One thing that bothered me about the comments. Yes, the 'stark reality' is if you fall behind in tier, you lose unless you pay up. You not only lose your land, but your content and paid account.
Intellectual property of ALL KINDS has value, and I do NOT agree with the idea that Linden Lab can take your pixellated intellectual property and just destroy it without any recourse.
A Terms of Service is a two-way street, and this is where Linden Lab falls short, and earns its own bad reputation. Yes, they are a business. Yes, they have a right to shut you down if you fail to pay your commitments. At the same time, destroying your self-created content and all the intellectual property you paid for to use or have rights to is NOT good business sense.
At one time in Linden Lab's history, they wanted to market virtual worlds as a tool to be used for all kinds of things and created content. They wanted to be the pioneers in virtual platforms for the creation of intellectual property. It's no wonder they weren't taken seriously. Look at what they do to their current customers, the thousands-plus people who create content that put Second Life on the map in the first place.
It isn't just accomplished artists that deserve better treatment - but ALL of Second Life's paid customers. They deserve swift and competent customer service. They deserve a modicum of respect as the very people who make the existence of Second Life viable. Last but not least, they deserve to have a competent way to back up both inventory and creations so that a "server glitch" or a failed inventory server doesn't obliterate it - or goodness forbid, an account in arrears.
YES we are paying for the virtual land we ALL use as a starting "canvas". YES we are paying for the tools we use to create. YES we are paying for physical server use and electricity and paychecks. If and when we are gone, we are one less person who is paying for all of that. To quote myself from an earlier post: "Linden Lab hemorrhages customers like a hemophiliac on aspirin with a stab wound to the liver." They lose customers at that rate, why? I contend it is because they show no respect whatsoever for the intellectual property and rights we all invest real time and real money in.
Let me remind you: It wasn't "paranoid creators" that resulted in Linden Lab borking any sort of viable backup system. It was Linden Lab's lame attempt to try to stem the flow of intellectual property out of Second Life, to Opensim-based grids.
Your intellectual property matters to them if you try to export it to a new platform. It also matters if they need PR shots for advertising, or for the little banner at the top of the Marketplace site. It matters when they try to show the universe what wonderful things you can accomplish in a virtual world that are impossible in the concrete.
It seems to stop mattering when you wish to preserve what is your full right to preserve. THAT, above all else, is why Linden Lab's offering of virtual platforms for the business and nonprofit worlds was greeted with a big bunch of silence.
When a business shows absolutely no respect for their current customers, it can, and will, affect their future ventures. Linden Lab, haven't you learned anything yet?
I could write a whole post further about how Linden Lab has failed to adjust to a world economy in depression, and how they could vastly increase their revenue stream by lowering tier costs, thereby encouraging new land and sim purchases, and the retaining of existing ones. Instead, they've kept their pricing artificially inflated while downgrading the hardware at the back end of the virtual world, which results in poorer performance...and then you're back to customer service...and it becomes a vicious cycle.
As for Ina's naesayers: You have one thing right - everyone deserves the level of respect that accomplished artists are asking for. However, the remainder of your comments echo the lack of respect for a person's intellectual property rights when it comes to virtual worlds. While you may not value YOUR intellectual property that much, the REST of us do.