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Addressing the Common Legal Issues of Podcasting

Addressing the Common Legal Issues of Podcasting

As of April 2018, there are 525,000 active podcast shows that have produced more than 18.5 million episodes. Approximately 44 percent of people in the US have listened to a podcast and the loyalty rate is high. These features turn podcasting into a lucrative business activity that can be monetized in a number of ways.

If you’re looking forward to launching a podcast business, however, you may be concerned about the legal issues. There are several legal specifics you’ll need to take care of in the beginning. Let’s get started with the most important ones.

Podcast Copyright

The aim of the copyright is to protect original work from being replicated, utilized and monetized by someone else. Creating a podcast that is original and engaging is a very tough process. This is why you’ll definitely want to make sure your work is protected.

A copyright notice included on all of your work is one of the simplest ways to protect your intellectual property. A written licensing agreement is an even better idea.

On the other hand, you have to make sure that you’re not committing a violation through podcast creation. Can you, for example, use somebody else’s music as a background, an intro or an outro? If you use music and sounds that are non-royalty free, you will be committing copyright infringement. The only exception is fair use and it isn’t going to apply to all musical pieces.

If you plan to start a podcast business, talk to an experienced copyright attorney. This way, you can protect your intellectual property and you can also make sure that you’re not committing a serious violation when putting your podcasts together.

Legal Issues to Address before You Start Monetizing

Even if you’re podcasting as a hobby, you will still need to address a number of legal issues.

Mentioning a sponsor or having affiliate links means that you’re monetizing the podcast, which takes it out of the hobby realm. You will be subjected to taxation and business licensing requirements. Address these before you begin making podcasts, especially if you intend to grow the scope of such activities in the future.

Forming a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC) is a good idea because you’ll get various types of protections this way. This is especially true for individuals who own assets and are worried about liability.

Through the formation of a separate entity, your personal assets will be considered a separate entity. These personal assets will not be exposed to liability in the event of issues arising from your podcasting activities.

Avoiding Publicity Rights Infringement

The final issue we’re going to discuss is publicity rights infringement. Such a violation can occur whenever you have a guest on the podcast.

The right of publicity varies from state to state and it allows individuals to control the commercial use of their name, image or persona. This means that whenever a guest appears on your podcast, you will need to get their permission to broadcast the finalized audio.

Getting potential guests to sign a written release in advance is going to be of paramount importance. Such a document shouldn’t just be downloaded from a random website. Rather, talk to an experienced legal professional and get a document that’s tailored for your needs. This way, the release will contain all of the essential information you need to be legally protected when interacting with and featuring third parties on your podcast.

 

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4 Tips for Legal Online Consumer Data Collection

4 Tips for Legal Online Consumer Data Collection

People’s attitudes towards the collection of online data has been changing over the past few years. A 2017 survey suggests that 75 percent of individuals will sometimes or always read a privacy policy on a website.

According to 53 percent of people, it’s extremely important to know whether an app or a service is using their personal data. At the same time, several massive online data collection scandals have rocked the world in recent years.

Providing a quality online service or content will often be dependent on consumer data collection. To do so legally, however, you’ll have to learn how to collect data and what documents to feature on your website or online platform.

Determine What Types of Personal Data Collection You’ll Be Doing

To craft the right online data collection procedures, you will first need to determine what types of sensitive information you’re going to be having access to.

Most often, online service providers work with the following:

  • IP address
  • Internet domain
  • Type of browser or OS
  • Location of the website visitor
  • Demographic profiles
  • Number of pages visited, length of stay on the website

If you have online opt-in forms, chances are that you will be collecting additional sensitive information. When you know what you’re dealing with, you will get to determine which regulatory framework(s) you’ll have to adhere to.

Understand Personal Information Law and Compliance

Online data collection could be subjected to multiple regulatory frameworks due to the international nature of website visits. The EU GDPR is one of these frameworks. The US has more limited regulatory efforts as far as data privacy goes but a few statutes may apply to the work of different online companies.

If you’re based in the US, EU, and many other Western countries, you will have to comply with at least one type of data collection law. A privacy policy, terms and conditions and thorough explanations as to why you have to collect sensitive data are the absolute minimum.

Carry Out a Privacy Audit

A website that’s already functional will have to be audited to determine whether it meets all regulatory requirements. It’s best to have an experienced legal professional carrying out such an audit.

