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Sudane Erato
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Attention legal eagles: your help is requested!

Post by Sudane Erato »

Folks,

Within the next few weeks, we hope to introduce operation of our new land management system. This wonderful new application, developed by Eloise Pasteur, and available through our website, will make buying and managing land in the CDS sims far more convenient.

One feature of the new system is the generating of Land Deeds. Our current, and on-going, policy is to generate one deed for each citizen (or group of citizens), listing on that deed all holdings. The new deed system will, consistent with that policy, generate a "buyers" and a "sellers" deed for each transaction.

We need help drafting the verbiage of such a deed. The current deed form has many inadequacies. In addition, the fact of computer generation of these forms requires a re-working; organizing the text into the three sections indicated below.

Finally, we are constrained by the existing notary system to contain documents subject to notarization to fewer than 4096 characters. We plan to use extensive reference via URL to external documents which form any part of the agreement.

The software permits three sections to the deed, and i have placed a skeleton of such a deed below. The three sections are:

(1) A text Header, which contains no transaction specific details, but which can be modified periodically as needed.

(2) A relatively "set-in-stone" (meaning that the text is hard-coded into the app by the creator) section which besides the hard-coded text includes the transaction specific data

(3) A text End Piece, very similiar to the Header, containing no transaction specific details, but which can, from time to time, be conveniently modified as needed.

Here is a a skeleton version of the deed, for which I request your input. Since the code is not yet finalized, all three sections are open to adjustment. The contents of the data fields, however, are not open to such adjustment, since they derive from an existing elaborately fashioned database. Such data contents are marked below in [color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]cyan[/color:2sv2ffbe].

[color=green:2sv2ffbe]< beginning of Header >[/color:2sv2ffbe]

DEED FOR LAND
Confederation of Democratic Simulators (CDS)
Virtual World of Second Life
------------------------------------------------------

It is hereby recorded land ownership as follows

[color=green:2sv2ffbe]< end of Header >[/color:2sv2ffbe]
[color=red:2sv2ffbe]< beginning of hard-coded text with inserted filed data from the land database >[/color:2sv2ffbe]

Owner: {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]group or individual owner name[/color:2sv2ffbe]}
holding land in the {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]name of simulator[/color:2sv2ffbe]} simulator,
by this Deed Number {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]deed number[/color:2sv2ffbe]}, superceding Deed Number {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]previous deed number[/color:2sv2ffbe]},
holds the following parcels:

{[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]parcel#1[/color:2sv2ffbe]}
{[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]parcel#2[/color:2sv2ffbe]}
{[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]Parcel#3[/color:2sv2ffbe]}
{.....}

Total holding for {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]owner[/color:2sv2ffbe]} is {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]total square meters[/color:2sv2ffbe]} square meters in {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]total number of parc[/color:2sv2ffbe]els} parcels. Monthly fees are US${[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]total monthly fees in US$[/color:2sv2ffbe]}.

This deed was prepared on {[color=cyan:2sv2ffbe]date of preparation[/color:2sv2ffbe]}.

[color=red:2sv2ffbe]< end of hard-coded text with inserted filed data from the land database >[/color:2sv2ffbe]
[color=blue:2sv2ffbe]< beginning of End Piece >[/color:2sv2ffbe]

Owner hereby acknowledges that they have read, understood, and agreed to the following.......

etc.. etc.. tec

[color=blue:2sv2ffbe]< end of End Piece >[/color:2sv2ffbe]

Please ask if this is not clear. Everything except the contents of the Cyan fields is subject to creation at this time. Once the application is built, only the Green Header section and the Blue End Piece section will be capable of convenient modification.

Thank you for any assistance you can give. Our new deed forms are vitally important.

Sudane.....

Beathan
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Post by Beathan »

Sudane --

I'm not sure that tracking land by owner is the best way to do it -- at least exclusively. As I understand our title system, land is not subdividable. This would lead to an easy tracking system on a parcel-by-parcel basis. Tracking ownership by parcel, rather than by person, is a more common way to do things in RL -- and for good reason. Tracking by person, rather than parcel, is far more likely to result in errors as to parcel ownership and apparent common ownership of parcels that are not commonly owned.

