Saturday, 30 July 2011

SpotON3d to Patent Open Sim in a Browser!

SpotON3d has released a browser plug-in that enables you to enter fully functional Open Sim virtual worlds including the ability to build and create content. This puts it ahead of the competition by a long margin. Up until now it looked like Unity was going to dominate the browser plug-in market for the 3d web but Mesh-enabled Unity3d requires content to be created in advance and downloaded. No one has yet been able to enable the Second Life building functions. I took a look at the SpotON3d browser plug-in after reading about it on Hypergrid Business and I was truly amazed how well it performed. I could even tab to other web pages and back while the viewer continued to function just fine.

Gaga arrives at the Welcome sim at SpotON3d grid


I went to the SpotOn3d web site here, signed up with my avatar name, Gaga Gracious and selected a starter avatar. After downloading the plug-in I was into to the Welcome sim, politely greeted and given some Landmarks. I took off to the freebie store and did some shopping which, I discovered all happens on a web page which comes up inside the viewer window where I could click to get what I wanted. I did a skin change and dressed in a new outfit then set off to explore. The source of the viewer is Hippo which is pretty light but tacked onto the side like SL viewer 2 are a bunch of buttons that open a side window for various purposes including managing account, Land Store, Help and Web Sales. It was not my preferred way because I dislike Viewer 2 but the important thing was this all worked seamlessly and in a browser.

Dancing at Club54
So, I took a trip (I did crash a few times on the SpotON3D grid) and eventually ended up dancing out of boredom at Club54. I never came across another avatar on my travels after leaving the Welcome sim. However, this plug-in could change all that because, for the casual web surfer, this was really quite easy and, unlike Kitely where you still have to download a full viewer separately, with this you don't. The plug-in download is pretty small but bigger than the Kitely plug-in and, once installed, opens up a browser page where you can register a name and chose your avatar. Once you have clicked the verification link sent to your email address then you can simply return to the login page at the browser and the fully functional viewer is activated. You just login and away you go.



Gaga is a hopeless flirt but she dose find time to sail,
build, script and make stuff. This is all
on OSgrid and Gaga demonstrates the browser
can handle building just fine.
I was pretty amazed by it and, though it did seem a little slow, it really was not that bad. I was able to rez a prim to edit, change clothes and appearance fine. Everything basically worked. Finally, I logged out rather than quit the screen and was presented with a SpotON3d splash screen and, at the bottom, all the buttons expected on a Hippo viewer including the grid list. Of course, I entered the addresses for a number of grids including OSgrid and both my Open Sim and Aurora grids. OSgrid was fine and so was my own Open Sim grid. I could login to them and everything functioned just the same as if I had opened a full viewer. I was able to log into my Aurora grid too but, Aurora having advanced features like variable sim sizes met with problems. On a standard region all went well though so, presently, the browser plug-in is good for SpotON3d obviously, and other Open Sim grids but there would need to be a new version for Aurora that handles it. But that is true for most current viewers too because only Imprudence and Astra are designed to enable the features of Aurora. Anyway, I logged into Nova grid which is Aurora-based and everything was just peachy. See some of the pictures. I could even use all the top menus and even change environment settings through all states from sunrise to sunset and night.

Arriving on Aurora-based Nova grid



Environment settings
Sunset
I am not sure but it might not be possible for anyone else to develop this for others grids since SpotON3d appear to be seeking a patent. The developers are using open source code in the form of the Hippo viewer which is actually downloaded to your PC as part of the plug-in package and then the viewer is launched inside a web page using a browser plug-in built on the FireBreath open source toolkit for creating cross-browser plug-ins. I actually know very little about SpotON3d other than they have something going with the Phoenix viewer developers which I noted don't offer any other grid addresses in their grid list besides Second Life and SpotOn3D. What I do know is that they run a large proprietary grid and host other grids too. They have their own vendor system and deliveries can be made to any grid on their servers but not outside their network. They also offer a cloud service for running events where a heavy load is expected for short periods. What I get from SpotON3D is that they appear to be separating their grid services from the rest of the open Metaverse and I don't just mean a single proprietary grid like Avination or InWorldz. I mean they are the provider of multiple grids and asset services within a single all-embracing network which they claim to be a 3d web.

Arriving at Second Life
A row has already broken out about the patenting of the plug-in where it has been pointed out that the technology is not new and was invented by a small start-up company called InDuality backed by IBM around four years ago. Since then others have used plug-ins for browsers to launch other versions including Unity3d-based worlds. The CEO of Kitely Virtual, Ilan Tochner has been particularly vocal on the blog network and has asked for the patent number under which it has been filed but so-far that has not been given. Patents and copyright issues have always been seen as threat to the open Metaverse where any one company could effectively shut off the open source development projects if they patent something that no one is able to find away around. The owners of any such patent could end up monopolizing the 3d web and impose their terms for licensing that would, of course, prevent other companies and none-profit concerns from offering competing alternatives.

Gaga in another avatar enjoys a touch of eastern promise and sailing with pirates on the Barbary Coast

With all that said however, a plug-in for launching a viewer in a web browser wont of itself prevent continued development of Open Sim or Aurora or, in deed, the third party viewers since all that is being shut off without seeking a licence from SpotON3D is one particular means to deliver the virtual experience, albeit potentially a powerful one. Kitely is probably SpotON3d's nearest rival in all this since Kitely has built it's business model on delivering cloud-based Open sim worlds to the public and it stands to reason they might be in the process of coding a similar solution. But, in any event, I have no doubt that the ability to seamlessly experience virtual worlds in a browser has the potential to vastly increase adoption and it would be a bitter blow to all those coders dedicating their time and effort for free to bring about an open Metaverse only to have one company that, in this particular case, has contributed nothing back monopolize an important part of it. Kitely do, at least, contribute code back to Open Sim and are not seeking patents that might do damage. They also actively respond to feedback where SpotON3D, as far as I can see, appear to be entrenched in there own plans rather like Linden Labs of Second Life.

With friends in a UFO, Gaga enjoys Sci-Fi too!
Kitely have shown how virtual worlds can be delivered easily and cheaply to the netizens who enjoy virtual worlds for escapist pursuets in role play, gaming and social interaction. Creativity is at the heart of much of what the open Metaverse is about. SpotON3D has developed yet another useful tool for delivering the virtual experience effectively and easily to this growing market. There is room for everyone to profit by developing technology and services but it would be a rum deal to take what the community has given freely and patent something that would turn it into a monopoly for one company. Deva Canto, inventor of Hypergrid, warned about this over a year ago here and I picked up on it in my article first published on Chapter & Metaverse blog, "Free Metaverse vs Patented Monopoly" then re-printed it here. In this case there is no real threat to Open Sim development in itself but the implications are abundantly clear. There is a clear and serious threat to the development of a free and open Metaverse if a patent like the one sought by SpotON3D succeeds. Others are likely to follow.


61 comments:

  1. Hi Gaga,

    SpotOn3D can't patent OpenSim in a browser as there is already existing prior art for virtual worlds running as a browser plugin.

    For example, as you've stated, Pelican Studios, an IBM-backed startup no longer in business, had created inDuality, which embedded a SL viewer inside a browser, way back in 2007. See: http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2007/10/viewing-induali.html

    What SpotOn3D can TRY to patent are particular implementations that do not have prior art and are not "obvious to a person of the art". The implementation option I provided on Hypergrid Business ( http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/07/spoton3d-releases-browser-plugin-for-opensim/ ) was designed by me in 15 seconds without knowledge of how SpotOn3D's plugin works (they don't share that code) and without seeing any supposedly existing patent application of theirs (they have yet to provide us with the application number of the patent they claim to have filed). This means that this particular way of implementing a browser embedded virtual world viewer plugin should not qualify for a patent as it is obvious to a software developer who has no knowledge of their particular implementation.

    The problem is that patent reviewers only spend an average of about 20 hours per patent and thus may not be informed of all prior art or know that this is "obvious to a person of the art". The way to get around this is to find out who is reviewing said patent application and notify him or her about the existing prior art and published implementation details that were created without knowledge of the content of SpotOn3d's supposed patent application or the mechanics of the solution they are supposedly trying to patent.