Some of the items that will be examined include your privacy policy, whether opt-on forms allow for explicit consent and whether people are given the chance to opt out effortlessly. Based on the audit information, you’ll get to determine how data collection is to be modified in the future to ensure compliance.

Minimize Personal Data Collection and Retention as Much as Possible

Online consumer data collection should occur for the provision of better products and services. It’s possible that you’re currently accessing sensitive information that isn’t adding anything to the experience of people visiting your website or using your app.

There are things you can do to minimize the collection of sensitive information online. Based on the audit you’ve carried out, it’s possible to identify certain positive changes in this field.

Very often, online businesses gather a lot of extra information that could potentially be used in the future. If you’re doing this right now, you’re only making your life and work more challenging. Data breaches and hack attacks do occur. The more information you have, the bigger the problem is going to be in the case of an information leak.

A final thing to do is to ensure the security of data collection efforts. To minimize the risk of hack attacks, invest in quality servers, encryption, and access control. While there are numerous additional things you could be doing, this is the absolute minimum when it comes to meeting laws and giving your customers access to a quality service.

 

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The Use of Electronic Signatures for Digital Contract Signing

The Use of Electronic Signatures for Digital Contract Signing

Electronic signature transactions are becoming increasingly common and popular. The number of such transactions was 89 million in 2012 and it grew to 754 million in 2017. Digital contract signing is just one of the uses. Digital signatures also make it easier to control record-keeping practices, audits, and internal document management.

To understand the use of electronic signatures for digital contract signing, it’s first important to define what is an electronic signature and whether it can be used to create a legally-binding document.

What is an Electronic Signature?

An electronic signature is a digital indicator of a person’s identity and their agreement with the contents of a document or a transaction. It plays the role of a handwritten signature in the digital realm.

The premise is simple – a person goes through an online document like a PDF file and a special annotation is used to place the signature where a handwritten signature will typically appear.

In the early 2000s, there were multiple legal issues surrounding the acceptability of electronically signed documents. This is when the US government approved the Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce Act (ESIGN Act).

Through the act, electronic signatures have been given the same legal weight as a handwritten signature placed on a piece of paper.

Digital Contract Signing and Electronic Signatures

An electronic or digital contract is a document that is created and transmitted in an electronic form. It doesn’t have to be printed out, which is in line with the paperless policies that many companies across the US have adopted.

Digital contracts can be signed in several ways and all of these are legally binding.

One of the simplest options is having an I Agree button at the end of the document. By clicking on the button, the user will be agreeing to the terms and conditions. The use of an electronic signature is another viable option. Depending on the variety, the entire name of the signee will appear on the bottom of the document or the electronic signature will consist solely of initials.

Through the ESIGN Act, businesses have been enabled to conduct their business 100 percent online.  Cryptographic digital signatures are becoming a more common way of verifying the signee’s identity and such options are readily available for all entities.

How to Create an Electronic Signature?

If you’re interested in going paperless and doing most of your business online, chances are that you’re wondering about how to create an electronic signature.

In essence, the electronic signature is an image of your signature. It can be created with the mouse or a stylus. Alternatively, you can upload an image file that features your photographed signature. A signature created this way is legally binding – do not forget the fact when placing it at the bottom of a document.

You will also need to understand the difference between electronic and digital signatures. The electronic signature is what has been discussed in the previous paragraph. A digital signature is cryptographically-secure and verified. It is a private signing key that is more complicated and more difficult to use.

To use a digital signature, you will need to possess a security certificate that is a form of identification unique to you. Certification authorities are the only entities that can issue digital signatures and these will also have to be renewed periodically for security purposes.

 

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An Introduction to the End User License Agreement (EULA)

End-User-Licensing-Agreement

An Introduction to the End User License Agreement (EULA)

If you have ever downloaded software in your life, you have come across the end user license agreement (EULA). This type of license comes with specific rights and limitations that have to be followed by anyone interested in testing out or using the respective product on a regular basis.

What does end user license agreement mean and how should you draft the perfect one? While the structure is typically pre-determined, it’s not the best of ideas to rely on a template or a generic EULA.

What is End User License Agreement?

End user license agreement is a license that enables a user to rely on a software product in a certain manner. It enforces use limitations and once accepted, it will allow the person to begin running the software.

