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Town Hall 10/15/04

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Forum Link: Transcript Posting 1
and
Forum Link: Transcript Posting 2

Note the second link actualy has a longer log that continues after the Town Hall "officialy" ended.
The first link is Haney Linden's posting, which is the following log.

Town Hall with Cory Linden on 10/15/04
October 15th, 2004

Topic was the new permissions system, Cory announced on his blog plans to implement a new permissions system, discussion started there, then went to the forums. This Town Hall talks about the proposed new system, how to improve it, what would be effected, and other sort of things.

You = Haney Linden


Cory Linden: ok, I suspect that we have a lot of ground to cover, so why don't we get going?
Cory Linden: I have some general comments from the various blog discussions
Cory Linden: that we'll hit first and then we can talk about issues
Cory Linden: the idea being that we'll do the usual Q&A but stay on specific issues longer than usual
Cory Linden: First off, a bit of background as to why we're talking about changing permissions
Cory Linden: and it isn't because we want more stuff to work on :-)
Cory Linden: the first concern is the legal one . . . right now you all have real world copyrights in your creations
Cory Linden: but the current permissions aren't actually forcing buyers/recipients to agree to licenses that match the abilities granted within the license
Cory Linden: as we grow and you all are creating items of greater and greater value, more and more issues could appear
Cory Linden: such as - you want to make a graphic novel of your avatar, sell a chair design to Design Within Reach, etc
Cory Linden: so we need to make changes to clean up the legal issues
Cory Linden: Second, the current permissions are strongly biased to the creators (this will be a topic of discussion I suspect)
Cory Linden: but economic growth and innovation, two absolutely critical pieces of SL's long-term success
Cory Linden: have historically tied to the cost of information
Cory Linden: this is an important concept, ok?
Cory Linden: cost of information determines how quickly innovations occur and the more limits that are placed on information transfer
Cory Linden: the more innovation is slowed
Cory Linden: slower innovation is bad for Second Life.
Cory Linden: If you look at the historical roots of intellectual property law in the US (and around the world)
Cory Linden: they are always a balance between limited monopolies for creators (which means that creators can sell there stuff for more)
Cory Linden: and the societal good of shared information.
Cory Linden: All of these stresses apply to SL as well.
Cory Linden: So, we wanted to look at how to find a better balance between creators and consumers than we currently have.
Cory Linden: In looking at this, we focused on fair use and the right to tinker.
Cory Linden: We saw an opportunity to allow the buyer to make choices about whether they wanted the rights that
Cory Linden: are usually keyed to first sale doctrine -- such as the right to resell or give away something -- and fair use rights
Cory Linden: like modification, tinkering, &c.
Cory Linden: So, that's the general background. I assume that you've all been on the blog, so let me run
Cory Linden: through some of the questions quickly
Cory Linden: takes breath
Cory Linden: everyone brought up the critical nature of a smooth transition and converting content from the old to the new system
Cory Linden: Part of the reason that we're talking about this so early is to ensure that we can do that
Cory Linden: I don't have a full proposal for conversion yet (mainly because I suspect that your feedback will cause changes to the proposal)
Cory Linden: But a quick first pass looks something this:
Cory Linden: nomod/nocopy/trans = (c)
Cory Linden: nomod/copy/trans = cc
Cory Linden: mod/nocopy/trans = cc
Cory Linden: mod/copy/trans = cc
Cory Linden: note that several of these become more restrictive, but that is balanced by the wrapper concept and its ability to tweak stuff you own
Cory Linden: the tricky cases are the "no transfer" cases of mod/copy/notrans and nomod/copy/notrans
Cory Linden: the new plan doesn't actually have a "no transfer" permission (which I think that we'll talk about)
Cory Linden: so the situation would likely be that those would become (c) + no transfer, a special case for old content
Cory Linden: this is a good moment to talk about no transfer.
Cory Linden: Several of you brought this up and it is an interesting question. Right now, the plan is to not have that permission anymore.
Cory Linden: In thinking about it, we were thinking about real world rights and it seemed like a far more natural fit that if you owned something you could pass it along.
Cory Linden: Will propogation into sub parts (the creator changing permissions) be supported?
Cory Linden: Yes
Cory Linden: Right now the plan means that you can't make unique objects anymore. Several of you raised good points about that.
Cory Linden: The tension is that unqiue objects break some of the fundamental properties that make digital items, well, digital.
Cory Linden: However, I understand that games, collectables, &c are important, so there are some options
Cory Linden: such as the scripting language being able to detect broken wrappers, hashes, &c.
Cory Linden: Should creators be able to create anonymous content in SL? I don't think so, but it is an interesting question.
Cory Linden: One final bit, then we;ll open things up.
Cory Linden: Not all licenses play nicely with each other.
Cory Linden: The most obvious example is the GPL which, by its nature, tends to "infect" other content that it touches. We had originally planned to offer GPL rather than BSD, but
Cory Linden: since it doesn't integrate cleanly with Creative Commons, that was a non-starter.
Cory Linden: There is also a possiblity that CC as written can't be used within SL (long legal discussion that is somewhat beyong this meeting) but a modified version of CC would work.
Cory Linden: moral rights are another issue
Cory Linden: in some nations, the creator has the right to determine how her creations are used
Cory Linden: ok, that's the overview and list . . . before we get started and the fur and pixels start flying, I'd like to thank you all for caring about this.
Cory Linden: These are complicate issues that don't have obvious or simple answers. Your participation speaks to your thoughtfulness and intelligence.

