Friday, May 26, 2006

let's call it web two point oh gamma service pack eight build eleven forty-two

O'Reilly sent a nastygram to a small Irish non-profit, to stop them from having a "Web 2.0" conference.

Sharing, collaboration, and the wisdom of crowds are big parts of the Web 2.0 ethos—but they don't extend to using "Web 2.0" in a conference title. That's because O'Reilly and CMP jointly put on the Web 2.0 conference, and CMP has filed for a trademark on the phrase. They felt that IT@Cork's conference threatened that trademark (which has been sought both in the US and the EU), and so sent them a strongly-worded letter demanding that they cease "making any further use of our mark."

Tim O'Reilly and the company he founded are generally considered to be Good Guys™, and the move was disillusioning to the faithful. First Google, now O'Reilly? It didn't take long for O'Reilly and CMP to reconsider their position, though; a letter arrived the next day which granted IT@Cork a reprieve. Because the conference is only weeks away, CMP agreed to allow the use of "Web 2.0" this year; next year, though, would be a different story.

In the Ars forum, a poster pointed out that there are two ways to deal with this: the "carpetbomb them with lawyers" technique, and the "grant permission on a case-by-case basis" technique. The blogosphere is furious about it, and it was smart of O'Reilly to eventually reverse course . . . but after the way they dealt with me and handled Just A Geek (some of the same people are involved in this latest bit of idiocy) I'm not surprised at all that they did this.

There should be some serious blowback from geeks all over the world. O'Reilly is more than a publisher: they are a leader in all sorts of communities from Open Source, to [whatever] Hacks, to all kinds of Conferences. This is a company that exploits its image, and takes advantage of its customers, because -- let's be honest here -- they are the 800 pound gorilla in this world, and until today, nobody has stood up to them. I mean, even BoingBoing, where I see countless posts every day about this sort of bullshit, still doesn't have anything up about it (as of noon on Friday). If they think sending lawyers after their customers is a smart thing to do, they should give the RIAA and MPAA a call and have a nice chat. It seems like they may have more in common with them than you'd think.

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