Monday, March 22, 2010

The Third-Party Viewer Policy: Take 2, but still as shoddy

According to Tateru Nino at Massively, the Lab has made and released changes to the third-party viewer policy at the request of the opensource-dev community. Sadly, however, they still f*cked it up.

The only change I see, on a casual read is this sentence in the third paragraph of the preamble: "This Policy does not place any restriction on modification or use of our viewer source code that we make available under the GPL."

But still, that sentence directly conflicts with Section 7(d), "You assume all risks, expenses, and defects of any Third-Party Viewers that you use, develop, or distribute.", which violates the GPL's disclaimer of liability.

The best and shortest response I've heard from the open source community makes what they think of the "rewrite" crystal-clear: "You first", as in "If you want us to take responsibility for our viewers by violating the wording of the GPL, then change your ToS(Section 5.4, specifically) to do the same for your own viewer as well".

Now that the Lab has stated that they will not be planning any further modifications to the policy, the ball is now in the third-party devs' court to decide what to do in light of it. Boy Lane(developer of Rainbow viewer), and Fred Rookstown(developer of the Luna viewer) have already stated their intents(Both have simply called it quits on their viewers). Tomorrow the Imprudence developers will meet in-world to discuss what to do regarding the policy, but there's a strong possibility that most popular viewers may abandon SL altogether and throw their weight into OpenSim-based worlds in order to avoid being shackled down by LL.

As TigroSpottystripes Katsu put it: "It's own-foot season, and this time LL brought the big guns."


Wayfinder said...

I believe this is a misinterpretation of what is in reality a standard legal clause. Repeating: ""You assume all risks, expenses, and defects of any Third-Party Viewers that you use, develop, or distribute.", which violates the GPL's disclaimer of liability."

Since Linden Lab does not have the legal right nor ability to impose liability on others... they are simply stating that anyone that uses the GPL licensed code assumes license if they breech that license. In other words, "We are not responsible for what you do."

That does not prevent Third Party Viewer creators from distributing their viewers, nor does it prevent them from employing the standard follow-up license to this, namely, "You use this viewer at your own risk."

So fortunately, this does not seem to be the earth-shaking situation some may consider it to be. That doesn't mean however, that Linden Lab is not a threat to third party viewers. Linden Lab is (imho) the proverbial loose cannon. In 2009 single knee-jerk decision from that company destroyed 20% of the sims on SL. A company capable of such massively destructive and abusive decisions definitely warrants keeping a watchful eye.

Kakurady said...

@Wayfinder Pity that they didn't say it that way.

Kakurady said...

Imprudence project has declared they will remove Imprudence from the grids list.

AntoniusMisfit said...

@Kakurady: I attended the Imprudence developer meeting, so I knew the announcement was coming. And btw, they said they are removing SL, not Imprudence from the grid list, LOL.

But they will honor the parts of the TPV policy that are reasonable and sensible, so it's not like an "f- you, LL" response but a rather very diplomatic one.

Kakurady said...

@AntoniousMisfit That was a typo. >>