I’m a lawyer and (former) software developer, specializing in open source licensing, product counseling, technology transactions, and community strategy. Contact me if you have questions or need support in any of those areas.
How I can help you
I advise clients on a variety of topics, including:
- Open Licensing: I’ve been involved in the drafting of several of the most important open software and open data licenses, including the Mozilla Public License v2, GPL v3, Creative Commons v4, and the Open Database License. If your organization has open licensing questions, I can answer them in a way that will help you reach your goals.
- Product Counseling: Whether open or closed, I use my software background, and experience across many product categories (web, rich client, and app) to help you build products that satisfy your users and meet your legal obligations.
- Community Strategy: As a volunteer and staff member in open communities for nearly 20 years, and someone who has led communities in both elected and appointed roles, I can help you build new communities or work constructively with existing ones.
- Tech Transactions: I counsel clients, from the very largest to the very smallest, on technology-related transactions, including M&A deals and sales of IP.
If you need help in these areas, whether you’re large or small, for-profit or non-profit, I can help you! Contact me.
For a more formal version of my qualifications, check me out on LinkedIn.
My background: law
Since then, I’ve worked on some of the most high-profile technology projects in the world, including:
- At Mozilla, I led the revision of the Mozilla Public License.
- At Greenberg Traurig, I counseled clients large and small on open licenses, technology transactions, and the Google-Oracle case.
- At the Wikimedia Foundation, I served as Deputy General Counsel, advising on product development, IP licensing, and many other aspects of the Foundation’s day-to-day operation.
- As a volunteer, I have served on the board of directors of the Open Source Initiative, as an Invited Expert on the Patents and Standards Interest Group at the World Wide Web Consortium, and on the Legal Working Group of Open Street Map.
My background: software and community
Throughout my career, I have been involved in software development, particularly open source communities:
- At Duke, I completed the requirements for a BA in Computer Science, and was president of the Duke Linux User Group.
- At the Berkman Center For Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, I was “geek in residence”, doing project management for Berkman projects like StopBadware and H2O, as well as general geekery of various and sundry sorts.
- At Ximian, I was a proud member and occasional manager of the desktop team, which became Novell’s Linux Desktop group.
- At GNOME, I was a founding member of the GNOME bugsquad, and was the ‘bugmaster’ for many GNOME releases. I was also elected to several terms on the GNOME Foundation Board.
- At the Wikimedia Foundation, I led the Community Department, a team of 40 employees tasked with supporting Wikimedia’s 80,000 volunteers.
Other parts of life
I’m married to, and have a beautiful son with, Krissa Nichols.
I used to be a very active Lego Mindstorms (legOS) hacker.
I went to Duke, where I was a Cameron Crazy, and studied political science and computer science. I was lucky enough to have some brilliant profs like John Brehm, Tom Spragens, Scott de Marchi, Karen Stenner, Michael Littman, and Owen Astrachan.
I grew up in sunny, green Coral Gables, Florida.
You may have come here looking for another Luis Villa.
I am not Luis Villa, Jr., MD, an oncologist (and also my father).
I also am not Luis Villa, a Spaniard usability expert (and ex-lawyer).
If you’re another Luis Villa, drop a note and say hi! :)