Linden Lab: Terms of Service updates and new policies

On Tuesday, July 11th, Linden Lab issued an updated Terms of Service, which is due to come into effect on July 31st, 2017. As is the Lab’s usual practice, anyone logging-in to one of the Lab’s services for the first time after the new Terms have come into force will be required to accept them. As such, a read through is advisable beforehand.

The summary of the changes indicate them to be:

  • A restructuring of the Terms to include terms and conditions that apply to all Linden Lab products, with separate product-specific references (such as Linden Dollar and LindeX for SL) now contained within product-specific policies. The new Second Life Terms and Conditions contains all the Second Life-specific references that were previously in the Terms of Service.
  • Reference to the Lab’s wholly owned subsidiaries, Tilia Inc. and Tilia Branch UK Ltd., have been added. These companies will be handling payment services on our behalf under certain circumstances. I first wrote (albeit somewhat speculatively) about Tilia Inc in November 2015.
  • Minor text revisions to clarify that Linden Lab has discretion to undertake certain account actions.
  • An updated the arbitration provision in accordance with applicable law.

In addition to the updated ToS there is a new Intellectual Property Infringement Notification Policy, which I have not had the opportunity to digest, and a new Content Guidelines document; both of which also take effect from July 31st.

The first of these bullet points sees the most extensive changes to the ToS, with the removal off sections formerly specific to SL, and the removal of references related to the Second Life (e.g. “inworld”) to more generic terms. These are all clearly part-and-parcel of adopting the ToS to encompass Sansar, and some of the amendments make for interesting reading – such as the definition of terms.

While the blog post refers to “the Second Life Terms and Conditions”, there is no actual link to such a document at present. There is a link to the Community Standards – which are still specific to Second Life. However, it is unclear if this is what is meant by “the Second Life Terms and Conditions” – and if so, they have not as yet been updated to reflect elements of the ToS specific to SL – such as the operation of “bots” or to Skill Gaming / for profit games of chance, Linden Dollars, the LindeX, etc. Nor are the ancillary policies to Second Life listed (e.g. the Machinima policy, Mainland Policy, etc.).

Excluding the changes specific to Second Life (i.e. removal of references and clauses). The most extensive changes to the ToS can be found in the following sections:

  • 1.1 – updates to defined terms
  • 2.2 – licences granted, specifically the section on “Linden Content”
  • 3 Eligibility To Use the Service
  • 4.3 – payment service providers (including Tilia Branch in the UK)
  • 7 – Infringement Notifications – now dealt with via the Intellectual Property Infringement Notification Policy
  • 9.6 – Unsolicited Ideas and Materials Prohibited; No Confidential or Special Relationship with Linden Lab
  • 10.2 – Exceptions to Requirement to Arbitrate (dispute resolution).

I’ve not had time to do more than run through a rough comparison between this updated ToS and the current version (last archived via the Wayback machine in April), so my apologies if I’ve missed anything.

 

Advertisements

The Lab’s most recent board members

In mid-March 2017, Linden Lab introduced a new member of the board of directors via a press release.

William “Bing” Gordon is a man with impressive credentials. The Chief Product Officer of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), where he serves as an advisor and General Partner, Gordon worked with Electronic Arts for 26 years from its founding in 1982, driving the company’s branding strategy with EA Sports, developed EA’s pricing strategy for package goods and on-line games, created EA’s studio organization, and contributed to the design and marketing of many EA franchises, including John Madden Football, The Sims, Sim City, Need for Speed, Tiger Woods Golf, Club Pogo and Command and Conquer. As well as EA and KPCB, he has He has served on the boards of public companies Amazon and Zynga, and was a founding director at Katango (acquired by Google 2011), ngmoco (acquired by DeNA 2010) and Audible (acquired by Amazon in 2008).

William “Bing” Gordon

One of the acknowledged experts in computer gaming, Bing Gordon was awarded the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences’ Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011, and he held the game industry’s first endowed chair in game design at The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He is a robust thinker and, unlike many in the tech industry, retains a level head when it comes to the subject of VR – in 2015, he spoke to Fortune.com about the risks involved for companies leaping into the emerging VR market.

In joining Linden Lab, Gordon will will advise on strategy, product, marketing and other issues as Linden Lab continues to improve Second Life and brings to market its new platform for user-created social VR experiences, Sansar – with the Lab particularly emphasising the latter for understandable reasons, CEO Ebbe Altberg noting:

We’re honoured to have Bing join our board of directors and work with our team,” said Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab. “He’s helped to bring to life some of the most influential entertainment experiences in recent memory, and as we prepare to open Sansar for all creators, his insights, expertise, and counsel will prove invaluable.