A typical example of an EULA clause is to install and run the software on a single computer. Other clauses under such an agreement could include:

An inability to use the app or software for revenue generation
A ban on attempting to decrypt an encrypted product
A ban on attempting to derive the source code
Limitations on distributing the product in a network
The terms and conditions under which a termination of the license will occur
A disclaimer of liability

Usually, the EULA appears during the first step of installation, but it could also be featured within the terms and conditions.

How to Draft a Good EULA

While it is still questionable if an EULA is enforceable in court, various courts have upheld their legitimacy. The ProCD Inc. v. Zeidenberg case is just one example of such a legal development. While most people will not take the time to read the end user license agreement, it’s still your responsibility to draft a solid one and protect your product.

The structure of the EULA is typically comprehensive. It consists of:

Licensing of use terms and conditions
Restrictions
Conditions under which termination of use will occur
Limitation of liability clause
A warranty disclaimer
Copyright infringement information
Contact information

It’s in your best interest to feature all of these sections in your end user license agreement. The more comprehensive the document is, the better legal protection you’ll be entitled to against unsolicited or illegal software use.

Keep in mind that the EULA is a legal agreement between the company that has developed an app and the legal user. Because of this characteristic, it may be a good idea to have a legal professional reviewing your EULA. While many standard clauses can be featured in such a document, it would still be a good idea to include specific information that’s relevant to your product and its intended use.

Final Steps

The final step will be to highlight the international, national, and local laws that apply to the licensing agreement and the protective clauses in it. Obviously, you can Google the licensing laws. Alternatively, you should have that consultation with an attorney to make sure you’re familiar with all applicable regulations and the manner in which they can be utilized to protect your software/intellectual property.

A final thing to keep in mind is that you should keep your EULA simple, straightforward, and easy to understand. Avoid ambiguous language that could be interpreted in multiple ways. When the rules are stated plainly and directly, they will be easier to eventually uphold in court.

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The Importance of Having a Contract Reviewed by a Legal Professional

Contract Agreement

When two or more parties interact with each other, they all have certain expectations pertaining to the outcome of the interaction. To protect their interests and make sure that the expectations are met, such entities should consider signing legally-binding contracts.

Written legal contracts state the expectations of all parties involved and the eventual repercussions that will be faced when such expectations aren’t met. Contracts are enforceable in court, which is why they need to be as detailed and personalized as possible.

Very often, entrepreneurs wonder how to make a legal contract and whether such a document should be thoroughly examined by a contract review lawyer. It’s interesting to point out that a global legal survey suggests 39% of entities rely on professionals other than lawyers for contract management.

If you’re still undecided about the importance of legal contracts and whether these documents should be reviewed by an experienced attorney, the following information may come in handy.

The Benefits Outweigh the Cost of Professional Legal Help

Many small businesses and startups refrain from utilizing legal services because of the perceived cost. The truth of the matter is, however, that a poorly crafted contract can end up costing a lot more in the long run.

Contracts are created to protect businesses and ensure mutually-beneficial partnerships. Missing terms and conditions could enable the other party to get out of the partnership without fulfilling its responsibility. Alternatively, one party could be sanctioned in a faulty way. Such errors will have long-term consequences and they can also have a devastating financial impact on a business.

Law Evolves on a Daily Basis

Business contracts aren’t always simple and straightforward.

On occasions, they will invoke complex clauses and refer to highly specific legal contract terms. Amendments and new regulations could render some clauses or obsolete or necessitate adjustments in pre-existing contracts. Legal professionals have the obligation to expand their knowledge in terms of the changing nature of regulations. If a relevant new law comes into effect, an attorney will make sure that the modification is reflected in a business contract.

Do You Understand What You Are Signing?

Sometimes, you will be presented with an agreement that you will have to sign to move forward or explore new opportunities for your business. Unless you are a legal professional, however, chances are that you don’t have a thorough understanding of what you’re getting yourself into.

Your contract review attorney will make the terms and conditions accessible. You will be notified of the favorable clauses, as well as of the ones that can potentially harm you. Based on their experience, an attorney can let you know whether signing the agreement is a good idea and if it’s in line with your current business development objectives.

The Terms of Business Contracts Can Be Negotiated

Business contracts aren’t unalterable. If you’re not satisfied with a certain term or a condition, you can negotiate a modification.

Once again, a contract review lawyer can represent you during the process and help you get a more favorable legal document. Whether a provision needs to be changed or something important is missing altogether from the document, your lawyer will make a good case and push for the respective change that you desire.

