Update: See Strawberry’s Monday Mime.
Last Saturday the United Content Creators of Second Life™ (UCCSL) sponsored a meeting to discuss the Terms of Service (ToS) changes made in August. They put together a panel of attorneys to answer questions. I think it was the Second Life™ Bar Association that provided RL attorneys to form an answer panel. I was able to attend only part of the meeting, but there are audio recordings and Machinima of the entire 3-hour meeting.
A full three-hour audio recording was captured by Toysoldier Thor. You can listen to it from a link on Toy’s blog: Recap & Audio – Inworld Legal Panel Talk on LL TOS. Toy’s opinion is that people should listen to the audio and make up their own minds about opinions provided by the UCCSL panel. I’ll go a bit further and add some opinion.
Inara has a summary of the meeting up. See: ToS changes: Legal panel discussion – audio recordings and notes. She has images of the slides used in the meeting. Plus lots of time marks in the summary.
There is a machinima recording coming, I think from UCCSL. The Virtual Intellectual Property Rights Organization (VIPO) a RL organization has an office in SL and participated in the panel. I found their contributions especially helpful. (2008 Reference: Non-Profit “Virtual Intellectual Property Organization” Opens Office in Second Life.
Update: Video Recording in YouTube.
I’ll remind you of some things about law and lawyers and then get into the points I found interesting.
Attorneys are people. They come from families rich and poor, socialist and free market, atheistic and religious, and they all attend law schools that teach a law based morality that orients one toward legality over emotional fairness and personal morality. For thousands of years humans have debated right-wrong, good-bad, and the conflict between good and evil. That debate is no where near its end yet and attorneys are definitely still debating.
All these things shape an attorney’s thinking and perception of the law. So, we generally get multiple opinions on what any given law means or could be twisted to mean.
While there are altruistic attorneys that place principals over personal interests, in general it is in their interest to argue points of view on the law. I believe for some finding the arguable view becomes a reflexive behavior.
There is also the challenge of what a law or contract actually means. The English language is ambiguous. It often increases in ambiguity as people try to better define their meaning. To support a client’s position attorneys that can see and use the ambiguity for their clients’ purposes usually are more successful.
Attorneys make mistakes, have biases, and misplace their hopes just as the rest of us do. So, as Toy suggests, hear what they say and make up your mind. Choose your course of action and time will tell if you made the right decision. There generally is no way to know the out come on legal issues before judge rules or a jury decides.
Also, attorneys are not necessarily well informed. As an example; when asked if there was anyone that had talked to Linden Lab (LL) to stop the spread of the ToS to other LL properties, their answer was no. None seemed to realize that the ToS is in effect at all LL properties as of the August change.
The rights we grant extend to the person looking at the ‘work’ on their device. Bring a picture up or play a song on an iPad requires the creator to grant rights that allow that. We grant a huge number of rights to a massive number of people for every ‘work’ we place on the Internet via numerous ToS agreements.
The rights we grant are usually limited and for specific purposes. We are ‘licensing’ our work to specific people or classes/groups of people for specific limited use or purpose. Thus you can listen to Adele on your devices, but you are not permitted any other use of her music, her copyright limits you. The ISP and site providing the digital copy are licensed to provide it to you. The ISP is usually covered by their ToS, so they are enabled to transmit the work to you. Pandora, the provider of the music, pays a fee to Adele per the license agreement they have with her recording company. That agreement allows them to reproduce, send you a copy of, the music. These types of agreements are usually specific negations and agreements created and signed by the involved parties. The basic financing is similar to Barns & Noble or Amazon purchasing CD’s of her music to resell.
Agreements & Contracts
All contracts are an agreement. Not all agreements are contracts. The legal idea is that contracts enumerate obligations, duties, and various required or permitted actions enforceable by our legal systems. Agreements can be a mutual understanding that may or may not be enforceable.
For most of our purposes they are essentially the same thing. Terms of Service or Use are a contract and most certainly an agreement. The words ‘Terms of Service’ are the title of the agreement. A contract may have any title the parties agree to it having.
Flickr’s terms of service are well written. The company gets the rights they need to present your images and you retain ownership. Should you remove the image from Flickr, the company’s rights to it cease. Flickr’s rights are very limited. You retain ownership and may withdraw an image and revert it to your exclusive control and ownership. This is an ideal forum for professionals that wish to sell art and images.
On Facebook, you can revoke their license to your work by removing it. Unless, you have shared it with someone, in which case the rights are perpetual, forever.