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« NOTHING COMPARES 2 U | Main | Desmond Doesn't Live Here Anymore »

July 12, 2008


Robert Bloomfield

You seem very concerned with the possibility that someone might infringe on a resident's IP rights over content they created, and you take Linden Lab and IBM to task for not making such infringement difficult. But weaknesses in this 'code as law' approach (which there will always be) can at least be remedied by bringing in the lawyers, and suing the pants off the infringers.

I encourage you to focus more on a much more disturbing possibility--that Linden Lab may take the position that the content creator does not even have the right to take his or her own property to a server not controlled by Linden Lab.

Look at the terms of service, esp. parts 3.2-3.4. Note that you have IP over your goods "within the service" according to 3.2, and --the scary part--look at the word "only" (my caps) in 3.4:

"3.4 Linden Lab licenses its textures and environmental content to you for your use in creating content in-world.

During any period in which your Account is active and in good standing, Linden Lab gives you permission to create still and/or moving media, for use ONLY within the virtual world environment of the Service ("in-world"), which use or include the "textures" and/or "environmental content" that are both (a) created or owned by Linden Lab and (b) displayed by Linden Lab in-world."

So, if you take a picture of something you made in SL, you do not have the right to show it on NBC. If you make a shoe in SL, why should you be able to take it to an OpenSim world?

Maybe LL won't be able to defend this position, but if they can, this seems like a far more serious problem for content creators than that someone else might illegally copy their goods into another world.

Zha will be making a brief appearance at the beginning of Metanomics on Monday the 14th to talk about his teleport. Maybe I'll ask "Zha, did you arrive into that OpenSim world with no assets because you couldn't get them in, or because Linden Lab wouldn't let you take them out?"

Ann Otoole

Other people already hold patents on 3D virtual worlds anyway. It is only a matter of time before humpty dumpty falls. Linden Lab is pushing as hard as they can to toss 3D virtual worlds out the door and cleanse themselves of it and will try to be a data service provider instead of the owner of a virtual world. (With a track record of LL's handling of transactions and inventory assets how can anyone not want them handling theirs?)

It is all moot. Enjoy it while it lasts because it has an early expiration date.

As for licensing I'll say it again. Linden Lab cannot facilitate the transfer of IP they do not own out of Secondlife. The TOS is specific to Secondlife. Linden Lab has not been granted a blanket license to port content they do not own outside the realm of Secondlife. And if they do then it is a matter of time before the lawyers are cleaning their bones. I don't think Linden Lab is really that stupid. However they are a bunch of unmanaged tekkies and do not follow the proven principles of requirements first then code. Linden Lab has a bunch of guys that like to make prototype technology demonstrators and then call it production because that whole thing about those stuffy requirements and laws make coding so unfun.

So in the end it will be the lawyers that decide the fate of Linden Lab. Anyway Linden Lab belongs to Mitch Kapor and it is his private playground. Mitch will do as he pleases with his laboratory and there is nothing any of us can do or say about it. Besides... We are all a bunch of dumbass retarded misfit social rejects to Mitch Kapor and he is willing to stand there and say it to our faces. (At least he gets some street cred for being willing to say these things to his customer's faces) What more can anyone expect from all of this?

Troy McLuhan

I'm both a content creator and a coder, so have a bit of a different perspective.

While I recognize that DRM/perms can often be gotten around, I agree that they do serve a useful purpose and therefore shouldn't be scrapped.

In addition to keeping perms, I'd wish for SL items to clearly state 1) the owners of the associated copyrights (who may be different from the creators), and 2) the licenses between me and the copyright holders.

For 2), any kind of license should be allowed, not just Creative Commons licenses or some Bettina-Tizzy-approved list of possible licenses.

Incidentally, it's pretty easy to make a no-perms object. For example, if you put a no-modify/no-copy notecard inside a no-modify/no-trans prim, the overall object will be no-perms (no-modify/no-copy/no-trans) and the next owner can't delete the notecard from its contents.

Cocoanut Koala

Well, I said on the blog I would hold them to it. Doesn't mean they will actually do it.


Prokofy Neva


Zha will likely duck such a question, which isn't really how it should be worded, because he will say that he simply didn't take anything himself. SHE didn't try. And we are to trust the impeccably righteous personality of Zha in this.

Linden will say they didn't permit this -- but of course, there is nothing to stop them from changing the setttings. THEY CAN change the settings -- when they say the next grid is trustworthy.

