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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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Posted on in Cyber Crime

b2ap3_thumbnail_Untitled-design-22.jpgEven when you take proactive steps to protect your company’s network and stored data, there are individuals constantly looking for opportunities to expose and exploit any weaknesses. Hacking is a major issue facing companies and, if the news is any indication, electronic thieves and computer hackers are showing no signs of reducing their illegal and damaging activities.

Companies are Being Hit by Hackers

There have been a number of high-profile hacking incidents that made the news over the past few years that impacted major retailers and financial institutions, as well as their customers and clients. The latest company to fall victim was the ride-sharing business, Uber.

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Posted on in Cyber Crime

Florida cyber crime and hacking attorneyThe term “hacking” conjures images of illegal activities by highly-motivated cyber criminals looking to steal and exploit vast amounts of business and personal information. However, as the internet changes and laws evolve to keep pace with the rapid growth of cyber activity, the federal government has begun considering ways by which companies might use hacking to their advantage.

Hacking to Combat Hacking

Until recently, a business’s only defense against a cyber attack or hacking might be the installation of updated firewalls or software to combat electronic intrusions. However, it seemed that as soon as new defensive software was created, hackers were finding and exploiting inherent weaknesses or developing techniques to subvert network protection.

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St. Petersburg cyber law attorney cyber crime legislationWhen the digital age took hold in America, and an increasing number of businesses began conducting trade online, it became necessary to protect commerce, transactions, and other online activity from illegal access and fraud. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) is a federal anti-hacking law that was passed in 1986, and is now the subject of updates in order to keep up with the constantly evolving digital world.

Why the CFAA Needs Updating

In its current form, the CFAA does not allow a business to go beyond its own network to fight or protect against cyber attacks, such as the installation of malware. While the CFAA was expanded upon in 1996, proponents of this newest legislation do not believe the existing language goes far enough in allowing businesses to protect their digital property.

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Florida privacy policy lawyerDue in large part to the hacking of websites and subsequent theft of the personal information belonging to millions of consumers, company and website privacy policies are facing renewed scrutiny. When storing huge amounts of data and concern for personal privacy both demand attention, it is critical for companies to establish clear guidelines for gathering and retaining information at the onset.

Protecting Privacy While Doing Business

Privacy is a cherished right, yet it is one most web users surrender every time they visit a website. As businesses strive to know more about their target audience and build stores of information as a way to grow their customer base, the use of technology to gather information is more prevalent than ever. However, building trust between a business and a customer (or potential customer) is an important part of doing business, and that is where strong privacy policies come into play.

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