Second Life Ballet Leaders Reject New TOS

by Alphaville Herald on 30/03/08 at 7:00 pm

inSL™ logo program already helping simplify, stabilize virtual world

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

TOS and trademark controversy hit the arts in SL

As suggested earlier, the inSL™ logo and trademark program can simplify residents’ choices — early signs are quite encouraging. For instance, Espresso and Inarra Saarinen decided for legal reasons that they cannot agree to the new Terms of Service for Second Life, and so will not log into the virtual world.

This reduces stress on Second Life’s infrastructure, and more importantly, keeps Second Life Ballet performances from creating any sort of lag or distraction. Without performances, Sidewinder Linden and Pathfinder Linden – two people I have run into at the ballet – will have more time for, well, something or other. Making plywood cubes, perhaps.

I conducted an e-mail interview with Espresso Saarinen to get a better sense of how the new trademark policy will affect the arts and “your world, your imagination” going forward. Espresso replied:

“Look at mixi (*the* social web site here in japan). They did an aggressive TOS/trademark thing. The users objected. Mixi heard their users and fixed it. Instead of making war with their user base, they made an alliance, and guess what, the user base became their ally and the community became larger and more vital.”

“If Linden Lab really believes the smoke they blow about user-created content and so forth, perhaps this should ring a big red alarm. The trademark noise will blow back to the whole TOS mess, and the TOS is an amazing, and should be embarrassing, aggressive document, giving the users nothing – a one way deal.”

“Adobe just goofed this last week. Aggressive lawyers sans adult supervision declared war with their customers. Someone woke up, and it is being fixed

“I wonder if this was an internal war at Linden Lab, and the few with the in-world vision of partnership with the customer lost.”

Espresso also shared a copy of the letter he sent to Linden Lab, which says in part:

“…while we understand Linden Lab’s need to protect its service mark(s) (I do this stuff in RL), perhaps it can be done without going to war with the customers a la the RIAA et alia.

The ballet has been operating for over 18 months, has considerable following in-world and in RL. It has been promoting Second Life, the arts in Second Life, etc. since inception. The ballet is completely non-profit. In fact, given land tier etc, it is quite anti-profit. This was all done with the awareness of Linden Lab, the tacit consent of Linden Lab, and with occasional active participation of Linden Lab employees.

Second life ballet has been used by Linden Lab to promote Second Life.

The “Second Life Ballet” has been operating as a ‘group’ within second life with the awareness, tacit consent, etc. of Linden Lab. it has over 600 members. in fact, we *paid* Linden Lab for the right to form the group and hence the right to use the name.

The domain “” has been in use since february 2007, has many links *to* it, internet email addresses of the form out on much RL PR, both in english and japanese (and many reference from many other languages).

We have movies of the ballet on flikr and other media, a DVD in production, and, of course, many assets within Second Life.

Where do we go with this, other than to anti-productive legal pissing contests? Where is the win-win solution?”

Indeed. Without a win-win solution, don’t expect to see much ballet in SL going forward. Second Life is getting simpler all the time.

17 Responses to “Second Life Ballet Leaders Reject New TOS”

  1. meh

    Mar 30th, 2008

    This is what happens when you let bean-counters and lawyers run the company.

    What did you really expect?

    SL is dying. Deal with it.

  2. Sally Leftfoot

    Mar 30th, 2008

    What if everyone stopped making reference to Second Life all together? What would happen? Residents convey to viewers or readers with some reference to “Bleep Bleep” its basically informing others what they are looking at or what they are reading about ..its a description in most cases. If its in the brand name/ product / service presently that will be tricky which will make people just walk out from frustration. I would think they would allow for some grandfathering here. I find it rediculous and extreme. Yes thank you Linden Labs for such a stable platform to play & pay in but most of the content is created by the players and the reputation is also word of mouth. “Bleep Bleep ” has pretty much been built by the residents of “Bleep Bleep”. Where in away could just as well as it was built up can be taken away in the same manner. Poor rep less clients. If they go public who wants to invest in a company that may not exsits in the next year. Product endorsements will be lost because who wants to be associated with them if they cant reference them with out pursuing legal rights to do so. Residents will just be non-ppaying residents and just playing and I foresee in the future with “Bleep Bleep” all currency transfer transcations will be non exsistant because of corruption number one and the risk in the US currency violation laws. I think thier burning thier own feet here. So much content has been created with the “Bleep Bleep” name I think its going to be rather interesting seeing them get control over it. Sally Leftfoot and Sam Loopy will have a real tuff time adapting to the rule. This will be an interesting one to follow.

  3. Prokofy Neva

    Mar 30th, 2008

    So is the Herald going to help out with simplifying Second Life, too? Youth wants to know.


    I think when you piss into the wind, you get piss on yourself.

    Linden Lab gave you a solution, in fact. They said, change your name to “SL” if it used to say “Second Life”. They said “SL, we can deal with.” They allow that to be registered, as long as it is two proper nouns. So it would have to be SL Ballet Troupe or something.

    They decided to make the world we were embedded in a “product”. Oops! You’re soaking in a product now! But, if there isn’t another place where you can go to make interactive 3-D streaming ballet in real time with avatars (EA-land is great, but it’s in 2-D; Metaplace is great, but they don’t have the ballet shoes yet, etc), and if you just don’t have a VW out there yet that can sustain creation of costumes, animations, etc. etc., well, change your name to SL Ballet, and be done with it if you care about ballet, and not posturing and invoking Lindens who are irrelevant to this process, like Pathfinder.