Contracts can quite often cause complications, unexpected outcomes and legal issues. Which is why you shouldn’t just sign blindly or use a generic template for a brand new interaction. Investing in high-quality legal documents protects your business and ensures continual adherence to the highest standards.

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GDPR: 10 Steps That Will Help Guide You Through The New E.U. Data Protection Framework

GDPR-Ten-Thins-To-Know-About-EU-
The new European data protection law, the General Data Protection Regulation ( GDPR ) comes into force on the 25th of May, 2018. The new framework poses considerable pressure on online and offline businesses of all sizes because it will strengthen the rules under which the personal data of European residents can be collected, stored, and disclosed. Despite its territorial scope, the GDPR will apply to organizations that do not have a physical presence in the European Union.

To guide you through the new E.U. data protection framework, we’ve provided you with a 10-step guideline that will allow you to better understand the formal requirements of the GDPR and the new personal data security standards.

1. Scope of the GDPR

Although the GDPR is a European legislation, it may apply to businesses located in other jurisdictions as well. More specifically, the GDPR applies to natural and legal persons that collect personal data and:

  • Are established in the E.U.;
  • Are not established in the E.U. but cooperate with data processors that are established in the E.U.; or
  • Are not established in the E.U. but collect personal data of E.U. residents or target them (e.g., offer them goods and services or monitor their behavior).
  • The GDPR will not be applicable if you are a natural person who accesses personal data in the course of a purely personal or household activity (e.g., browsing social media websites).

 2. Tracking personal data

The GDPR defines personal data as any information that allows you to identify a natural person. For instance, personal data may include personal names, physical addresses, email addresses, social security numbers, location data, genetic information, biometric data, health care data, and IP addresses.

The GDPR requires applying the principle of data minimization, meaning that you can collect and process only the amount of personal data that is required to provide the requested service.

In order to keep track of all of the personal data that you collect, store, access, share, and process online and offline, it is important to document such transactions for your own records. Also, in certain cases (e.g., if you employ more than 250 persons, collect personal data regularly, or target special categories of personal data) you may be obliged to maintain data processing records.  

It is important to note that the GDPR imposes stricter requirements (e.g., obtaining explicit consent) for special categories of personal data, such as a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political, religious, and philosophical opinions, trade union membership, genetic data, biometric data, healthcare data, and data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation.

3. Collaboration with third parties

Under the GDPR, all third parties that have access to personal data collected by you, such as cloud storage providers, hosting providers, and newsletter providers, are considered to be data processors. The law stipulates that the relationship between you and data processors should be governed by data processing agreements, which should reflect (1) the types of personal data you provide access to, (2) the purposes of processing, (3) the duration of processing, (4) the applicable security measures, and (5) the mutual assistance in fulfilling your obligations under the GDPR.

If the third parties are located outside the EEA, you can disclose or transfer personal data only if certain conditions are met, including, but not limited to:

  • If the third party is established in the country that is “white-listed” by the E.U.;
  • If you conclude a contract with the third party on the basis of pre-approved contractual clauses or binding corporate rules;
  • If the data subject provides you with explicit consent to the disclosure or transfer of personal data; or
  • If the transfer is explicitly necessary for conclusion or performance of a contract.

 4. Consent

Consent for the collection and processing of personal data is one of the legal grounds for lawful data processing under the GDPR. To be valid, the consent should be prior, explicit, informed, and freely given (pre-ticked boxes are not allowed). The deviation from obtaining consent is permitted if the personal data is necessary for performing a contract with the data subject (e.g., booking an appointment, providing the requested service, or delivering a product), pursuing legitimate business interests, and in some other exceptional circumstances.

5. Data protection and storage

Under the GDPR, personal data can be retained only as long as its storage is necessary for the purpose for which the personal data was collected. Afterwards, the personal data should be deleted. Only in certain cases, when the storage of personal data is required by the applicable law (e.g., for accountancy purposes), businesses are allowed to retain personal data in order to comply with their legal obligations.

To protect personal data, appropriate organizational and technical security measures have to be taken (e.g., limited access to personal data by employees, anonymization, secured networks, and encryption) and you have to ensure that the data processors with whom you cooperate have also put equivalent security measures in place.

