Why I Joined The UCCSL

Your humble correspondent apparently was the first of the SL/VL news and issues bloggers to report that Linden Lab had rejected the request by the United Content Creators of Second Life to meet and discuss the Terms of Service change in SL that has caused one of the hottest controversies in the grid’s history.

In order to continue to follow the story, I sent a request to join the UCCSL’s Google+ community. Turns out, in order to be accepted, I had to join their inworld group as well and sign up for specific guilds.

I had not expected this so I had to think about it. It’s one thing for a writer to take a side in a dispute, it is another thing to join one.

If I join a side, then everything I write about it will be read with that in mind. I usually “don’t go there.” In addition, I am not a content creator inworld. I don’t make products or works of art and sell them. But I am a virtual worlds content creator. As a writer, I make and publish my content outworld but I couldn’t do it without there being an inworld. While the Terms of Service don’t apply to my work they certainly have an impact on the work itself and the audience for such work.

As regular readers of my blogs are aware, I am both a fan and user of Second Life and OpenSim. As I wrote recently on Google+, the best thing for OpenSim is a healthy Second Life…

i think that probably the best thing that could happen for our style of virtual worlds as a whole (as opposed to WoW or other types of immersive environments), is for there to be two or three financially healthy commercial grids of some size. it would be great if they were open to HG but they don’t have to be in order to benefit everyone in the Metaverse.

as long as owning and running a virtual world is financially viable on a commercial scale, there will be enough interest in virtual worlds in general to support smaller grids and free grids and personal grids. and all of the things that combine to fill these grids with content and all of the software necessary to operate them and everything else involved in it all…will be there.

on the other hand, if there is no market for SL or InWorldz or Kitely and the others… virtual worlds will disappear or darn close to it.

I have also come to the conclusion that the best thing for Second Life is a healthy OpenSim. Competition is what drives a market. While there has to be some real demand for virtual worlds for one company to be financially successful selling its service to that market, it is only the success of a second and third company that will grow the size of that demand, that market, for the long run.

In addition to other closed, commercial grids, Second Life’s competition comes in another form – the independent, non-commercial OpenSim grids. This includes everything from grids that are open to the public to private grids. Anything any of us do in virtual worlds, could be done in Second Life. Every one of us who does it somewhere else is a customer LL could have but doesn’t. Every one of us who splits our time between SL and OpenSim is also taking business away from SL. But the existence of these OpenSim options helps SL as well. It sustains and grows interest in virtual worlds as a whole. If that interest decreases, so does the market for SL. Regardless of the size of your slice, a bigger pie is better for everyone.

This current intellectual property issue is, to me, a matter of free speech and expression. In my opinion, it is also such a serious matter that it threatens the long term financial health of a successful virtual world company. Both of these situations, while bad for LL directly, are bad for virtual worlds as a whole.

Therefore, as someone who cares a great deal about free speech, property rights and virtual worlds, I have joined the UCCSL and have made a financial donation to the group. A very small one but it’s the thought that counts, right? Seriously, it is…it’s the principle.

Three weeks ago in the article The TOS Controversy on my virtual issues blog, Journey To The Center Of The Metaverse, I wrote that I did not believe that Linden Lab had evil intentions in introducing new language to their contract with their customers…

I don’t think Linden Lab is trying to steal your stuff even though they are claiming the right to do so. I think it’s just the usual incompetence over there. In plain English, they have their collective heads up their collective asses at Linden Lab and anyone who has paid any attention has known this for a long time.

I have not changed my mind about any of that and I stand by everything I said in that entire piece. In fact, I would emphasize an observation I made near the end of that article…

{We are} already seeing evidence of creators and residents in related fields moving to other grids and OpenSim right now or taking steps to do so… This reaction is happening incredibly quickly. Linden Lab does not have time to spare. Each day they are losing individuals and groups of people.

LL has dragged its feet in addressing this issue. They might eventually come up with something that content creators can live with and everyone can go back to creating goods and art and making money and having fun. Second Life will survive.

But it will not recover.

It will not regain the exclusive love it has received from some of its most talented creators. It now must share that love and creative power with other grids. Except in the cases where it has lost that love completely.

Remember, for some people, this is not the first straw.

There have been many serious mistakes by LL over the years. You can downplay the importance of each of them individually in causing people to leave SL. But you cannot downplay the cumulative effect these mistakes have had.

Was a change in the Second Life TOS an absolute necessity for LL to operate as a provider of a whole line of products? Or did it just make things easier for LL?

I’m not in a position to know. Maybe it really was necessary to make a change.

But if it was, Rod Humble should be asking himself and his people, “If we had it to do over again, would we have done it this way?”

Unfortunately, I believe the limited vision that Humble and his top people have would lead them to answer: “Yes, we didn’t have any choice but to do it this way.”

But what’s worse is… I don’t think they are smart enough to ask the question in the first place.

As I have written in the past, the number one job of a company that sells a product or service is to make its core customers/users happy. The content creators are core users. And they also provide an added benefit to Linden Lab – what they do attracts other core users.

Those are two reasons that it is good business to keep those content creators happy.

A third is… it’s the right thing to do.

2 thoughts on “Why I Joined The UCCSL

  1. I absolutely agree.
    It’s not a single issue, but the cumulative effect.
    LL are clearly not interested in consulting their users (this letter openly states so) – despite the clear and obvious results of ignoring the lessons all around them in the gaming, and real, world.
    Secrecy, abusive terms, and dictatorships – don’t inspire loyalty, or gain you more fans. They’ll only cause us to seek alternatives for our leisure fun.

  2. Make no mistake; virtual worlds – all of them are viewed with great suspicion by several stock content providers w.r.t. IP protection. Turbosquid prohibits use of its content not only on Second Life, but on all virtual worlds, citing IP protection concerns. Personally, I disagree with Turbosquid’s take, but I can only acknowledge three facts about them:

    1. They realise that, if perceived protection of their creator community’s IP in Second Life is inadequate, in OpenSim and other grids there’s precisely ZERO protection – especially in private, “non-commercial” grids.
    2. Their policy on this is not a piece of drama-whoring – contrary to what we’ve seen from CGTextures and Renderosity.
    3. Their policy is perfectly clear and not deliberately vague (unlike what we saw from CGTextures and Renderosity).

    Now, as to what I think about the announcements that came from CGTextures and Renderosity… My thoughts are here.

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