What you're failing to grasp by refusing to look at the very simple issue here is that the Lindens are dumping their enforced permissions regime. They are not identifying another, new grid that reverse-engineered them as automatically untrustworthy on that fact alone; and even aside from that, the fact that OpenSimulator has no permissions system in it to even reflect those set in SL doesn't phaze them. THAT ALONE should be a red flag dubbing it "untrustworthy" but that's not what the Lindens mean by "untrustworthy".

Therefore Zha can lightly answer "NO" to this question and yet essentially be ducking the real questions, which have to be phrased as followed:

1. Will Linden Lab ENFORCE its current permissions regime of no mod/no copy/no transfer by declaring other grids that do not signify and respect these same permissions as "untrustworthy"?

2. Is Linden Lab able to shut off mod/no copy/no transfer permissions within its grid globally and make a decision to default all content as portable?

3. What prevents other grids, once trusted, from being able to access global permissions and shut them off or nullify them?

4. Is Linden Lab only going to focus on how merchants can distribute freely with full perms with gimmicks like Creative Commons license? Or is it going to focus on how it can protect IP through existing tools?

5. If not, is Linden Lab utterly repudiating then the enforcement of permissions implied in its tool-based implementation of inteded permissions currently operating, albeit with exploits and flaws, in SL? What is its technical position and legal position in this regard?

You are completely muddying the waters and trying to use copyleftist incitement, Robert, by raising this utterly false spectre, that will never be the case and is not the case now in all design documents and statements from the Lab, to the effect that "no content can leave the server".

By fanning the flames of that completely false and non-indicated, you are merely helping the copyleftists to say, "OMG, SL is such a walled garden, it won't even let merchants port their merchandise created in SL and sold there to be sold or given away elsewhere, aren't they cruel."

This is bullshit of course, as they do not say anything of the kind. And anything that even appears to hint at anything of the kind, why, they are under pressure to change immediately by serial-stalker and griefer and forums manipulator creep Joshua Nightshade or teenaqe autistic liberation front freedom-fighter Gareth Nelson. SO I'm sure you can count on the TOS being cleaned up to spec.

And Robert, I hope you are a better accountant than you are a lawyer. Because any careful reader can understand what this means: "its textures and environmental content". That means ITS textures -- textures that Linden Lab staff themselves make, i.e. for the ground. "Environmental content" means SL trees, sun, etc.

It doesn't mean "your textures you make with our tools".

As for their clawback on machinima, I think all you have to show there is their non-enforcement of any strict interpretation of this for five years on the gadzillion blogs and YouTubes and whatnot with a trillion screenshots and machinimas, and that will end that.

Also, again, the construction seems to be narrow -- Linden Lab's own created textures: "which use or include the "textures" and/or "environmental content" that are both (a) created or owned by Linden Lab and (b) displayed by Linden Lab in-world."

If "displayed by Linden Lab" means "the entire world because we stream that world" then they're awfully late in enforcing this and that will go badly for them.

No, the real disturbing stuff here is the stark undermining of DRM by Linden Lab.

Linden Lab, even being a hippie dope-smoking commune, at least put in DRM of sorts in the tools. Now they want to deprecate that and roll it back. There is nothing wrong with DRM. It is not evil. It is not "RIAA and Disney". It's good. It is what holds the economy together.

Nobody thinks of copy/mod/transfer limitations in SL that physically prevent copying and moving as "like DRM". Yet it is. And that's a good thing. The Lindens will fill in those dots, make the linkage counting on thecommunity's hatred of DRM, and stop worrying about the resident's economy.

Remember the other piece of what they are planning: the certified merchants. That way they will create a very feted class of people they recognize as non-thiefs but also of people they are willing to go to bat for if they are subject to theft. These people will then rule the economy, something they've long sought to do, with the Good-Housekeeping Seal.

fword utorid


computer based copy protection was tried in the 80s on every system from the commodore 64 to the Nintendo Entertainment System.

legal based copy protection is solely used to sue unsuspecting teenage mothers into debt because they downloaded an mp3 off the internet instead of waiting to record it off the radio.

My advice to you is to assume both of these are things of the distant past. Digital media IS copiable and SHOULD BE copiable. Copyright and patents are there to keep your heart medication at $100 per pill.

The Good-Housekeeping Seal and all remnants of the past should be set on fire.

Get to work on better solar powered vehicles, the cure for cancer, and things that actually have value to a world of sick, hungry, overworked people, instead of pretend triangle configurations that boost your ego and do no one any good.

you type too much.

Prokofy Neva

Did you cure cancer yet today Fword, or were you too busy blathering on forums comment sections and JIRAs?

