Finding a Good Family Lawyer

Family lawyers are needed in different situations including divorce. Such situations are very stressful and if you are not careful, you may have a very hard time during such times. There is a need to have a professional with a deep understanding of the law on your side so as to handle different situations that you may not know how to handle completely. This can make the process much easier for you and the whole family.

When you are looking for a family lawyer, there are some qualities that should be outstanding. These will help you know whether the person you have chosen to represent you is capable of handling himself and the case at hand. Some important qualities include:

  1. Communication: the lawyer should be able to communicate and communicate well. This is very critical. The lawyer needs to be able to communicate in an easy and clear manner. When you have a lawyer, it is necessary that you are able to voice your expectations and concerns. It is the job of the lawyer to explain things clearly to you as well as those that have to do with the case and to give you expectations that are realistic. The lawyer should also be able to communicate with other parties to the case. Good communication leads to effective negotiations keeping costs down. A good communicator will also be very helpful should the case go to court.
  2. Experience and skills: while it is important to have an attorney to represent you, it is important that he is able to represent you well. So as to do this, skills are required. A case such a divorce can touch on many aspects of family life as we know it. This may include career, retirement, finances and so on. The lawyer should be experienced and very knowledgeable so as to make sure that all your interests are protected. Experience in family law cases is an added advantage especially if such a case has a lot of similarities with yours.
  3. Availability: when you are searching for a representative, make sure it is a person that is available in all the important points of your case. If he can’t be present all the time, he should have support available to cover when he has other matters to attend to. The lawyer should avail himself to respond to questions in a good and timely way, he should work with timeframes so as to reassure you of his dedication. He shouldn’t be too held up with pother cases so as to be able to pay attention to yours.
  4. Composure: your family lawyer should be able to maintain his composure at all times. This isn’t only about staying focused and calm, but also exhibiting a lot of self-control when in the courtroom or when dealing with other lawyers, even if he feels frustrated, your interests need to represent very strongly but he shouldn’t take things too personally when the turn of events isn’t completely to his favor.
  5. Support and resources: lawyers have other clients too, and it is not possible that they will always be available to answer questions every time something comes up. It helps when the lawyer has a team working with him so that even emergencies can be handled swiftly.
Posted in Law

Ensuring That You Own Your Content’s Copyright

You have been a prolific writer for your business for a long time and, of course, just like all other writers, you use sources to back up the facts that you write in your content. Of course, there is no reason for you to assume anything other than the fact that you own the copyright of all of the content that you are writing.

Sometimes the line is obscured

If you own the copyright on specific content (including graphics, videos, etc), that means that you can do anything that you wish with that content. After all, it belongs to you. On the other hand, if someone else owns the copyright on the content, you are severely limited from doing what you want with that content. That means that you can’t recycle the content and use it over and over again, you can allow other people to post the content on their websites (for increased exposure and a wider reach), and you can’t touch the images (making them smaller, larger, wider, narrower). Your hands are tied in that case. However, you may not always understand when it is appropriate (legally and ethically) to alter the content in any way and when you really need to be hands off.

You probably have an accurate sense that you can’t just find a graphic image online, copy it, and embed it in your content. That is just common sense. If you use any portion of someone else’s content (words), you probably realize that you must give the author credit for what he or she has written. However, the copyright goes far beyond that. It is extremely important for you to understand the basics of copyright and how that applies to you and to your business. If you don’t pay attention to what you are allowed and not allowed to do, you may get yourself into trouble (legally and financially speaking). There are some concepts that will benefit you if you at least have a working knowledge of them. Hopefully, they will not actually apply to you at any time but being aware is very important for you.

