I’m Doing a Google Hangout On Air at ABA TechShow 2014

Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers for blog postI’m excited to announce that I’ll be doing a Meet the Author talk via Google Hangout On Air at the ABA TechShow 2014. I’ll be talking about my new book, The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers.

My talk will be on Friday, March 28th. It officially starts at 8:15 a.m. Pacific Time (10:15 a.m. Central Time) and will last for 45 minutes.  (We’ll be on starting at 8:00 a.m. making sure everything is ready to go.)

Because I’m doing my presentation via Google Hangout, anyone can attend – even if you’re not attending the conference. Here’s the link for the event. I hope you can join us!

I’m usually asked to do a lecture when I speak at events, but this time I want to talk about what you want to talk about and answer your questions. There will be a button on the Hangout where you can ask a question or you can tweet questions at me using the hashtags #RuthBook and #ABATechShow. (Feel free to tweet questions in advance too!)

If you are attending TechShow, my book is available at the ABA bookstore booth in the exhibit hall. I’ve heard all books are on sale for 15% off and your shwag bag has a coupon for additional savings.

This will be my first time doing a presentation at a conference remotely and my first experience leading a Google Hangout On Air. I look forward to chatting with everyone at TechShow any everyone else who will be watching from sunny Phoenix.

If you’re looking for other ways to connect with me, you can do so  on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Book Special for Captain Kirk’s Future Birthday

Dave Checking out the Perseid Meteor Shower at 10,000 Feet by Dave Dugdale from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Dave Checking out the Perseid Meteor Shower at 10,000 Feet by Dave Dugdale from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

For anyone who hasn’t seen my YouTube channel, I’m a geek. In particular, I’m a great big Trekkie. I love the show and the movies. I have a uniform and I wear it at conventions (and whenever I want). And I try to do something special every year in honor of the future birthdate of Captain Kirk (March 22, 2233).

Legal Side of Blogging Book CoverEarlier this year, I enrolled my ebook – The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed – in KDP Select on Amazon. This is a program that’s available to people who only publish their work on Amazon. One of the perks is it lets you run a promotion on your book. I’ve never run a special on my book before so I thought I’d give it a whirl and see how it goes.

I had to make the arrangement weeks in advance so I decided to run my book special in honor of Captain Kirk’s future birthday. If you’ve been looking for an excuse to get your hands on this book, here it is – from March 17th until the 23rd, my book will be on sale for $1.99, down from its usual $3.99. If you want a copy for yourself or if you want to gift a copy to the blogger friend in your life, now is the time to do it.

This book covers common questions related to blogging including copyright, trademark, privacy, and defamation. It’s written in an easy-to-understand style expressly for serious bloggers with as many direct answers as possible (which is hard to get out of a lawyer). All of these lessons apply equally to other social media platforms so it’s a must-read for anyone involved in blogging, content creation, or online marketing.

I hope you enjoy it!  If you want to chat more about the legalities of blogging, you can connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

New Book – The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers

The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers

The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers

Having a blog is still awesome. Getting in trouble because of your block isn’t. When you’re lawyer, staying out of trouble when you have a blog is a little more complicated.

I became interested in the legalities of blogging when I started my personal blog, The Undeniable Ruth, in 2010. I have a lot of friends who are outspoken online and I wanted to know how far we could push the envelope before one of us crossed the line. That became a blog series, which inspired a paper for my Cyberspace Law class, and became the basis of my first book, The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed. I tried to write as a blogger for other bloggers – in English instead of legalese. I tried to give as many straight answers as possible in an arena where the law hasn’t kept up with technology.

When I signed on to write The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers, I wanted to address all the common legal questions any blogger would have and also address some issues that are specific to the legal profession.  I added sections about the type of disclaimer every legal blogger should have on their site and under what circumstances lawyers can blog about their own cases. Lawyers also have to be mindful of their state’s ethical rules about lawyer advertising. This shouldn’t be that big of an issue because if your blog constitute advertising, you’re probably doing it wrong.  The book also includes practical advice on how to respond to people who leave comments on your site that ask for legal advice – despite the fact that your disclaimer clearly states that anyone in that situation should schedule a consult with a lawyer in their community.

I also added three appendices that list the state and federal laws that apply to blogging, online resources related to the legalities of blogging, and a list of recommended books about blogging and social media marketing.

