The United Content Creators of SL
by Filipa Thespian
ToS is a hot topic we hear all over the forums and on the blogs these days. In August of 2013, Second Life Creator, Linden Labs, set the virtual world on its ear when they announced the new updates to their Terms of Service, seeming to claim ownership of everything and the right to make it available on other platforms without the creator’s consent or knowledge.
But what does this mean really — to the creators and to shoppers? Kylie Sabra, creator of the United Content Creators of SL, an organization of nearly 600 members that started in 2013, joins us to help answer our questions, alleviate our fears and provide a hopeful direction for the future for content creators and shoppers alike.
NVM: Thank you so much for joining us Kylie.
KYLIE: I’m delighted to be here.
NVM: Tell us Kylie, how the United Content Creators of SL (UCCSL) came to be?
KYLIE: The group started in response to the outcry over the August, 2013 Terms of Service.
NVM: How did the Content Creator community react when the new ToS came to light?
KYLIE: There were those few that actually read the ToS who caught on first. Over the next 30 days the news spread grid-wide, resulting nothing short of fury.
NVM: Well, what is the big deal with the ToS debate? Why are content creator’s so upside down over it?
KYLIE: In Section 2.3 of the ToS, Linden Labs lays claim to content we create; to use in any way, anywhere they see fit, without compensation to us. They can modify our work without our permission. And there are no limitations on their powers over our content whatsoever.
NVM: What does this problem with ToS mean to SL Residents who are not Content Creators?
KYLIE: The immediate impact is minimal. However, if the fury continues to grow, which it appears to be; we will see more and more quality creators begin to migrate to other worlds. Some of SL’s top creators have already started the process. Second Life could begin to look a bit tattered about the fringes with the loss of these key players. Landholders are divesting themselves of some or all of their holdings, resulting in less available land and consequent higher rents.
NVM: I read some of your inner-group correspondence recently, and you seem to be taking a very positive direction in how you wish to communicate about what can be considered very negative topic [ToS]. Why is this, and how does it work?
KYLIE: I don’t believe threats and demands are the answer. I want to build a cooperative relationship between Linden Labs and the UCCSL. That involves me continually reaching out to them, helping them to see the deeply personal side of this issue. Single mothers who raise their children on their Second Life incomes are just one example. You just can’t grasp the hard work of individuals and say it is yours to do with as you please. There are real livelihoods on the line here.
NVM: I understand you have had some correspondence with Linden Labs over the ToS issue – where does that stand right now? How did they respond?
KYLIE: Kindly at first, but the second response felt a little more like a sigh heaved by an adult irritated by a recalcitrant child; in short, not impressive.
NVM: Building a relationship with Linden Labs, why hasn’t anyone done that before? Why do you feel Linden Labs might want this with the UCCSL as opposed to any organizations in the past and how do you intend to go about creating this relationship?
KYLIE: The key issue is profit. We need each other for either of us to be profitable. Opening a line of two-way communication, I would hope we could explore ways to increase profits for both Linden Labs and Second Life creators. When ideas can’t flow freely, stagnation sets in. Second Life has lost its entrepreneurial spirit; this isn’t good for creators or Linden Labs.
NVM: There are creators from all over the world Kylie; it is very exciting to be bringing them all together. I understand you have some very dedicated and talented people on your team making sure that things are translated and running smoothly. Tell us about them?
KYLIE: Trinity Yazimoto was tremendously successful in pulling together people to translate key UCCSL documents into nine-plus languages–even a few obscure ones. Trinity has since left the group to pursue her own vision. However, we will continue to reach out to the non-English-speaking community, as this issue affects us all.
NVM: OK so we’ve covered how the UCCSL came to be, tell us about what 2014 looks like for the UCCSL. What is changing, what is staying the same and why is the UCCSL amazing for both creators and shoppers alike?
KYLIE: There are many aspects that I’ve addressed in a “State of the Union” message to the group; one of the most exciting ones is the creation of a UCCSL Certified Vendor Seal of Approval. We are ironing out details even now. The goal of the seal is to offer consumers some assurance that they are shopping with a vendor that has solemnly agreed to adhere to a rigid set of ethical and consumer-protection standards. LoveCat Thei has taken this project under her wing and I’m excited at her initial efforts. The seal offers consumer assurance and in turn a larger market share for participating vendors. An additional benefit will be a swipe at content thieves in SL.
NVM: Your UCCSL documentation mentions Guilds! What a fantastic idea Kylie. Tell us about the UCCSL Guilds, their purpose and why they are so powerful for creators.
KYLIE: The guilds were a medieval concept that brought creators of specific disciplines together to form apprenticeships, educate and lobby for rights. So the UCCSL guilds are separate sub-groups that are home to each of the separate kinds of creators in Second Life.
NVM: Where does the UCCSL stand on the topic of content theft, what are your goals on this topic in 2014 and why is content theft as important for non-creators as it is for those making the goods we buy?
KYLIE: I’m working to establish a program similar to “Neighborhood Watch” in the U.S., where neighbors work together to prevent crime in their own neighborhoods by being watchful and reporting issues to police quickly. We will work to educate all SL residents on the damage caused by content thieves and how to route them out. Using our website as a central point, we will show people how to react when they spot suspected content theft. We can take this pre-chewed data and give it over to Linden Labs. We will be looking at other actions we can ethically take with regard to the data we gather.
NVM: How can creators of say, clothing, benefit from interacting with and learning from scripters — or house builders with photographers? How does the UCCSL work to build relationships between disciplines and thus further education in skillsets and business?
KYLIE: We are still a young group, whose sole focus was on effecting change to the ToS, while we will continue to work toward that goal; we are just now moving the group forward to be a value-added proposition for its members. Being able give a shout out in our Google+ Communities for someone outside your discipline to help in finishing a project is invaluable. Need a scripter? Hop on Google+ and ask for one. Each of the disciplines can communicate within their own sub-group or with the group at large. They can join any and all of the guilds they feel they may need help from. The logical extension of this would be a job-posting board on the website.
NVM: Thank you so very much for taking the time out of your crazy busy schedule Kylie. All of us at Nu Vibez and especially our readers are grateful for your insights and what we’ve learned here.
Check back each issue readers for updates on the UCCSL and its efforts mentioned above. Kylie will be joining us for her regular column (to be named) to keep you up to date on progress, report on the issues and make sure we are informed on all the hot topics that affect our shopping and creating experiences.