 7a, for example, appears to give the impression TPVs take responsibility for LL’s code when LL absolve themselves of all blame.

Whether one agrees with this standpoint or not (I personally don’t – and I sincerely doubt the law would interpret the language in the manner some TPV devs fear) – the the wording does cause angst and could be reworded without compromising the TPVP rather suggests that there would be no damage done were minor adjustments to be made to the phrasing of the clause – and this was indeed suggested.

A similar discussion was had around clause 7d, where again, it was apparent that much angst could be resolved by simply striking the first sentence in the clause; what was more, doing so could clarify LL’s position on matters of liability.

Elsewhere, people were more receptive to the fact that the TPVP is concerned with connecting to a service, and therefore stands aside from GPL requirements – something that seemed clear to many “outside” observers on the matter, including myself. Most interestingly, Lance Corrimal indicated that the Free Software Foundation’d licensing expert did not find the TPV to be in conflict with the GPL. That it would be is something I’ve had a hard time getting my head around; again, LL are not stupid. They did blunder with the original draft of the TPV – but they also stated the re-draft would be passed in front of experts in licensing and the GPL. I doubt that they  would subsequently go ahead and release the re-draft without following through on their intent to do so; ergo, it was hard to see how the experts they potentially used to review the TPVP got it so badly “wrong”, while those (with the greatest of respect) not versed in licensing and law were so adamant it is “wrong”.

What remains to be seen for the moment is how much fruit this first discussion bears between now and the next (set, I believe, for next week). When one puts aside all the angst and subjectivity surrounding clauses 7a and 7d, both could be more clearly worded without, as I’ve stated, impinging on the TPVP’s overall intent. As such, I would hope LL will take the suggested re-wording of both to heart and update the clauses.

It would still be nice to see the TPVP more clearly focused on the development of such viewers, with anything relating to the use of the same moved to the ToS. This would not only make the TPVP more focused for both LL and TPV developers – it would ensure the limitations on the use of such viewers are placed where they have a chance of being read by the majority.

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