Linden Lab launches Second Life Enterprise beta today

enterprise_secondlife Linden Lab will announce today that their second “work offering”, Second Life Enterprise, is entering an open beta period, prior to release. The preliminary beta for the Second Life Enterprise has been running since April this year; the open beta program will run through Q4 this year, and general availability will be announced during the first half of 2010.

The associated service, the Second Life Work Marketplace, which is currently in development, will go into closed alpha at the end of Q1 2010.

The Second Life Enterprise bundle is priced from US$55,000, and this price will cover both hardware and software sides of the solution; two servers will be provided, one for spatial voice (VOIP) and one for virtual environment simulation of up to 8 regions, supporting a maximum of 800 users (though 800 users with spatialised voice seems like a recipe for chaos).

There is no indication yet as to whether the Second Life Enterprise product will replace Immersive Workspaces, the Lab’s first and, to our knowledge, only other, “work offering”, or whether the two will exist in parallel.

Organisations already participating in the beta program include IBM, Northrop Grumman, Naval Undersea Warfare Centre, DefenseWeb Technologies, Case Western Reserve University, and The New Media Consortium.

Intriguingly, Linden Lab has announced that “content owned by the company can be moved from the main Second Life environment into the Second Life Enterprise Beta environment”.

This, of course, raises many questions. Technically, by the Second Life Terms Of Service, Linden Lab has the right to distribute other people’s content for any purpose related to the operation of the service without explicit permission from creators.

Will any and/or all content on a simulator owned by a company be able to be sucked up and spat out again in the Enterprise environment belonging to that company? How will content ownership be determined?

What will happen with third party content, given these circumstances – especially given that a lot of enterprise presences on the main Second Life grid are composed of a reasonable percentage of third-party content already, under wildly different permissions.

Of course the Lab can bundle that up and copy it all off-grid. They have that right, so long as it continues to be “a part of the service.”

These issues aside, though, Second Life Enterprise looks to be a solid business product, particularly for virtual meetings, prototyping and data visualization – three areas where Second Life technology does well.

Make your predictions: Philip Rosedale’s next venture

Linden Lab Chairman (and former CEO) Philip Rosedale has let the Second Life community know he’s scaling back his day-to-day involvement with Linden Lab’s operations to focus on both his Chairmanship and a new venture. Not surprisingly he’s coy about the new venture, so it’s a perfect juncture for some speculation and hyperbole.

Fire away: what do you think the new venture is likely to be?

I’ll start off with both a conservative and a radical suggestion:

1. Conservative: a new business-centric virtual environment spin-off is created, that in no way leverages off Second Life.

2. Radical: Philip becomes CEO of an oil company to transition it to a renewable energy startup.

Over to you!

Trademarking and educators: Linden Lab responds

As reported yesterday, there’s been some activity around the use of the ‘SL’ trademark, with Australian educator Jokay Wollongong receiving a takedown notice. I shot through a few questions to Linden Lab on the issue, and Pathfinder Linder has formally responded. So as promised, here’s Linden Lab’s full right of reply:

Lowell: What was the impetus for LL tackling Jokay’s Wiki specifically?

Pathfinder: Jokay’s Wiki is a wonderful educational resource for the Second Life community, and Jokay organizes incredibly thoughtful and informative conferences about education in Second Life.

Some Lindens were recently invited to participate in a conference that Jokay was organizing, and we wanted very much to accept and show our support for Jokay and all the amazing work she’s done for the community. We were concerned, though, that the name of her blog is “Second Life in Education” and that her uses of our trademarks do not comply with our policies and create confusion about her blog’s relationship with Linden Lab.

We realize now that we poorly expressed our concerns by sending her an email from our trademark team, and that we should have reached out more personally to such an important contributor to the educational community. I (Pathfinder Linden) did speak to Jokay inworld after we sent her the email to explain to her why it’s so important for Residents to respect our trademark policies. However, in hindsight, this should have been the first step in our process.

Lowell: Does LL see it’s in its interest to issue takedown notices to educators showcasing one of SL’s strengths (i.e. it’s power as en educational platform)?

Pathfinder: We have great respect for the work of Jokay and other educators in Second Life. We’re also committed to increasing awareness of intellectual property, as we said in our recent Content Management Roadmap, through improved policies and outreach to the community. When we get in touch with Residents about improper uses of intellectual property – whether it be the intellectual property of other Residents, companies outside of Second Life, or Linden Lab itself – it’s nothing personal. It’s simply what we must do to help protect intellectual property.

Lowell: How much confidence should educators have that further trademarks won’t be registered, leading to a further change of landscape that can’t be forseen?

Pathfinder: When choosing a brand name or name for your website or domain name, it’s good practice to check that you are not using another person’s trademark or brand name. Trademarks do not need to be registered – so it’s best to search the web as well as trademark office records, and to consult a trademark attorney if you’re uncertain. This good practice is called “trademark clearance,” and it protects against your having to make a name change down the road.

