Yesterday I had a conversation with a workmate about SL. Nothing unusual about that, of course, I'm always banging on about Second Life to someone or another. What marked out this conversation as worthy of note is my friend's paranoia about all-things-internet. He has a meticulous eye for detail (unlike me) so, for example, he reads and inwardly digests each phrase in a Terms of Service (unlike me). And having read through Linden's ToS he expressed a number of concerns.
The one I would like to highlight here is about Content, and the protection thereof. I have therefore taken the liberty of reproducing below a section from the Linden ToS. For information, the CAPITALISATION is there's - not mine:
5.3 All data on Linden Lab's servers are subject to deletion, alteration or transfer.
When using the Service, you may accumulate Content, Currency, objects, items, scripts, equipment, or other value or status indicators that reside as data on Linden Lab's servers. THESE DATA, AND ANY OTHER DATA, ACCOUNT HISTORY AND ACCOUNT NAMES RESIDING ON LINDEN LAB'S SERVERS, MAY BE DELETED, ALTERED, MOVED OR TRANSFERRED AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON IN LINDEN LAB'S SOLE DISCRETION.
YOU ACKNOWLEDGE THAT, NOTWITHSTANDING ANY COPYRIGHT OR OTHER RIGHTS YOU MAY HAVE WITH RESPECT TO ITEMS YOU CREATE USING THE SERVICE, AND NOTWITHSTANDING ANY VALUE ATTRIBUTED TO SUCH CONTENT OR OTHER DATA BY YOU OR ANY THIRD PARTY, LINDEN LAB DOES NOT PROVIDE OR GUARANTEE, AND EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMS (SUBJECT TO ANY UNDERLYING INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS IN THE CONTENT), ANY VALUE, CASH OR OTHERWISE, ATTRIBUTED TO ANY DATA RESIDING ON LINDEN LAB'S SERVERS.
YOU UNDERSTAND AND AGREE THAT LINDEN LAB HAS THE RIGHT, BUT NOT THE OBLIGATION, TO REMOVE ANY CONTENT (INCLUDING YOUR CONTENT) IN WHOLE OR IN PART AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON OR NO REASON, WITH OR WITHOUT NOTICE AND WITH NO LIABILITY OF ANY KIND.I find this rather worrying. OK, as my friend acknowledged, this is probably fairly normal "CYA" legalese. However, if I was a major builder or manufacturer in SL I think I would find this statement worrying. It basically says that LL can blow away my stuff - and I have no means of redress. Perhaps the results of months of my and my colleagues' labour could be blown away, without advance warning or notification, and without any comeback or repercussions for LL. I'm not saying it will happen - but the ToS says it could. In RL I'm used to being at the delivery end of SLA's and QOS to corporate clients, so to find a complete absence of either from LL somewhat disconcerting. The message I pick up from this is: "It's all cheap, throwaway nonsense, ain't it?." Perhaps this could be argued when it was only a bit of harmless fun, but now SL is getting serious - and (IMHO) it is not unreasonable to demand a serious level of commitment from Linden Labs.
As a techie, what makes this particularly irksome is that there is no solid, reliable and consistent method for taking your Content "off-world", where you can maintain your own separate backups. You can implement a code management process for scripts and other text - but objects, together with items of all types acquired in-world would be a much more challenging proposition.
If someone has a ready answer for this, then I would like to hear it!