California’s Senate Bill No. 568 was signed by Governor Jerry Brown on September 23, 2013. Referred to as Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World, it requires operators of websites, operators of online services and applications and operators of mobile services and applications to make special provisions if the operators have actual knowledge that they have users under 18 who reside in California.
Because of the new law, among other things, minors who are registered users must be given notice and clear instructions on how they can request and obtain removal of content or information that was posted by the minor user. The legislative history gives arguments in support of the law.
“[A]s we live more and more of our lives online, it is imperative that our kids have the option to erase data they have shared, posted, or otherwise provided to an online or mobile company, oftentimes without clear consent or parental knowledge and guidance. This bill empowers kids, teens, and their families by providing this important option. Regardless of the platforms we use, our personal information belongs to us. It is not a commodity to be controlled and traded by online and mobile companies.”
Most of us have heard of Tweets and Facebook posts gone horribly wrong by both minors and adults. This new law may allow some young people a second chance at a semblance of an online clean slate.
However, it could be difficult for some operators to know whether they are required to comply with this law and make some overly cautious. An Ars Technica article explored that issue and stated that a “primary concern is that this legal uncertainty will discourage operators from developing content and services tailored to younger users.”
The law does not go into effect until January 1, 2015, so there is still time for compliance. But many operators of popular websites and mobile applications have some tough decisions to make as they update their terms of service.
Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are described as “battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals … into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.”
Sales of these devices are reported to be approaching $2 billion this year and more companies are jumping into the market with Altria, which owns Phillip Morris, and R.J. Reynolds launching their own brands.
One of the concerns is that the devices are being marketed to children as stated in a recent interview with Melissa Block.
“Remember, cigarette ads on TV have been banned for more than 40 years, but in the absence of regulation, the e-cigarette market is a free-for-all. In half the states, children can legally buy them. They’ll find flavors that include cotton candy, tutti-frutti, gummy bear and cherry crush.”
The Food and Drug Administration was expected to release proposed regulations by October 31st, but so far the wait continues. The federal shutdown certainly could have impacted the timing, so they should not yet be ruled out.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report found that an estimated 1.78 million middle and high schools students have used e-cigarettes. It also found that 76 percent of the students using e-cigarettes said they also smoked conventional cigarettes.
The FDA’s proposed rules have been have been in the works for a while and would still go through a public comment period before becoming final and having any authority. Erika Sward, vice president of national advocacy for the American Lung Association says, “We’ve been waiting for this for two and a half years. We need FDA to assert that jurisdiction and move forward with their work.“
Can I write a biographic screenplay about the life of a worldwide famous personally without getting the life rights from the individual’s estate? The person is on the level of Charlie Chaplin in fame, with many books and TV shows about them. If I research from those books and shows, do I need to have the rights to use what I find?
– Michael M.
Great question. The answer is yes. People do it all the time. If you base your screenplay on facts that are in the public record, such as in newspaper articles, or even books, you have the right to use these facts. You cannot copyright a fact.
If you use private information that has not been made public, you will run into life story rights issues.
Take the case of the Long Island Lolita. There were three TV Movies made from it when I was at CBS. We made one, ABC and NBC both made theirs.
Ours was made from a life story rights deal with the Butafuccos. NBC made theirs based on the life story rights deal they made with Amy Fisher. ABC, however, with limited rights left to buy, made theirs primarily on things that were in the public record.
One thing to watch out for is potential lawsuits from people who have written books about the person. Sometimes they get bitter and say that you used “too much” of their book. Maybe your film starts with the subject getting in a fight on the playground as a child and fast-forwards to him as a powerful world leader meeting with the Pope. If another biography used the same literary device, they might come after you. If you interviewed that author, and offered them money for rights to their book, then the deal fell apart, they will claim you used their book anyway. So be careful who you talk to.
If it’s successful, you can be certain that someone will come after you, but you should be able to defend yourself successfully if you used only things in the public record. Don’t forget to write a small part for me.
For further elaboration on this topic, you can always call my radio show on KTLK Sundays in L.A. where I sit lonely for two hours waiting for anyone to call. http://www.ktlkam1150.com.
Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.
When evicting a tenant who is getting rental assistance due to failure to pay rent, can I serve them with a 3-Day Notice? I received part of the rent from the rental assistance, but not the rest due from the tenant. (Month-to-month lease; they just moved in on May 2013.) Thank you!
– Carlos A., Jr.
