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.”
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.
- SL forum discussion thread
- ToS Changes: The “Desura connection” and a personal perspective – September 28th
- ToS Changes: In-world meeting – September 29th
- ToS in-world meeting, September 29th: a personal perspective – September 30th
- Terms of Service articles in this blog