I was cleaning out the UCCSL file cabinets this weekend and came across communications between Peter Gray of Linden Lab and me. To quickly recap, I wrote a letter to Peter dated October 22, 2013—a simple, straightforward missive.
“The United Content Creators of Second Life is a group of residents and content creators, in both the commercial and artistic communities, who share concerns regarding the August, 2013
Terms of Service, specifically Section 2.3. To resolve these issues and concerns, we ask that you sit down and meet with the UCCSL Council.”
Although I followed up this initial email with a formal letter, Peter actually responded to the email just two days later on October 24th.
“Thank you for your email. We appreciate your group’s concerns and have seen others express similar concerns as well.
We greatly value Second Life’s content creators, whose collective contributions help make the virtual world the vibrant experience that it is today. We remain committed to providing Second Life as a platform on which residents can create and profit from their creations. This philosophy is central to Linden Lab, and is something that we are ultimately seeking to extend to all of our products and platforms. Accordingly, the revision to our Terms of Service was made in order to further extend the ability for content creators to commercially exploit their intellectual property through user-to-user transactions across Linden Lab’s other products and services (including our distribution platform, Desura), not just within Second Life.
We believe that it would be more fruitful to avoid further debate of the assertions made to date regarding the intent and effect of our updated Terms of Service, and instead focus on whether there may be an approach to address the concerns that have arisen in the community, while also ensuring that our policy remains applicable to our other products and services, and without reverting to the prior wording.
To that end, we are currently reviewing what changes could be made that would resolve the concerns of Second Life content creators, specifically protecting content creators’ intellectual property ownership while permitting Linden Lab to, among other things, act as an agent of content creators (such as yourselves), licensed to sell and re-sell such content.
We are optimistic that we will be able to arrive at a mutually agreeable and beneficial way forward, and ask for your group’s continued patience as we work to do so.” (Peter Gray)
It all sounds nice enough I suppose. Well. Maybe. Upon looking at it some three months later, what seems apparent is that there was no mention at all of coming to the table and talking with Second Life’s Creatives. In fact, we were told, politely, to be quiet and wait patiently while they work on a suitable revision. Three months we have waited.
A second letter was sent by the UCCSL Council, that laid out our precise concerns—carefully detailing the areas of the ToS that were untenable to Second Life Creatives. You can read that letter at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-tt7l89N_zBRlZTaDkwUXM5Tlk/edit?usp=sharing .
Peter’s response dated November 20th.
“Thank you for your group’s letter. As mentioned in my last note, we have been reviewing what changes could be made in light of the concerns expressed by some Second Life content creators. The Terms of Service impact all of our products and services, and the careful process of reviewing, evaluating, and making any revisions does take some time; we greatly appreciate the continued patience of concerned Second Life content creators while we do so as quickly as we can.”
I’ll let you draw your own conclusions, particularly in light of the fact that it is now January 25th and we have had no response. I sent a third email to Peter, January 14th—sent it twice actually—and followed up with a certified letter, which was signed for by the Lab on January 23rd. In this case, I copied Rod Humble as well. Apparently, it now requires a certified letter to get a response—albeit, I’ve not yet had one. If I don’t hear from the Lab in a few days, I will post the contents of that personal correspondence in the UCCSL blog at http://unitedcontentcreatorsofsl.wordpress.com/.
So. What now UCCSL?
We are, first and foremost, Creatives. I and most in the group will continue to create. Some will leave and smart ones will ensure that their work is distributed on other grids as well. Does that mean I’m throwing in the towel on effecting change to the Second Life Terms of Service? Not at all. I and others with more legal knowledge than I, question the legality of the Terms of Service under existing California State and Federal laws.
If you are seriously offended by and concerned about the ramifications of the current Terms of Service language, I strongly encourage you to write to the following government entities and express your concerns, as is a right of any citizen. If you are not a United States citizen, then please write to the government agencies in your countries. I’ll do you one better. I’ve written out the letters to each agency. All you have to do is put your legal name and address, fill in a couple of blanks and pop them in the mail. You can find them at: https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B-tt7l89N_zBbnNPSFpOeWY2eDQ&usp=sharing
In light of the Lab’s lack of responsiveness on this issue—four months now—I can’t express strongly enough how important it is for you to exercise your individual rights to take action. I’ve given you the tools, but you have to put them to work. There is no magic pill; certainly not even debating the issue in forums, which has been done ad-nauseum, with no results. There is no group action, or action on my part, that is going to be as powerful as you picking up a pen and expressing your concerns in the right ears.
|Attorney General’s OfficeCalifornia Department of Justice
Attn: Public Inquiry Unit
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550
|Federal Trade Commission600 Pennsylvania Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20580
Re: Internet Intellectual Property Rights
|U.S. Department of Justice10th & Constitution Ave., NW
Criminal Division, (Computer Crime & Intellectual Property Section)
John C. Keeney Building, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20530
RE: Intellectual Property Rights in Virtual Worlds
I will continue to seek avenues to take this issue public; from extending the reach of the UCCSL blog to my 13,000 Twitter followers to seeking out external press opportunities.
You can look forward to a grid-wide surprise coming in March. UCCSL and many other individuals and groups will be getting together for a hunt. Hunts are always fun and this one is will be lucrative to the winner. The sponsoring group has already garnered $L55,000 and the fundraising is just ramping up. The information gathered in this hunt will be a lovely addition to our toolkit. I’d love to tell you more, but . . .
“We believe that it would be more fruitful to avoid further debate of the assertions made
to date . . .” Peter Gray (Wording out of context, but I couldn’t resist.)