Technology. YouTube. Terms.

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You Tube and Technology.

Terms. YouTube.

Terms. YouTube.

I love technology. It’s a wonderful tool, which makes our lives easy, fun, and more efficient. We use technology to communicate, to market, to create, to learn, and to share with others. It’s hard to imagine what we would do without it. Yet, with all the many advantages that come with our use of technology, there are a plethora of challenges, and terms and conditions that must be followed.

Whether driving your car on the freeway, negotiating traffic on a local street, or knowing what’s yours for the taking and what’s not, there are terms and conditions—rules that must be followed. You can choose not to follow those rules. You can choose to outright break them. But regardless of your reasons, if you break the rules, if you don’t abide by the terms and conditions, you’ll have to pay. Look at it this way, if you are adult enough to do whatever you feel like doing, then be adult enough to accept the consequences.

Internet.

Like it or not, those rules also apply on the Internet, especially social media venues, such as Second Life, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube.  Not everyone uses technology in the same way. Nor does everyone have the same value system when it comes to the use of cool technology devices and platforms. For example, what’s one person’s porn is another person’s art. And while we all have our own opinion as to where the line gets crossed, there are rules we must follow, at least on the Internet. Regardless of our personal views, we all have to follow the rules or pay the price.

My advice, if you want to fight and can afford litigation—go at it!  On the other hand, as always, my suggestion is think preventatively. READ and UNDERSTAND everything BEFORE you sign (or agree to the contractual Terms of Use). Once you sign, you are bound. And while you absolutely have the right to fight, you will have to pay to play.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you make better choices. Join the conversation on Facebook Fan pageTwitter Legal PageGoogle+, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Zillow Digs. Copyright Infringement.

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Copyright Internet Pics.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright Infringement

Taking a picture off of the Internet without permission and adding it to a website or blog seems harmless, right? Well I’m here to tell you that it’s quite harmful. When you use works protected by copyright law without permission, you are indeed infringing on a copyright. The penalties for infringing on a copyright can range anywhere from $200 to more than $150K for each work that was infringed upon. Plus, the infringer must pay all court costs and attorney’s fees.

To this day blogs, small companies as well as giants are not taking copyright infringement quite seriously. Case in point, the home listing giant Zillow was sued for “brazen theft” of interior design images.

The infringement lawsuit was brought by VHT Inc., a photography and image management services company, in United States District Court in Seattle in July of 2015. VHT alleged that the images that were being displayed or saved on Zillow Digs, a home design site, as well as on the main Zillow site, violated their copyrights.

In December of 2016, the courts dismissed the claim of infringement on Zillow.com.  However, the infringement claim with Zillow Digs continued and the trial began on January 23rd, 2017. In mid-February, the jury finally came to a verdict.  The jury ordered Zillow to pay a whopping $8.3 million in statutory damages.

VHT’s CEO Brian Balduf said to the press the jury’s decision “protects the interests of real estate photographers and their clients. We look forward to continuing to work with our team of nationwide photographers, as well as our industry counterparts, to create a rights management organization to ensure that all real estate photographs are managed properly and protected against unlicensed uses.”

In a statement to GeekWire, a Zillow representatives said: “We have persistently maintained our belief that this suit was without merit. While we are pleased that the majority of original claims were dismissed in this case, we regret that the jury did not find for us completely on those that remained, and will vigorously pursue all options to overturn their verdict. We take copyright protection and enforcement seriously and will continue to respect copyright permissions across our platforms.”

Copyright Infringement Steps To Take.

So, what should you do if you notice that someone is infringing on your work? Here are some steps to take:

  • Ensure you have a copyright notice on all of your copyrightable works. A copyright notice is not required for protection, but does help to prove an infringement.
  • Register your Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, and once completed, the copyright office will send you a certificate.
  • Prepare and mail a warning letter to the infringing party. In the letter identify your work and inform the party that it’s copyrighted.
  • If you do not hear from the infringing party favorably, file a copyright lawsuit in your federal district court.

You have worked too hard not to protect your intellectual property – don’t wait until it’s too late!

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

 

Is Copyright Registration Necessary?

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A copyright registration is notNetflix. The Bicycle Thieves. necessary. However, there are many good and different reasons why you should register your original creative content, e.g., books, articles, photographs, jewelry, music, web content, video, blog posts, and more. Here are 6 reasons:

  1. You receive a Certificate of Registration.
  2. There exists prima facie evidence that you own the copyright in question.
  3. You have the right to sue for copyright infringement.
  4. You have nationwide protection.
  5. It is easier to obtain international copyright protection.
  6. You can possibly receive statutory damages and attorneys fees.

