[opensource-dev] Fwd: [gnu.org #566095] Possible Licensing Conflict

Ron Festa overdrive at dceo.rutgers.edu
Tue Apr 20 12:38:50 PDT 2010

Since people wanted to see it here it is right from the Free Software

Ron Festa
Virtual Worlds Admin
Division of Continuing Studies at Rutgers University
PGP key: http://bit.ly/b1ZyhY
Phone: 732-474-8583

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Brett Smith via RT <licensing at fsf.org>
Date: Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 1:00 PM
Subject: [gnu.org #566095] Possible Licensing Conflict
To: ronfesta at docs.rutgers.edu

> [ronfesta at docs.rutgers.edu - Thu Apr 15 12:02:18 2010]:
> Company name: Linden Research, Inc
> Product: Second Life Viewer
> Contact Info: http://lindenlab.com/contact
> <http://lindenlab.com/contact>Possible Violation: The Second Life
Viewer is
> released completely under the GPLv2 with exception to the commercial
> blobs which have been replaced with opensource equivalents. Recently they
> have released a Third Party Viewer Policy (TPVP) in regards to viewers
> from their source code that connect to their service. In this policy,
> section 7a appears to be in conflict with sections 11 & 12 of the GPLv2 in
> which their source code is licensed under.


Thanks for getting in touch with us with your concerns. It's always
good to know that people like you take the GPL seriously enough to ask
these sorts of questions.

My understanding is that Linden Labs' Third-Party Viewers Policy,
despite the name, sets out policies for connecting to Second Life's own
servers. Other services might call this kind of policy a Terms of
Service. This statement from the policy's preamble explains their intent:

"This Policy does not place any restriction on modification or use of
our viewer source code that we make available under the GPL. Rather, the
Policy sets out requirements for connecting to our Second Life service
using a Third-Party Viewer, regardless of the viewer source code used,
and for participating in our Viewer Directory."

The freedoms granted by the GPL and other free software licenses are
never absolute -- they are limited by law and other legal agreements.
For example, just because the license allows you to use the software
for any purpose does not mean you are allowed to use it to DoS a
server, or undertake other illegal activities.

Linden Labs has the right to set policies for clients connecting to its
servers, and that is what it has done with this policy. They do not put
direct limits on the freedoms you have under the GPL: viewers that don't
follow the policies could be used to connect to alternative servers as
they become available, to make an entirely new game, or in completely
unrelated projects. I am sympathetic to concerns that some of these
policies may have chilling effects on development of third party viewer
applications, but the policies are not in any inherent, direct conflict
with the GPL's terms.

I hope this helps clear up our position on the matter for you. If you
have other concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Best regards,

Brett Smith
Licensing Compliance Engineer, Free Software Foundation
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