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Can I Use the Names of Real People in My Book? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 4/24/12

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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.

Anthony: While writing a book is it ok to use people’s names while describing incidents that happened in the time period I’m writing about?

Joe Escalante: As long as you don’t defame them, it’s legal. If it’s embarrassing but true, truth is a defense against defamation. This is another thing that can be discussed in detail on my radio show. See the info below under Unka’s post.

Unka: How do I copywriter my music

Joe Escalante: Legalzoom can help you with that. Here’s a link. Read the stuff. If you have specific questions, you can always call me radio show that deals exclusively with copyright and trademark issues. Http://www.barelylegalradio.com or plug your question into the “Contact” section.

LegalZoom: Here you go: http://www.legalzoom.com/legal-copyrights/copyrights-overview.html?cm_mmc=social-_-fb-_-freejoe-_-na

Shelia: Can I do a fundraiser as a private individual without paying taxes on the funds I raise?

Joe Escalante: This is a tax question rather than a legal one. Talk to a tax pro about it, but in general, tax issues for charities center around the donors paying taxes, not the donee.

Shelia: Hmm. Isn’t it a way for others to misrepresent their intentions or commit some kind of fraud?

Joe Escalante: You pay taxes on taxable income. If you receive donations, but pay them out, it’s a wash. There’s no taxable income if what you pay out is legit. To know that, talk to the tax pro.

Sonya: Good Morning. can I sue my previous employer for invading my privacy? when I was working for this agency and I was going through a divorce. My ex accused me of having an affair and recorded my conversations and then gave the employer the cd without my knowledge the employer informed me I was under investigation and that the agency attorney would handle this matter. I found out the agency never had an attorney and it was just lies! One month later I was fired.

Joe Escalante: You can be fired for anything as long as it doesn’t violate a written contract or your civil rights. Getting this into the civil rights arena would be difficult. Your case is stronger against your ex. You should file a complaint with the state labor commission. Then see a wrongful termination attorney to see if the details of your case are worth anything.

Marcus: I have writen some of my opinions on my van like “vote obama” “black power” “fire chief lee” so some people dont like it and complained to the admin at my work(college) so i went to my equity&diversity coordin and he told me it was my personal property and i couldnt get in any trouble..is this true?? And if i start getting harrased wat r my rights??

Joe Escalante: See what I wrote to Sonya below. Same applies to you. You have free speech rights, but harassment is somewhat subjective. If you value the job, and people are depending on you, paint the van a solid color and maybe put a unicorn on it or something. That’s always safe.

Goran: Okay I have a law question for all your lawyers, . So when we bought our sectional Couch back in 2007 from (undiscolsed Company), we purchased an extended warranty with the unit. Well needless to say the couch is holding up and wanted to invoke the warranty, but (undiscolosed company)telling me that the warranty they sold me was for a 3rd party warranty servicer, and they have since gone out of business about 2 years ago. I am going back and forth with their corporate office, and they are saying they aren’t on the hook legally for the fact that the 3rd party warranty company going out of business. Yet when I was sold this unit I first wasn’t aware that this is a 3rd party company, and even the sales guy told me that (undisclosed company) , stands behind the product no matter what happens during the warranty period. The corporate office says that the sectional we bought has been discontinued about 2 years ago and there is no parts. They are offering me a 500.00 gift card to (Undisclosed company) , but I want to know if I pursue legal matters would I get anywhere. Is there legal justifications for me to take them to small claims courts, or see if I can get this as a class action lawsuit, as there are many people who were affected by this. I mean if someone can sue McDonalds for getting fat, and win, I’m sure that there has to be some legal channels. What do you guys think!

Joe Escalante: If you go through life thinking people are getting rich suing and winning against MacDonalds for being fat, you will never be happy. Take the gift card. Your contract was with the warranty company. If you have tape proving what the sales person said, you could recover only the amount it’s worth. Those are your damages.

Troi: Hi Joe,
I am contemplating a mobile app which would include a streaming radio. The content for the radio would be user submited. If I add a disclaimer that the audio on that radio “station” is for promotional use only, would that prevent me from having to get any kind of licenses?

Joe Escalante: No.

Stephanie: Please explain the new first to file law that was instated by the Obama administration in regards to patents. Explain how this affects provisional and utility patent applicants.

Joe Escalante: My friends at Inc.com did a decent job explaining this. I’m against it. http://www.inc.com/news/articles/201107/patent-reform-could-present-problems-for-small-business.html

Aaron: Is there an age that my step child can choose to live with his father? He “hates” it at home because we make him eat vegetables and have a bed time. He wants to live with his father because of the lack of rules there. He said his father was saving up to take us to court when my step son turns 12.

