The O’Reilly Brouhahahaha! Also, the BLOB & YOU?

I waited for all the commotion to subside before I gave vent to my inner feelings on the O’Reilly fiasco but then I realized Dave Winer has expressed my thoughts much better than even I could have in an earlier post of his.

For those of you who haven’t heard of it (Where have you been hiding all along?), here’s the plot summary:

Tom Raftrey a.k.a Tom (IT@Raftrey)
Tim O’Reilly a.k.a Tim (O’Reilly Media)
The Blog-mob a.k.a the BLOB
The Bloggers

Scene 1: Tom organizes a web 2.0 conference and invites Tim to participate. Tim declines respectfully and later his organization (CMP) sends Tim a cease-and-desist letter since “use of the term ‘Web 2.0’ was a ‘flagrant violation’ of their trademark rights”.

Scene 2: Tim outs that on the web leading to what is known as the First War of the Bloggers (circa 2006), leading to the rise of the blog-mob a.k.a the BLOB.

Scene 3: A few of The Bloggers, decide to look at this whole situation rather objectively. Here are a couple of my favorites: Nick Carr’s take on Open-Source Trademarks and Dave Winer’s response that surely reflects my thinking.

Climax: Utter commotion finally results in a belated response from Tim O’Reilly where he: (1) apologizes to Tom for the lawyer’s letter, (2) asks Tom for an apology for raising a hue-and-cry!?, and (3) explains to the “blog-mob” (BLOB) how the copyright act works.

End of Act I: “Web 2.0 conferences” (there’s really nothing anyone can do about this; this is how copyright act works) goes to O’Reilly Conferences, and “Web 2.0” goes to the blog-mobs (BLOBs)!

Lessons to be learned:
(1) We, Bloggers ought to have a set of standards by which we blog. I agree with Scoble when he thinks out loud on “How do I keep true to myself in a world that values (and uses) those who have audiences“?

(2) Let’s apply the laws of journalism. Let’s verify the authenticity of our statements before we blog. Apparently, somebody’s listening!

How does it relate to marketers:
(1) Marketers who blog, create wikis, etc… must understand the serious implications that copyright law has extended into this unchartered terrain. This will hold good especially for bloggers from Fortune 500 companies who have a lot more at stake through their web 2.0 actions. For those of you who are more interested in learning more about copyright law, check out the weblog of Lawrence Lessig – Professor of Law, Stanford Law School. Add his blog to your blogroll so others can benefit from it as well.

(2) From a brand perspective, I think we’re all clear on the damage that all this has had on the “O’Reilly” brand as enunciated by the man himself.

This controversy is also bad for my most important brand, my own name, especially since O’Reilly and not CMP is taking all the heat!

Make no mistake, my blogger friends, YOU are a brand and YOUR BLOG is your brand ambassador. So follow the rules of professionalism that you so well follow in your day-job and follow the same rules of branding that you’d apply to any product/service. Here are two very interesting articles on “Brand You” that appeared in the magazine – Fast Company (their blog):
(i) The Brand called You
(ii) Brand You Survival Kit

Keep blogging and keep branding your good name… and don’t forget to re-invent yourself when you/your blog get/s boring.

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  1. rickdog

    I've been programming "web2.0" web sites for the last 5 years, my group discovered XMLHttpRequest shortly after Microsoft released it, well before it was tagged AJAX, and use it to provide services for MLS regions, boards, and offices. It just irks me that someone can come along and claim it for himself after I and many other IT professionals have put thier blood, sweat and tears into it, even before OReilly realized that it could be a target for his pocketbook.

    Hi Rick,

    Good to see you hear again! Have you started your blog yet? Keep me posted. 


  2. rickdog

    What has Tim Berners-Lee claimed as his own of the World Wide Web? You'd think he'd have numerous claims, being that he actually invented it. O'Reilly didn't invent anything, he just put a successful tag on something. There's a reason why some people are revered and made Knights…


    Well, the fact is there are different kinds of people in the world.

    I'd be interested in reading your blog, if you have one. Let me know if you do. 


  3. rickdog

    Who does O’Reilly think he is to have *ANY* legal claim to Web2.0? It existed long before him and just because he put a successful tag on it doesn’t give him any rights, it just made it easier for us to track it. He better keep his money-grubbing hands off it, be contrite, and give a nod to those that came before him who made it what it is. No more animal books for me!


    Hi Rick,
    I can understand your sentiments, but I guess CMP is laying claim to "web 2.0 conferences" and that's the way copyright law works. Who knows? Tomorrow Al Gore may lay claim to "Internet conferences"! 🙂

    I hear you. Thanks for voicing your concerns. Keep posting. 


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