Cory Linden: So, Haney do you want to hand off questions?
You: so that everyone doesnt talk at once, please IM me and we'll go in turn

Tiger Crossing: Point on scripts detecting broken wrappers and disabling objects that would allow cheating at games (etc)... This may need to be incorportaed into the breaking ritual: "Breaking the wrapper may disable or damage this obejct. Do you want to continue?"

Cory Linden: That's an excellent point. Clearly the "Wrapper Breaking" event is important and needs to be made clear to the owner.
Cory Linden: James Grimmelmann of LawMeme had a good point as well
Cory Linden: He suggested thinking about the "wrappers" as mattress tags that you can tear off.
Cory Linden: Although in this case the mattress police won't come and invade your home.

Oz Spade: A question is raised about having all items transferable, if someone makes a vehicle and sells it, couldn't someone turn around and resell or give away for free that vehicle?

Cory Linden: So, in the real world, if I buy a car from you, I can resell it or give it away. In SL (perhaps) you also have the ability to modify it or copy it.
Cory Linden: So the idea is that the buyer can either preserve the ability to give it away *or* they can copy it/modify it. (For full (c) permissions)


Tiger Crossing: Can permissions remain separate on linked objects, to be later pulled apart, or will linking "fuse" them together, with a lingering taint after separation?

Cory Linden: I like the "tainted permission" concept . . . that's a great question and I don't know the correct answer yet.
Cory Linden: The intial feeling was that fusing them was simpler but several folks on the blog have shown examples of why keeping them distinct would be useful.
Cory Linden: I suspect that we'll end up more on the hierarchical side.


Jennyfur Peregrine: Will there be a new function in the permissions settings that allows the texture to be locked so a clothing item can be modified but the texture will not show so that no one can take a screen shot and rip the work off?

Cory Linden: That's a great question. Obviously, any texture that gets displayed can have a screen shot taken.
Cory Linden: This is the "analog hole" in the real world of DRM and copy protection.
Cory Linden: I think that we can take steps to discourage people.
Cory Linden: However, you can't completely stop this . . . you can just do things that make the screen shot lower quality.


CrowCatcher Valen: any plans on a URL blocking tool so people cant take the stream from your land?

Cory Linden: oh, so you want to stream to yourself but not to others?

