RLV, relay settings and consent

I'll start off by saying that, normally, I wouldn't get involved in inter-blog debates -- it's long been my experience (even before I discovered SL) that they can be a great source of drama and unfortunate falling-outs so, for the most part, I'll read them, formulate my own opinion of the subject and those involved and try and keep out of them.

But the subject I've seen crop up in a couple of places, and which I take to be all related, is close to my heart and one I've thought about a fair bit, on and off.

I just got thinking about it again after seeing this post on Forceme Silverspar's blog. I imagine I'm missing some of the background, but the points raised there are pretty self-contained and reasonably summarise the problem and one take on it.

I also imagine that, in part, it relates in some way to this post on the Brigadoon Station blog too.

My interest in the subject stems from three things. First, and foremost, is that I build and script in Second Life and the vast majority of the things I build and script make use of RLV. Second, I'm an avid user of RLV and have been since January 2010. Third, I'm the co-builder and co-owner of Shackles and Raven Park -- both those locations (the former a public space, the latter a private space mostly open to the public) contain many RLV devices, a minority of which are in trap mode (albeit the sort of trap mode where you have to get on or in first).

With all that in mind: to anyone that does read this I ask that you read it and comprehend it in the spirit it was written: a written record of my thoughts as I read the output of others.

Taking a broad view of the subject it does seem fair to see the issue of relay settings, and consent, as a simple dichotomy. On the one hand an open relay would seem to be implied, perhaps even implicit, consent to make use of the avatar wearing it (and goodness knows there's enough profiles that say as much). On the other hand there is the much finer view of "consent" that would demand that, even if a relay is open, anyone seeking to make use of the wearer should seek direct consent. Both views strike me as fair and genuine views that should be supportable by cogent arguments.

The Brigadoon Station blog post does make what appears to be a very compelling argument in favour of the latter view. An analogy is drawn between seeing an open relay as consent, with the view that (paraphrasing) "dressing like a slut means you're available for sex". After I first read that I thought it was a pretty good analogy that made a compelling argument. But I'm not so sure now.

Where I'm stuck with that analogy is this: while they do have a minority of other uses these days (although the main one -- outfit management -- is mostly taken care of by viewers these days), I think it's fair to say that RLV (the viewer and the API) was designed for, and is still intended for, giving up control to a third party (be it a scripted object or another avatar). The primary design goal and primary use is one of lost control.

For the analogy to hold, for it to remain as compelling and as seductive as it first seemed, it would require that I see some types of clothing in the same light. It would suggest, I think, that I have to buy into the idea that you can "dress like a slut", that you can dress to look like you're "asking for it" because some types of clothing are designed to do that. I'm struggling with that idea. If an avatar comes to me, with RLV active, wearing a relay, and with the relay open, I think it's fair of me to assume that they have that kind of setup in place because they want to enjoy the consequences such a setup implies.

That's not to say that, in a face-to-face situation, I wouldn't be reading their profile, looking for clues that they wish to be captured, generally interacting so as to be sure (actually, I wouldn't be doing any of that, being purely sub myself, but let's ignore that for now...). Of course I would. But I think it's safe to approach the situation from a "they're happy to enjoy the fruits of an open relay" point of view.

On the other hand... I'm not sure that a short dress was ever designed with getting raped in mind and, to make the analogy work, I think I'd have to take that very negative view of women (simply put: attire equals RLV+relay). I can't do that.

And so I'm stuck on that analogy now. I can see why it's seductive, I can see why it's compelling, it works at a superficial level. But, sadly, it appears to buy into the idea that "this clothing is designed to make you slutty".

Now, at the other end of the scale, I don't think it's fair for anyone to just assume that an open relay is an invitation to "play". I'd encourage anyone, when faced with another avatar sporting an open relay (and it's easy to find them, I even built a simple scanner myself), in a location/situation that isn't designed as, or advertised as, "open capture", to make a point of reading that person's profile and getting to know them, getting to know their wishes, ensuring that whatever they might have to offer the "victim" is what the "victim" is happy with.

That just makes sense.