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  2. This is not a particularly novel idea nor is the implementation very complicated. On top of that the legalities of using GPL licensed code in this way are questionable and highly dependent on the method used for interaction between the plugin and the GPL licensed viewer code.

    I really don't think you'd see spoton go after other companies only to have their own use of the viewer code questioned and scrutinized.

    As you've already stated "virtual world in a browser" has already been done and as such has demonstrated prior work. The method used by spoton can be replicated by available open source technology, so I'm really not sure how far a patent could go without being thrown out entirely.

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  3. There are many suggestions of patents but that does not mean they can be granted with things which are clearly commonplace and in widespread use already. Embedded apps in a web page are very common, with a wide range of open source and proprietary libraries to assist in doing that as SpotOn3D have used.

    US though does tend to be more lax with initial granting of such patents which gives the lawyers a bit more to do:-)

    Companies can and should though provide proprietary solutions which are better and more convenient to use, and hence make their money on the back of the open source community that way. Not try a patenting route. Hopefully those who benefit from the efforts of the open source communities will also, where appropriate, also contribute back for the general good.

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  4. Hi Gaga,

    As stated in a similar comment I made in the Hypergrid Business site, the following is my free speech expression of my own personal belief:

    It is my personal belief that people who wish to see an open-source based metaverse emerge should, when possible, prefer spending money on services provided by people and organizations that contribute at least some of their improvements back to the open source community. Legality aside, keeping all self-developed improvements to OpenSim and/or the SL viewer proprietary or trying to prevent open source solutions from being developed using vague patent threats does not merit financial support in my opinion.

    Every company has its shareholders best interests to take care off but if we all keep our improvements to ourselves then there won't be an open-source metaverse and one proprietary solution or another will eventually win and be able to force its Terms of Service on us all.

    We at Kitely have chosen to place our bet on people acting together to serve their long term best interest and, as you've correctly stated in your article, have given back all the improvements we've made to OpenSim so far. We're also trying to organize a community effort to get a real open-source browser-based no-plugin virtual world viewer created ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t2s47TAiI4 ). If people want to convince other companies that it is in their shareholders best interest to work with the community and contribute their improvements as well then they can vote with their wallets to convince them.

    If people prefer to ignore this in order to get some attractive features that only a closed-source provider currently has then they shouldn't be surprised when they get locked in because no one is left contributing to the public open-source codebase and the open alternatives cease to exist.

    Again, this is my own personal belief and not a call to boycott anyone.

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  5. Hi Tranquillity

    I think you are absolutely right. Once legal minds get their heads round this patent, which is pending, then there is a wealth of evidence to show they did nothing new and it wont hold up. Thank you for your comment.

    Hi Ai

    Yes, that which is given to the community from people that spend long hours doing the work for no more reward than the satisfaction of seing their work take form belongs to the community - morally at least. There is nothing wrong with creating apps on top of the technology by which to profit but they should stop and think carefully before seeking a patent. I doubt it will succeed in this case but I might be wrong. I hope not. Thank you for commenting.

    Gaga

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  6. Hey GaGa ... just FYI ... just because its patent pending doesn't mean the community can't use it, as you saw yourself. *smiles* Should not inhibit anyone's grid from being accessed with it so the community as a whole can have this functionality to TP around the Metaverse at will - something we've been promoting for years BTW, but not seen a lot of interest from the other grids out there. We are though finally seeing some and hope we'll be able to share the results with everyone.

    It should be noted that the SpotON3D viewer is not a registered 3rd Party Viewer for SL, but does comply to LL's 3PV rules on permissions and such. So use it with care. LL could block it from gaining access and we'd have no control over that. Just FYI.

    We have a great relationship with the Phoenix folks and hope to offer many more options to the community and the Opensim platform.

    We do contribute back to Opensim as we can, but we are blocked from contributing code, due to the fact that all our core coders reguarly view and work on client code. This means we're not allowed to give back any code because of the disparate licensing rules between OpenSim's BSD and LL's GPL. We'd not want to be the ones to force the Opensim project into GPL status by abusing those rules. Plus, most of what we've done is bespoke to SpotON3D's platform in such a way that the other grids seriously have no interest in following in our footsteps up till now.

    I hope that clears up any misconceptions and rumours about SpotON3D and if you or any of your readers have other questions, I'd be happy to answer them for you via email (tessa@spoton3d.com) or at our SpotON3D Office Hours and GridWrap shows archived on the http://MetaMixTV.com station. Anyone can also attend in person and ask their questions at the end of the shows. Just check out our blog at http://spoton3d.blogspot.com for times and dates.

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  7. My Apologies to Sammy and Tessa of SpotON3d for you comments not showing. I should have checked the spam folder sooner. Actually, I don't really know why those comments didn't show because Ilan of Kitely has posted before and his didn't show either.

    It's crazy!

    I found Sammy's comment on another blog post so I will re-print it here for him...

    Shammy said...

    Just wanted to clear up some slight inaccuracies - nothing major mind you and an excellent and pretty fair and balanced blogging Gaga! Ty!
    GAGA SAID:
    "I actually know very little about SpotON3d other than they have something going with the Phoenix viewer developers which I noted don't offer any other grid addresses in their grid list besides Second Life and SpotOn3D."

    SpotON3D has a partnership with the Phoenix Viewer folks as part of their platform security and to ensure that those who need a V1 experience will have that option through SpotON3D's platform.

    Why? For one, SL is an ultimate sexy, edgy creator's sandbox and community with a great bunch of users to help test it and push it to it limits. But, as one knows, this can mean volatile management decisions affecting functionality and pricing.

    In comparison, SpotON3D is a production platform designed to be as stable and secure as possible and meet Web 2.0 standards and better. set out iin Web 2.0 , with a floating economy and marketplace that can be extended to most other compatible platforms, The goals is to create the foundation for Web Worlds, with Universal Registration, Avatars and Inventory and the ability to legally replicate inventories to trusted grids via SpotON3D's Double Dutch Delivery system (http://spotonsynergy.com)

    These are ambitious goals that they've been working towards for about 18 months and require a very stable and production level functional and security that closely matches Web 2.0 goals. One of the ways they do this is to limit access to unapproved clients.

    What I do know is that they run a large proprietary grid and host other grids too. They have their own vendor system and deliveries can be made to any grid on their servers but not outside their network.

    END COMMENT--------------------------

    Hi Sammy

    Thank you for clearing up some things and yes, I admitted I didn't know a lot about SpotON3d and my visit to their grid was my first time there. I actually liked it quite a lot. I did like the vendor system especially. Just a petty this can't be extended to other grids on the rest of the Metaverse.

    I am a passionate believer in a free and open Metaverse but I am certainly not against people building their business on it. I can be skeptical too but I will always try to see the other point of view and trouble to find out more. and give credit where I think it is due.

    I have been hard on Kitely and InWorldz in the past but, at the end of the day, I am a netizen and I want the best for myself and my fellow travellers. Both Kitely and InWorldz have been willing to talk to me and show me how they are working to deliver a better experience for us all so credit where it is due.

    Thank you Sammy

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  8. Hi Tessa,

    As you copy/pasted your comment from New World Notes I will copy/paste my reply as well.

    I was involved in writing a few patent applications in my youth, you can check my LinkedIn profile to see some of them mentioned. I'm quite aware of the fact that a provisional patent does nothing more than set the scope of the claims and the date of filing. However, you claiming that the community can use an application that might embody what you are attempting to patent does not remove the threat of you requiring future royalties if your patent is ever granted from people in the open source community who re-implement what your provisional patent covers.

    The practice of getting other people to implement something for which you have patents pending without specifying what those patents cover has a name. Those patents are called submarine patents, "companies making use of submarine patents are sometimes referred to as patent pirates": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_patent

    SpotOn3D trying to ease the worries of the open source community while knowingly trying to patent the implementation they will likely use shows bad faith on your part. If you continue to pursue a patent for something for which there is an abundance of prior art and is obvious to someone of the art you should not be allowed to hide behind pretty words.

    You are trying to divert people's attention from what you are doing and that is very unsupportive of both the open source community and the virtual world community as a whole.

