Copyright Infringement. Misappropriation. Reality TV Shows.


Copyright Infringement. Reality TV Shows. Misappropriation.

Copyright Infringment. Reality TV Shows.

Copyright Infringement. Reality TV Shows.

“They stole my idea!”  The other day I got a call from a writer who alleged that a network stole the idea for one of his reality TV shows. He said to me, “I want to go after these guys for copyright infringement, and  want you to help me.”  He assumed he had grounds for a copyright infringement case. He also said, “I saw something on the Internet about the misappropriation of reality TV shows.”  Without him even understanding what he was saying, he assumed he had sufficient to form the basis of a lawsuit, he further said, “And, I registered my idea with the Writers Guild of America (WGA). After listening to all the facts, I communicated the heartbreaking news—he didn’t have a sustainable claim. As you can imagine, that did not make him happy.

As a business & intellectual property lawyer with entertainment clients, at least once a week, I get a call from a frustrated and angry content creator, who believes their wonderful idea—for either reality TV shows, scripted TV shows, or movies—were stolen by a network or producer. In every case they do not have enough to warrant lodging a valid lawsuit for copyright infringement, misappropriation, or breach of any type of contract–at least not yet.

When it comes to litigation, there is never a guarantee. That especially applies if you go up against someone with deep pockets. Be that as it may, there are specific steps you can take to protect your idea. Among them are:

  1. Protect your idea at the start of your creative process. Protect your book, movie, TV treatment, or screenplay as soon as you get that idea.
  2. Get guidance on exactly what to do from a component IP/entertainment attorney.
  3. If your idea is in sufficient form, register it with the WGA. BUT, don’t be lulled into thinking that is good enough.
  4. If your idea has been expressed in a tangible and fixed format, register it with the U.S. Copyright Office.
  5. Perform several other steps…

If you are a screen writer, a book author with a view toward writing a series, or a creative content creator who thinks down the road you might be interested in selling your idea to a studio or network, feel free to contact me for guidance on next steps.

I’m Business & Intellectual Property Attorney Francine Ward and would love to help you protect what’s yours—BEFORE it is too late. If you want to know how to protect that idea, feel free to schedule a consult now.

Facebook. Facebook ADs. Facebook AD.


Facebook. Facebook ADs. Facebook AD.

Facebook. Facebook Ads

Facebook. Facebook Ads

A you a fan of Facebook? Have you ever purchased Facebook ADs in order to obtain “Likes” on your business page? If you are one of the many who has done so, or intends to do so, you will want to read this post FIRST.

Facebook ADs.

When BBC Technology Correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones was informed by Social Media Consultant Michael Tinmouth of his concerns, regarding the low returns on Facebook ADs, Cellan-Jones was determined to delve into it. As any good investigative reporter, he did his homework. What he found was astonishing and disturbing.

Cellan-Jones decided that he wanted to investigate the worth of a “Like” using Facebook ADs. And in 2012 he created the Facebook page VirtualBagel for this experiment. VirtualBagel’s about page says “We send you bagels via the internet – just download and enjoy,” and its initial post noted “If you have clicked “Like” can you explain why?” This was written specifically to have followers comment on the page’s legibility.

Facebook Like.

The first Facebook AD was created to obtain “Likes” from people who reside in the United States, United Kingdom, Russia, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Within 24 hours VirtualBagel had 1,600 new Likes for a $10 paid ad campaign. Not bad, right? Wrong!

Delving into the profiles of the new VirtualBagel followers, Cellan-Jones discovered that the page was very popular with people living in Egypt, Indonesia and the Philippines. However, almost no one from the United States or the United Kingdom had clicked the “Like” button. In addition, many of the overseas “Likes” looked suspicious while others were likes from business pages, and no one seemed to make any comments regarding the bagels being a virtual download.

After generating a few Facebook AD campaigns, Cellan-Jones created a final ad solely targeting the US and UK. Disappointingly the new Facebook Likes with this Facebook AD campaign were marginal.