CrowCatcher Valen: no - people can take streams we pay for
CrowCatcher Valen: we don't want them too - now anyone can

Cory Linden: oh, wait, I see you want to make it so that only people on your land get it
Cory Linden: the problem, of course, is that if you are streaming at them, they can sniff the packets to see where it's coming from

CrowCatcher Valen: so that it's not visible, sorry

Cory Linden: but I agree that hiding the url makes that harder
Cory Linden: sort of a similar problem to the texture question.
Cory Linden: these are both examples of the core issues, right? Digital data is easy to move around, copy, &c.
Cory Linden: The internet is good for moving it and computers are good at rendering it.
Cory Linden: But, free markets are built on the tension between property rights and information cost, so we're trying to find the best balance.

Kathy Dayton: With this change,, will it still be possible to buy gifts for people and transfer them (for example offlline)?

Cory Linden: Sure, first sale is preserved unless you want to copy a (c) item or modify it, then you lose the ability to transfer it.

Bakuzelas Khan: if you take away no transfer, if people can transfer, people will buy stuff cheap and sell it again for high prices - so everyone will have to charge crazy prices for stuff to prevent that and make sure they get a fair deal.
Bakuzelas Khan: If people can see a low quality texture of the work, then they will just make a low quality knock off of it and try to get a refund from you, or sell it to someone else claiming it's made by you.

Cory Linden: To the first question, I'm not sure that I agree. If I can buy a shirt for $10 or $100 (and it's the same shirt) then I'll pick the $10 shirt, right?
Cory Linden: I agree that more features to find and sell items are an important piece in making that decision.

Bakuzelas Khan: but how will they know? lol

Cory Linden: this goes to the question of finding things in world. I don't want to get too far afield, but that is clearly important. Again, information flow is a good thing.
Cory Linden: To your second question, clearly "copying by inspection" is a problem (just like the real world).
Cory Linden: However, if there is good information flow, I know that better quality items sell for more than cheap knockoffs (again, like the real world)


Leran Charlton: Haney, I'm concerned as a merchant that furniture I make such as chairs can simply be copied for more. How does this affect my ability to sell my product? If I make a dining set containing 4 chairs, the buyer need only buy one and make

Cory Linden: This is a good question and I don't have an immediate answer . . .
Cory Linden: I wish I could just say "ok, creators can control how many copies are made" but I am concerned
Cory Linden: that everyone will just make that choice and ultimately decrease learning and innovation inside SL
Cory Linden: But I agree that we need to debate that question very carefully because I understand the issue
Cory Linden: I guess the question back to you is: "Can you just sell the set of 4?"

Leran Charlton: selling it as a set of 4 is fine and can certainly be done, but, not everyone wants 4 chairs. especially if they have a small place

Cory Linden: OK, so we're not going to decide on the unique item question this instant. The thing for the creators to think carefully about . . .
Cory Linden: is whether uniqueness is really a good thing or not . .. I know that many of you already allow copying because it's what your customers want
Cory Linden: after all, your customers want more freedoms not less


Cid Jacobs: what happens to items that r previously sold with copy permission, will they be given transfer as well? if so that will put me out of biz

Cory Linden: no
Cory Linden: one option is that they become cc or (c) and lose copy, but the owner can break the wrapper to regain the copy permissions (and lose transfer in the process)
Cory Linden: The other option for stuff already out there is to respect current permissions and to allow migration to appropriate new permissions
Cory Linden: this would allow creation with old stuff and slowly phase out the old permissions

Gwyneth Llewelyn: ask Cory about "co-creation" ie. having a prim/texture/script authored by different people and/or groups. What I read on the blog was not clear to me on how "co-creation" will be implemented or propagated.

Cory Linden: right, that isn't clear yet, although its related to the linked question
Cory Linden: short term, there will probably need to be a single "creator" even if that person allows multiple people (in a group for example) to edit the item
Cory Linden: it it different pieces combined, then this goes back to one wrapper or many, which I agree we all need to consider (especially the tradeoffs between simplicity and completeness)


Fargon Millhouse: Reverse engineering is a problem in the Real World...how can you assure owners of intellectual property that this will not be dont in SL....since you can choose to "break" the wrapper, copy and redistribute?
Fargon Millhouse: also.........I often PAY (IN RL & SL) a programmer to develop scripts which I then own and intend to copyright...can you explain how this will work..since I am a bit fuzzy on this right now...