    Regarding not being able to contribute back to OpenSim, you can't use that excuse any more. The 6 month contribution barrier no longer exists for those who follow the required steps: http://justincc.org/blog/2011/06/30/announcing-the-overte-foundation-for-opensimulator/

    If you use code that Kitely and/or other for-profit grid providers contributed to OpenSim do you think it promotes the vision of an open metaverse to keep all your code to yourself?

    I'm not saying you have to give back all your proprietary OpenSim code, I'm saying that if you wish to claim you support the open source community you should give back some of your improvements. Don't just be a taker, be a giver as well.

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  9. Hi Tessa

    Thank you for commenting and shedding more light on the issues raised in my blog post. As I said to Sammy. I enjoyed my visit to Spoton grid and the person who greeted me was helpful and polite. It's the kind of greeting I would get from InWorldz and though it is a small point that first contact can say a lot about grid in general.

    Regarding the patent issue it has certainly sent a shock wave through the open source community which rather over shadows just how good and useful the browser-based viewer is. In fact I think I tested it to destruction for more than four hours continues use. I visited more grids than I mentioned and it worked fine everywhere and yes, I even took myself off to SecondLife without considering it might not be TPV compliant. I'm glad you said you are happy for anyone to use it to travel the Metaverse because it did cross my mind you might feel this was an abuse of it's intended use so that clears that up. Thank you.

    I did say SpotON3d dose not contribute back to the Open Sim core but, in view of what you said now, I apologize. I should have noted that you might not be able to given the licensing issue with Open Sim. Anyway, that said, now the Open Sim developers have put the project under a foundation I urge you to try again. Similarly, I hope you will open a dialogue with the Aurora team as they are making important advances in key areas of Open Sim server code, particularly in security. I should definitely like to see the Astra viewer of Imprudence used in the browser *smiles* I really wanted to experience my massive var-region which is 256 standard regions in one simulator instance!

    I will return to Spoton grid soon. I do want to know more and I might well do a more detailed review of the grid and your systems as time allows. I will probably email with some questions too.

    Now, I guess I should add SpotON3d to my Metaverse grid list on the links above. Somehow I blinked and missed it.

    Gaga

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  10. Hi Gaga,

    You are a kind and forgiving soul but if an open metaverse advocate such as yourself is willing to forgive people who try to claim pieces of that future using "patent pending world wide" and "capitalize on patent assets" once they can (as stated by SpotOn3D's investor on the New World Notes site) then what is to stop other companies from trying to do the same?

    How does this patent war going to help the shared dream when developers need to compete on their ability to pay patent lawyers instead of their ability to improve software?

    If even the open metaverse advocates are willing to forgive people who act against the community's best interests by making patent threats and keeping all their code improvements to themselves then no sane company will continue to contribute to the shared open source codebase.

    Why should Kitely reduce its competitive advantage by continuing to give back the improvements we make to OpenSim if not doing this holds no financial or marketing disadvantage? Why should any company share the fruits of its time/money investments to improve OpenSim if they are just going to be used by other companies that spend their own resources to improve their own competitive advantage without giving anything back?

    There is nothing wrong with people using OpenSim to make money or keeping some of their improvements to themselves, but if we let companies get away with trying to patent pieces of the future and not giving some of their code back to the community then there won't be an open metaverse future.

    If we don't take a stance as a community then there will just be a future controlled by a few proprietary solution providers. We've seen how this worked in other industries, are you really willing to let virtual worlds follow the same path just because some company lets you use some new shiny proprietary feature (while working to legally prevent others from implementing it themselves without paying patent royalties)?

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  11. Gaga ... We've definitely noticed the Aurora team's efforts and applaud them. They've made some innovative progress on their fork off and we welcome any communication from them via tessa@spoton3d.com.

    Imprudence ... Love the client, but we do have a commitment to help keep the Phoenix client up to date and working with SpotON3D. To make our web worlds more secure we limit the clients that can gain access to the main grid. This is a big job and as much as I'd like to add Imprudence to the list, its simply not possible to take on yet another viewer.

    And .... well LOL Morgaine? If you're reading this, you know I luv your little furry self, and so respect your extreme coding talents .... Buuuutttt! boo boo! If you're readiing this you know we'd be debating all night and I can barely get a bath in every day *sniff sniff* ok ok .... every other day with the schedule I'm on.((Hugs))


    As to the foundation status, Gaga ... The rules still apply that people who submit to the truck code of opensim can't have viewed the GPL client code for at lest 6 months. Our core coders are dual talented, and are in both the server and client code constantly, as we roll out code very quickly - 41 major milestones in 24 months. Therefore, it truly is impossible for us to contribute back any code without putting the whole opensim project in jeopardy. Its just the nature of the beast.

    I personally won't chance ruining submitting code we're cleearly not legally able to and ruining this opportunity for 1000's of other artists,coders and community users out there that have yet to discover us to appease a few folks in the bleachers who just happen to also be peers with their own offerings -
    Which ... BTW we applaud! *-)

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  12. Gaga - Here are some other reasons why we can't give back code even if the 6 month rule wasn't in play -

    1. The way we've set up our Universal Registraton, Avatars and Inventory, economy and marketplace is completely incompatiable with opensim. Its designed to float on top of everything to ensure we can expand our marketplace and economy to other trusted grids outside our server network system using Double Dutch Delivery, our multi-grid auto selling system but as you can imagine its required major changes that had to be supported by code running on other servers. Its a wicked web and it just would not be fically sound to hand over 300K worth of invested code to that reaches well beyond the confines of the opensim platform.

    2. We have a very strong stance on content protection and have implemented different security systems throughout our platfomr to ensure our web worlds are more secure, stable and dependable for our audience and creators. This isn't popular at all with many open sim coders or users. I've been flamed the groups and online for our tough stance on these things and have to worry that exposing code not central to the trunk to make it work on someone elses system could also leave us very vulernable. Its jsut not the responsible thing to do when one is working on a for profit project.

    3. Some have suggested we should submit all our code through a 3rd party, but as you might imagine, that would not be legal and certainly not in the spirit of the law of open source rules. Those who would have someone else submit code for them ... well I'm not willing to put all our futures with the opensim code at risk.

    4. SpotON3D has serious concerns about the security, privacy and proxy copybotting issues of Hypergridding. To give you a idea of why we're so worried about this, lets imagine you went to a web site and found out the owner could look through your inventory and take copies of pictures, documents, email addresses and more - All without your knowledge or consent. Would you be ok with that? This is exactly the security and privacy and PIRACY issues we have with Hypergrid annd why creators can't bring their items into the market.

    Here is the link to check it out yourself. http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Hypergrid_Inventory_Access

    5. We are a for profit project with over 300K invested and we do have bills to be paid and people to pay - 12 paid developers, plus a bunch more volunteers. Call me crazy, but I've always though it was my job to keep as many creatives in our community working as much as I could so we'd not lose them as a community. NO ONE is being paid what they should make - even me, but it still adds up.

    6. In the end its gotta at least pay for itself and pay back Stevan for being such a brave man and investing in our hair brained ideas for the 3D Web. But the purpose and reason we did this is make it possible for artisans like oursel ya'll to expand their businesses to an audience with the potential to bring in millions of new users not only to SpotON3D, but the whole community including SL's wonderful sexy cutting edge artist sandbox grid.

    And lastly .... Gaga ((hugs)) thanks so much for the feedback and giving us the opportunity to set some these few things straight. You Rock! I know that some of this isn't always fun, but we're having to grow up and change as a community. Its time to take our virtual interests more seriously I think.

    tessa kinney-johnson/coo-cofound with ceo/legal counsel/angel investor, Stevan Lieberman

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  13. Hi Tessa and Ilan

    I think perhaps the links in your posts are part of the reason the spam filter is stopping the posts you make. Unfortunately I can find no way to adjust it even though I accepted your posts. I will try to stay on top of this debate but I had to get some sleep * sorry.

    I did answer Tessa and sammy before my eyes closed and I wanted to answer Ilan and I will read through everything today and answer all the latest comments.

    Thank you all so much.