Lidiya Martynov

A nice bit of PR bullshitting from the labs there - but ofcourse they know that there's absolutely no way whatsoever that they can have interoperability between their grid and those owned by other parties, without the permissions system becoming utterly useless.

The day interoperability arrives will be the day that it becomes absolutely effortless to full-perm everything in your entire inventory.

Yumi Murakami

Robert, that bit from the TOS only applies to the textures that the Lindens provide, in the Library and in the Bazaar/Newbie Store. Basically it says you can use them to make things in SL but you can't save them to disk and use them in 3D art for your game you're writing.

I think that we need to be careful about talking about content theft via OpenSims. The reason is because, all content can already be stolen through the client anyway - except scripts. An OpenSim could potentially steal scripted objects, which is a worry. But I would think that theft through the client, which is far more common, should be a bigger concern because it's happening right now, and if a method can be found to prevent it, the same method can probably be used on OpenSims too.

Gareth Nelson

"teenaqe autistic liberation front freedom-fighter Gareth Nelson"

lol (hint: i'm not a teen)

As to DRM:
I think what fword has just been grasping at is the concept of artificial scarcity. Basically, in RL you can't copy objects (yet, give it a century or 2 and try again) because they're limited by the laws of physics. In virtual worlds or when dealing with other media you can produce infinite copies of something without actually taking away resources from the creator. DRM when used to prevent this is creating an artificial scarcity which will almost inevitably end.

The question that comes next of course is: "is it ethical for such an artificial scarcity to be enforced?"

Now, we can answer that looking at the main schools of thought on ethics and morality quite easily.

The altruist/egalitarian systems advocated by many major world religions often tend to promote helping one's neighbour and performing charitable work. Within this school of thought, we are taught to give of ourselves and help others and not to take from them. We are especially encouraged to give where there is no cost to ourselves and in some religions usury is a sin. (for christianity see Exodus 22:25-27).

However, it can be said that regardless of artificial scarcity, to lie and take credit for other's work is sinful in many religions too.

We then look at more modern schools of thought, and here the works of Nietzsche , Ayn Rand or Anton LaVey come to mind.

Nietzsche of course ultimately held that all values must be re-evaluated on the way to the uber-mensche (I won't go into the massively complex detail behind these concepts) in a process known as "the transvaluation of all values". These new values must be based upon a love of this world and no other based on this world and not platonic idealism, other worldiness and similar beliefs. Now, if we consider that artificial scarcity is precisely that - artificial - we can also safely go on to say that ultimately enforcing it is pointless. Inevitably DRM systems will be broken, copyright laws altered, loopholes found and artificial scarcity in creative content will fade. You can delay this process, but you cannot defeat it. The answer, if one is to hold one's values in this world rather than the delusions of having moral rights in one's work or the greater delusions that artificial scarcity will be maintained forever, is to create new values which reject the copying as "evil" or "criminal".

For all who would copy your work they fall into 3 camps: creative, plagiarist and neutral. Creative individuals will most likely improve the overall results greater than you yourself if enough of them are allowed to do so. Plagiarists are generally scum and parasites - these are the ones who will copy your work, slap their name on it and pass it off as their own. Then there's the neutral ones who are most likely fans of your work - these are for example the ones who will download mp3s of their favourite music.

(bear with me here)

If we now look at good old Ayn Rand, we can find something that Rand herself would almost certainly disagree with but which makes sense as a logical extension of her philosophy. Essentially, by granting an enforced monopoly on production of certain works to private parties (both individuals and companies) via existing copyright law, the government is impeding innovation and progress and impeding competition in the free market eventually.

If you can't figure out how DRM restricts the free market, here's an example:

"OSS projects have been able to gain a foothold in many server applications because of the wide utility of highly commoditized, simple protocols. By extending these protocols and developing new protocols, we can deny OSS projects entry into the market."

Now, microsoft in particular the US government did start antitrust proceedings against:

But they're still corrupting standards bodies to get their patented stuff spread and thus locking out the rest of the free market:

And now, we get back to SL...

As someone who owns a competitor to SL myself, I can say that any kind of DRM which prevents people from easily leaving SL and coming over to my alternative is directly impacting upon competition in the market place. I can also say that anyone who takes my code and locks it away is doing likewise but also taking away more and effectively exploiting my labour.

While I wish copyright law was different from what it is, I have to put up with it and abide by it. In a perfect world copyright law would not be used to enforce artificial scarcity but would enable authors of creative works to be credited for them and contract law would still enable intellectual workers to be paid for their efforts (i.e if they produce work for hire).

