My view on Linden Lab’s midnight DMCA raid

I’ve had a chance to think about the Lindens’ unannounced erasure of allegedly pirated inventory items over the weekend, and what I’ll say probably will stun those who’ve seen my ongoing criticism of the way that they’ve conducted their business.

I am 100% behind Linden Lab on this.

To explain further, I have a few points to consider:

  1. To conduct a selective deletion of inventory items is just as questionable as the action that has caused resident concern (like this example from Doubledown Tandino). Probably would be much more difficult to perform.
  2. I can’t see anything positive in telling the userbase before performing this mass deletion. Would it have changed what was deleted?
  3. Unlike the banking and casino bans, which came just as suddenly, the userbase SHOULD HAVE KNOWN that Linden Lab feels strongly enough about the issue to put a DMCA link on their front page. Banking and casinos, on the other hand, were bolts from the blue. No one knew that the Lindens cared one way or the other on those issues.

Then there’s my overarching issue: After all of the grief that I have given Linden Lab for tolerating content theft and loose morals on intellectual property in Second Life, why in the world should I criticize them taking meaningful steps to address this problem? Sure, it’s inconvenient to the folks who lost inventory items…but that’s what happens when you buy your content from anyone less than the content creator.

There will always be room for criticism of how our digital overlords conduct their business and inworld practices. In this case, the cause outweighs the means by which they conducted this action.

Here’s hoping the Lab keeps it up. They might want to check out this JIRA entry for some other leads.

DMCA crackdown in Second Life (FINALLY?)

I’m not fully up-to-speed on this issue, but I’ve seen a couple blog posts that refer to a mass deletion from the Second Life database of presumedly pirated intellectual content…

Again, I don’t know anything about this…but it appears that yet another change in corporate philosophy is coming from Linden Lab.  And this change has been a long-time coming.

I hope I didn’t buy anything pirated!  Sounds like inventory items are getting pulled with no warning.

Has anyone had their items deleted by Linden Lab?  Did you get any notice?

Random musings about things griddish

It was another crazy day in RL today, so please bear with me while I vent as I review my NetVibes collection of Second Life-related blogs:

  • The Second Life blog is old news. If you really want to know what’s going on in Second Life, you need to pay close attention to the Second Life Grid Status Report blog… especially with the “now you see it, now you don’t” approach to asset server availability. (As referenced here, here, here, here, and here…among other places. And, yes, those are all unique incidences of problems.)
  • If you really (REALLY) want to know what’s going on across the grid, the Second Life Herald probably has as good an ear to the ground as any place. But I won’t admit that I told you, lest some reformed griefer plants me in a Bill Cosby “jello” prim while I’m AFK.
  • Speaking of the Second Life Herald, they tell us that the Feds are onto the sweatshop that is Second Life. Or at least as it relates to the larger metaverse development companies, who often look at the Linden dollar to US dollar relationship as a 1:1 ratio. Yup, Sheep, you get to pay taxes for those serfs – errrr – employees of yours.
  • Goodbye, Ritchey Sealey-RL Australian Artist. I finally followed the counsel of way too many talented friends who abandoned the spam of the Art & Artist Network; Creatives, Artists & Musicians and Second Life Artists groups. And my viewer (and email, when I’m not inworld) has never been more tranquil. It’s kind of funny, all this marketing from artists…to artists…in the hopes that artists will buy another artists’ art. Don’t you think that – oh – growing the circle of art enthusiasts might be better? (Leave it for me to say that; I’m a prime ex-group spammer. Did I tell you about the Madcow Cosmos “14 Days, 14 Sculptures” show in the last hour? What about “Hidden Starax”?)
  • What happened to the discussion about intellectual property and content theft? Did the Linden inaction policy wear everyone out already?
  • Dusan Writer is a megaprim tease. To tell the world that there’s a patch to allow users to make megaprims on their own? And not tell us how to get the patch? D’oh! (Don’t worry, Dusan, you’re in good company. The only other tease I’ve identified was Torley Linden, who somehow remains a WindLight tease even though WindLight is part of the standard viewers. But you CAN forward that patch to morrisvig <at> sbcglobal <dot> net…)
  • The idea of offering a free Iron Man avatar in Second Life is freaking genius. That avi is so choice…and works GREAT in SL. I mean, look at this Flickr group. Or this machinima contest. (Thanks to New World News for the tip on the contest.)
  • Dusan Writer is a megaprim tease, but Nicholaz is The Man. His latest “eye candy” viewer has the megaprim patch. Now, Nicholaz, just include support for my 3D Space Navigator control, and I’ll abandon that official viewer faster than you can say, “My viewer crashed again.”
  • Prokofy Neva is right more than wrong. But don’t tell Prok I said that, lest I get labeled as some fascio-commu-liberal noob.
  • Good luck to you business-types…just don’t interrupt my recreational experience that is Second Life. Or wonder why I don’t care that you’re inworld.
  • Gwyneth Llewelyn’s avi has huge eyes. Really. Look for yourself. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Whew. That was cathartic.  Back to the walkabout!

