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Florida fair use attorneyIf you are planning to use someone else’s copyrighted photographs, music, or other creative works in your business enterprise, you need to be very careful that you do not commit illegal copyright infringement. If you reproduce another person’s copyrighted work without permission and due compensation, you could be sued for damages.

However, not every unlicensed use of a copyrighted work is unlawful. One of the most important issues in copyright law is the concept of “fair use.” The legal doctrine of fair use permits the use of copyrighted music, images, and other creative works in limited circumstances that are considered crucial to protecting the freedom of expression. Examples of fair uses include news reporting, nonprofit educational activities, and critique or commentary.

A user of copyrighted material and the copyright holder often disagree over the differences between fair use and unlawful use. This may result in a lawsuit in which the copyright holder seeks damages from a user of copyrighted material for what they clearly see as copyright infringement, while the user argues that they are protected by the fair use doctrine. Ultimately, the court sides with the law, which applies four specific criteria.

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Florida copyright lawyerWhen you have created copyrighted material such as music, photographs, or books, it is incredibly important to ensure that no one else makes money off your intellectual property. After all, failure to defend your work against copyright infringement means lost income for you.

However, you do need to be aware that some uses of your copyrighted work are considered “fair use.” The legal doctrine of fair use is intended to ensure freedom of expression, a freedom highly valued by Americans and protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

Likewise, if you want to use someone else’s copyright works for your own business purposes, you need to be clear on whether your use constitutes a fair use or a copyright infringement. You do not want to become the target of a lawsuit for damages because you improperly reproduced someone else’s original work.

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Florida online contracts lawyerAffiliate marketing agreements can be an inexpensive way to build online sales for your business, with minimal ongoing effort on your part. An affiliate marketing program is essentially an online, commission-based referral system. An affiliate typically has a popular website, blog, or social media feed, and they agree to feature your product or service in exchange for a small commission. You only pay a commission when someone clicks on the affiliate’s link to your website and subsequently makes a purchase.

Before starting an affiliate marketing program, you first need to ensure that the terms of the agreement make sense for your particular business. A skilled Florida cyberlaw attorney can help you make sure that the terms of any agreement are attractive to potential affiliates, but also profitable for you.

Here are a few key terms to pay attention to in any affiliate marketing agreement:

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Florida cyberlaw attorneyOnline reseller agreements have become a popular business model in recent years. Formed between a product owner and an online reseller, these agreements can produce substantial and incremental income for both parties. Success, however, is heavily dependent on having a well-written online reseller contract.

The Basics of Online Reseller Agreements in Florida

An online reseller is responsible for attracting customers and taking orders for the product. The reseller may obtain orders through their own website and/or through an online marketplace website, such as Amazon or eBay, depending on the terms of the agreement.

The product owner may be a large manufacturer,  U.S. distributor, or even an artisan. The product owner is responsible for shipping orders directly to the end customer. In the case of digital products, such as software or photographs, a customer may download their purchase from either the reseller’s website or the owner’s website, depending on how the reseller agreement is written.

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Florida copyright attorneyVirtually every business produces something that needs federal copyright protection, if only in the form of their business website. Thousands of businesses, large and small, base the bulk of their business on copyrighted works that range from knitting patterns to photographs to music videos. To protect their valuable intellectual property, they rely on the U.S. Copyright Office.

You might wonder exactly what the U.S. Copyright Office does. A dig into this agency’s fiscal year 2017 report revealed some interesting insights.

The Mission of the U.S. Copyright Office

The Copyright Office has the important job of “promoting the progress of science … by securing for limited times to authors … the exclusive right to their respective writings” as envisioned by the U.S. Constitution.

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Florida cybersecurity attorneyTo understand why you might need a cyber law attorney now or in the future, take a quick look back. Twenty years ago, were you worried about losing control of your intellectual property because of Etsy or Amazon, or of losing control of your website domain name to a web jacker?

Shift in Transactions From People to Web Impacts Cyberlaw

Have you noticed how many business transactions have shifted from being personal-relationship-driven to being mostly or entirely web-driven? Consider all of these situations where, 20 years ago, you would have insisted on doing business one-on-one, face-to-face, but today you can - and often prefer to - conduct most of this business over the internet:

  • Making a big-ticket purchase like a computer, car, or house;
  • Working with a tax accountant, financial advisor, lender, or lawyer; and
  • Working with a writer, graphic designer, or another provider of marketing or creative services.

Shift in Documentation from Paper to Digital Requires Cyberlaw

Years back, most businesses relied on an exchange of paper documents. While paper documents could be photocopied, they could not be widely disseminated without significant cost and typically did not travel far. Today, we rely much more heavily on electronic document exchanges, and it is far too easy for such documents to be intercepted by hackers, copied, slightly altered, and widely disseminated around the globe very quickly.

