Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
GNU is Not Unix

Second Life Tries To Backpedal On the GPL 207

Posted by kdawson
from the one-hand-giveth dept.
GigsVT writes "The Second Life viewer has been available under the GPL for three years. Linden Lab, the maker of Second Life, recently released a 'third party viewer' policy that all but erases the freedoms granted under the GPL. It includes such draconian measures as 'You agree to update or delete at our request any data that you have received from Second Life or our servers and systems using a Third-Party Viewer,' 'You must not mask IP or MAC addresses' (reported to the server), 'you must have a published privacy policy explaining your practices regarding user data,' and 'You acknowledge and agree that we may require you to stop using or distributing a Third-Party Viewer for accessing Second Life if we determine that there is a violation.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Second Life Tries To Backpedal On the GPL

Comments Filter:
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:21AM (#31256436)
    things like second life make me afraid the movie idiocracy will come true...
  • by nhaines (622289) <nhaines@ubuntu.BALDWINcom minus author> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:23AM (#31256452) Homepage

    While I don't think what they're doing is good or smart, I suspect this would really only affect the GPLed clients accessing the Second Life servers run by Linden Labs and not client use on any private servers that are running. And Linden does have the right to manage the data they store on their servers as they see fit.

    The beauty of the GPLed client is that users and developers can choose which servers to point their clients at--and pick the ones that have terms they agree wtih.

  • by aggemam (641831) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:26AM (#31256472) Homepage
    Second Life is a good research project (or playground if you will) for whenever we will be able to hook computers up to our brains and map all sensory inputs and outputs to a virtual 3D world (matrix-style). Then the actual world you'd live in will be ready. I just hope that things be quite different from SL by then :)
  • by dave1791 (315728) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:32AM (#31256504)

    From the new policy

    You must not circumvent our intended limitations on Second Life features. For example:

          1. You must not circumvent the Second Life permissions system or any features that limit copying, transfer, or use of content within Second Life.
          2. You must not alter content metadata like the Second Life creator name or the Second Life owner name.

    These hit right to the core of Linden's Business model and are something that SL content creators have been screaming about. If people make things in SL and sell them to each other, Linden makes money. If people stop bothering (at least professionally, leaving only the amateurs) because of copying, then this trade does not happen and Linden makes no money (and ultimately has to shut down).

  • by PylonHead (61401) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:32AM (#31256506) Homepage Journal

    And everything to do with the terms of service for access to their game servers. Feel free to make any changes you want to the client. But if you break their terms of service they won't let you connect. Sounds fair to me.

  • by kemenaran (1129201) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:33AM (#31256516)
    Yes, I thought Linden Labs had the right to edict rules about how to connect to their servers and which data are sent.

    The GPL frees the code, you are still free to hack and release it — but if you want to connect to Linden servers *and* mess around with their policy, they might not allow you to use this client.

    Sounds like the Doom Engine : the code is free, but don't redistribute the copyrighted WAD. It didn't prevent the code of the engine to be hacked and used, right ?
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Homburg (213427) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:33AM (#31256520) Homepage

    Are you sure? The linked policy says, "This Policy governs access to Second Life and our technical platform that supports Second Life by any Third-Party Viewer or any third-party software client that logs into our servers." It looks like it's only section 6 that applies to "a Developer with a Third-Party Viewer that you would like to list in our Viewer Directory"; the rest seems to be a condition on any client that accesses Linden's servers.

    That being said, I'm not sure that this is as egregious as the summary makes it sound. It seems mostly to amount to, "if you use a client to connect to our servers, that client must abide by our policies." Which doesn't seem all that unreasonable (Linden have the right to place conditions of use on access to their servers, even if some of the conditions are kind of wack), and certainly doesn't "all but erases the freedoms granted under the GPL." First, there are plenty of modifications that could still be made without contravening Linden's terms of use; second, if you use their GPLed code to produce something that doesn't connect to their servers, you don't have to follow this policy at all. The only slightly dubious thing is that they do seem to want to restrict distribution of clients that could connect to their servers, even if they could also be used in other ways.

