Last month, Linden Lab decided to cut OpenSim off from its viewer, and, last spring, to force third-party developers to choose between OpenSim and getting the new proprietary Havok pathfinding code.
Viewer developers had three choices — turn down the new proprietary code, stop supporting OpenSim, or fork their viewers.
The Firestorm team decided to fork, and quickly became one of the most popular viewers for OpenSim users. Firestorm is a V3-based viewer, meaning that it supports mesh and media-on-a-prim.
Now Firestorm has the opportunity to get even closer to OpenSim, by working with developers like Crista Lopes to add ‘Export’ permissions to OpenSim content.
Lopes is the inventor of the hypergrid, an OpenSim core developer, and also a professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine.
Currently, a viewer only allows creators to set “Copy,” “Transfer” and “Modify” permissions. Adding an “Export” permission will require changes to the user interface.
An “Export” permission setting for in-world content would allow content creators to decide whether their content can leave a grid.
An “Export” permission can come into play when a region owner decides to save a copy of the entire region as an OAR file, for example. Any items that aren’t owned by the region owner, or don’t have the “Export” permission, would not be saved.
More importantly, the “Export” permission would come into play when a user makes a hypergrid teleport to other grids. They would only be able to access the content that they themselves created, or content with the “Export” permission set.
This level of control would allow commercial grids to turn on hypergrid connectivity without worrying about proprietary content leaving the grid.
It would not protect against “copybot”-type hacking attacks of the type currently used on many closed, commercial grids to steal content. The vast majority of stolen content today originates on and is distributed inside Second Life, simply because of the larger amount of content and larger mass of users on that grid.
There is currently no way to protect against those kinds of attacks.
However, the availability of easy-to-find, reasonably priced legal content may reduce the commercial impact of content piracy, just as iTunes proved that customers would be willing to pay for music that is otherwise available for free on the Web.
An “Export” permission might inspire more creators to move to OpenSim grids, helping build in-world economies.