John Kerry Narrowly Avoids Elmer Fudd Moment

When I first heard about John Kerry’s goose hunting extraganzer, the two words that flashed across my brain were “Elmer Fudd.”
In an era of campaigns that are so controlled, micromanaged and poll and focus group tested, it seemed impossible that any candidate would risk any event when any factor was not subject to complete control, let alone one that had so many factors out of control and all-but-invited a “Dukakis in the tank” moment or, worse, Jimmy Carter’s panicked paddle slashing at the rabbit that swam out to his canoe.
Reruns of cartoons of Elmer Fudd kept running through my head. Would Kerry make the mistake of wearing the classic Elmer Fudd hunting cap, a few sizes too large or too small? Even experienced hunters like Bob Knight have had hunting accidents. There are so many things that can go wrong.
What happened to his senior campaign advisors? Are they suffering from campaign fatigue?
I nervously awaited the news footage last night. I would have recommended bringing in a tailor for a custom-fitted hat and hunting outfit. However, even though the hat didn’t quite fit, he avoided the Fudd model. He hadn’t fallen, shot a wascally wabbit by mistake or anything else. Presumably there is some footage documenting that he is the one who actually shot the goose.
The choice of having one of the manservants actually carry the dead goose is open to some question, as is the wisdom of following up a resounding win in the Nickolodeon kid’s presidential poll with the potentially child-traumatizing scene of him shooting an innocent goose. There also was just a hint of Herman Munster on the hunt as he lumbered through the field, although that’s a subtle observation that says more about my childhood TV habits than about the candidate.
So, I say bravo! Here’s to taking a bit of a risk and stepping outside the totally controlled glass box of today’s politics. Bravo, too, for showing that you can shockingly offend the Hollywood PETA and Vegan movement with nary a concern of risking their votes.
Bravo, too, for me in my effort to reach a number 1 ranking in Google for a search on John Kerry and Elmer Fudd.

Ten Tips For Effectively Managing Open Source Software Legal Risks for Businesses

I’m giving a presentation next week on legal issues businesses must consider when jumping into the world of Open Source software. For the handout materials, I’ve written a new article I’m now calling, until something snappier comes to mind, “Best Legal Practices for Open Source Software: Ten Tips For Managing Legal Risks for Businesses Using Open Source Software.”
My approach is my usual one – avoid the relentless nay-saying and theorizing that many lawyers are known for and try to establish a basis for making informed decisions that reasonably manage legal risks in the context of sound business decisions. Don’t get me wrong, debating philosophy and theory has its place, but I’m the more practical kind.
I haven’t decided yet how and where I’ll publish this article (inquiries welcomed), but I thought I’d excerpt some of it here as a bit of a teaser. The result has a little bit of a Zen feel in comparison to the full article. The full article will be available to attendees of my presentation.
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The following ten tips are intended to help you deal with some of the big legal and practical issues. They are, of course, not intended to cover all issues, but they will give you a good checklist to help guide your discussion and make good decisions.
1. Understand the Different Approaches That the Open Source Licenses Take. It is important not to think about the Open Source licenses in monolithic terms.
2. Pay Special Attention to the General Public License. If you choose only one thing to have policies about and require special review of, it should be the General Public License.
3. Remember the Source Code. In simplest terms, the biggest difference between Open Source software and commercial software relates to the source code of the program.
4. Make Reasonable Comparisons with Commercial Software. It’s easy to find frantic concerns about Open Source software over reasons that apply just as easily to commercial software.
5. Think in Terms of Choosing, Rather Than Negotiating, Open Source Licenses. As frustrating as it can be to lawyers, the best approach is to evaluate the available choices and weigh the consequences, not to think in terms of ways to tinker with or improve the terms of agreements.
6. Do Not Confuse Open Source with Public Domain. Make no mistake – Open Source software is real intellectual property that is governed by a real license that puts limits on your rights and imposes certain obligations.
7. Inventory and Assess What You May Already Be Using. It has become very important for both business decision-makers and lawyers to have a good understanding of the technology issues, including what the software does and the alternatives available.
8. Open Source Use Requires Open Source Training. Knowing the right questions to ask is half the battle, but IT staff, contract negotiators and legal personnel, including outside lawyers, must be trained on the legal issues involved with Open Source as well as on the policies and procedures that you decide to take.
9. Reasonable Policies and Procedures Are Not Optional. Many business people believe that if you give a lawyer a look at a business process and he or she will find the need for a written policy. However, a reasonable, evolving set of policies and procedures crafted to fit the business needs and corporate risk comfort level of your company will invariably be the best approach to take.
10. Treat Open Source Policy as a Team Game. If the lawyer only looks at the legal issues and the CIO looks only at the IT issues, you increase the likelihood of finger-pointing when an unexpected, but quite predictable, bad result occurs.
Don’t be an Open Source ostrich. Addressing this area from a reasonable knowledge base, with your eyes wide open, only makes good sense in today’s business environment. These ten tips will help you get your Open Source house in order and pave the way for effective and wise use of Open Source software with your legal risks kept within your level of comfort.

