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How Do I Protect My Art Online? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 9/4/12

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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.

Alyson: Question for Joe: Given all the grey areas of IP laws and digital content, what do you recommend as the best ways to protect original photography and art online?

Joe Escalante: Watermarks and a team of aggressive attack lawyers. Things are changing. If it can be copied on the internet, we have to think of new ways to be compensated. For musicians, it’s likely streaming on a subscription basis and playing live shows and offering unique “fan experiences” that can make up for the lost income from recordings. For photographers…..I don’t know what it is.

Jamal: How do I know if my lawyer misrepresent my personal injury case and what can I do about it.

Joe Escalante: The most thorough way to find out would be to seek a consultation with a legal malpractice attorney. If he takes your case, you were probably misrepresented. If not, he’ll tell you.

Jamal: You know of anyone in the Chicago land area I can talk to.

Joe Escalante: Try legalzoom’s “Attorney Connect.” Click below:

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Jamal:

Julian: Good morning LegalZoom and Mr. Escalante. I’m about to put out a record, and I’m calling one of the tracks “Circle K,” after the convenience store chain. This phrase is a registered trademark; could they come after me if I publish/sell my song? If it matters, the lyrics do not focus on the establishment itself. It is mentioned in passing.

Joe Escalante: They can trademark that name all they want in the area of convenience stores but they can’t prevent its use as the title of a song, a book, or even a movie. However, they would certainly consider some legal action against you if they felt t
hat consumers were confused and thought the song, or band, was endorsed by them.
Don’t underestimate how stupid they could be in this regard. If you have a Circle K logo anywhere in your artwork, you’re running the risk of at least a cease and desist letter to change your artwork.
So best advice is to leave it to the song, and don’t refer to the business in any other way. (even though you would arguably have a 1st Amendment right to do so in many ways.)

The other thing to consider is if they feel it defames them or dilutes their mark because it says disparaging things about their brand, which you also have the right to do, but are best avoiding. Check out my nightmare I went through with The Vandals Vs. Daily Variety for a parody of their logo.

Cindy: I’m interested in starting a non-profit (therapy dog business) and would like to know the most economic way of getting starting, registered, paper work required, etc.
Thank you.

Joe Escalante: This is a hard process. It involves a fair amount of writing explanations of what you will be up to and making budgets. Legalzoom is your best bet if you are willing to get involved and see it though without an attorney sucking all the money out of the project. Click the link below. (Great idea by the way).

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Cindy:

Tim: I was in a accident with a company vehicle the driver of the other vehicle was found at fault workers compensation took care of my medical bils and any settlement I would receive workers compensation would take what they paid on my medical
bills. I am having a very hard time obtaining an attorney because there wasn’t much damage to me or the vehicle that I was driving so how would I go about filing a claim with the insurance company with out a lawyer?

Joe Escalante: If lawyers wont take your case, it’s probably not a good one. However, you have the right to file lawsuits without attorneys. This can usually be done by filling out a form and paying filing fees, “form filing.”
Call the county court house, ask them for the department of “self help for self represented, or “pro per” litigants. They should have some resources for you. Good luck.

Angela: Hi Joe..I have a daughter currently incarcerated in a mother infant program in California. Her Aunt currently has guardianship of her oldest daughter. Her Aunt has now filed for adoption of the 5 year old. First question. is that legal? and if so question 2. how can we stop it? Thanks in advance for your response.

Joe Escalante: No formal adoption can occur until your daughter gives up, or is stripped of, her parental rights. A judge may temporarily award custody to the aunt, but permanent custody would require consent, or a court order. These are all public documents. You should go to the court where it all went down and read the file so you know what really happened.

Keith: if i wanna get a pardon from past offenses from my governor do i need a lawyer. Say if i wanted to join the marines?

Joe Escalante: A lawyer would help. A lawyer with a track record of obtaining pardons would be worth the money. However, you have the right to ask for a pardon without an attorney getting involved. Call the state’s Attorney General’s office and ask them how to proceed. If they don’t know, call the governor’s office.

