Second Life Left Unity’s Open Letter to LL

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.

In peace

Second Life Left Unity.

15 Responses to “Second Life Left Unity’s Open Letter to LL”

  1. Plot Tracer

    Mar 30th, 2008

    If you visit the SLLU website, we have a discussion document by Higgledpiggle Snoats. We have a meeting on Wednesday at 3pm pdt/10pm GMT. Im me for a tp.

  2. Prokofy Neva

    Mar 30th, 2008

    This sounds like a lot of self-aggrandizing hooey.

    It’s just a lot of hysterical extreme leftist paranoic ranting.

    There is nothing whatsoever in this new trademark policy that suggests you can’t criticize IBM or have a strike in solidarity with striking IBM workers.

    I didn’t have a problem changing two of my groups, one of which had a web site:

    SL Public Land Preserve is registered
    and Second Life Record changed to SL Citizen Record and registered. I don’t expect to hear from them again, and I expect to keep up exactly the same level of non-profit work and criticism of the world as I did before, if not more.

    If you know of another place that has as robust a platform to support your extreme leftist sectarian ditherings in as vibrant a format, by all means, go there!

    If not, just change your name and register. Trademarks are an important part of securing private property. Private property is essential to freedom. Freedom of the press belongs to him who owns one. In order to avoid any entanglements, what the Herald needs to do is become the Metaverse Herald and be done with it.

  3. Digital Digital

    Mar 30th, 2008

    Again, I really think this is a good thing Linden Lab is doing , I am surprised it took them this long to do so.

  4. Jessica Holyoke

    Mar 31st, 2008

    Oh Prokofy, you must have missed paragraph 7 from the Terms and Conditions of using SL as part of your trade name.

    Impermissible Use. Your SL Associated Name must not be, and must not be used for any business, organization, product, service, website, or activity that is, in Linden Lab’s sole opinion:
    Violent, racially intolerant, or advocating against any individual, group, or organization;
    Pornographic, profane, or not suitable for a PG rating;
    Related to gambling or casinos;
    In violation of or promoting violation of Linden Lab’s Terms of Service or Community Standards;
    Illegal, promoting illegal activity, or infringing legal rights; or
    Misleading, defamatory, disparaging, tarnishing, obscene, or otherwise objectionable

    Advocating against an individual, group or organziation sounds like the Lindens don’t want protest groups to use SL in their name if they are against an individual, group or organization.

  5. Plot Tracer

    Mar 31st, 2008

    lol! The strange thing is the voice of the the censor above sounds so reasonable! Of course, Prokofy! We never thought of that! Private property makes free! As does work. And of course unions and anti-nazi demonstrations are “far left” – I appologise for being so extreme! In future, we will ensure that the SLLU is a group only for the defense of the privatisation of rights; the closing down of the web; Trademarking as much as we can(tm); marching into other countries to save them for democracy (if they have got oil, that is).

    Oh – before I do that – I have just noticed something…. erm… the SLLU are not the only people who are concerned about these TOS! My goodness! Some capitalists are even complaining about their right to privacy and right to a name they had before the TOS were revealed!

    Perhaps we aren’t left enough…

    Meeting on this at 3pm pdt Wednesday/10pm gmt. IM me for a TP.

  6. higgleDpiggle Snoats

    Mar 31st, 2008

    if the actual substance of your criticism of our letter is that “There is nothing whatsoever in this new trademark policy that suggests you can’t criticize IBM or have a strike in solidarity with striking IBM workers.”,
    then you are mistaken and need to go back and read the new SL and inSL usage guidelines, which state (as we have outlined in the letter):

    “7. Impermissible Use. Your SL Associated Name must not be, and must not be used for any business, organization, product, service, website, or activity that is, ** in Linden Lab’s sole opinion **:

    Violent, racially intolerant, or ** advocating against any individual, group, or organization **”

    We do not yet know if this means that LL intend to ban our peaceful political activity inworld, on their whim, if we continue under our current name, (which is SL Left Unity)- this is what we are seeking clarification on. We also raise these and other issues on behalf of others whom the changes may affect.

    What *IS* extreme is how aggressive Linden Research are being in stipulating the usage terms of their newly trademarked brands, and how OVER-zealously they suddenly want to protect these, and dictate use of language, given that the previously enjoyed freedom to use these terms has in fact been key in virally building their brand.

    I don’t expect you to share these concerns, as they apparently don’t affect you yet. However, as is frequently the case, your desire to go into *attack* mode as soon as you see the word ‘left’ leaves you prone to jumping to false conclusions.

