Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The New Third-Party Viewer Policy: A Thing of Beauty and A Joy Forever

As noted in the previous blog post, the Lindens have quietly changed their third-party viewer policy. The changes, unlike the previous revision which amounted to nothing, address the majority of the issues raised by TPV developers and results in a more clear and simpler read for those who it's intended for.

The single biggest change is in Section 7(d), which now reads: "You assume all risks, expenses, and defects of any Third-Party Viewers that you use. Linden Lab shall not be responsible or liable for any Third-Party Viewers" Previously, the first sentence had ", develop or distribute" tacked on at the end, which put the sort of legal liability that LL themselves disclaim onto third-party developers. The new wording now makes it clear that was not the actual intent of the clause.

So with this change, for most legit TPV developers, there's nothing to fear from this policy anymore and it may even be totally okay to go for self-certification into the viewer directory(IANAL, of course, but that's my personal opinion).

There may be a few nagging issues left, such as Section 2(b) which restricts content export capability to creator-only. However, that merely applies to when on the SL grid. So it's possible to either simply have creators host permissive content outside of SL, or just have full-perm content export disabled only when on the SL grid. However for non-SL content exporting, I'd strongly recommend some sort of mechanism to convey usage beyond SL's crude C/M/T checkboxes.

Of course, certain folks who are against third-party viewers as a whole will be decrying the changes as "LL caving in to TPV developers" and "they're giving the store away to the copybotters". Reading through the policy, it's clear that's not what happened. The policy now more clearly delineates the difference between a compliant viewer and a malicious viewer(see Sections 2 and 7) and the enforcement terms(Section 8) have not changed(not counting the addition of 8(f), which merely makes clear the policy isn't intended to screw with the GPL).

Given these changes, I may not have to close down my store in SL after all. But I will continue with my current plan of opening up on other grids. It's a happy day for me :)

Update: BTW, the second brown-bag meeting has happened today. The transcript of the meeting can be found here(big thanks to Latha Serevi for the transcripts!).

No comments: