Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dear M Linden - Please help content creators protect our Intellectual Property (and save LL a lot of time and trouble, too)

In an April 25, 2008 interview with Erica Naone in MIT's Technology Review, you agreed that content creation is "definitely the story of Second Life," and given your background in "user-centered design work," I believe you may be receptive to an idea that should be easy to implement and could save everyone a lot of, um... grief, and time.

The Not Possible in Real Life group hereby requests that Linden Lab add a Creative Commons tab in the object editor, as well as a Creative Commons option in the right click pie menu, so that everyone can see, with a simple right mouse click, what the rights are on an object.

While it would not be a panacea, offering this tool would help creators define how people can use their work, beyond the dictates of fair use, but without having to negotiate every single license. It would have no ill effect on the fair use of a work, and copyright law and any other applicable law, would still apply.

As AM Radio pointed out, the issue of copyright protection in Second Life®, " just getting goofy. The problems appear to stem from people's inability to comprehend intellectual property law and the fact that it is the responsibility of the infringer to seek and understand the copyright intentions of the creator. It is not the creator's burden to present a copyright declaration in all instances that the work is presented."

He added,"Giving creators the tools to make a copyright declaration in the object editor would relieve them of the burden of chasing down infringers, as well as give them a specific tool set to use in such circumstances. Violations would be clear, infringers would be outcast, and the community would self-police."

There are four conditions that you can choose to apply to a Creative Commons license:

Attribution: You can use the work but must give credit. This applies in all Creative Commons licenses.

Noncommercial: You can use the work only if you don't make any money from it.

No derivative works: You can use the work only without altering or transforming it beyond the provisions of fair use.

Share alike: You can transform a work as long as you make the resulting work available on the same terms as the original work.

You can use these terms in 6 different combinations.

"Creative Commons doesn't cover all situations, and often times there are violations which are unclear. I cannot copyright wheat as represented on a single cylinder any more than I could copyright the word "wheat." I could attempt a patent for such a thing though. I could, however, copyright a work which uses the idea, such as an entire field of cylinders, in much the same way I can use the word "wheat" in a copyrighted short story. So creators must be educated on the difference or people could chase one another for creating wooden box prims," shared AM.

Info for Residents
Copyright law protects any creative work whether the creator wants that protection or not. No one should use your work without a license, beyond fair use. The Creative Commons tool however, is especially useful if you want to share your work in some way. Would you mind if your work is photographed or filmed, for instance? Some creators object strongly to this, while others welcome the recognition and free promotion. Don't want your work to be shared? Not an issue. Under our proposed scenario, you just wouldn't select and use a Creative Commons license.

Want to learn more? The Creative Commons (CCA) - a non profit organization that "builds tools that help realize the full potential of the commons in the age of digital networks" - will hold its first Creative Commons Technology Summit at Google's offices in Mountain View, California on Wednesday, June 18th. Attendance is free, but space is limited, so register soon if you have an interest.


Takuan Daikon said...

Wow... Why, oh WHY, haven't I seen this suggestion before?

It's so FREAKING OBVIOUS, once you see it, how important and powerful an idea it is!

I sincerely hope that someone at Teh Lab takes this idea to heart.

Troy Mc said...

I don't see why Linden Lab should be promoting one particular set of licenses. What about GPL, BSD licenses, GNU FDL, etc? There are, in fact, infinitely many possible licenses.

Maybe a better solution would be a way to attach an arbitrary license (e.g. as a notecard)? LL could provide a list of common licenses as options.

In summary, I support making licenses clear; I just don't think it's a good idea to limit the set of possible licenses to the Creative Commons licenses.

Troy Mc said...

Actually, I'd go one step further and suggest that when someone transfers something to you, a pop-up dialog appears saying something like "Do you agree to the license agreement?" Then they must click something to agree. Sound familiar?

You might want to have an ability to turn that off, so you can give a gift to a friend without then being bothered by a license!

amradiosl said...

