All of us (aka “entrepreneurs”) have been told at some point in time that we should write a blog. As can be seen by the dates of my postings, I am not very good at it. Then I realized that I am even worse at following them. Blogs are the ultimate forum to learn, connect, and develop your craft. And the best part is: they are free!!! How many resources are out there in the world? Millions, right? But you have to sift through a whole bunch of uselessness to find the golden nugget of valuable information. With blogs…you have a whole world of singularly golden nuggets based completely on whatever it is you typed into the Google search engine (or whichever search engine you used)! Think about a topic, lucky for you, a blog already exists. So, are you taking advantage of this? You should be. You don’t have to pay for it and you don’t have to actually do any of the research (the bloggers did it for you)!
So tell me about the blogs you follow. What makes you love them? What did you search to find them? Who could benefit from reading them?
Well, it might not seem like much to some of you…but you are now, officially, allowed to sing “Happy Birthday” in public without overstepping your legal bounds. Shocked are you that this was even an actual issue?! Alas, it was and has been for close to a hundred years!!!
“How does this actually affect me?” you might ask, and with good reason because in all honesty it probably doesn’t (unless you own a restaurant or a film studio). But, for the past 8 years or so, a company by the name of Warner/Chappell, has been collecting over $2 Million in licensing fees from this little ditty (the predecessors to this company have been claiming rights for 80 + years!). But after quite the legal battle, a group of several artists and publishers, have won the war (mostly). District Court Judge George King has ruled that Warner/Chappell does not actual own the Copyright to this song and therefore cannot continue to charge people fees for using it.
Since Warner/Chappell does not legally own the song, the song becomes on Orphan Work until its viable Copyright actual expires.
But for now, go ahead, sing “Happy Birthday” off-key and in public with no fear!!!
So, I was perusing the interwebs today, catching up on all the new legal “gossip” in Copyright law. I am beyond amazed at how many topics that I talk about all the time with clients (and potential clients) are constantly showing up in the news. One in particular that stands out for me today was this post at Huffington Post online.
For those who didn’t just click on that link…here’s the gist. FEDERALLY REGISTER YOUR PHOTOGRAPHS!!!!! I cannot stress enough the importance of Federal registration in the modern digital world. This process is not expensive (even through The (Art)torney!) but the reward can be up to $150,000 per willful infringement (inquiring minds who want to know more, just ask!).
You can register 250 photographs at once (there are particular rules to that, just so you know) and then, BOOM!, you have Federal protection from all the miscreants out there trying to use your work, steal your work or otherwise appropriate your work (see the reoccurring word, “your”).
Don’t loose out just because you have it on your “To Do List” but just haven’t gotten around to it. There are time limits to the protection offered by Copyright laws and you can loose A LOT just because you waited too long.
Talk to someone (like me), take action, and get your hard work protected ASAP!
Ok, ok, I know it is tax season and I also know that makes people about as uncomfortable as the word Attorney (which I am working on changing!). Yet, there is a double upside to having an (Art)torney: 1) You get the help you need in starting, running, and/or maintaining your business, and 2) it might be possible for you to write that expense off over time in your taxes. I am talking about amortization people! For the most part, the expenses you have at start-up are capital expenditures and you cannot write these expenses off. However, with amortization you recover the costs of certain expenses by taking deductions for a portion of the cost over a number of years (180 months to be exact!). The best part of this whole story is that legal fees are one of those items that you can amortize. There are some particulars to all this and you should ask your accountant or tax specialist about it, but it is one more barrier down to making sure that your business will be successful! So contact me this year to help you with all of your business needs!
So I was out running with a friend of mine the other day, and I was venting. It was a particularly ruff day in my world. I was very frustrated about trying to convince people that even a half hour (only $75 with me) with me could save them hundreds of dollars. This was all sparked by hearing a story about someone who tried to use Legal Zoom to file their Trademark. Now, don’t get me wrong…I do not have a problem with Legal Zoom, it has its place. However, Legal Zoom does not tell you your likelihood of success in getting that Trademark. So now, you’ve spent at least $400 for nothing. Why nothing? Because, you filed for a Trademark that you will never receive. Why will you not receive it…because there are basic principles (that I paid good money to learn in Law School) that you have to meet in order to acquire your Trademark. And had you spent 30 min with me, just 30 minutes, I would have told you not to waste your $400 on something just to be told NO!! I cannot say that I will always be less expensive than sites like Legal Zoom, but why in this day in age do we conflate internet access to knowledge. Law School is a trade school people! So just like you, I went to school to gain a very specific knowledge base. Take advantage of that!!! Don’t assume do it yourself sites are always your best choice. Talk to someone, like me, before loosing your money.
So, as many of you know, I just finished my new branding campaign. This is something I preach heavily about to my client base; therefore, I thought I would share with you a little about the process and why it is so important (even if it seems expensive) to do it right the first time. First of all….the reason I keep telling everyone that you should work closely with a Trademark Attorney while doing your branding is to avoid exactly what I just went through. (No better way than walking through the mire to explain to others why they really don’t want to do that!)
