Read all about Stroker's lawsuit against LL first from a gloating Lord Sullivan (who is always trolling for #fail from LL to drive people to his rival forums and commerce site), and seeing the court papers at the Herald (I'm breaking my usual practice of boycotting that rag and putting a link to the court papers at the Herald because I don't see anywhere else to read them, and they're important).
Well, I feel on the one hand: go, Stroker! and on the other hand, it reminds me about what Traxx once said about realizing he was "playing in the puddle of his former game" when cheat-hackers and game-god-nerfs destroyed his war MMORPG. I feel like, well, it's all a losing proposition at one level, when Stroker moves from focusing on the perpetrators, anonymous little nerds or 800 pound weaklings who live in their mom's trailers and steal his stuff, and manages to get at least their wrists slapped, to lashing out at the platform maker, which isn't quite the problem.
...Or is it? Cube3, who of course was the first one to make a virtual world using only waxed paper, molasses, and a hairpin, says that the DMCA itself is to blame, for making everybody have to solve everything "one crime at a time" and endlessly chasing after violations, instead of getting at the root of the problem (which is what I read years ago from the Cato Institute about the entire concept of international human rights, and always thought it had some truth to it).
Maybe he has a point. But...It's like the old story of the man who is going along the beach at low tide, seeing all the stranded star fish, and then putting them back into the sea, one by one. Somebody asks him: why are you bothering? This is nature's way. You can't possibly make a difference. There are too many. It doesn't matter.
"It matters to the starfish," says the man, and goes on putting them back in the sea. Someone once told me my work was like this.
And, not only does it matter to the starfish, but there is something to having LL "joined by name" here in this overall complicity to copyright theft which starts with their own cynical hackers' ethos and casual attitude even in the business sections of LL, which has basically, even with the road map, been treading water and punting and ducking and, well, buying time, perhaps, until a sale.
Stroker's case looks especially desperate given today's notice of the ruling on Veoh which cube3 rubs in. That means in our common-law precedent-based system in the U.S., if Veoh gets this copyleftist ruling on its behalf, then Linden could expect the same sort of defense of its "safe harbour" status itself.
"...Veoh, an online-video service, is protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe-harbor provision and cannot be held liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by users. This was the most significant court victory that the tech sector has won against copyright owners in some time."
Except...maybe Stroker *does* have a case, maybe cube3 is wrong, and maybe SL is different...
Because Stroker's court papers make some very important points:
o Linden Lab doesn't just indulge piracy, it gains from it financially because every pirate who copies and sells can use the LindEx and cash out his ill-gotten loot, and the Lindens take a percentage of the fee
o Now that all these goods are on XStreet, Linden Lab gets a commission on every sale, so they make a percentage of piracy sales, too
o Pirated loot has to be displayed on sims, which must be rented from the Lab -- so again, the Lab gets paid by pirates (so the theory goes).
So it's not just Pirate Bay, but Pirate Bay with commissions, cuts, and even rents. How about them apples.
Well, we'll see if the judge buys it. The judge will also have to buy the idea of Second Life as a "common carrier," and given all the content that Lindens puts in this world, and given all their control of the content, well I wonder if that definition will hold.
After Bragg v. Linden, the Lindens put up a new TOS to guard against future attempts to litigate. Everyone has to agree to these terms to use SL. They involved agreeing not to make claim under a certain financial amount and other restrictions mandating resolution rather than accepting litigation.
So obviously Stroker had to work quite a bit to reach that threshold (and lose quite a bit of content).
Stroker Serpentine is still in the People list -- the Lindens didn't remove him. But he's put on his avatar "Closed for Remodeling" and if you try to teleport to his islands or stores, they say "can't teleport" or "parcel not there" etc. as if closed to the public.
It's a sad day in Mudville when Stroker, who was always a loyal booster of Second Life, a certified FIC, a sponsor of SLCC balls, etc. has to turn around and sue the Lindens. And you can imagine what it took to get him to that point.
But of course it takes place in a larger context of technocommunism as the Veoh decision illustrates.
The CNET writer concludes that the problem of the big grab from Google -- and other hosts that need free content in order to sell their ads at less cost to themselves -- will be decided in the boardroom and not the courtroom. Maybe so, as the action recently whereby Google is cutting content providers like the news industry into new projects a little bit more generously mean they feel the sting.
