ToS changes: further ripples in the pond – Machinimatrix and Bryn Oh

There are further public ripples in the pond resulting from the August 15th changes to LL’s Terms of Service

Machinimatrix Refocus Terminology on OpenSim

Word is spreading that  the Machinimatrix team are responding to the recent changes to Linden Lab’s Terms of Service (ToS), having issued a blog post on the matter, which reads in part:

Dear customers;

Recently Linden Labs have changed their TOS. First and most important for you:

This has no direct impact on our support and we will continue our offers as before.

However we feel uncomfortable about the change of the TOS and we have made a few moves to support those who no longer have access to Second Life. And finally we have decided to reduce indirect advertisement for the Second Life platform.

The post goes on to state that:

  • Specific changes will see the team introduce a wider range of payment options for their products
  • All web documentation has had references to Second Life replaced by OpenSim, unless a reference is directly relevant to Second Life, in which case it has been replaced by “SL”
  • A top-to-bottom renaming within the Avastar user interface which sees all references to Second Life replaced with references to OpenSim,
  • A similar removal of references to Second Life in the Blender Collada exporter, with references to OpenSim replacing it. Other products within the Machinimatrix

The team also make it clear that in making these changes, no actual functionality has changed within their products.

Bryn Oh Resigns from LEA

Bryn Oh, perhaps once of the most high-profile members of the Linden Endowment for the Arts has publicly resigned from that body.

Having already commented on the revision to Section 2.3 of the ToS, Bryn has now written publicly on the subject from apersonal perspective, and does so quite damningly, highlighting one of the principal issues which has come about as a result of the wording of the section 2.3, noting:

One thing I do in both first life and Second Life is try to convince artists that they and their art are worth something.  You see, artists are quite often taken advantage of.  People will pay a plumber to fix a sink or a roofer to fix a roof because it is a skill they do not possess themselves, and they accept and recognize that.  However, most people also can not paint pictures, yet they will suggest that it would be great “exposure” to put things in their Law Office or Hotel.  When I was just out of art school I was convinced to do 25 pen and ink drawings for an expensive coffee table book.. for “exposure”.  They thanked me in the back of the book.  And somehow I felt like they did me a favour.  They probably paid everyone else but me.

She goes on:

As it stands now I don’t feel comfortable luring artists into creating content for Linden Labs who can pretty much do whatever they want with it.  I will take the risk with my own content but I wont encourage others to do so.  For example, if you developed a revolutionary method for treating people with Schizophrenia by using specific techniques combining art, original music and the virtual space then built or demonstrated it in SL, it would no longer be yours exclusively.  Linden Lab could scoop it up and put their money behind it, while you struggled to promote it from your basement … It is just another indignity artists and thinkers must suffer and I don’t want to be a part of it.

Bryn’s letter makes powerful reading, and underlines the fact that at the end of the day, it doesn’t actually matter why the Lab has seen fit to allow such sweeping statements as found in Section 2.3 of the ToS. It really doesn’t matter if it’s actually down to a short-sighted consequence of trying to combine the Desura Terms of Use with the ToS or whether there is some deeper, darker and hidden meaning people are exhausting time and effort trying to discern.

What actually matters is that the wording, as given in the ToS today, is untenable for many, and with very good reason, and is – as I’ve said before, and Bryn underlines – a further erosion of community / company trust which really should be more directly and clearly addressed by the Lab.

Sadly, and while continuing with efforts to encourage them do so elsewhere, I don’t actually believe they will.

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12 thoughts on “ToS changes: further ripples in the pond – Machinimatrix and Bryn Oh

  1. Sadly i agree, SL has fallen to the ignorant and greedy. No longer do they care about the very world that they have created but more about a dollar and taking advantage of others. Personally I have played and enjoyed SL for many many years and I can tell you now, you will not see another design from myself, company nor anyone associated with clubs, stores or rentals. Second Life, more specifically, Pres, you are seriously in need of a re-evaluation of what it means to be a human. Second life was created to bring people together in a form of understanding one thing or many things while joining forces with like minded people. You have taken that from us in so many respects, this is just the latest. Your inability to fix issues within the world, such as lag intensity and pure horrid inventory management have caused you to trip over your own feet as you search for another way to save and profit from a dying community. If you want to save it, I suggest you start paying more attention to the actual residents and not some dead beat with a linden tag and way too much power over-load. You didn’t make Second Life into what it is today, we did and until you fix at least the TOS you are destined to fail…so get off your wallets, put them away, you have enough in them and give back to the people which have given so much to you as a company…that is the only answer.