  • Have a licensing agreement, including an invoice: That is an invoice from the person who owns the copyright. If you plan to use material of which someone else owns the copyright, you will probably need to pay that person (or that entity) some money. There may be rare occasions in which the person or entity will not charge you money but you need to have a written agreement between you so that you don’t get into trouble.
  • Lawsuit as a result of copyright infringement: This is a lawsuit that occurs in a federal court. The person or entity doing the suing is the owner of the copyright. The lawsuit will make demands, such as your eliminating all of the copyrighted material from wherever you have posted it online. You will also (most likely) be expected to pay some amount of money (damages) and there is also the potential that you will be asked to pay the lawyers’ fees.
  • Cease-and-desist communication: This is a communication (usually in the form of a letter) from the person who owns the copyright telling you that you must delete their content from wherever you have posted it.
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notice: This is a notice that refers to the act on behalf of the copyright owner. It is sent to your web hosting service. It will insist that your web hosting service disables any access to wherever the copyrighted content appears.

The disturbing thing about this situation is that, depending on the whim of the copyright owner, you may end up paying in any number of ways. It might be minor but it might be major as well. You may be notified of the copyright violation in stages. If you respond immediately after you receive the first notice, you may get lucky and after doing whatever is demanded of you, that will be the end of it, as long as you never do it again. However, if you continue, the consequences will probably get more and more severe. You will need to tread lightly in this situation and do whatever you need to do quickly if you want to escape relatively unscathed.

Educate yourself about your rights

When you first write a piece of content, you need to make sure that you take all measures to ensure that you never run into these types of problems that are described above. If you don’t happen to be the one creating the content, you need to make sure that you get the other person to assign copyright ownership to you. It is critical that you have it in writing. The best thing to do is to have a written contract between you and the other person. Hopefully, in that case, there will be no question about anything. If you want the creator to be able to benefit from the content, it is safest to put that into the contract as well. The sorts of things that you will want to put into the contract are: exactly what is being created, how revisions are handled, deadlines and consequences if those deadlines are not met, the payment schedule, who will own the copyright, and who will be responsible for the consequences if the copyright is violated. If you have a long-term relationship with that person, you will probably find that you will need to revise your contract over time.

Conclusion

Copyright ownership may not have been something that you thought about very often (or at all); however, you need to have it in mind all of the time and be cognizant of doing the right thing. If you don’t, the consequences will probably not be pleasant. You need to protect your reputation and your bank account at all times. Copyright laws are very complicated and you may not even realize that you are violating any of those laws. However, you need to be aware of what you are doing and make sure that you don’t continue to violate any copyright laws. Interestingly, there are a few situations in which you don’t need to get permission from the copyright owner of the content. You should do the research and determine when those rules apply, which will ease the burden a little bit. Undoubtedly, you were not aware that you were doing anything wrong. However, once you are aware, you need to make sure that you do everything by the book.

Posted in Law

How To Expand Your Family Law Practice: Ten Money Making Tips For Divorce Lawyers

The divorce rate in the United States is likely to rise over the next five years due to the ten sociological trends that will be outlined below.

These changes will create an abundance of work and opportunities for family lawyers and matrimonial lawyers.

  • In a bad economy, some people stay in bad relationships because they feel trapped. In short, they can not afford to leave their spouse. Today’s economy is quite strong. Home prices are rising and the stock market has been on the rise. Many people who are unhappy with their marriages can now afford to terminate these unfulfilling relationships.
  • The opioid crisis, the heroin crisis, the increase in alcohol abuse will create a lot of familial stress and will contribute to marital disintegration in America. Interestingly, many private corporations are now investing in drug treatment center to profit from the increased need for these services.
  • Domestic violence often coexists with addictions and substance abuse. Spouses in violent relationships will need to be protected by family lawyers and by the criminal justice system.
  • The rising number of people who are addicted to pornography, video games and social media will continue to put a strain on marriages and on family life. Many clinicians and attorneys are seeing the impact of these kinds of addictions on marriages and on intimate relationships.
  • Laws allowing same sex marriages create more relationships. More relationships means that there will also be more relationships which end in divorce.
  • Internet dating has made it very easy to meet, to hook up with people and find another spouse. Consequently, people are not afraid of being alone and will not hesitate to remove themselves from an unhappy marriage.
  • The public is now more aware of the value and utility of pre nuptial and post nuptial agreements. Attorneys will need to create more and more of these contracts.
  • Infertility treatments are creating many complicated legal issues for couples. Who owns the fertilized eggs is merely one example of the kind of legal issues that this relatively new technology is generating for families and for their lawyers.
  • The growth of mediation will simplify and shorten the divorce process and make it easier and less expensive to terminate a failing marriage. Consequently, more people will be likely to utilize the legal system to end their marriages.
  • Similarly, collaborative divorce is gaining in popularity and is creating another viable route to divorce for some couples in America.