Bing Gordon isn’t the only relatively recent appointee to the Lab’s board of directors. He joins Mark Britto, in adding his name to LL’s board. Britto is most recently the founder/chairman of Boku, Inc., a mobile on-line payments company he founded in 2009 and which now is the leading name in mobile payments, servicing 50 countries through more than 200 carrier partners. Mr. Britto also serves on the Boards of Angieslist, PayNearMe and Sonder.

Mark Britto

After starting his career in banking, Britto co-founded Accept.com, a peer-to-peer payments company which was purchased by Amazon in 1999, where it became the primary backbone of Amazon’s global payments platform. Britto himself worked for Amazon as a Senior Vice President of Worldwide Services and Sales, prior to departing the company to take over the helm of Ingenio, a communication and e-commerce platform acquired by AT&T in 2007, and more recently re-established as an independent company in May 2013.

From this, it is clear that Britto has a wealth of experience in developing and managing payment services which would appear to be of particular merit to Linden Lab as they continue to operate their micro-currency systems for Second Life and Sansar, together with their Tilia Inc., subsidiary.

Interestingly, Mark Britto joined the Lab’s board in August 2016. However, his biography notes only appeared on the company’s leadership page in April 2017, when it was updated with Bing Gordon’s details.

Together, Mark Britto and Bing Gordon join Jed Smith, Bill Gurley and Dana L. Evan as serving members of the board at Linden Research Inc.

Lab speaks out on US Administration’s Immigration Policy

LL logoOn Thursday, February 2nd, Linden Lab became the latest tech company to speak out against the recent immigration Executive Order signed by US President, Donald Trump.

Politics is a contentious issue, and one I’ve preferred to keep out of this blog. However, there is no doubt that the move by the new US Administration has caused great concern in both the United States and around the world. More to the point, Second Life is also a global entity which has  – through the Community Standards – always sought to make a stand against intolerance on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. As such, the Lab’s statement is wholly in keeping with this standing.

The statement reads in full:

We at Linden Lab are extremely disappointed in and adamantly opposed to Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. We reject racism, intolerance, and xenophobia.

We are proud to include immigrants among our leadership, colleagues, and customers, as well as our families, friends, and communities. We value diversity, compassion, and understanding, and we are proud that our products enable people to come together and form meaningful connections regardless of differences in their offline lives.

Trump’s order is counter to what we value and antithetical to American ideals. We join the many voices calling on the US government to remove this restriction as quickly as possible and to refrain from imposing additional barriers that threaten opportunities for immigrants, under-represented minorities, and women.

Phishing: Lab issues reminder on account security

secondlifeThere has recently been another round of phishing attempts to get second Life Users to try to provide their account credentials.

As a result of these attempts, on Friday March 11th 2016, Linden lab issued a reminder to users on the subject of account security in the form of a blog post.

In keeping with the request from the Lab to share the information,  I’m reproducing the blog post in full below:

As with any online service, Second Life Residents may from time to time be targeted with phishing attempts, which try to trick users into providing personal information and account credentials.

These attempts may include messages – including in-world IMs and emails trying to appear as if they were sent from Linden Lab – that prompt you to click on a link and/or provide personal information.

To help keep yourself safe from these tricks, remember: 

  • If you receive a suspicious email, forward it to phishing@secondlife.com and delete it.
  • If you receive a suspicious IM, file an abuse report against the sender even if the sender looks like your friend. After stealing an account, a fraudster often tries to trick the victim’s friends.
  • If you feel your account has been compromised, contact Second Life Billing through the Support Portal right away. (Better yet, call us at the number provided on the Support Portal)
  • Keep your anti virus software up-to-date and scan for viruses regularly.
  • You can change your account password; do so frequently to keep your account secure. If you suspect you’ve already clicked a phishing link, change your password immediately.
  • If you have multiple accounts, use a different password for each account.
  • Never reuse your Second Life password for your email account or any other website.
  • Your password should be easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess.
  • If you think you entered your credit card information into a fake email or website, contact your bank immediately!

For more info, check out this page on the wiki.

Help your fellow Second Life Residents keep their accounts secure by sharing this post with them. Bookmark it, and the next time you see phishing attempts in group chat, share this post to help educate others. You can help put phishers out of business.