Pathfinder: In this case, both Second Life and SL have been Linden Lab trademarks since we first started using them for our virtual world many years ago. To help promote awareness about proper use of our trademarks, especially for Residents unfamiliar with trademark clearance, we updated our trademark policies in early 2008, providing additional information and examples. We have also been reaching out to Residents about our trademark policies.

Lowell: How would you respond to claims that actions like this provide further motivation for people to move to other grids or platforms outside of SL?

Pathfinder: Intellectual property rights are part of what makes Second Life unique and compelling, and we’re committed to supporting a community that respects each other’s intellectual property. Although making changes in response to intellectual property complaints can be frustrating, it ultimately makes our community stronger, more aware and respectful of each other’s intellectual property, and a more desirable place for content creators and content consumers alike.


Over to you – is Linden Lab’s position a reasonable part of protecting intellectual property rights or an example of brand protection at the expense of community?

Update: Tateru Nino at Massively has a follow-up piece with some views of educators on Linden Lab’s response to the issue.

Class action lawsuit leveled against Second Life’s Linden Lab

strokerzKevin Alderman’s Eros LLC, a Florida company devoted to mature content which started operating in Second Life way back when, has been the star attraction before. Alderman, also known as Stroker Serpentine in Second Life, has been well-known for his successful, adult business ventures, as well as two successful legal actions for virtual environment based copyright/trademark infringement (one vs Rase Kenzo AKA Thomas Simon, and one vs Volkov Cattaneo AKA Robert Leatherwood).

Alderman, in conjunction with Shannon Grei (known as Munchflower Zaius in Second Life) is now launching a class-action lawsuit against Linden Lab itself, alleging that (among other things) it profits from negligence and delay in dealing with trademark and copyright infringement issues, and that it also knowingly does so.

The plaintiffs’ case for willful infringement might seem a bit weaker in spots, but one area where it is on relatively certain ground is where Linden Lab is duly informed, and then fails to act or acts with egregious delay. In those circumstances, the Lab would be aware of the infringement, but continues to profit from it (directly or indirectly) until action is taken.

The complaint outlines four classes who may benefit from the suit:

  • The Trademark Owner Class: All individuals and entities in the United States who own, have owned, or otherwise have the right to enforce licensing rights to goods and services bearing trademarks or service marks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and who engage or have engaged in commercial transactions in Second Life associated with such registered trademark or service marks.
  • The Trademark Infringement Class: All individuals and entities in the United States who (1) own, have owned, or otherwise have the right to enforce licensing rights to goods and services bearing trademarks or service marks registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, (2) engage or have engaged in commercial transactions in Second Life associated with such registered trademark or service marks, and (3) whose trademarks and/or service marks were infringed in Second Life.
  • The Copyright Owner Class: All individuals and entities in the United States who own, have owned, or otherwise have the right to enforce licensing rights in connection with a copyright registered with the U.S. Register of Copyrights and who engage or have engaged in commercial transactions in Second Life associated with such copyrighted works.
  • The Copyright Infringement Class: All individuals and entities in the United States who (1) own, have owned, or otherwise have the right to enforce licensing rights in connection with a copyright registered with the U.S. Register of Copyrights (2) engage or have engaged in commercial transactions in Second Life associated with such copyrighted works, and (3) whose copyrights were infringed in Second Life.

(Obviously, participation in the suit appears to be limited to entities within the United States of America. The 430KB complaint document is available in PDF format.)

Overall, the plaintiffs assert that Linden Lab has not done all that is reasonable and expeditious to deal with infringement, and that it has profited from and continues to profit from its failure to do so.

While so-called ‘Safe-Harbor’ (or, in the USA ‘Common Carrier’) protections might generally apply to (for example) Web-site operators, Linden Lab has chosen to abrogate those protections by taking affirmative (and some might say editorial) action on content in Second Life and on Xstreet SL.

Linden Lab declined to comment, but Alderman was willing to discuss the complaint with us, “The complaint eloquently expresses the frustration of the ‘whack-a-mole’ situation many of us are faced with every day. It is very difficult to convey the disappointment you get when you work for weeks to release something you have poured your heart and soul into, only to have it ripped and placed into grid-wide vending systems within moments by an anonymous and expendable account.”

“You cannot effectively address the level of infringement and theft that takes place within a platform that does 1.2 million dollars a day in transactions with an amended TOS and an expanded Abuse Reporting System. The problem is systemic. Our hope is to initiate fundamental and effectual change in the way the Lab addresses the issue of rampant content theft, copyright and trademark infringement in Second Life.”