    Gaga

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  14. Hi Tessa and Stevan,

    Oren Hurvitz, my co-founder, and myself have been working on Kitely since October 2008 without getting any financial compensation or external funding. Let me repeat: I've been working on Kitely full time with a wife and baby son to support without getting paid to create Kitely. Oren had spent all his free time until April this year, 30/40 hours a week after work, during all his vacation time, while working full time at another job to build Kitely. 3 days after our beta began he gave notice at his job and is now working full time on Kitely as well, again without pay. We are just two guys, who are not rich and need a salary, and yet we've given all the improvements we've made to OpenSim back to the community.

    Saying you are a for-profit company that has gotten an investment does not clear you from the need to at least give some of your improvements back as well. Not doing so means that you are taking advantage of our hard unpaid-for work and the work of many other developers who have either volunteered their time creating the software which your business is based on or have reduced some of their own companies' competitive advantages for the better good of the open metaverse.

    If we can contribute our OpenSim-specific proprietary code and risk the various effects that can have on our for-profit business then so can you. Everything you wrote about "community" is just re-framing the word community to mean your own customers instead of the general virtual worlds community that we and others are talking about and working for.

    Lastly, and most importantly, trying to scare people away from reimplementing what you just rolled out, without even having invented it, using vague patent threats is a big no-no and very unfriendly to the open source community that have freely let you build your business using the code they had spent time creating.

    You don't build a business on other people's code, add your own code without giving anything back then try to scare those same people from competing with you. That is simply not moral and you know it.

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  15. An ounce of technical development capability is not automatically an ounce of market delivery capability.

    Client-driven Education Grid requirements are the pivotal market delivery targets to meet for Grid Operators...

    Education Grid Requirements Specification
    http://mediagrid.org/groups/te​chnology/grid.ied/specificatio​n/index.html

    Why and How do these Grid Operators have a role in the market delivery compliance of client-driven Edu Grid requirements for the emerging Education Grid?

    Describe Target vrs Actual capability maturities...

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  16. Well, it's all very interesting for a person who has no idea about coding and stuff. I went to SpotON a while ago and I was unimpressed that I had to pay upfront to do a whole host of basic things...
    I couldn't change my skin: I needed to pay 3$ membership, which gives you the possibility of looking at skins (Mature Content.....in order to protect children) on the basis, according to Tessa that the old days of free access are over.
    Now, I understand that peoples wages have to be paid, but... paying 3$ for what is, everywhere else, a free service, is not gonna sit well with most people.
    This move by SpotON 3D does not surprise me at all. There will always be people like Mr Gates who see a business opportunity in free software and make a mint.... good luck to them. It does nothing to benefit the rest of the community, it is, let's face it, a cynically capitalist move. Let's call a spade a spade, a little honesty never goes amiss.
    I wish them luck, but I think that grabbing ever buck you can is not a good business model ..... but then, Bill Gates proves I'm wrong.

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  17. Hi Ilan

    I have taken time to consider my response to this issue so here it is...

    Regarding the patent issue I assure you I am not persuaded away from my opposition to it. I have read all you have had to say and, by and large, I agree with you. I don't have a legal mind in general and certainly not on patent and copyright law. Instinctively, I am apposed to any patent that could lead to monopoly interests turning the free Metaverse into a cash cow through licensing vital parts of it. I wont be changing my position on that even if I seem conciliatory towards SpotON3d.

    SpotON3d dose appear to have systems that are designed to service multiple grids under one roof - their roof. I understand the need to protect content and the interests of merchants by the walled garden approach for individual grids like Avination and InWorlds but I think SpotON3d are trying to take it to another level that goes beyond the proprietary grid model. Here I am talking about a proprietary Metaverse model that embraces grids rather than sims. Tessa has stated here that SpotON3d will not allow the use of other viewers than Phoenix and their own Hippo-based version which is another clue to where they are headed. Their vendor system is designed to service just those grids within their micro Metaverse. Tessa spoke of developing a universal avatar names system even. By seeking a patent on the browser plug-in it stands to reason they want to make it difficult for smaller grids to operate outside of their micro Metaverse in certain respects - in this case by controlling the use of an important part of the free Metaverse - the browser plug-in method, which is potentially a powerful application for gaining new residents.

    In my view there will only ever be a free and open Metaverse, or 3d web, when and if a secure form of Hypergrid has been achieved. Presumably, SpotON3d have their own plans to implement a form of Hypergrid within their micro Metaverse but with no way to teleport out to other grids in the free Metaverse.
    I am sure they will make the argument that this is the only way that a secure Hypergrid can happen but I would beg to differ since I know about alternatives such as the work of the Aurora team and ICW (Inter Worlds Connector) and the future possibility of Mesh Networking (see my blog article "Aurora Sim: a Mirror World").

    I am not going to dismiss SpotON3d out of hand. I need them to show me how I am wrong if they don't agree with my argument here. Tessa speaks of community building and I want to know how one goes about that with patents pending and work going on that appears to be heading towards a closed micro Metaverse controlled by one company. Building the community of a free and open Metaverse depends on breaking down barriers and building security systems that encourage confidence. Patenting vital parts of the open Metaverse simply puts up barriers.

    Finally, there is the question of prior art and there are enough examples to prove what SpotON3d has done with this plug-in for a viewer in a browser has been done before and I am confident their patent wont succeed. Certainly, I'm sure Ilan, if Kitely Virtual has anything to do with it then it will be vigorously opposed.

    Gaga

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  18. Hi SororNishi

    Well, I have to say there were no charges imposed on me when I used the browser viewer to visit SpotON3d grid in this instance but there are some big questions about where they are heading which I detailed in my reply to Ilan above.

    Thank you for your take on it *smiles*

    Gaga

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  20. Hi Gaga,

    I'm so happy to hear you are still a resolute open metaverse supporter. We need people like you to help us fight this trend of companies trying to monopolize innovation in uncompetitive ways.

    The existence of software patents is a travesty that forces companies to participate in a cold war of patent hoarding that restricts standardization and wastes people's resources on lawyers instead of developers. I believe software patents should be abolished and there are quite a few other people who share this view in the hi-tech industry (even people who are not open-source activists).

    Until this happens, it is up to the community to fight this trend by convincing the shareholders of companies that try to claim ideas as their own that it is against their best interest to do so. If we don't act then even people opposed to software patents will be forced to waste money on this ridiculous fight just to be able to compete.

    BTW, our company name is just "Kitely" while our slogan is "Virtual Worlds on Demand". :-)

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  21. I am little Confused Ilan

    So while in you’re opinion and in it seems you’re new found openness of free open software, Patents are not so great it did not stop you trying this Patent did it?

    http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PG01&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=%2220020090985%22.PGNR.&OS=DN/20020090985&RS=DN/20020090985

    So what is good for you is not good for others total hypocrite!

    And yes I’m against Patents to block others doing what they have always done for free, but people will try and I can not comment about Spoton3d’s patent application as I haven’t seen it so I will only comment on that if it comes to light or anywhere near acceptance for them.

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  22. Hi Lateral,

    Yes that was a patent I was the main inventor of in my first full time job back in 2000. I worked at a startup that had a patent-guy inhouse who taught me a lot about the patent process.

    The patent does not belong to me, it belongs to the company who bought the company who bought the startup I worked in. I've since learned of the evil that is software patents and now try to combat them whenever I can.

    When I was young I thought that they actually protected the little guys and helped innovation. I've since learned how wrong I was. Software patents don't help create more innovation they stifle it and create a legal tax burden on people who actually build things. Once your competitors start getting them you are forced to get them yourself in order to have a deterrent from being sued, thus creating a cold war that consumes resources that should have gone to R&D on anti-competitive legal fortifications and attacks.

    There are several articles written by various researchers that show how software patents have hurt innovation in the US, e.g.: http://www.researchoninnovation.org/patent.pdf

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  23. Zooming out a little. I would love for Spoton3d to answer 3 direct questions which I think is at the core of what most people are asking about.

