Second Life Terms of Service: A legal panel


MORE EDITS: Video is up! And we have a pdf of my slides: SL ToS Presentation. Enjoy! Also, Inara Pey worked her ass off to create some excellent transcripts of the event, and the UCCSL is working on translating those into a few languages when possible.

Please join me (as my alt, Agenda Faromet), Tim Faith, and VIPO’s Juris Amat — all of us IP attorneys in real life — as we discuss the latest changes to Second Life’s Terms of Service. We’ll take a close, detailed look at exactly what the controversial section of the new ToS means, how it affects content creators (and regular users), what changed from the old terms, and why people are so upset. More importantly, we’ll answer your questions and discuss how the Terms of Service affects your rights now and in the future.

This event will be Saturday, October 19 at 10 am SLT at the UCCSL’s Rose Theatre Opera House. This is a new location that can support more avatars. We changed locations due to the high demand for this event. A few people have offered to record the event for us (but if you’re willing / able to record, please do!), and we hope we will also be able to reprise the panel on a second date if the demand is high enough.

Note: if we do get a good recording, we would really like to get a transcript for the hearing impaired. If you are willing to transcribe a recording for us, please contact Agenda Faromet after the panel is over. Thank you!

About Vaki

Seriously, Mega Shark v. Giant Octopus is a masterpiece of modern cinema. What? It has Deborah Gibson in it. And there's this one scene where...what? Oh, like there's something better than a mega shark leaping out of the ocean and biting a plane in half. Whatever.
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23 Responses to Second Life Terms of Service: A legal panel

  1. Pingback: ToS changes: a legal panel discussion announced | Living in the Modem World

  2. isfullofcrap says:

    Voice or Text?
    Transcribed? Recorded?
    Notecards of questions in advance?
    If time runs out, questions via notecard for followup?
    Posted here?


    • Vaki says:

      The panel will be presented via voice, with accompanying slides. We’ve talked about finding ways to make them more friendly for the hearing-impaired, but we don’t have the resources, unfortunately. It’s something I really hope we’ll be able to accommodate in the future. As I mentioned in the post, we’ll record it if possible. If we get a recording, it’ll be posted on the SL Bar Association’s website at (not here; I keep most of my legal stuff off this blog, but I’ll probably link to it here as well). You’re welcome to send notecards of questions in advance either to Agenda Faromet, Yoss Kamachi, and Juris Amat or just pop by Justitia and drop them in one of the SLBA mailboxes. We’ll check there.

      If time runs out and demand is high, we’ll try to do a second panel for people who didn’t get to come to the first or have concerns that didn’t get addressed.

      If you have specific questions about a specific situation or want specific legal help, it’s best to meet with one of us one on one after the panel.

  3. Pingback: User-led legal discussion panel announced for Linden Lab’s ToS changes | Mona Eberhardt

  4. Put out a call for Court Reporters. I’m sure there are a number of them in SL. The ones I worked with in the past (distant past, no longer in touch with them and no idea if they’re on SL) were capable of catching 100% of what’s said provided they can get people to introduce themselves in Chat first (so their Avatar Name is printed out and visible for all to see).

    I am extremely anxious to hear the views and opinions of those with legal background in the field. I’ll do my best to be there. Thank you in advance for taking the time to put this together.

  5. zeesl says:

    Reblogged this on Zee and commented:
    Hello readers,
    I’m still absent for a few more days due to work + RL but regular blogging will definitely commence this weekend. I thought I’d reblog this for all of us who are concerned about SL’s latest TOS. While this concerns content creators more than us regular users/bloggers, I do think it is important to be aware and to hear it for ourselves, instead of getting our ‘expert sources’ from hearsay.

  6. I would like to share this with the Builder’s Brewery group as well, however if I do it will surely be overcrowded and perhaps keep others out who need to be there so I will hold back if you advise. I surely do hope there will be more than one session, as well as a recording.

    • Vaki says:

      Sen, I would love to see some of the Builder’s Brewery crowd there. We understand that this will probably be a popular event, hence the willingness to hold it twice, so if some people can’t make it due to the crowd, we’ll try to accommodate them on another date. Our hope is to get more people involved and informed.

  7. Alexi Romano says:

    Posted it on my Facebook:)

  8. zeesl says:

    Oh my, I wasn’t aware that reblogging and then adding my own comment to my reblog would end up as a comment here. I apologize!

  9. qarl says:

    i’m hoping to attend – but real life has its nagging obligations. if i am unable to make it, would it be possible for you to address a question i have:

    the wording of the TOS states: “…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…”

    my question is about “derivative works.” it’s my understanding that a video recording of a video game (grand theft auto, for instance) is a derivative work of that video game.

    would this be the case for video recordings taken within second life?

    and so would this clause apply to the various recording created within second life? specifically the commercial film “login 2 life” and Draxtor’s “world makers” series?

    many thanks.