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Florida copyright attorneyWhen you have a great idea for a copyrightable work and you want to make money from it, take action to protect your intellectual property (IP) before a copycat has a chance to get their hands on it.

How IP Theft Can Happen to a Start-Up Business

Copycats can come from unexpected places, as one pair of digital entrepreneurs learned the hard way.

To fully develop and market their product, they needed the expertise and facilities of several third-party vendors. Those outside vendors helped get the idea off the ground. The founders were excited as their business steadily grew.

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Florida cyber law lawyerRansomware and cryptominers are two of the newest cyber-threats. Ransomware attacks rose significantly in 2016 and 2017, but have declined in 2018, while attacks by cryptomining malware have risen dramatically in 2018.

What Is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malware (malicious software) that can infect a computer when a user clicks on a link received in an email or a link that appears on an otherwise legitimate website. The malware proceeds to encrypt all of the files on that computer and any other computers and networks connected to it. Soon thereafter, the victim receives an email demanding payment (typically in Bitcoin or another e-currency) in exchange for the encryption key necessary to unlock their files.

A ransomware attack can cost a business thousands or even millions of dollars, as their daily operations are disrupted, they have to restore their entire system from backups, and they may even lose some data entirely.

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St. Petersburg copyright infringement lawyerVirtually any business can wind up being sued for copyright infringement. However, some types of businesses are more at risk than others, including those in the online retail, consumer goods manufacturing, and entertainment industries. Lawsuits in these industries are not uncommon, and damages payouts often run into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars.

A quick review of some recent court cases can help you learn what NOT to do, so you can avoid a similar fate for your business.

Print-on-Demand Services Can Be Liable for Copyright Infringement

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New Port Richey copyright law attorneyAny business owner with an interactive website is directly affected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). If you are not already familiar with this law, here are three things you should know:

Understanding the DMCA Safe Harbor Provision

The DMCA provides important legal protections for internet service providers of all kinds, including social networking sites, online marketplaces, and really, any business website that allows user-uploaded content. A “user” is someone other than you or an employee or agent of your business.

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St. Petersburg online contracts attorneyIf you are refreshing your business’s existing website or building a new one, where will you spend most of your time? Optimizing your home page? Making sure all of your product and service offerings are described to best advantage? Streamlining your check-out process to maximize e-commerce sales? 

In the process of perfecting your website, there is one page you might easily overlook: your Terms of Service, or TOS, agreement (sometimes called the website’s Terms of Use or User Agreement). You should know that a well-written Terms of Service agreement could actually prove as important to your business as any other page of your website.

What Is the Purpose of a Terms of Service Agreement?

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Tampa online privacy policy attorneyAs a business owner, you know how important your website is for attracting new customers and generating sales. But are you confident that your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy pages are up-to-date with current laws and fully protecting you from potential lawsuits?

A Privacy Policy is required by law when your website collects customer emails, phone numbers, shipping addresses, or other personally identifiable information (PII). The Terms of Service can be equally important to protect your business from legal liability. This article will focus strictly on Privacy Policy, with a future article addressing Terms of Service.

Consumer Privacy Laws Are Becoming More Strict

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Florida copyright infringement lawyerDo you create copyrighted works, either as your main source of income or as a tool for marketing your business? You surely take great pride in your creations. Naturally, you want as many people as possible to see and buy your work.

The internet enables you to reach potentially millions of people with your copyrighted material. But it has also made it incredibly easy for unscrupulous people to discover your work and use it for their own purposes. Theft of copyrighted content happens every day to bloggers, photographers, ebook authors, graphic artists, YouTube video producers, songwriters, and many more. 

At some point, you may be infuriated to discover that someone is distributing or selling your work for their own benefit. Whether you call it plagiarism, piracy, copyright infringement, content jacking, or theft of intellectual property (IP), it is unethical, illegal, and financially costly for you. Now, what can you do about it?

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Tampa cyber law attorney cyber attack damagesCyber threats are a serious and growing risk for American and global businesses. A 2017 study by the Ponemon Institute and Accenture, based on data from over 250 large companies across seven countries, reported an average of 130 security breaches per company in 2017, a 27% increase over the prior year. Ransomware attacks are a particular concern, and the reported frequency of these attacks doubled from 2016 to 2017.

Computer system hackers may be aiming to steal trade secrets, obtain personal data that can be used for identity theft, or simply cause trouble for a business out of spite. Whatever the motive, any type of security breach can cost a business thousands or even millions of dollars in system repair costs and loss of revenue.

Cyber Damages Claims Under Federal and Florida State Law

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Tampa master services agreement attorneyWhenever two businesses expect to have an ongoing relationship, with one providing services to the other on a project-by-project basis, a master services agreement can simplify their repeated transactions.

Many types of businesses can benefit from using a master services agreement, including those who sell website creation and maintenance services, software-as-a-service (SaaS), and cloud computing services. 

