Avination, Singularity create “export” permission

Metaverse security took a big step forward today as Avination donated OpenSim code implementing an “export” permission setting. The company also worked together with Singularity viewer developers to add support for this new permission to the viewer.

Today, OpenSim has three permissions — copy, transfer, and modify — that determine what users are able to do with their content. However, there is no permission setting for exporting content out a grid because the permissions were inherited from Second Life, which does not allow this functionality.

Creators can now decide whether their content can be exported or not. (Image courtesy Avination.)

Creators can now decide whether their content can be exported or not. (Image courtesy Avination.)

OpenSim, however, has three ways in which users can export content — OAR exports which save everything physically located on a region, IAR exports which save a user’s entire inventory, and hypergrid teleports which allow content to be carried from one grid to another. In addition, people who run their own OpenSim servers can give themselves “God powers” that allow them to change existing permission settings.

To keep content safe, commercial grids prohibit their users from connecting regions run on home-based OpenSim servers, disallow “God powers,” don’t offer OAR or IAR exports, and turn off hypergrid teleports.

The "Export" permission setting is already implemented in the Alpha version of the Singularity viewer. (Image courtesy Avination.)

The “Export” permission setting is already implemented in the Alpha version of the Singularity viewer. (Image courtesy Avination.)

The new “export” permission setting will allow grid owners to configure their grids so that only exportable content can leave via hypergrid teleport, or via OAR or IAR exports.

As a result, commercial grids will be able to offer hypergrid connectivity and backups to their users and, as long as “God powers” are prohibited, still be able to protect proprietary content.

Melanie Thielker

Melanie Thielker

“The code will be released ‘as we go,’” Avination grid founder and OpenSim core developer Melanie Thielker told Hypergrid Business. “People will be able to see, comment and improve on it while we work. Other viewers can extract the code from the Singularity code base, which is, of course, open source, and integrate this feature.”

Avination has donated code to OpenSim before, most recently the multi-attach feature. Typically, however, donations by commercial grids come after enough time has passed for the grid to profit from its own invention.

That is not the case this time, said Thielker.

“There will be no delay between the development and the release to OpenSim core,” she said. “This feature is an important milestone and should go out there without delay. We recommend that viewer developers wait a few weeks before taking code from Singularity because the viewer side still needs debugging — as does the server side.”

Although creators will need to use Singularity or another viewer which adds the code in order to set the “export” permission, the permission will still be in effect even if the eventual purchaser of the content uses a different viewer.

Attempts to export non-exportable items will have no effect, just as if the user had attempted to copy a no-copy item, or modify a no-modify item. The viewer simply allows the user to see what the setting is, or change the setting if they are a creator — the actual decision to allow the export or not will take place on the server.

The export flag not only allows users to take some content from one grid to another, but also to have the same appearance wherever they go.

Creators who allow the “export” functionality on some of their items will be able to see their brands spread throughout the hypergrid, the company added.

The new export permission will not keep determined hackers from stealing content, however. Various tools and methods are in use in Second Life, for example, where the much larger array of available content makes it an attractive target for content thieves.

The new export permission code will become part of the OpenSim core code, Avination said in its announcement today.

OAR and IAR export checking are not part of the donated code base, however. Adding export permission checking will be up to other developers, said Thielker, who work on that part of the code.

Similarly, the code donated today does not address the issue of saving objects as XML files.

“The viewers do their own permissions checking,” she said. “Viewers with export functionality could implement support.”

The most popular viewer today for XML object exports is Imprudence, but that viewer is no longer actively supported.

Justin Clark-Casey

Justin Clark-Casey

OpenSim core developer Justin Clark-Casey, who also heads up the Overte Foundation that manages OpenSim development, suggested that other viewers either wait for the work to be complete, or actively work with Singularity and Avination on the development.

Those interested in finding out more, or in contributing to the effort, can follow the OpenSim developers mailing list, or check in on the OpenSim Developers chat channel, he added.

“This is a work-in-progress,” he said.


Changes in licenses

Today, there is a default, implied content license associated with the OpenSim permissions system. Users are allowed to transfer some items but not others, copy some times, modify some items, and these rights can come in any combination.

And, by default, all content is licensed only for its grid of origin, unless the creator specifically steps up and says otherwise — say, in an attached notecard.

The new permission setting comes with a new implied license.

“Exportable items can be taken to any grid without worrying about licensing issues because an item marked as exportable means that the creator has licensed the item under a permissive open license that allows use of the item anywhere,” the announcement said. ”Exportable items can be taken to any grid and can be given, traded and sold as the current owner sees fit, without any royalties and without violating any laws.”

As a result, items that can be exported become, in effect, transferable and copyable.

This may be due to the fact that with export allowed, users can take content to a grid where they have “God powers” and then change any permission setting they want.

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner

Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner

But this view of the export permission could also cause some confusion, said Kitely CEO Ilan Tochner.

“A permissive content license shouldn’t be forced on merchants or very few of them will agree to sell items this way,” he told Hypergrid Business. “I think that Copy, Modify, and Transfer permissions should continue working as they do now even when an item is brought over via hypergrid.”