One of my favorite parts of this book is the afterward written by anonymous legal blogger The Namby Pamby – a man who has personally experience blogging about his cases with the added burden of keeping his identity a secret. His blog is hilarious, and I loved hearing his take on my work.

After the book came out, I had the pleasure of talking about the book on the JD Blogger Podcast. Host John Skiba said that he liked the book can be used as a resource for lawyers with cases that are related to the internet because it’s filled with citations to the applicable cases and laws.

If you want your own copy, The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers is available through the American Bar Association.

If you want to chat more about the legalities of blogging, you can connect with me on TwitterFacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Arizona’s Latest Anti-LGBT Attack: HB 2481

rainbow flag : banner, harvey milk plaza, castro, san francisco (2012) by torbakhopper from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

rainbow flag : banner, harvey milk plaza, castro, san francisco (2012) by torbakhopper from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

There was much rejoicing last week when Governor Jan Brewer vetoed SB 1062. This bill would have allowed anyone to refuse to do business with a patron based on their religious beliefs. The ultra conservatives said they were trying to protect their freedom of religion but most of us saw it for the bigoted attack against the LGBT community that it was. The outcry from the business community was fast and severe which is why I think this bill was shut down.

But now the Arizona legislature is at it again! Now they’re trying to pass a law (HB 2481) that would allow clergy members and justices of the peace to refuse to perform marriages if it violates their “sincerely held” religious beliefs. This is obviously a bill that is aimed at allowing officiants to legally refuse to perform same-sex marriages.

This bill is fucked up on so many levels. Let’s start with the fact that we have the separation of church and state. To be legally married, you need a valid marriage license and a marriage ceremony performed by a legal officiant. If you get married in the church without a license, that’s outside the realm of state-recognized marriages and has nothing to do with this bill.

A member of the clergy can already refuse to marry a couple in their church, synagogue, temple, etc. if the relationship violates the religion. And there are plenty of religions and clergy members that say homosexuality is wrong. Besides, why would you want to get married by someone who doesn’t approve of your relationship? Logically speaking, this situation will rarely happen and if it does, the clergy already have a valid reason to decline. We don’t need a law about this.

Remember same-sex marriage is not legal in Arizona so no state official can perform a legal same-sex ceremony anyway.  This law is nothing but a pre-emptive strike against the expectation that same-sex marriage will be legal in Arizona some day and there may be judges and justices of the peace who are asked to perform legal (non-religious) marriage ceremonies that they disagree with. I’m sure they think there are straight couples who go to City Hall to get married where they disagree with what the couple is doing, but they suck it up and do their job.

When a judge or justice of the peace is asked to officiate these marriages, they are a state actor, not a clergy member. If they are uncomfortable with this part of their job, they should suck it up or quit.

And in case you didn’t know, Arizona allows people who are ordained online to perform legal marriages so you can have the friend of your choosing perform your ceremony.

Please contact your representative and tell them to vote No on HB 2481. We’ve already told our legislature once that we don’t want them to legalize discrimination. Let’s hope they get the message this time and stop trying to pass discriminatory legislation. And remember the names of the elected officials who are voting in favor of these bigoted laws so you know who not to vote for when they’re up for re-election.

Carter Law Firm’s Top 5 Videos From 2013

This is where the magic happens - the couch where I record the firm's videos. Walter Ball is sitting in my spot.

This is where the magic happens – the couch where I record the firm’s videos. Walter Ball is sitting in my spot.

In September 2012, I made the commitment to put out a new video every week. Since then, I’ve done a lot of talking from the couch. Here are the top five most popular videos that were created and released this year.

1.  Can you put a Sex Video on the Internet Without Consent?

2. Response to Rehtaeh Parsons’ Suicide Due to Bullying

3. Avoid Being the next Turner Barr by Registering your Trademark

4. How to Make a Contract

5. Response to Rebecca Ann Sedwick Cyberbullying Suicide

One of the firm’s blog posts about The North Face vs The South Butt trademark issues got over 40,000 hits this year, courtesy of Reddit. Its corresponding video also got a lot of hit and is Carter Law Firm’s all-time most popular video.

I’ve hope you’ve enjoyed these videos and I look forward to sharing more with you next year. If there are any topics you hope I cover in a future video, feel free to connected with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Carter Law Firm’s Top 10 Posts From 2013

I Made the Pilgrimage to the Google 'Plex in 2013!

I Made the Pilgrimage to the Google ‘Plex in 2013!

