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Intellectual Property

Registered Patent Attorney Herbert Joe provides intellectual property (IP) legal services to select clients of the Law Office of Michael E. Young PLLC.

This legal protection includes patents, copyrights, trademarks, service marks, trade dress, trade secrets, and other IP owned or licensed by the firm’s clients.

From copyright infringement to provisional patent applications, talk to Attorney Joe about how he can help you.

How to Update Your Website Copyright Notice

By Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer

website copyright noticeIf you have added new content to your website this year (e.g. articles, blog posts, photos, audios, or videos), be sure to update your website copyright notice to reflect the current year.

For example, this law firm’s website copyright notice in the footer reads

“Copyright © 2007-2021 Law Office of Michael E. Young PLLC – All rights reserved.”

Now, note that the copyright notice covers multiple years.

A common mistake is to simply replace last year with this year (e.g. replacing 2020 with 2021) instead of making the notice cumulative to cover all the years copyrighted content has been added to your site.

For example, a site that has been adding content since 2015 should accurately reflect 2015 to 2021 instead of just 2021 in the copyright notice.

Of course, talk with your Internet attorney if you have any specific questions about protecting your site’s intellectual property.

And, of course, to speak with Internet Lawyer Mike Young about your website copyright notice or other Internet business-related legal issues, you’ll want to go set up a phone consultation with him.

 

Copyright Infringement: Spain’s Don Quixote Versus Google’s Windmills

By Intellectual Property
tilting at windmills - copyright infringement

Protect your website from those tilting at copyright infringement windmills

Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them.” – Don Quixote

In Miguel de Cervantes’ novel “Don Quixote,” a fake Spanish knight fights against imaginary enemies, including windmills that he believes are giants. Let’s just say Don Quixote was reality-challenged.

It’s a nice reminder to website owners that there are crazy people out there who can and will harm you if you don’t take precautions. This includes insane politicians who don’t understand the purpose of laws that protect against copyright infringement.

For example, Spain’s got a new law that requires website owners to pay compensation when using a news snippet from a Spanish publisher. It doesn’t matter if you give full credit and hyperlink to drive traffic to the full news story on the publisher’s site.

Google is responding to this nonsense by shutting down Google News in Spain.

Until this all shakes out, avoid quoting from Spanish websites even if the site is written in English. If you’re going to quote more than a sentence or two from any other source, try to get written permission first. Some site owners don’t believe in “fair use” and will accuse you of copyright infringement even if you’re driving traffic their way.

Your Internet lawyer can review your website to see if you’ve got a copyright infringement or other legal issues that need to be fixed.

Illustration credit: Tilting at Windmills by Gustave Doré

3 Common Legal Mistakes Nonfiction eBook Authors Make

By Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer
ebook legal protection

Do you make these legal mistakes with the ebooks you write?

Whether you’re writing for Amazon Kindle, Smashwords, or some other platform, there are three legal problems that you can easily avoid by taking a few simple steps.

Mistake # 1 – Failing to Register Your Copyright

Properly registering the copyright for your eBook with the U.S. Copyright Office (Copyright.gov) provides you with several legal advantages in case a competitor or reader tries to rip off the content of your book.

For example, copyright registration enables you to sue for infringement to stop piracy plus provides the opportunity to pursue significant damages for infringement and reimbursement of your attorney fees.

Having these available to you adds some teeth to a cease-and-desist demand letter sent to a pirate even if you don’t actually plan to sue.

Mistake # 2 – Misusing Someone Else’s Copyrighted Material

Just as important as protecting your intellectual property is making sure that your e-book doesn’t infringe upon the copyrights owned by others. These types of infringement typically involve text and images.

Text and Fair Use

With regard to text, the concept of “fair use” is extremely vague. Some copyright owners don’t mind if you quote a paragraph or two with attribution. Others take the position that quoting even five words without permission constitutes infringement. Err on the side of caution by getting written permission from the copyright owner before “borrowing” text to put in your eBook.

Photos and Graphics

Images within an eBbook and  e-cover design are big concern too. You should assume until proven otherwise that graphics and photos you find online are owned by someone else. This means getting written permission to use those images in your eBook.

Chances are that the right to use an image inside your eBook or as an e-cover will cost you a small licensing fee. Make sure it’s clear what you’re buying. For example, some stock photography licensing sites charge more if you want to use an image in an eBook versus on a blog.

If you’ve hired someone to design your eBook cover, you’ll need two levels of protection. First, you’ll want to verify the source of any images used and whether there is a legal right for the designer to incorporate it into your eBook’s cover. Second, you’ll want your written independent contractor agreement with the cover designer to ensure the rights to the cover are assigned over to you.

This is a minefield because sometimes a designer will license the image to use in the designer’s business but the license doesn’t include a right for the designer to transfer the image rights to you as part of your eBook cover. A separate license to the image may be required.