6. Data subjects’ rights

The GDPR provides data subjects with a number of rights with regard to their personal data. Indicate in your privacy policy those rights, and give instructions on how data subjects can exercise them. Such rights include:

  • The right to access personal data (e.g., getting a list of personal data you store about the data subject);
  • The right to correct personal data (e.g., change of contact details);
  • The right to erase personal data and object to profiling (i.e., “right to be forgotten”);
  • The right to restrict the processing of personal data;
  • The right to ask a data controller to provide another data controller with a list of personal data related to the data subject; and]
  • The right to launch a complaint about the handling of personal data.

7. Identification and transparency

Give your privacy policy the highest level of transparency. List clearly the types of personal data you collect, the purposes of collection, the grounds for processing, third parties that have access to personal data, and all your policies and procedures governing collection, storage, and the processing of personal data.  

Also, indicate your contact details clearly in your privacy policy, including the email and post addresses that can be used by data subjects to contact you with regard to personal data. Also, mention the timeframe in which you will respond to the data subject’s inquiries.

8. Children

The GDPR prohibits the collection and processing of children’s personal data without obtaining a parental or guardian consent in advance. In order to comply with this requirement, consider putting systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain the requested consent. Also, provide parents or guardians with the opportunity to request the erasure of children’s personal data that has been obtained without their consent.

9. Data breaches

The GDPR puts in place strict guidelines for reporting security breaches that affect personal data. In a nutshell, you have to inform the supervisory authority within 72 hours from the moment you become aware of a breach, and then provide details about the affected personal data. Should a data breach occur in data processors’ systems, the data processors have to immediately notify you. Make sure that you have the right procedures in place to detect, report, and investigate a data breach.

10. Data Protection Officer (DPO)

You can voluntarily appoint a DPO as a person who will assist you in complying with the GDPR, as well as tracking and documenting the transactions involving personal data within your organization. The GDPR explicitly requires appointing a DPO if:

  • Your business relies mainly on processing of personal data on a large scale;
  • You process special categories of personal data on a large scale.
  • The processing of personal data may cause a threat to rights and freedoms of data subjects; or
  • You are a public body or authority.
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Four Reasons to Have a Non-Disclosure Agreement with Your Clients

Business Contracts

Four Reasons to Have a Non-Disclosure Agreement with Your Clients

Being an entrepreneur and growing your business will necessitate a lot of hard work and strategic thought. Protecting new concepts, ideas, and business development models will be of utmost importance when it comes to maintaining your competitive advantage. In such instances, a non-disclosure agreement can come in handy.

NDAs are typically created to protect confidential information. A mutual non-disclosure agreement will protect both parties involved. While certain business interactions don’t necessitate the use of NDAs, such documents will provide amazing benefits in other instances.

Preventing Information Disclosure to Third Parties

This is the essence of non-disclosure agreement laws – preventing the unauthorized disclosure of information то third parties.

Imagine a situation in which you’re presenting an idea or showing an invention to a potential business partner or customer. In such instances, you want to convey something important about your business without getting the respective idea stolen.

The NDA will oblige the potential client or business partner to keep the information under wraps. Thus, you can demonstrate your biggest strengths without feeling concerned about a potential information leak.

Ensuring the Provision of Quality Services Without Risks

Occasionally, you will interact with partners and third parties tasked with providing services. To accomplish such a goal, they may need access to sensitive data like financial information about your business, inventory, employee data or marketing data.

Such data should not be disseminated outside the organization and you should definitely consider a non-disclosure agreement in such instances.

Providing Information about the Licensing of Specific Technologies

When the sale or product licensing prospect is on the table, you will once again have to think about protecting your business in the worst-case scenario.

The information exchanged with a potential customer in such situations can easily be used by them to gain leverage in the negotiations with other service providers. As a result, you are not going to be competitive on the respective market.

Licensing and sale discussions usually involve the presentation of financial data, facts and figures. Obviously, you don’t want such information circulating freely and you should get that NDA before the talks begin.

In the Event of Selling Your Business

Non-disclosure agreements will also come in handy whenever you’re considering the sale of the entire business.

When selling your business, you will have to present a lot of sensitive data in order to entice a potential buyer into making an offer. At the same time, such data will put you at a massive disadvantage if it gets out there.

It will be difficult to assess who is a serious potential buyer right from the start and who’s there just to gather a bit of intelligence. Non-disclosure agreements are imperative because you’re otherwise left vulnerable. There’s a reason why large companies make NDAs a standard part of the merger and acquisition process.

The Quality of the NDA Matters

In order to offer reliable protection, a non-disclosure agreement should be drafted professionally. Adherence to non-disclosure agreement laws and personalization will both be required to address potential risks and ensure comprehensive sensitive data protection.