It’s been a crazy-awesome year at Carter Law Firm. Some of the biggest highlights were the re-release of The Legal Side of Blogging, the release of Flash Mob Law, speaking at SXSW, and moving the firm into a brick and mortar location.

Thank you to everyone who this year such a success! I checked the blog’s analytics and these were the most popular posts from this year.

I was so excited to meet Gary Vaynerchuk in the flesh this year!

I was so excited to meet Gary Vaynerchuk this year!

1. Using Google Image Search to Detect Copyright Infringement

2. Prankk Bros vs Providence Police Officer

3. Publishing Contracts: Copyright Assignment vs Copyright License

4. Does Your Employer Have a Social Media Policy?

5. What Happens to Your LLC When You Die?

6. Go Topless Day 2013

7. Arizona Cyberharassment & Cyberstalking Laws

8. Maintaining Privacy with an Online Alter Ego

9. Applying Minimalism Principals to Your Business

10. Bullying is Still a Big Problem

These were the most popular posts that were written this year. Interestingly, the most popular posts by far from this year were written in 2012:

I’m excited for what’s in store for 2013. I’m hoping to do more paid speaking gigs, continue to do excellent work for my clients, and my next book is due out in February! There are lots of projects in the works. I’ll share more details with you as I firm up my plans.

You can always stay connected with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Go Topless Day 2013

scar web by istolethetv from Flickr

scar web by istolethetv from Flickr

International Go Topless Day is coming up on Sunday, August 25th. I’m not kidding; it’s a real holiday aimed at bringing awareness to gender inequality when it comes to how much of your torso you have to have covered when you walk out of the house.

In every state in the U.S., men can walk around in public without wearing a shirt. The same is generally not true for women. Every state has a law against showing at least part of the female breast in public. In Arizona, women must keep their areolas covered so women can go shirtless in public as long as their wearing at least a pair of pasties, band-aids, or pieces of electrical tape. Other states, like California, are weird and require women to cover not only their areolas but also the bottom half of their breasts at all times. (Who would have thought that California would be more closed-minded than Arizona on this issue?)

There are a handful of cities that have passed local laws that allow men and women to be topless in public – like New York, Washington D.C., and Austin. (I wish I knew that when I was at SXSW.) These laws are technically unconstitutional but the states have bigger fish to fry than to go after a handful of topless women.

Wherez all da love ppl? by TheeErin from Flickr

Wherez all da love ppl? by TheeErin from Flickr

To bring awareness to the inequality between men and women under these indecent exposure laws, Go Topless protests have been organized in a handful of cities. At these events, if it’s illegal for women to be topless in public in that city, men and women are encouraged to dress within the limits of the law for women by wearing pasties, body paint, bikini tops, or the like. If the city law allows both genders to be topless in public, it’s more of a celebration and everyone’s encouraged to bare their chest. (If you want to wear pasties, I strongly recommend Nippies – they’re high quality and have an excellent adhesive.)

Please check out this map to see if there is a Go Topless event being organized in your community on August 25th. If you go, please make sure you act within in the limits of your state and city’s laws and wear sunblock! For my Phoenix people, there will be a Go Topless protest in Tempe starting at 10 a.m. where people will be walking down Mill Ave. sans shirts but with their areolas covered.

If you want more information about decency laws and these types of events, I talk about indecent exposure in relationship to the annual No Pants Ride in my new book Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans or contact a First Amendment attorney in your community.

You can connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me.
You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

New & Improved – The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed

LSB - option 3In case you haven’t heard the news, the revision of my ebook The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed, is out and available in the Kindle Store!  (For those of you who don’t have a Kindle, there are free Kindle apps that will let you download and read it on your phone, tablet, and even your desktop computer.)

I love blogging. I love that every week I get to stand on my digital soapbox and pontificate about anything I want. (Don’t you just love the word “pontificate?”) Early on in my writing career a journalist friend told me that a journalist’s job is to “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That has become my motto as well. I love that I get to write things that other people are thinking but maybe don’t have the guts to say themselves. I find it validating when people do that for me and I’m happy to pay it forward for others.

ruthcover smallerOf course when you’re an outspoken blogger and a law student (now a lawyer), you start asking a lot of questions about what you can say without getting into trouble. That led to me to writing a blog series about the legal side of blogging, taking a class on cyberspace law where I wrote a paper on the topic, and eventually this book. When you have a blog, you have an obligation to know how far you can push the envelope without crossing the line. And then when people get pissed at you because of a post, there’s often nothing they can do about it because you’ve done nothing wrong.  The law rarely gives you any type of recourse just because someone made you sad.

