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

Soft Linden soft at lindenlab.com
Sat Feb 27 17:31:40 PST 2010

On Sat, Feb 27, 2010 at 12:47 AM, Morgaine
<morgaine.dinova at googlemail.com> wrote:
> 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.

It's important to understand that one can discontinue use of Second
Life at any point. On doing so, there are no further obligations
imposed by the TPV policy. The legal consults cleared this as a
resolution to all free license issues.

This agreement makes no restrictions on what anyone can do with the
source. The GPL makes no restrictions on connecting to Second Life.
These are two separate agreements, and don't need to be reconciled in
such a way that each permits everything allowed by the other.

That said, Linden Lab intends to keep the viewer platform under an
open source license. If anyone ever received a request to alter the
viewer in a way that would violate the GPL, point that out. Odds are
the request isn't being communicated properly, or somebody didn't know
of the implications. Again though - any request is just that. A change
isn't required if the viewer author chooses to instead stop using it
to connect to the service and withdraws it from the Viewer Directory.

> 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 software.
> 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 FAQ for 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.

Anyone can make a derivative viewer that doesn't comply with the
policy. That version of the viewer would not be eligible for inclusion
in the Viewer Directory. The situation here is similar. Nothing is
prohibited in terms of use of the GPL licensed code. The restriction
is strictly placed on participation in the Viewer Directory.

> And finally, FAQ.15 (in the context of licenses permitting free
> distribution):
> 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.

That might be material for the FAQ. But because there is no export
permission bit, it's not possible to add export capability for these
cases without enabling violation of others' content. At this point, I
couldn't see that affecting the TPV policy.

More information about the opensource-dev mailing list