Someone who uses “God powers” to break those permissions would be guilty of breaking copyright law, Tocher said. This would be the same as if someone had use another hacking tool to, say, “copybot” an item.

“It would be very bad for the metaverse if people associate allowing content to have Export permission with the content creator losing control of what can be legally done with their creations,” Tochner said.

Kitely is currently implementing its own export permission as part of its Kitely Marketplace. Kitely has also donated code to the OpenSim community that allows grid owners to filter OAR exports so that, say, users can only save content they themselves have created, or only full-perm content.

According to Thielker, there is no way to control what happens to content after it leaves the grid, and letting creators think so would give them a false sense of security.

“Grids may not have any permissions, or allow any region owner to zap permissions, like OSgrid,” she said. “It must be understood from the start that permissions restricting the use of an item are plainly unenforceable once grid borders are crossed. Therefore our implementation requires the items to be set to full perm before the export flag can be set.”

Creators who want to set further restrictions can do so in the form of an attached license, she said.

“And the current state of the metaverse shows clearly how much store people set by such licenses,” she added. “This is why allowing normal permissions on an exportable item is a sham that will lead to disappointed creators, irate users and possibly lawsuits against the grid operator.”

Securing hypergrid access

In addition to keeping proprietary content in, some grid owners are also concerned with keeping hypergrid travelers out, particularly griefers and hackers.

Currently, there are few options available.

Griefer spheres on FleepGrid. (Image courtesy Chris Collins.)

Griefer spheres on FleepGrid. The same attacker also hit the Hyperica grid, scattering spheres and moving furniture. One solution to this particular kind of mayhem is to turn off building rights for everyone except approved users. (Image courtesy Chris Collins.)

“Grid operators can restrict hypergrid visitors based on their grid of origin,” said hypergrid inventor Crista Lopes, professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine.

Crista Lopes

Crista Lopes

And grids can turn off hypergrid access altogether.

“But I am planning to restart working on access control very soon,” Lopes told Hypergrid Business.

Turning off hypergrid access to a single grid in order to deal with a small number of griefers can cause significant public relations problems for a grid, as has recently happened with OSgrid, as innocent people get caught in the ban.

Last updated by at .


Maria Korolov

Maria Korolov is editor and publisher of Hypergrid Business. She has been a journalist for more than twenty years and has worked for the Chicago Tribune, Reuters, and Computerworld and has reported from over a dozen countries, including Russia and China.

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  • http://minethere.blogspot.com/2012/10/region-creations.html Minethere

    interesting…and wonderful-))

  • Chibo Ryder

    This is great news! Always happy to see developments which will help connect OpenSim grids, commercial or free, for the greater good of their residents and the Metaverse community as a whole.

  • Nick Zwart

    very good news.

  • http://www.kitely.com Ilan Tochner

    The fact that grid owners can technically ignore copyright law doesn’t mean we shouldn’t allow people to set restrictions on how their content can be legally used and try to enforce those restrictions whenever possible.

    If we force merchants to give up all control of their content if they allow it to be exported from a grid then we are limiting the amount of content that will be transferable to only include freebies. What merchant that wants to sell content would agree to sell an item just once and then have it become public domain?

    This type of forced freebie licensing in order to be able to move content between grids makes the Export permission close to useless.

    Anyone copying something they shouldn’t (because they don’t have the permissions to do so) is breaking copyright law. Merchants should have the option to decide that they sell something to only one person and allow that person to take that item with them when they travel the metaverse without losing legal (and as much as possible technical) control over the content they created. Stating that an item won’t be able to leave the grid unless the person who created it allows turning the item into public domain will hurt cross-grid sales.

    This type of Export permission equals freebie logic doesn’t go hand in hand with having a metaverse where people can take content they bought with them when they jump between grids.

    • Arielle

      HYpergrid is not always safe when wearing clothing and jumping between different versions of opensim grids and standalones. Users frequenting hypergridding should always have a copy of the clothing they value because there is still the risk that an item or 2 will be lost on any particular jump.
      Protecting the creators is a wonderful thing but so is protecting the consumer.

      • http://www.kitely.com Ilan Tochner

        Hi Arielle, we all want consumers to be able to not lose content they bought when they hypergrid travel, but in order for that to even be an issue they first need to have content they can buy and take with them to other grids. If we scare away merchants from adding the Export permission to items they sell then items won’t be sold with the Export permission and the only legal option consumers will have when traveling between grids is using their own creations or freebies they can add the Export permission to. If that happens then the existence of the Export permission will not enable you to take content you bought with you when you travel.

        If a bought item has Copy permission then the person who bought that item can create copies before hypergrid teleporting to other grids. The merchant doesn’t need to give Modify or Transfer permissions for that to be true.

        Protecting consumer’s rights doesn’t require forcing merchants to only be able to sell items with the Export permission if they also make the items full perm and give an implicit license for people to do whatever they wish with them. Consumers interests can be much better maintained if we allow adding the Export permission to an item without requiring the item to be full perm because then people will actually be able to find items to buy that have that permission.

