Lately complaints about big/RL corp intrusion into SL is heating up, specifically after the announced price raise of island estates by LL. As you can see in the comments on the LL Blog here and this post on SLI. And my responses, here and here.
Basically it partly boils down to age old difference between the platform party and the Nation party, the augmentationist or immersionists. And to be clear I'm a augmentationist member of the Platform party. ;P
People feel that the big corps only should be paying higher tier rates (what ever those prices would be). One of the reasons is that some assume the price increase in Island tier is (only) the result of the sudden increase of members. Forgetting that every business in SL profits from the hundreds of thousands new eye balls looking in to SL. I know my sales have only been increasing the last months. Thank you Reuters and Yahoo.
Or is that the Big Corporations have the money so let's just give the bill to them, even though it has been established that they aren't even creating the highest traffic.
A other reason is that Big Corps are often besides selling a SL product advertising for their RL products as well. For a immersionist that is of course a deadly sin. "Don't bring my sucky RL in to SL, yo!"
What puzzles me about their attitude is that they are discriminatory and secondly that they assume it would be a easy distinction for LL to make. Of course the corps in the spotlights right now are easy to make out, Toyota is a big Corp and should pay more, Dominus by Francis Chung(not me) is Resident grown and will be subsidized.
But lets blur the line with a big fat marker. One day a sim or multiple sims open named Donkervoort, and there you find a assortment of spiffy sport cars for sale. Now when you right-click you see that the sim and all the contents is created by Frans Charming(yes me). And you might say: "Hey cool, Frans has gone in car design and even has a original brand name!".
Later you find out that actually Donkervoort is a RL sports car manufacturer in The Netherlands, and you cry foul, "Boo, Frans should be paying Commercial Rates". But Frans responds: "What for? Donkervoort isn't promoting this, I bought a License to reproduce and sell their cars and brand in a virtual environment!".
And now it gets difficult, is this a homegrown Resident who just invested some money into designs and brand name or is this a 'Big Corp' even though they are only involved in the way of a License?
And what if I tell you when I entered SL, it was on the prospect of making some money. I saw Tringo's success and thought, lets explore this. Am I now a business off to make money on SL or a homegrown Resident who organically grew into SL business?
Now i know for many people, it would still be easy to make the distinction. But place yourself into LL's shoes. They would need to hire the staff, and then they have to follow my little trail here and now decide in all honesty, Dominus by Francis Chung and Donkervoort by Frans Charming, who is what?
The problem does not lay in the extremes but in these grey zones. Should and would you even want LL, a software development and server hosting company, hire a dozens of people to investigate these cases.
Another example, it wouldn't surprise me that at some point a SL only business starts selling RL products, actually now that i think about it, some already are. Nocturnal Threads
Does Nocturnal Threads now get penalized for trying to make a buck in meat space, and has to pay increased tier prices? I would say no.
Now what if a succesfull business selling merchandise on Cafepress comes into SL, and starts selling their design there as well. Would they have to start paying for Commercial tier rates?
I wouldn't want LL to burden themselves with these kind of checks, especially with the ever growing popularity of SL we will see more and more business crossing the virtual and meat space border from both sides. It would become just a impossible as it would be now to investigate every business on the Internet if they have a RL shop as well.
Fight your Tier battles with LL, don't try to push your costs on meat space corporations.
Ps: The Donkervoort scenario is completely fictional.