You have to be very careful when evicting subsidized tenants. Typically federal laws provide more protection than state laws for tenants and you can get burned. These laws often provide for longer notice periods to terminate leases (like 60 days) and recently a California court held that you can only evict with “just cause.” This is serious because normally private property rights allow you to evict anyone with proper notice as long as you aren’t discriminating against a protected class (e.g. race, creed, gender).
However, non-payment of rent would be “just cause” in any court, but I would consult with an attorney in your area experienced with evicting subsidized tenants (or read the codes very carefully) because notice may be the big issue for you.
Start by looking at the HUD SITE:
Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.
How much can a business claim in business expenses if they have no revenue yet?
– Crystal S.
Gary Milkwick from Corporate Tax Network:
The answer is it depends.
If this is a hobby, losses are deductible to the extent of the income, on Schedule A, Itemized Deductions on your personal tax return.
If you incurred expenses for a business that is still in the start-up stage, but is not yet active, you can claim start-up expenses up to $5000 in the year in which the business becomes operational. Any excess start-up expenses would be amortized over 15 years.
If your business is active, but you just could not generate any revenue because of the economy, you can still claim your expenses. Expenses have to be reasonable and necessary for operating your business.
Here is a link to the IRS business Expenses Publication 535 for more information: http://www.irs.gov/publications/p535/index.html?vm=r
Gary Milkwick from Corporate Tax Network answers your tax questions for free on our Facebook page every Thursday at 11 a.m. PT.
According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, as many as one in four women and one in seven men, experience some type of abuse. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the time to raise awareness about this serious issue.
Domestic violence is not just a personal issue to be dealt with at home, but it can have an impact on business and employers as well. On October 1, 2013, New Jersey joined a growing number of states that require employers to provide anywhere from a few days to several months leave from work to deal with domestic violence and sexual assault issues. A recent article outlines some of the requirements in New Jersey.
“The NJ SAFE Act provides eligible employee up to 20 days of unpaid leave during a 12-month period to deal with issues of domestic violence or sexual assault affecting either the employer or the employee’s child, parent, spouse, domestic partner or civil union partner. Similar to other laws, to be eligible, employees must work for the employer for at least 12 months and have worked 1,000 hours or more during the previous 12-months. The leave is unpaid and must be taken within one year of the covered incident. The leave can be taken continuously or intermittently in intervals of no less than one day. Employers may require that any leave under the Act run concurrently with any federal Family Medical Leave Act or NJ Family Leave Act entitlement in appropriate circumstances. The Act also prohibits retaliation against employees for exercising their rights.”
Among others, the states of California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas and Maine have similar laws. The federal government is considering similar legislation, Bill H.R. 1229, which would allow emergency leave for addressing domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
It’s no secret that people like beer. Apparently sour beers are becoming a big thing now too. Some are tart like a raspberry or strawberry, and others are dry like Champagne.
The creativity of American craft breweries is fueling these new tastes. Craft brews are not only for drinking either. Some home cooks are even using their favorite beers as an ingredient in desserts and main course recipes.
Craft breweries are enjoying their time in the spotlight and now even have their own way of raising funds. Many of us became familiar with the idea of crowdfunding through the popularity of Kickstarter campaigns. But now, there are opportunities to fund much more niche markets and add equity to the mix.
CraftFund sponsored this year’s Great American Beer Festival and is on a mission to help unite the craft beer community, grow the craft market and improve local breweries. Their website explains how things are changing.
“Craft breweries are disrupting the beer industry by focusing on variety and smaller batches. A movement that started innocuously has now seized 10% of the total beer sales. It is expected to be a $17 billion industry by 2017.”
“State and federal regulations are changing such that small businesses will soon have access to a much greater pool of capital through the sale of equity online. The potential to source smaller investment amounts from a much larger pool of investors will disrupt and democratize the traditional finance model.”
A British company called BrewDog has successfully funded 12 pubs across the U.K. through online crowdfunding using an equity model. “They proved to the world that … you don’t need to go to VCs and give away half your company,” Benoit, the founder of CrowdBrewed, remarks. “You can do it through crowdfunding.”
Since Americans’ taste for craft beer does not seem to be waning, it’s likely that more people may decide to turn their own small home breweries into small businesses. After all, even the White House has its own home brew. It doesn’t get much more American than that.
We’ve probably all had some sort of money winning daydream. Someone has to win. Why not you?
