Cyn Linden recently posted a blog article regarding the Lab’s upcoming 3rd party viewer policy. This policy has been expected. After all, just two months ago, they published their Content Management Roadmap, which included a specific section titled Standard Industry Practice for Copying Tools. The publication of that particular article fell on the heels of RightAsRain Rimbaud’s announcement of Rezzable’s new Sim Copying tool, builderbot, which resulted in quite an uproar from the content creator community.
Of course, this is but a rinse and repeat.
Just a little over two years ago, and less than a month after Linden Lab formed the Architecture Working Group, they announced they were releasing their viewer code under W. The response was decidedly mixed. The year before, the Lab’s customer database security (or lack there of) had been breached, resulting in a September 14, 2006 security advisory posted by then, Senior VP of Marketing, Robin Linden. Shortly thereafter, the libopensl copybot issue culminated with shop owners closing stores in protest, resulting in another post from then CTO, Cory Linden—this time clarifying the Lab’s ToS regarding copyright. Notably, he also stated, "We are not in the copyright enforcement business." The recurring content theft via hacked code theme seems to be a repeated thorn in Linden Lab’s side.
But is it really?
Linden Lab holds forth the open source promise like a carrot on the end of a stick in hopes that aspiring developers will not see through their facade—they’re looking for free labor—while at the same time inviting malfeasance, in the form of marauding script kiddies who fancy themselves hackers. This combination makes for a rather curious dynamic and an interesting end game.
Consider, for example, the emerald viewer folk—their developer’s list reads like the who’s who of script kiddie central.
First and foremost, you have the original developer and owner of the Emerald website, Jcool410, who was the developer of vLife. Jcool seems to have since morphed to Fractured Crystal, who claims he has "cleaned up his act" while at the same time accusing Thomas Shikami—a disaffected Emerald dev, who clarified the vLife-Emerald connection in a rather curious jira post—of being an active vLife dev team member.
Then there’s Discrete Dreamscape, who posted copybot code, not once, but twice, to Linden Lab’s public jira, where another team member, LordGregGreg Back, proudly proclaimed he would be adding it to Emerald, while also engaging in a play-pretend fight with Phox. The latter, who, by the way, is also an emerald developer, and who created a video on how to bypass Linden Lab’s IP ban.
Speaking of LordGregGreg Back (LGG). Now here is an interesting character. During the Content Management Roadmap dust up, he was listed as Emerald Public Relations. He’s now listed as Legal. I admittedly find both rather hilarious. Can’t imagine him winning in “moot court” much less a real one. Especially, since he seems to think "moot" is spelled "mute."
But, I digress.
LGG also spent a protracted amount of time engaging in rather embarrassing tongue swiping in the SLHerald’s Cryolife Papers comments section. Shortly thereafter, amazingly, or rather, shockingly, he contacted me, asking me to help him fight this new "evil" 3rd party viewer, NeilLife. LGG’s request was more than curious. Especially considering that I had just finished posting a comment to Linden Lab’s blog, requesting they block the Emerald viewer.
Soon thereafter, spoofed notecards announcing NeilLife were spammed across the grid. Both the spoofed notecards and the object used to spam them bore the name of long time resident and well-respected content creator, Gwyneth Llewelyn—who responded with this blog post. Unless he took an über crash course in Portuguese, the NeilLife dev did not send the notecards either. No big surprise there.
The ensuing drama revealed other rather curious morsels as well, though many of them are, as of this writing, largely unverifiable. There are however other means… such as disaffected devs. In fact, the disaffected are quite often the best source when it comes to information mining. Why? Bc, they’re usually ticked off enough to tell all. Even if they, themselves were involved in malfeasance, they’re often as close to the truth as you will get.
Take for example the case of W. Mitnick’s exploits, which largely involved W to gain access codes to various corporate computer systems along with W, became notorious shortly after he was alleged to have hacked DEC’s Nashua New Hampshire facility, spiriting away their VMS operating system source code to a back computer at Lawrence Berkeley Labs. While W has long been credited for capturing Mitnick in a breathtaking super cybersleuth drama, the reality is, Mitnick’s then girlfriend reported him to the police for phreaking activities, which resulted in confiscation of his computers, and his eventual prosecution and conviction. Prior to that, no one knew who this faceless marauder was.
But back to carrots and groupies and script kiddies, oh my! Each serves a purpose. Or rather, each serves Linden Lab’s purpose. Simply put, the Lab needs these script kiddies as much as they need their open source groupies. The former to prove the latter’s contention—the impossibility of fighting content theft. And what better way to prove so than with a very public display of malfeasance at the well-known Linden event—ala Burning Life and the thieves motherlode?
Open sourcerous apprentices, indeed!