Joe Escalante: This varies by state. The judge has the final say as to what is in the best interest of the child. If he gets more candy over there and gets to stay up all night playing Warcraft, and that’s the reason, the judge wont allow it.

Darlene: Is there such a thing as being to young have a Will?

Joe Escalante: Yes, it’s called being under the age of majority. Each state has its own requirements, but all require that you be of legal age ( “age of majority”) and of sound mind (i.e., having the ability to know and understand what you are doing). Most states require that you be at least 18 years of age in order to make a will. Georgia’s minimum age is 14 and Louisiana’s minimum age is 16. Some states also make exceptions if you are emancipated, or legally married, or serving in the armed forces.

Carol: Is it true that you can’t transfer assets to a family member within a 5 yr period before going into a nursing home/long term facility?

Joe Escalante: You can transfer anything you want to whoever you want. However, if the government believes you are doing it to cheat the system and pretend you can’t afford to take care of yourself with your own money, the government will evaluate you as if the transfer did not take place.

Marco: Do u have to pay anything if your LLC isnt producing any funds yet?

Joe Escalante: Depending on what state you are in, you will have to pay the minimum tax. This is $800 in California. It’s called a minimum because it’s what you pay as a minimum, even if you earn nothing.

Nick: What are the reasons to file articles of closure when my business no longer is in operation? Can’t I just let it continue to exist without officially closing out?

Joe Escalante: One reason is that you will be charged a minimum tax each year, even if you make no $. And liability still lingers around. If you are not handling the corporate formalities, the corporate veil can be pierced. Better to close it up.

Alexia: My exhusband still occupies the house that we had when we were married. The house is still in both of our names and it was agreed that we would try to short-sell. However, he is staying in the house until “they take it from under him”, meaning that he plans to stay there through the foreclosure process. I know that this will more negatively impact my credit than a shortsale would, what type of recourse do I have, if any? This is in Illinois. Our judgement of divorce only indicated that he was to remain living there until we were granted a short sale. Well, he won’t/hasn’t signed any paperwork to even start the process of a short sale. I was the one making the mortgage payments until I moved out of the house in June of last year.

Joe Escalante: Put all this info into your petition for divorce. If he’s paying no rent to anyone, he’s got more ability to pay you a higher rate of spousal support. A consultation with a divorce lawyer would go a long way to make this easier for you.

Beth: When 2 siblings are coexecutors of their parents’ estate and only ONE sibling takes care of everything (financially, emotionally & legally), shouldn’t that sibling be able to recoup 100% legitimate estate expenses once the house is sold, etc? If not, due being rairoaded by the other sibling, is there any recourse to be able to get the money back?

Joe Escalante: This stuff is all supervised by the court. When you have issues like this, you petition the court to reimburse the good executor, but not the bad. The bad one can write his own petition and explain himself in his defense.

Elliot: Question for Joe: As the owner of a new LLC I wanted to know how to address yourself on business cards and other areas where you are asked for position status? To keep the LLC “at arms length”, is it best to use founder, or founding member rather than owner? Thanks Joe;)

Joe Escalante: I haven’t heard this one. A business card is not a legal document, you can be the Imperial Wizard if you like. When signing documents binding the company, use your legal title like “Managing Member.”

Chris “Dirty”: how do i register a new music genre and how can i get paid in the different aspects of this new genre (ex. People who want to apply they’re music on my gere ect

Joe Escalante: Slow down Dirty. You get paid when you create something and someone purchases a copy of it. Listen to my radio show. Actually go back and listen to as many podcasts as possible, read up on copyright, then you will be able to ask better questions. Most of your question made no sense. Help is available, but you have to be patient. http://www.barelylegalradio.com/

Scott: Hey Free Joe Can You Sue For Slander If Someone Calls You A Scammer/Hacker On Twitter(Social Media Sites?) Thanks, Jordan

Joe Escalante: That’s not really a winner. You would have to prove a strong liklihood that the public would believe the tweet and then show how you were damaged. You need certain and provable damages. No one believes tweets.

Unka: Mr. Escalante…Thanks for your help with my copywriter issue. I didn’t expect an answer so soon and was surprised how simple it was to copywrite such issues. Thank you. Next question. If i’m disabled and child support is taking over 50% of my disability check leaving me virtually under the poverty level and near homeless, how can I get a reduction if all the kids are over 18, and not in college. I do have arrears, but it’s due to the waiting period (2 years) it took for me to get disability. Note, I will never be able to work again by doctors orders due to the nature of my disability. What can I do or who can I call? Help if possible.

Joe Escalante: You can always petition the court to modify the support order considering new circumstances. Don’t tell them about your hit song you are about to register though. ;)

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April 27th, 2012 at 3:24 pm