WTF is usually thought of as a rude acronym. I've decided to give it a new meaning.
During a meeting yesterday I informed a new client start-up that too often new clients make contact with lawyers after a fire has started. They treat lawyers like the fire brigade.
That's when the client said: "Ah yes, WTF, meaning Where's The Fire". He said go ahead feel free to use it. So I have.
Do yourself a favour stop treating lawyers like the fire brigade – only calling when your house is on fire.
In about 1987 I attended a music lawyer's seminar at the Arts Law Center in Sydney. I have never forgotten how my eyes watered as the experienced music lawyer (Nina Stevenson) described Byzantine contractual complexity such as royalty-related cross-collateralisation in the 30+ page label contract she reviewed for a rock band. I felt then that I knew too little to be a music business lawyer.
Subsequently I've done a few dozen jobs involving music, incuding for artists, labels and publishers. Still, that's not a lot of deal flow.
But on the road to being digital much is changing.
As music business models change, mostly favouring digital formats, there has been some convergence in business models across entertainment and information markets.
Over the last few decades workplace relations, collaboration and new ways of working have become increasingly topical.
Old ideas about organising people, companies and institutions are being proven wrong in today's context. New ideas and solutions are needed.
One element of the discussion is this question: What motivates people to do tasks, especially those that involve higher cognative function?
In the valuation of businesses the portion attributed to goodwill is often greater than other items of property such as stock, equipment or work in progress. Pain is felt immediately when a competitor or pirate pass off its business or product as yours.
They are taking your goodwill, a business property right. Protection against this is at the heart of the tort of passing off law.
The use of passing off law is neatly illustrated in an English case involving Rihanna and sale of a designer T-shirt bearing her image.
The case was triggered after Topshop, a major English garment retailer, produced and sold the T-shirt online and in its stores.
Rihanna has an army of minders. They were not happy.
The case was launched as Robyn Rihanna Fenty and Others vs Topshop and Another. The decision was handed down in mid-2013 by Justice Birss in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division, Intellectual Property.
The music production business and the music consumption habits of the 20th century were shaped by the technologies and distribution channels of the time.
Music was distributed on physical media (eg vinyl, cassettes or CDs), marketed heavily, sold in racks at record stores and consumed via stereo cabinets or other playback devices that shared space with lounge room furniture.
The cost of producing, manufacturing, marketing and distributing recordings was considerable. This mitigated toward the growth of large, well capitalised record companies. Appling economies of scale, they attracted or built the larger acts, shaped their repertoire, offered them major advances to guarantee exclusivity, financed recordings, publicity tours and a range of additional support.
We bring good news, there are at least seven newish ways to raise funds for start-up ventures. They are less risky than maxing out your credit cards.
They are there for early stage ventures which have no cash, family, friends or local means to raise money.
How you raise funds for a venture is critical to success. In recent years new options have become available.
A generation ago, early stage venture funding involved a smaller range of options such as using personal savings, cash flow, personal loans, leasing, deferred payments, sweat equity and selling equity.
In November 2006 I wrote Australian advertising revenue is draining overseas, moving from offline print to online bytes. The article described the challenge ahead for Telstra's Sensis and its business model dependent on print and online telephone directories advertising revenues. The challenge then was chiefly from Google and Yahoo!.
Telstra tried to fight back against the online search engines. A little over two years later, I wrote Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology - Part 3. It briefly noted the closure of Telstra's search engine development venture, resulting in writing off $100 million.
This article was first published in the Computers section of The Australian, 30 August 1994. At that time Microsoft was forced to sign a consent decree with the US Justice Department under anti-trust law. I'm reprising it because it captures considerable research and srategy remains a critical subject.
Cliffs are one of the favourite haunts of students of human evolution. The sides of cliffs expose fossils and layers of archaeological history. In the most primative form of animal husbandry, our ancestors drove creatures great and small over cliffs into gorges and valleys below. Picking among the bones archaeologists have pieced together a story of human evolution with its moral of survival of the fittest.
The second richest person in the world is credited as having said: "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana." Forbes in January 2014 ranks Bill Gates, aged 58, as worth US$57 billion. IP can have the shelf life of a banana. That has not been the case for Mr Gates.
When selecting a lawyer don't just focus on end results, consider carefuly how to achieve results fast. One of the highest value skills we should seek from dispute resolution lawyers is their predictive capacity in their area of expertise.
For this, up-to-date legal knowledge as well as technical skills is not enough.
This is especially so when the client is an individual or small businesses or when the other side has greater financial and other resources.
The word "practice" underlines practical needs, not just legal knowledge or technical legal competency on their own.
The aim is to get to results fast, whether that be a demand for money, ceasing of unlawful activity or something else.