In his article titled ‘Who ‘likes’ my Virtual Bagels?‘ Cellan-Jones said, “Who are these people in some countries who are clicking in an apparently random way on thousands of Facebook ADs and earning the network a small fee each time? The question you may ask is why does any of this matter? Well, Facebook has just arrived on the stock market with a valuation of $100bn, which was entirely based on the promise that advertising revenue will continue to grow from last year’s $4bn.”

Facebook Like.  Fraud Exposed.

And Derek Muller of Veritasium recently created a video on YouTube regarding this very topic. In the video, Facebook Fraud Exposed, Muller says that paid followers even if they’re based out of the US or UK drives reach and engagement numbers down. This action basically renders the business page useless because a lack of post engagement lowers the number of followers who’ll see the posts on their Facebook feeds.

The Cellan-Jones and Muller investigations on Facebook advertising do raise many questions regarding the real value of obtaining a new “Like” on a page.

Is it really worth it? Isn’t it better to bring value and engage with those who are truly interested in your brand rather than simply paying for more likes only to obtain people who are disengaged with your business page?

Copyright Attorney. Trademark Lawyer. Francine Ward.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join the conversation on my legal Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter page, or in one of my LinkedIn groups.


Confidentiality Agreement. Breach of Contract. Legal Documents. Contract Law. Contract. Facebook.


Confidentiality Agreement. Facebook.

Confidentiality Agreement. Breach of Contract.

Confidentiality Agreement. Breach of Contract.

Time, and time again, we’ve seen celebrities, politicians and other public figures embroiled in controversy over Tweets or Facebook posts that have us scratching our heads and asking – why? But social media blunders aren’t exclusive to the rich and famous, in fact, people get into hot water every day for something they posted online.

Legal Documents. Contracts.

Case in point…

Patrick Snay, 69, sued his employer, Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami, for age discrimination. The two parties reached a settlement and Mr. Snay received $80,000 along with $10,000 in back pay. He signed a contract, and as we all know contracts are legal documents. Case closed – everyone happy!

But not so fast…

Unfortunately, Mr. Snay’s teenage daughter, Dana, was seemingly unaware of the stipulations of the settlement when she went on her Facebook account to celebrate her father’s victory in the suit, a victory that was short-lived.

The post read:

“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver. Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Breach of Contract. Contract Law.

When the school became aware of the Facebook post it immediately took steps to rescind the settlement on the grounds that confidentiality agreement attached to the settlement was violated. Essentially, Mr. Snay breached the terms of his confidentiality agreement. his contract. Mr. Snay went back to court in order to have the settlement reinstated, however, the Florida District Court of Appeal ruled on behalf of the school stating that Mr. Snay was in violation of the agreement.

Confidentiality agreements are often an integral part of legal settlements, and courts are quick to enforce them.  So make sure the one you use is legal, enforceable, current, and incorporates updated law for your particular state.  One size does NOT fit all, when it comes to contracts.

Last month a judge ruled that Oksana Grigorieva, the ex-wife of actor Mel Gibson, violated a confidentiality agreement in her divorce settlement with the movie star when she appeared on the Howard Stern show in October of 2013 and briefly spoke about her life with the movie star. The mistake will cost her the last $375,000 of her $750,000 settlement with ex-husband.

So remember… don’t snatch defeat from the mouth of victory by discussing a settlement with a confidentiality agreement. If you are involved in a settlement, make sure you have the proper legal representation and make sure you thoroughly understand each and every stipulation within it.


  1. Make sure your agreements are well drafted and incorporate updated law;
  2. Do not cut and paste your contracts, unless you know exactly what you are doing;
  3. Read all agreements that you sign carefully. If there is a confidentiality provision, makes sure you know what you are NOT allowed to discuss;
  4. Abide by the terms of the agreement that you sign.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter page, and in one of my LinkedIn Groups.