Cory Linden: First question . . .
Cory Linden: I can't assure you of that. The current permissions system doesn't and the real world doesn't. What I can assure you is:
Cory Linden: you have legal recourse (just like in the real world)
Cory Linden: oh, wait, just noticed a misunderstanding . . .
Cory Linden: if you break the wrapper, you lose the ability to redistribute . . . that's one of the core ideas
Cory Linden: trading off freedom to tinker with first sale concepts
Cory Linden: however, laws and societal norms are ultimately way better at dealing with infringement
Cory Linden: on the second question, if you make a contract with the programmer in the real world then you're set
Cory Linden: they give you the text and you make the (c) script

Kim Anubis: Q: So you're essentially going to force us to put a "site license" on our creations?

Cory Linden: I'm not sure what you mean by that . . .
Cory Linden: we currently allow you to keep a full (c) on everything that you make in world

Kim Anubis: You can't use multiple copies of a program you buy at once, irl

Cory Linden: well, right now if you by something with no copy set that's what's being enforced
Cory Linden: the new system allows your customer to choose if they want the freedome to tinker with or copy the item.
You: Kim Anubis: but here, you're talking about making everying copyable - so one chair seats 12 or 20 - one scripted item could be used by the owner on 10 parcels - etc. at the same time.
Cory Linden: That's the current proposal, yes
Cory Linden: However, once they decide to use that option, they are losing the ability to resell the chairs, give away the script, &c
Cory Linden: Much like IP in the real world, we need to make decisions about what the best path is for our world.
Cory Linden: The real world has opted for "strong copyight"
Cory Linden: unfortunately, history has shown that strong copyright hurts innovation, hurts markets, hurts technology growth and hurts customers.
Cory Linden: We have an opportunity to do better.


Jillian Callahan: Q: On a script with a "broken wrapper", is there anything that would prevent copy-paste outright duplication?
Cory Linden: The (c) scripts never show their text for exactly that reason.
Cory Linden: Again, a tradeoff
Cory Linden: buyers can choose to buy scripts that they can see because learning the scripting language is important to them.

Oz Spade: What about vehicles? These objects are frequently lost on border crossings, the permissions system would run counter to any vehicle business that uses copy as a way to recover.- Pertaining to the nomore no-transfer rule - Most vehicles would then be set to nomody/nocopy

Cory Linden: Right, but the buyer can break the wrapper and keep a copy in their garage/inventory/whatever.
Cory Linden: Plus, we are working on tools to help recover lost items as that is important.
Cory Linden: For those who haven't seen it, there is a discussion of current feature work on my blog.
Cory Linden: Anyway, the wrapper actually helps the vehicle problem by always allowing the owner to make a copy (if they're willing to give up being to resell it)

FlipperPA Peregrine: Just a quick question: Most residents believe that a simple solution involving two features would suffice. These two are the ability to lock textures on modify enabled clothing/objects, and transfer to owner. Why wouldn't this simple suffice?

Cory Linden: As I stated at the beginning, there are legal implications to having permissions without appropriate licenses. Second, that we want to find a better balanced set of permissions.

Bakuzelas Khan: What's the difference if I give my employee 10 "wrapped" skins to sell, and a guy buys 10 skins to sell, and they go to different sims to sell my product, the scammer selling them for twice my price. How would a consumer know that guy doesn't work for me - Anyone could still buy my product and resell it anywhere, wrapping does nothing.

Cory Linden: Yes, they can resell your product, increasing the number of people who know about you. This is just like the real world, where you can resell a car or a CD.
Cory Linden: As we talked about earlier, this is a good reason for better search tools to make it easier to find duplicate items at different prices.

Bakuzelas Khan: so.. you're encouraging scamming?