I think that a person-by-person track might be useful, as a list of citizens -- but I think its utility is better served by spreadsheet voter roles as a separate document from title records.

Beathan

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Post by Sudane Erato »

Beathan, I appreciate your perspective on this. Several factors dictate that a citizen based listing is the way we will go for now at least. I'll try to explain.

From the very beginning of Neufreistadt (then called Neualtenburg) we were a sim with a very large number of parcels and a relatively small number of residents owning those parcels. We were confronted with the problem of recording deeds securely for these residents, but also making the deeds available for public inspection. We were also confronted with limited resources, re building a storage and retrieval system that would keep all these in order.

We decided at that time on the current structure of recording, and Gwyn Llewelyn created the deed system which has been in place since that time. You can inspect it on the ground floor of the Rathaus, towards the far left. All the deeds are non-modifiable notecards stored in the small box on the floor to the right of the room, which is accessible only to Rudeen (the Estate Owner). The notecards are publically accessible by anyone who simply touches the "DeedKey", the book-like object on the shelves ahead of you, each with an individual's name. Obviously, the deed you will retrieve contains all the parcels of land which that citizen owns.

This is a secure system, which, however, still requires considerable manual work to write and store each deed. To respond to the increasing complexity of the sims and the increasing number of people, we commissioned Eloise Pasteur several months ago to write a new system which reads land ownership information directly from the land itself into a database, generating both maps of the various parcels and the deeds themselves, in a form appropriate for the new notary system which we have at NFS.

Unfortunately, until next Wednesday, November 15, the programming code functions available to us for reading the land information from the land included ONLY the ability to read the owner's name (UUID) from a given spot of land. In order to calculate the parcel boundaries, every square meter of the sim must be scanned (actually every 4x4 s/m, the minimum element of dividable land), and then associated with an owner. From this, we get "ownership regions" rather than actual parcels. Further, Eloise has somehow magically enabled us to divide those "ownership regions" into parcels. But this division takes hours of work (having to be done manually), and must be re-done everytime there is a parcel change.

With all these things in consideration, system design began over the summer for a deed system based on Citizens, rather than Parcels. While it was suspected that some day in the future LL might release functions for its code system which enabled more data readout from the land itself, there was no word at all when that might be. The application was designed around code functions we knew we had.

Furthermore, even if the upcoming expanded land data readout capacities were available from the beginning, the actual nature of digital land might well dictate the structural system which we've established. Parcels are "calculated" entities, they are calculated by scanning each s/m and discovering what its "parcel name" is, and then calculating the boundaries and size from that information. While its true that boundaries do not change all *that* often, it is also true that any given s/m can only have *one* parcel assignment. If two neighbors were to request the shifting of a 4x4 s/m land element from one parcel to another, there is zero liklihood that the element will appear later in both parcels (unlike the similiar transaction in RL).

Also furthermore, by maintaining our primary data structure as based on the Citizen, rather than the parcel, we accomplish several operational goals:

1) The avatar person is the fundamental structure of the community. There are few of them, and many parcels of land. They tend to change their land holdings often. Having a system of deeds based on the citizen in our system is much simpler. While its surely possible to retrieve the name of any given parcel's owner, using the map tool being developed, or just visiting the parcel, the records needing to be kept are simply one for each citizen.

2) Phase two of this project will be development of a "Citizens' Account" system. Many of the transactions between a citizen and the community will be folded into this system, including deeds and land fees. Here again, land parcel records based on the "citizen" entity will enable a simpler implementation.

So, for better or worse, we have the system as developed. Perhaps someday it will be rebuilt, based on an experience of its strengths and weaknesses. Until that time comes, we need deeds which accurately document the holdings of a citizen at a given moment.

Sudane.....