Linden Lab’s “stand” on intellectual property says…

it’s your responsibility.  Not theirs.

Now, if the Lindens put some vigorous enforcement into DMCA reports, we might be getting somewhere.  But to tell the userbase that it’s THEIR responsibility to inspect individual items before purchasing…well, that’s crap and we all know it.  Especially when one of the commenters on their blog post reframes the issue a little more strongly than me:

The words of this post are about as comforting as an unexpected notice from the IRS.

Nice feign there Lindens, but not enough.

YOU need to do your part on DMCA’s and follow the law as well by removing all instances of a stolen item, THIS INCLUDES THE DATABASE, not just in world copies which are easily stored on the alternate account of any individual who makes their money off of stolen content.

YOU need to boot the confirmed thieves instead of just slapping them on the wrist because you don’t want to lose their tier money.

YOU need to act more quickly when proper DMCA’s are filed, and work to prevent the individuals responsible from simply signing up another account and starting over again.

This is NOT about how the content creators haven’t been doing what they need to. Yes, the DMCA process is difficult to understand, but why bother spending the time to go through the process when Linden Lab will not enforce it as it is required to be enforced?

Content theft in Second Life is not out of control because the content creators aren’t being careful. It is out of control because Linden Lab allowed it to get out of control simply because the individuals stealing and reselling content were also paying tier.

Linden Lab is complicit in the theft of content by their inaction, and evidence would lead one to believe that the reason is because they were more interested in the tier payed by thieves than they were enforcing rules that might actually take a little effort to enforce.

Well said.  Delete the pirated content from the database once (if?) you determine it to be stolen.

Snarky side note: We Americans are used to the White House putting out news that is unfavorable to them on Friday afternoons when reporters are basically done working for the week.  Things like increased unemployment, deaths in Iraq, etc.  Am I out of line in thinking that Linden posted this item on a Friday afternoon for perhaps the same reason?

SL Post of the Week

All hail the Second Life Herald:

Long overdue and demanded by countless residents, Linden Lab introduced a new set of rules for residents and other people on the use of the company’s trademarks earlier this week. Muchlauded by numerous blogs, Linden Lab’s move highlights the company’s strong commitment to its customer base and is the latest in a series of strategic decisions to successfully ensure the future stagnation of its virtual world.

A cornerstone was the introduction of an astonishingly creative new logo that is already said to have a place among the masterpieces of commercial branding.

I haven’t seen one that good in a long time!

Second Life® bloggers require clarification

Dear Linden Lab®,

Your recent change of policy regarding the usage of your trademarks — Second Life®, Linden Lab®, and others registered by Linden Research Inc. — will effectively prevent the operation of the very vibrant community of bloggers, forum posters, websites, community portals, and even 3rd party services, that have provided Linden Lab® with links and driving traffic to your blog, and raising brand awareness for free for your product Second Life®.

Probably thousands — if not dozens of thousands — of sites include (now illegitimately) the name “Second Life®” or “SL®” somewhere in their names. From sites like Reuters (which has a Second Life® channel) to whole companies that have a “Second Life® Division” (and promotes your product by the explicit naming of it), a plethora of online communities, products, and services — some free, other commercial, many in the limbo between both extremes — include, in some way, your registered trademarks.

Your previous policy, established in May 2004 (”Second Life® Fansite Tolkit”), and later reinforced with referral programmes like “Viva La Evolution”, positively encouraged the widespread use of your trademarks, so long as it was quite clearly displayed that no infringement was intended. To requote your own terms of agreement for the usage of your trademarks:

While you are in full compliance with the usage guidelines described here, you may use the “Second Life” name on your website, as well as the related logos and graphics available at Toolkit, solely in the form described there. Additionally, you may use screenshots from Second Life to the extent that Linden Lab has the right to authorize use of the content within such screenshot, including screenshots of Linden in-world objects and Linden avatars, subject to these usage guidelines.

Under those very friendly terms, a plethora of fansites of all sorts popped up, driving traffic to Second Life®’s main website, its blogs, forums, and other related sites — making SL®’s own ranking quite high on Google, Alexa, and other systems — while at the same time, in a period of a little less than four years, allowing the number of registered users to skyrocket from 10,000 to 13 million.

