Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 IPRIGHTS: Linden Lab, UCCSL: Six months (NO) progress report

IPRIGHTS:  Linden Lab, UCCSL:  
Six months (NO) progress report 
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The issue:  
The first response to UCCSL:
Although that response sounded promising, there has been no change in the TOS.   Other statements from Linden Lab claim that they really don't mean that you have given them license to sell your Second Life products anywhere, without paying you and potentially in completion with you.   Another clause in the TOS says that such statements, outside of the TOS, have no binding effect on the TOS.  
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Furthermore, the explanation given by Peter Gray, Director, Global Communications, Linden Lab was this:
Accordingly, the revision to our Terms of Service was made in order to further extend the ability for content creators to commercially exploit their intellectual property through user-to-user transactions across Linden Lab’s other products and services (including our distribution platform, Desura), not just within Second Life.
But six months later, there has been no public announcement from Linden Lab about how it plans to help content creators exploit their intellectual property.  No word about payment to content creators.  No word about how it will provide an accounting of these transactions across Linden Lab's other products and services.  
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Linden Lab, of course, does not need to pay content creators if it sells their products on Desura or elsewhere.  At least not those who have accepted the current TOS.    From those creators, LL already has a license to sell their products.  And the TOS makes no mention of any payments to content creators.  
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Indeed, LL could now be selling such products on Desura or elsewhere.  How would anyone know?  The TOS says nothing about giving credit to the content creator, so the creator's name wound not have to be listed.   The only way a creator would know whether LL is selling his/her products would be to search the offerings on Desura and elsewhere.    Perhaps Google Image Search would help.
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Another possibility, putting LL in a more favorable light, is that LL is negotiating privately with some company for a bulk sale of rights to all the creator content it has, presumably with the intent to pay the content creators a cut of the proceeds.  Such negotiations would probably be under a non-disclosure agreement so LL could not talk about them until the deal is done. 
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Who might LL be negotiating with on such a deal?  Well, just to pick a name off the top of my head, Microsoft.
Linden Lab now seems to be ignoring UCCSL:
  • Letter from Kylie Sabra to Peter Gray
  • This letter carries remarks by well-known content creators
  • These creators plan to reduce production in SL or to leave SL altogether.
  • See the comments by Kitto Flora (a major train and railway builder).
Kylie is now directing the efforts of UCCSL toward the broader interests of content creators, such as content theft.  Regrettably, the persisting TOS issue raises questions about the future of high quality content creation in Second Life.  Indeed, some are factoring in the departure of Rod Humble after three years a CEO and the persistent decline in Second Life land--and they are wondering whether Linden Lab may be in the process of reinventing itself.   Maybe that reinvention would reduce the role of independent content creators.  
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Some people are looking into action involving government regulations or laws.  Kylie has had some suggestions about that but is leaving that to individual action.  (My own opinion is that the effort will be ineffective and more trouble than it is worth unless you find that LL is selling your products without your permission.)  
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Many of the people I know are looking into Opensim.   I think UCCSL would be more successful if it were to broaden its scope to include the other virtual worlds.  Maybe it would change the name to United Content Creators of Virtual Worlds and seek to represent the cross platform interests content creators in the many virtual worlds.  Especially in view of the developments in Project Spark.
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Opensim as an alternative
All of the above is leading many content creators in Second Life to look at Opensim as a possible alternative outlet for their efforts.  I know of some who have left completely, as a matter of principle.  But more seem to be investigating Opensim as a place they can look to for increased sales and as a backup in case Second Life becomes even more unfriendly to independent creators.  
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I have increased coverage of Opensim in this blog: 
I found that Opensim has improved a lot in the last three years and now has a number of attractive features.  Here are some I found in Kitely:
  • Megaprims dimensions of 256 meters.
  • Megaregions of 1024x1024 meters.
  • Prim limits of 100,000 on megareqions.
  • Creation of OAR files to backup complete sims.
  • Export of OAR files to your computer.
  • Import of OAR files from your computer.
  • Running a sim on your computer (SOAS)
  • Very low cost.
There are some disadvantages to Opensim
  • Far fewer people.
  • Physics support considered unsatisfactory. 
  • Possibly more open to content theft.
I am collecting information on these issues and will be posting about them soon.  I find some indications of progress on physics, thought I don't know enough to evaluate the progress.
Related 
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Video-Machinima in virtual worlds
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