The Drax Files Radio Hour 13 features Richard Goldberg, artist, creator, member of MadPea Productions (and a personal friend, I’ll say that up front 🙂 ), talking about the Linden Lab Terms of Service. As just about everyone is aware, these were changed in August of 2013, only to cause considerable upset and furore once the specifics of the changes – notably section 2.3 – became apparent.
Ahead of Richard, however, the show features a follow-up chat (3:30 into the show) with Dennis Harper, Senior Product Manager at OnLive, discussing OnLive’s revised pricing structure for their SL Go service (alongside a huge expansion of the number of countries in which the service is available). While pointing out that the service has met with an overwhelming thumbs-up in terms of the added accessibility it brings to Second life for those on the move, he frankly admits that it was clear pricing was an issue.
The company actually moved rapidly in this regard as well. While we were asked not to make any public statements at the time, those of us involved in the preview programme (and, I assume those in the closed beta), were asked to complete a survey and provide feedback and thoughts pricing options and points. There were also some direct exchanges with a number of us on the matter as well.
From Dennis’ feedback, it seems those who did respond to the survey may have been indicating roughly the same amount for a monthly subscription (I suggested $15.00-$20.00 in the survey, with the lower figure being comparable to the company’s CloudLift monthly subscription), with the result that the company opted to go even lower, with the $9.95 charge, while retaining the pay-as-you-go (PAYG) option (which again, I personally felt was important and offered the greatest flexibility of appeal if offered alongside a subscription plan), which has also been dropped to a flat rate of $1.00 per hour.
An important point of note with the subscription mechanism is that it commitment-free. If you sign-up to the subscription service and find that you’re not using the service less than 10 hours a month, you can switch-over to the PAYG model. Similarly, if you start-out on the PAYG model, you can swap to the subscription model if you find it more cost-effective – then swap back, if your usage time then decreases; any unused hours you have under the PAYG plan will be “banked” for you until you switch back.
I’d actually asked OnLive about the status of SL Go for the iOS platform, but Dennis covers that topic in the interview ahead of my getting feedback from OnLive, saying that is it coming, but is still a little way down the road. He also manages to get-in a plug for the OnLive CloudLift service, which also launched at the same time as SL Go.
Richard and I have been, and without going into specifics, very closely involved in matters relating to the Terms of Service since the changes were made. As such, I’ve come to respect his position and viewpoint – which admittedly, has been pretty closely aligned to my own. As such, this is an interview I’ve been looking forward to hearing since Drax indicated he’d be talking to Richard some three weeks ago.
Richard makes a very strong case as to why the ToS as we have it today goes too far. In essence, this can be defined in a single term: lack of limitations. There might actually reasons why the Lab may wish to extend their existing ToS – such as to offer content creators additional routes to market within the Lab’s stable of properties (such as through Desura), should creators wish to do so, or to make services like SL Go (whose servers must be able to cache data, much as the viewer does, on your behalf).
However, there appears to be no reason why, even allowing for these situations, the Terms of Service need to have a perpetual, unlimited scope or purpose. As Richard states – and the handful of IP and Copyright lawyers I’ve spoken to agree with him – it should be a relatively straightforward matter to sit down look at the ToS wording and revise it in such a way that allows the Lab to meet all reasonable goals and expectations required of their services and platforms and provide a comforting degree of limitation for content creators and artists with regards to the licences assigned to the Lab (and their sub-licensees) in terms of the scope, purpose and duration of said licences.
Beyond the immediate issue of the ToS situation, Richard paints a very good picture of the broader issues of rights and copyright and the increasingly uphill battle artists and creators face. In this regard, I would recommend anyone wanting to better understand matters listen to this entire interview and consider listening to the views of Agenda Faroment and Tim Faith as recorded in these pages through my transcripts of the October 2013 ToS discussion panel on the ToS, and the SLBA March 2014 Copyright & Fair Use presentation.
Outside of these two items, there’s the inevitable mention of VR headsets, plus pointers to the various links on the web page itself. In reference to one of these – the Petrovsky Flux – I’d also point to my article on the subject and also Ziki Questi’s update, both of which should provide further information on matters.