• 23Apr

    4.4 Without a written license agreement, Linden Lab does not authorize you to make any use of its trademarks.

    So reads the summary sentence for the now-infamous trademark clause in Second Life’s Terms of Service. That unfortunate choice of words, and the similar phrase contained in the full text for that clause, might just be the source of the confusion that has myself and other concerned Residents up in arms.

    The full text of section 4.4 reads (emphasis mine):

    You agree to review and adhere to the guidelines on using “Second Life,” “SL,” “Linden,” the Eye-in-Hand logo, and Linden Lab’s other trademarks, service marks, trade names, logos, domain names, taglines, and trade dress (collectively, the “Linden Lab Marks”) at http://secondlife.com/corporate/brand and its subpages, which may be updated from time to time. Except for the licenses expressly granted there or in a separate written agreement signed by you and Linden Lab, Linden Lab reserves all right, title, and interest in the Linden Lab Marks and does not authorize you to display or use any Linden Lab Mark in any manner whatsoever. If you have a written license agreement with Linden Lab to use a Linden Lab Mark, your use shall comply strictly with that agreement’s terms and conditions and use guidelines.

    Here again we see “does not authorize”. But how are we to interpret it?

    To a lawyer, it probably means, unambiguously, that Linden Lab does not grant special permission for you to use its trademarks. It’s not a restriction on your rights, just letting you know that you don’t get extra permission simply because you pressed “I Agree”.

    To a layperson, though, it can easily be interpreted to mean that Linden Lab will not allow you to use its trademarks. You can’t write or say any of Linden Lab’s trademarks, anywhere, ever, in any form, or Linden Lab will ban you faster than you can say “nominative fair use”.

    I’m sure it’s a perfectly benign phrase, when translated into plain speech. Heck, they even granted us a license to use “SL” and “inSL”! Linden Lab’s General Counsel is probably utterly baffled as to why we’re not genuflecting and thanking LL for its supreme generosity.

    But, in general, we’re not lawyers, and we’re not fluent in the twisted dialect known as Lawyerese. To many (if not most) of us, it reads as a restriction of our rights, and a threat of legal action. And as Residents watching the gradual “crackdown” on various freedoms we had enjoyed in Second Life, we’re especially prone to interpret Linden Lab’s legal moves as being hostile and restrictive, even if they were not intended to be.

    There is one sore point, though, that isn’t directly attributable to poor communication: the “taking-back” of the phrase, “my Second Life”. Linden Lab doesn’t want us to talk about “my Second Life” or “our Second Lives”, because of the potential for confusion and/or genericide. That issue is a legitimate concern on the part of Linden Lab, as well as a legitimate complaint on the part of the Residents.

    However, I’m willing to find an alternate phrase (“my virtual life,” maybe?) that does not have the potential to damage Linden Lab’s marks. And just maybe, Linden Lab will be willing to find an alternate phrasing that is less prone to being interpreted as overtly restrictive. Then maybe we could put this whole mess behind us, and get back to living our virtual lives.


  • 19Apr

    The three-day bloggers “strike” ended yesterday, and Linden Lab issued further clarification on their new trademark policy. I wasn’t really sure what to say or how to feel about it.

    At first, I was excited. We (bloggers, whether “strikers” or not) managed to evoke a response from Linden Lab. And a seemingly sympathetic response, at that. It was a well-spun post, I’ll admit. I was suckered in for a while. I so very much wanted to believe that everything was all good now.

    But it’s not. Linden Lab has now confirmed that they are waving the banhammer threateningly at anyone who doesn’t comply. Their assurance that they will issue warnings first, reads like a sherrif from an old cowboy movie, brandishing his gun and saying, “Come along quietly, now. I don’t wanna have to shoot you, but I will if it comes to that.”