Fansites, blogs, 3rd party sites, Second Life®-related online communities, 3rd party sites that create products and services related to Second Life® are the “off-world” counterpart of the dynamic and enthusiastic community that made Second Life®, as a brand, get world-wide recognition — without the need for Linden Lab® to spend millions in advertising and campaigns on the media. We worked for free on the promotion, brand awareness, and market recognition of your products — while, at the same time, we also worked for free creating the fantastic content of the 3D environment that makes Second Life® a place worth to visit, to enjoy, to chat, to socially connect, to do business, and launch the pillars of the upcoming metaverse — fulfilling Philip ‘Linden®’ Rosedale’s dream of having more users in Second Life® than on the Web.

We’ve been the ones ultimately promoting that vision, spreading it around, and making sure that the world noticed your product and your brand. We were very successful — thanks to your gentle and encouraging former policies.

And for four years, you have been thankful enough to allow us to do that promotion, by establishing very reasonable and clear guidelines of the terms of usage of your trademarks.

Your sudden reversal of position — effectively limiting the display of the name “Second Life®” on most sites, domain names, products, and services, through a mechanism of explicit approval that you fully admit “can take long and might never finish” and will only be available to a very limited number of sites — means that suddenly all the off-world promotion of Second Life® will necessarily have to stop; or face a lawsuit in court; or, at the very least, receive a Cease & Desist letter from your lawyers and be forced to shut down.

The current terms can be aggressively enforced or not. According to your blog, we are supposed to have a 90-day grace period to remove all mentioning of Second Life® and its logo from our fansites, blogs, forums, or 3rd party sites offering products and services related to Second Life®. In fact, what this means is that we are forced not to talk about Second Life® any more — or, if we do, we cannot explicitly name the product at all.

This is, obviously, absurd.

The compromise between Linden Research Inc. (owners of the registered trademarks) and the community of volunteers that have so faithfully promoted your product, Second Life®, was quite clear for the past four years. We had clear guidelines of what we could do and what we couldn’t. Abuses could still be effectively dealt with by your legal department; to the world’s knowledge, these cases were few and scattered, if any. They were not significative to prevent a vast number of dozens of thousands of sites of all sorts to draw traffic to your own site; to reach out the huge audience on the Internet; and to drive new users to register. The numbers fortunately speak for themselves: with almost zero promotional costs, you managed to grow a thousand times in four years, thanks to crowdsourcing the promotion of Second Life®.

The “inSL” programme is definitely interesting, but a small new logo, worthless to an audience of hundreds of millions of users that are familiar with the eye-on-hand logo, without a massive campaign of promotion behind it to reflect the logo change, is not enough. “inSL” doesn’t say much, and it cannot be expanded to talk and promote Second Life® directly. And, anyway, the same restrictions apply to the usage of “inSL” as with all your other trademarks. We appreciate the grant to use that new logo, but we also feel it will be unable to gather the same support and promotional effort as the old logo and the product name did in the past four years.

We would thus kindly request that you clarify your position regarding the usage of the trademarks Second Life® and the logo on all fansites, blogs, forums, or other 3rd party websites offering products and services related to Second Life®. This clarification should be as easy to follow as your previous policies on the usage of those trademarks. They should make clear that all people intending to promote your product and raise your brand awareness are not facing lawsuits because they have faithfully used your trademarks using the old policy, and wish to continue to do so in the future.

We consider that an appropriate response should be forthcoming in the next few days, or we will be forced to shut down our own blogs, websites, forums, community portals, and other 3rd party sites to avoid litigation — and thus deprieving Linden Lab® from the traffic generated by millions of direct links and millions of viewers that learn first about Second Life® through all those sites.

By: Gwyneth Llewelyn

If LL is taking ‘SL’, I am taking ‘DD’…. More on Brand Madness

As Morris posted HERE, LL wants their eyeball hand all to themselves, and wants no one to ever infringe upon the words “second” and “life” together.

Disclaimer: This picture posted in this blog in no way reflects anything to do with the company known as “Linden Lab” and the product “Second Life” Furthermore, this “Second Arts” blog is in no way officially connected with “Second Life” or “Linden Lab”. ….(sigh) …. Further furthermore… Doubledown Tandino is not the one in the picture wearing the TShirts. ….. fuuuuuuuuurthermore, “Second Life”& “Linden Lab” are cool, and this blog, and the readers, and Doubledown Tandino are in no way affiliated with “Second Life” or “Linden Lab” even though we’re the ones making it and they just own the land……

….. I give up….. are we going to have to write disclaimers like this on everything now?????? HELP US?!

Anyway, as a statement, I took it upon myself to make light of the madness and transform it into a violating new TShirt line. IM me inworld and I’ll be happy to give you the first set of 3.

SL Humor Tees - SL Trademark Violation TShirts - 3 Pack