 

Posted in Law

Basics of Navigating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”)

Due to the proliferation of the Internet, social media platforms, and hosting websites, online service providers have often become unwitting hosts to materials that may potentially infringe on the copyrights of another. Likewise, original content creators have also increasingly found themselves to be targets of unjustified DMCA takedown requests. Sometimes these takedown requests are made for anti-competitive or harassing purposes by competitors of the website operator.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides a safe harbor in certain circumstances for website operators, who host materials submitted by third parties that may infringe the copyrights of others. If the copyright owner provides a take down notice in compliance with the requirements of the DMCA and the website operator timely complies with its obligations under the DMCA, it may be shielded from liability for copyright infringement. The website operator can adopt and post a copyright policy to facilitate DMCA compliance. A sample copyright policy is below, which requests that a takedown notice including at least the following information:

  • A detailed description of the copyrighted work you believe is being infringed upon description of the location of where the alleged infringing content appears;
  • Your contact information (including name, address, telephone number, and email address);
  • A statement that you have a good faith belief that the alleged infringing use is not authorized by you as the copyright owner, your agent, or by law;
  • A statement affirming that, under penalty of perjury, the information in the notice is accurate and that you are indeed authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner; and
  • An original signature of the copyright owner or someone authorized on the owner’s behalf to assert infringement of the copyright as well as to submit the claim.

In addition to the policy, the website operator should register an agent with the United States Copyright Office.

While the above identifies a number of eCommerce and internet law issues affecting compliance with the DMCA, an in-depth analysis may be required. For example, the timeliness requirement for the take down has been a hot litigation topic lately. Additionally, the DMCA applies to copyrights only, and does not currently provide a safe harbor for trademark infringement or patent infringement claims. These type of claims stemming from users of the website can be addressed in the Terms of Use or other website agreement between the website operator and its users.

Posted in Law

Alimony, Support and Division of Assets Explained in Pennsylvania

Spousal Support

Spousal Support is available to a married spouse, when the couple resides in separate homes and one spouse earns more than the other spouse. There are defenses against spousal support and it is important to have an attorney assist you in your claim for or against spousal support.

Alimony Pendente Lite

Alimony Pendente Lite is a type of support that is limited in nature and paid to the lesser income earning spouse by the higher income earning spouse in accordance to a statutory formula until the divorce is finalized. This support was enacted to equalize the parties incomes during the divorce proceedings and allow each spouse to afford the divorce process and expenses.

Alimony

In Pennsylvania, there is not a set formula to determine post-divorce alimony. Whether or not to award post-divorce alimony payments lies within the exclusive discretion of the court. The court relies on the following 17 factors to determine whether to award post-divorce alimony.

The 17 Factors of Alimony

  • The relative earnings of both spouses.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The ages and physical, mental and emotional states of the two spouses.
  • The sources of income of both spouses. This includes medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The expected future earnings and inheritances of the two spouses.
  • The degree to which one spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s education, training or increased earning potential.
  • The degree to which a spouse will be financially affected by their position as the custodian of a minor child.
  • The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.
  • The relative education of the parties. This also considers the amount of time it would take for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire the education or training necessary to find employment.
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the two spouses.
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage.
  • The degree a spouse contributed as a homemaker.
  • The relative needs of the two spouses.
  • The marital misconduct of either of the spouses during the marriage.
  • The federal, state and local tax consequences of the alimony.
  • Whether the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs.
  • Whether the spouse seeking alimony is incapable of supporting themselves through appropriate employment.

