Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 IPRIGHTS: WRITE: If you want to sell exclusive rights to your writing, don't put it on notecards in SL

If you want to sell exclusive rights to your writing, don't put it on notecards in SL
Writers and videographers (people who make machinima) are the first to have been affected by the new Terms of Service established by Linden Lab in August 2013.  
These terms could be interpreted to apply to any written material that was put into a notecard in Second Life.  That would mean that Linden Lab has the right to publish and sell such material.  They don't have to get your permission.  They don't have to pay you anything.  They don't even have to acknowledge your as author.  
Executive Summary 
  • For future content,  just don't put your valuable work into notecards
  • For previous content, try to get LL to waive its possible claims on selling your work.
  • Even if you don't get a waiver, you will get a good story. 
  • If you don;t want to publish that story, tell it to a few bloggers.
How does something that might be so become an immediate problem?
Let's suppose that you are a writer and have written a book of poetry.   You offer this book to a publisher and the publisher responds with a contract offer for publishing your book. Somewhere in that contract, you have to sign a certification that you have exclusive rights to every poem in the book.  But some number of those poems have been copied onto notecards and given out in Second Life.  You might still have exclusive rights to those poems.  But you might not.
You will need a legal determination of this matter before you can complete the contract.  Either that or you cut out the poems in question and hope that the publisher still wants the book.  To keep the poems in the book, you can contact Linden Lab and ask them to sign a legal document waiving their possible claim to rights to your poems.  
Who do you contact at Linden Lab?  I don't know.  You can explore that now if you like.  Just ask Linden Lab for that waiver right now.  Best get a lawyer first, to draw up the document, so you can be sure it is legally binding.   Sure that will cost money.  But if you don't have exclusive rights to your writing when you want to sell it to a publisher, that could cost money, too. 
But that is not the only cost you might have.  Imagine that you have the good fortune to find someone at Linden Lab who actually has the authority to comply with your request.  (You are a writer.  You have the powerful imagination needed to imagine that.)   Do you really think they will run your document through their legaladministrative, fiscal, and other processes for nothing?   Maybe you can imagine that, but I used up all my imaginative strength on that part about finding someone who can handle your request.     
If you have previous work in notecard form and you think it might be marketable to a publisher, you may want to try this route.  If anyone does try this, I would be quite interested in publishing the results.  
What other choices do you have?  With regard to previous work, already uploaded into Second Life, there is not much else you can do.  Some writers have gone through their inventories and deleted all the notecards they have made with their writings.  Unfortunately, if the notecards were given to anyone else, they will remain in the database to be available to those other people.  And even if everyone deleted the notecards, the files remain in the database until Linden Lab deletes them.  
But surely Linden Lab would delete files that are of no possible use.   Of course they would, but Linden Lab may have the right to sell this content.  That may attach a value to those files.   You can't expect them to delete files that have potential monetary value.  
With regard to your future work you do have other choices.  The simplest is to avoid putting your work into notecards.  You can use a free cloud drive, such as offered by Google or Dropbox.   I use Google drive.  I put the content I want to share into my Google drive, set it for sharing read only, and give out the link in local chat.  That is easier than creating and distributing a notecard.  And the filed result can be in more readable form.  (I use .rtf)
Video-Machinima in virtual worlds
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    1. I put my work into a multiple repositories and formats. Primary form is a database so I can query it based on keyword, topic, tags, etc.

      And I back that sucker up and test-restore it regularly.


      1. inform everyone you know Crap, linden is full of crap.

    2. U.S. constitution and Bern Treat trump linden labs. they did anything like what their ToS claims, the open themselves up to a class action lawsuit of potentially international proportions. i kind of hope they try it, Doyle Labs sounds pretty good.

    3. I hope LL will soon see that once again they're cutting off their nose. I know a few writers are looking into moving to Inworldz or Opensims. Linden Labs, if you're reading this, it's time to fix the TOS.