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Cries for help go out as open source mogul's radar breaks

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OSCON How appropriate that we caught Chairman Tim O'Reilly ogling Portland's tram schedule just a few minutes before the Pirate Party's founder Rickard Falkvinge took the stage at O'Reilly's own conference. Chairman Tim plotted his escape from OSCON, as Falkvinge prepared to talk to the people about things that matter.

O'Reilly seemed to miss the crucial issues of the day at every turn, during OSCON.

He peppered attendees with relentless Web 2.0 talk, thrusting Facebook, Flickr and Wikipedia at them. The OSCON crowd applauded every time someone ridiculed the Web 2.0 moniker. That didn't stop Chairman Tim.

"I know people complain about the name, but it's a good handle for a set of phenonomen," O'Reilly said, during one OSCON speech.

That very speech served as O'Reilly's attempt to make up for his evisceration as the hands of Free Software Foundation attorney Eben Moglen. One day earlier, Moglen charged O'Reilly with wasting too much time on hem lines, haircuts and the latest fluffy Web 2.0 start-up that looks like it might be acquired for a ridiculous amount of cash. O'Reilly had no counter on the actual day of Moglen's attack, but thought about the issues overnight.

Refreshed, O'Reilly called Moglen's demand that we pay more attention to freedom and not just the success of business "an important message." A moment later he added that "it's important to recognize that businesses matters" too. Businesses shape our culture. Businesses are a big part of successful activism. Tim's been "noodling" and "brain dumping" too. "People should be paying a lot of attention to Wikipedia." The freedom to take your data away rather than controlling the rights to your source code might dominate the Web 3.0 meme. Hadoop! "I got a call from David Filo (co-founder of Yahoo!) last night saying Yahoo! is really behind this."

Back on this planet, Falkvinge talked to the OSCON crowd about why copyright holders such as movie studios or record labels should not be able to pass laws that let them sort through our electronic communications, hunting for a dreaded MP3 making its way from one friend to another. Shall we let law enforcement or media moguls examine our e-mails sent to doctors, lawyers or employers?

"On the one end of the scale is one income source for one industry," Falkvinge said. "On the other end of the scale are the basic foundations of our democracy."

The Pirate Party has enjoyed modest but rising political success in Sweden, urging that copyrights should have nothing to do with private communications, DRM is evil, patents are even more evil, privacy is good, due process is good and transparent government is even better, Falkvinge said, before adding that the party supports shortening copyright lifespans as well.

The OSCON members greeted Falkvinge with repeated "Arghs!," and the party will need this support as it seeks to impact EU elections in 2009 and national elections in 2010. You can make party donations here. Sweden does not regulate the contributions.

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