  • by pydev (1683904) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:34AM (#31256524)

    SL is mainly a social network and chat platform, with audio support and translation. It's also a bit like YouTube, except that people listen and view together. And people who'd otherwise never go near 3D Studio or VisualStudio actually learn 3D modeling and scripting in it.

    If you think it has anything to do with people becoming "idiots", you really don't quite understand it.

  • by Parafilmus (107866) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:43AM (#31256564) Homepage

    Linden Labs has not "backpedaled" on the GPL in any sense at all.

    Linden generously donated a lot of code to GPL developers. They never promised to grant unlimited access to their servers.

    There is really no cause for whining here. The community should be grateful to these guys.

  • Re:not true (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Homburg (213427) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @03:44AM (#31256568) Homepage

    You have all the rights granted under the GPL. What you can't do is connect to their servers with a client that doesn't conform to their policies.

    It's a little unclear. The intro to the policy does look a little more onerous: they write "we require users of Third-Party Viewers and those who develop or distribute them (“Developers”) to comply with this Policy," which looks like an attempt to limit any distribution of clients that don't conform to the policy. When it lists the consequences of failing to comply with the policy, it's mostly that they will revoke the client's right to access their servers, they may remove it from their viewer directory, and ban anyone who does use the client, none of which are particularly unreasonable. But they also write (section 8c):

    You acknowledge and agree that we may require you to stop using or distributing a Third-Party Viewer for accessing Second Life if we determine that there is a violation.

    I'm not entirely sure how to parse that, but one way of reading it suggests they think they can require developers of non-policy-compliant viewers to either disable the client's ability to connect to Linden's servers, or even perhaps to stop distributing the client altogether.

    I think this is likely a case of some slightly overreaching language in the policy, rather than an evil attempt to get around the GPL; but it would be nice if their policy was clearly not attempting to take away people's GPL rights, rather than being, as it currently is, rather unclear.

  • by FooGoo (98336) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @04:23AM (#31256754)

    People always referencing the movie Idiocracy make me afraid it is already true. Denigrating other people because of the choices they make seems to be the modern equivalent of racism. The smartest person today could be proven an idiot tomorrow and vice versa....thats life.

  • by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @04:38AM (#31256826)

    things like second life make me afraid the movie idiocracy will come true...

    Idiocracy came true the moment the studio that paid for the movie decided not to give the movie a normal release because it was too controversial (to the idiots). If the successive waves of Birthers, Deathers and TEA Partiers haven't since convinced you, you're the subject of the movie.

  • Re:Bullshit (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jurily (900488) <jurily@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @04:48AM (#31256888)

    The only slightly dubious thing is that they do seem to want to restrict distribution of clients that could connect to their servers, even if they could also be used in other ways.The only slightly dubious thing is that they do seem to want to restrict distribution of clients that could connect to their servers, even if they could also be used in other ways.

    Well, that's the fun part. They released the code, so now they have absolutely no idea what builds connect to their servers. As long as it behaves like the original client from their POV, they have no way of telling, and should probably stop obsessing about it.

  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @05:17AM (#31257032) Homepage

    This is like saying that Firefox is backpeddling on open source because Mozilla.org is free to block you if you spam their forums.

    However, I hear that because of the new policy, Emerald is closing shop. Anything that gets rid of those "giving access to our change history would mean someone could release binaries of our changes before we do!!" assholes is a good thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:02AM (#31257250)

    Kirstens S19 viewer (a third party modification of their GPL'd SL client) has a full shadow system.

    Keep in mind though that a majority of the world still has old crappy PCs that can't even handle Kirsten's viewer. If these sorts of changes were mainlined, SL would lose a lot of users. Heck, people complain about the performance of the current SL build. When WindLight (their new SL viewer that added realtime clouds, better lighting and realistic water) came online they lost people, it hit them pretty hard. There were a lot of complaints.

    It is the same reason WoW looks like crap, if they were to modernize their engine they'd lose enough users to impact their bottomline and potentially sink their franchise.

    I think what these MMO makers need to do, is to design their code to scale. If they determine a PC can't handle the new features, they should automatically disable them on the client for that PC.

