LinuxWorld does tend to bring out the press releases, and here's one more. At the end of this blog entry you'll find one issued today by the Linux Foundation (a related article by Elizabeth Montalbano of ComputerWorld can be found here). As you'll see from the release, I'm taking on a more formal role at LF in addition to being an At Large Board member and outside counsel. And I'm very pleased to share the news that Karen Copenhaver, who many of you will already know as one of the best known national experts on open source licensing, is also joining the management team. We're both keeping our day jobs at our respective firms (Gesmer Updegrove LLP and Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP), but each of us will be spending substantial time assisting LF and its mission in our new roles.
I'll be providing a special focus on the standards side of LF's work, while Karen will be providing particular expertise on open source licensing. Together we'll be collaborating on legal and overall LF strategy as members of the senior management team. It's a great effort to be part of, and a privilege as well, given the crucial role that both open source and open standards will play in the future of software, and the fact that each needs the support of the other. The Linux Foundation is unique in being the crucible in which this peaceful and productive coexistence is being perfected.
Why two legal advisors for LF? First and foremost, LF acts to support Linux, broadly interpreted. That means the entire Linux ecosystem, and all of its constituent parts: developers, vendors, service providers and especially end users. Since this is a competitive environment, that means we also feel it’s important to make the Linux community feel secure – that was a long-term role of OSDL, as the SCO saga erupted and continued. As a result, one of the core roles of LF is the "Protect Function." You can see some of the programs that form part of this function here.
Past examples of the protect function have included providing a Legal Defense Fund, which stands behind Linus Torvalds and the other kernel developers, so that if they are (for example) deposed in connection with the SCO suit, there was someone there to pay the legal bills for them. We also try and provide a source of reliable legal information, particularly when what we believe to be disinformation is released into the marketplace that might worry end users or developers.
Given the highly technical nature of the legal issues that have often been involved (e.g., allegations of patent infringement and revisions to open source licensing terms), it makes sense to have legal experts that are able to address all these types of issues issues.
On a less contentious front, standards are crucial to the success of Linux to prevent fragmentation, to make life easier and more rewarding for ISVs, and to provide assurance to end users that they won’t be locked in or lose their investment in application software. You can a call for even more work in that department in Ron Hovsepian’s keynote address at LinuxWorld today.
OK, all that said, though, why two outside advisors? Rather than try to have one full-time lawyer that would need to cover everything of interest, LF decided to have as much time as is needed from two domain experts. First and foremost, Karen will cover the licensing front, and I’ll cover the standards front. That means that Karen will be helping the community understand issues relating to open source licensing, which continues to evolve. I’ll be helping to advance the cause on the Linux Standards Base, certification testing and branding. Together we’ll try to help the community understand and deal with current and future issues as they arise. We’ll also help develop together – as needed – joint defensive responses to areas of mutual industry concern.
Also together, we’ll work with the rest of management to help set business/legal strategy holistically, bringing our respective talents and expertise to bear, and in a way that you wouldn’t normally get from outside counsel.
This also makes sense, because open source and open standards is what the Linux Foundation does now, following the merger of OSDL and the Free Standards Group. Open source development, licensing, certification, branding and adoption are what we’re all about.
And there are market forces that point in that direction as well. Microsoft, for example, recently tied together Linux, OpenOffice, email, and "other open source software" into one messaging bundle in connection with a patent assertion. Technically, you never could really treat open source software and open standards as unrelated disciplines, as each needs to work with the other. Now, it looks like they may need to be jointly defended, as well. So we’ll be working together with the rest of management to help set business/legal strategy holistically, bringing our respective talents and expertise to bear, and in a way that you wouldn’t normally get from outside counsel.
The last thing to note is that both Karen and I are prolific writers and speakers. Part of our job will not only be to address legal issues at LF for it’s members, but to be out there and helping the broader community deal with matters of concern as well. You can expect to be hearing a lot from us in the months to come.
Leading Open Source Legal Experts Join
Linux Foundation puts experienced legal team in place to advance the interests of users, developers and members
SAN FRANCISCO, August 8, 2007 – The Linux Foundation (LF), the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced that open source licensing expert Karen Copenhaver and standards and consortium expert Andy Updegrove have joined the Foundation’s legal team to provide leadership on legal issues affecting Linux.
