Category Archives: blog


If you’ve never heard of TED, you should check it out!  (If you’ve gone to TED, please let me know.)

Anyways, TED’s an annual conference designed to bring the best thinkers together from the entire world to solve some of the world’s most pressing problems.  These folks are encouraged to speak with the other TED attendees for 18 minutes.  Then the TED Prize is awarded to three individuals as a way to grant their “one wish to change the world”.  You can check out their videos on the TED site to see some of the speeches that have been given over the years.  Pretty awesome.

Victoria Pynchon, author of the Settle It Now Negotiation Blog put pen to paper today to ask why there isn’t a LegalTED – a conference focused on finding new and innovative ways to not only resolve disputes, but also prevent them from happening.  I commented to her that I’d had the same idea for awhile now, but I simply didn’t know how to express it the way she did.

If you’re reading my blog, chances are that you spend a significant portion of your day trying to resolve disputes (real or perceived).  You waste time on repetition of the same tasks over and over (between different parties, sure, but the same task nonetheless)… and you fight many of the same battles in seemingly endless succession.  Isn’t it time to find a better way to get the job done?

Head on over to Victoria’s site and contact her through the comments to let her know if you’re interested in helping out.  It’s gonna’ take some work to get this off the ground – not the least of which is trying to get TED interested in allowing us to piggy back off their success (so if anyone knows the folks at TED and can connect us, that would be great).

I look forward to working with you on finding new ways to solve our old (and tired) problems!

License Grant Discussion at AdamsDrafting

Ken Adams has a great discussion going on over at his blog, AdamsDrafting on license grant language.  Ken’s general concern is that a license grant is overly complex language, redudant at best and confusing at worst.  This follows his general feelings regarding contract language (that we need to simplify and get rid of anachronisms).  And, generally speaking, I support his work to make this happen.

In this case, and as supported by most of the commenters, I think Ken’s admitted lack of knowledge in the subject matter of licensing is hurting his assessment.  Software licensing folks don’t like wordy contracts any more than anyone else.  We’d love to get rid of unnecessary phrases or redundancies.

But I’ve actually seen a license terminated at the will of the vendor as a result of a lack of the word “irrevocable”.  And I’ve seen one restricted because of the lack of the word “world-wide”.  So for me, simple language gives way to extra descriptiveness in the license grant just from a risk management perspective.

Software Licensing Handbook Review by Brian Sommer

Brian Sommer over at Software Safari posted a nice review of my Software Licensing Handbook today.

Brian: thank you for taking the time to read the whole book and write the review!

What Jeff has done is dismantle a standard software contract. He has dissected its component parts into easy to understand sections that explain what a vendor wants, what a customer should ask for and what each party should be willing to agree to if they want to reach a fair decision.

I would call this book: King Solomon’s Guide to Splitting the Software Contract Baby. Vendors are surely going to hate this publication and that should mean it is must-read material for software buyers. I’d strongly recommend that selection team members, not just the in-house counsel, read this as it lays the groundwork for negotiations.

It might not be worth a million dollars as Brian’s tagline suggests, but I’m sure you’ll get your money’s worth.  🙂

Server Problem

Sorry to anyone who tried to visit yesterday… a server-side setting was somehow changed during server maintenance.  It’s fixed now … and there will be a new post on Tuesday.  Enjoy your Sunday!

Lots of new stuff today

If you’ve recently visited the regular blog site at, you might have noticed a few new things.

First, I’ve changed the entire layout.  I thought it was time for a visual overhaul that made things easier to read and more accessible.  I’ve leveraged the power of WordPress and the skills of Mr. Michael Andrade.  He does great work.  Thanks Michael!  I also want to thank Kronick, an artist over at iStockphoto.  I’ve adopted several of his little-men graphics as the logos for various parts of this site.  But I was missing one for Symetrisk… and he created a DNALittleMan just for me.

