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  ‘Second Life’ Town Hall Summary (Nov. 2006)  
Posted 2006-11-17 by Tony Walsh
An important Town Hall meeting was held in the virtual world of Second Life and broadcast over Skype yesterday, allowing Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale to address some recent resident concerns about the "CopyBot" controversy, the virtual world's explosive growth, and the resultant strain on the company's staff.

Rosedale said that CopyBot can copy textures, shapes, and objects in Second Life, but not scripts or Linden Dollars (virtual currency). There's no way to stop this copying, he said, but his company will provide additional attribution of user creations, such as the creation date, in order to help the filing of DMCA takedown requests and to help resident groups take their own actions against individuals. "Inappropriate" use of CopyBot is now treated as a Terms of Service violation. Rosedale said that Linden Lab has "no connection" to the LibSL project that spawned CopyBot, adding that the company neither endorses or rejects the project. "The idea of preventing reverse engineering is absurd," he said. "It’s been easily done, and legal restrictions across national boundaries don’t work." Rosedale said that the LibSL team had helped the company find problems in its software, but stressed that Linden Lab will do everything it can to stop CopyBot from "breaking" resident businesses.

CopyBot hasn't hurt Second Life's economy Rosedale insisted, pointing to an increase in sales this week as compared to previous weeks, and in particular an increase in virtual fashion sales during "past few days." Of course, Second Life's population grows every week, and with it, economic activity. Rosedale said last month, Linden Dollar transactions were up 23%, and that roughly 2.1M US$ were traded through the company's "Lindex" currency exchange. He didn't mention a recent spike in transactions caused by a deliberate series of zero-sum transactions, however.

Contrary to a bold claim made earlier this year, Rosedale said that Second Life's "central architecture" is having trouble scaling to meet the virtual world's population increase. "There are 75k people in Second Life each day, and 100 Lindens," he said (concurrent usage oscillates between about 6k and 15k at this time). "We’ve got central systems challenges," admitted Rosedale, pointing to "1000s of APIs, millions of lines of code, built by on average 10 people." The company has opened a second co-location facility, and is deploying servers across America. "There will be bumps," he said, noting that the system is suffering from networking glitches and crashes. A number of such service issues have been affecting the virtual world since last weekend, and hit Second Life very hard last month.

Rosedale said that he feels Linden Lab is a "great business," and has long-term plans for Second Life, possibly contradicting an earlier company statement about seeking an IPO or buyout. "We don’t need to partner to grow," he said. The company's biggest problem at this time, said Rosedale, is staffing. "I’d like to invite everyone out there to consider joining us in working here at Linden Lab... Even if you don’t see a job that fits you, send us a resume... We need more jobs faster. Most people don’t realize how small a team this is. We’re still less than 30 developers, overall headcount about a hundred." Rosedale added that telecommuting is a possibility, something only a few Linden staffers currently engage in.
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