March 2, 2013
Well, March 1st was a good goal to aim for to launch Excelsior Station, and we almost made it. The files are uploaded and so its in the hands of hardware and server people at Zetamex. That means that things will launch any time now.
One of the things that a grid should have is a Terms of Service. For good or bad, it does define responsibilities and obligations. Its an agreement, a contract between you and the grid. A contract is an exchange of value between two or more parties. When it comes to a grid, well, they are providing a service and you are providing good will. Yes, even that has a value. If it makes a person feel good to see their sim being enjoyed, well, that’s a pretty valuable thing. That is only one exchange of value involved, as well, but that’s not the point here. The point is, that a ToS should be treated as an agreement between two parties, you and the grid, regarding an exchange of value.
A ToS does tend to be one sided. Though, when you consider that it is the grid that has the majority of liability and risk under the law, a ToS that is heavily weighted in favour of the grid is understandable. But that doesn’t mean that the user shouldn’t enjoy some of the benefits and protection that a ToS can give them.
Something that has become very clear to me in thinking on this is that it will take some time to create a good ToS. So, this is only a start.
The best place to start is to define what we are talking about. I like the way Firecaster put it about recognizing the Avatar as being an extension of ourselves. I prefer to look at it this way. Our Avatar in the Metaverse is to our Self what our Body is in the Universe. Yes, I used upper case to be clear that I am not just talking of the mundane aspects, but the whole of the concept that each embodies.
So, Avatar would be our digital Person, while avatar is our digital body, the vehicle for our Avatar/Person. Avatar would be used to refer to the person controlling the avatar. By according those recognitions, we can then be clear that we have similar rights and protections within that virtual world as we do in the physical one. Think of it this way. Just as nobody has the right to assault you in RL, nobody has the right to grief you in VW.
Now I said similar rights, not the same rights. That is because of how a grid is structured, just like a feudal government. So, no right to vote for a new leader. On the plus side, no election campaigning. And no matter what any of us might put in a ToS, there is no exemption from Real World Law.
The following is what I have in mind so far. I very much look forward to your contributions.
“The term ‘Avatar’, in the upper case, shall be understood to be referring to the person controlling a virtual world representation of themselves. Such virtual world representations shall be referred to as ‘avatars’, in lower case.”
“It is recognized that an avatar, being the digital representation of a Person, acts in the same fashion as that Person’s body does, it being the material representation of that Person.”
“In this regard, every Avatar shall be accorded similar rights and protections for their avatar as they do for they body.”
This next section would be about the legal necessities, including privacy and intellectual property rights.
“Excelsior Station and every Avatar shall comply with the Legislation, Statutes and Regulations of the Province of British Columbia, Canada in so far as they pertain to the operation, maintenance, access and use of Excelsior Station and its services.”
”Information about any and all Avatars that is collected by Excelsior Station is held in trust by Excelsior Station. That information is not available to anyone without the expressed and informed consent of the Avatar or by lawful court order.”
”Excelsior Station provides the environment, tools and services to allow an Avatar to interact with and to modify that same environment. It is recognized that it is the Avatar that creates the content, not the tools or services. As such, content created by an Avatar, and the copyrights to that content, is owned by that Avatar.”
”Excelsior Station has no rights to copy content, except as part of necessary maintenance and security of data. Copies of content made by Excelsior Station are done so for the purpose of data recovery in the event of any data loss.”
Next would be terms that ensure that everyone has the right to speak their mind, to disagree with policies and decisions. Dispute resolution.
Well, like I said, its a lot of work. This is an opportunity to create an honest ToS, one that is community built. I hope to see lots of comments, good and bad, they are all worth it.