Permissions Glitchery

There have been a few incidents recently involving residents experiencing problems with permissions on objects they’ve created. It is extremely frustrating - you’ve been tinkering along on a project not just for hours, but days, weeks, or even months and then one day, inexplicably, you find that you no longer have permission to modify it. Across the grid, it’s led folks to curse, scream, shake fists in the air, bang on keyboards, and in a few cases just plain throw in the towel and leave Second Life in disgust.

I can certainly relate - I’ve had it happen with a few builds and projects over the last year. In an effort to help others and raise some awareness so that maybe it eases frustrations, I figured I’d share what I’ve learned so far about the issue.

First and foremost, I believe the problem to be a glitch in the server software. It isn’t some secret piece of Linden malware, and it’s not something anyone at Linden Lab is actively doing to ruin your day/week/life. I point that out because talking to folks in-world and reading posts on forums it seems LL employees are unfairly vilified, and I don’t think that’s helpful. While they don’t prioritize the things I wish they would on a lot of occasions, the people I’ve had occasion to meet are generally hard-working and trying to make SL a better place. That said, let’s talk more about the glitch.

What happens is that occasionally during a rolling restart, the sim applies what are called ‘next owner’ permissions on some or all of the prims that are rezzed on that sim. I say some or all because I’ve heard varying reports. Personally I’ve only experienced it happening to some of my objects, but others have had wholesale problems. Being a proper glitch, it’s sporadic and random like that. It also doesn’t appear to affect all residents or all regions at once.

What exactly does that mean? If you build things in Second Life, it means that you run the risk of losing full permission/control over your creations. When you rez a prim in Second Life, the object has default ‘next owner’ permissions of no modify, no copy, and transfer (as seen in the image above). You can bend it, twist it, shape it, link it, and even script it. But when you sell or give that object to someone else, that next owner will not be able to modify or make copies. They can sell or give the item away, but they can’t make changes. The glitch effectively locks you out of your own creations!

To safeguard your creations, I recommend that builders take a couple precautions. First, change the perms on your prims when you rez them. As soon as you see that plywood prim, click the general tab of the Build menu and check the Modify, Copy, and Transfer boxes. This way, should the unthinkable happen on one of your builds or a work-in-progress, you’ll still have full permissions on your creation. Second, back up your work. Well, back it up at least within the scope of SL. That part’s easy - just select the item and take a copy into your inventory. While it can be a bit tedious or take a while to get into the habit of doing that, it’s far less painful than getting locked out of your own work. Use the same rule of thumb for backing up SL builds as for backing up your computer data.... You don’t have to back up everything - just the stuff you want to keep.

It’s worth pointing out that setting an item’s ‘next owner’ perms does not mean that anybody can take their own full permissions copies of your work. If you look closely at the image above, you’ll see a separate checkbox that allows you to set whether anyone can copy your object. Once you’re finished with your creation and ready to give or sell the item, you can then modify the ‘next owner’ permissions to be whatever you’d like, and then you’re good to go. In an ideal world, bugs and glitches in computer code could be instantly found and someone could get that problem resolved and we’d never need to take precautionary steps or make backup copies - but as it stands we aren’t there yet.