        • Arielle

          Ilan I suspect the issue is that you see this new permission setting as something geared to commercial content creators looking to market their products on the hypergrid market whereas I see this setting for the Linda Kelly style creators wanting an quick way of letting people know whether or not it is ok to include a particular product inside oars, freebie shops etc.

          • http://www.kitely.com Ilan Tochner

            There isn’t any reason to design this feature for only one type of content creator. People who want to offer freebies will be able to do so even if adding the Export permission doesn’t require them to make their content full perm. However, people who don’t want to offer freebies won’t be able to add the Export permission if doing so will only be possible for full perm items that come with an implicit legal license (“Exportable items can be taken to any grid and can be given, traded and sold as the current owner sees fit, without any royalties and without violating any laws”).

            For every content creator like Linda Kellie, who creates and freely gives away their own content, there are hundreds of content creators that try so sell the content they create and aren’t willing to give it away for free.

            If we adopt a solution that only works for freebies then the amount of content that people will be able to *legally* take with them when they travel the metaverse will be very limited. If we want to encourage content creators to move from closed grids to hypergrid-connected grids then we have to provide them with a way to sell their content, allow it to travel the metaverse but not make it a freebie.

            Adding and enforcing this freebie-only restriction takes more work, and reduces the usefulness of the Export permission. It is not required technically and will come at the expense of many consumers and merchants alike.

  • Gaga

    I wonder if this means Avination will be considering it’s time to enable hypergrid. I hope so and I think they are doing the open Metaverse such a wonderful service in contributing so much new code. Kitely and Avination deserve to succeed and I for one will be spending some of those savings I have been making from avoiding Second Life when I travel the grids as more open up to the greater market. The export perm is both an exciting and also an interesting development. I will certainly be taking a close look at it and try to get a handle on how it will work in practice.

  • Guest

    “Turning off hypergrid access to a single grid in order to deal with a
    small number of griefers can cause significant public relations problems
    for a grid, as has recently happened with OSgrid, as innocent people get caught in the ban.”

    There were no griefers, HG was turned off solely to metropolis in a lame backfired attempt to stem to tide of residents leaving due to the problems with hiro-admin verbal and posted attacks and insults on people’s avatar choices and all the rest that went on that caused people to see the light and move out to a grid that is more open.

  • Richardus Raymaker

    This option is good to have. But also a note,
    SOfar i see this option works best for HG regions where 1 person manager the regions and run the servers. or a grid that have only 1 central server manager and region owner. on mixed grids like osgrid i dont see any limiting of export objects.

    This can be a boost for Hypergrid, because owners can protect there items to keep it local and still give some things away to visitors to. SO, i say looking good.

  • AviWorlds

    Well we cant ignore the fact that even in a CLOSED COMMERCIAL grid people can copy things from another creator without permissions and still place it in their computers. This is called COPY BOT. Does the new export or not ,function stop people from doing that?

    As you all know Second Life is the biggest exporter of copy bot items and it is a closed commercial grid.
    Please explain.

  • Hans

    Nothing is safe, if its in a closed grid, open Grid, Underground or in space all gets copied thats the bottom line. Now i would say be safe in HG travel use a Alt where is your main account don’t get corrupted.

  • Richardus Raymaker

    Useing that need extra effort to use it. but its now setup that you can transfer objects sleeping. so that bit is just extra layer that makes everything better. and offcorse you can always copy things.

  • sylentwatcher

    If secondlife could never stop copy botting or open gl or open al ripping of entire sims and every obj and texture in less than 6 seconds what makes ya think a bunch of hobbiests and weekenders will ever do any better…you all make me laugh very deeply …heck avination is so vulnerable its not even funny …and lead core developer …safest grid is inworldz …flat out.

    • http://minethere.blogspot.com/2012/10/region-creations.html Minethere


    • WhiteStar Magic

      Anyone that wants to copy stuff and has the KNOW HOW how can do so with the tools available on the internet. Some may use a hacked viewer but that is only a miniscule percentage of users and usually only those who feel “above & beyond all entitlements”. Your propagandist attitude is offensive.

  • youalreadyknow

    I want to jump in here, after reading some comments.
    First off Opensimulator does not have its own viewer ..your at the mercy of others !
    Secondly out of the box Opensimulator has extremely high vulnerability issues.
    Thirdly I see core developers have their own grids commercial and otherwise which have code that isn not in the release …BIG BAD CONFLICT OF INTEREST..should raise some eyebrows…if it doesn’t you might should just sit n be happy with what ya get.
    Fourthy I read down there where some guy said he was offended by anothers statement or propagandist something or another..lol..well speaking of propaganda, what type of forum and on what site are we posting? If your offended by bare facts..do not read what the public has to say or show.
    My Big NUMBER (5) stop building in the middle or at the end and start at the beginning..followed this thing for 4 yrs and all i see mostly in releases is shuffled files to make it look like someone made some accomplishment…if it was as serious a peice of development and software as some of you make it up to be ..it would be in completion after this many years.

    • http://minethere.blogspot.com/2012/10/region-creations.html Minethere

      yes, like Microsoft…