 

 

Lab: Faster Credit Processing & Upcoming Changes to Fees

secondlifeOn Monday, March 6th, Linden Lab has published a blog post on faster credit processing and pay-out, together with changes to fee structure for processing credit and paying real money to users’ PayPal and Skrill accounts, and on the fees charged for purchasing L$ on the LindeX. both of these fee changes coming into effect as from Tuesday, April 5th, 2016.

This is an important notification, and one which should be read in full. However, the core changes the Lab are making are quoted below:

Faster Credit Processing

We’re happy to announce that we will significantly improve how quickly we’re able to process a majority of credit requests.

Based on current data, we estimate that the upgrades we’ve made will allow approximately 75% of process credit requests to be completed within 2 business days.

For a minority of requests, the process may still take 5 business days. Because we’re dealing with sending real money to users around the world, we may require additional information and perform other processes that could impact the time needed. A good rule of thumb is that the better we know you as a customer, the more likely it is we’ll be able to quickly process your credit requests.

Changes to the Fee Structure

In addition to taking time, processing credit and paying real money to users’ PayPal and Skrill accounts incurs costs to Linden Lab. Each transaction actually costs us more than the $1 (USD) fee we have been charging. To address that and in light of the significant investments we’ve made to improve the related systems and processes, we will be making some adjustments to the fee structure, beginning next month.

As of April 5, 2016, instead of charging a flat fee of $1 (USD) per transaction, we will charge a fee of 1.5% of the transaction value, with a minimum fee of $3 (USD) and a maximum of $15 (USD). Additionally, the fee for purchasing L$ on the LindeX will increase 10¢, from $0.30 (USD) to $0.40 (USD) per transaction.

Compliance and improved processing has been one of the core focus areas for Linden Lab over the course of that past 12+ months. Work which has involved, among other things, the formation of a subsidiary company, and which is intended to support both Second Life and Project Sansar.  As such, the post from the Lab would seem to indicate the major part of this effort is now complete, and that, as promised through various discussions such as Lab Chat, users will be able to enjoy faster payouts, albeit it with increased fees.

Short profile: Bjorn Laurin, VP of Product at Linden Lab

Speaking at the Meet the Lindens series at SL12B on Thursday, June 25th, Danger Linden (Don Laabs), Senior Director of Product, Virtual Worlds indicated that, having been running both Second Life and the Lab’s next generation virtual worlds platform (code-named Project Sansar) had relinquished management of the latter to his boss – Bjorn Linden (Bjorn Laurin), the Lab’s (relatively speaking) new Vice President of Product.

Mr. Laurin’s appointment slipped in somewhat under the radar around the end of March, 2015, most likely at the end of March / beginning of April.  His official bio at the Lab reads:

Bjorn Laurin, the Lab's VP of Product, directly managing Project Sansar
Bjorn Laurin, the Lab’s VP of Product, directly managing Project Sansar

Bjorn Laurin serves as the VP of Product for Linden Lab, and to that role he brings more than a decade of Web, mobile, and social networking industry experience. Prior to joining Linden Lab, Bjorn held several high-level management positions at MySpace and Yahoo!. His previous roles include VP and General Manager of Mobile at Myspace, VP of Product for Tagged, and VP of Product for Peel.

Before that, he was Director of Mobile for Yahoo!, where he launched the company’s first mobile advertising solution in the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Bjorn studied Economics and Social Geography at the Universities of Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden.

Mr. Laurin’s time at Yahoo! spans almost a decade, during which he worked in Sweden, the UK and the USA. He was at Myspace for some 3 years, with a year-long stint at Fox Interactive Media between the two.

That Mr. Laurin has such an in-depth and extensive background in mobile technology and services may have some Second Life users questioning his appointment on the grounds that “he has no experience” with virtual worlds. While the latter may be true, the Lab does have plenty of experience with virtual worlds, and Mr. Laurin has a lot of experience in product development and delivery, and in management – all of which would appear to be ideal qualifications for the role at the Lab.

Furthermore, it’s worth remembering that the Lab’s next generation platform is designed to be accessible through multiple means and services – of which, mobile will be a central part (it is, after all, something Second Life users have been wanting), ergo, having someone with the knowledge and experience on managing mobile related projects in a senior position at the Lab makes a lot of sense.

So, a belated welcome to Mr. Laurin from those of us in Second Life, and a quick note to say I’ll have more on Project Sansar in an upcoming article.