Second Life third-party viewer policies not well received

Tateru Nino
T. Nino|02.26.10

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Second Life third-party viewer policies not well received

The hallmark of a good license is that it is clear, easy to understand and unambiguous. The gold-standard for a good contract is that it is all of the above and provides all parties with equal amounts of protection. There are bonus points for not conflicting with rights guaranteed by law, or with other prerequisite licenses or agreements.

Linden Lab's Third Party Viewer (TPV) policies, as published on Tuesday, regrettably reflect none of these ideals. We'd go so far as to say that it's the worst day's work that we've seen come out of the Lab to-date. So much so that almost immediately after publishing them the Lab has sent them back to legal for both clarification and rewriting.

It seems the TPV policies have a number of glaring flaws, chief among which are multiple incompatibilities with the existing source licenses, so that you can't actually build and distribute a viewer from the open source code-base while simultaneously being in compliance with the TPV policies.

That's quite an astonishing oversight. In fact, not a single release of the source-code made by Linden Lab to date complies with the TPV policies. An unmodified build from the trunk code-base would be violate the policies as they presently stand.

The TPV policies also go so far as to conflict in more than one respect with the GPLv2 license that the source-code is distributed under, while also attempting to layer on additional after-the-fact distribution restrictions (expressly prohibited by the GPLv2 license).

The Lab says that there is both a FAQ and a revised set of policies in the works, and some users have suggested that perhaps a FAQ should replace the policy agreement itself. Since one of the goals of the policy agreement is to clearly explain the responsibilities of TPV developers, then it may not be serving that function very well if it can't be interpreted without a FAQ.

The Lab hasn't been able to indicate any time-frame for a revision or update, which could be hours, days, weeks, or months away. Until that time comes, it seems that TPV developers are not going to attempt to seek compliance, being that it is unattainable at present.

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