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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Adult Content changes and Art Galleries

I spent some time trying to catch up on all the new Adult rules after chatting about this with Doran Forzane. I searched a ton of chat logs and forum posts and thought I'd collect just the stuff that was real relevant to gallery owners here so if you've not been up to speed on this issue, you can get the important points here to help you decide what, if any, changes you may need to make to your land/gallery/location.

First, read Maturity ratings: an overview.

The following is excerpts from the Followup definitions meeting transcript:

JP: OK, question one from Katriana, "Have we determined yet a way to make sure that legitimate art galleries are not being censored or being asked to censor the artists that they host?"

Marty: Well, we think so. Here's what we're currently planning. The art will be able to be in a Mature Region. We're not going to get too deeply into trying to define what's art.

But what we will say is that if you've tagged the art with words that indicate an adult intent, then we will be filtering for those results. And if the intent with the art is to engage in an adult activity, then it will need to go in anAadult area. But if it's art for art's sake, then it can be in the Region. Does that make sense?

Marty: Yes, it should. Not tagging the parcel that contains the art with the words that would indicate that the parcel has or the user intends to engage in adult activity.

JP: That's the first question. I'm just catching up for the record. The second question coming in is from Lord Sullivan. "Is a word list going to be released for us, or do we need to continue to make it available on our wiki@slapped.me?"

Marty: The word list is not going to be published by us. The words that are on the list will evolve over time and will be tailored to the uses in Second Life. So it will not be a static list, and we will not publish it.

JP: Next question is coming in from Phoenix Wells. "Is the term 'photo-realistic' still going to be used to define adult? Or is photographic now going to be used when combined with nudity to define all adult? I'm asking because photo-realistic is still the term used to define art in skins."

Marty: I don't know where we used that word to define art in skins, but that is not the intent. The intent is pictures. So skins and art will... I mean nude skins and art can be in the mature Region.

The term "photo-realistic" is the problem, is that what you're saying? Well, maybe we'll use a different word. Well, maybe photography would be a better way to say it, but we're trying to make clear our intent is that art and skins -- nudity depicted as art, or art that depicts nudity and a skin -- are not necessarily adult. Although, the word "photo-realistic" probably won't be on the list.

The following are excerpts from Adult Oriented content controls: definitions meeting transcript:

Q: Nudity shouldn’t necessarily be adult, but wouldn’t be allowed in a PG space, right?

A: I agree about the nudity. Nudity shouldn't be allowed on PG. But I think nudity should be allowed on mature, because you can have nude beaches that are not sexual.

Q: But if you are going to turn that nude beach into a sex beach, then it becomes an adult thing. I think that is a pretty good definition of how to handle that…

A: Yes. That is exactly right. I just don't know that we have a very good way of drawing that line yet, so that is why we are still talking about. But you are right. Nudity is not sexual necessarily, but it is mature.

Q: Exactly. So I think that when it comes to talking about the PG section of it, there is no nudity. And I think that includes skins and shape sellers. They need to have bits covered. That is just the way it is. There is no nudity on those places.

Even art. I mean, art is subjective. You can have the exact same two pictures, both naked people, and you put that in a museum, and that is art. You put that in a strip club and it is pornography. So it is subjective.

However, on a PG sim, it is just purely not allowed. I think that definition...I think that PG has already defined itself. Honestly, I am not even going to take my six year old kids to a museum where there is T&A hanging out. They don't need that right now. They are going to get it enough when they are watching TV.

But yeah; exactly. It would be on a mature parcel, but does not have to be on an adult parcel, to my definition of it…

Q: I am interested in assessing the concept of photo realistic nudity as adults. With the number of European Residents we have with very different views on nudity, this could be problematic.

A: So if photo realistic nudity would be...We are trying not to evoke the words of Justice Stewart, "I know when I see it, " but unfortunately in this case that might be the case.

I think if it is a nude picture that is for something involving medical research, then that would be one thing. But if it is a nude picture whose, and I am going sound very lawyerly here, the primary purpose of which is to appeal to ones prurient interest, then that is going to be adult content.

The community standards that will apply to Second Life are probably going to be a blend of what you are considering European and American and Asian. We have people from all over the world using this service.

While US law is the primary law that applies to the company, we're going to try to thread a needle here. And hence the difficulty we're having because we are writing for a world community, and it's hard.

And just to be clear, when we say photo realistic, we don't mean avatars look more realistic than other avatars. We literally mean photos. And the types of nude photos that generally would be filtered out of say, a YouTube of a daily motion. That's more or less in line with European standards and US standards in terms of trying to filter off some of this activity on these types of platforms.