When I first launched L&A Firm, I was scarred, excited, and in a hurry! These three things are a potential “recipe for disaster.” I liken starting my business to a 6 year old’s soccer game: Kind of a muddled mass of arms and legs moving around the field towards an indiscriminate target. I did not have enough time to properly prepare for my new launch at BMAC and ACC in January and February. Therefore, I put out whatever I could get together in 1 month and ran with it. The problem was, I put out something that I could not protect (because I tried and I am now out a good chunk of change), and, MOST importantly, that I did not connect with. L&A did not describe my goal, myself, or what I wanted to accomplish.
When I got home from those shows, I realized that the artists were very excited about having someone who was there to help them, but I needed better branding to represent myself and my new venture. So I hired a firm here in DC, Sabra Designs. (Amazing!!!!) The one thing I knew: I had no idea what I wanted. What I found out: Chris and Konstantin (and the rest of the team) are hands down the most amazing design team you will ever work with. They took me from 0 – 60 in 3 months. Now I have a beautiful new logo, a brand name that represents everything that I want to accomplish with my business, and a catchy tag line!
Now the hard part, changing everything I started as L&A over to Demiurgic Law. I had to buy another domain name, I am still working on linking the two; I threw away a bunch of marketing material that I paid for; I had to file even more paperwork with the state of Virginia; And a slew of other problems that occur when you decide to change your business name. This is what I don’t want any of you to ever go through. Although many of us rely on people seeing our work and knowing our actual names because we see each other so many times a year, it isn’t that simple. Branding and Trademarking is a science. Brand recognition will get you more business, that is a fact. Consumers do not want to have to think when it comes to purchasing a product. Ex: I see a red and white soup can, I know it is Campbells and I know the product I am going to get. No thought. I can recommend that product without the name because I can tell someone the color of the packaging. That is what we want for our businesses. There are thousands of artists and you have to make yourself and your mark stand out from the rest. You are unique so make sure you create a brand image that is as unique as your and your product are. So be sure to start early and work with professionals. The money will be well spent and it will be less costly in the long run….TRUST ME!
I had my first wholesale show as an actual attorney this past week at BMAC Philly. The week was intense and ended (as those who attended well know) with 15″ of snow! I believe I was able to get the word out to the artists that I am officially open for business and ready to help Protect Your Artistic Vision!
My info cards were handed out individually to each artist in his/her booth. It was truly exciting to see people receive and read the card (and actually save it)! I know every morning at a wholesale show there is another piece of paper in the booth, telling you something you need to know; therefore, sometimes things go to the wayside. However, in this case, people actually read my card and came to inquire about the legal services I offer.
I know that every one of you who has started your own business in the art world knows the apprehension that comes along with whether or not your work will sell or be well received. After this week, I know (for certain) that my work is well received and that I can now start making my dream job my daily reality.
So thank you artists for you support! I cannot wait to work with so many of you in the future!
Well the day has finally come and today is the first day of the rest of my career. I never thought that I could feel this happy about one test score. But here I am, newly minted Attorney, and I am ready to open my doors (figuratively speaking since I don’t have an office!). I have submitted all my paperwork to get my official license, my LLC paperwork is filed and now I am embarking on filing the paperwork for my own Trademark.
Yes, I am actually practicing what I preach. It is a cost that I think is well worth it. Along with that cost I am also looking to marketing costs. Wow there is so much that goes into starting your own business. The good thing about this journey is that I know exactly what goes into it and I cannot wait to make it easier for others to get through. I am making a checklist that I can give to clients to help them too.
As for now though, I am ready to begin helping….so does anybody need help?!?!
Hello there folks,
I am hosting a Webinar tomorrow through Rosen Group. The class is going to cover the basics of Trademark and why you should Trademark your stuff! I based the topic on some reoccurring concerns I have heard from artists over the years. I hope it will be interesting and give you some familiarity with the topic. So please join us! Look for the email from Rosen Group about the webinar!
Hello to All!
As many of you know, my dream is now becoming a reality – my practice is almost in full swing. I am still waiting on the BAR results (come on October 31!); however, as soon as they are in (and assuming I pass!) I will be up and running as promised for the past 4 years.
Along with learning how to run my own business (a toilsome process that all of you have been through) I am also trying to figure out how to run my own website! So for now, this is what I have. Once I am up and running fully my practice will be what we call a “virtual practice.” Every client will be able to login to their account and view what is happening in real time. Much like accessing your bank account online. Gotta love technology. I plan on also making in person appearances too so do not fret, you will see me!
My first line of business is to say thank you to all of those who have shown me support in making this dream come true. It is because of ya’ll that I am here today. And as for the rest of you reading this that I do not know yet, well…I cannot wait to meet you, hear about your dreams and offer my assistance.