Spending a dollar or two to enjoy the anticipation of an imagined win is a favorite pastime, but what happens when the dream goes awry? The dream usually does not include litigation.
Beverly Mackey of Lincoln City, Oregon thought she was living the dream when she went to Chinook Winds Casino and won the grand prize of one million dollars. Unfortunately, getting the actual money has proved to be far more difficult. Mackey played a special promotion called Swipe, Play & Win that was owned by a company called Odds On Promotions, which sells contests to radio stations, casinos and others.
The casino paid Odds On Promotions $20,000.00 for the ability to offer the million dollar prize in the promotion. But after Mackey’s million dollar win, Odds On Promotion refused to pay the money and claimed that a mistake was made by one of their technicians. The company said that the odds were set too low.
Chinook Winds and Mackey sued Odds on Promotion. The casino is seeking return of the $20,000.00 fee paid to them and reimbursement for the $50,000.00 that it paid to Mackey for the first year of annuity on her prize. Mackey is suing for her million dollar prize and at least $20,000.00 for mental and physical distress after telling everyone about her big win and then not receiving it.
“In a moment when I’m not thinking about it, I’ll lapse into a little fantasy about how I don’t just have to live off Social Security, Disability and a small pension.”
But then reality hits. Fifteen months after her win, she is still waiting for the money. The lawsuit may last for another six months to a year before it either settles or goes to trial.
We’re not talking zombies here, but imagine a day where parents can know what their future child will look like before he or she is born or even conceived. Maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But could we be treading uncomfortably close? Halloween is just around the corner, so ‘tis the season for fright.
The company 23andMe uses genetic testing to allow its customers to learn about their personal ancestry, genealogy and inherited traits. The name of the company is based on the 23 pairs of chromosomes normally found in the human genome. Nothing too alarming here and actually, 23andMe could help people to learn some valuable information.
However, some in the medical community are concerned about a patent that 23andMe recently received that they fear could be used by some to design their future children. The Center for Genetics and Society issued a statement requesting that the company not use the patent for any products or services and to keep others from doing so as well.
“It would be highly irresponsible for 23andMe or anyone else to offer a product or service based on this patent,” said Marcy Darnovsky, PhD, Executive Director of the Center for Genetics and Society. “It amounts to shopping for designer donors in an effort to produce designer babies. We believe the patent office made a serious mistake in allowing a patent that includes drop-down menus from which to choose a future child’s traits.”
Darnovsky also wonders whether 23andMe makes sure that egg and sperm donors give consent to genetic testing and if they are told about the results. Further, she asks about the customers whose DNA was used to help develop the patent. “They signed contracts that allowed the company to use their genetic data for research, but not to find ‘designer donors.’”
Sci-fi movies predicted that these days would come. But the discussion surrounding what could possibly amount to eugenics only grows more complicated as time goes on.
If you live within a 25-mile radius of Trader Joe’s, or even if you don’t, you may identify with this story. Trader Joe’s is a California based specialty retail grocery store carrying their own store branded items. For many Americans, it’s a favorite place to shop for something new and fun, especially with the change of seasons. Pumpkin biscotti anyone?
Michael Hallatt, a Canadian, took his love for Trader Joe’s products to a whole other level. Hallatt calls himself Pirate Joe and operates a store in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he sells only Trader Joe’s products. Trader Joe’s has locations all over the United States, but none in Canada.
As Hallatt made weekly trips over the border to purchase stock for his Canadian store, Trader Joe’s employees started noticing him. He was eventually banned from several stores and now has other people shopping for him. While Hallatt loves Trader Joe’s, they don’t love him. Early this summer, they sued him in federal court in Washington state.
The allegations against him included federal trademark infringement, deceptive business practices, false advertising and unfair competition. After the lawsuit was filed against him, Hallatt changed the name of his store to Irate Joe’s.
Hallatt’s attorneys filed a motion to dismiss and stated that there was really no damage and that he buys the products at full-price. Last week, U.S. district judge Marsha J. Pechman granted the motion and dismissed the lawsuit. Her ruling stated that any alleged infringement takes place in Canada and Trader Joe’s cannot show economic harm. So for now, Canadians can continue to purchase their favorite Trader Joe’s treats. However, state law claims could possibly still be filed within the next few days. We’ll have to wait and see.
Are you a Trader Joe’s fan? Do you think it’s fair for Pirate Joe’s to sell their products in Canada without permission?