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  2. At the current pace of Second Life’s downward spiral (based on declining region counts), it’ll survive until at least 2020 or so. I think most creators and users are content with that. Linden Lab is content with that; especially if they’re releasing 4-6 potential revenue replacements a year. They probably figure one will be a long-term hit sooner rather than later. There’s no motivation to be a moral company when the status quo is just fine. I believe nothing can change how Linden Lab behaves except sudden competition to Second Life while it’s still their lifeblood.

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  3. Bryn has made the right decision.

    My position has been that it is foolish to volunteer your services for a for-profit company, but the new ToS transforms that foolishness to outright madness. If you’ve got your Godwin card ready, then I’m fine with opening the match with the term “kapo.”

    Oh well. Play on, right?

    -ls/cm

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  4. Lol…re: work for free for the exposure. How often have I heard that? Regularly. Yet if I’m a lap dancer they can’t wait to put Lindens in my pocket. I guess I picked the wrong profession? If the content providers leave what’s left? Things can go South very quickly (anyone ever heard of Block Buster lately?). I get the impression LL is a Real Estate Company only? But lets not forget you can now buy RL houses for a buck in some US cities.

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  5. Even if you take the Lab at their word, that doesn’t change the fact that the language remains that grants the next owners (and there will eventually be a “next owner”) the rights to do whatever they want to your stuff in SL, forever.

    Gotta take the long view on issues like this, and in this case the long view isn’t promising…

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  6. Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t at least some of the things they might have wanted the “for any purpose…” clause already covered by the previous wording?

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  7. I agree that speculating about the “why” is also not very productive. The question here is that for anyone doing content creation, SL ceased to be an option. And I also agree, it’s not just an issue of doing pretty clothes; it’s innovative concepts being put to practice using SL.

    I still have clients in the educational market. They have published several articles and presented their innovative use of virtual worlds in academic conferences. Fortunately for them, they’re using OpenSimulator. If not, LL would now be in a position to claim authorship for their work. This is absolutely unacceptable: imagine if web hosting companies would start claiming the rights over their users’ content; or if Google started claiming rights over emails written and stored in Gmail, or documents in Google Drive. What would happen? Obviously those companies would immediately be shunned — because there is an option.

    LL forgets that virtual worlds have an option too, and it’s called OpenSimulator: it might not have “millions of users” (whatever that means) or “billions of objects”, but, well, it ensures that intellectual property stays in the hands of their creators.

    So the future Metaverse, where innovation and art will continue to expand, will very likely happen outside Second Life. And that’s just because a stupid lawyer wrote a single sentence wrongly and refuses to correct it. How absurd is that?

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    1. It’s the implications you mention which also sit foremost in my mind; Crap has also commented on the same as well in this blog and elsewhere.

      The competition angle is something I find ironic. Firstly, because Rod Humble had a little dig at the lack of competition in a recent Gamasutra interview – while the focus of the interview was the Desura acquisition, as the interviewer noted, the comment on lack of competition also encapsulated SL as well. At the time of reading it, the expression, “Be careful what you wish for” sprang to mind.

      As has been demontrated by recent moves at Kitely (which I’ve yet to pull out of draft and publish … time, where art thou when I need you…?) moves are already being made to capitalise on this ToS change which could go a good way to seeing Rod Humble rue the day he poked at the lack of competition.

      The broader point here is not just how those of us engaged in SL look at Section 2.3 – boilerplated or otherwise – it is how those outside of SL / virtual worlds who are looking to involve themselves in a virtual project look upon it in comparision to other environments, particularly as word continues to spread. At a time when the Lab is trying to draw-in new users, they seem to be working against themselves it trying to attract the level of interest / investment (time and effort-wise, rather than financially) they’re trying to attract.

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