Gareth Nelson

Also, I have to laugh hard at this:
Latha Serevi: The SCO case is an example of honest rights-holders being trampled by IBM's lawyers. I can see why Prok brought it up.

In the SCO case SCO were the malacious party:

IBMs lawyers were simply defending themselves, Red Hat (a big linux distributor) actually filed suit against SCO for what amounted to fraud:

Prokofy Neva

A little knowledge is a danger thing; a college education with peers can help to take the sharp edges off literalism and the stupidity that comes with it.

The lawsuit was cited merely as an example of how IBM can find itself in lawsuits. There was actually a btter one more illustrative of the point but I couldn't find it. The point about SCO is merely this: IBM has lawsuits, and they can hang people out to dry and people will differ about who is in the right.

We left Ayn Rand behind in the last century, most of us, if we ever picked her up. To continue to invoke her is some sort of wikian retardation as she never had any significant following.

Copyright does not hamper innovation; it protects it and makes it able to be sold so that innovators can get paid. This religious belief of copyleftism to the contrary is very infantile and destructive, but eventually, like eunuchs, some zealots die out, because they can't survive.

There is a silly neo-communist movement that claims that by endlessly contributing to the collective and making collective work produts or community goodfeel and groupthink that you will advance yourself and...somebody will pay you. Other than your Mom, the Government, or your Big IT Corp I can't imagine who that will be. Not real customers, who usually back off from such hippie goo pretty quickly.

Gareth Nelson

"Copyright does not hamper innovation; it protects it and makes it able to be sold so that innovators can get paid."

Re-read my comment above, software patents and copyright are both extensively abused to hold back innovation.

Prokofy Neva

I notice you took of "age 19" from your profile, Gareth. Turn 20, did you? Put down the red bull.

You are not tethered to reality. People make and sell patents and trademark copyrighted items all over the world, every day, in every way, like my father, and grandfather, and many people all over the earth working jobs, and supporting families -- unlike you, who sit in your mom's basement, and hack on computers all day.

Write when you get work.

Sean Williams

A college education merely teaches you to think inside the box the educators and others want you to think in Prokofy. It is no substitute for personal education and actually thinking on your own.

The practice of dismissing an opinion simply due to age or current status is a foolhardy and quite frankly pompous one.

Under the current copyright system, the first person to jump through the hoops to get their works registered is the one that is given the credit. All too often it is used and abused by companies to get a choke hold on certain technologies so that they can develop it as they see fit .... or stop development in its tracks.

While I agree that the system should remain in place and that it does have its uses, there needs to be a revamp of it to prevent such abuse.

To use a technical example: some time ago, Creative bought out the rights, patents and copyrights of an audio technology made by Aurreal: A3D. This was a direct competitor to their own EAX Shell and CMSS 3D technologies.

They bought A3D and then stopped all development of it.

Had this not happened the A3D technology would have been a very viable alternative to Creative's own setup. Instead they used and abused the system to crush a competitor.

Gareth Nelson

"I notice you took of "age 19" from your profile, Gareth. Turn 20, did you? Put down the red bull."

Which profile is this?

"You are not tethered to reality. People make and sell patents and trademark copyrighted items all over the world, every day, in every way, like my father, and grandfather, and many people all over the earth working jobs, and supporting families"

People make and sell patents and trademarks every day - when did I deny this? My problem of course is when they abuse patents or trademarks to restrain innovation and freedom.

"unlike you, who sit in your mom's basement, and hack on computers all day."

I love how you presume to know the details of my personal life. Oddly, my house doesn't seem to look like my parent's basement.

"Write when you get work"

Write when you know the reality rather than the stereotype in your head

Tak Naglo

I have to admit though that I'd never hire anyone with a resume as badly written as this one.
Do they teach in college how to write your resume?
Wife in 2004? Is this a joke? Is this whole resume a joke?
I think pictures of the house come next.

Gareth Nelson

"wife in 2004"
It says "I co-founded with my wife in 2004", not "I got married in 2004" as you seem to be suggesting.

And yes, I admit it's not written very well but i'm not actually using it right now. Were I to actually apply for a job right now i'd update it.

Regardless, picking out the errors in my resume is a bit pointless.


"We left Ayn Rand behind in the last century, most of us, if we ever picked her up. To continue to invoke her is some sort of wikian retardation as she never had any significant following." Tell it to Alan Greenspan and supply-side economists.

Is it just me or is Prokofy Neva the Ayn Rand of the Metaverse? The constant invocations of the Russian Revolution are getting rather tiring.

Moncler Danmark

It's great to hear from you and see what you've been up to. In your blog I feel your enthusiasm for life. thank you.

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