  7. Oops noagain

    Apr 1st, 2008

    “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.”

    Do they? Will they send a reply? This is amazing stuff.

    It is strange that most people have concentrated on the branding rather than the privacy issues.

    People here are all to easily giving up rights to freedom our grandparents fought for in WW2 and our parents trembled about during the cold War.

    We are all to easily sliding into the state of;
    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength

  8. Franz Carver

    Apr 1st, 2008

    The total Terms of Service for SL (or should that be inSL[tm]?) now seem to total just under 13,500 words. That’s quite a lot. My favourite has to be 2.6, that basically says they can cancel your account with or without reason for doing so. Nice. Presumably if they sell the company these rights will be passed on to the new owners. That is a pretty powerful term of service. Should a new owner want to cancel the account to gain any property (intellectual or virtual) then does this mean they can?

  9. Plot Tracer

    Apr 2nd, 2008

    If anyone is concerned about the latest tos/ the shutting down by controlling corporations and governments of the web) please come along to our meeting where we can share knowledge and begin a campaign both inside sl and out on the “free web” to make these issues known and ensure people know that there are non-corporate alternatives.

    Im me at 2.55pm pdt /9.55pm gmt for a tp- or do a classifieds search.

  10. Alexandra Talbot

    Apr 3rd, 2008

    Funny that. Anti-capitalists saying that a CAPITALIST-created tool is more useful than any other application they have tried.

    The irony here is too delicious.

  11. plot tracer

    Apr 3rd, 2008

    Unfortunately, like the burghers of old, we are fighting within a system. We may want a more equitable world, but we don’t have it yet and to eat I need to compete for my scraps every bit as much as you do, Alexandra. Lets hope the corporations don’t totally shut down the flow of money to those like me who rely on their charity. Or maybe if they do we’ll be forced to fight for a fair share, rather than what they deem to pay us?

  12. Forelle Broek

    Apr 4th, 2008


    There’s nothing “ironic” at all about anti-capitalists recognizing the innovative power of capitalism. Indeed, Marx emphasized that very point:

    “The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real condition of life and his relations with his kind.

    The bourgeoisie, during its rule of scarce one hundred years, has created more massive and more colossal productive forces than have all preceding generations together. Subjection of nature’s forces to man, machinery, application of chemistry to industry and agriculture, steam navigation, railways, electric telegraphs, clearing of whole continents for cultivation, canalization or rivers, whole populations conjured out of the ground — what earlier century had even a presentiment that such productive forces slumbered in the lap of social labor?”

  13. IntLibber Brautigan

    Apr 5th, 2008

    Oh Marx recognised the innovative power of capitalism. Thats one reason he opposed it. Marx was essentially an economic luddite who sought to hoodwink the peasantry into returning to feudalism with he and his communist intelligentsia as the aristocrats, controlling innovation to perpetuate their own power, rationalized as “for the greater good”.

    Much the same, the socialists in SL seek to perpetuate and reinforce the feudalistic craft/guild economics of so much of SL, and oppose the mechanisms of capital markets needed to exponentially grow the productivity and standards of living of people in SL.

    Capital is the true revolutionary force. Marxism is counterrevolutionary economic luddism.

  14. Plot Tracer

    Apr 5th, 2008

    Lol! Intlibber- that is the most uneducated and funniest put down of Marx and os socialism I have ever read! And this as unfettered greed puss our planet to the point were it will no longer support human life. Marx saw the good in capitalism- it was a step forward from fuedalism, but he saw it for what it should be- a step towards the day when everyone benefits from the resources of the worl, rather than the few. Unfortunately Marx was writing in the 19th Century, and he did not see the effect industrialisation and “the parcelling up” of resources would have on our eco system… but he did see the effect it would have on the freedoms of people- he reported on the Scottish clearances and the companies who owned towns in England and Ireland.

    Socialism, under whatever name people will choose to call it at the time, is inevitable as people are educated in the disparities of the world and how they are subjigated. Good use of your imagination, Intlibber- but a pointless one. I choose to imagine a free, equitable world for my kids and grandkids, rather than this system we live in which degrades and uses and polutes. I hope those who share MY vision win, and those who share yours at present realise their mistake in time.

  15. Archie Lukas

    Apr 13th, 2008

    Very funny

    “anti-capitalist group”

    and yet you join an american company encompassing the ideals of capitalist profit?

    WTF guys, get real.

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