Working with a legal professional is imperative in such instances. An attorney will also know how to handle the process of negotiating when it comes to signing a mutual non-disclosure agreement or a privacy agreement with a potential business partner.

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All About Intellectual Property: The Differences Between Copyrights, Trademarks, Patents, and Trade Secrets

Trademark-Copyrights-Patents

In the age of current technology, inventions, and ideas, protection for intellectual property has become quite common in our society. The four types of intellectual property- copyrights, trademarks, patents, and trade secrets– are often heard in everyday conversation. But how do we differentiate between these four protections?  This blog is to act as a guide in explaining the basics of intellectual property.

Copyrights: 

Copyright protection is available for original works of authorship that are fixed in a tangible form, whether published or unpublished. The categories of work that can be protected include paintings, literary works, live performances, photographs, movies, and software. It is important to understand that copyright law covers the “form of material expression,” and not the actual concepts, ideas, techniques, or facts in a particular work, hence why it must be in tangible form.

Trademarks:

Trademark protection is available for certain names, symbols, devices, or words that will be used in connection with a good or service. The purpose behind trademarks is to allow companies and individuals to indicate the source of their goods or services and to distinguish them from others in the industry. A trademark not only gives the owner the exclusive right to use the mark but also allows the owner to prevent others from using a similar mark that may be confusing to the general public. It does not, however, prevent others from making or selling the same good or service.

Patents: 

​A patent is a right granted to an inventor that permits that inventor to exclude others from making, selling, or using his or her invention for a period of time. For an invention to qualify for a patent, it must be both “novel” and “non-obvious.” An invention is novel if it is different from other similar inventions in one or more of its parts. It also must not have been publicly used, sold, or patented by another inventor within a year of the date that the patent application is filed. As for the second qualification, an invention is non-obvious if someone who is skilled in the relevant field of the invention would consider its development to be unexpected or surprising.

Trade Secrets: 

Trade secrets consist of information, including formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, methods, techniques, or processes. To meet the definition of a trade secret, the information must be used in business, and grant the user an opportunity to obtain an economic advantage over competitors who do not know of it or use it. This protection is fairly limited, as a trade secret holder is only protected from unauthorized disclosure and use. If a trade secret holder fails to maintain secrecy or if the information is independently discovered, becomes released, or otherwise becomes generally known, protection as a trade secret is lost. However, trade secrets do not expire, so protection continues until discovery or loss.

If you have additional questions, or if you are looking to protect your ideas, products, or business, you should contact an experienced intellectual property attorney.

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Legal Checklist For An Online Startup

Legal Checklist

Forming a new business is an exciting adventure. However, the dream of self-created success and wealth can sometimes cause new business owners to overlook the essentials of creating a new business. These overlooks can potentially cause serious harm down the road. This legal checklist, while not exhaustive, is meant to help new business owners ensure that they maintain compliance and protect themselves from any mishaps. 

1. Find A Business Structure That Best Fits Your Needs: 

Prior to forming your new business, you should first work with a legal professional to determine which business structure would work best to fit the needs of you and your company. Some of the more common structures include LLCs or C corporations. 

2. Protect Yourself and Your Intellectual Property:

 Work with a legal professional to determine if you should file for a copyright, trademark, patent, or any other form of intellectual property. Such protections will work to ensure that your idea cannot be stolen by another. This is of particular importance for online startup companies, as the business is exposed to innumerable others. 

3. Money Management: 

Once you have settled on a business structure, work with your professional to determine what your tax obligations are. It could be a bad start for your startup if the IRS begins to focus on you for improperly filing taxes. 

You will also want to create a separate bank account for your company money. This should be kept completely separate from all personal accounts and funds. Co-mingling personal and business funds could cause serious issues down the road.

4. Take Care of the Technicalities: 

Online startups have an additional responsibility to maintain compliance with internet standards, while protecting the company at the same time. This will require the new business owner to work with his or her legal professional to draft privacy policies, disclaimers, and terms of service. It is also very important that you adhere to those policies that are put into place. 

New business owners will also need to work with their professional to incorporate all necessary licensures. Many jurisdictions impose severe fines if companies fail to maintain required licenses. 

