I’ve been in Second Life since 2005, when there were about 66,000 people using this rather new virtual world environment. And I might have been there sooner but I was an alpha tester on There.com and wasn’t much impressed with There, and SL seemed like a copycat, with their beaches and California dreaming.
And I stuck with SL for a lot of years. I met a wild and crazy artist/magician in Boston who was involved in SL, fell in love, started a business, got him on America’s Got Talent, created some tech that could fundamentally change how we see the world and treat trauma victims, and had a lot of fun (oh, and during a lot of this, also, did work that contributed to catalyzing the Arab Spring movements and some other stuff, including getting very ill, and having to do a lot of this work while working through various stages of being disabled… I’m a very stubborn woman, have I mentioned this?).
Through a great deal of this, Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life, have pulled some amazing missteps with the Second Life community, and I’ve generally been an advocate of sticking around for the long haul — obviously. But this week, my partner and I packed our bags and pulled out.
Let me repeat that, and you should click through.
We PACKED OUT.
In an environment of user-created content, Linden Labs committed the cardinal sin. They laid claim to perpetual rights to resell anything in their asset server. And then, they reassured everyone that they shouldn’t worry, just bend over, because we’re all good friends and they would never do anything bad to us.
Friends, this is legal language in a TOS, not community affairs. Linden Labs could go tits up bankrupt tomorrow. They could be talking mergers and acquisitions. And if they do that TOS says that the new benevolent overlords — be it a new company, a court, an auction house, or a dozen companies who don’t want to track a million user accounts down — whoever the next folks are who you don’t know and don’t care who you are? You will never be able to track them down and defend your copyright to them, because all they will know is that the TOS says that whatever is in that asset server and isn’t clearly completely distinctly marked? They own outright.
There’s a thing called a “limited license” and the new TOS isn’t it. LL could have put it in, and they didn’t. So, if they didn’t, maybe they were lazy (“we wanted the same TOS across all our properties” is what they told Hamlet at NWN — like they would have used the same policies for a trucking company and an airline I suppose?), or (good transition) stupid, or malicious.
They’ve spent enough time on damage control, you might think that lazy was off the table. They could have rewritten the TOS for SL already and saved themselves some grief by now. So are they dumb, or pulling something?
Doesn’t matter. Unless they change it, it’s time to leave.
So we are blacking out our sim in SL and leaving just a notecard giver with the essay I wrote on G+ in it, and encouraging others to black out their presences until or unless the TOS gets pulled back to pre-August conditions. Because this used to be our world, our imagination. And if it gets this rough, the only power we have left is to pick up our cubes, and go home.