    1. What is the Patent for? You have said clients should just use the tech as the patent is not approved. This is hard for me to do as I can not tell them what is coming. So, you are saying you are applying for a patent, what is it for? If you are not comfortable disclosing can you just say "We do not want to talk about the patent"
    2. Everyone is talking about GPL issues. If you gave a link to the source code of what needs to be GPL'ed and explain why you do not have to give the source to other areas I am sure that will help people out.
    3. AND this is just for me personally, in the NWN article you said that a basic unity3d scene needs C# which is completely wrong. I would love for you to correct that as it extremely misleading.

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  24. Well guys, I'm not the legal eagle here, but Stevan will be responding tomorrow ... errr ... ok its late ... I mean today. If you get want answers faster, just email him through his office at http://aplegal.com. But I think he answered most already on Hamlet's blog.

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  27. TAKING THE GLOVES OFF -
    I hope its dawned on many folks reading this that the two gentleman here might have a vested interest in shouting so often and loudly in so many blogs, saying the same thing over and over. Could it be because their businesses focus on this same goal, but provide it in a much different way? Probably.

    Chris' Tipdean system uses a Unity bridge to create a copy or facsimile of the opensim space your in. Kitely's triggers your client to open up with a premade cloud server room/island from a Facebook page. Both are excellent ideas and well worth the investment of time and money I'm sure they hope to earn back through their businesses, but I do have my doubts as to whether their motives are strictly for the benefit of the open source community.

    Having said that, I would hope anyone with a reasonable level of objectivity would see through their protests for what I believe is – an attempt to rally a mobish support to try and FORCE us to release our plug-in to the public. This is a tactic I think is abhorrent and is very reminiscent of the early days of copybot SL. We'd find someone ripping content right in front of us and handing it out like candy, saying, "And you thought you could have a career at this? Try and stop us as we force it into open source!" NO ONE has the right to force anyone’s work into open source status. If you don't agree with the BSD license, then blog about it on your site. That is practicing your freedom of speech rights with I will fight for those rights. But this type of repetitive blog spamming is IMHO leaning towards abuse, lacking in integrity and smelling of sour grapes.

    THE REALITY OF THE OPENSIM PROJECT & FIREBREATH – ITS BSD!
    The Opensim Project and the Firebreath plugin tool are both solidly founded in the very liberal BSD license. The choices on the license by the founding creators were carefully thought through I'm sure. If they’d wanted a GPL license they would have chosen it. Love it, hate it, accept it and move the hell outta the way so others can push through more bottlenecks and bugs to bring this to the rest of the world.

    I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE …
    I WILL NOT apologize for running a business that supports the rights of creators and their works.
    I WILL NOT apologize for making sure EVERYONE has a safer place to work. learn & play here.
    I WILL NOT apologize for self-funding SpotON3D by creating value people believe and buy into.
    I WILL NOT apologize for earning enough money to pay our company expenses, keep our team working in this industry, and hireg more. I think its freakin amazing that Stevan's been so courageous in funding us in the face of the world’s worst recession since the Great Depression and deserves a lot of respect for doing this.

    IN THE END IT'S NEVER REALLY ABOUT MONEY
    For us what it's really about is coming together to build something fantastic and hugely beneficial beyond RPing and social online hangouts. And these people are my friends, my confidants, my extra ears and eyes that listen to my crazy ideas into the wee hours. Each of us takes turns providing strong shoulders for others to leaning on when we're drained feel or beaten down by the barriers and bugs. It is that fact that they are artists and artistic coders who have such tremendous dedication, integrity, vision and talent - I am truly humbled by their faith in me.

    THEY ARE MY FAMILY and really yours too because WE ARE ALL METAVERSIANS, coming from the same communities, dreams and aspirations. We’re just getting to them down different paths and I think that's kewl!

    If you believe in this, come on in and step up with us. If not, might as well step aside, because we’ve got our eyes on that next mountain just beyond where your standing.

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  28. At the current point in time, OpenSim will not accept patches from SpotON3D, as our developers work both on the Viewer and on the OpenSim code.

    Once OpenSim has its new Foundation in place and is accepting patches from viewer developers too, SpotON3D will of course give back improvements to the community.

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  29. Hi Stevan,

    That is a nice attempt to spin the subject and flip it from a community abuse issue to a licensing issue.

    You may have noticed that we run a for-profit company and have mouths to feed as well yet, even without the external funding you have, we've managed to contribute back to the same BSD licensed code base even though we don't have to legally do so. If we, and the many other OpenSim contributes whose hard work you've built your business on can contribute to the shared OpenSim codebase then so can your company.

    No one said you have to give everything you created back to the community, we're just stating that for you to not give anything back then make patent threats to prevent the same community from competing with you is not something people should let you get away with.

    We want the success of the OPEN metaverse, please join the community and play nice with everyone else.

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  30. Ilan ... stevan hasn't commented. I assume you are speaking to me. I've said my peace to you and feel no need to continue to belabor the same points over and over. You make business and personal choices, though one has to wonder how you can possibly work for free and raise a child. There must be some form of financial support that enables you to do this. Regardless, patents don't usually end up in monopolies. Licensee agreements, sure and that's a fair way to compensate someone for money invested. You can disagree till the cows come home, but it still won't make your fears into reality. Anyone who TOOK THE TIME to come in and talk to us with an open mind, would know we are not out to strangle hold the community. We are on a decidedly different path that the rest of the opensim community and I think that's a good thing. Most of our code would not even be compatiable with other opensim grids and its entangled in our economy, registration and security systems, something we really can't open source without jeopardizing the very heart of our business. If someone offers to pay us the 300K + we've spent to build this, then come forward. The fact that the open sim core coders do it for free is of coarse something to seriously applaud, but I know for a fact many get paid for add ons and projects they get hired on to do that is directly related to the core code and if you think every bit of that if put back in - well its simply not true.

    As far the plugin is concerned you keep getting mixed up. That isn't part of opensim platform code. Its a plug-in wrapper for the GPL open sourced client to be distributed through, which clearly is legally acceptable as a plugin or deliverable.

    So, all this begs the question/ YOu say your've contributed back your work to core. Did you do it while working with or looking at the client code? Did you submit it through a 3rd person? If so, I don't think that is legal and could seriously jeopardize the whole project.

    I also tried to find where you submit your facebook trigger to the community, but coulnd't find anything of the sort using the words 'Kitely Facebook plugin opensource'. I think its a fair question since that is what you are suggestion we HAVE to do. You only say you submitted work back, not your trigger for Facebook. I'm pretty sure that if you had, we'd see copycat cloud rooms popping up everywhere. But, if I am wrong, please let me know and show and tell.

    Again it's BSD and we have to assume the founders of the opensim projects wanted that option to give commercial projects like ourselves the ability to get better funded through proprietary practices. If they didn't want it this way they would have made it GPL. We've not stopped you or anyone else from using your business offering, and we've not prohibited anyone form using the exploit to travel other grids. How are we hurting the community if its brings in new users more easily and allows more fluid travel? Wake up, smell the coffee and face reality. For me its time to move on and get more work done.

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  31. And Gaga, I'd be happy to answer any questions you have one on one. And thank you for giving us this forum to voice our thoughts. Its very interesting to see people's POV's and how they use the facts to support their case. And ... well ... I've always loved a good debate! *smiles

    Tessa

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  32. Hi Tessa, (sorry, I thought you were Steven previously)

    First, my family has been eating our own personal savings developing Kitely, and my wife has had to switch professions to help support the effort. Oren meanwhile has been spending 30/40 hours a week while working full time at another startup up until a few months ago (he now works full time on Kitely and has no other source of income). We have no external funding.

    There are several different issues here:

    Contributions to OpenSim - we and many others make them, you don't. Applauding others is nice, giving back yourself as well is much better.

    We have not looked at any SL viewer code and we have no reason to do so. Our only interaction with a viewer is via its launch parameters which is specifically allowed by the GPL therefore not requiring us to GPL our BSD licensed plugin (we use FireBreath as well).

    FireBreath may be BSD based but the way your plugin works with the SL viewer may fall under the definition of a combined application that needs to be released as GPL because the GPL license of the SL viewer defines that such intimately combined applications need to be. I say "may" because I don't know your plugin's implementation details. If you provided details about what you think you invented it would make it easier to determine. If you already have a patent pending then you have nothing to hide unless you intend to create a submarine patent.

