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If I Publish a Book of Quotes, Am I Infringing on Copyright? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 5/11/12

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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.

Bobbie: My question is about copyrights. I have an idea to publish small eBooks about different subjects; motivational, “did you know?” – that sort of thing. Basically the books would be an aggregation of sayings or ideas gleaned from internet research. I would give credit to the originator under each saying, idea or tip. Do I need to worry about any copyright issues?

Joe Escalante: Great question and the answer is yes and no. If you write something like Zig Ziglar says “Rich people have small TVs and big libraries, and poor people have small libraries and big TVs,” then follow it up with your analysis on this quote, you are writing non fictional commentary on something that is already part of the public record. There is no need for permission from the originator for something like this.
However, if your next quote was also Zig Ziglar’s, and the next and the next, and you put Zig Ziglar in the title, now you’ve got problems with unfair trade practices perhaps. Zig might think you are trading off his name and good will and there is confusion as to whether he is endorsing this product. If you just listed his quotes, with no commentary, that could be a problem.

If you are mixing it up with different originators, and your own original commentary, you are going to be fine without permission.

Norma: Starting a small family farm in Maine. Is a Partnership Corp. Or an LLC a better idea. There are three of us – me, my son, his longtime lady partner. Also should the corporation own the property as well as the farm equipment and breeding animals?

Joe Escalante: As far as legal issues go, if you have good insurance, it’s not going to make much of a difference. Tax issues and goals will dictate which one is best. For this, you should talk to your tax lady. Get her advice.

Carolynn: Question: Regarding the “Pets as Property” law…..if a vet is negligent and my pet dies is there any way to hold a vet accountable? I understand that because the law sees pets as property, the compensation is solely based on what she is “worth” in a store. What about filing a complaint? Is there any recourse?

Joe Escalante: Even though non economic damages are not allowed by statute, courts could award them if the circumstances were egregious and the vet should have known additional damages were being created by his behavior.
The problem is this. If you change these laws, their insurance will skyrocket, and vet fees will also escalate. That’s ruff.

Kathleen: Lawyer Question: How do I search to see if someone has already taken a patent out for an idea? (I did try and research this and couldn’t find anything helpful). And also could there be hackers monitoring the searching of that information, so they could steal your idea? Thanks!

Joe Escalante: I always start at the governments own site: http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/search/
If that’s not working for you, you should probably hire a patent attorney if you’re really worried about the possibility of something out there already.
Yes, their could be hackers, and mind readers, mystics, etc. They are watching.

Wendy: Friend situation. He and his wife have not had a marital relationship for over eight years, but were still residing in the same home until about a year ago. The wife is in the home, however, he has continued to pay house payments, utilities and covers her health insurance and is willing to do so because she has no family, is unstable and suicidal. Four years ago papers were filed for divorce, he paid her $10,000 equity, he signed divorce papers however, she never signed. Because she is so unstable he didn’t follow through with the divorce and left things status quo.

Now he is in a relationship and wants a divorce but still feels obligated to take care of her and is thinking a legal separation would allow him to “legally” continue in the new relationship, and allow him to still provide health insurance.

Recommendation(s) appreciated. Thank you

Joe Escalante: Whether or not she can still be under his health insurance is up to the carrier / employer. In some cases health insurance and benefit plans treat a separation the same as divorce.

Joel: Friday JOE question: My employment contract stated in writing that I am due payment for unused sick leave & unused vacation after layoff. Company paid the vacation due but it has 2 years and they have not paid sick leave (about 45 days salary). They agreed verbally many times that it is owed and keep saying they will pay but they do not. Now that it is so late am I due other compensation such as interest or penalty? What should I do? Thank you truly.

Joe Escalante: File a claim with the state labor commission immediately. Hopefully you have some emails stating their agreement regarding what they owe. If not, you can create some emails the old fashioned way, by bringing up the topic in a seemingly harmless email and getting them to admit it in writing. Muahahahaha!

Jonathan: I am looking to start an ecommerce site. Is there anything special I have to file with the state of Wisconsin? Products will be sold solely online.

Joe Escalante: In California, it’s called the State Board of Equalization. They handle sales tax collection. You need to talk to the Cheese Head equivalent. Then you probably need a local city or county business license.

Claudia: I have recently was made aware that my Landlord is running a Boarding House, now that we are all being evicted by the city is there anything legal that i can do to my Landlord. All of us never received any receipts for payment but we all have a lease.

Joe Escalante: The actions taken by your landlord must conform to the terms of your lease agreement. I don’t see the lack of receipts being much of an issue, however, if the landlord is breaking the lease, he’s liable for damages he causes, like moving costs and increased rents you might have to pay.

Heidi: Hi Joe, I loaned a old boyfriend back on Sept. 20th 2005 money to purchase a newer truck that he wanted to buy. It was suppose to be a 2 week loan. He said he was getting his mom’s house refinanced and he would pay me back then. I figured it would be ok, because I knew he was in the process of doing that. The amount was 28,000.00. After about 2 months and no money being returned to me, I started asking him when are you going to pay me back? He got mad and said I only have 9,000.00 to give you. I said you need pay me back the full amount. He still owes me 19,000.00 and I want to collect the rest he still owes me. I know it has been 7 years, but I still want my money to be paid back. If you can help with this, I would like to pursue this. Thankyou

Joe Escalante: It looks like the only thing you could do would be to file a lawsuit in Superior Court. However, the statute of limitations may have run on this debt. To get around that, send the jackass another bill, or invoice in writing, and get him to pay anything on it, even a hundred bucks. That would be decent evidence that the debt is valid and ongoing and damage his ability to assert statute of limitations defenses. Then sue his ass raggedy.

George: how do i file for unemployment without looking for a job since I’m trying to start my own business in florida?

Joe Escalante: You can start your own business while you have a job. I just told my nephew that yesterday. He’s a white rapper who sells beats.

Edward: l had a union hearing against management mintutes we kept after the hearing l asked for a copy of the actual minutes l was told the minutes were only for managements use and that l was only entitled to a summary of there account of the minutes is this legal?

Joe Escalante: Legal? Yes. Against the bylaws or sacred scrolls fo the union? Perhaps, but you’d have to read through a lot of boring crap to find out. Then you may end up in a whistleblower’s graveyard, so I’d just bring a tape recorder next time.

Casey: Howdy, So When Obama Signed the International Law (Act?), what does this Signing of America into International Law Mean for America, and when international Laws Change down the Road, are we still Subject to Abide by them as Americans?

Joe Escalante: I’m not under any international laws, except maybe the Vatican’s, so I’m not sure what you’re talking about. The president cannot relinquish sovereignty willy nilly.

Kerry: I got a speeding tic in 2008, never paid. License has been suspended and bench warrant issued. What should I do to get it back? About how much $$ do you think it may cost? Do you think I’ll have to go to jail? I am 47 and this is my only speeding ticket ever.

Joe Escalante: Call the court, ask them how much the bail is. Go see the judge, wear a tie, be humble and ask for leniency. Bring your tooth brush. Kidding about that, they’ll give you one.

Actually, in my County, there would be no chance that you would go to jail if you voluntarily show up, only if you are pulled over on warrant. Bring your checkbook at least.

Carol: How do you determine whether you should file a Durable Power of Atty, or Guardianship? My mother is 90, and in a rehab, some good, some not so good days, and I have to deal with the payments, etc.

Joe Escalante: If she’s already mentally incapacitated, you need a court order to get a guardianship to handle her affairs. If she’s not incapacitated, you can just get a durable power of attorney signed by her and the requisite witnesses and you can handle things for her even after she becomes incapacitated.

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May 15th, 2012 at 5:27 am