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Can I Use a Copyrighted Image as Artwork in My Home? And More Legal Q&A – Free Joe 11/16/12

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Andrew: Am I allowed to scan an image from a music CD’s insert (I would assume the images are copyrighted?) and print that image on canvas to display in my home as an art piece?

Joe Escalante: Technically, someone could articulate why this is a problem in some respects, but if it stayed in your home, it’s never going to be a problem. If people complement you on it, and you think, “wow, maybe I’ll make more, and sell them,” and you decide to do that, then you have a problem. You cannot “copy” protected works like that without permission, with a few exceptions. Once you sell one, or even exhibit it publicly, you are outside any acceptable exceptions to the basic copyright protections the author has.

If you are planning to have this done at Costco or some place like that, it’s likely that they wont take the order if you are transferring copyrighted material without a specific license allowing you to do so. Kinko’s is the same way these days. The clerk at the counter is suddenly a legal scholar on intellectual property issues.

Barbara: I received an American Community Survey. I feel that it’s very invasive and I don’t want to complete it. They claim my responce isrequired by law. (Title13,U.S. Code, Sections 141 an 193) Title 13, as changed by Tilte 18 they say imposes a penalty for not responding. My questions are 1. Could responding be fulfilled by sending a cover letter say I feel I’m only required to state the number of people at our residence? 2. What’s the worse that can happen to me?

Joe Escalante: The Government Census Bureau claims that it is a misdemeanor to not COMPLETE this intrusive form, so just sending back a cover letter is not going to absolve you of your misdemeanor violation. If you don’t fill it out, they will probably come to your house and bug you, but they probably wont prosecute you. If they throw you in jail, this conversation never took place.

Guadalupe: I need to know the requirements and cost to create a non profit organization in the State of Michigan.

Joe Escalante: The best thing to do is to go through the process with Legalzoom. It’s always good to get some legal and tax advice on projects like this in your home state, but the nuts and bolts of putting together a 501 c 3 non profit corporation can easily be handled by you with help from Legalzoom. Click below and get started at least reading the free info on the subject.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Guadalupe:

Scott: Hopefully I am not too early. Question for Joe. I recently split up with my live in partner of 5 years. A few months before we split I transferred the title to a car I purchased previous to our relationship in to her name so that we could procure a loan. The loan was paid off by both of us and 4 months after we split up I woke up to no car. She had it towed with a bunch of my personal belongings in it. I still know the previous owner who sold me the car. Could I have the car/value returned to me in small court? She also used my daughters SS# to amend her taxes illegally. Would I bring this in the same suit or do I need to follow the proper revenues for reporting fraud to the IRS?

Joe Escalante: Rescinding a deal to transfer an automobile to someone would need to be based on some facts that were provable where you can justify the rescission. You’re going to be saying a bunch of stuff to a judge, and she’s going to counter with more stuff, and since the title is in her name, you’re probably not going to win. You can always blow the whistle on tax shenanigans by calling the I.R.S. but that’s a separate issue.
Send her a written request to return your personal items. If she doesn’t, you could take her to small claims court to recover the property or value of the property if it is less than the maximum allowed in your jurisdiction.

Deby: Can a great grand parent be awatlrded grand parents rights?

Joe Escalante: A few states recognize rights of grand parents. If a court believes it is in the best interest of the child, it may actually award full custody to them, especially if the direct parents are crackheads or something. As to visitation, it’s rare, but lucky for you, Colorado is one of the states that allows grandparents to petition for visitation rights.

Janet: I have a missing child and want to start a foundation for him how do I go about that and whats the cost. Thanks for your time Janet

Joe Escalante: Sorry to hear about that. Some people start a 501 c 3 non profit corporation to collect money that donor’s can deduct from their income taxes. Some just open up a Paypal account to collect donations that may not be tax deductible, but can be distributed to further your cause. That’s a decent way to get started, then you meet with your tax professional and work with them to see if a 501 c 3 is right for your needs. Read up on 501 c 3 non profits below.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Janet:

Marshall: Can u sue a company for writing u up for going to your grandmothers funeral and saying u refused. Work when u didn’t

Joe Escalante: Generally, you need to have a recognized civil right violated to sue the company, or at least some provable and certain damages. Although they may suffer hellfire, damnation, and the gnashing of teeth for what they did to you, it’s probably not actionable in court.

Charles: My wife and i moved about a year ago. Our old apartment was owned by someone my wife knew. We were trying to sell our refrigerator and were asking 300 for it. The owner said he would pay us for it so we left it there but still haven’t seen any money. Is there anything we can do to collect the money that is owed to us? Can we reposes the refrigerator?

Joe Escalante: The “self-help” nature of repossessing the unit would be frowned on by the courts. The prudent way to proceed would be to send a written request for the money outlining the deal as you see it. Give a deadline to pay, with a warning that if you don’t receive payment by the deadline, you will take him to small claims court.
Then small claims court is your next option. If he doesn’t respond to the letter with a denial of the deal, he’s going to lose in small claims court.

Tuwana: My son was away with friends and got hurt on atv both kids got hurt and the absent parent who doesnt pay the medical or chold support or even see the other boy is sueing me n the grandparents of the other boy and the lawyer he is using is the laeyer im a witness for in an ongoing case isnt that conflict of interest ant do he have grounds to sue

Joe Escalante: I can’t really tell for sure from your description of the issues if it is a conflict or not. My first guess is that it is probably not. However, you could always file a motion with the court if you feel there is a problem. One more thing; when is your party bus coming to this town?

Crystal: I have a judgement on a car that’s ordered to me to keep that’s in my exs name he’s taking me to court to take it back its my son and I only means of transportation and I have paid almost 7k on it what’s the odds he will get it back

Joe Escalante: He can petition the court to change the levels of support, etc. in a divorce decree, but I can’t see a scenario where he has a chance to actually take back property already adjudicated to be yours. Ask the court to force him to sign over title if they really awarded the car to you. If he doesn’t, arguably he’s in contempt of court already.

Anne Marie: If you are listed on the deed to a home along with 2 other individuals but are NOT on the mortgage, what happens to the mortgage or home when the person who is listed on the mortgage passes away or defaults?

Joe Escalante: That property is encumbered by the interest the bank has probably registered with the county clerk in connection with the mortgage. Nothing can be done without the bank being involved. They can order the property to be sold to get their interest, among other things.

Stanly: I have a group of friends that are contemplating a charitable donation. I am pondering the mechanics of that donation. Is there a legal tool we could use to gather our funds into a single pool and then disperse our collective funds. The intent is to provide each member of the group with the tax deduction they would receive if they were to make the donation on their own, but to also pool the gift into a more significant sum as to have more influence with the charitable organization we donate to.

Joe Escalante: You can only deduct donations that go to a validly formed 501 c 3 tax exempt entity, otherwise known as a “non-profit corp.” So it sounds like you should create one of those. Click below for some info on how to go about doing just that:

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Stanly:

Jennifer: Do The Civil Courts. Allow. You. To. Represent. Your self. Like. They. Do. In. Criminal. Cases ???????? IF. YOU. CANNOT. AFFORD. A. Lawyer. To. Represent. YOU . !

Joe Escalante: Yes. Each courthouse should have some kind of “Self Help Department” for “pro per” or “self represented litigants” to help you accomplish what it is your right to do. Good luck.

LegalZoom: That’s a wrap for today’s legal Q&A. Joe will be back next week with more free legal advice–join us then:

In the meantime, check out Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante for more helpful advice from Joe.

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November 20th, 2012 at 5:29 am