by Alphaville Herald on 30/03/08 at 10:19 am
Dear Linden Labs
We have been a group within your medium for 17 months. We are a political forum, essentially using the forum as a way to link with people of our political persuasion across the world. We felt this media would be a great way to do that and have managed to link people across the globe. Members of our group believe in a method of education espoused by Paulo Friere, the South American educationalist, and we feel the virtual world created on your media allows that in a way few other Web 2.0 forums can. Our most recent Charter and Aims and Principles can be found here.
We have a number of concerns we would like to share with you and perhaps you could address those.
We feel the new TOS are pretty stringent, your Trademarking (TM) the term “SL” has surprised us. Our use of the term SL came before your TM was introduced – and we have used the term both inside and outside the media. Our concern, however is not the name or the legalities of using the term “SL” or the term “Second Life”. Our concern is that we are an anti-capitalist group who at times confront some of the corporations Linden Labs now seek to involve in SL. We have in the past supported an Italian IBM workers strike that used SL to highlight their cause, successfully. Would this supporting of a non-corporate, group who had no commercial relationship with Linden Labs against a corporation who have an interest in Linden Labs (and vice versa) breach your new TOS?
We also have in the past year confronted an extreme right wing, racist group made up of the French Front National and various other extremist groups. Would this type of confrontation lead us to be in breach of your TOS and mean the SLLU group and/or its members could be banned or deleted because our actions do not enhance your corporate image? Does our use of an “SL Associated name” mean that you could end our tenure in this world because of our confrontation of hate groups or unjust employers would be seen to be “advocating against any individual, group, or organization?”
We feel that we, the “residents” of your “new world” – OUR world and OUR imagination, as you have been telling us, have been asked in these new TOS to waiver more rights for no increase in service. We are extremely interested to know how Linden Lab as a corporation goes about justifying this action.
We feel that there are groups that have existed for quite some time in SL who will not meet your stringent rules on the use of the term SL. These groups have in turn brought people to SL, revenue for you, brought people together in common cause and enjoyment to many people. Are we to understand they now must comply with strange and whimsical usage rules or disappear? Our full name is Second Life Left Unity and there are many other groups who indicate they are operating in this Second Life environment with the words “Second Life.” In fact, there are hundreds of “Second Life” organizations and clubs (including Assassins of Second Life, Second Life Mafia, Second Life Catholic Church, Second Life Ballet, Second Life Univ. of Technology, Second Life Live, Second Life Amazing People, and many many others). Why would the license not extend also to “Second Life”? And are you really suggesting organizations and businesses situated in the virtual world “Second Life” must change their names? What kind of enforcement and notice procedures do you anticipate for bringing residents into compliance with the new terms?
Of course, Linden Labs are not the only group to claim ownership of content of forums. This is, in our opinion, just the latest trend towards increased emphasis by corporations on ownership, control and product branding – which to many represents excessive intrusion, and a massive imbalance between corporate power and citizen or service user rights and power. Surely this runs contrary to the whole Open Sourcing ethos which LL once apparently endorsed? For years, Linden Research has been touting Second Life as a place, so, for example, Reuters in Second Life made sense, now it is Second Life the product and you seem to be trying to change people’s perceptions based on market whims.
We also seek clarification on whether you have any kind of user data privacy and protection policy in place, where conversations or actions are deleted and will not be given over to marketing companies, corporations, courts or Governments? We have concerns that if not, that the collection and storage of user data could be open to massive and intrusive misuse.
This tool that has been created, ie the virtual world, could be used in such amazing ways in education, making links across the globe and for helping in human relationships etc. The potential is only limited by imagination as you imply in your marketing. But we fear the potential is being undermined by a want to unquestioningly comply with the commercial market pressures for conventional expansion by selling off to the higher bidder rather than considering the longer term interests of this unique service or of those who use/rely/love the experiences that are afforded by the use of Second Life. How does this fit with LL’s previous stated support of the Open Sourcing movement?
We await a response with hope.
Second Life Left Unity.