[1] Title 7, Pennsylvania Code, §6102.

Division of Assests

In Pennsylvania “marital property” means all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired. However, marital property does not include:

Veterans’ benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229), as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans’ compensation.

Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.

Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.

Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.
Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.

Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.

Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.

Pennsylvania states that the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired pursuant to subsection shall be measured from the date of marriage or later acquisition date to either the date of final separation or the date as close to the hearing on equitable distribution as possible, whichever date results in a lesser increase.

Posted in Law

How To Respond To Settlement Letters In Copyright Infringement Cases

Settlement letters are sent to particular internet subscribers who are identified to have infringed a copyrighted material. Also known as letter of demand (LOD), the letter is usually composed of the name of the infringer, IP address, and all the details about copyright infringement. First of all, getting a demand letter such as a TCYK letter more likely means that you did violate the law and the copyright enforcers have evidence to prove that you have infringed a copyrighted content. Second, it is not advisable to just ignore the letter as it could result to serious legal consequences. So, when you get a demand letter, respond to it. In every illegal download case, ask about the situation or what the letter means. If you ever find yourself as a “John Doe” defendant, here are a few practical tips that can help you in your defense in the lawsuit:

– Settlement amounts are usually negotiable. If you get a TCYK letter or any settlement letter, chances are you will be offered a settlement amount. The figure may be changed depending on your approach or how you attempt to negotiate. So, it would not hurt to try especially if you really did it.

– Among the copyrighted materials that you can possibly pirate, porn bears the most embarrassment and it involves more risks so find a way to settle quickly. Don’t waste your time delaying the case. It is best to make it go away the minute it’s presented to you.

– Do not fight a subpoena. Doing so could only expose your identity. Copyright infringement is not something that you could just take for granted. You need to protect your own identification and avoid a potential scandal that will not help you in any way in your life.

– Fighting a case could lead to more expensive costs compared to every negotiated settlement. Besides the hassle that can be expected in a lawsuit, there are legal fees that you need to consider should you decide to fight a case. You may get a total that could have been avoided if you just settle.

As provided by copyright law, a copyright grants a creator exclusive rights to the distribution or reproduction of his original work. There may be exceptions but initially, the creator owns the copyright of their created work. It would be good if people have a better understanding of how creators such as those in the entertainment industry come up with works of art. But in the meantime, they should focus on how to respond to a letter of demand.

Posted in Law

Do I Need an Attorney for My Divorce?

Many couples debate whether they need a divorce attorney when mediation is required by the courts. It is recommended, at minimum, consulting with a family law attorney about your options and what is best course of action for your case no matter how well you and your ex-spouse get along.

Below you will find just a few examples of the aspects you need to consider if you are debating whether you should hire an attorney for your divorce:

  • If you have many complicated assets to divide up. If you have accumulated various expensive marital property, you should consider hiring a lawyer. You will want to have a lawyer present if you have complicated possessions you are dividing, like businesses, numerous vehicles, and real property.
  • If your spouse is prone to lying. If your former spouse is known to lie, it could become difficult when it is your word versus theirs in a hearing or mediation session. If they are spreading false information about you, or lying in the courtroom, you need a lawyer on your side to protect your interests.
  • If violence or abuse is ever involved. If any abuse is present, whether it’s related to children, substance abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, or any other form, you should always hire an attorney. Not only will the abused spouse not be able to negotiate properly for fear of manipulation or further abuse, but a family law attorney can help take the appropriate steps to protect you and your family.
  • If your spouse has hired an attorney. Your spouse may choose to hire a lawyer to represent themselves at the last minute. We see attorneys appear at hearings and mediation with little to no notice to the unrepresented spouse. If your spouse decides to have representation, you should as well. It will be difficult to make your case against a family law attorney, even if you believe you have a clear and reasonable argument.