I was thinking Creative Commons because Flickr, ccmixter, etc. use Creative Commons. By using creative Commons we can align to what is fast becoming the standard for creative works. An option for allowing GNU or other alternate license text is a great idea!

Creative Commons provides a simple default standard for Linden Labs to implement, which is why I was suggesting it. You and I know that code changes and software functionality additions occur like rocks move in a river. You gotta make the path of least resistance. ;)

I was thinking about your suggestion about GNU and alternate licensing and I think content creators would want a place in such a tab to add credits. When a content creator uses resources from external sources, content creators would be able to add credits for works incorporated or remixed into the new work. This would also enable content creators to more easily comply with one another's requirements. In this case we surely want a more general text area to describe credits that conform to GPL, BSD licenses, GNU FDL, etc type licenses.

So you're absolutely right. CC is just one license type and you're right that we should consider how to make a license structure extensible to and inclusive of existing and future licensing standards.

Bettina Tizzy said...

Gosh, looks like I woke up at just the right time!

Take a look here... see those *other licences* sort of to the right hand margin?:

I'm not trying to stuff CC down anyone's throat... just keep it simple. Would that work for you, Troy?

Rightasrain said...

Not sure LL really cares...we have filed a few DMCA and LL responds by deleting the one ripped copy--no action on the thief at all or even taking action to delete stuff from their inventory.

Licencing should really stay with the creators to decide how to set, but LL needs to take a strong presence in policing offenders.

We posted our policy here...glad to have any comments!

vint falken said...

Then LL should also allow fields in the object's properties to give credit to other avatars?

Else if you use something CC in your work, you can't appropriate credit?

vint falken said...

Oh, btw, Robin Linden listed this in her 'what could we do about content theft' solutions anno 2006:

'We can reduce incentives to copying content within the system, by preserving the creator attribution such as with creative commons licensing.'

I listed all those 'possible solutions' from the Linden Blog a while ago. (whilst shaking my head about the fact that not even 50% of them made it into the client in two years time!)

Prokofy said...

I totally oppose this idea as it encourages distribution of content for free, not payment of content creators and not protection of copyright laws in a context where copyright theft is rampant.

Creative Commons is a ruse -- a pretense of caring about copyright that actually merely weans creators from the idea that they should *charge for* their work -- and that's ok. It makes the Internet an endless freebies barn, and only encourages the communist idea that everything should be for free, and people should work for free "for the good of the community".

You don't have to have a Creative Commons license to share something in Second Life; you just check off "copy" and "transfer" - a permissions system that was already inspired by Lawrence Lessig -- although he is merely creating a vast subterfuge that is trying to undermine copyright and private property, in fact (and he's now left Creative Commons).

Proof of the lack of usefulness of the CC license for real people really trying to make a living (versus subsidized troupes of content makers subsidized by corporations) is that inworld, on Democracy Island, the CC license maker has virtually no users. It's just needed.

If someone has a burning need to participate in this fraud, they can go on the Internet or have a web page or mark it on their product without having to hijack the entire Second Life economy into this communistic shill.

Leave the permissions system alone; get LL to close off exploits and devise the needed ways to obfuscate textures, and stop contributing to the thuggish opensource criminality with this sort of thing.

Prokofy Neva

cube3 said...

From a NIRL content creators POV I suggest it SHOULD NOT be added to any SL software interface.

I suggest CC is just a bad 'nutrisweet" idea.
Protecting IP in digital formats is a serious issue in the postmaterial future we are running
toward. CC frankly is just another "buzz thought" from those whom most often havent had any

real experience with realife IP law or business issues from the POV of creators.

SL requires no more gimmics. It requires ideas and policies enacted that are proven in the

content business and industry in the west for over a century.

Public Domain rules exists, Copyright rules and Trademark law also exist.