Mistake # 3 – Forgetting to Put the Right Disclosures and Disclaimers in Your eBook

In addition to copyright information, it’s important to make mandatory disclosures and limit your liability exposure in nonfiction ebooks through disclaimers. An experienced Internet business lawyer can help you craft the right language for your eBook as well as address any copyright questions you have. Or, if you’re on a limited budget, you can choose to use a quality set of do-it-yourself templates instead.

For example, material connections to products and services you’re promoting in your eBook should be disclosed. If you’ve inserted affiliate links in your eBook, the reader should be informed of your affiliate status in order to make an informed buying decision. Without such a disclosure, the reader might mistakenly assume that your motive for making a recommendation was not motivated in part by income.

Nondisclosure of material connections can lead to trouble with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and consumer protection divisions of states’ attorneys general.

Your eBook’s disclaimers can reduce the risk you’ll be sued because of what you’ve written. The content of such disclaimers will vary depending upon the subject matter of your eBook. For example, an eBook about diabetes will have different disclaimers than one written about making money online through blogging.

 

The Great Website Photos Shakedown That’s Perfectly Legal

By Intellectual Property

stock photograhy copyright infringementEver found a fantastic photo that you really wanted to post on your website?

Unless the pic is in the public domain or shared with a copyleft license (e.g. Creative Commons), chances are there’s a copyright owner for the photo whose permission (preferably in writing) you’re going to need to obtain before using the pic on your site.

But how do you track down the owner of the pic on the Internet? You can use a service like TinEye.com as a starting point but that’s no guarantee you’ll be able to find the true copyright owner.

Because it is so difficult to find the copyright owners for many photos online, many website owners mistakenly use the pics on their own sites without permission.

And that’s where the photo copyright infringement shakedown comes into play.

Here’s what happens…

There are professional photographers and stock photo companies that make most of their money by threatening shakedown lawsuits for copyright infringement against website owners who use their pics without permission. If you are using one of their photos on your site without paying a licensing fee, you’re likely to receive an email or a snail mail letter claiming infringement.

They will demand a fee of $3,000 to $10,000 to settle their claim of infringement. If you refuse to pay, they will threaten to sue you for copyright infringement and seek $150,000 per infringement plus payment of their legal fees and court costs.

The goal of this demand is to shake you down for thousands of dollars because it is still a lot less expensive than being sued and likely losing.

Frankly, it’s legal but a sleazy way of doing business.

So what should you do to avoid this type of copyright infringement shakedown in the first place?

Before using a photo on your site, be sure to ensure that:

(1) the pic is in the public domain,
(2) has a copyleft license that you comply with; or
(3) you get permission from the copyright owner to use it.

The easiest way to get permission is to pay a licensing fee to a reputable stock photo agency for use of the pic. The fee you will pay will typically depend upon the resolution of the photo and where you intend to use the pic. For example, a low resolution image for use on a blog will cost less than a high resolution image you plan to include in printed marketing materials.

Where possible, avoid doing business with those who focus on shakedown threats instead of licensing images as their way of making money online. Don’t reward bad behavior that preys upon mistakes.

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Website Protection For People Who Want To Build Their Online Businesses, Safely, Surely

By Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer

What is website protection?

Website protection is a general term that covers a wide variety of steps and measures that business owners need to take to ensure that their websites won’t subject them to legal action and that their website content and intellectual property is protected.
Website protection requires that business websites have certain policies on things like data protection and a set of terms of use for users/clients. Further, website owners need to make sure that they have a right to use all content they use or post on their websites and that their intellectual property rights in their own content are protected.

What is the value in obtaining website protection?

Website protection ensures that business owners can remain confident that their websites and the content on them are legally safe and secure, allowing them to focus their energy on running and growing their online businesses, not worrying about having to protect their websites.
Failure to have certain policies, for instance a privacy policy, can lead to clients not giving you their business out of fear as to who their personal data is handled. Lack of such policies can also lead to lawsuits, for instance if, god forbid, you have a data breach and clients data is stolen and misused, you can be liable for their damages if you do not have protections for your business in your policies or terms.
Failure to protect your intellectual property or to secure the right to use the intellectual property of others can be quite costly also. If you have not secured your intellectual rights then someone could come to your businesses’ website and steal your content and use it however they wish without paying you for the privilege. Alternatively if you use someone else’s content without securing the legal right to do so, even something as simple as a photo from a search engine, your business could be sued and subjected to heavy financial damages, something that is easily avoided by making sure upfront that you have a clear legal right to the content on your website.

How should your business go about getting website protection?

Business owners who want to ensure their websites are properly protected should have an experienced internet lawyer perform a legal checkup on their website to make sure their websites do not have any legal red-flags and to clear any that might be present.
Internet lawyer Mike Young has been working on internet legal matters, providing website protection guidance and the necessary legal guidance to business owners since the mid-nineties and he has a wealth of experience in the field of internet law. For help with your website protection needs, you will want to schedule a telephone appointment with Internet Lawyer Young today.