5. Create Strong Contracts: 

There are three main types of contracts that new businesses should work with a professional to implement. The first of these contracts is a Non-Disclosure Agreement. These agreements work to protect confidential information from being released to the public. Not all businesses require non-disclosures, but they are highly important for those that do.

The second type of required contract is an employee contract (if you have anyone working for you). Employee contracts should outline the rights and responsibilities of those working, as well as the appropriate and expected conduct.

Finally, business owners should work with a professional to draft a Buy-Sell Agreement. Such agreements detail what would happen in the event of an owner or founder choosing to leave or dying. Specifically, these agreements details how much money should be paid out and what would happen to that person’s stake in the company.

While the above list is not exhaustive, it’s a good start for online startups to utilize in order to create a successful business. It should be noted that the critical point in all of the above-listed points is that startups should always work with a legal professional to ensure compliance.

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Do I Need A Freelancer Agreement?

Freelancer Agreement

Do I Need A Freelancer Agreement?

We’re living in the age of the gig economy, and the solo-prenuer is its champion.  More and more Americans are kissing the 9-to-5 day at the office goodbye and putting their creative passions to work on a project-by-project basis instead.

It’s an exciting time to be an independent worker. But because freelancers are on their own, they must be their own best advocate when it comes to administrative responsibilities.  Without the benefits of a human resources manager or accounts payable team, it is imperative that today’s freelancer enter into an enforceable written agreement with each new client in order protect their interests and get paid.  While these types of contracts may vary from industry to industry, below are some basic recommendations as to what should be included in a freelancer agreement. 

Rates or fees for services:  

Most freelancers have at least one story about the time that they didn’t get paid for the work they completed and how they wished they had a signed a freelancer agreement. Regardless of the type of work requested, it’s important to include a section on pricing and payment schedules. Make hourly rates and flat-fee costs clear. If charging by the hour, consider including a minimum and maximum work-hour clause. For example, “Project Artwork won’t take less than hours and no more than Y.” The X is for the freelancer’s security – these hours will be billed even if the project finishes early. The Y is for the client’s security. The client will pay no more than Y no matter how long the job takes.  Spell out a payment schedule, too. Explain whether payment will be made by check, PayPal, or credit card. Without explaining pricing and payment, freelancers run the risk that a client might misunderstand how much he owes, or worse, debates paying the full price at the end of the project.

Deliverables:

Deadlines are important to clients, and having an agreed-upon delivery date in advance for the completed project and/or stages of the work can thwart potential frustration and disconnects. Expect the unexpected, and factor in a cushion of extra days—or even a week—longer than anticipated to help alleviate stress. And if the extra time is not needed, then turning in a project early impresses clients and may lead to more assignments.

Revision limits:

Savvy freelancers know the dangers of “scope creep” and take care to limit the number of revisions they will complete.  It’s natural that, from time to time, clients will request changes to draft work, and that’s okay. But without specifying limits upfront, a project may take far longer than expected. This decreases profit margins, impacts work on other projects and may cause a freelancer to turn down new assignments.  To keep expectations clear, offer one or two revision rounds as part of the fee, and bill anything above and beyond that as extra.

Confidentiality:

If a freelancer or contractor is going to have access to secret company information, include a confidentiality or non-disclosure clause in the agreement.  Many clients will require this. These clauses provide penalties for breaching company privacy or using the company’s own trade-secrets against it.

Cancellation clauses:

Freelancers and clients enter into agreements with the goal that everything will go as planned. But life sometimes gets in the way. Include a provision explaining what happens if the freelancer or the client cancels the project before it becomes due. The point is to deliver some form of compensation on the work that the freelancer has done but won’t be put to use.

Copyrights:

There are different copyright options available depending on the type of freelance work. Writers have the most copyright options such as first serial rights, print rights, electronic rights, and several others. For most freelancers, it boils down to owning the rights until the final payment is made. Copyrighting work is a must to avoid having a client run away without paying or using the work without permission. But it’s also a form of protection for the client. If they have made full payment, they have already bought the copyrights and should expect to not find the work done anywhere elsewhere.

Find better clients:

Finally, freelancers find and keep better clients when they put their agreements in writing. Prospective clients recognize professional freelancers and respect that they command professional rates. A written agreement also helps to weed out low-payers and contract-shy, suspect clients. While creating a contract might seem like a formality, in the long-run it helps build a better reputation and relationships: as soon as a freelancer makes it a habit to engage prospects with a written set of do’s and don’ts, he begins to attract higher quality, higher paying clients.