    Continue reading »

  • 15Apr
    LL policy woes Comments Off

    Mouth in Foot Logo

    This blog is on strike from April 15 to April 18 as a symbolic gesture of protest against Linden Lab’s™ ambiguous and over-reaching new trademark policy and change to the Terms of Service (section 4.4). From the Terms of Service:

    Except for the licenses expressly granted [in the Second Life® Brand Center] or in a separate written agreement signed by you and Linden Lab, Linden Lab reserves all right, title, and interest in the Linden Lab Marks and does not authorize you to display or use any Linden Lab Mark in any manner whatsoever. [emphasis mine]

    Due to the ambiguous wording of both the policy and Terms of Service clause, they could easily be interpreted to mean that one is not allowed to even mention the words “Second Life” or “Linden Lab”, even in non-commercial contexts such as a fan site.

    Normally, the effects of such a ridiculous policy would be mitigated by their unenforcability in courts, where nominative use — using a trademark for the purposes of referring to the product, service, or entity it represents — is recognized as fair use.

    However, Linden Lab has put itself above the courts for determining fair use. If Linden Lab decides that it does not like how you are using its trademarks, even outside of the Second Life service, you are in violation of the Terms of Service, and they may may simply ban your account, shut down your business, and reposess your land. In such an event, your only means of redress is a costly law suit against Linden Lab to restore your account.

    I find this policy therefore objectionable, and quite frankly foolish. Linden Lab has, at a glance, killed off its most effective marketing tool: the word of mouth of its fans. No longer can I write freely about all the cool things that happen in Second Life. I must be on guard at all times, making sure I place the proper trademark notices just-so, at peril of my virtual life.

    But in actuality, the simplest way to avoid infringing on Linden Lab’s trademarks, is to make no mention of them. Ever. So, no longer do I reside in “Second Life”; I now reside in “a Certain Trademarked Virtual World”. I can no longer recommend “Second Life” to my friends — even if I had the goodwill to recommend it.

    Thus, to protest this policy, and to symbolize the silencing of Second Life bloggers, no new posts will be made until after April 18, and this blog shall instead display this explanatory notice.

  • 06Apr
    Art, Gripes, LL policy woes Comments Off

    It seems the good folks in the networking department aren’t the only ones having connection issues.



  • 31Mar

    Mouth in Foot (JPG, small)

    I’ve created an image. I hope you find it amusing. If you so desire, you may download it in your choice of image format (listed at the bottom).

    They are copyrighted, but permission to use the images (and any derivatives thereof) is granted to you under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. The images are not trademarks, and you won’t be sued or legally threatened for displaying them on your blogs, web pages, in virtual worlds, or in other places. You can even make good-natured parodies of them with absolutely no fear of retribution.


  • 01Feb

    Scripters (myself included) have long bemoaned the lack of any way to write text to a notecard. You can read text from a notecard (although it’s a PITA due to LL’s non-blocking dataserver lookup; and it’s also apparently not possible with notecards that have any embedded inventory items like landmarks), but there’s no way to write to it. That means you can’t save script settings or data to a notecard so that they persist between script resets.

    Scripters, being naturally clever folk, have instead relied on the fact that you can change an object’s name and description. So, just save the settings/data to the object’s description, and it’ll be there the next time the script runs! This was especially handy because the servers have previously allowed much longer descriptions to be saved than they were supposed to.

    Of course, anyone who has been following the Linden Blog should now be aware that the name/description size limits will now be enforced. I won’t say much about that, except to note that this is another instance of “Very useful exploit-turned-essential-tool that occasionally caused problems, so the Lindens removed the tool rather than fixed the problems”. See also: Megaprims.

    What I’m more interested in right now, is the excuses the Lindens give about why we’re not allowed to write to notecards. For example, Prospero Linden wrote:

    Re: storing persistent data : the way the asset sever works, a UUID is a unique identifier to an asset. If you change anything, it has to be a new asset– because if somebody else, say, had the same notecard before it was changed, you don’t want your edits to go to this other person’s notecard. It can happen that different people with the same object in their inventory in fact just point to the same UUID in the asset server. If you were to be able to write to a notecard from the script, *every* write command would create a new asset, which would create a load of additional problems.