Twitter. Courtney Love. Defamation. Libel.


Twitter. Courtney Love. Defamation. Libel.

Defamation. THINK before you tweet!

Defamation. THINK before you tweet!

Do you like to voice your opinion … on Twitter?  Do you sometimes feel the need to rant about certain issues, people, places, or things–via social media?  Celebrities seem to be doing this quite often, as of late. While you certainly have a right to express your opinion, it is wise to remember that there are limits to your personal freedoms.  There is a fine line between free speech and libel.  Many celebrities just don’t understand that fine line distinction.

Take celebrity ranter and rocker Courtney Love.  She was the first to be sued for saying something on Twitter, and she is back at it again.  Love is currently involved in a lawsuit in California stemming from comments she posted on Twitter regarding her one time attorney, Rhonda Holmes.  Back in 2010, Ms. Love took to Twitter to say that her lawyer had been “bought off” in a dispute with managers of her late husband’s estate. Courtney Love was married to Kurt Cobain, the singer for the grunge band Nirvana, who committed suicide in 1994.

Attorneys representing Rhonda Holmes are claiming that “bought off” insinuates that she took a bribe, and that the Tweet amounts to libel, thus potentially damaging her reputation and career. Love took to the stand this week and testified that she was merely giving her opinion and that the Internet is full of “hyperbole and exaggeration.” Furthermore, Love claimed that she believed that she was only tweeting her comments to two people. That is almost comical, since her Twitter following exceed 250,000 and she is a known exhibitionist.

This isn’t the first time Courtney Love was sued due to her comments on social media. In 2010, Love was sued by fashion designer Dawn Simorangkir for comments she made on Twitter and MySpace.  There, Courtney Love insinuated that Ms. Simorangkir was a drug-pushing prostitute, who has a criminal history, and had lost custody of her child. Love settled the case in 2011 for $430,000.

Legal professionals, social media users, and social networking companies are closely watching this case, because it will likely set a precedent for liability involving tweeting in California, and eventually, the rest of the country.

This recent case only highlights the needed caution and discretion we must use when using our social media accounts. If your tweets are only for your family and friends to see, make sure your page is private. Mistakes and indiscretions can wind up costing you in more ways than one.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join the conversation on my Law Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter Law Page, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups.




Privacy.Privacy Guard. Internet Privacy.Facebook. Twitter.


Privacy. Internet Privacy.

Privacy. Identity Theft. Privacy Guard.

Privacy. Identity Theft. Privacy Guard.

There are a ton of cool things that can be done with social media, including securing great savings on products and services.  But in order to access those great deals, you are required to disclose a certain amount of personally identifiable information e.g., your name, email, where you live. The more information you reveal, the more exposed you are to internet threats, such as identity theft and email fraud. So what can you do to reduce your risk—monitor your privacy settings on a regular basis? here are a few Privacy Tips:

  1. On Facebook, you can manage your settings by making sure only your Friends can see your status updates and the pages that you LIKED. You can also limit who sees your posts, any photos you post, or who has tagged you in photos. Go to “Settings” and click on “Privacy Settings”. Then take a moment and review all of your settings to ensure they say what you want them to say.
  2. On Twitter, you can limit who sees your tweets and who tracks your whereabouts. How? Make sure the “Add a Location” box is NOT checked.  If you have it checked, people will know where you are all the time—even when you don’t want them to.  This is dangerous, because your security could be compromised when you travel away from home.  Again, periodically you should review your settings to ensure they say what you want them to say.
  3. Regarding Foursquare, even though it needs your location in order to provide you with discounts on specific products and services, you can limit who knows where you are.  Check into Foursquare privately and each time “opt out” of the “Here Now” list, which tells people if you share their location.

For more Privacy Tips, check out the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website. That’s it for now. I’m Attorney, Speaker, and Author Francine D. Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, my Twitter Page, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups.