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 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 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 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 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 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.

Jonathan Coulton v. Glee – Legal Rip Off or Copyright Infringement?

Jonathan Coulton by Dan Coulter from Flickr

Jonathan Coulton by Dan Coulter from Flickr

I’ve been reading up on the Jonathan Coulton/Glee controversy over Coulton’s arrangement of “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix-a-Lot and all I can think is “What the fuck, Glee?!?”

Sir Mix-a-Lot is the artist behind the original “Baby Got Back.” When indie singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton wanted to record a cover of it, he did the ethical and legal thing and purchased a license to use the song. Whenever he sells a copy of his version, Sir Mix-a-Lot gets a royalty payment.

The TV show Glee is about a high school glee club that does covers of popular songs. When they wanted to do a version of “Baby Got Back,” they got permission from Sir Mix-a-Lot to do it, but according to Coulton and his fans, they blatantly ripped off his arrangement without any attribution. It was likely completely legal for Glee to do this, but it was an asshat thing to do.

Here’s how copyright works when it comes to music. When a musician writes a song (think sheet music), he gets the exclusive right to copy, distribute, display, perform, and make derivative works from it. Covers are derivative works, which is why Coulton needed a license to do his own arrangement of the song. He used the same lyrics with a few modifications, but the accompanying music is totally different.

When the musician makes a sound recording of their song (think mp3, CD, etc.), he gets a separate copyright in that. In this case, Coulton may not have a copyright in the arrangement he wrote for “Baby Got Back,” but he does have a copyright in his sound recording of his arrangement of the song.

When “Baby Got Back” aired on Glee, Jonathan Coulton and his fans recognized it as his arrangement instantly, and they rightfully asked, “What the fuck?” No one informed Coulton that they’d be using his arrangement and they didn’t give him credit for it on the show. The show reportedly responded that he should be happy for the free exposure. What exposure did they give him since they didn’t give him the attribution for his work?!

Some people are now questioning whether Glee used some of Coulton’s sound recording on the show. Coulton may not have legal recourse for them using his arrangement of the song, but he would if they used his recording instead of recreating it themselves. We’ll see where the chips fall on this one.

In the meantime, Coulton is doing something totally awesome in response to this situation. He released his version of “Baby Got Back” (in the style of Glee) and he’s donating the profits to The VH1 Save the Music Foundation and The It Gets Better Project. Go buy it! (I did!)

So what’s the lesson from this: Always give an attribution when you use another artist’s work, even if you’re not legally obligated to do it.

You can read more about this story on CNN, Wired, and Forbes. Apparently other artists are also coming forward and saying that Glee did the same thing to their arrangements as they allegedly did to Coulton.

You can connect with me via TwitterGoogle+FacebookYouTube, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Happy Birthday Carter Law Firm!

Raul's Birthday Cake by lokate366 from Flickr

Raul’s Birthday Cake by lokate366 from Flickr

January 4, 2013 will mark the 1-year anniversary of Carter Law Firm. It’s been an amazing year. Some much has happened since the day I sent off my paperwork to the Arizona Corporation Commission and opened my firm’s bank accounts. I’ve learned so much about what it takes to be an effective business owner. Here are some of the key lessons I’ve learned.

1. Networking Can Be A Full-Time Job.
As a solo practitioner I am my business, so when I’m not doing work for my clients, I need to be out there promoting my business and networking with other business owners and potential new clients. I can easily attend 2-4 networking events a week. Networking Phoenix is a wonderful resource for networking opportunities in the Phoenix area. I used it a lot in my early days to learn about the chambers of commerce and other business groups in my area.

Early on, I went to every event I could attend. I learned that it takes a while to find my niches and watering holes where I could find clients and referral sources. I was pleased to become a member of Local First Arizona. It is a great group to meet awesome business owners and they have wonderful seminars.

2. Ask for Help.
There’s no reason for anyone in business to feel like they have to tackle any problem alone. I’ve found there are lawyers and business owners who will share their experiences, provide resources, and be a sounding board whenever I needed it. During the early days of my firm, I was on a first name basis with the state bar’s ethics hotline because I wanted to make sure I was doing everything right. I’m glad I’ve been able to pay it forward by sharing my experiences with other lawyers and business owners.

One thing I’ve learned as a business owner is that things are always changing so it’s impossible to know everything. It’s important to stay humble and teachable. And there are always new people to meet and connections to build.

3. Go After What You Want.
I’ve had to learn to be professionally bold as a business owner and to go after the experiences I want. If there’s a conference you want to speak at – apply. If you want to write a book – do it. If there’s someone you want to meet – send them an email or call them up. Just because you’re the new kid in town, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to offer.

Another thing I’ve learned is you’ll never know how great you can be unless you try. Don’t fear success and don’t sell yourself short just because you have a new business.

I couldn’t be happier about my first year of business. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped make it such a huge success. I’m excited to see what the next year will bring.

You can connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Carter Law Firm’s Top 10 Posts From 2012

Fun with leftover sparklers #10 by yahtzeen from Flickr

Fun with leftover sparklers #10 by yahtzeen from Flickr

It’s been an amazing first year at Carter Law Firm! Thank you to everyone who made it so wonderful. According to my analytics, these were the most popular posts from this year. Enjoy!

 

Speaking at Phoenix Comicon 2012, Ruth Carter photo by Devon Christopher Adams

Speaking at Phoenix Comicon 2012, photo by Devon Christopher Adams

When Can Someone Post Photos Of You Online

What’s Up With The Disclaimers On Facebook

How To Respond If An Interviewer Asks For Your Facebook Password

How To Start A Business In Arizona

Woman Attacks Camera Man On Camelback

Copyright Infringement On Pinterest

Avoid Piercing The Corporate Veil

Creative Commons Images For Your Blog

The North Face vs The South Butt Trademark Saga

I’m An ABA Legal Rebel!

Have a great new year everyone! I’m excited for what’s to come and sharing it with you.

You can connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.

Carter Law Firm is Starting an Email Newsletter

Letters Never Sent by tnarik from Flickr

This has been on my to-do list for months and I’m finally making it a priority – the firm is starting its newsletter this month.

The goals of my firm’s monthly newsletter are to be short, relevant, and useful. Each edition will address one timely topic and provide updates from the blog and my speaking schedule. It may take me a few months to figure out the best days and times to do my mailings, but you should only get one email a month.

Will my newsletter have a shameless plug for my book? Of course! But I promise it will not be the main content. This newsletter is designed to offer helpful tips and suggestions to my subscribers, not to boost my book sales. If that’s a side effect, it’s just a bonus.

So how can you subscribe? It’s easy – you can subscribe to the newsletter here. Please note you have to add yourself to my mailing list. I will not add you without your explicit request and consent. One of my pet peeves is meeting a new person at a networking event, exchanging business cards, and finding myself added to their newsletter mailing list the next day without consent. I promise not to spam you or to sell my mailing list to third parties.

The first edition of the newsletter is scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday, November 28th. Please subscribe now if you’re interested in receiving it.

You can connect with me via TwitterGoogle+Facebook, and LinkedIn, or you can email me.
Please visit my homepage for more information about Carter Law Firm.