    Is it more important to posture, or just respect private property?

    This notion of “anti-profit” seems to be intrinsic to your entitlement-happy vision here. Real-life ballets aren’t normally commercial companies, but they have to run on a self-financing basis, they have to look to the bottom line, which is funded by governments, tax-free donations of patrons, corporations, private foundations. They have to sell tickets. They have to get along, and make ends meet. Otherwise, they don’t get to do ballet. They also have to struggle with labour laws, sanitation, inspection, insurance, trademark, copyright, etc. laws, too. You are freed from much of that in SL. But you can’t be freed from all of it.

    There’s an old Russian expression for this situation:

    плохому танцеру яйца мешают

  4. Digital Digital

    Mar 30th, 2008

    I saw this coming with Linden Lab, I honestly think it is a good and positive step for the company, and again I saw this coming, it was only a matter of time.

  5. whisper2u

    Mar 31st, 2008

    I’m thinking: The OpenSim Ballet… that has a nice ring to it. And somebody is going to have to start the OpenSim Herald one day soon too… Land there is next to free to create and there is no monthly tier to pay. No monetary system! (yet. maybe MetaCard will change that someday) so hopefully a Ballet Troupe could find an Angel there that could set them up with their own place or something. A big stage with moving red curtains. Getting an audience there, now that would be the fun and challenging part, but thats the way things are going. Now that inSL is fully turning towards the dark side. I mean what else could they throw at us on top of everything else, something weird like Forcing Havok4 grid-wide on April Fool’s day??? Naw they wouldn’t do something like that to finish off the carcass would they?

  6. meh

    Mar 31st, 2008

    Prok, could you translate that for us stupid Americans?

  7. Razrcut Brooks

    Mar 31st, 2008

    I think “плохому танцеру яйца мешают” translates to : “Conform ,Leave or be conquered!” :)

  8. Alazarin

    Mar 31st, 2008

    Damn, I know Inarra and Espresso well; I wrote the music for the first SL Ballet production, Olmannen, and recently attended a performance of it. This is really unfortunate news to hear and I hope that it is resolved positively very soon.

    The SL Ballet Company is not some fly-by-night cowboy outfit. It’s been going for well over a year and has a permanent theatre on one of the IBM sims. Inarra and Espresso have built up a large group of dancers and artists who are currently in the middle of rehearsing their 4th production.

  9. meh

    Mar 31st, 2008

    That sounds like a rather Leninist statement coming from Prok.

  10. Tammy Nowotny

    Mar 31st, 2008

    There are a couple of ways out of this for the Second Life Ballet. They might be able to argue that they already have a established right to use their name…. since they’ve been around for a relatively long time, without Linden Lab objecting to the name (and with the knowledge of Linden executives.) They could also cut a deal with LL to continue using the name… since obviously LL isn’t going to shut down all organizations which use the name. (For example, the Second Life Mnetor group would presumably keep going.)

  11. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Mar 31st, 2008

    @Prokofy: “плохому танцеру яйца мешают”

    Don’t you mean “плохому танцору яйца мешают”?

  12. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Mar 31st, 2008

    @Razrcut Brooks

    “Bad dancers shouldn’t stir eggs” (approximately)

  13. Prokofy Neva

    Apr 2nd, 2008

    Um, Alyx is just plain stupid, and does not know Russian lol.

  14. Prokofy Neva

    Apr 2nd, 2008

    The phrase is translated as follows: “A bad dancer says his balls get in the way”. яйца means “balls” in the vernacular. No, танцеру is spelled with the stressed “e” not the “o”. And it’s in the dative case, so obviously it has nothing to do with stirring eggs, nimwit.

  15. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Apr 2nd, 2008


    Oh how I love your needless hostility <3

  16. eric

    Apr 4th, 2008

    @Prokofy Neva: “Linden Lab gave you a solution, in fact. They said, change your name to “SL” if it used to say “Second Life”. They said “SL, we can deal with.” They allow that to be registered, as long as it is two proper nouns. So it would have to be SL Ballet Troupe or something.”

    The problem is, that is not a solution LL has any right to insist upon under U.S. trademark law. Their guidelines are vastly over-reaching and would not stand up in a TM infringement action. They’re trying assert broader rights for themselves by incorporating the TM guidelines into the TOS. It’s far from clear they can enforce that as a matter of contract law. At least in some cases, the law does not permit contractual waivers of statutory rights. Given the important, indeed constitutionally-rooted, policy concerns underlying the limits to TM protection, it is at least conceivable that a court would balk at allowing a company to use a contract of adhesion to impose sweeping restrictions on the use of the company’s name that go far beyond what TM law permits.

    (Obligatory disclaimer: This is not legal advice, etc. etc.)

  17. Pyper Dollinger

    Apr 7th, 2008

    It amazes me to see how people can turn a serious matter into such stupidity. I am a dancer for the Second Life Ballet and it really angers me to see the above comments and such immaturity. We work very very hard at what we do to create the effortless movements of a beautiful tale in ballet form. We work 4-5 hours a week and perform twice a week. It angers me also that you will open your mouth and put something down that you haven’t even seen. Please keep your comments to yourself if you are trying to put down something that means alot to many. If offers an outlet for some of the dancers that are either ill or unable to dance in RL.
    Inarra and ESP we are behind you. We love you and miss you greatly!

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