So to respond to some of the chat, "Hustler Magazine," adult. An art gallery that has artists who's work is nude and somewhat sexual, well, again, it's going to depend on what somewhat is. I would say, it could be in a mature Region, unless the somewhat sexual equals provocative gestures or two figures in the same painting doing things that are provocative.

I don't think that we're going to be able to get that granular with it. I think that when you go an art gallery, you expect to see challenging things. That's what art is about. But if you go to see a Maplethorpe show, there's going to be a sign on the wall and an expectation of an adult audience. Because of the bondage component. But yeah, I think that use has a piece of this. When I go to a Maplethorpe show, I expect that I'm not going to see 12 year old kids in there. Right?

Q: I have to absolutely disagree with you. I have seen amazing pictures of women in ropes. That's bondage. And someone with their hands bound in front of their hands, artfully, beautifully done. That's just not adult. That's not sexual. That can be art.

Yes, if you are going show something somewhere, that's going to be adult. But if you are going to just show it, just because they have ropes on them? What is ropes, how is ropes any different than maybe sexy underwear?

A: I think that it has as much to do with intentionality as anything else. We took a little field trip, the adult team, in our alts to a list of places where people were concerned about what their content might be.

The six of us have been thinking about this for a very long time. We don't have all the perfect answer but we thought how hard is this going to be for us to do as a community and as the group that is going to have to deal with where things go?

So to make those choices when we went to look at those places: is this adult or is this not? And actually it was really clear to us, almost unanimously what we felt was adult and what was not. This is a group of people from all over the world and all different roles here at the lab. It was not actually very difficult for us to decide.

It is ultimately true that some of this is going to have to be subjective and I don't think we actually want it not to be subjective. I would like my specialists to be able to come to your Regions and say, oh, you guys are fine. This is great. This is beautiful. It's fantastic. Good job. We love having this here.

And sometimes you might come and say, this is adult content and it's going to have to go in an adult place. What we like to do is get as good a working definition of what we think adult, mature and PG constitute, but there are going to be edge cases. There's no doubt about it.

If you say to me that there is a depiction of sexual adult behavior with whips and chains and ropes, I think that some people would find that challenging and put it in adult. Is it art? Yeah, I think it is. And I don't think that we can make blanket statements like art galleries should be exempt.

I don't think that we can say that actually because I think that that some of that is going to have to be subjective. And it isn't censorship. It's a discussion about how we want the community to encounter things in a predictable way.

So I don't think that we should get too... I don't want us to get too rigid. I don't want to say all art galleries have to be mature. Maybe some art galleries would like to be in the adult area. I would like it to be more about choice and discussion and less about lines.

Q: Absolutely saying anything related is adult is wrong because it doesn't have to be sexual to have ropes laid out, so to speak. So I think that's going to be a huge, gray area for that. and I think usage and how things are used is going to have to be a bigger consideration as to what the actual pictures shows.

A: Some of it is going to be adult. Sometimes it's going to be mature. Just like some sexual behavior is going to be adult and some is going to be mature. I don't think it has to be on one side of the line or the other.

Q: But that's going to dictate... you can have the same two sexual activities, one is in the privacy of your own home and one is in the middle of the floor at some club. That alone defines where it is. Adult Region or mature Region.

A: The intent of an art gallery is to be a public space, right? So that's a little bit different than what you are doing in your home.

Q: But it's still nudity and it's still art, as opposed to having sex right underneath those pictures so you emulate what's going on in the pictures.

A: So I think there's going to be, in the ambiguity between now and when we publish these definitions and start making decisions about what we're calling edge cases, that we're just going to have to live with. We won't really know until we start doing it what content is going to go where.

Because as I said, we have looked at a lot of content as a part of this project but we haven't looked at all of it. It's impossible to do and it changes all the time.

So I apologize for the anxiety that the ambiguity is probably going to cause. We're going to ask for some trust on your part that we are trying to do the right thing.

We hope these Brown Bags are evidence of our intent to try to do the right thing. We're not here to censor people, but Second Life is a service that we run. We're doing the best we can based on our education and experience with a lot of input from you.

And to that point, we're not excluding the content. There are a lot of companies and services whose policy is to exclude adult content, and we're not doing that. I would argue, in fact, we're embracing it by doing this.