Finally, Alderman asserts his support of the platform, “We do not need ‘Nannies’. We need effective support. If we didn’t believe in the future of Second Life, we would have been gone years ago. Maybe, some of our disillusioned brethren (sisteren?) will return if they feel that their content once again has value. We’re all in this together. It is still our world and our imagination.”

Even if the suit is only partially successful, the implications stand to significantly change the way virtual world developers and operators deal with rights, trademarks and copyrights in every collaborative virtual environment, as well as raise both social and legal expectations of the behavior and conduct of those operators. This case is one to watch.

Linden Lab founder and CEO give a glimpse of Second life’s future

mlindenDaniel Voyager has tweeted the keynotes from M and Philip Linden at SLCC 2009. You can view M Linden’s 104 presentation slides here.

Key tweets from Daniel that interested me in particular were:

1. Philip Linden

There will be lots of change. The prairie where we are now can become New York City

Hmm, interesting perspective. Some people actually like living on the prairies – this has the smell of progress at expense of lifestyle all around it. I do see the point but it’s an unfortunate metaphor.

Things are changing extremely rapidly and the impact will be revolutionary not evolutionary

Extremely common corporate speak that pretty much says the same thing as the first point.

Try and understand we’re at the very beginning, we’re going to have to weather tremendous change

See points one and two above – I’m waiting for the ‘duck and cover’ lecture.

We are at the very beginning. We’ll not like all the changes. It is inevitable. Try to work with us, let go a bit

I get the picture Philip, I really do. How about some vision behind the revolution warning system? To be fair, I’m sure he said a lot more than what Daniel was able to Tweet, but there’s still a lot of ‘worlds in crisis’ talk.

To scale large, we need: More decentraliztion of services. But we have “right napkin drawings”

I’m giving the benefit of the doubt on this one, assuming he means the bright, radically changed future in store. If he meant that the ongoing organic growth of Second Life is still reliant on good ‘napkin drawings’, then I hope some people at SLCC in person threw things.

2. M Linden

We’re coming out of the trough of disillusionment. In the middle of a top to bottom renovation

The Trough of Disillusionment – that has to be a movie or album title if it isn’t already. Snap it up while you can! Or was it the title of the focus group report after the introduction of Jar Jar Binks into the Star Wars franchise?

We’re at SL 1.0 heading to 2.0. We probaly need to get to 10.0 for billion users

Hard to argue with this. That said, I think the game will have changed so irretrievably in the next few years that the idea of Second Life having a billion users may be just a little fanciful in what’s likely to be one big field of competitors,

SL will bring more of the web into second life and more of second life into the web

Absolutely – it’ll be how embeddable Second Life is that really determines its ongoing success.

Overall, there’s not a lot surprising in the details: you’d expect a CEO and Board member to cite the need for ongoing good growth, a commitment to innovation and an upbeat assessment on the future. With the cynicism meter lowered a little, it’s fair to say M Linden has overseen some improvements in the usability and stability of Second Life. Add to that the ongoing good growth in the number of residents and the overall economy and it seems the revolution may happen. Whether it’s a bloodless one is yet to be seen.

Brands under the hammer in Second Life

smolinaro-aug2009 The Second Life blogosphere is igniting with the news that the listing guidelines for Second Life’s marketplace, xStreetSL, have been tightened up.

Essentially, it’s now prohibited to sell any virtual goods that resemble a real-world brand. That’s no shock and probably reasonable. The contention is over the ban on avatars that resemble actual celebrities. It’s a pretty silly ruling that’ll be essentially unenforceable outside of the xStreetSL website. Admittedly, protecting brands is a balancing act for any company, but this appears to be an over-protective move.

Let me throw out another conundrum likely to occur in the future as a result of this decision. Let’s say an avatar becomes a celebrity in its own right. Its shape, clothing and skin may have been created from scratch or different aspects purchased from vendors. Could said avatar argue they are now a brand and prevent people creating avatars that resemble them? Avatars-as-brands well and truly exist now – it’s the policy developments like these that continue to push well beyond the traditional boundaries of intellectual property law. It’s going to take some serious legislative work in the medium term to create some solid ground under virtual world content creators.

HTTP-in: a worthy addition to Second Life communications

Since HTTP-in was deployed in the recent Second Life server update, I’ve had a chance to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate it extensively. Essentially to use and misuse it in pretty much every way I could think of. And you know what? It’s nice, but it isn’t that big a deal.

HTTP-in allows an external application to send data to an object in Second Life, just as is done via email and via XML-RPC. About the only thing that HTTP-in seems to really bring to the table is simplicity and reliability. XML-RPC and email communications to in-world objects are highly centralized, slow, and not actually all that reliable. When you combine that with the setup and teardown requirements (both for you, and for the grid itself), things get pretty ugly.

HTTP-in is busting to its veriest seams with caveats, cautions and conditions, but it actually works and it keeps working, which by this stage – six years in now – must seem like a minor miracle at  the very least. Frankly, though, the single most effective use is signaling.