There is so much at stake! If you are going through divorce and you are debating on whether you need to hire a divorce attorney, call and speak to a family law firm you trust in your area. An experienced attorney should answer the questions you have, discuss your options and your particular case to help you understand your options during divorce. A skilled lawyer may be an invaluable asset to protect your and your family interests.

Posted in Law

What Are the Most Common Forms of Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) refers to innovations of the mind, such as inventions, scholarly and creative works, patterns and marks, names and likenesses used in trade and business. All IP is protected by the various laws in existence locally, regionally nationally, and internationally. Laws exist for patents, trademarks, copyright, service marks, trade secrets and more.

What is a Patent?

A patent is an absolute right granted for an invention, which is a product or a method that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or proposes a new specialized solution to a problem. To obtain a patent, methodological information about the invention must be revealed to the public in a patent application. The process for obtaining a patent is complex. If you are interested in obtaining a patent, you should first visit this website: The US Patent and Trademark Office. Once you have begun to understand this process and the associated laws you can apply for a patent. However, keep in mind this is a complex process and using an attorney specializing in patents would be the best avenue to use.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a legal term used to illustrate the rights that creators have over their literary and artistic works. Creations covered by copyright range from books, music, paintings, sculpture, films, computer programs, databases, advertisements, maps, technical drawings, and more. Copyright is not a complex IP to apply for and most people can easily complete a form and submit their work. Be sure to visit the Copyright Office online to learn everything you need to apply for a copyright, including fees, what to submit, etc: US Copyright Office.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a sign which distinguishes between goods or services of one company from those of other companies. Trademarks are safeguarded by intellectual property rights. Trademark protection can be obtained through registration, by completing an application for registration via the trademark office and paying the required fees. The website is the same as for patents.

What is a Service Mark?

A service mark is a mark that distinguishes between services. Businesses use service marks to connect their services and differentiate them from other services in the same field. Service marks consist of letters, words, symbols, and other devices that help notify consumers about the origin or source of a particular service. Registration can be completed at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

What is a Trade Secret?

The Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) classifies a trade secret as: information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that produces independent economic value. These secrets are either tangible or impending, and generally are not known or easily discovered by other persons who might receive monetary value from its revelation or use; and is the focus of efforts that are logical under the conditions to preserve its secrecy. There are two basic situations in which acquiring the use of a trade secret is illegal. If a trade secret is acquired through illegal means or if through a breach of confidence then there is a legal standing for suit. Trade secrets may be obtained by lawful means such as private discovery, reverse engineering, and unintentional disclosure. The trade secret holder’s failure to take reasonable protective measures can allow this to occur. The misappropriation of trade secrets is considered a form of unfair competition. Reverse engineering is oftentimes restricted as found in computer programs.

What is Industrial Design?

An industrial design right is an intellectual property right that shields the visual design of objects that are not purely functional. An industrial design consists of the creation of a model, pattern or composition of a pattern or color, or permutation of a pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value. An industrial design can be a two- or three-dimensional prototype used to produce a product, industrial commodity or handicraft.

What is Trade Dress?

Trade dress is a legal term of art that generally refers to characteristics of the illustration of a product or its packaging or the design of a building that signifies the origination of the product to consumers.

What is Fair Use?

Fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a partial and that changes the purpose, such as to comment upon, disparage, or lampoon a copyrighted work. Such uses can be done without permission from the copyright owner. Fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement.

Commentary and Criticism

If you are commenting upon or criticizing a copyrighted work a book review or any valid review, fair use principles allow you to replicate some of the work to accomplish your purposes.

These are the most common forms of intellectual property. If you decide that something you have created falls under one of the categories stated in this article, then you should look into registering the work or product. Be certain that what you are registering is not the same as what someone else has already registered.

Posted in Law

Are Your Circumstances Suitable for a Collaborative Divorce?