One of the most important benefits of having a registered copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, is that you can sue an infringer for copyright infringement. It may not seem like a big thing now, as you are not thinking about filing a lawsuit. But if, and when, the time ever comes when you need to take an infringer to court, it is better that you invest now–within 90-days after you publish your work–rather than have to pay for expedited registration fees and also risk not getting everything you deserve.  Copyright registration fees are around $35 if you do it yourself and do it online.  If you wait and register after someone starts to use your work, the costs will be considerably higher.

The other important reason to register your work immediately after you publish it is that if you ever have to sue, an attorney is more likely to take your case if they can potentially receive attorneys fees.

It is important to pursue copyright registration in a timely manner. That means, register your work within the first 3-months of publication. If you do so, you may become eligible to receive fees set by the government, what we call statutory damages. This could be of real benefit, as those fees range anywhere from $750 per infringement all the way up to $150,000 per infringement, if it’s proven that the infringer intentionally and willfully infringed your work. Now isn’t that a good reason to get that valuable creative content registered?

Finally, with a registration, you have solid ground for sending a “cease and desist” letter to any person who infringes your work.  This usually encourages  people to STOP using your work without permission, or purchase a license from you.  Sometimes the threat of a lawsuit goes a long way.  Just be careful not to threaten a lawsuit, unless you are truly ready to file that suit.

The Internet: An Amazing Communication Tool

The advent of the Internet, while a wonderful and advantageous communication tool, has created new issues for copyright owners. It has made access to creative content easy, and has also made content easy to create, easy to disseminate, easy to display, and easy to reproduce. As a result, many people think that if it is on the Internet, it is free.

People often conclude that if copyright is not mentioned when they view a creative work or there is no copyright symbol on the work that they can use it for any purpose they want.  The reality is that the work is in fact copyrighted regardless of whether the author mentions the copyright or not.

Whether it’s because they lack the knowledge or just don’t care,  copyright infringement on the Internet is rampant. So as a creator of valuable content PROTECT YOUR ASSETS!  Take the extra step to protect what you have invested time and money in creating.

And, as a general rule, if something is on the Internet and YOU didn’t create it, assume that someone else did. Assume that if someone else created it, you need permission to use it. Permission can come in the form of a license, a contract, public domain (no one owns it or the copyright has expired), or that your permission is granted through the fair use exception. CAVEAT: To take advantage of the Fair Use Doctrine, make sure you understand the rules, or risk being sued for copyright infringement.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

You are in a relationship with your body

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Health. Healthy Living. Research. Body.

Relationships work best when we respect one another, and respect is an action. Listening to your body when it says its needs something and giving it what it asks for – such as rest and relaxation when it’s tired, water when it’s thirsty, nutritious food when it’s hungry and pampering all the time – are behaviors that demonstrate respect. It’s not enough to say you love your body, and then abuse it. Forcing yourself to stay awake past your body’s bedtime is not a respectful act, particularly if it’s done on a regular basis. Stuff yourself with more food when your body says “I’ve had enough” is not a good thing either.

The relationship between you and your body will improve when you take responsibility for your actions. It’s easy to use your past or your environment or even your feelings as excuses for not taking care of yourself, but to have and maintain good health, you must take responsibility for what you have  done and continue to do to your body. What excuses are you making? Who are you blaming for the condition your body is in? How can you start taking responsibility now?

Taking responsibility begins with gathering information. Read up on health matters in your favorite magazine. Most have a column or a regular department addressing health issues. Go to the library, look on the Internet, and ask questions of health care professionals. Gather information about your body. When was the last time you had a regular physical? Do you know what’s going on with your body? Are you confused about which medical exams/screenings you should have and when? While identifying which exams you need can be overwhelming and frightening, it’s worth the effort. Ask your doctor which tests are appropriate for someone of your gender, race, and age. There may even be specific tests given to people who live in certain geographical regions. Look into it.

Another step in the process of self-care is being proactive, that is, taking positive action before there is a problem. The opposite of proactive is reactive, when you wait until your body, in desperation, cries out for help. And sometimes you wait until great damage is already done.

Thus, the more you know, the more you can help yourself. The Internet is a wonderful resource. This is an important step in taking care of your health. Here is a short alphabetical list of screenings you might want to consider: AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, blood pressure, bone density, breast exam, cholesterol, fecal occult blood test, glucose, hearing, mammogram, PAP smear, problem-drinking assessment, prostate-specific antigen test, thyroid-stimulating hormone measurement, and vision. Find out which ones you need, and take them.

Don’t wait and see.

Find out now. If there is a problem that needs to be addressed, take care of it immediately. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts page, Twitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.