I suggest LL follow them closer- from a business and moral perspective if they want to

"truly" advance content/IP creation and business as an Industry, and not just as one "start

up looking for an exit plan";)

Is CC a bad idea for addition to LL.?
Its just another license option as mentioned,the problem is its now reached a "havent really

thought about it, but "they" say its a good idea" meme in the blogworld of techbiz.

Its another "name" on a ballot that "at least i saw a tv commercial for them" type level of


I just an hour ago looked at the Xbox IP usage- derivative license (so much like the one for

Starbase C3 i introduced in 1995) and see that it is being attacked - as well as the SPORE

creature creator license by those who tie their fame and support in the metablog web to ideas

precisely like CC.

SL like most SF - valley Web2.0 Social "business" has really been only grad student level

thinking-experiments that have been released and forced on real life culture via the PCs in

all the doomrooms...

Yes, M linden, help to change the current flavor of your "platform" and form it to serve the

content creation profession better.

But i dont think CC really does this. It just seems to taste good for now.

A deeper examination of "IP piracy" for profit in SL would be a meatier effort for this

website offering to celebrate the original and creative use of immersive 3d media.

Or possibly a report on the copyright law changes attempting to be made currently in congress

that truly are enabling the destruction of protection to all but a few large corporate IP


Troy Mc said...

Maybe I wasn't being blunt enough earlier. I'd like to be able to attach a license that says whatever I want, like "You can display this object in your SL house on Tuesdays (Pacific time) but on no other days."

The Creative Commons licenses and their ilk are fine for some situations, but they're completely inadequate to cover all possibilities.

Pavig Lok said...

LL needs to provide _somewhere_ for licenses to travel along with an item. I'm all for CC as an option because it disambiguates many of the open issues with dealing with freely distributable items. It should not be the _only_ license, but it's one I personally would have used many times.

The hobo community includes many folk who release free items AND run shops. Free items act as promotion for builders skills, and often boutique items are sold based on the quality of the freebies. When one releases promotional items for free in good faith it makes ones blood boil to see them resold and rebranded. Contrary to popular belief the hobos are not a bunch of free stuff hippies - plenty run businesses - we just do it differently.

Unfortunately without a sticky license for the original item proving provenance is too problematic outside the court system - and considering the profits of SL small business impossible.

I expanded on this concept on Proks blog here

Prokofy said...

Don't release creations for free if your "blood boils" if someone resells them. Geez, some Hobo you are!

See, if you were really about helping newbies, you'd encourage them to resell your freebies. That would definitely help the newbie economy.

Oh, you say, it only helps greedy middlemen? Well, come on, they can only get so far with your freebies, given that YOU didn't value them enough to charge for, and only put them out as "loss leaders".

If you want to improve the economy and set a good example, charge for things you put on transfer. Don't whine later if you made them for free AND put them on transfer. That's your problem, not the wild's problem.

Anyway, this is a bad idea for all the numerous reasons I've explained on my blog.

Jolly Jedburgh said...

CC would be a powerful tool to clearly state what rights the creator wishes to grant on a creation that carries the licence.
I agree with RightasRain that LL has to follow up on the reports for any licence to truly be effective.
I disagree with Proks 'you just check off "copy" and "transfer"'. I have stated in his Anti-Communism propaganda blog starting here.

Aenea said...

It makes me feel like I have to wash my hands repeatedly to say this, but in essence I agree with Prok.

While I love the idea of CC and have supported it on all my personal work in RL (hobbyist photography, music...), I don't think it really addresses the issue we have in-world today, as it is merely another layer of pseudo-copyright that those intent on violating the rights of the creator will gleefully ignore.

I think that many of the types of CC are essentially embodied in the permissions system of SL, so aside from something textual, I don't see what would be gained by incorporating CC as another layer on top of the already-existing asset identification data.

Sugar Seville said...