You may be suitable for a collaborative divorce if you seek:

  1. A dignified approach to handling your divorce
  2. A fair and non-aggressive resolution of issues based on the best interests of the family, not the individual
  3. Guidance, support and advice on legal issues without the threat of fighting in court.
  4. A chance to work through emotions and avoid misunderstandings to arrive at sound decisions
  5. To avoid the cost and emotional strain of court proceedings
  6. To keep your dispute and terms of your settlement confidential

How do I kick start the process?Contact a collaborative divorce lawyer. You must choose a lawyer trained in collaborative family law for the process to be effective. An experienced lawyer knows about the required documentation that can make process hassle free.

What happens when we reach agreement?

After you reach agreement, your lawyer can prepare divorce papers that the court is likely to approve.

What happens if the process breaks down?

You may explore other options such as mediation to avoid from going to court. However, if you do take your case to court, your collaborative lawyer cannot act on your behalf in court proceedings as they have signed an undertaking not to litigate.

What is the difference between the collaborative divorce process and court litigation?

Collaborative divorce is a voluntary process that gives divorcing parties control over the process, including the timetable. On the other hand, the litigation process is controlled by the judge and determined by court dates, and parties must comply with the court’s orders. Divorce Lawyers will facilitate direct negotiations between parties in collaborative divorce, working towards a common goal that is in the best interests of both parties and the family, and parties will be encouraged to consider short- and long-term impacts of their decisions. In litigation, both parties and lawyers are pitted against each other, and parties will bargain based on their own needs and rights. They will not be actively asked to think about the short- and long-term effects of their choices.

As can be seen, collaborative divorce allows the parties, instead of the judge, to make the final decisions. Due to this, however, there is no guaranteed settlement in collaborative divorce. If parties cannot reach a final decision, they will need to proceed with litigation. The process of collaborative divorce is confidential, but if parties enter into litigation, the records of Court proceedings will be publicly available.

Posted in Law

How Digital Technologies Improve Filmmaking

Breaking into the current film industry holds a greater challenge compared to classic filmmaking. The digital era has certainly catered to the universal passion of moviemakers for making motion pictures. Today, digital technology changed the way how movies are made. Digital filmmaking opened new opportunities and possibilities to filmmakers of both small indie films and big budget blockbuster films. This also includes the same way that copyright infringement software protects these films. Therefore, if you’re a filmmaker, whatever outcome or type of film you want to accomplish, you can play around using the latest technological advances.

Digital Vs. Traditional

In general, films are extremely flammable yet they are quite expensive. Directors have to look for major studios that could invest a big amount needed to produce a movie. As for digital filmmaking, the digital motion picture cameras may be expensive, but it is a significant investment.

Digital filmmaking is a type of filmmaking where you use digital cameras or a computer to create characters, environments and other extensive features. Digital storage has reduced and simplified the costs of making movies. Compared to films, storage in digital cameras cost less, lasts longer and is safer. Over a long period of time, films degrade and will actually decompose. Improper storage and protection may destroy the print of the film which ultimately results to losing classic movies forever.

The move from celluloid to digital has opened up huge opportunities for special effects resulting to the growth of fantasy movies and science fiction. Film characters are not limited to explore only our world. Now, filmmakers have the tools to visually depict imaginary worlds with digital technology. Movies feature computer generated imagery (CGI) while some combine both CGI and live action using revolutionary new motion-capture techniques. As a result, movie creations are more out of this world than ever.

As we’ve gone digital, the public’s movie experience has become a lot different. In the past, everyone was used to watching films without color. Each motion picture was black and white. But at present, anyone can enjoy a movie in full color with surround sound. They can even have a 3D experience if they choose to. The number of options given to every movie goer is just one of the things that prove that filmmaking has really improved.

Aside from the internet, the widespread use and application of digital technologies are shaping the future of film. At present, the way movies are consumed and distributed has also changed. People can stream or download the videos, and with video-on-demand services like Netflix, everyone can watch their favorite shows and movies whenever they like. Unfortunately, some people choose to share copyrighted materials without the owners’ permission, which is illegal. When you download a movie, you are stealing from the content owner’s compensation. So, content owners and their partners use copyright infringement software to detect any digital piracy.

Posted in Law