I wasn’t planning on writing a revision of my ebook so soon, but a conversation with the Copyright Office earlier this year forced my hand.  Apparently the word “published” had different meaning to normal rational people and the Copyright Office so I had to revise my chapter on copyright registration and I’m even more convinced that the Copyright Act needs a complete overhaul because it makes no sense when it comes to a lot of material that is only released on the internet.

Since I was doing revisions, I also added a section about anti-SLAPP laws too. SLAPP stands for strategic lawsuit against public participation. This is the type of counterclaim you can file when someone files a lawsuit against you because of your blog in an effort to shut you up. We don’t like it when people sue people just because they don’t like what they have to say but what they’re saying is not illegal.

I hope you enjoy The Legal Side of Blogging: How Not to get Sued, Fired, Arrested, or Killed and recommend it to all your friends who are active on social media. I wrote this book with bloggers in mind but the lessons apply equally well to all types of social media.

You can connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me.
You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Independents Week Specials at Carter Law Firm

Carter Law Firm Independents Week 2013One of the things I love about being a solo attorney in Phoenix is I get to be part of Local First Arizona. This is an organization for locally-owned businesses and it’s a great place to meet and connect with amazing professionals in the state.

Independents Week is coming up June 30 – July 7, 2013. Local First created the Golden Coupon program for this week to celebrate these businesses and give you another reason to check out the independent businesses in your community. Dozens of businesses will be giving patrons a 20% discount if they shop with a Golden Coupon during Independents Week. Dozens of Local First members all over Arizona are participating. Check out the full list on the Local First website and my list of places I’m excited to visit on The Undeniable Ruth.

After seeing the success of last year’s Golden Coupon program, Carter Law Firm is participating in this year’s program and offering 20% off legal consultations. Since there are only so many hours in the day, the firm only requires you to contact us during Independents Week to get in on the discount. You can schedule the consultation itself anytime in July 2013 and use your Golden Coupon.

Here’s how to use your Golden Coupon with Carter Law Firm:

  1. golden-couponPrint the Golden Coupon from Local First Arizona.
  2. During Independents Week (June 30 – July 7) contact the Ruth and say you want to book a legal consultation with your Golden Coupon.
  3. Schedule you appointment for any mutually agreed upon time during July 2013.

Please note, that you should schedule an appointment to talk about your business, intellectual property, social media, or flash mob law needs. All other legal questions are outside the firm’s scope of practice.

Don’t forget to check out all the other locally owned businesses that are participating in the Golden Coupon program. This is a great opportunity to try out a new place or revisit a business you love in your community.

You can connect with me on TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTubeLinkedIn, or you can email me. You can also subscribe to the Carter Law Firm monthly newsletter.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

See You In Austin!

Orange Appeal by JD Hancock from Flickr

Orange Appeal by JD Hancock from Flickr

As many of you know, I’m going to Austin this week to attend and speak at the South by Southwest conference (SXSW or “South by”). I’m so excited!

For those of you who don’t know, SXSW is a huge conference that features three track – film, music, and interactive. The interactive track is all about technology and social media.  That’s the track I’m attending. There are way more sessions than any person can attend and there’s so many opportunities to meet and hang out with awesome people in general that I’m going to probably be busy from morning ‘til night every day.

I’m super excited to go to the sessions on entrepreneurship, privacy, marketing, stopping bullying, and of course, the legal sessions. I will have the pleasure and honor of speaking about Protecting Your Copyrights In Digital Media. I’m going to talk about what your copyright rights are and your possible courses of action when someone steals your content. I’m part of the Future 15 program so I only get 12 minutes to give my talk. It’s going to be awesome.

My shirts for SXSW

My shirts for SXSW

There are so many people I hope to meet while I’m in Austin – Gary Vaynerchuk, Chris Guillebeau, the guys from Deadliest Catch, and of course, my fellow legal eagles. Another person I want to meet is Charlie Todd, the founder of Improv Everywhere. He’s debuting his film about Improv Everywhere called We Cause Scenes. I can’t wait to see it.

And will someone please remind me to do a handstand in front of a big SXSW sign or display? I need to add that picture to my collection. I don’t know if I’ll have time to see the giant longhorn statue on the University of Texas campus, but that would be fun too.

A very special thank you goes out to the crew at Brand X Custom T-shirts in Tempe, AZ who did a beautiful job creating my t-shirts for SXSW.