I agree with Pavig in that content distributed for free with full perms should not be resold. There should be a way to let others know that this is not ok (some people just don't know any better and need to be educated). In regards to the capitalist anti-communist guy, if you like living in a world of shopping malls fine, but leave me out of it. Next time you're on the bridge waiting for the toll booth, take a look in the rear view mirror and then pay the toll for the person behind you - look at it as an impulse buy. xoxo Sugar

Jolly Jedburgh said...

Aenea, that and all them CC people being Communists does not help now does it :)
Joke aside, all we need is a standard way of letting people know what a creator is willing to give away with any type of work. Notecards can be deleted, scripts can be modified but if there was a way to at least make it known what is on offer, which I believe CC pretty much does, would be great. Yes another layer of copyright data but the asset system does not allow for such collaboration without having to jump through LL loopholes and there is no way of showing what rights are given.

I also understand the point of "hey who's gonna listen anyway, them pirates will grab and run anything that is on their path". LL then could allow certain ways of reporting and enforcing these rules.

The given rights would be embedded in the object and the violations would be pretty easy to track.

Since this is "My world My imagination" well , I'd like to be able to share it to the degree I wish to and know that I have Linden Lab's support in protecting that vision.

Prokofy said...

There is a way to mark intent -- it's called "the existing permissions system of Second Life".

Put on mod/copy/transfer -- or not.

If you put on transfer and fuss later about somebody selling your precious goods -- well, value them more, put a price tag on them. And if basking in the glory of being perceived as an altruistic Helper of Noobz is more important than money, but you don't *really* don't want to help newbies so much as to help them make a buck (what they need most of all) on reselling your junk, off "copy/no transfer".

What, you want to me *me* tier the display of *your* loss-leader by setting out your freebie on my land ? Why? Put it on your own damn land.

Add notecards and descriptions -- they are no different than cumbersome CC wording that doesn't add any protection or clarity for that matter.

The existing permissions system for a 3-D world was in fact developed with the help of your big friend Lawrence Lessig, when the Lindens were first starting out. It is already CC to have "copy/no transfer" -- and it is mechanically reinforced. SO use it it, and stop complaining.

Jolly Jedburgh said...

Now there's a man with vision.

aeneaideas said...

@ Jolly: I see your point. I was being pragmatic -- stipulating the CC rights that you want to offer is mostly a matter of principle, but it *is* distinct from the permissions system currently offered by LL.

Jolly Jedburgh said...

CC is one of many that covers most of the areas currently not covered by LL's permission system. The fact that it is discussed is a great start, it does not mean everyone here agrees that it must be CC. If anyone feels there is a better way then this is why it's on the table. Yet Prok's "Doomsday is here" approach and claiming everyone that wishes to give something away for free either must be
a) Communist
b) Just wants attention
c) Is a threat to economy
or all of the above, is just utterly riddiculous. I'm not saying you agree with the above but obviously what is being discussed here serves a unique need in the way things are evolving and yes it is distinct from LL permission system but it is not a "let's rewrite the permission system" request.

Having said that I partially agree with cube3 in a way that IP requires strong protection and LL needs to follow up. Yes LL should follow the laws better but the current system does not allow anything to be licenced as Public Domain, CC, GPL or LGPL or whatever licence the creator wishes to release it under, apart from sticking a note in it. That would solve the problem if we also could make that notecard stay there even with full permission. That is not a solution, it is a patch to the problem and only works for prims that can contain notes. Longer story somewhat shorter, the current system to declare licencing is not sufficient. Without proper decleration, there can be no protection even if LL did follow the laws.

I believe it is not a big task to include licencing information that can be easily accessed by all.

I am not claiming my knowledge of the law in regards to IP is great or even 'good', I may as well have seen CC on tv and thought "hey great idea this will save me" but isn't that why this is on the table? So that people who do know how to protect IP to step up and say "that is wrong because... sl should instead implement..."

Prokofy said...

