Boing Boing: Second Life frees source code under GPL

Monday, January 8, 2007

Second Life frees source code under GPL

The virtual world Second Life has released its client source code under the GPL free software license. This is HUGE.

Second Life is distinct because it allows in-game creators of objects to "own" them, sell copies of them, give them away, and license them under Creative Commons. Most other worlds require that you assign all your copyright to the game's corporate owners -- and prevent you from doing some kinds of creative stuff to avoid copyright hassles (musicians in Star Wars Galaxies could only perform compositions provided by Sony, for example).

But there's a fly in the ointment -- it's not very meaningful to amass in-game wealth if your ability to use it is contingent on your ongoing good relations with a single company. What good is your wonderful Second Life real-estate, architecture, gadgets and wardrobe if Linden Labs can throw you out at any time? It's like amassing Soviet-era rubles -- you could only spend them in Russia.

But by opening up the source code for Second Life, Linden is inviting a competitive marketplace for Second Life hosters. Indeed, they describe a "Second Life grid" of multiple Second Life hosters who interconnect -- the way that today's Web consists of a single Web with millions of servers that are all linked together by their users.

This turns Linden wealth into real-world wealth. And it also takes an enormous stride towards turning Second Life residents into real citizens instead of mere customers. Citizens get to petition for redress of their grievances from a state that represents them; customers can only take their business elsewhere. Customers only ever get to love it or leave it. Citizens get to change it.

A lot of the Second Life development work currently in progress is focused on building the Second Life Grid — a vision of a globally interconnected grid with clients and servers published and managed by different groups. Expect many changes and updates in the coming months in support of this architecture. Much of the recent work has centered on securing the code against potential threats. More recently and still in development, we are moving more of the communications to reliable and cryptographically strong secure channels.

At Linden, we have always been strong advocates of the use of open standards and the advantages of using open source products. Though Second Life makes abundant use of non-standard technologies, our basic UDP protocol message system for example, we rely on open standards and open source implementations when appropriate and available. Since many of the components that will make up this network are not yet done, we are not publishing long white papers or RFCs at this time — instead, we are giving everyone what we have along with a goal of producing those open standards with the input and assistance of the community that has brought Second Life to where it is now.

Link (Thanks, John!)

See also:
Second Life: Shirky pokes more holes in sloppy press coverage
Homeless kid in Second Life
Second Life struggles with copying
Second Life griefers assault real estate millionaire Anshe Chung
Grey Goo melting online world Second Life
Judge Richard Posner coming to Second Life
User creates virtual ecosystem in Second Life
NOAA in Second Life
Mark Warner's Second Life appearance - transcript
In-game book/avatar design contests for Cory's virtual book-launch
Top Second Life schwag
To do in Second Life tonight: CC head attorney speaks!
Presidential candidate to speak in Second Life tomorrow
FreeCulture activist event in SecondLife
Misbehavior in Second Life game punished by exile to "the corn field"
Duran Duran moves to Second Life, will gig there
User-created content in Second Life: Ondrejka's GDC talk
Transcript of Cory's Second Life interview, new illos from Someone...
Heinlein-inspired tesseract house in Second Life
WoW players plan raids in Second Life
Tour operator for virtual worlds
Virtual edition of Cory's book released in Second Life
Virtual schizophrenia comes to Second Life
Author replicates novel in Second Life for book-launch
Lessig to do in-game signing/interview in Second Life
Snow Crash comes to the Metaverse
Second Life conference to take place in-game and in-RL
Following Lessig and Cory, Suicide Girls find home in Second Life
3-D figurines of Second Life avatars
Virtual "Burning Man" realm in online world of Second Life
Free BoingBoing t-shirts inside Second Life
Embedded Firefox coming to Second Life
Beth Goza's Second Life Primer
Marvin from HHGTTG moves to Second Life
Marvin from HHGTTG moves to Second Life Interview with an avatar creator from Second Life
Second Life offers $4k art scholarship to make in-game stuff
Private data of more than 642K Second Life users exposed
Reviews of in-game prostitutes
Winner of Second Life contest to design Cory's book
Contest to produce in-game book based on Cory's next novel
I'll be at a virtual book-club meeting in gamespace this Sunday
Preserving tribal heritage with online games
In-game machinima Ed Wood film festival
Universities offering classes inside of MMOs
In-game clownfish flocks generated through virtual evolution
US gov't investigating taxing in-game transactions
Live video from gamespace
BBC music festival simultaneously in-game and in real-life
In-game art-show asks for CC remixes that interact
The girl with error-message eyes
Steven Colbert: Machinima fantasy with Rove, Soledad and others
Real property rights to virtual game objects
What happens when you give gamers intellectual property rights?
Anatomically correct avatar

posted by Cory Doctorow at 06:23:28 AM permalink | Other blogs' comments

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