Recently Linden Lab changed the Terms of Service (ToS), this was long overdue.

About a year ago they changed them as well and this caused quite a storm, the legal language made it seem like LL would own everything we made in Second Life and everything we uploaded to SL, even if we didn’t own that texture or item to begin with.

I am the first to admit that I really don’t understand all that legal talk and perhaps I am naive, but I think that Linden Lab does not intent to go and steal our stuff and I do think that many people responded in a way that was a bit over the top.

Nevertheless, the previous ToS was worrying and eventually also affected me because one of my favourite texture sites where I found many images I used to make things with in Second Life, now would no longer allow us to do so in Second Life.

I know that there are countless other texture sources on the internet but, without wanting to advertise them too much, CGtextures is just one of the best and biggest, in my humble opinion.
When I was working on something, I could easily find the texture I wanted on their site and now I have to spend a lot longer searching all over the internet before I find something I like and can use.

So although I am a creator who should probably be worried about my stuff beloning to LL I am more worried about how my creativity is stifled by all the extra work I have to do.

When LL announced that they had changed the ToS, I was at first excited.
The new CEO Ebbe Altberg has shown to care about what we users think, he is  atypically communicative and willing to listen to and answer questions.
And I think that he learned about the ToS issues and told the Legal department to look into it.

Unfortunately it seems that the actual issues have not been solved, there still is a lot of unclarity and debates are going on all over the forums.
And to be honest, I don’t understand legal language well enough to say anything useful on the matter.

Nevertheless I decided to write an email to the folks at CGtextures and ask their opinion on the recent ToS change.

With their permission, I share their response here and I hope that Ebbe Altberg and the other Lindens at Linden Lab read it and respond, here on the blog or directly to CGtextures.
Because I fear that the ToS could still use some improvements and I think that CGtextures may have a few good suggestions.

CGtextures response;

Hi Jo,

I’m afraid this does not change the situation for us. The new ToS still contains the words:

.. and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same. ..

Which permits Linden Lab to use the uploaded Content for anything they like (“exploit in any matter… for any purpose whatsoever”).
Also, we feel that what Linden Lab is saying in their press release contradicts with how their their Terms of Service is worded. For example:

 “The revision to this section was worded in such a way that these creators expressed concern that we intended to appropriate their original creations and sell or license such creations without their permission. As our historical practice demonstrates and as we have since tried to clarify, this was absolutely not our intent.” 

If it is not their intent to claim unlimited and irrevocable resale rights on uploaded Content, then they simply should not claim these rights in their Terms of Service. Historical practice or intent is meaningless if this would ever come to a lawsuit. They are basically saying “we know our contract sounds exploitative, but you trust us right?”.
If there is one thing that the Linden Lab ToS update in august 2013 showed, it’s that this revision was done with absolutely no consideration for their users. They updated their ToS so it had maximum benefits for the company, without giving any thought about the content creators. Whether this was because the revision was done by a lawyer who is completely out of touch with the users, bad intentions or plain laziness doesn’t matter. It made clear that Linden doesn’t care about it’s content creators. For us, this small update to the Terms of Service is not enough to regain the trust which was lost.
So we will not allow the use of our images in Second Life, but we’ll keep an eye on things to see how it develops.
If you find it relevant feel free to post our response on your blog. If you have any questions please let me know.

Kind regards,