Once More, into the Shitstorm

I’m leaving tonight for a peaceful vacation in Ireland, starting with a week in Dublin and then onto a car/bike meander to Cork, where I’ll enjoy a pleasant Bloggers dinner and drink in the wisdom of Shel Israel and Salim Ismail (shades of Skinny Legs and All!) at the refined Web 2.0 Half Day Conference, under the auspices of the (presumably) genteel Cork Regional Network for IT Professionals

What a delicious prospect. I’m ready to be embraced by the graces of a slower time and place, free from the frenetic grasping of our overly-keen culture, twisting every spontaneous innovation into a volation of an existing bizplan.

Oops! Scratch That! It turns out that no corner of the globe is safe from the sensitized grievances of self-important US institutions and their lawyers. Our host Tim Raftery reports and Shel echoes and Digg amplified, that lawyers for O’Reilly Publishing have copyrighted “Web 2.0” and so are supremely uninterested in this Irish attack on the O’Reilly conference franchise:

Mind you, we’re talking about an O’Reilly attacking a Raftery. Is there a deeper significance? Might there be a simmering centuries-old feud between the Raftery and O’Reilly clans? You never know in these clan-based societies that seem to befuddle our nation so. 

Lemme get this straight. O’reilly and CMP want to own the idea of giving stuff away. Can you really “own” a phrase that, according to Dave Winer, appears 79,400,000 times on the web? This is doomed to fail on so many levels. 

A Web 2.0 by any other Name is still a Hype

The one-two punch of the hype surrounding Web 2.0 and now this action prompts Brian Oberkirch to denounce the whole meme:

Web 2.0 Is Dead to Me

I was already tired of the phrase and we had been phasing out references in all the Big in Japan tools. With all the lawyer tomfoolerly yesterday, though, I’ve come to the Roberto Duran point: no mas.

It’s outlived its usefulness, and, as these things tend to go, with money involved people start acting crazy. So, we’re not using that phrase anymore. We’re totally stoked about what’s going on in the Web & in social media. All our friends are still making great stuff. We just won’t let this phrase be the signpost for the conversation.

Process Trumping Tromping People

I’ve worked with Tim O’Reilly and Sara Winge and respect and like them – Sara and I had a meeting re ORGware just last month at their offices in Sebastopol. They’re smart and serious about open source. Sara says they wish they’d talked to the folks in Cork before siccing the lawyers on them. 

This PR disaster is a great argument for my principle that companies should not keep people as busy as they do. Sara’s post tells the tale of process, not communication. Doc told me it’s “A lawyer mistake while Tim was on vacation.” 

Unfortunately, that won’t mollify the masses. Whether it’s contaminated Tylenol or Audi’s nonexistent unintended acceleration self-hypnosis, the facts are no match for the perception. I’m sure they’ll get out ahead of this with a sincere and open dialogue, starting today. Maybe they create a licensing program on their site so anyone can use the mark by acknowledging that they have no rights to the mark.

Copy Right vs. Copy Wrong

For what it’s worth, I’m in O’Reilly’s shoes myself. I’m not half the businessman or humanitarian that Tim is, but I have the luxury of a little time for reflection. Open Resource Group, LLC owns the registered trademark “Open Resource”. So naturally I and my attorney were enchanted to learn, a couple of months ago, that Infoworld.com had a terrific blog they called “Open Resource“:

Candid, irreverent, comprehensive commentary, news, and analysis of the growing open source industry.

Check it out – it’s great. Because I’m not as busy as people in a “real” company like O’Reilly, I picked up the phone and called Jon Udell for counsel on how I could avoid being a jerk about this – I’m sure those were my exact words. He did some research, concluded that our mark is valid, talked to his people, and wondered what I was going to do about it. I started thinking about it and haven’t finished. Meanwhile, IDG has quietly changed the title of the page to “Open Sources”, although the directory is still “/openresource”. I could care less about this “infringement”. One good thing about attorneys is that you can tell them to mind their own business, but that may be clearer to a former real estate developer than to publishers.

Since we own the mark and the domain name, why should I be concerned? We’ll develop our brand one customer at a time by earning and maintaining their trust. Tim and Sara know this, but they’re stuck in a corporate environment that forces them to listen to so few lawyers rather than attend to so many friends. 

That is SO Web 1.0.

11:09:40 AM    comment [commentCounter (403)]

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