[opensource-dev] FAQ posted for Third Party Viewer Policy

Morgaine morgaine.dinova at googlemail.com
Fri Feb 26 22:47:04 PST 2010

Soft, this is quite a good FAQ (particularly compared to TPV #1:P) as it
clears up a large number of points.  I thought it might resolve the earlier
problems re GPL compliance, particularly since it addresses the GPL
directly.  But when I examined it more closely it still has holes and
confusion on the key points.

Take FAQ.2 for example:

Q2: Does the policy limit *use* of the viewer source code that Linden Lab
makes available under the GPL?
A2: No, the policy is not intended to and 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.

This looks great at first glance as it appears to make the separation
between developers and users that caused so much confusion in TPV v1.

But notice that the answer says "does not place any restriction on
modification or *use*", and then goes on to say "Rather, the policy sets out
requirements for *connecting".*  Well connecting *IS* use, it couldn't be
anything else, so the answer contradicts itself in one and the same
paragraph. Such ambiguities need to be removed.

The sentence was probably intended to say "does not place any restriction on
modification or *distribution*", in order to clear the hurdle of GPLv2
clause 6.  That clause *explicitly* requires freedom of *modification* and *
distribution*.  Nothing else will do, so if you want to be clear about GPL
compliance, those words had better be there in A2. :-)

Unfortunately, the question itself is confusing because it refers to
*use*of the source code, and the GPL is completely unconcerned about
use.  Really
the question should ask:

   - Q2: Does the policy limit *modification* and *distribution* of the
   viewer source code that Linden Lab makes available under the GPL?

If that were the question then it would make sense in the context of
addressing GPLv2 clause 6 directly, and it would match the corrected answer
I gave above.

Next, FAQ.12:

   - Q12:  I develop for a Linux distribution where there is no opportunity
   to present users with the disclosures required under section 1.c before the
   user downloads and installs the software.  How can I comply with section 1.c
   of the policy?
   - A12: For Linux distributions where there is no opportunity to provide
   the section 1.c disclosures before installation of the software, *you can
   comply with the requirement by having your software client present the
   required disclosures or a link to them in a dialogue box that the user must
   close before logging into Second Life for the first time through your

You can't require that of developers of GPL software.  It's a restriction on
a GPL developer's "*freedom to modify and distribute*", and is explicitly
prohibited in GPLv2 clause 6.  Please check the GPLv2
the example of the original BSD advertising clause, which was
incompatible with the GPL.  That advertising clause had to be removed from
GPL programs before they could be licensed using GPL, because it was
an *additional
restriction* on the freedom to modify and distribute.

Your requirement is similar but much more onerous.  It is a very clear
additional restriction on the freedom to modify and distribute:  for
example, it restricts removal of the disclosure or dialogue box.  Such an
additional restriction is not permitted under GPL.  Indeed, no additional
restrictions on the freedom to modify and distribute are permitted at all.

And finally, FAQ.15 (in the context of licenses permitting free

   - Q15: Do the limitations of section 2.b on content export apply to
   content that is full permissions?
   - A15: Yes, they do.  Residents retain intellectual property rights in
   the content they create in Second Life and it is important for you to
   respect those rights.  By setting content to "full permissions" using the
   Second Life permissions system, a content creator merely indicates that the
   content may be copied, modified, and transferred *within* Second Life.
    Setting content to "full permissions" does not provide any permission to
   use the content outside of Second Life.

This is fine (surprise, surprise :P), but incomplete.  It doesn't address
the quite common scenario of full-perm content created by Open Source or
Creative Commons developers *using 100% personal textures*, and accompanied
by a GPL, BSD, CC or other open source license which declares that the
content may be freely copied, modified, and transferred *anywhere*, not only
within Second Life.

As is written in the answer A15, "Residents retain intellectual property
rights in the content they create in Second Life and *it is important for
you to respect those rights*."  Respecting their rights in this case
requires you to to allow that content to be exported as its creator
desires.  Therefore you either need to extend A15 with this additional case,
or add another FAQ Q+A (preferably immediately after #15) to address it.

I'm limiting my interest to the open source / licensing aspects of TPV and
FAQ so some of the Q+As I've skimmed only superficially, but they seem
fairly reasonable.  There are also some entries that refer to the
forthcoming TPV document, so substantive comment now would not make sense.
FAQ.3 is worrying though --- it hints that  the TPV may list further
restrictions on the GPL developer's freedom to modify and distribute, again
in direct contravention of GPLv2 clause 6.



On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 3:14 AM, Soft Linden <soft at lindenlab.com> wrote:

> There's now a FAQ for the Linden Lab Policy on Third Party Viewers:
> http://bit.ly/caedse
> This addresses many of the questions and concerns made in
> opensource-dev and elsewhere. An updated version of the TPV doc itself
> is also coming, but expect this within a couple weeks. Go visit the
> FAQ, or read on for the TPV doc update details...
> I know that the member of the legal team who owns the policy doc is
> still working over the final version. Linden Lab has approached
> outside legal experts with your feedback, and one of these experts is
> a lawyer who specializes in open source license compliance issues.
> Based on these experts' feedback and further internal review, our
> legal department will incorporate any required changes.
> In the meantime, while it helps to start making changes now, parts of
> the policy are not yet in effect. See the tail of the FAQ for dates
> and the portions affected.
> _______________________________________________
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