    The Economist has recently published an article titled "patents against prosperity" that talks about how destructive they have been for the United States: http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2011/08/intellectual-property

    Claiming that you should have the right to demand people pay you royalties because you filed a patent for a way to implement software (or even worse for a business method) is like a mobster saying that he has the right to your revenue because your are on his turf. Both are arguments that sound like "you have such a nice business going. We want you to give us a piece of your revenue, it would be a shame if something were to happen to it".

    Software patents are evil, many researchers agree and they are the subject of hot political debates. You claiming that they are a moral way to do business and that you intend to collect protection money from other businesses that dare to compete with you does not put you in a very good light. Again, these are all arguments made by other very respectful people in the hi-tech industry against the practices you seem to think are A-Okay.

    I really have nothing personal against you or your company, I just want you to play nice with the community.

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  33. Hey all -

    first of all; thank you Gaga for the great post, was a pleasure reading it.

    I've also been browsing the comments, reading through them and I'm just wondering about one thing.

    Did Kitely hand back their own facebook trigger to the community?

    I find them to be reacting and talking about this development on numerous blogs and websites, but (and maybe i just missed it), I can nowhere find proof that they did hand it back to the community themselves. That makes me wonder if they're not accusing people of stuff they're trying to get away with themselves.

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  34. Hi Phil,

    This debate is being waged in multiple web sites so it is a bit hard to follow if you just read this one. I'll try to clarify the situation:

    1) We've contributed all out OpenSim-specific improvements back to the OpenSim community.

    2) We said others should contribute at least some of their OpenSim-specific improvements as well.

    3) The browser plugin that Kitely developed is not part of OpenSim in any way, it uses a different unrelated open-source project, called FireBreath.

    4) We haven't open sourced our plugin and do not claim people need to open source browser plugins just because they are used with SL viewers. Our plugin is not effected by the SL viewer GPL license because the way that it works is permitted by the GPL license terms.

    4) Our statement that SpotOn3D MAY need to release their own FireBreath-based plugin as open source is based on the way their plugin is intimately connected to the SL viewer which may cause them to be violating the viewer's open source GPL license if they do not distribute their own browser plugin's code under the GPL. You can read more about this possible reason for them needing to distribute their own plugin as open source here: http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/07/opensim-in-facebook.html?cid=6a00d8341bf74053ef01543418e40d970c#comment-6a00d8341bf74053ef01543418e40d970c

    It's a long debate and it's full of open questions but the fact that it is legally complicated doesn't change the fact of who is giving back to OpenSim (Kitely) and who isn't (SpotOn3D), or who is claiming others will need to pay them royalties for things that have already been invented by the community (SpotOn3D) and who is trying to prevent this from happening (Kitely).

    Kitely complies with all the license terms of all the open source projects it uses. There is an open question of whether SpotOn3D's browser plugin violates the terms of the license of the SL viewer and therefore needs to be distributed as open source.

    Are you really claiming that Kitely can't point this out without needing to open source its own browser plugin?

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  35. Hi Tessa, thanks for the comments. I believe I have been reasonably supportive of your works in the 3 comments I have made (across the entire internet! apologize if you have not read it that way ). For Opensim work we have set clients up on other peoples grids or their own and in most cases they are using the SL client so my questions are related to clients that want to get into OpenSim and me helping them select what tech to use. Also from my LL days throwing out an idea of how you can calm people down.

    My Unity3d comments are consistent on most blogs (not just yours) when I have seen what I believe is incorrect characterization of Unity3d tech capabilities. We actually have 2 Unity3d products that work with OpenSim.

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  36. SpotOn3D: you completely miss the point. You aren't contributing back to OpenSim trunk, and you can't. But as others have pointed out, you could still contribute to the community by making at least some of your modifications to open source code public. But, OpenSim is BSD, so you don't have to. Fine.

    Where you miss the point, though, is in thinking that this is all people trying to force you to release your plugin code. You're wrong. The point here is that software patents are destructive, and a lot of people are very pissed at your company for going after them. That is your evil. And that is what brings extra scrutiny to you for not behaving as a good citizen. I believe that InWorldz and Avination both have proprietary extensions to the server software that they haven't made public. However, nobody's angry at them, nor trying to force them to make it public, because they aren't threatening patents. Patents don't just allow you to use your own proprietary extentions; they potentially chill an entire area of development. It's the difference between keeping your own counsel and preventing anybody else from speaking; the former may be laudable, the latter is hostile to community.

    What's more -- when you say: "We'd not want to be the ones to force the Opensim project into GPL status by abusing those rules. "

    That's a complete red herring. Yes, if you slipped GPL code from the viewer into the OpenSim core, that would be bad. But just by releasing your changes, it would not force OpenSim to go GPL. At most, it would force your fork to go GPL.

    My own thoughts on SpotOn3D and how people who care about virtual worlds should respond to them: http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacticinteractions/2011/08/03/virtual-world-enthusiasts-should-boycott-spoton3d/

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  37. Hi all -

    just wanted to let you know that we've just published an official statement by Stevan Lieberman at the SpotON3D Blog.

    http://spoton3d.blogspot.com/2011/08/official-statement-from-spoton3ds-ceo.html

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  38. Thank you Philippe and everyone else that has commented for this lively debate.

    here is another blog that makes interesting reading. I claims to reveal exactly how SpotON3d has coded the plug-in...

    http://cityofnidus.blogspot.com/2011/08/spoton3d.html

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  39. Hi Philippe,

    Having read the official statement I wish to state that:

    (A) Stating that I claimed that the reason the viewer may need to be licensed under the GPL is because "the browser is installed at the same time as the plugin, thus it is essentially the same software" is a blatant misrepresentation of what I said. I said:

    "
    First, the GPL program (the original unmodified SL viewer that their viewer is derived from) is not designed to accept plugins that take over the rendering target and have keyboard and mouse commands rerouted from another process. They may have added this capability to it (I haven't checked) but then it would no longer be "unmodified" and therefor no longer qualifying for the exception you believe SpotOn3D can use to relieve themselves from the requirement to release their code under GPL.

    Second, you've seemed to overlook the quotations I provided from the GNU site specifying that:

    "However, in many cases you can distribute the GPL-covered software alongside your proprietary system. To do this validly, you must make sure that the free and non-free programs communicate at arms length, that they are not combined in a way that would make them effectively a single program."

    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLInProprietarySystem

    "By contrast, pipes, sockets and command-line arguments are communication mechanisms normally used between two separate programs. So when they are used for communication, the modules normally are separate programs. But if the semantics of the communication are intimate enough, exchanging complex internal data structures, that too could be a basis to consider the two parts as combined into a larger program."

    http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#MereAggregation

    Unless SpotOn3D do some very frowned upon hacking their plugin would need to modify the SL viewer in order to work, thus (A) not qualifying it under your quoted exception, i.e. it does not work with an "off-the-shelf, unmodified, program" and (B) making it very likely that their combined program will be considered by a court of law as "effectively a single program" thus needing to be licensed under the GPL.
    "

    http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/07/opensim-in-facebook.html?cid=6a00d8341bf74053ef0153904b5a61970b#comment-6a00d8341bf74053ef0153904b5a61970b

    (B) The press release ignored all that I and the community have said about the inherit anti-competitive and exploitative nature of SpotOn3D's conduct. Instead they chose to just restate the various claims that have been made by the SpotOn3D crew in the articles that have been written about this. Claims that have been successfully countered by the community one by one.

    Whomever drafted their response did not take Public Relations 101. Restating falsehoods is not the best way to respond when you are caught with your hand in the communal cookie jar.

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  40. You need the registration number to effectively read the document file… no number, no document… what is all this speculation about? Hearsay?

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  41. Hi Ilan

    Well, as yet SpotON3D have not published your reply to the official statement on their web site nor have they given the number under which the patent is filed.

    I think this whole issue is turning into a PR disaster for them to be quite honest and raising questions about where they are headed in general. I find it hard to fathom how they can speak of supporting the notion of an open Metaverse while actively working to build barriers designed to gain market dominance.