There is, of course, the issue of unattended devices (which is what this mostly seems to be about). Communicating that an area has such devices is tricky at the best of times. I do think that a parcel owner has some duty of care to let anyone arriving on the plot know that such devices exist (I make this clear in the Shackles rules, for example), but it's equally true, if not more so, that an avatar wandering onto a private plot, has a duty to themselves to make sure that they're welcome there, that they're complying with the wishes of the owner and that they are sure about what sort of devices might be active on the plot.

Mostly, though, when it comes to wandering around the BDSM world in Second Life, my instinct seems to sit mostly at the "don't make your relay open if you don't want to suffer the consequences" end of the spectrum. Not because I think an open relay is the same as clothing that indicates that you're "asking for it" (as I say above, that analogy only seems to work if you have a very negative view of women), but because an open relay is designed, from the start, to respond to other devices that are looking for it.

If a real world analogy is needed, I think it's more akin to this: most relays have degrees of openness. You can set them to off, you can set them so they ask you about every request, you can set them so they always "just work" if the owner of an object is the owner of the land, or they can sometimes be set in a "playful" mode (the latter asking permission for any "binding" restriction but just accepting a fleeting restriction -- the latter being things like stripping or force TPing). Simply put, you have control over what requests from the world around you get through.

The best analogy here then would seem to me to be how safe you want to be when you have sex. If you're being very promiscuous you probably want to be using the maximum amount of protection possible. If you have a fairly stable relationship, or set of relationships, you might decide that you need to be less protected (and, hopefully, you do all the sensible checks and you understand all the risks involved). If you're in a single long-term committed relationship you might throw caution to the wind and use no protection -- again fully understanding the risks, doing on the sensible checks, and fully accepting the consequences of any bad choices.

With that analogy nobody is absolving the other party if you catch something nasty, but neither can you claim that you're without blame.

And so it can be said to be the same with relays. It is vital that you understand the consequences of your choices and, while nobody should absolve anyone abusing your choice of setting, you have tools at your disposal to ensure that you are safe and your time in SL is spent safely.

Of course, analogies almost never help to further an argument, so it's best not to read too much into them and, instead, concentrate on the actual issue being explored.

Before I finish off here (sorry, this has rambled a little hasn't it?), having read all of the above, I wonder what you, the reader, think my response to the following situation, which happened just a couple of days ago, should have been.

Funnily enough it involves Brigadoon Station. Because I rent a spot there for a vendor board for some of our products I'm in the group associated with the land. A day or so ago the owner of the group sent out an object as an attachment. I copied the object to my inventory. I rezzed it in world. Initially it was set for sale (to myself, of course, given I was now the owner) so, because it was mod, I unset that. I then noticed it had touch active. So I touched it...

...and without warning, without being asked for my consent, I was teleported to a location on the Freedom Continent. I smirked and teleported back home.

Should I feel violated because my consent wasn't sought before the TP was done? Or should I, as I did at the time, accept that a device caught me in exactly the way I permit via my relay?


Lazy eye?

I'm working on an animation and, after a test of it (non-upload preview of it in Phoenix) my eyes seem to have gone a bit Thom Yorke!

Seems the blink animation has stopped and one eye got caught mid-blink, or something. Might have to build myself a bowl of water!

WEB-4125 causing permission information to be dropped?

I've had a few issues with my marketplace listings since the announcement of WEB-4152. Nothing too serious, I just noticed that the names of some listings had gone a little wrong. With some of the Z&A products I carry (and don't even get me started on how two avatars can't combine their marketplace listings to create a single store) the boxes are named "Product Name (Boxed)" and I change the name in the listing itself to show "Product Name" -- nothing clever, just neat and tidy. With WEB-4152 hitting I found that some of those names reverted to the pre-edit version.

Today though, I noticed an extra annoyance. It seems that the permissions information on many (but not all) of my listings had been lost. It also seems to have been on those where the name had "rolled back". So I had to go and check the permissions again.

As a shopper there's nothing I find more frustrating than finding a listing on the marketplace that gives no clue as to the permissions, so I was a little horrified to find that, through no fault of my own, I was now one of those vendors.


Linden Labs own all the things?

First off, let me just say IANAL. Not even close, and I don't even try and play one on the Internet, or even in Second Life. But I tend to be curious and I do read. So...