An expungement might be all you need. The A.G.’s office can tell you that too. Also, what about your recruiter? Ask them what is best to get.

Cassandra: Hi Joe. When getting married how do I protect MY money from getting whisked away by child support he pays for his children. He currently does not get an Income tax check to pay his back pay and he also pays on his current. If the mom asks for more (which she always does) can she get my earnings too if married? Thanks Joe!

Joe Escalante: It depends on the state, but in general you are not liable for the debts of your spouse, prior to marriage. However, if you co-mingled your funds to a certain degree, she could maybe argue that some of your funds are targets for her support fantasies. I don’t she would be this clever.

Jill: Daughter is a bartender in IL and was caught in a sting. She didn’t card someone and she knows she should have but didn’t do it knowingly. She wasn’t arrested and they didn’t take her license but gave her a ticket and court appearance is on the 10th. Ticket says bond is $1500 so how much will she really have to pay and should she take a lawyer with her or can she go in by herself. She’s a college student in Law School and I’m a single mom so can’t afford an attorney right now. Thanks.

Joe Escalante: This is going to vary in every county. Likely she’s going to be offered a lesser charge in exchange for a guilty plea. I would start by trying to figure out who’s prosecuting it and if they file it as a felony. Is it the District Attorney’s office? The City Attorney? And call their office and ask what the procedure is going to be. A criminal defense attorney would really come in handy here, especially if she’s going to have to answer questions about this to get her law license.

Jill: Would a public defender work? It will be in Jackson county. Right now she plans not to be a lawyer but to be an advocate for kids thanks

Joe Escalante: A public defender would be great, however, in the jurisdictions with which I am aware, they are only assigned to those accused of a felony. This is generally when your constitutional right to counsel kicks in.

Ruth: My husband paid child support until both our girls turned 18. Before that, one of our daughters was in AR w/him visiting & suffered a bad accident, (traumatic brain injury) & I’m now her legal guardian & she is a disabled person. Can I still get him to continue paying child support due to her disability?? Her brain damage is irreparable so it’s permanent. She was 16 @ the time, she’s now 25.

Joe Escalante: Most states have adopted the rule that parents have a common-law duty to support their adult disabled children. Other states have said that this duty only exists by statute, that is, if the state passes a law demanding it.
If your state follows this line of legal obligation, either through case law or statute, there’s no reason why your ex shouldn’t also be on the hook, if you are. You should consult with an attorney who specializes in the rights of adults with special needs. Great question, and good luck.

Pamela: if someone dies who is not married can thier daughter collect thier retirement payed in if she was executor

Joe Escalante: This depends on several things. If she was named as the beneficiary of the retirement funds, it’s already hers. If there was a will, the wishes of the decedent must be followed. It has nothing to do with whether or not she’s the executor. It will be determined by terms of the will, or who was named as beneficiary. If there is no will, the state laws of intestacy will determine who gets it.

HeadMetal: Hey Joe,
I have recently started self publishing my Comic book series, and I have been receiving some interest from larger publishers.

I have two and a half years of documentation to verify the project, to include: Contracts with the work for hire artists, all of the original artwork, as well as a copyright for the origin story of my character (I purchased the copyright through legalzoom).

My question is: As things progress, is the single copyright for the origin story of my character strong enough to keep me protected as I begin to deal with other companies? What other types of protection would you suggest?

Chris from HeadMetal Comics

Joe Escalante: Sounds like you have it covered. Other things / characters you have introduced in other issues would receive more protection if you registered each issue. But as far as your dealings negotiating with a reputable publisher, the copyright in the origin will protect you.

and congratulations. Please give us a link to where we can see your stuff.

LegalZoom: Attorney Joe Escalante will be back on Friday to answer more legal questions! Join us then:

In the meantime, check out Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante on Facebook.

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September 6th, 2012 at 6:10 am