Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Bought It On SL, I Can Use It Anywhere! Right?

If I bought something in SL, I can use it however I want, right? Not exactly. There are some things on SL that you can buy and export, and some things that you cannot. Knowing which ones are which is important. People seem to think that if they got it as a freebie, or bought a full perm item in SL that doing so means such things automatically are ok to try and export into another grid. I'm sorry for the freebie and 'I bought it, I own it!' crowd, but what you want from SL is just simply not there.

That is not to say you can't take freebies that you got from SL and export them out to use in another grid, but that it depends on the permissions that the owner gives. Likewise for stuff you buy on SL that may be full permissions in regards to usage in SL. That doesn't mean that the item is set to be full permissions anywhere you want to use them, and however you like.

As it is, and despite how much I agree that tier for land in SL is expensive, that the upload cost is a pain, that SL lag is a pain, that OpenSim grids can be a good place to start up a new business (depending on certain factors, such as if hypergrid enabled or not) , the one thing that I do not complain about is the fact that SL has permissions rights for content creators, and that both SL and content creators have a right to use and enforce them. If anything, copybots and when permissions are compromised are more reasons for why businesses would leave SL than to stay. So certainly SL would do wise to protect the content made in SL and do their best to give content creators a reasonable amount of security and ability to choose what permissions they give out for their products. The freebie nation and 'I bought it, I own it!' crowd just don't get it, and, because of that, it's no wonder people don't trust them. For who would you trust your property irl to: Peter, who seeks to protect and secure it, or the guy who steals from Peter to give to Paul?

The freebie nation crowd are essentially techie communists who think that the internet simply fell out of the sky, and that no one should be charged to use it. Never mind that people have to pay for the technology that uses the internet, as well as the technology that gets you on the internet. Never mind that you also have to pay for servers, and the services of internet companies that give you things like an internet domain, and other type of storage space and service to be able to have a presence online. Never mind that, even while Facebook and the various Google applications for media are free, they also have to monetize by giving ad space to companies to help keep it free. Never mind that they also push programs to get you to monetize your internet presence with them so that you get a little from the ad space, and they get a little for being able to get you to sign on to use your personal internet space for advertising. Yet, the internet should be free, but it isn't. For if it isn't to pay for services yourself, then it also isn't 'free' due to monetizing and other means of pushing advertising that takes away, that is, that cost you a certain amount of virtual space, or make you take up time in virtual labor that doesn't get much, if any returns back for those hours. And here's the thing about people that hold onto their tiers in SL. They likely have jobs. I don't mean that they strip or escort in SL on the side. But RL jobs that pay well enough for them to have those sims.  

The point is that there is nothing completely for free in SL, and nor is there in OpenSim. Yes, you can download the software for OpenSim for free, and you don't even need Sim on A Stick to do it. Also, it should be noted if you do indeed want your Sim on a Stick to be on a stick, you have to pay for a USB 2.0 or 3.0 stick, which Ener Hax is more than happy to link readers of her site to Amazon to get one, which could range anywhere from $14 for the least expensive (and least amount of memory available), to a bit over $40.00 for the higher end (and higher amount of memory).

Plus, if you were to want to get your standalone connected online, you are still going to have to pay to do that. Kitely has fixed monthly prices for 1 region at $40 per month,4 regions for $60 per month, 9 regions for $80 per month, and 16 Regions for $100 per month. Or, you can pay as you go with a free region, and it would be $1 per month for an extra region. The free plan gives you 2 hours free with 1 free region. You can also get a Bronze Plan at $5 for 30 hours and 2 free regions, the Silver at $20 for 120 hours and 10 free region, and, the Gold Plan is at $35 for Unlimited time and 20 free regions. You might wonder why the pay as you go is less expensive. It's because in the pay as you go, you the owner of the regions, does not pay for the access of users that enter your regions. However, if you pay for the fixed rate, you are paying so others do not have to.

But that's the thing, you have to pay for the purchase and maintenance of a PC, laptop, tablet, or whatever you access your virtual world grid(s) on. You then have to pay for internet service – regardless on if you do so by getting your own internet connection, or go to a coffee shop and pay for the drinks needed to legitimately be there – in order to download the software of OpenSim, and the viewers that connect you to OpenSim grids and SL. If you don't want to pay tier for SL region, you have to pay for service providers like Kitely to pay their tiers for your personal grid to be online. So, no matter what, you are going to have to pay for access and services to be online and to have a grid up. It might seem cost effective to DIY and make your own grid, but remember that where you can buy region space for less than tier of a SL sim, you are now responsible for your own grid. You can't complain to SL any more about mistakes that you make. If you screw up your grid, if you screw over your visitors to your grid, and if you frankly can't manage a grid on your own, then the problems are on you. And to get people to come to your region or grid, you have to do your own outreach, or hire people to do it and compensate them in some manner – be it monetary, or in other ways, such as through giving them space to on your grid for their own personal use. The internet is not air, it is not something absolutely necessary for survival. We just put a lot of value on it in this modern world because access to it is something we want, that we demand, but not something essential to living.

So nope, things are not as free online as one might think. Nor can you use what you have bought for any and all desires you want. There are limits to the freedoms, and the stipulations are generally found in the ToS. SL has a ToS, OpenSim has a TOS, pretty much all grids have their respective ToSes. And the service providers that make it possible to be online have TOS. Content creators tend to have copyright licenses or creative commons to lay claim to their creation as their property, and the terms for use of the property by others. So, even while you may own a copy of the digital item, that in no way means that you have complete control and use of it.

Interestingly enough, our current election in the US showed how this works with the rights and royalties of music. One infamous trumps of a content creator being able to call for the cease and desist of their content not being used in public for the advancement of a public figure is Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister saying he won't take Paul Ryan using the song “We're Not Going To Take It” to be used as part of Paul Ryan's campaign songs. Now, if I 'I bought it, I own it!' was truly the way things worked, Paul Ryan wouldn't have to give in to Dee Snyder's protest for using the Twisted Sister song.

I think the point is clear that, even if you own a copy of a creation made by someone else, it doesn't automatically grant you the ability to use that creation for any and all reasons that you desire to. Now, the reasons why people irl can push the enforcement of this easier than SL and OpenSim is because the cost of litigation makes it difficult for most and so that the cons of trying to go after illegitimately got content outweigh the pros of doing so. So thus, the closed commercial grids seem to be safe havens for content creators.

Nothing is really for free, and you can't expect that everything you buy is yours to use however you want.

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