“I’m extremely pleased to put together this legal dream team,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. “Promoting accurate and timely discussion of the legal infrastructure supporting the adoption and deployment of open source software is key to achieving our core mission. Karen and Andy bring a depth of expertise to the Foundation and a passion for open source and open standards that will enhance the conversation immeasurably and provide guidance in the development of innovative programs to protect Linux against legal challenges. With Karen and Andy onboard, we now have a well-stocked arsenal.”
The Linux Foundation’s neutral forum allows Copenhaver and Updegrove to provide the Linux ecosystem with important information on licenses, standards and patent issues, reducing confusion and fostering further innovation and adoption of Linux. The two will lead and implement all legal LF programs and will provide commentary and analysis on legal issues facing Linux. They will also work to coordinate member company legal resources to best respond to issues facing the platform.
“The Linux Foundation is a natural forum for advancing the discussion and understanding of legal issues facing open and closed software. A key component of our program will be to bring together members’ legal staffs, which provide a deep well of expertise in a very important area, to share ideas and drive initiatives,” said Karen Copenhaver, LF legal advisor. “I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues across the member companies and communities to boil down legal topics related to Linux to the simple, straightforward matters that they really are and to identifying and implementing best practices that support open source adoption.”
Copenhaver is a partner in Choate, Hall & Stewart LLP ‘s Business & Technology practice focusing on technology transfer and licensing of intellectual property with a specific emphasis on open source business models. Most recently, Copenhaver was executive vice president and general counsel at Black Duck Software, Inc., where she continues to serve on its board of advisors. Copenhaver’s career began at IBM and includes being a partner in the intellectual property practices of Testa, Hurwitz & Thibeault LLP and Brown & Bain LLP.
Andy Updegrove is a partner and founder of Gesmer Updegrove LLP, a Boston-based technology law firm, and has represented and helped structure more than 80 worldwide standard setting, open source, promotional and advocacy consortia over the past 20 years. He has also represented hundreds of both emerging as well as established technology companies, and is the founder and editor of both the popular website www.consortiuminfo.org and the widely-read Standards Blog. He is also an At Large Director of the Linux Foundation, and his law firm acts as the Linux Foundation’s outside legal counsel.
“The Linux Foundation provides an essential function to protect, promote and standardize Linux,” said Andy Updegrove, LF legal advisor. “Reconciling the intellectual property requirements of open source and open standards is a crucial stepping stone for both, and the Linux Foundation is the first organization to accomplish this. I look forward to contributing to the Linux ecosystem by helping the Foundation continue to lead the way in this and other areas.”
Protecting Linux is one of the LF’s three focus areas for fostering the growth of Linux. Later this year, the LF legal team will lead a multi-day legal strategy summit for member companies’ in-house counsel, including legal representatives from HP, IBM, Intel, and Novell. At this invitation-only meeting, member counsel will focus on the issues of greatest common interest and concern, including agreeing upon the next steps towards building a legal defense infrastructure for Linux. Community-wide events are also planned to provide a platform for discussion and education on legal issues. The LF supports a wide range of legal support functions, including managing the Linux trademark (www.linuxmark.org), initiatives such as the Open Source as Prior Art project (www.osapa.org), the Patent Commons www.patent-commons.org), and sponsorship of the Linux Legal Defense Fund, and further programs now under development.
These staff additions build on the LF’s recent addition of Markus Rex as chief technology officer. Rex was previously vice president and general manager for SUSE Linux and CTO for the Open Platform Solutions Group at Novell. With these additional team members, the LF has garnered an experienced executive team focused on accelerating the adoption of Linux.
About the Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation is a nonprofit consortium dedicated to fostering the growth of Linux. Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation sponsors the work of Linux creator Linus Torvalds and is supported by leading Linux and open source companies and developers from around the world. The Linux Foundation promotes, protects and standardizes Linux by providing unified resources and services needed for open source to successfully compete with closed platforms. For more information, please visit www.linux-foundation.org.
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Congrats, Andy. As I’ve said before (this one is a deja vu), it’s a great pleasure knowing that the LF will have someone remind them not to rely on ‘translators’ and IP deals for loose interop.