    Certainly, from what I have been reading, no one is under any illusion as to SpotON3D's intentions. Even if the patent fails to gain approval in the end it would still give SpotON3D a clear advantage during the pending period which has been put at four to five years.

    Personally, I want to try to understand SpotON3D before I join any boycott of there services as Rob Knop has called for or rant against them. Deva Canto who invented Hypergrid and spoke against patenting parts of Open Sim some time ago has, according the Maria at Hypergrid Business, has said she see no threat to the development of Open Sim as this is not infastructual.

    As far as I can see, and certainly it is being said, the patent threat can be ignored in this case and others should continue with their plans to bring Open Sim in a browser to the Metaverse.

    In any event no one can stop SpotON3D pursuing their integration with Facebook and, no doubt, they will build their user base on it. They certainly don't appear to have been too successful in the past while Avination, InWorldz and Kitely have leaped ahead. At the end of the day technology counts but building community will insure greater acceptance from end-users.

    You got to remember something else too, a lot of the people advocating an open Metaverse, and working to bring it about, are people imbued with the pioneer spirit. Many are refugees from Second Life and want to escape from over-baring and blinkered corporate control. Hitting the community with a patent is not going to win them any friends.

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  42. Totally agree Gaga and Euro.

    But one note these so called growths of grids can not be verified independently in any true metric and in most cases can not be even measured while inside them. As we all know some are not charging yet for their services which does distort any figures and I thought the real complaint by most was an open and fair playing field otherwise it’s just not Cricket my dear.

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  43. has said she see no threat to the development of Open Sim as this is not infastructual.

    While strictly true, it's important to understand this comment for what it is. A patent on clients in a browser won't say anything about the development of OpenSim, because OpenSim, as software, is server software. It has no client code in it, and indeed up to now the OpenSim core developers have made a point of not even looking at client code. So, yeah, anything that happens to the client doesn't directly affect development of OpenSim at all.

    However, that's not the whole story, for two reasons. First, I think that OpenSim development probably suffers because of the firewall between core OpenSim development and client code. Indeed, I think that's why a lot of the non-core OpenSim forks are out there, including Aurora and several of the in-house forks by virutal world providers. Developers want to be able to look at viewer code and develop the server. What's more, Justin CC has recently proposed changing the rules for core OpenSim; instead of the "no looky at client code" rule, there would be a contributor license agreement in which the contributor assigns the copyright to the OpenSim foundation, and affirms that they didn't improperly incorporate any code inconsistent with the OpenSim BSD license.

    However, I think that there's another reason why Diva's statement that OpenSim development won't be threatened by this particular patent is a little bit short-sighted. That is, no, directly, OpenSim development isn't threatened by this patent. However, the development of open virtual worlds in general is threatened by this patent, because the development of open virtual worlds in general cannot forever entirely lean on Linden Lab to effectively provide the client for them. As such, things that threaten virtual world development in general indirectly threaten OpenSim development. No, not the development right now of OpenSim, and it doesn't maen anything right now to a developer like Diva who works only on the server. But, if you take the longer view of the open metaverse, any patent is a threat.

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  44. Hi Gaga,

    A free OpenSim without a free viewer is useless so stating that this doesn't jeopardize the long term viability of an open metaverse is somewhat myopic.

    If we let people stake a claim over pieces of the viewer or the server in order to demand that other people who wish to compete with them "pay up" then there won't be free options or communal work towards creating a shared ecosystem. Even the threat of a patent can cause problems and, as other people have pointed out, many people aren't able to defend themselves even when the patent is completely bogus.

    It is therefore the interest of the community to create an atmosphere that dissuades companies from trying to stifle competition using patent threats. It is completely irrelevant whether those patents are for things that are innovative or not, if you let one person claim to own an idea for software then others will do so as well and no one will give back anything to the community.

    Companies are held accountable by their share holders. If trying to use a software or business patent becomes overly expensive to the company doing so due to bad PR or lost sales then even existing patent holders will avoid using them as offensive tools.

    In the long run this type of defensive activism by the community can result in politicians who currently have no reason to vote for the abolishment of software and business patents to decide to listen to their constituents and take a stand for the better good.

    Once these types of patents are removed from the valid tools a business can use then the patent cold war in the software industry will cease to exist. This will free up a lot of money towards actually creating innovative R&D and return people to compete on features and price instead of hoarding ill-thought legal tools of mass destruction.

    Just read all the research on how much the current situation is bad for innovation in the United States. We can't wait for companies or the government to get around to finally resolving the problem. We need to take a stand together as a community and force companies to act in ways that are, in the end, for their best financial interest as well.

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  45. All I see is hearsay conclusion-making... no beef.

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  46. There is no beef without registration number and access to the document file. You can validly conclude a bluff as well...

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  47. hi Mana

    I am curious. You said:

    "At the current point in time, OpenSim will not accept patches from SpotON3D, as our developers work both on the Viewer and on the OpenSim code."

    I am not an expert in this so my simple understanding may not be correct and perhaps someone else can put this better but Tessa says SpotON3D can't contribute to Open Sim core for the reasons stated above and yet her programmers regularly work on both viewer and server code.

    Forgive me if I am wrong but is SpotON3D breaching the terms of LL licence anyway?


    Gaga

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  48. I checked the SpotON3D press release URL today and still neither of the replies posted by Rob Knop and Ilan of Kitely have been published or answered.

    Personally, I wanted to try to understand SpotON3D's motives and intentions so that I could satisfy myself there really is not a great deal to worry about, and no great threat to progress towards a free and open Metaverse.

    The press release is not at all reassuring and quite the contrary since Steven emphasised SpotON3D would exercise it's rights to charge licence fees.

    I am still having a problem getting my head round Tessa's comment above where she says SpotON3D want to support the open Metaverse community to achieve it's objectives while seeking to patent an application that has already been made in several forms and open sourced for the benefit of the community.

    Is that not taking rather than giving?

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  49. Gaga -- All the work that they do on the server side, they can keep it private. That's what the BSD license is for. Perfectly legal. Whether or not its nice is a different question.

    All the work that they do on the viewer, they have to share. They say they do that. So that's fine.

    If they take code from the server and add it to the viewer -- no problem. Nobody's going to care.

    If they take code from the viewer and add it to the server, and then not distribute it, that's fine. You can take GPL code and do private things with it, as long as you do it just for your own internal use. Problems only arise when you distribute things. They're distributing their viewers (people use them to access the world) but they're not distributing their server code (they're just using it internally to run their grids).

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  50. Hi Gaga

    You can not give that back to Opensim server code, if you have viewed both server and viewer code with in the last 6 months is the way I have always seen the licence.

    It is more a stipulation to Opensim by LL and now with Overte being set up that will change hopefully

    http://justincc.org/blog/2011/06/30/announcing-the-overte-foundation-for-opensimulator/

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  51. Thanks Maria.

    lol, I don't have a legal head for all these licences.

    I wonder if they actually share the viewer code that comes to us in the plug-in application?

    Anyway, without knowing exactly what the patent is for, since they aren't giving the number, SpotON seems to be hiding in the smoke and now battening down the hatches to weather the storm.

    Gaga

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  52. Thanks Lateral.

    May I call you LT?

    I just read your post "Angel Today Demon Tomorow" on your new blog and I will post a comment soon when I have had time to digest what you have said. There is a lot there I would agree with and one thing for sure is I am not keen on witch hunts but it's a hard pill to swallow, this patent and it's right to debate it as a community response.

    The question is of course, as you pointed out, what exactly is this community?

    Gaga

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  53. Whoops!

    Here is the url to LT's blog post...

    http://laterals-thinkings.blogspot.com/

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  54. Hi Gaga, Maria, and Lateral,

    The problem is whether the code of SpotOn3D's browser plugin, that interacts in some unspecified way with the viewer, needs to be open sourced as well due to the GPL license of the viewer. If it does, then the GPL license includes clauses that give users of that code a license to use that code with all the related patents held by the distributors.