While I was working on a build today I had half an eye on a discussion that was taking place in the group associated with the Little Blue and Fermi sandboxes. The discussion was wandering about a bit but mostly seemed to be relating to which alternative grid was best and why the alternative grids are better than Second Life (or not).

I didn't pay too much attention to it. Second Life works for me at the moment and I generally can't be bothered with holy wars.

However, one comment, that was chalked up as something against Second Life, was that Linden Labs own everything you create. That caught my attention and caused me to raise an eyebrow. I watched the debate evolve a little and saw a couple of people chime in that this was, indeed, a fact. One person said that it was "like university where anything you create in the lab belongs to them" (I'm ignoring how true, or not, that is, or how parochial it probably is too). Another claimed that if something lives on their servers they own it. Yet another claimed that this was indeed true and that "it's called Possession is 9/10ths of the law".

Everyone making these claims seemed very sure of what they were saying, yet none of them were backing any of it up with citable sources (a common problem in SL in my experience). And, yet, it would be so easy to be sure, wouldn't it?

So I went to the obvious place: I went to check what Linden Labs assert. It's not hard to find, you need only look at section 7 of the terms of service. And what's the first thing we see there? Do we see Linden Labs say "all your works are belong to us"? Erm... not quite:
You retain any and all Intellectual Property Rights you already hold under applicable law in Content you upload, publish, and submit to or through the Servers, Websites, and other areas of the Service, subject to the rights, licenses, and other terms of this Agreement, including any underlying rights of other users or Linden Lab in Content that you may use or modify.
What follows is, of course, the usual requests that I extend Linden Labs a licence to distribute my works. That's fair enough. They'd have a devil of a time getting what I create down to your viewer, or onto various servers, if I didn't allow them to distribute copies of my work.

And, of course, there's potentially a lot of debate to be had about the possible scope for interpretation of the rights they request (this has been a common feature of people's readings of the ToS of various photo-hosting and sharing websites, for example), but that's a different issue.

I raised this in the group chat. I pointed to the ToS. I pointed out that Linden Labs, far from claiming to own everything you make, make a point of asserting that you own it and then go on to request a licence from you that you can only grant if you own the works in the first place. Nobody seemed convinced. Not even by Linden Labs' own words. One person just made their claim again, another brushed it all aside as it being just my opinion (presumably I formulated my opinion and then hacked LL's ToS to have it fit?).

Of course, in practice, it's not all quite that simple. Given the nature of Second Life your works mix with my works (sometimes actually linked together, or embedded in my work, etc...) and a lot of things that get created end up being derivative works with no clear single owner. But, again, I see that as a side issue. The claim was made that by the very nature of your work being on Linden Labs' own machines, they own the work and you don't. I think it's fair to say that that claim isn't true at all.

Even Linden Labs don't appear to believe that.


I don't normally cross-dress...

...but when I do there's obviously some sort of Time Warp involved.

And, yes, that is Miss Vila. Yes she did go blond.

In the background you can see a build I quickly did leading up to the dance.

Can't help thinking of a great quote from Spaced though (from Gatherings):
Mike: Wanna go back into your party?
Tim: But they were playing 'The Time Warp'! I hate 'The Time Warp'!
Mike: Daisy likes it.
Tim: I don't care! I hate it! It's boil-in-the-bag perversion for sexually repressed accountants and first-year drama students with too many posters of Betty Blue, The Blues Brothers, Big Blue and Blue Velvet on their blue bloody walls!
For what it's worth, I'm not sexually repressed. I'm not an accountant. And I'm very much not a first-year drama student. Still love The Time Warp though. :-)


Grid Status Notifier

If there's one constant source of vague annoyance in Second Life (okay, there isn't one, there's many more than one) it's the inability of other residents to check with the resources provided when there's a problem. While Linden Labs might not always update the grid status as a priority, it generally alerts people to upcoming planned outages (as does do the rather useful calendar feeds they provide -- subscribe to it in your calendar software of choice and you'll never be surprised by a planned rolling restart again). So it's always a little annoying (but not surprising) to see people asking why some sim is missing, or why it's restarting, etc..., when the grid status clearly says what's going on.

