Heather Meeker spends her days negotiating IP-heavy business agreements for tech companies.

But when it came time for the Silicon Valley Greenberg Traurig partner to broker her own deal with a publisher for a new book, she just signed on the dotted line.

“I had negotiated a [book] contract with a client,” said Meeker. “I knew from experience the things they would negotiate, and they weren’t of great interest to me.”

The book � which she is just finishing up � is a manual for business people trying to deal with open source licensing issues, she said. Available this winter, it’ll be called “The Open Source Alternative: Understanding Risk and Leveraging Opportunities,” and will be published by John Wiley and Sons, which is responsible for the “For Dummies” series.

Previously, she’d negotiated the “Firefox for Dummies” title for Blake Ross of Mozilla Firefox fame, she said.

A former programmer, Meeker has published a number of articles, including a column on the Linux Insider, a news site for the prominent free operating system.

The book was inspired by her clients.

“A lot of my clients have asked me for materials on open source,” she said. “Most of the materials out there are philosophical and by advocates of open source � my approach is more practical and more neutral.”

Meeker said that businesses often struggle with how to comply with the GNU General Public License, the most popular license for open source software, which requires any modifications to the computer code to be made freely available.

It’s not the first time Meeker’s written a book. While working as an associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati and teaching a class at Hastings College of the Law in 2001, she put together “A Primer on Intellectual Property Licensing.

Though rewarding, Meeker said it’s been more than a full helping to be a partner at a law firm while writing a book over the last year and half. After finishing up most of the current book over the July 4th holiday, she said she told her husband to stop her if she ever starts writing another book.

Zusha Elinson


When antitrust lawyer Paul Riehle went back to the remote Mentawai Islands in April, he took his wife and their daughter and son, ages 10 and 12, with him.

The trip was not only meant to be fun � his hobby, surfing, is starting to rub off on the children � but educational.

The Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold partner has long been involved in SurfAid International, a humanitarian relief organization. Each spring he, as a board member, visits remote Indonesian islands to check on efforts the organization has made to eradicate malaria.

Riehle said half the island families have lost at least one child under the age of 12, largely thanks to the disease, about which the locals are often misinformed.

“Some people think it comes from eating coconuts” � doubly troubling since coconuts are an important source of nutrients in a region where malnutrition can be a problem, he said.

His family visited several villages in various stages of progress. One had received the SurfAid treatment, Riehle said, so residents were sleeping under the mosquito-repelling nets distributed by staff and were taking steps to improve their diet and sanitation. The people there, Riehle said, were “doing pretty good.”

But in one village, his children walked into a hut where a child lay dying. SurfAid hadn’t yet reached the location, Riehle said, and sanitation and nutrition were poor. The trip helped them understand what he’s spending his time on is important, he said.

Fundraising has been challenging in recent years, with donors tapped out following recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, Riehle said. SurfAid’s goal this year is to send $1 million to the Mentawai program.

Petra Pasternak