No, actually, I say something different:

Everyone who gives something away for free is:

1. A communist
2. Wanting attention (reputation enhancement, admiration of their altruism
3. Ruining the economy (out of extremist anti-capitalist views)


1. They do not turn OFF transfer/resale
2. They leave it ON but continue to bitch about people reselling their stuff lawfully.

If you aren't a communist, fake altruist looking for others to tier your loss leaders, and aren't trying to wreck the economy, it's simple:


Jolly Jedburgh said...

You know what this reminds me of, when I was a wee Jolly, growing up in Turkey my dad used to buy this cheese that we loved so much. I must have been about 11 years old. I knew english pretty well (as a second language) but did not know the world so well. I remember opening the packaging to the cheese and it was all written in English and had this big writing on it "NOT FOR SALE".
I remember the question marks in my head, "why would cheese be not for sale? My dad just bought it..." and I shrugged it off.

Later on I realized that this cheese was some aid to one of the Eastern European countries from one US and some greedy bastard somehow got his hands on it and sold it to in the Turkish market where very little of the population could understand the claim on it and got away with it.
My guess is, it was stolen cheese by the trucks load.

Perhaps they should have made it no transfer huh?

When you give, you give, at least some do. "Dont make money on it" is a fair statement and sorry if it ruins your precious economy but that ain't stopping anyone. Good luck with calling names...

Prokofy said...

Actually, you have it all wrong.

USAID and WFP give food knowing full well that packages labelled "Gift of the American People" or "Not for Resale" or "Government Surpluse" *will in fact be sold*. They even figure that into their plans. Some non-profits even WANT this food to be sold because it helps stimulate the economy and gets rid of that deadly suffocating dependency on free handouts. Nobody is going to get THAT rich of some American peanut butter well past the sell-by date.

Jolly Jedburgh said...

Stimulate the economy of who? The shamelessly corrupted who will take that money and run?
Well done you have just saved everyone. If we apply the same system to SL then perhaps everyone will be richer and live in harmony for years to come. Nobody will create anything that is not suitable for the mass-market like art or spontaneous creations of desire, cheese that says not for sale or outdated peanut butter that they wish to share with everyone but do not want it sold. You will have thousands of tenants that log in, have a good old cyber hump and go back to their lives happily while you sit and look at your cash grow. What a wonderful world...

No Prok, actually you have it all wrong.

Prokofy said...

Jolly, you apparently come from a political grouping, culture, or country that finds something suspect in commerce, and assumes that capitalism is "greedy" and "evil". But it works just fine, it is preferred to socialism in many industrialized democracies, and it is nowhere near the caricature you paint when it operates under the rule of law, which depends on civil society. You need to get out of the 19th century on this one.

You may find the mass market and mass taste repulsive, but so what? Those people whom you loathe and wish to erase from existence have a right to exist with their crass taste as much as you do with your refined taste. You cannot make a world only of aesthetes and high-end creatives. Somebody has to consume. And consumers tend to do what they want, not what you think is politically correct for them.

I don't find it particularly aesthetic for people to log in and cyber hump and log out, but it's a free country (still) and if that's what they enjoy, what of it? I can't police them and stop them and make sure only aesthetic art gallerys and little old ladies holding social teas and people raising money for non-profits are my tenants, although I have them too. My rentals are free and open to the public and I fail to see why I need to install your politically-correct vision of the world.

Your notions of me as some kind of money-grubbing greedy landlord are drawn, again, not from knowledge of me or real life but of caricatures you read in some Marxist pamphlet somewhere. People who are really wealthy wouldn't be wasting time on a business in SL that requires enormous amounts of hard work for low returns. I'm as idealistic as the next person, simply with truly classical liberal ideals, not leftist memes trying to constrain people to be something they don't wish to be.

If the NPIRL ethos and aesthetic requires sanitizing the world of commerce, sex, the public, mass taste -- and it appears to! -- then how does it differ from fascism? Just what *is* your plan for the "masses"? Are you going to, uh, re-educate them?