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deed

Post by Beathan »

Sundane --

The system CDS is using makes sense given the institutional limitations imposed by LL. It should not pose any problems given the relatively small number of parcels and transactions. However, if we can move at some point to a system of deeds based on parcels coupled with a more general database, I think we should. For one thing, deeds based on owners require issuance and recording of two new deeds for every transaction -- a new deed for the buyer showing the new ownership interest and a new deed for the seller removing the old ownership interest. This duality also creates the possibility of a contradiction in the records -- as would occur if the new seller deed is not issued and recorded.

With regard to the form of the deeds, I need to know what the deeds are intended to accomplish and what the scope of private ownership is. In RL U.S. we have several different kinds of deeds. All deeds transfer the seller's interest in the property to the buyer. However, with some deeds (statutory warranty deeds), the seller is also promising the buyer that there are no problems with the land. (For instance, no clouds on title; no unrecorded easements; no taxes sue; no encroachments by neighbors.) Other deeds (quit claim deeds) make no such promises (and in fact don't even promise that the seller owns the land. The buyer gets whatever rights the seller had, and if the seller had no rights, the buyer gets no rights. This can create the possibility of fraud in some cases, but it is also useful when there is a lack of certainty as to the ownership of a parcel.) Further, some deeds (often called "bargain and sale deeds") make some but not all of the promises made in statutory warranty deeds. Finally, there is often a special kind of deed used when land is sold in a foreclosure sale (as land might be here if it was taken back by CDS for nonpayment of land use fees; or if we develop a mortgage system allowing use of land as security for loans).

Alternatively, we might treat SL deeds as we treat titled personal property (think "cars"). This kind of ownership allows for relatively easy mortgage-like tansactions.

Are we anticipating giving buyers a right to sue sellers if there are some defects in title or the property? (We don't have easements, but encroachments might be a possibility. Also, on land use fees, we might want to make a rule that land use fees follow the land so a new owner has to pay the past-due amounts. This is a good idea because it gets the CDS paid even if the deliquent owner is beyond reach.)

Also, what is the purpose of the verification at the end of the document? Is it just for notary purposes, or does it indicate some substantial promise or authority?

Also, do we anticipate possibly making land sales taxable at the sales price? Ordinarily, we cannot track transactions, which makes taxing them difficult. However, once governmental recognition and recording is required, transactions are far more transparent to government scrutiny and are, therefore, far more easily taxed.

Beathan

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Sudane Erato
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Post by Sudane Erato »

Yes, two deeds will be issued for each transaction, just as you say. Since they are both issued together, there is not much danger of contradiction, but only of the misplacement of one of the two.

Your list of options is very useful, as it causes the definition of what we are doing here. The deeds as we have built the concept into our system are not documents concerned with the Buyer or the Seller, but rather a document issued by the "state" declaring you to be "Owner". Thus, the Seller is not mentioned. You receive your new parcel from the state (as Buyer), or you cede it to the state such that it no longer appears on your deed (as Seller). The Buyer receives no rights other than those defined in the primary documents of the CDS; indeed, citizenship itself, and use of the land itself as specified in the Covenants.

In fact, to underscore the point that the Seller and Buyer have no direct relationship, other than the amount of sale price agreed, we are migrating to the system by which the buyer pays the agreed amount of moeny to the City, which then pays the seller.

As far as delinquent land use fees, the important fact is that the Seller and Buyer both depend upon the City to effectuate the transaction, and issue the deed. If the RA were to decide that penalties should be collected at the point of any land sale where fees were overdue, this would not need to be in the deed at all. The City might simply withold issuance until such penalties were paid.

The skeleton I provided is *entirely* open to your suggestion. The only thing already set is the availability of the Cyan field data; and not even its arrangement is set. The text within the Green and Blue sections is entirely disposable, and thus there was no particular verification assumed. I will point out, however, that by agreeing to the terms of this deed, the Buyer agrees to accept all the obligations of citizenship. Therefore, it is really a Land Deed and Citizenship papers all rolled up in one.

Sudane.....

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