Of course, sometimes, problems hit out of the blue, they aren't planned, and, again, that's where the grid status comes in. If you're running a sim, or a store, or an event (dance, hunt, etc...), knowing about these issues as soon as possible can be very handy. While I personally try and keep on top of things by subscribing to the RSS feed of the grid status I'm seldom paying attention to my feed reader when I'm in-world.

That needs an in-world solution. What follows is what I'm now using. I can't and won't claim this as an original idea, the code is based on code by Dermot Core/DigitaL Scribe, but that code didn't work quite how I wanted so I re-wrote it from scratch (as much for fun as anything) and made it work "just so". I'm sharing what I wrote in the same way.

Just rez a prim, drop this in, and you're good to go. When it first loads it'll IM you the current status. Any time the latest status changes (either because it's a new status, or because it's been modified) it'll IM you it. This check is done every 5mins. Also, if anyone touches the prim the script is in, the current status is spoken in local chat.


The cake is a lie

Random find on the marketplace. This makes me happy. I wonder if I can set up a sentry bot to catch Zardia out in the workshop...


As the crow flies...

This one crops up every time Z&A are taking part in a hunt, and I was reminded of the problem again this weekend as The Femdom Hunt kicked off... the need to quickly measure the distance between two or more points on a sim (for those who don't know: many hunts, including The Femdom Hunt, have a rule where the hunt object has to be within 30m of the hunt sign or the end of a hunt path).

There's all sorts of tools and tricks (I often use the one of having Zardia stand with the gift, I'll stand at the sign, and we'll check how far apart we are on the Phoenix radar) but I decided to knock up a quick script for my own use next time.

If it's of help to anyone else: Z&A As the Crow Flies.


Not long now...

...until The Femdom Hunt II kicks off.

And that's not the only thing happening. There's something else about to happen at Z&A...


Last Login Tracker

I wrote this one a little earlier this year when some friends were having problems with their internet connection. They run a bot and that bot's online/offline status was a good indication as to how long it was since they'd lost their connection.

To use it, make a prim and drop this script in. Also drop in a notecard called Keys which has the UUID (one per line) of the avatars you want to track.

Note that the time is always recorded and displayed in UTC. Converting that to your local time is left as an exercise for the reader. ;-)

No such thing as too much testing

I was right to be nervous as well as excited. Even though I'd tested "everything" I felt the need to do one more set of tests on the thing I'm working on right now and, sure enough, I uncovered a really simple error. Simple in that it was easy to find under the right circumstance and simple in that the cause was obvious and it was easy to fix. It was just one simple thing I'd left out, forgotten about.

And now it's all fixed.

And, of course, now that everything is tested I'll be doing one more set of tests.

And I'll still be nervous.

Making stuff is such fun.


Nervous and Excited

I'm rather nervous and excited about this week. There's a fair bit going on. The main thing, of course, is that The Femdom Hunt II kicks off this Friday. The first hunt was a massive success, it turned into a much bigger even than we'd hoped for or dared imagine. Following that up is a little daunting. Will it end up being smaller? The same? Bigger? Does it even matter?

What I do know is that the builds I've seen so far from vendors look great. I've already seen some that I can't wait to get my hands on.

And then there's our build, the Z&A build (we're also doing a Shackles build too, of course). The thing we've made is quite a departure for us and it's something we've been working on quite hard for the past couple of weeks -- I've been in a scripting frenzy since late on last month. It started as a crude experiment and has ended up, not only with our hunt gift, but also a new line of products.

Which, all being well, we'll be launching at the end of this week too. (Shhhh! You didn't hear that from me).

And that's why I'm nervous. Releasing a new product, a new body of code, to our customers... always a big deal for me. I want to get it right, I want people to enjoy the work, I want them to have fun, and I want it to work well for them.

I'm sure it will. We've been testing as much as we can. But, still...

Okay, I'll stop waffling now. :-)


Organisation Fetish

I drive Zardia crazy with this sort of thing, but I can't resist. It's time to get the hunt objects ready for The Femdom Hunt II. Bring on the super-organised build platform!