Jolly Jedburgh said...

"Marxist pamphlet"
/me laughs hard...

" does it differ from fascism?"
Now we are fascists? what happenned to communists?

"I'm as idealistic as the next person, simply with truly classical liberal ideals, not leftist memes trying to constrain people to be something they don't wish to be."

Hmm, something smells fishy there but I can't put my finger on it.

"Just what *is* your plan for the "masses"? Are you going to, uh, re-educate them?"

No, we are going to make them eat pages from "Das Kapital" and "Doctrine of Fascism" together to achieve the right mixture to become a proud NPIRL'er and join the closed country-club never to look back.

Prokofy said...

Laugh all you like. NPIRL *is* a closed, exclusive country club.

Meanwhile, the Society for Virtual Architecture remains open.

Open-minded, as well.

c3 is right: "CC frankly is just another "buzz thought" from those whom most often havent had any real experience with realife IP law or business issues from the POV of creators."

These are theorists, professors, not people in business cooking this stuff up.

Jolly Jedburgh said...

I respect C3's point of view, nobody here has claimed to be an expert on the IP laws and that is exactly why this is being discussed. There was a distinct difference between your comments and C3's.

He has voiced his opinion without feeling the need to call anyone communists, fascists, criminals, loss leaders and the list goes on.

"stop contributing to the thuggish opensource criminality" was your suggestion.

That's hardly an - idealist as the next person, simply with truly classical liberal ideals, not leftist memes trying to constrain people to be something they don't wish to be-

I think you need to apologize from everyone and go sit in your naughty chair for 30 minutes.

Prokofy said...

Er, no.

The ideas are indeed communist and fascist. If you find that calling them that accurately winds up implying the people with those ideas are commies and Nazis, well, deal with it.

Stop contributing to the opensource thuggish criminality.

Jolly Jedburgh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jolly Jedburgh said...

"Six Apart has announced that it’s making the technology behind TypePad’s blog comment spam system freely available to bloggers using Movable Type 3/4, WordPress 2.5, or “any other platform which supports spam plugins”."

Linden Lab released their code, Google releases by the hundreds just to name a few which you happily contribute to by utilizing them.
Why don't you go harass them for a while Prok. Who knows what they might release next, these communist fascists probably grew up in a country where capitalism was displayed as evil.

I think this is a job for..

Cap Man!

catfitz said...


Your notion that debating your incorrect thinking needs to then get an incitement to go grief somebody lets me know your mentality.

Once again: everyone knows the Internet is based on both open source and proprietary code. So what? This isn't some horrible truth denied, as you peculiarly imagine; it is a truth so obvious that you don't have to prove it -- and yet, your problem is that you are very stubbornly denying the proprietary piece to it and imagining you can live in a world of freebies. You can't.

It could not exist solely on open source code. Six Apart is a business that does not rely solely on open source code or free access to servers. It has a model also where you pay for access to its servers and features in a monthly subscription -- it does not offer the Typepad blog for free beyond a trial period.

So your persistence in imagining that I need to go "bother" the Typepad people about their normal non-freebie closed access model is peculiar. I don't. Because...they sell their blog, they don't make it copyable and free. Sorry, but there it is. Whatever they have given away with "Moveable Type" or some other part of their empire (or former empire like Live Journal) is beside the point if this most robust service

Can businesses combine both proprietary and open-source, closed and open models in one business? Possibly. Some do. Depends. And not all businesses can do this successfully. And more to the point, you cannot build an entire economy on this principle.

Your persistence in demanding that everyone succumb to your ideological extremism is suspect. We won't be doing that. We don't need anything welded into the viewer. Put a notecard in your object and make it no mod to add licenses.

Copy/mod/transfer -- your best friends in Second Life.

BTW, a blog comment spam system isn't the same as the Typepad technology itself. Point to a place on their website, and not a hackers site, where you find that for free copy lol.