Linden Lab unleashed a months-worth of blog posts in a single day. Among that truckload of information was an update to the Linden Lab Terms of Service (ToS) - which is really just a rephrasing of what already was in there. In the blog post, to help make clear just what the changes were, those changes were summarized in the blog post itself, so one did not have to go through and read the entire thing trying to pick-out the difference between the previous and now current versions.

Except the summary had a suspicious, albeit major omission.

In all the comments regarding the ToS changes, it is that very omission and new policy that has riled a lot of feathers, perhaps rightly so. However, in the end, Linden Lab has every right to force you to agree to their rules. And the most important rules can be summarized as follows:

  • Rule 1: Linden lab owes you nothing. Zip, zilch, nada.
  • Rule 2: it is Linden Lab's house and if you don't like the house rules, don't allow the door slap your ass on the way out.

As is typical there is a massive number of users of the Game of {Second} Life whom, because of their entitlement attitudes, actually believe (in their own twisted minds) that Linden Lab actually owes them anything. These are the idiots of Second Life, starting with Stroker Serpentine in my opinion.

So what was the massive omission left out of the summary of ToS changes as described on the official Linden Lab blog?

(Paraphrased): By agreeing to these Terms of Service, you also agree to the Third-Party Viewer (TPV) policy.


Even I didn't expect that one.

To summarize, the TPV basically makes it "illegal" to connect to any of the Second Life grids with a third-party viewer that allows you to circumvent any of Linden Lab's rules, including but not limited to circumventing of the permissions system that allows creators to maintain the "rights" and "license" of their creations. In other words, if the viewer allows you to download or otherwise copy anything, in-world or locally, that you did not create the entirety of, then you are breaking the rules.

Most reasonable people would find this to be a, well reasonable rule. Except for this part:

(Paraphrased): If you create a viewer, you are responsible for it and anyone using your viewer. If you or they break any of our house rules, you and they can be banished to Second Life hell forever and a day you naughty bee-ahch.

If you so much as even use a third-party viewer that is able to break the rules whether you use those abilities or not, and whether you even know if it has those abilities or not, or even if you are a blithering, mindless idiot who doesn't even know what a viewer is, then you also can be banished into Second Life purgatory forever and a day, tough-titty, said the kitty, but the milk tastes good so suck-it-up and drive on.

Or not.

This is a game-changer (read: game-killer) for most if not all third-party viewer developers. In fact, the Imprudence team has already made announcement that they will discontinue development of their viewer where it will be able to connect to Agni (the Second Life grid) and they are weighing their options with regard to continuing development for connection to TPGs (Third-party Grids, such as "OpenSim").

However, can anyone really blame Linden Lab for these updates to the ToS and the TPV policy? Linden Lab owes everyone nothing. In fact, all real life legal tender, a.k.a. "money" only flows one-way: into Linden Lab. Nothing flows out.

Ah, I know what you are thinking, dear reader: "what about the LindeX - Linden Dollar Exchange?" But that is not Linden Lab's money. The Linden Dollar never was a currency, never was worth anything. It is simply a "point" system in order to measure a perceived value of something. It is a simple trading "token". Always has been.

If you are fortunate enough to "level-up" with a truckload of point, I mean "Linden Dollars" and decide to "cash-out", you head off to the LindeX. You sell your tokens. I mean Linden Dollars for real dollars.

However, the real dollars you receive are not from Linden Lab. They are from other users looking to buy Linden Dollars. You are simply trading with other Second Life users.

However, because so much trading between SL users for what amounts to Monopoly money for real money goes on, there are a lot of SL users who take SL far too seriously.

So, why the heavy-handed language in the new ToS and TPV?
In a ridiculously-simplified nutshell it boils down to just a couple of events in Second Life history:

The first is when Linden Lab open-sources the Second Life viewer software.
This was good because it got a lot of people looking at that nasty "spaghetti" code and helped to clean it up. A horribly buggy and unstable piece of software matured into a nicely stable and polished piece of software with only a few bugs.

However, this was a bad thing as it also gave access to anyone with the know-how to peek into that code into the inner-workings of how the software worked. Specifically: how objects and textures and scripts and basically everything except the actual management of the toy-token called Linden Dollars were handled.

The fact of the matter is with regard to computers: if you can see it, you can steal it. Now the inner workings of all this stuff is out in the open for anyone to abuse. And abuse they did.

The second problem is when entitlement-attitude-minded people like Stroker Serpentine (whom I believe to be a seriously whiny-assed crybaby idiot) who has too much time and money on his hands goes and initiates a lawsuit against Linden Lab over something they (Linden Lab) have absolutely no control over.

For the remainder, I will use Stroker's name to stand in place for all the dip-shit idiots on the grid who think anyone anywhere with relation to Linden Lab or Second Life owe them anything whatsoever.

So Stroker initiates what he hopes to be a class-action lawsuit against Linden Lab because they "haven't done enough" to curtail the whole "copybotting" phenomenon. It doesn't matter that Linden Lab has no control over this as it is a literal impossibility to prevent - something about how computers and networking actually work - he goes and wets his diapers and threatens and shakes his fists jumping up-and-down like a lunatic 3-year-old anyway. The dip-shit causes Linden Lab to throw-down the gauntlet.

Can anyone blame them?

In other words, since Linden Lab has already placed the Second Life Viewer code into the open-source community they can't actually revoke all that. So they do the next best thing: scare the shit out of anyone developing or even using a viewer that breaks any of Linden Lab's rules while connected to Linden Lab's servers (Second Life grids) into using the "official" Linden Lab-released viewer.

A highly-effective maneuver if you ask me.

I have no doubt that if Mark Kingdon were C.E.O. of Linden Lab at the time the decision was made to open-source the viewer, that decision would have gone the other way (correct me if I'm wrong there, Mark).

Though I always have proclaimed my opinion that Linden Lab are (mostly) not tyrants and are not "out to get" people, I'm not stupid either. Though I have stuck with the official Linden Lab "Snowglobe" viewer, I will do-so doubly now as well.

I have way too much invested to risk the stupid crap. I always have felt the Emerald viewer is a bit bloated with too many useless "features" for my taste and yes, I know, there are many who feel differently - good for them.

So all the riled feathers flying around boil-down to this very thing:
Will the Emerald development team continue the development of the Emerald viewer since they will be responsible not only for how their viewer works, but how any user on the grid uses it?

And the Emerald-using population are in fear not only that the Emerald viewer will go defunct, but that many of it's features will be discontinued as they are now "illegal" on the Second Life grid.

In the end, I support Linden Lab and concur and agree with the ToS changes, right down to the requirement that all users agree to the TPV as well.

The side benefit is this, though: anyone who gets their ass handed to them by the CDS system can now be abuse-reported and likely face a ban from Second Life for using a detected known-to-be-illicit viewer.

Remember this, people: you might be "anonymous", but your viewer isn't!

That would be a "good riddance" for the entire grid as a whole.