    This is an open question as we don't have details of what it is they do exactly. However, as SpotOn3D's offerings are based on open-source across the board, it is more than likely that their keeping the browser plugin code propitiatory and attempting to get a patent on its implementation may create a problem for them down the road if someone from the Free software Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Software_Foundation) or the Electronic Frontier Foundation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Frontier_Foundation) got wind of this.

    The bigger problem is that if the community (or whatever you want to call the 200K+ OpenSim users) accept that it is valid business practice for companies to attempt to stake a claim on an idea in order to force others to "pay up" if they create other software that uses that idea then there will be a lot less free ideas with which to build the open metaverse.

    Most of us live in democracies, laws don't get written by themselves they are the result of peoples' representatives reaching some compromise between the interests of different parties. Call us what you will but, if we don't defend our interests as a group in order to keep the metaverse open then no one will and the companies pushing for a walled garden metaverse will get to dictate the future.

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  55. This is an official statement from SpotON3D

    Due to the reaction of the OpenSim community about our World on the Web plug-in and the pending patent, we’ve decided to take the debate to another level and give everyone - BOTH SUPPORTERS AND NON-SUPPORTERS, the chance to bring their ideas and questions directly to us one-on-one. Our goal here is not to win anyone to a particular way of thinking, but to try answer the biggest questions and at least understand each other's POV. And who knows? Maybe this can help start a continuing dialog between the OpenSim community, SpotON3D and the many other grids out there.

    Stevan and I will try and answer as many questions as possible in a 1-1.5 hour period of time. Due to a previously schedule business trip, Stevan will most likely only have one hour. I will be staying an extra half hour or more if necessary. I can not answer any legal questions, because … well, I’m not a lawyer! Any questions about the legal aspects of the patent, plug-in or other legal matters not answered at this event can be addressed directly to Stevan via email at Stevan@spoton3d.com.

    THE VENUE< TIME< DATE – August 7th at 8 am PDT/SLT/MVT
    The meeting place will be in SpotON3D in a Quad MegaSim called OUTREACH. Any and all voice chat in the main sim will be relayed over all four sims, so please be patient and fair to everyone else. This mega sim will hold about 150 people, so it will be on a first come first serve basis. Below you’ll find some general guidelines

    This event will be filmed, archived and uploaded to our media page, as well as the usual web sites for everyone, so that everyone will have something to review and point others to.

    We are looking forward to this being a productive event for both SpotOn3D and the community. You can teleport directly into OUTREACH ISLAND, if you have the World on the Web Plug-in installed on your Windows PC, (sorry MACers and Linux guys ... that's next on our to do list) and just click on the 3DURL below - works just like a SLurl. http://3durl.com/map/veesome/Outreach%20Island/135/126/22

    Thank you!
    Tessa & Stevan

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  56. Hi Tessa & Stevan,

    If you truly wish to talk to people in an open exchange of ideas then why not address them where they are asked in public forums instead of in your own venue?

    Do you wonder to why I object to having this discussion inside SpotOn3D's grid, here's why:

    If you are really open to what other people are saying why misrepresent what I said in your previous press release then block my rebutal comment on your blog? It's text was included here as well:

    http://metaverse-traveller.blogspot.com/2011/07/spoton3d-to-patent-open-sim-in-browser.html?showComment=1312419040769#c6470783078774706412

    If you are open to a public discussion then why hide the reply comment from Rob Knop who also posted a reply on your forum:

    http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacticinteractions/2011/08/03/virtual-world-enthusiasts-should-boycott-spoton3d/#comment-4372

    As of now both our replies are still missing from the comment sections below your press release even though this comment section now include two other comments - people can see you are hiding our comments you know...

    We know you read at least some of the various articles that have been written about your conduct as you've added your comments to them. Why force people to register to your grid, and attend at the time that is convenient to you instead of just answering people in blog comments like people from the community are doing?

    There are several people who have written replies in almost all those comment threads that discuss your patent threats. Are those people, myself included, more willing to spend time talking to other people in forums they do not control than you are?

    I will not condone having this discussion turn into a marketing opportunity for your grid, under your own timetable, with you controlling how long people can discuss the issue. If you want a truly open discussion then begin by taking the time to address the many questions people have already asked you in the multiple threads that deal with this:

    http://metaverse-traveller.blogspot.com/2011/07/spoton3d-to-patent-open-sim-in-browser.html

    http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacticinteractions/2011/08/03/virtual-world-enthusiasts-should-boycott-spoton3d/

    http://cityofnidus.blogspot.com/2011/08/spoton3d.html

    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/08/controversy-erupts-over-spoton3ds-patent-claims

    http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2011/07/opensim-in-facebook/comments/page/1/

    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/08/spoton3d-responds-to-patent-concerns-will-license-plugin-to-other-grids/

    http://iliveisl.com/patents-or-how-browser-access-will-cost-you/

    http://iliveisl.com/how-your-online-voice-matters

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  57. Gaga,

    I think you answered the motives early in your post: "So, I took a trip (I did crash a few times on the SpotON3D grid) and eventually ended up dancing out of boredom at Club54. I never came across another avatar on my travels after leaving the Welcome sim."

    It's pretty obvious that they have bet the farm on their walled garden grid. And even after much self promotion (AWG, etc.) and attempts to hijack opensource viewer development in the past, they still are wallowing in the mud. So, for them, the path to profit is by trying to take money from others.

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  58. The notice for the meeting to be held on SpotOD3D's grid was far to short for me at least but I am sure for many others that might have attended too. I did try to make it so I could get first-hand information if it was going to be made available. For me, Sunday is a family day and I was due to travel to make a visit with no certainty I could be back in time. As it happens I did get back but really too late for the meeting. However, I did make an appearance briefly to make my apologies and note the notice was too short. I saw Maria of Hypergrid Business and she gave her response to what was said during the meeting on her blog here...

    http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2011/08/spoton3d-forum-ends-in-tears/


    I did want to be there to get first hand information and I appreciate Maria's coverage in the article on her blog. I am disappointed that the issues about the patent was still not really addressed but glad SpotON3D did at least say they would contribute code back to Open Sim once the foundation was fully established.

    I don't agree with Tessa's claim that Ilan of Kitely are bullying them into releasing their code. That is absurd. Many, myself included, are seeking answers to questions SpotON3D refuses to give clear answers to. They accuse Kitely of not releasing their code but Kitely are not seeking patents so others can, if they work out a way to code it, develop similar methods to deliver cloud-based sims on demand.

    SpotON3D could have done this with their code - simply demonstrated the technology and kept the code secret without seeking a patent and this controversy would not have erupted. Quite the opposite, in my view. In fact my own review was fairly balanced and I found the method to be very useful and polished. The problem is the patent and until SpotON3D gives the number and/or a full explanation as to what it covers then no amount of PR meetings on their grid is going to satisfy those apposed to it.

    I have been trying to gage opinion on this issue by speaking to people who have not posted comments and the reaction I get is one of general disgust at SpotON3D's actions so the views expressed in comments to my blog, here on Hypergrid Business and a number of other blogs is by no means an isolated reaction.

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  59. Thank you Anonymous

    I am now researching the background and history of SpotON3D as I think there is real public interest in them. Certainly, when I look at the stats for this blog item it has been viewed by over a thousand readers so far and commented on a fair number. The issue of the patent and it's implications are being considered and debated far beyond this blog too.

    I will publish my findings and views in a full article soon but I aim to be balanced and factually correct and I have no intention of doing a hatchet job but if I find evidence that SpotON3D has been working against the OpenSim community and the open Metaverse in general I will not hold it back or cover up. We, myself and all who advocate a free and open Metaverse, deserve to know the truth if our hopes and dreams are in danger of being hijacked by monopoly interests.

    SpotON3D will be asked questions and how they chose to answer them, or not answer them will of course influence what I write.


    There is also the wider issue of people who manipulate the patent system for personal gain when they may not be the originators of the code or may only have made slight changes on which to base their claim to a patent which ends up stifling innovation. It is clear from all I have read that this practice is unacceptable to more than just the developers of virtual worlds. Rob Knop gives a lot of insight into the practice on his blog here...

    http://scientopia.org/blogs/galacticinteractions/2011/08/03/virtual-world-enthusiasts-should-boycott-spoton3d/

    Gaga

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