  • by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @06:36AM (#31257420)
    yes, because we couldn't possibly benefit from pointing out someone is doing something stupid.
  • Re:Bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nacturation (646836) * <nacturation@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:01AM (#31257550) Journal

    Linden have the right to place conditions of use on access to their servers, even if some of the conditions are kind of wack

    Exactly. What is it with some people's sense of entitlement these days? Back before I was chasing kids off my lawn, if a company offered a service we took a look at the conditions that service was offered under, evaluated whether or not it met our needs, and if we didn't like it we took our business elsewhere. Kids these days stamp their feet and start whining on websites that they don't get what they want.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:34AM (#31257702)

    The only slightly dubious thing is that they do seem to want to restrict distribution of clients that could connect to their servers, even if they could also be used in other ways.

    This part was "slightly dubious?"

    You acknowledge and agree that we may require you to stop using or distributing a Third-Party Viewer for accessing Second Life if we determine that there is a violation.

    This is exactly an attempt to erase the freedoms granted under the GPL.

    I think the problem and the reason nobody seems to get the problem is that the story submitter, GigsVT, wanted to include more excerpts than just the worst one, and the worst one was the one that deserved the most scathing criticism, and the most scathing criticism is what got the headline. Imagine that.

    So what do we have here? Let's see:

    • A bunch of policy changes that might irk some people (see below for serious issues with one of those.)
    • One egregious attempt to retroactively take back rights expressly provided to you by the distribution terms of the Second Life viewer.

    It's confusing when there's more than one thing, and all of those things are not the exact same thing, isn't it?

    Mod parent down.

    Also...

    You must not mask IP or MAC addresses (reported to the server)

    This is like DRM: It only negatively affects those who want to conform to the rules, and does nothing to stifle those it calls attention to. The worst part is that "mask" is a completely informal term.

    Changing your MAC address is routine networking for many people whose network admins tie their access credentials to their MAC addresses.

    Someone might want to protect their privacy while cybersexing (snicker) or someone may even want to leak important information to the public using Second Life (I do have a fantasy to modify the open source Quake 3 engine to trickle out a stream of data out in the least significant bits of player movement. Can you imagine the Chinese trying to figure that one out?)

    These aren't just obscure corner cases or open source zealotry, these are things I personally expect to have from open source software. I switched from AOL instant messenger to an open source IM client because I wanted an IM client I could retrofit with my own crude privacy software. Years later I am using sophisticated OTR [cypherpunks.ca], and I have TOR [torproject.org] at my disposal if I feel the need to "mask" my IP. I realize this isn't a GPL violation, but distributing the client under the GPL and then telling me I can't protect my privacy (while not violating any other terms of service, mind you; remember this anti-"masking" restriction is only something that affects people who want to obey the rules, not those who wish to cheat them) is a bit like giving me an "open source cellular handset" and then telling me exactly what audio codec I'm allowed to use for voice conversations so spy software can analyze my calls for content, you know, unless I build my own cellular network.

  • by crossmr (957846) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @07:34AM (#31257704) Journal

    is anyone shocked this is coming from the not quite all there department of kdawson?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @08:14AM (#31257922)

    It's a kdawson post. As soon as you see his name in the story, read the slashdot article the same way you would watch Fox News.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:08AM (#31258212)

    Having helped out on a tech support forum for a MMO I can tell you that the average person has a 500$ PC with an Intel GMA series graphics processor that is only capable of 2004 era graphics.

    Place all your blame at Intel pushing GMA on laptops for the sorry state WoW and all other MMO's are in.

  • by kripkenstein (913150) on Wednesday February 24, 2010 @09:13AM (#31258242) Homepage
    I realize that you can read the particular sentence in a nefarious way. But it seems a very awkward reading. And, the GPL clearly gives you rights to use the code - just not to connect to their servers.

    If they removed the GPL, and retained only these legal terms, there might be room for concern. As it is, maybe the terms could be worded better, but I don't see them as 'backpedaling on the GPL' as the title says. Anyhow, they will probably issue a clarification given the current uproar. If they don't, then I guess I might start to worry.

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire

Working...