Interested in Exhibitor / Sponsor Opportunities at ABA TECHSHOW 2005?

As you may know (especially after reading the two companion posts), I’m on the Board for ABA TECHSHOW 2005, by any measure one of the premier legal technology conferences held annually.
If you sell legal technology products or services, let me make this personal request that you put TECHSHOW on your list of conferences to consider for exhibitor/sponsor participation in 2005. TECHSHOW is well-known for its emphasis on education and the large number of attorneys who attend TECHSHOW. In addition, a large proportion of the authors, speakers and thought leaders in legal tech will be found at TECHSHOW (one of the factors that makes TECHSHOW so much fun for me).
The general sponsor/exhibitor info you need to get started can be found at http://www.abanet.org/techshow/toexhibit/index.html
I also want to highlight the Technology Training Institutes we debuted in 2004. The TTIs were very popular and well-received and give vendors an opportunity to provide extended demos, presentations and Q & A sessions for attendees who visit exhibit booths or develop interests from other sessions and want to learn more about specific products. See http://www.abanet.org/techshow/tti/index.html for more info.
You are more than welcome to contact me with questions, but because I ‘m not involved in the sponsor/exhibitor sales process, I’ll quickly reach a point where my knowledge ends and I’ll turn you over to the appropriate contacts.

Have Some Ideas for Sessions Topics for TECHSHOW 2005?

As you may know, I’m on the Board for ABA TECHSHOW 2005, by any measure one of the premier legal technology conferences held annually.
As we look to finalize the schedule for TECHSHOW 2005, I’m interested in collecting any good ideas for sessions topics that people may have. I feel that our working list is very strong, but I also would like to get a sense of what topics are “hot” or of special interest today so we might make appropriate adjustments.
In addition, if you have feedback on TECHSHOW 2004 or other ideas, comments or suggestions for TECHSHOW 2005, please send them to me and I’ll carry them to the Board.

Interested in Speaking at ABA TECHSHOW 2005?

As you may know, I’m on the Board for ABA TECHSHOW 2005, by any measure one of the premier legal technology conferences held annually.
We will soon be finalizing the sessions and speakers. I always like to make an extra effort to learn about new (or former) speakers we might consider for 2005.
Let me first make this DISCLAIMER. I’m only one of nine votes and speakers are selected by the Board as a whole.
If you’d like me to add you to my list of potential speakers, get me the following information:
+ Short bio, listing relevant experience/expertise, prior speaking engagements, et al.
+ A list of topics you can speak on, arranged more or less in order of your preference and/or strengths. TECHSHOW speakers are generally expected to speak in two sessions.
I’ll take it from there and can answer any questions.
Please note that we prefer to use lawyers and others in the legal profession as speakers when possible and, in most years, employees or reps of vendors will not be selected as speakers. However, we do have Tech Training Institute sessions that are intended to be vendor-specific that can be purchased by vendors. The TTI sessions can feature vendor reps and employees and were very well-received when we introduced the concept last year. For more info on TTI sessions, see http://www.abanet.org/techshow/tti/index.html.