Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Open Second Life

The online virtual world Second Life has been in the news quite a bit recently. Earlier this week it hit the headlines when land owner Anshe Chung requested that YouTube take down a clip of an interview she conducted within Second Life, where a number of other in-world avatars harassed Chung using some...uh...interesting tactics. Read more at CNet news here and Peter Black has picked it up here too with an Australian perspective.

Now Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, has announced that it will release the code of Second Life's "viewer application to the open source software development community." (See the press release here .) The code will be available under the GNU GPL v2 (interesting that they chose not to wait until version 3 is out?) See Lessig's blog here, the Sydney Morning Herald here and then find the actual source code here, plus information about the licensing here. Interestingly, they have also included an additional FLOSS exception - see it here.

This is a big step for the company who seems to be one of the more user-friendly gaming companies when it comes to intellectual property issues. Second Life also seems to be a common international meeting place - Creative Commons had one of its many birthday parties in there and Judge Richard Posner gave a seminar there late last year.

So this is one small step for an avatar, one giant leap for the open source community.

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