Second, I’ve consolidated a LOT of various information here.  From now on, this is the central hub by which you’ll be able to continue to find great information about software licensing and contract negotiation.  But it’s also where you can find out more about me, purchase the Software Licensing Handbook and/or the Software License Risk Matrix, learn about the new Software License Education Series (coming soon) and Symetrisk (also coming soon).  Sites formerly found at and now redirect here, but if you’ve got them in your bookmarks, they’ll be kept active indefinitely, so you don’t have to make any changes.

Third, while you can’t usually see it from an RSS feed or standard web browser, reading most blogs via a mobile device is a pain.  So I’ve installed a mobile plugin to allow ease-of-reading for my mobile readers and anyone who is always on the go.  I have only been able to test it while looking via my Palm (I’m still lusting after the iPhone) – so if you see anything quirky, please let me know!

Fourth, I’ve added a forum.  You already know how much I want to hear from you.  Now you can talk without me starting the conversation.  All you have to do is a simple registration and you can begin posting TODAY!  I have created a few areas for sharing contract templates and documents… but the ultimate conversation is led by you.

Fifth, I’ve added a dozen or so behind-the-scenes features to make a richer experience.  I’ve added translation services for my non-native-English speakers, better search capabilities, more content and even book recommendations for my favorite contracts, software and negotiation-related titles.  To point it out again, there’s even a special area in the sidebar for suggesting blogging topics.

All in all, I think these changes are going to make the whole licensinghandbook blog experience a lot better for both me and you!

Oh… and while I’m on the subject of you, the reader, I just wanted to thank you all for your continued support and readership.  Last year at this time, I was getting about 10,000 hits per month.  Now it’s 40,000.  400% growth is pretty awesome and I appreciate your time!

Translation Services

When looking at my visitor logs, I noticed that I’m getting a larger number of non-US visitors.  I found a translation utility and you can now click a flag on the sidebar (look down and to the right) corresponding to your country.  I’m sorry it doesn’t include all languages, I’m limited to those available on the translation services site.

Once you click a flag link, the rest of the site will be translated for you as well.  To return to English, click the large logo in the upper left corner of any page.

Thank you to all of my readers and visitors!  I hope this is of great benefit to my non-English speakers.

Oh… and as a side note, I’m considering releasing the Software Licensing Handbook in other languages.  Is there anyone out there willing to translate?

Holiday Break

Happy Fourth of July! For my US-based readers, please take the time to read the document giving you this day (and if you ever get the opportunity, I highly recommend visiting the National Archives in Washington, DC to see it in person).

Then, take the day off from the internet and spend the day outside.  🙂

See you on Tuesday!


Privacy in a SaaS World

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually, but a federal judge just ordered Google to turn over the viewing logs for YouTube (your usernames, IP addresses, etc) as part of the current Viacom v YouTube and Google litigation.  The EFF is fighting this, of course.

But, this doesn’t bode particularly well for privacy and the use of SaaS-type computing (ie: putting your data into someone else’s hands for whatever reason) given the way in which the court interpreted existing law.

Thanks for the notice to:  Unit Structures, ZDNet, and Gizmodo.

PS.  Deleting your account at this point might not help… but I would definitely recommend re-evaluating what you have as your YouTube (and other services’) username and if you use your real names in the profile information.  Just a thought.

Welcome Northwestern University and Franklin Pierce Law Center!

I found out a few months ago that the Software Licensing Handbook had been selected to be one of the textbooks at the Franklin Pierce Law Center… and a few days later, also at Northwestern University in one of their masters’ curricula!

I couldn’t be more ecstatic – I am so happy that to know that students are learning these valuable skills without having to first enter the workforce.

So I wanted to give a shout-out to the students from each of the classes using the book.  Welcome to the interesting world of software (technology) licensing!  Please join our discussion … your voice is important!

Seriously, I got in?

Alltop has honored the licensinghandbook blog with inclusion on its list of the top law-related blogs around!

Featured in Alltop

Thanks to the folks at Alltop! And thank you, readers, for sticking with me!