But what exactly should be included in your MSA? Here are some tips for creating a strong MSA for your business:

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Florida cyber law attorney master services agreementAre you tired of jumping through legal approval hoops every time you start a new project with an existing client? Then your business probably needs a master services agreement (MSA). 

A master services agreement is a contract that spells out the general terms and conditions that will govern the relationship between two parties (supplier and buyer). Then, for each new project, the parties need only sign off on a statement of work (SOW), which defines the specific work to be done, the price to be paid, and the timeline of the project. 

The Benefits of Having a Master Services Agreement

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Florida trademark attorneyYou might think “intellectual property” is limited to inventions that a business has patented. But the definition is actually much broader, including such things as:

  • Your website domain name.
  • Copyrighted works of writing, art, or music.
  • Trademarked brand names and logos.
  • The trade dress of your business, which includes unique visual aspects of your website as well as products, packaging, and even building architecture.
  • Trade secrets, including proprietary processes and methods, algorithms, patterns, client lists … any information you would closely guard to keep it out of the hands of competitors.

Here are four questions every business owner should ask and answer with regard to intellectual property:

Do you know the value of your intellectual property? If you really think about the scope of your business, you probably have more intellectual property than you first thought. List your most important IP assets, and ask yourself two questions. First, do I have sufficient protections in place, given the value of this IP? Second, how much am I willing to spend to defend this IP? If a competitor should infringe on your intellectual property rights, you will want to react quickly to avoid potential losses and to collect compensation for any financial damage that may have already occurred. At the same time, you need to take a cost-effective approach to protecting your IP, considering the financial investment and future revenue at stake.

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Posted on in Cyber Crime

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_356278754.jpgComputer hacking continues to attract a great deal of attention from those charged with keeping company networks safe. However, in May of last year, a computer virus began infecting networks around the world. The never-before-seen malware was disrupting service in the healthcare, automobile manufacturing, telecom and worldwide shipping industries, among others, around the world. While the virus wreaked havoc across the globe, it took but a single computer expert to shut down the spread and potentially save companies billions of dollars.

Anonymous Hacker Hero

In May of 2018, a young man known only by his Twitter handle, “Malware Tech,” was able to do what IT professionals at some of the world’s largest businesses were unable to accomplish. With a few simple keystrokes, he was able to shut down one of the world’s largest cyber-attacks to ever occur.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_319177193.jpgMany businesses rely on relationships with outside agencies or individuals to ensure ongoing productivity and profitability. Creating and implementing third party reseller agreements ensure distribution of your products or services are done in manner that upholds your company’s brand image and reputation. However, while researching and drafting these agreements, it is important to consider variables that might create confusion or poor results.

Consider These Relevant Issues

  • Start small and grow gradually: When opening a new agreement allow a distributor to prove themselves on a small scale. Once doing so you can reward that distributor with a larger piece of territory. Do not assign too much, too soon.
  • Reasons for Termination: If an agreement allows only for Termination for Cause, it can delay action while partners argue the definition of “cause.” Termination for Convenience and for Cause enables a company to take steps to nullify a relationship while following defined and prescribed steps.
  • Writing semi-automatic renewal and annual termination terms into an agreement allows either party to exit an agreement once a year. This bases a partnership on performance, and the most experienced partners desire an ongoing relationship that is based on performance.
  • Exclusive vs Non Exclusive agreements: There are pros and cons to both, but find a way to maintain an advantage while allowing for some flexibility that appeals to the distributor.
  • Address issues of price changes: An agreement that permits price changes based on market demand, and only a period of advance notice can help resolve conflicts over this issue.
  • Termination of the agreement by one or both parties: The best distributor agreements allow for either partner to end the relationship.
  • Allow the nature of the relationship to change: Variables in the marketplace can impact how both a manufacturer and a distributor do business. Write an agreement that permits both parties to recommend change on an ongoing basis allows the partnership to evolve with the market without undue pressure.
  • Stay involved in the process: Attorneys are important to writing fair and legal agreements, but the input of those with practical experience can help keep matters relevant and on point.

Retain an Experienced Florida Online Contracts Attorney to Install Sound Reseller Agreements

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Posted on in Cyber Crime

b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_302508602.jpgBusinesses of all sizes dedicate considerable resources every year to develop, secure and defend their computer network. Software companies constantly introduce new firewalls and other anti-virus programs to fight off illegal breaches. Despite best efforts, network hacking continues making headlines and compromising sensitive information.

Giving In To Hackers’ Demands

In what has become a widely publicized case of hacking, that seems to feature the release of new details on what feels like a weekly basis, ride-sharing giant Uber acknowledged that it paid hackers $100,000 to delete the data they stole in 2016. The personal information of nearly 57 million Uber drivers and riders was accessed illegally by two, yet-to-be-identified electronic thieves.

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