Still, the damage unleashed in the 1980s, when the geeks decided "information wants to be free" because their own services and their own machines were very costly at that time. They needed to hide/minimize those costs, so they accentuated the "need" for free content. Today, with their costs and machine costs much lower, and with their demolition of the livlihoods of content providers, time to turn the tables back on them.
If content providers can't make a livlihood, they won't create, ultimately. You can go on mixing and maxing old stuff endlessly (that's why the culture of the mash-up is so promoted, because it's making virtue out of necessity) and you can go on feting amateurs (but even I get tired of Keyboard Kitty).
I'm not sure that Stroker's argument will hold up in court, because the Lindens could say that things like fraud controls on the LindEx; the checks that they will likely increasingly put in on XStreet (and which merchants will bitch about because it will control them too closely); some sort of newfangled features coming that might do stuff like automate DMCA notices (in fact you can get them started automatically already in the abuse reports system) -- all this taken together might show that LL makes a good-faith effort to combat piracy (and of course they have their "Road Map" on the blog posted for all to see) and that turning it around and seeing them as making money off piracy is a stretch. We'll see.
Of course, the conversations on the JIRA, in the Linden tekkie office hours, in AWGroupies, on SL-DEV, on Twitter, all mitigate against those claims, so watch for the Lindens in fact giving the enema that Ann O Toole claimed yesterday they'd be giving. Could happen, just for appearances sake if nothing else.
A word about Lord Sullivan (he was my tenant ages ago if I'm not mistaken). At first, I was generally supportive of the idea of a rivalry to XStreet, and I still am in principle. I don't care for BDSM culture and I don't want to join that community, although perhaps I'll put a few things for sale just to keep my hand in and perhaps visit the forums. But...I don't like the aggressiveness with which Lord Sullivan is using negative and provocative posts on the official forums to drive customers to his site. That just seems lame to me, to post things like "The Cardinal Sin of Community Management" and accusing LL of "not listening" when in fact, you have to give LL credit, they do listen (you just can't confuse listening with "doing what we want"). I think it's more effective simply to build up the alternative without having to do it by flogging a "hate on LL" message. It would be one thing to criticize LL even severely if you have no financial stake in your criticism; but if you do, there's something that rings hollow. I think it needs to be debated.
This hard-core entitlement-happy extreme adult entertainment sector that keeps whining and gnashing their teeth over the Zindra thing strike me as ultimately infantile. You cannot expect to be free to be in everybody's face forever. People are actually relieved when they can start to type in "rentals" and "furniture" and not get bukkake and cum-dumpster sluts in their first returns. The pressure of constant gross and extreme sexualization takes its toll, people tune it out or even get hostile and ultimately this sector won't gain customers, despite a certain contingent of horny newbies they can count on.
I guess I'm not finding the continual vexation about Zindra persuasive. Ciaran Laval keeps posting about it, and I do try to empathize with the, um, terrible plight of having a sim that is divided between adult and mature but...well, I'm not getting it. Because anybody who put a club or a mall on a sim with residents was already courting disaster. If the problem is a mall with both adult and mature, well, yes, been there done that. I can fill up a mall in Zindra now, but I can't fill the holes that the adult stores left in my malls on mature. Eventually, I will, but it will take awhile and it's sort of one more thing to do in a world that just creates too many things to do lately. So sure, I sympathize with it but...again, I wonder really how you can combine the constituents. I do think that while the customers overlap, they are distinct enough not to have a cow over having to split them up. I'd like it better if we had the freedom to blend them on the ground, so to speak, but I accept that having this constantly show up in search, and constantly be in your face as you try to build a less extreme world, poses a problem. I think zoning is a good thing.
And...I have to chuckle at another sort of side story going on with the Emerald Viewer, in which more people are led astray into thinking this viewer will 'protect their skins and textures'.
The very same cynical tekkies who tell us a million times a day that if we can see it, it can be copied, and there is absolute NOTHING Linden Lab can do to stop copyright theft are...claiming to have engineered a copyright protection. How about that *snort*. I wonder how they square this circle in their justifications for these claims, and all the cynics on SL-DEV who are constantly browbeating us all with how impossible it is to protect textures are squaring that with their touting of Emerald's claims. Tateru Nino needs to be challenged on this directly, as do others, start with the Emerald Devs.