Our rights only exist to the extent that we defend them in our daily lives. The right to free speech, for example, would quickly drain away if we didn't frequently exercise it and by so doing kept the knowledge of the rights importance and the mechanisms to protect it alive and well. But too often people believe that the need to defend our rights doesn't apply to them because they are just a single individual. Who cares what a single person does? But when each individual believes their actions don't matter then they significantly reduce the work required by those who would take our rights away.
An example of this situation came up in the BPEL TC today. As I discussed previously the Tibco corporation has decided that the BPEL TC's use of the term rendezvous, even though we explicitly use it in its common English usage, is violating their trademark. To this end the Tibco corporation has demanded that the BPEL group desist in its use of the word rendezvous as the value of an attribute in BPEL. Mind you, what Tibco hasn't even attempted to do in the group is to actually demonstrate that our use is, in any way, a violation of their trademark.
To make matters worse today's discussion of the issue on the group phone call focused on the possibility of Tibco suing people. The assumption of the group was that if we didn't change the term then Tibco would start suing us. An assumption, I would add, that the Tibco representative neither encouraged nor attempted to dispel. So under the cloud of the implicit threat of a lawsuit the group voted. 11 people voted to open the issue and implicitly to change the term. 6 people voted to not open the issue and thus reject Tibco's claim. 13 people had so disassociated themselves from the proceedings that they abstained.
What hope do our freedoms have if 24 out of 30 people are willing to throw those freedoms away without any evidence of an actual infraction? What hope do our freedoms have when 24 out of 30 people hold those freedoms so cheap they would discard them at the slightest whiff of a threat? As things now stand the Tibco corporations has successfully removed the word rendezvous from the BPEL TC's dictionary without having to spend a dime on legal proceedings or providing any proof that our use is infringing.
There is still, however, some hope. We will have a vote in the group on what term to replace 'rendezvous' with. The group could still choose to not replace it at all. There is still a chance left for people to realize their mistake and stand up for all of our liberties. Our individual actions do matter. Our collective freedoms only exist to the extent that we exercise them. Let's hope that the group decides that our rights to use our own language without corporations like Tibco taking the very words from our mouths is a right worth defending.