    • Vaki says:

      Hi, Qarl. Good to see you here…wish it were under happier circumstances.

      “Derivative works” is a pretty big category. A derivative work can be something as simple as a small modification to an image; it can be something as complex as a translation of War and Peace into Arabic; or it can be as large as the Harry Potter movie series…and even then, there are a lot of issues and questions that come up. It’s a complicated area of a complicated part of the law (I don’t say that to brush aside your question…just to warn you that I may not be able to give you a complete answer in a forum post).

      The first part of the answer is yes, a video recording of a video game would be a derivative work. For instance, a lot of people make recordings of WoW raids and put those on YouTube to show the strategy they used to take down a certain boss. That would be a good example of a derivative work of Blizzard’s copyrighted content.

      With derivative works, though, the copyright owner owns the rights in the underlying work, and the author of the derivative work owns the rights in any original content that has been added to it, so long as it is distinct enough from the original work. So, going back to the WoW example, some people will make recordings of their WoW characters dancing around (which is not original, and is content belonging to Blizzard), but will record an original song and sync it up to appear as though the characters were singing and performing the original song. The song would, of course, be a work belonging to the artist who wrote it.

      Because only the copyright owner can make or authorize derivative works, if someone makes a WoW video — even if it contains original content — it may be infringing Blizzard’s right to create derivative works. (That’s when we get into the whole fair use analysis). Also, a copyright owner can decide whether or not to pursue potentially infringing content (and in Blizzard’s case, they’re pretty friendly to fan videos). As an example, remember the Harry Potter Lexicon case: J.K. Rowling had enjoyed the website and even used it as a reference herself when writing her books, but it was an unauthorized derivative work, and when the website’s author wanted to publish the site in a book form, she sued to stop him.

      With Second Life machinima, this last part becomes important, because Linden Lab has explicitly licensed (and required users to license) content for snapshots and machinima. Also, unlike a video of WoW, most snapshots and videos taken / created within Second Life are not taken of content created or owned by Linden Lab. Sure, some may be, but most are not. Most are taken of content created either by the machinima author or by third parties (who have licensed their content). So they would be derivative works (and in this example, there would probably only be a very thin protection for the original work, given how little of the underlying “video game” is shown), but derivative works made with the consent of the copyright holder, and all the original content in the videos would belong to the videos’ owners.

      That said, let me talk about the wording of the ToS. It talks about “exploit[ing] . . . your User Content (and derivative works thereof).” If I’m reading the thrust of your question right, I think you’re asking whether Linden Lab is claiming the right to exploit or commercialize recordings made in SL (and never uploaded to any of Linden Lab’s servers). I would say no: that while a video recording of a video game may be a derivative work of that video game, it is not a derivative work of your User Content.

      I would also say that’s a very poorly drafted ToS that could stand a whole lot of clarification.

      • qarl says:

        hm. i don’t think i follow. if i create a beautiful mesh hat, and then create a video of that hat – how can it not be “a derivative work of my user content.”? the hat is my user content. the video is derivative of it. no?

      • Vaki says:

        I would argue no, not under these terms, but you’re asking for a legal answer on an area that doesn’t have a whole lot of precedent and is never going to have a yes or no, black or white answer. The real answer is that any dispute is going to get litigated…but that’s the real answer with anything having to do with copyright.

        I can’t tell you that no company would ever try to claim absurd interpretations of a ToS. It happens. It happens often. We’ve seen this particular company do it.

        It’s a very poorly written ToS. I don’t think anyone’s going to dispute that.

      • qarl says:

        yeah, i hear you. the reason i push on this is because i’ve already consulted an IP lawyer friend who warned me about this interpretation. so i think that proves your point: no blacks and whites here. see you tomorrow, hopefully.

      • Vaki says:

        Yeah…without going into way too much detail for blog post comments, it’s one of those where if a company really wanted to stretch the interpretation of the Terms, they could try it, but then they’d bump up against unconscionability. And we’re in California, and California courts really, really hate unconscionable contracts.

        (Then there’s the arbitration issue, which is a whole other clusterfestival, but that’s a subject for another blog post.)

  10. Pingback: OMG! QARL leaves SL, citing TOS and LL incompetance as reasons for departure - Page 2 - SLUniverse Forums

  11. dragonladyboa says:

    how did the meeting go? I was out of town yesterday and wasn’t able to attend. Will you do a blog about it?

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  13. Pingback: Questions about Linden Lab TOS - |

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  15. Pingback: Copyright and Fair Use for Second Life Content Creators – a legal panel | Mona Eberhardt

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