AR Developers: You Leap Too Far, You Leap Alone

Understanding Magic Leap's Creator Agreement

The AR world is justifiably abuzz about finally getting its hands on the Magic Leap One. This long-rumored device may not (yet) create immersive illusions of whales diving through gymnasium floors, but it does appear to be an important step forward in AR smartglasses technology, proving the naysayers wrong. Developers across the world have been clamoring to get their hands on the debut model that just became available August 8.

In your haste to click through all the “I agree” buttons to get to the good stuff, though, be sure not to skip the fine print. Before you reach the Creator Portal on Magic Leap’s website, you’ll need to agree to the company’s Account Terms and Conditions (in order to get your Magic Leap ID) and the Creator Agreement (to reach the Portal). From a lawyer’s perspective, the agreements themselves are actually pretty well-written; they default to plain English over legalese wherever possible, with the requisite dose of humor here and there. And the vast majority of terms are pretty standard for these sorts of documents.

But these agreements contain one twist that has already caught some developers off-guard. The Creator Agreement makes clear that it is a contract between Magic Leap and the individual developer, not with the developer’s company:

Please note that this Agreement is binding on you personally–it doesn’t cover your employer or company. Companies can join our creator community by registering as publishers, which is a separate process that will enable them to submit and publish applications to our application store, Magic Leap World.

And the Account Terms and Conditions make clear that each person has only one Magic Leap ID, and that they are the only ones who may use it:

  • You may only create one Magic Leap ID….
  • You are solely responsible for any and all use of your Magic Leap ID and all activities that occur under or in connection with your Magic Leap ID.
  • You will not allow another person to use our Services with your Magic Leap ID.

Why is this significant? A couple reasons. First, it may run contrary to the way that some developers are used to collaborating. Magic Leap is currently only making its device available in six cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, the San Francisco Bay area and Seattle. The device will only be delivered and set up in these geographic areas. Many developers, however, work in loose teams comprised of people all over the country or the world. Even within these cities, teams may consist of people who have and haven’t created their own personal Magic Leap IDs, but rather are logging in under a shared ID. Any such sharing of an ID, however, violates these terms.

Second, the consequences for violating the terms could be severe for individual developers. It’s too early to know whether Magic Leap will actually ban someone for collaborating within a company using a shared ID, but the documents certainly suggest that’s what would happen. And if it does, that developer would be out of luck thereafter, regardless of who they work for.

Of course, Magic Leap is fully within its rights to license its platform in this manner. And it’s not necessarily that much to ask that each person use their own ID. Perhaps the terms will be applied with some grace for those innocently sharing IDs in order to make really cool apps that bring value to this brave new Magic Leap World. But it’s not a good idea to test the boundaries. Make sure to read and follow the agreements you sign.

As of this posting, most of Magic Leap’s legal documents, including the Account Terms and Conditions are available here. The Creator Agreement, however, only appears when you’re presented with it for agreement, and even Googling the site to find it leads to a broken link. But I’ve posted a copy of it here, and it’s available within your account info after you sign it.

Looking forward to all the awesomeness the developer community can bring us.