Cory Linden: no, I'm encouraging a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of owners.


Lumiere Noir: Hi Haney, I understand LL has been working on a Linux verison of SecondLife. Are any of these proposed changes an effort to align SecondLife more closely with the beliefs of the GNU/FSF/Linux/*BSD communities?

Cory Linden: Yes.
Cory Linden: Well, let me expand on that a bit . . .
Cory Linden: Long term economic growth is tied to innovation. This is tied to several factors, the most important of which is information cost and property rights.
Cory Linden: The success of SL is strongly tied to your ability to be innovative. What FSF, OSF, &c point out is that free information leads to more innovation.
Cory Linden: What they miss is that not all creative endeavors have proven effective within the open source model, and
Cory Linden: that temporary monopolies (ie, intellectual property rights) have been a key component in markets as well.
Cory Linden: So, while I think that software in particular has much to learn and gain from open source methodologies (hence the BSD license choice) for the complex creativity within SL
Cory Linden: more options than just "strong copyright" or "full commons" are required. Hence a plan that allows choice for both the creators and the consumers.


Kenzington Fairlight: this new system seems to assume that everyone in SL is good natured and wouldn't use mod abilities to simply copy an object/script into their own name. But the truth is there are alot of sneaky shady people who will now have an an easier time doing what they do

Cory Linden: Remember, that if you break the wrapper, you can't transfer that new object.
Cory Linden: Also, to folks who are coming in late or who haven't hit the blog, we're talking about this now so that you can provide feedback and make the plan better.
Cory Linden: The soonest these changes would actually be implemented is two releases away, so quite a ways into 2005.
Cory Linden: this isn't something that we're going to do quickly.
Cory Linden: In return, I hope that you will all think carefully about what kind of world you want to live in. While it is sometimes easy to just assume that creators should have all the rights over their creations . . .
Cory Linden: history has repeatedly shown us that this reduces innovation and progress, as well as limiting entrepreneurial opportunities.
Cory Linden: Even thought that hit 5pm on the dot (flashing red light and all) how about a couple more questions?

Gwyneth Llewelyn: suggestion to Cory: when the wrapper gets broken, IM the creator So you can track it (there could be alternatives to IM, like tracking it from the user profile page, for example)

Cory Linden: Gwyneth, that's actually something that we thought about doing. It was a great suggestion of James Grimmelmann's actually. It would be easy to do, do if people liked that idea we could certainly implement it.

Tiger Crossing: (If objects can be scripted to detect wrapper breakage, they can do the IMing for you, or whatever else.)

Cory Linden: That is true as well.

Kim Anubis: Q: How do you think this weakened copyright will be viewed by companies considering offering virtual copies of their RL products in SL?

Cory Linden: this is an important question, Kim. Again, we aren't weakening (c) so much as protecting critical pieces of it. I use the idea of "strong copyright" to contrast the crazy direction that certain senators are going with the historical balance that (c)
Cory Linden: used to strive for.
Cory Linden: I think that companies that get SL will also get the IP regime that we have chose and, frankly, those are companies that we want.

Oz Spade: What about a situation where someone breaks the wrapper, copies down all the key points of an object, position, size, texture keys, etc. then applies it to their own object? Doesn't breaking the wrapper make making a duplicate knockoff easier?

Cory Linden: Oz, that's a good point, although if the viewer has enough data to render the object than someone who is sufficiently sneaky could do that anyway. So . . .
Cory Linden: the question becomes, do you want the benefits that come from the right to tinker with the risk of kockoffs (although in the real world, creators are able to stay ahead of knockoffs) or
Cory Linden: a world where only people who really want to hack around can learn from each other? Also, better search and other approaches can help - plus the idea of messaging on wrapper breakage.

Cory Linden: OK, last question

Neehai Zapata: Under this same system, would we also be given the source to Second Life itself to modify if we so choose?
Briana Dawson: lol

Cory Linden: not until SL goes open source and that's another discussion

Jeri Zuma: Q. just like the day sets here every 4 hours, how about having the strong copyrights expire after, say 12 months -- that's plenty of revenue for the inventor...?

