When clarification only muddies the waters …

That is, of course, if something was intended as a clarification rather than further obfuscation.

I am talking about the new Terms of Service from Linden Lab, of course.

And really, I can say it no better than Inara who has an excellent post on the subject (this comes from one of her comments to the blogpost – but read the blogpost AND the comments if you are interested in learning why not just content creators but machinima makers, artists and writers are so concerned about the changes to the Terms of Service:

A clear, concise explanation of why the terminology used and why the form in which it is presented has been determined as being the most suitable and how it assists the Lab in the execution of their role as the service provider would help. Particularly as for the vast majority of SL’s existence, and allowing for the broader remit of this ToS compared to those pre-August 2013, a more qualified statement with respect to the provisioning of shared rights has in the past always been deemed appropriate by the Lab.

Or in other words – talk to us, dammit!

Not even necessarily with us – I can appreciate how difficult it could be to assemble a representative group of concerned residents for dialogue – every group will be self-selecting, and the loudest voices are not always the most concerned/affected. But what Inara asks for – a clear, concise explanation – would be of immeasurable benefit in helping residents to understand the thinking involved here.

You might also want to take a look at Vaki’s (Agenda Format) legal dissection of the relevant clauses here.

One comment

  1. There’s something in which I agree 100000% with Inara, and I have explained it in my own take on this whole debacle:

    The SL user base kept yelling and screaming about a non-issue – the sell/re-sell/distribute clause, which is absolutely necessary for any virtual world’s in-world or web-based marketplace to work, not to mention enabling the user to give away copies of their content to other users. They chose to listen to the screamers who drew attention away from the “in any manner whatsoever/for any purpose whatsoever” clause, which is the REAL thorn. And those that did notice this clause went and conflated it with the sell/re-sell clause and screamed “LL IS TRYIN TA STEAL MAH STUFFZ!!!!!1111” even louder. This is noise, not learned discourse – even though it poses as such. In the meantime, more level-headed people were being called names and shouted down (not least because the “average” SL user thinks things are either black or white, with nothing in between: if you don’t think LL is the Devil, you’re a cheerleader).

    Of course, few people pointed out that SL content is beyond worthless outside SL and OpenSim. Of course, they were shouted down and ignored. How typical.

    As for the announcements from CGTextures and Renderosity… Honestly, if you read these announcements and their EULAs carefully, and understand how a virtual world works and what each action (rezzing, building, editing, uploading, giving a copy, selling a copy, etc) entails, you’ll understand that these companies would be a lot more honest if they said (like Turbosquid), “don’t use our stuff in virtual worlds”; but they don’t, because they’re happy to take your money. Honestly, I find their EULAs to be insulting. It’s like a chemicals manufacturer telling us that we can’t sell furniture we’ve painted with their varnishes. Their mentality reeks of RIAA/MPAA copywrong, is actually against the content creators that form their clientele, and they deserve to be boycotted until the Sun rises from the west.

    Anyway, while SL’s user base was yelling about a non-issue, ignoring the really problematic clauses, LL kept kicking the can down the road – it was very convenient for them to do so. So, after ten months of “working hard” on Section 2.3, what did we get? A reshuffling of words that “addresses” in a completely vague (legally, grammatically, syntactically) manner a non-issue, an extra parenthetical that’s even more vague… And the problematic clauses are still there, in all their glory. And it was all announced with the sort of pomp, circumstance and fanfare that one would only expect from the likes of His Philipness.

    You know what? The user base got what it yelled for. And what it deserved, actually. Personally, I’m terribly disappointed in the Lab essentially delivering a slap in the face of all those level-headed people (many of them being very capable and well-established IP lawyers in RL) that worked hard for months to provide the Lab with alternate rewordings for Section 2.3 that would serve both the Lab and the content creators well.

    This was a very disrespectful move on behalf of the Lab, and, were I a member of any of those groups that donated their time and effort pro bono, I’d never volunteer for anything SL-related again, and I’d tell the Lab “if you want any of my time from now on, these are my rates.”

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