Monday, September 30, 2013

Second Life's Terms of Service Are Creating a Major Backlash

New World Notes has been reporting for a few weeks now that Linden Lab's new terms of service have led a number of content creators to distance themselves -- and their products -- from Second Life.  First CGTextures, and then Renderosity, have revised their own terms of service to forbid the uploading of their content onto SL.  The LL ToS, which may have been rewritten so as to allow selling SL-generated content on the Lab's new acquisition, Desura, are clearly meant to cover things from a legal standpoint in the event content creators decide to sue over the misappropriation of their work, if NWN's speculations are correct.

For the life of me, I can't figure out how LL's CEO still has his job.  Is there no sense of direction at Linden Lab?  Something tells me there isn't.  Plainly, there's no accountability there.  How will the terms of use affect the SL Whovian community?  I have a few hypotheses about this.

1.) Sellers such as Novatech, New London Systems, and Hands of Omega will have to seriously consider leaving for other grids, like Avination and InWorldz, to prepare for when this newest screw-up on the part of LL blows up in everyone's faces.  (I may do this myself.)  Many of the items made prior to the rules revision are already under the copyright of their creators, so LL's new ToS may be seen as an illegal attempt to usurp those existing copyrights.  The cost of such legal battles may well bankrupt Linden Lab and perhaps even lead to the shutdown of Second Life itself.  Whether this actually happens, what the ultimate outcome will be, and how long it'll all take to play out, is anyone's guess, but it wouldn't surprise me to start seeing lawsuits pop up soon.

2.) People who've set up Whovian-themed regions, like Olyesti sim's Three Minute City, could face the very real prospect of having Linden Lab appropriate their work for purposes other than what the creators intended.  Exactly how this could happen, I don't know and can only speculate, but it may be worth thinking about.

3.) With LL being all too happy to shut people and regions down to placate copyright-holders, the new terms of service could be abused by vindictive jerks to press grudges in ways that even a certain egotistical ass clown couldn't imagine in his craziest delusions of grandeur.

All this is just speculation on my part, and none of it may actually come to pass.  Maybe I'm just being paranoid and cynical after so many years of watching LL find ways to screw up even the simplest policies and tasks.  But still, with people bailing on SL now because of the latest foul-up, I do have to wonder.


Since I'm largely off-line while I get my living and working situations sorted out, I won't be posting as much, at least until I get fully established in my new accommodations.  I'm also re-evaluating the direction of this blog.  I'd like to focus more on critiquing Doctor Who -- the TV show, its spinoffs, and its related media, as well as fandom, conventions, and stuff.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ego, and Linden Lab's Bad Decisions

Someone's got a really inflated sense of his own importance in the SL Doctor Who fan sphere, and after a couple of months of absence is claiming that without him the whole lot is dying off -- people are losing interest without him there to do all the marketing yadda yadda yadda, and the BBC wants nothing to do with SL after seeing how many self-absorbed jerks are present not only in the SL Whovian community but across the sci-fi fan base in general.

Granted, there is a grain of truth somewhere in all of this idiot's egotistical nonsense.  Certain regions never got the sheer amount of daily traffic others have, due mainly to being clique-ish, elitist, drama-causing jerks.  No one likes to put up with bad attitudes, and word of mouth spreads rather quickly to kill off groups, businesses, and communities that engage in that sort of behavior.  "We're the best around and our sh** doesn't stink" and "those other peeps are a**holes" only gets you so far, and then all you've got is an empty region no one wants to visit because you're all too busy having yourselves a circle jerk to notice that your attitude is what's driving people away.

So the claim that certain Whovian regions in SL are dying has some merit, but it has little to do with not having a certain lying, conniving, warpath-trodding bully around to handle all the marketing and do the bulk of the public relations.  It has more to do with bad attitudes, and Mr. Loser has the biggest, baddest one of them all, which is more than likely the primary reason he was finally pushed out of the Whovian region he called home for so many years.  Yet he'll continue to blame everyone but himself for his troubles and gloat over the havoc he thinks he's wreaked, and all because he couldn't be the one and only big dog in the proverbial kennel.

Ego.  It ruins a hell of a lot for a lot of people, and in SL it's no different.


But more than anything, if there is a decline in the SL Whovian community, I suspect it's more a symptom of a wider problem in SL altogether: ridiculously high tier and bad business decisions by Linden Lab that are combining to cripple Second Life itself.

Let me explain.

By acquiring xStreetSL and transforming it into the marketplace, even going so far as to convert to direct product upload instead of the magic boxes (which required at least some small bit of virtual land), the need for maintaining a highly expensive in-world store was effectively eliminated.  Why spend hundreds of dollars of real money per month on a virtual region and maybe barely break even, or worse, lose money, when you can use a sandbox to build and upload content to the marketplace, thus eliminating a huge chunk of overhead cost?  With tier remaining at an all time high and real-world incomes shrinking for most SL users, the writing was on the wall as to what the consequences would be, and the consequences include the steady loss of privately-owned regions that can now only be stemmed with cutting tier across the board.

To be fair, Linden Lab does seem to have finally learned from its mistake in eliminating the non-profit-education discount, and reversed that decision earlier this summer.  This may help attract educational institutions and non-profits to return to the grid, though many may not want to come back after having been burned before by LL and they may not like all the new restrictions placed on content ownership on the grid.  Basically, Linden Lab claims rights to all content created on the grid, and has moved to block people from being able to save their own created content for use on competing grids, effectively putting up a very high, very thick wall between Second Life and real-world people whose content has helped generate a lot of money for the Lab over the last ten years.  Other grids, such as InWorldz and Avination, have far fewer restrictions or none at all, and sim-on-a-stick has freed up a lot of content creators to save their work to a format that allows them to practically take it wherever they wish.

So right now Linden Lab is betting that its other computer games will salvage the company's prospects, while belatedly realizing that some of its past business decisions pertaining to Second Life simply aren't sustainable in the long run and is now slowly working to remedy those mistakes.

Will Linden Lab eventually lower region tier pricing across the board?  Sooner later it'll have to.  No business that wants to remain open keeps its prices high in the midst of record low demand, especially when demand is so low because of an ongoing economic depression that shows no sign of recovery.

Wages have to go up and prices have to come down, in order for people to start spending again.  That's economic reality.  Only time will tell id the geniuses at Linden Lab will wake up to it.