  1. Hi Sasun, thanks for the info on this blog.
    I very much appreciate how you try to find all the information valuable to us. Unfortunately it seems to me that even LL itself does not really know where to draw the line. So how are we supposed to know it? I consider all the art in my galleries art, but there is nudity, there is ropes, and it is called bdsm art, which is probably one of the words that will be defined as adult - cause if not, then what else is? And I really don't care for some fanatics going round an reporting my art for being adult on a mature sim, so I decided to buy me a homestead and move all my galleries and art on it and rate it adult. Additional I may keep some art stores on sims with adult rate too, or on mature sims if the art is obviously not erotic or bdsm. I wish LL would be more clear about it's policy. I don't mind rules changing, but they should be clear and now they are really vague, cause I really can not figure it out for my galleries, so I better be on the safe side. Nevertheless, thanks for the info, and please keep us posted. Zena Zemlja.

  2. Scratches (PG) body parts in puzzlement - it all seems a bit over complicated at first glance.
    Surely things were pretty straightforward before? - no overt sex in PG regions and anything (within the law) was Ok in Mature regions.
    We choose our regions - they are clearly marked on the maps: and no one who is not an adult should have access to the adult SL grid.
    So why add more layers for rating regions?
    Rik Zwiers (AKA Anonymous)

  3. Zena, as I pointed out to Sasun earlier. Linden Labs have indicated that this mainly effects mainland since for private estates its the estate admin who sets the rating. This also can be an issue for a full private estate that may have more than one tenant. It opens a whole issue that could see a gallery for example on a Mature full private sim been changed to an Adult sim because of other tenants. Your response to purchase a homestead region is the best option as you will control your own rating. Its the whole reason our sims are homesteads. I would suggest that you purchase your homestead before the end of June since you will then be grandfathered in at the current tier till June 2010. Good Luck

  4. What a complete boondoggle. LL are going to regret this big time. In their rush to create a mainland adult porno ghetto and embrace the prudes and corporations, they are going to end up alienating loads of their user base. The debate about what's art and what's porn has been going on for centuries. Is Robert Mapplethorpe art or porn? Think about all those catholic priests in Renaissance Italy painting over the naughty bits in Michelangelo's "Last Judgement" fresco.

    I think all of this could ultimately lead to censorship and paranoia.

    It makes me sad to see artists worrying about things like "is this adult?" I have already started to worry whether my nudes could be considered adult when my gallery is in a Mature sim.


  5. I think and feel that this is a good thing and feel that they are trying to draw a definitive line and after reading the excerpts they have sort of an invisible line drawn to start with.
    Some places in SL just like in RL are more like someone clipping out of magazines (photos) when I could have done so myself except that some people that lack the artistic talent to express themselves other than with another's vision or parts of therein or thereof.
    I agree that tagged art/photos that indicate intent are definitive and show automatically their intent. Art is "supposed to" invoke thought and or discussion or even an action and is subjective in itself -photographic images are art as well but I think "more" subjective and should be since the original natural intent of purpose of art is the cause one to think but some things are purely displayed for shock value alone and there should be some indicator there at that location of it's intent because to me photographs are more literal.
    They "do seem to have" a broad perspective regarding what they feel is or isn't art for art sake.
    This is "my opinion" but some "said" gallery owners stretch the boundaries of anything a little too far and to me is retrospectively subjective of the viewer for shock value only and seem to only wish to welcome you to their personal nightmare. And then again we in SecondLife human form and imaginary-think about that a minute...
    I feel that if there are lines outside of what is the SL standard drawn to begin with then it would have to be caused by content displayed and obviously expressed in that location to cause harm for that sole purpose and not to express a sincere desire or intent to display or express a value or statement or mood/feeling invoking thought and contemplation and invites subjection onto itself.
    I feel that art speaks for itself and so if the content displayed causes a negative reaction then that is what it is -negative- and should be adjusted for whatever area it resides in.
    Actually ... As I am writing this I come to the realization that this topic is too vast in scope that it is impossible to really define a line other than what is obvious in it's intent as they stated.

    I don't know-- I mean-- Miss Piggy is sexy to Kermit but I wouldn't have nothing to do with her does not men that she is not sexy is what they are dealing with in principle and simply leaving it up to the community to decide is too subjective so there has to be some form of authority to say.
    I can only really boil down to I am glad I am not in their avatar's beings as it is a service they provide to the world community with a vast majority speaking negatively with regards to them yet they are here and accessing what the Lindens have to offer.
    I personally don't like damned if I do and damned if I don't things.

    Well... That's my half of my ¢0.2 on the topic.

    Be well and stay happy people it's all way too short in time.

  6. Well, there is no use to do the discussion about the rating here all over again, but I have to say it totally puzzles me why they did not simply maintain the PG and mature sims and just make all mature sims age verified. The difference between mature and adult is just something I can not explain to myself, and not to anyone else either - sigh.

  7. Doran Forzane brought up an interesting concern, even if you have a gallery on a private sim, you need to know if the sim owner plans on reclassifying the sim rating. This was his example (thanks Doran): what if you are on a private sim and over in the corner is a club/store (etc.) with adult content? The sim owner has two choices, boot the club off the sim or change the sim rating to Adult. If he does the latter, you are screwed.