Cory Linden: Jeri, that's a great question. Again, it comes down to what more protections are actually doing for the creators.
Cory Linden: Many of you already sell stuff modifable so that your customers get a better experience and the new plan isn't changing that

Cory Linden: OK, I want to thank Haney for passing along the messages and all of you for spending the time to seriously think about this.

Cory Linden: As many law students can tell you, IP isn't always the most exciting of subjects, but it is incredibly relevent to the world we're building.

Cory Linden: So, think about it. Learn about it. Some places to go are Cory Doctorow's writings, Larry Lessig's Free Culture, the LawMeme blog, Jack Balkin's writings at Yales and others.
You: Please read and post to Cory's blog at http://secondlife.blogs.com/prompt/ and thank you all for particpating.

Tiger Crossing: Cory, some people think it's possible to separate Gifts from Sales, I know that any attempt to block one or the other is trivial to circumvent, but an MSRP that remains on an object (in the wrapper?) beyond breakage would help the issue, dontcha think?

Cory Linden: I think MSRP is a really good idea, actually

Cory Linden: And thanks for all the negative ratings during the talk :-D!
Cory Linden: I hope that you all debate this passionately on the blog

Cory Linden: Ratings are for another day, *but* I can tell you that a lot of design work has already gone in to making those better

Cory Linden: and that we'll likely do a similar thing . . .posting early and often so that we can talk about ideas

Cory Linden: I am incredibly focused on being more transparent and making sure that you all are involved as you want to be in building this world.
Oz Spade: Thank you for that Cory.
Oz Spade: Its fun for us too to be able to help decide what goes into SL
Beryl Greenacre: that's encouraging, but must be very hard to accomplish, Cory.
Torley Torgeson: Sharing is caring, and if we can turn such complicated matters into blossoming cornucopias of interest that appeal to the SL community at large, it will truely benefit us all. Ideas, engines of creation! w00t.

Cory Linden: One final comment . . . people make the mistake of thinking that they need strong copyright to create economic growth and innovation . . .
Briana Dawson: only Freedom!
Cory Linden: I strongly encourage all of you to go out and learn about this topic because the truth may come as a surprise.
Cory Linden: Lessig's book in particular is very approachable and well documented.
Torley Torgeson: I am with you there, Cory... sometimes, if you let a bird fly free, she'll be happier and come back to you if it's really meant to be. Kind of like "pay it forward".
Oz Spade: I'm always up for learning new stuff
Phil Murdock: Do you think this will discourage some talent from releasing products they feel will jsut be ripped off?
Cory Linden: Yes, but oddly enough the economic arguments are just cold, hard numbers . . . economies grow, people get smarter and richer, when information is cheaper. Economist named David North won the Nobel for this exact topic.

Jeri Zuma: (even Bill Gates said that the world is now a combination of commercial and open source)

Torley Torgeson: Phil: oh, my simple own thoughtline is that there will always be scammers. But don't focus on them -- focus on providers of most excellent products, and reward the individuals who help the system to flourish. It's important to take a multitiered approach
Briana Dawson: very idealistic
Phil Murdock: trust no one

Beryl Greenacre: Everything changes when real money is involved, unfortunately.

Cory Linden: again, I'm trying to approach this not from an idealistic position but from a practical one
Cory Linden: the more information flows between SL's residents, the better they are able to make SL their own

Briana Dawson: The reality is that in SL we have seen people new ideas and market it better, shutting out the originator. Thats like RL i suppose.... and it also rewards the scammer.
Oz Spade: And the more and greater things can come from like minds openly working on something.
Briana Dawson: yea what Beryl said.
Torley Torgeson: I am a pragmatist but one mustn't throw away a whole barrel if only a few apples are rotten. I'd like to be more jaded but I have met people in SL who have taught me otherwise.

Cory Linden: damn those nice SL users for ruining a perfectly good cynic

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