    I call bullshit.

    Continue reading »


  • 29Dec

    Step 1. Issue a security notice on the blog, with a fixed installer. An example is provided below:

    Dear German Second Life Users,

    There is a security issues in the German language login screen which could result in your precious login name and password being sent to a third party, namely the operators of the sdfsfsfds.com domain name.

    And no, we didn’t catch this until Massively.com reported on it. Yes, that means it’s been out there for over a week now.

    Yeah, we screwed up bad with this one. The programmer responsible for this gaff, and the entire QA department, have been hit on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper and will receive no Scooby snacks this week.

    If you use the German language user interface in Second Life, please download the fixed version [insert link to new installers here].

    Non-German language users are not affected, and may continue using Second Life without worry of any bugs or security problems as normal.

    How not to handle it: pull the Release Candidate and Windlight Firstlook versions, stop logins from those versions, and make everyone cry. Now we know you goofed the German login and panicked when someone found out.

    By the way, SL users, if you have a version of the previous Windlight ( lying around, you can log in with that instead. At least as of this writing.

  • 05Dec
    Gripes, LL policy woes, Passions Comments Off

    Linden Lab has rolled out a new release candidate today with two of the most talked-about features since Windlight! That’s right, age identity age verification and the new web-based authentication method are here!

    Did I say most talked-about features? Maybe a better phrase would be most lambasted features. There’s a lot of talk about these new mis-features, sure, but not in favor of them. Opinions range from “they won’t work”, to “they’re not working”, to “even if they did work, they wouldn’t accomplish what LL claims they will”, to “thank god they’re not working, the damn things are security risks”.

    But Linden Lab is not in the habit of letting insignificant little things like the scathing criticism from their customers, the people who put the Life into Second Life, ruin their master plans. Onward, valiant policy-makers! To death and glory!

    It’s a good thing I’m still doped up on Windlight, or I might be really upset.

  • 01Dec

    This should help anyone who wants to make images to be displayed in the SL (classifieds, picks, etc.) and not have them be horribly stretched or squashed by Linden Lab’s inconsistent use of image aspect ratios. I don’t bother to cover aspect ratios for textures to be used on prims, as the proper aspect ratio in that case depends entirely on the prim’s dimensions.

    If you’re making an image for…

    • a classifieds listing … use 10:7.
    • a parcel snapshot … use 10:7.
      (But know that it will be stretched horizontally in people’s picks.)
    • your own pick … use 16:9.
    • a 2nd life profile … use 4:3.
    • a 1st life profile … use 1:1.
    • a group insignia … use 1:1.
    • an invitation or ‘view me’ image … use powers of 2.
      E.g. 64, 128, 256, or 512 pixels wide/high.

    List of Aspect Ratios & Notable Places They Appear

    • 16:9 (1.78:1) — Profile (Picks)
    • 3:2 (1.5:1) — About Land (Options / Snapshot)
    • 10:7 (1.43:1) — Search (Classifieds, Popular Places, Land Sales, and Places), About Landmark
    • 4:3 (1.33:1) — Profile (2nd Life)
    • 1:1 (1:1) — Group Insignia, Profile (1st Life)

    Corrections? Questions? Tips? Leave a comment!

    Update, Dec 6:

    • Torley pointed out that Profile Picks are 16:9 (1.78:1), rather than 7:4 (1.75:1) as I had previously thought.
    • Lex Neva pointed out that 40:28 is equivalent to 10:7.
    • I’ve also corrected About Landmark, which displays at 40:28 (1.43:1), rather than 4:3 (1.33:1). Accordingly, I’ve changed my recommendation for parcel snapshots to 40:28 instead of 4:3, as it does not seem to be displayed anywhere at true 4:3.
  • 05Nov
    Art, Gripes Comments Off

    It’s a bit late for Halloween-type stuff, but the troubles I’ve been having with my connection (yes, again) are truly frightening! I made this image last night to work out my frustration:

    Modem of the Demmed 2

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