ToS change and content rights: Lab provides statement

In August 2013 Linden Lab issued a revised Terms of Service which was widely reported upon at the time, including within this blog.

Unfortunately, what seems to have been missed from the analyses of the revised ToS (including my own), is a substantial rewording of the section dealing with granting “Linden Lab certain licenses to your User Content”

Up until the August change, this section (then Section 7.2 of the Terms of Service) stated:

“You agree that by uploading, publishing, or submitting any Content to or through the Servers, Websites, or other areas of the Service, you hereby automatically grant Linden Lab a non-exclusive, worldwide, royalty-free, sublicenseable, and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the Content solely for the purposes of providing and promoting the Service.”

[my emphasis]

However, as of August 2013, the section (now section 2.3) has been expanded so that it now includes the following statement:

“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.”

[emphasis again mine]

The difference in wording here has been the subject of forum discussions and blog posts, with users raising concerns over the change, specifically the emphasized phrases. I also received a number of IMs and note cards about the change over the weekend, particularly as a result of one supplier of images used for texture uploads to Second Life announcing they could, as of September 6th, no longer allow their work to be uploaded and used within the platform.

Rather than add to speculation already circulating, I contacted Linden Lab directly about the changes to the Terms of Service and the concerns being voiced. The Lab duly replied with the following statement, which I have been given permission to reproduce in full here:

“Recently we updated our Terms of Service to unify the existing terms of service for our various products into a single version. This updated version included a clarification with respect to the specific rights which a user grants to Linden Lab when submitting user-created content (referred to as the ‘Service Content License’) and, except as set forth in any related Linden Lab policies (referred to as ‘Additional Terms’), the right to ‘re-sell’ such user-created content.

“As previously indicated, the updated Terms of Service encompass a wide variety of Linden Lab products and services. We made every effort to incorporate Second Life’s existing policies in a distinct manner. We realize that the general nature of portions of the new Terms of Service may have led some individuals to believe, mistakenly, that Linden Lab was renouncing existing Second Life policies and practices or attempting to expropriate content created by Second Life residents. To that end, we want to further elucidate and reiterate our practice with respect to the Service Content License (and specifically Linden Lab’s right to re-sell user-created content) in Second Life. 

“As an example, Linden Lab’s Second Life Mainland Policies (cited as “Additional Terms” in the updated Terms of Service) have long included Linden Lab’s right to “re-sell or otherwise alter abandoned parcels of SL’s mainland,” including, if and to the extent necessary, any user-created content incorporated into such parcels. Additionally, Linden Lab often acts as an intermediary between Second Life residents (for instance, in its capacity as the operator of the Second Life Marketplace) which necessitates that Linden Lab have certain rights (such as the right to re-sell) in order to effectuate such exchanges or transactions.

“As evidenced by Second Life’s extensive history, functionality and well-documented policies for providing a platform on which users can create and profit from their creations, Linden Lab respects the proprietary rights of Second Life’s content creators. We regret that our intention in revising our Terms of Service to streamline our business may have been misconstrued by some as an attempt to appropriate Second Life residents’ original content. We have no intention of abandoning our deep-rooted dedication to facilitating residents’ ability to create and commercialize such content in Second Life. In fact, we strive to provide Second Life’s residents with evermore opportunities to do so.”

Whether this is enough to quell concerns over the changes to the Terms of Service, or whether it is enough to be seen as acceptable to third-party sites providing content uploads (textures, etc.) to Second Life remains to be seen. However, I would like to thank Linden Lab for taking the time to respond to my request for clarification and feedback in the matter, and for permission to reproduce it here.

With thanks to Toirdealbach McDunnough and Carina Asbrink for initially contacting me about concerns circulating within Second Life about the ToS change.

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Lab opens website advertising to SL businesses and merchants

Back in February 2013, the Lab introduced advertising on Secondlife.com.  The move brought a mixed response from users, some positive, some negative. In March, the programme was extended to include the SL Marketplace, and the Lab indicated they’d be adding advertising to all their web properties over time.

Merchants and businesses are now being offered the opportunity to advertise on SL web properties
Merchants and businesses are now being offered the opportunity to advertise on SL web properties

In extending the advertising presence in March, the Lab’s blog post commented:

These ads are a great opportunity for advertisers to reach the large, global audience that visits the Second Life web properties every day, and we want to extend that opportunity to Second Life merchants as soon as we can. For Merchants, advertising on the Second Life web properties will be a new way to get their offerings in front of potential customers, while at the same time making the ads extremely relevant to every Second Life user who sees them.

The Lab has now started contacting merchants to offer them the opportunity to make use of the banner space on the various Second Life related web properties – Second Life.com, the dashboard (/My Account – what you see when logged into Second Life on the web), the Marketplace, etc.

The programme is called Advertise with Us, and there is an official FAQ on the subject.

Space can be purchased on a campaign basis, based on number of impressions, and the marketing can be geographically targeted – so a campaign can be specifically targeted by language, for example, or by region.

Two sizes of ad are available:

  • 728×90 horizontal top & bottom
  • 160×600 vertical right side

However, there is a bite to the offer. The minimum expenditure for a single campaign is $1,000 USD (L$ payments cannot at this time be accepted), with individual advertising costs as follows.

Advertise-with-usAdverts across more than one property can be purchased as a part of a campaign, and merchants can specify their requirements via the Advertiser Information Form, which must be submitted in advance in order for a merchant to signify interest in the scheme and receive further information / instructions  from Linden Lab (no payment required at the time of submitting the form). All ads must conform with the Ad Unit Guidelines.

There is no upper limit to campaigns, so long as the minimum fee of $1,000 USD is met, and campaigns of $10,000 or more can be invoiced. Additional requirements are outlined in the FAQ.

While the minimum cost of a campaign may seem expensive, the cost per 1,000 impressions is roughly equitable to charges made by Google for banner advertising. With a high monthly number of uniques (estimated at around 350,000 for properties such as the dashboard / My Account and the SL Marketplace), the advertising might be seen as highly targeted at an audience liable to have an interest in products and services on offer – assuming they are not using browser-based ad blockers.

For further details please refer to the links below.

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