Items covered include new TOS, new viewer, new region ratings, new viewer policy, new welcome stuff and new starter avatars. I'll hit points on stuff I really care about:
- New machinima & snapshot policy allows anyone to take photos or machinima of anything, anytime and reuse it anywhere without regard to copyright (with confusing exceptions where Land policy prohibits it). This would apparently include flat shots of textures which could then be reused. While it seems to make it easier to take piccys and things, it muddies the waters over texture rights. Creators beware.
- Third-party viewer policy has formally been incorporated into the TOS. As I read it, and many others too, it would seem that viewers that don't self-certify compliance with LL's viewer policy will not be allowed to log onto the grid. Notable viewers not certified as of now include Emerald, Hippo and Cool Viewer. Logging in with them could result in your being banned.
- No inventory backups unless ALL prims AND textures in object are verified to be yours as the original creator. Effectively, this means that if you are the creator of an outfit but it uses a full-perm sculpt somewhere that was created by someone else (and which you have the license for), you can't back it up. This would also apply to builds that use huge prims (where obviously, you won't be the creator since no new huge prims can be created. Again, if you back something using Emerald (even though it verifies the root object), it may be a banning offense since the child prims aren't checked.
- Everything is a license. This includes $ Lindens (currency), land, software, server access, software provided, machinima & photos, user content and Linden content. While people are still trying to work out what's really at stake, I think it's a bottom-line CYA.
- Copyrights be damned, Linden Lab can now do whatever it wants, whenever it wants with your original content including using it to promote Second Life externally (TOS 7.2).
- With respect to user content, it sounds to me like Linden Lab is formally distancing itself from having to police DMCA or copybot violations since they are formally disclaiming responsibiliity for ensuring copies don't exsit. Yes, you technically still "own" the copyright on items you create in world, but Linden Lab now formally says they ain't responsible for any part of it. This is probably a result of Stroker Serpentine's lawsuit.
- Land is a license. Teh Lab now says you really don't "OWN" land any more. You just rent it from Linden Lab. Yeah anyone with a half a brain knows this is the reality. However, in the past, the Lab has used terms like "own virtual land" in its promotions. This could get ugly because some huge landowners could make the case this is a unilateral contract change. I have a lousy 512 so I don't care.
- $Lindens are a license. Mmmm hmmm. It means that when you transfer $L from one avatar to another or to the Lab, you're really transfering the license to use those $L. It kind of boggles the mind a bit but probably clarifies things from a tax standpoint -- that $L don't really have intrinsic value until they're converted to $US.
I have real hard time with this one. Viewer 2 is buggy, poor for advanced users and doesn't, in my opinion, make things any easier for new users. But, it's now the official viewer and 1.23 is the optional but still available one. Technically V2 is still beta but the next version isn't due out until "sometime this summer" so I'm really not sure what they're doing here.
New region ratings
Ahh more semantics. PG = General, Mature = Moderate, Adult = Adult. Login with 1.23 or earlier and you see the old ratings. Login with Viewer 2 and you get the new ones. I get the PG to General change but Mature to Moderate? What next, Liberal and Conservative?
Third-party viewer policy
This has now been formally incorporated into the TOS and, as usual with the stuff from the Lab, it's confusing and conflicting. The big issue for most people is that unless Emerald (or your other favorite viewer) self-certifies compliance, after 4/30/2010, you will technically be in violation of the TOS if you log in using it. And the big one that effectively kills inventory backup or content backup schemes:
You must not use or provide any functionality that Linden Lab’s viewers do not have for exporting content from Second Life unless the functionality verifies that the content to be exported was created by the Second Life user who is using the Third-Party Viewer. Specifically, before allowing the user to export the content, the Third-Party Viewer must verify that the Second Life creator name for each and every content component to be exported, including each and every primitive or other content type, is the same as the Second Life name of the Third-Party Viewer user. This must be done for all content in Second Life, including content that may be set to “full permissions.”I'm sure there are some content creators shouting hooray over this but I won't be. It kills being able to back up something that's used a full-perm texture unless you also created the texture!! Want to backup that castle of yours? Unless you also made the stone & wood textures, forget it. Even those items where the original creator name is gone can't be backed up. I'm sure this will push many creators onto alternate grids even sooner than they planned.
Well that's about all the energy I have for this crap. Does Second Life seem increasingly like Constrained Life to you? It does to me. :(