Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Third-Party Viewer Policy: The shoddiest policy from the Lindens

As I noted in the previous post, coinciding with the release of Viewer 2.0 was the release of a third-party viewer policy created by Linden Lab. At the time I had read it, I did not think much that it was a bad policy nor think it would negatively impact third-party viewer developers.

I was wrong.

In fact, there's so much wording in the policy that not only negatively affected developers, but also violates terms of the GPv2.

For example, the GPL explicitly disclaims liability of a developer, yet the policy puts it on after the fact. Also, the GPL states that you may not impose further restrictions, conditions or terms of distribution beyond what the GPL specifies. The policy does exactly that.

But my biggest beef with the policy is Section 2(b), which flat out bans export of full permission content without the legal consideration when the creator of a piece of content grants exportability to the content's users. This effectively kills content licensed under Creative Commons, open source, public domain and other content whose license allows exportability.

There are other issues as well. In fact, as it stands no third-party viewer can be in compliance with the policy and be able to distribute. But thankfully, as Tateru Nino's Massively article points out, the Lab has brought the policy back to legal for a rewrite(this has been confirmed in the opensource-dev mailing list). Here's to hoping they get it right this time!

BTW, the only folks who are seriously lauding the policy as it is now, are those who are opposed to third-party viewers in general, so that should be a clue as to what's wrong with it if still in doubt.

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