    I have another question, there has been soooo much discussion on this as pointed out earlier, but on the other hand there are quite a few gallery owners that haven't given this much thought and may have some questions. I wonder if we should have another Art Gallery Owner group meeting for the benefit of anyone with questions. Let me know what you think, if reading the endless discussions isn't enough, I'd be glad to host a meeting where we can all get informed and express some concerns. Gallery owners really need to think about how these changes are going to affect them even if you have zero mature content in your gallery as per the above example illustrates.

  8. Sasun, that's a wonderful idea, to have a meeting, there are so many idea's to share.
    And yes, it's a problem if you're on a sim with PG or mature art yourself and the sim has to set adult for other content than yours. But the other way round is a problem too: what if your art is adult and the simowner only wants to rate mature? You can either decide to move then to another sim or be reported for having adult art if you stay :/ These and other issues we could well discuss in a gallery owners meeting, I will sure attend, just please set a time that is europe friendly too :) Thank you so much, Sasun!

  9. lolololol, it all makes me laugh.... Isn't it a joke? honestly?
    SL is for adults, we all know where we go, where we click...
    why is sex such a big, big, big problem????
    I have one, u have one, we all have one.

  10. This is just ridiculous. If you're scared of nipples, stay in PG.
    How hard can it be ?

  11. Sasun and I had a conversation about the rating change. Although I cant speak for Sasun, I do believe we both agreed that this is not such a bad thing. We do need to acknowledge that the underlying reason for this change is more than likely Linden Labs protecting their assests from legal liability.

    We as SL residents may not like it and I am sure many would rebuke me for even saying this. In reality SL is a MMO providing online entertainment and gaming. As such it is likely that in terms of legal liability it may fit into the catagory of computer based gaming.

    Regardless of that argument, we also need to understand that even though, in theory everyone using SL is 18 years of age or older. The "Adult" rating is not about been scared of nipples, its more about content that to most would be unacceptable, for example a pose that depicts the rape of a woman. Oh and before anyone say there is no such thing, I know there is as I accidentially came across such poses in a pose shop.

    For gallery owners and artists this is more about how the rating impacts a given gallery in SL and its location on the grid.

    Doran Forzane

  12. mmm, never meant to laugh at this post with my previous comment (though I know it sounded like that). All my respect for Sasun's work. I own an art gallery on Mainland PG area, so I'm concerned.
    But, in a perfect world (or perfect second world) common sense should sort it all out. When we go to details, it just sounds ridiculous.
    Linden Labs need to conform the U.S law. We all get it. OK, it's NOT a perfect world :-/

    Oh! Doran, and of course there's such a thing as a rape pose. I once saw funny poses to "smack your bitch up", and if you ever go to gorean or RP sims you'll discover much more.

  13. Pep, my intent was to only show an example. As a developer of both business and gaming software I have a deep knowledge of most forms gaming and role play and yes I stand corrected, maybe Gorean would have been a better example. And "YES" I so wish common sense would prevail.

    Like you, my concern is moreso for people in your situation who do own galleries and are now forced to make a decision of possibly having to relocate. Whats worse in your situation is that the only option Linden Labs are offering is a movement to Zindra, the adult continent.

    Since your gallery is on PG mainland. That would be like going from one extreme to another without any justification. Its more likely if any the content of your gallery may cross into Lindens new views of Mature content since they are taking such a draconian view in relation to PG sims. Its the reason we changed our regions from PG to Mature to remove any of that ambiguity. Yet for you, Linden Labs have not even offered any assistance for these types of movements free of charge.

    Your situation is a prim example of what Sasun and I discussed in terms of concern. Which is more proof that Linden Labs havent thought this through fully as to its true impact on the grid.

    Maybe it is worth holding an Art gallery owners meeting so concerns like yours can be tabled and presented to Linden Labs.


  14. What irks me is the fact that from the moment I signed up the creation of your account it clearly states you must be 18+ to be a part of the SL main community. Now things are being segragated into areas because some avatars might be under 18? This is getting out of hand, who knows what will not be allowed tomorrow.

    I have chosen to move my gallery to the new "adult" region just to be safe and not worry what types of displays artists will feel comfortable about displaying. I do not want the artists having to feel like they need to censor themselves in any way.

  15. I just removed a post containing a list of "LL Adult" words. I appreciate the effort to help, but please... don't post any naughty words here in this blog, the blogger.com police don't like it :)

  16. Yeah! Linden Labs, Google.... they're all cousins... :-/