Unless you’re intending to pull data out of Second Life, you’re best off retrofitting your code to wait for you to poke it via HTTP-in and have it call your Web-server back to retrieve the data. It’s simple, efficient, faster than pushing data through, generally, and pretty much in 90% of cases that’s actually what you’re doing anyway.

Almost every scripted object using HTTP is pushing or polling – and HTTP-in doesn’t seem to offer enough advantages on its own to make sitting down and turning that model on its head worthwhile. Using the system as an external trigger to tell your in-world objects when to poll? Now that works a treat.

What you definitely need, whatever you do with HTTP-in, is you need some external repository that your in-world object can push its URL to, because HTTP-in URLs are darned ephemeral.

Region restarted? The URL becomes invalid and you have to get a new one. Script reset? Invalid. Teleported? Invalid. On rez? Invalid. Jump to the default state? Invalid. Detached or attached? Well, you get the idea.

Putting in everything to take care of that is wordy, but reusable, and almost all of us who have been using the other communications methods already have an HTTP-accessible registry where our in-world objects can store data like this, so it isn’t that huge a deal.

The number of potential incoming URLs is somewhat limited (limits operate in the same basic allocation fashion as prim-limits, and objects attached to an avatar have a pool of 38 possible URLs available to them). There’s also caps and throttles, but if you’re doing generally sensible communications coding, you won’t run into any of them at present – though there are hints that they may be adjusted in future.

All in all, the primary benefit of HTTP-in seems to be faster and simpler signaling to in-world objects, and that goes a long way towards reducing the level of incoming traffic at your HTTP server – and depending on the strictures of your hosting service, that can be a very good thing indeed. It doesn’t make choirs of angels sing, but it’s still a very useful replacement for email and XML-RPC communications.

Merged realities – events and issues for virtual worlds

grecian_theatre 1. For those who like theatre, rehearsals are under way for Hypatia of Alexandria. Written in sonnet form, it’s a collaborative project for performance in Second Life:

It will play to inhabitants of upwards of forty countries around the world. The lead role is in Australia, the writer and director in Canada, the producer in the UK and the cast from the USA and other countries! Oh, and it will play in a huge purpose built Greek theatre in the sky. Not exactly what you would call a typical play, I suppose.

2. Second Life Documentary, Second Skin, is starting to see some wider distribution.

3. Linden Lab is apparently worth around $700 million and is projected to bring in around $100 million in revenue. Not a bad little business if anyone’s interested.

4. Dear Apple – give us augmented reality on the iPhone.

5. For those who like jumping between independent grids, here’s how to do it.

Zindra: Second Life’s adult continent

As announced on the Linden Lab blog, Second Life residents now have access to the new adult-only continent called Zindra, for the next two weeks. There’s already a bunch of Linden-created content up and running, although not surprisingly there are dozens of empty buildings this early on in the piece. I’m a sucker for pretty and Zindra is indeed pretty in places. The real fun begins as the adult-content is migrated from the current mainland. The process for doing that will likely be fraught with challenges but now’s your chance to look at where you may like to be relocated to.

To view Zindra you’ll need to download the 1.23 Second Life Viewer update and have age-verified your Second Life account.

Below are some pics I took while exploring Zindra, enjoy:


Plenty of open space at present


No shortage of green space


One of three hydro-electric dams


Waiting to access Kama City


Land anyone?

Second Life 2.0: safe choices

Sl-viewer-version2 It’s safe to say that Tateru Nino has quite a scoop over at Massively. She’s had the chance, like I have, to check out a rough version of the next-generation Second Life browser. As you’ll see below, on a superficial level, there’s not a lot that’s different.

In the short time I’ve had a play, the real changes appear to be in the menu structure, menu titles, three little widgets on the right-hand side (which slide out commonly used windows like Places). I have to say that overall, the changes are very safe. Sure, this is probably a pre-release version well before one ready for release, but given the anticipation around the next-generation browser, it’s hard to imagine that there won’t be a real sense of anti-climax if Viewer 2.0 looks essentially the same as 1.23. Who knows, this one may be a decoy version to ensure we’re all surprised as hell when the ground-breaking one is released.


(Full-size version can be viewed here)

My initial pet peeve? When right-clicking on an avatar, the pie-shaped menu is gone and replaced with the same menu text as the rest of the interface. It doesn’t seem like much of an enhancement to me although I suppose it will help newer users with a more uniform menu context.

To be fair, Linden Lab do have a hell of a job balancing the need for a more intuitive interface versus the risks of radical change frustrating current Second Life residents. For me, version 2.0 seems to be too far down the conservative change end of the spectrum,

More on the browser in coming days, but in the meantime, what do you think?

Update: Linden Lab have made some comments on the issue, stating this browser version is an early version of what will be the final product.

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