Second Life’s Terms of Service have again circulated through the chat-sphere, pointing to serious flaws in the virtual world’s management. (ToS is after the jump, FYI)
As you can imagine, no one likes a sinking ship, and for those of us investing time, money, and creativity into the game, the prospect of giving up intellectual and other rights is enough to cause users to jump. Creation has always been at the very frame of SL, fueling exciting new developments in scripting, building, and narrative. Without the creative frame our ship is indeed in trouble.
No matter where you fall on the interpretation of the ToS (and you can look at the forums for the debate) the intent of the ToS, combined with some cost-saving measures point to a disturbing lack of faith or willingness to reorganize Second Life. “Full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes” never works well – either in real life nor on a battleship sim. Neither is the sight of the ship’s captain, picking their nose and watching people fall over the railings, a confidence inspiring sight.
What we know about second life is that it is a working vessel for creativity, community, and gaming that is built around the ability to form not only the players environments, but also the very things they use and interact with. The commerce that comes from that finances further invention and creativity. Whether for money or recognition, people create as long as what they create is theirs. The current ToS challenges this, so yes, the grid is scared. Scared about what it means when creators no longer control what they have, and scared about the ship. Where the heck is it going? Is it going to miss the iceberg?
Keep reading after the jump!
The part of the ToS that has everyone riled (there are other questionable parts too):
2.3 You grant Linden Lab certain licenses to your User Content.
You retain any and all Intellectual Property Rights you already hold under applicable law in Content you upload, publish, and submit to or through the Servers, Websites, and other areas of the Service, subject to the rights, licenses, and other terms of this Agreement, including any underlying rights of other users or Linden Lab in Content that you may use or modify.
In connection with Content you upload, publish, or submit to any part of the Service, you affirm, represent, and warrant that you own or have all necessary Intellectual Property Rights, licenses, consents, and permissions to use and authorize Linden Lab and users of Second Life to use the Content in the manner contemplated by the Service and these Terms of Service.
Because the law may or may not recognize certain Intellectual Property Rights in any particular Content, you should consult a lawyer if you want legal advice regarding your legal rights in a specific situation. You acknowledge and agree that you are responsible for knowing, protecting, and enforcing any Intellectual Property Rights you hold, and that Linden Lab cannot do so on your behalf.
Except as prohibited by law, you hereby waive, and you agree to waive, any moral rights (including attribution and integrity) that you may have in any User Content, even if it is altered or changed in a manner not agreeable to you. To the extent not waivable, you irrevocably agree not to exercise such rights (if any) in a manner that interferes with any exercise of the granted rights. You understand that you will not receive any fees, sums, consideration or remuneration for any of the rights granted in this Section.
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. You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Service and future improvements to the Service. The license granted in this Section 2.3 is referred to as the “Service Content License.”
Linden Lab has no obligation to monitor or enforce your intellectual property rights to your User Content, but you grant us the right to protect and enforce our rights to your User Content, including by bringing and controlling actions in your name and on your behalf (at Linden Lab’s cost and expense, to which you hereby consent and irrevocably appoint Linden Lab as your attorney-in-fact, with the power of substitution and delegation, which appointment is coupled with an interest).