Linden Lab Vice President of Customer Relations Cyn Linden has a very lengthy, but clear and concise post on the company’s official blog detailing their new “Content Management Roadmap” for Second Life content and its creators.
Cyn says that Linden Lab is “committed to empowering content creators to better manage and control their content.” She presented a multi-faceted plan help manage content on several levels.
- Improved Intellectual Property Enforcement
“In response to Resident feedback about the time and effort involved in submitting (DMCA) notifications to us, we’ve been developing an improved process. In the not-too-distant future, intellectual property owners will be able to submit complaints to us electronically through an online form. The form will make it easier for intellectual property owners to submit complaints, and it will help us expedite their processing.”
This is a welcomed advancement! If you have ever had any experience with LL’s current DMCA process you’ll know that it is not only lengthy, but also subject to much abuse. The current process allows for claims to be submitted by fax or written letter (regular mail or courier) only. An email addresses was originally provided, but quickly when it became the target of spam, making it difficult to review legitimate communications. Making the filing of DMCA complaints easier will be a significant step to improving this process.
- Enhanced Content Licensing
“As we develop our stand-alone, behind-the-firewall Second Life solution, we’re aware of the opportunity it presents for talented and entrepreneurial content creators to reach more customers in a broad inter-connected 3D marketplace. To help facilitate this marketplace, we are developing the ability to attach “sticky licenses” to content sold to enterprise customers running a stand-alone version of Second Life. Content with these “sticky licenses” will have additional metadata such that the license information can “stick” to the content as it is distributed to the enterprise customer’s server, and users of the server solution can review the license terms through the Second Life viewer.”
Currently, technological restrictions known as the “permissions system” that can determine how content can be used in-world. This system is limited though, and does not grant any legal permission to use content outside of Second Life. With the arrival of new solutions, there will be content creators who want to sell or transfer content to these new “private grids.” Enhanced and extended licenses such as what is being proposed will most definitely be needed to both protect and assist content creators.
Clear Polices and Practices for Copying Tools
“As we’ve discussed above, the Second Life “permissions system” does not grant any legal permission to use content outside of Second Life. Even content that is “full permissions” may only be used within Second Life absent a specific license agreement from the intellectual property owner(s) authorizing the content’s use outside of Second Life. Thus, a check that the user is the Second Life “creator” of the content helps protect intellectual property because the “creator” is potentially the intellectual property owner of the content, while a user who is merely the Second Life “owner” of the content is not likely to have permission to use the content outside of Second Life.”
This improvement further protects the enhanced licensing changes discussed. This is also clarification that copying tools are against the TOS. This clarification comes after the disgruntled owner of Rezzbles recently announced, in their most unethical move yet, that they intended to sell the code to their version of copybot (it did not check who the creator was before copying the items on a SIM) called, BuilderBot. It’s great to see LL taken a clear stance against this type of copyright theft.
- New Content Seller Program
“As our community grows, Second Life needs a content seller program to help the community trade content safely and trust one another. By “content seller program,” we mean a program that sellers may participate in if they meet certain eligibility standards intended to show a level of trustworthiness and quality of content.
At a minimum, participation in the program will require that the selling Resident:
- have identity and payment information on file with Linden Lab;
- be in good standing and not have been suspended for any violation of the Second Life Terms of Service;
- meet a minimum threshold for content transactions; and
- affirm that all necessary intellectual property rights and licenses have been obtained for all content that the Resident has for sale.”
This program is very similar to Linden’s solution provider program. If implemented successfully, I believe this program would provided a new level of transparency and accountable that would deter most clearcut cases of theft.
- Improved Communication of Policies about Intellectual Property
“We are committed to clarifying and updating our policies to promote awareness of intellectual property and protect against infringement. We believe that informative and educational policies often help people do the right thing.”
This is something that will most definitely be needed in the future as the lines continue to blur. It only helps with the above policies in protecting content creators and other IP and copyright holders.
I applaud Linden Lab and Cyn for taking these steps and for so clearly stating in writing their intentions and plan of action. I also am glad that they are giving us, the residents and users of Second Life, the chance to provide our suggestions and feedback in the discussion forums. I highly recommend you take the time to view these discussion and state your thoughts on how best to protect and manage intellectual property.