Friday, July 31, 2009

Nolo Launches Free Plain-English Law Dictionary Application

Nolo, the nation's leading publisher of plain-English DIY legal and business tools, has launched Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App for the iPhone and iPod touch. The free app is now available on the Apple App Store, allowing anywhere, anytime access to nearly 4,000 legal terms and definitions, the same terms and definitions available as a book that retails for $29.99.

"Quick, easy-to-use access to the latest legal terms and definitions just got a whole lot easier for students, business owners, media, paralegals and others" said Ralph Warner, CEO of Nolo. Compiled and edited by a team of lawyers, Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App includes essential legal definitions - Latin terms, courtroom jargon, contract basics - plus newly minted terms that reflect the ever changing language of the law.

"This app is part of the evolution of how Nolo is providing the latest legal content to our customers," said Warner. "Nearly 40 years ago, people came to Nolo for DIY legal books, information they couldn't get anywhere else. Now they read our blogs, listen to our podcasts, download our online legal forms and search our online national lawyer directory when they need an attorney. Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App is a continuation of the way we provide content in the formats that are both needed and instantly useful," Warner said.

Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary App is available for free from Apple's App Store on iPhone and iPod touch or at

Monday, July 27, 2009

Court Halts Operators’ Deceptive Pitches for Grant Writing Book and Services

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission and three state Attorneys General, a U.S. district court judge has stopped an operation from falsely claiming that it could help consumers secure a "$25,000 Grant" -- guaranteed -- from the U.S. government. The case is the latest in a Commission crackdown on scammers trying to capitalize on the economic downturn by targeting people facing financial hardship. The FTC is working with federal and state law enforcement agencies nationwide to bring such actions.

In a complaint filed this week, the FTC, jointly with the Attorneys General of Kansas, Minnesota, and North Carolina, charged that Grant Writers Institute, LLC and its related entities ( together, GWI ) falsely told consumers that they were eligible for grants as part of the recently announced economic stimulus package. The complaint alleged that the defendants' false and deceptive claims violate federal law, state consumer protection laws, and the FTC's Telemarketing Sales Rule. The complaint seeks a court order permanently stopping the defendants' illegal conduct and forcing them to return money to consumers injured by the scheme.

"Stamping out grant fraud and other types of schemes that take advantage of consumers in dire financial shape continues to be one of the Federal Trade Commission's highest priorities," said David Vladeck, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection. "There is no such thing as a guaranteed grant. But to consumers in financial trouble, the chance for extra income – guaranteed or otherwise – can unfortunately be a huge draw."

According to the FTC, since at least 2007, GWI has mass mailed postcards to consumers across the country falsely claiming that the consumers "are Guaranteed a $25,000 Grant from the U.S. Government." Consumers who call the number are pitched a $59 book titled "Professional Grant Writer ‘The Definitive Guide to Grant Writing Success.'" The company's telemarketers falsely claim that the book will explain how to get government grants -- including the "guaranteed" $25,000 grant. GWI and its North Carolina-based telemarketers, also named as defendants in the complaint, then call consumers who have bought the book, trying to get them to pay hundreds of dollars or more for grant research, writing, or coaching services, falsely claiming a 70 percent success rate in securing grant funding. In reality, few, if any consumers ever receive any grant money.

The Commission contends that in addition to falsely claiming consumers were "guaranteed" to receive grants, GWI used the current government stimulus package to make its pitch. For example, when consumers called the number on the mass-mailed postcard, they heard a recording that said, "If you've been reading the papers you know that recently our government released $700 billion into the private sector. What you probably don't know is that there is another $300 billion that must be given away this year to people just like you." The recording continues, "And if you're one of the lucky few who knows how to find and apply for these grants, you will receive a check for $25,000 or more, and we guarantee it . . . If you don't get a check for $25,000 or more, you pay nothing."

The Commission vote to issue the complaint – jointly with the Attorneys General of Kansas, Minnesota, and North Carolina regarding the alleged telemarketing violations – was 4-0. The complaint contains additional charges and remedies to address state-specific violations.
It was filed on July 20, 2009, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, and the court granted the Commission's request for a temporary restraining order on July 22, 2009. The FTC thanks the state Attorneys General for their substantial contribution to investigating and filing this complaint.

The complaint announced today was filed against the following defendants: 1 ) Affiliate Strategies, Inc.; 2 ) Landmark Publishing Group, LLC ( d/b/a G.F. Institute and Grant Funding Institute ); 3 ) Grant Writers Institute, LLC; 4 ) Answer Customers, LLC; 5 ) Apex Holdings International, LLC; 6 ) Brett Blackman, individually and as an officer, manager, and/or member of Affiliate Strategies, Inc., Landmark Publishing Group, LLC, Grant Writers Institute, LLC, Answer Customers, LLC, and Apex Holdings International, LLC; 7 ) Jordan Sevy, individually and as a manager of Landmark Publishing Group, LLC; 8 ) James Rulison, individually and as president of Answer Customers, LLC, all located in Kansas.

In addition, the complaint names the following North Carolina entities as defendants: 1 ) Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC ( d/b/a Grant Writers Research Network ); 2 ) Martin Nossov, individually and as a manager and member of Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC; and 3 ) Alicia Nossov, individually and as a manager and member of Real Estate Buyers Financial Network LLC.

The Commission recently announced several other grant fraud cases as part of the "Operation Short Change" law enforcement sweep targeting economic stimulus frauds. More information about these cases can be found at:

Monday, July 20, 2009

Understanding Copyright - The 3 Must Know Tips by Justine Shoolman

The more I speak with people, the more I realize copyright is a topic that is still commonly misunderstood.

This article is intended to clarify some of the major questions about copyright so people can feel comfortable promoting their work to outside parties.

Tip 1: What is Copyright?

It only seems logical to begin this article by describing what copyright really is. In essence, copyright protects original works from being used without permission from the author or owner of the work. The reason for the protection is to encourage creators to continue with their artistic innovations, which positively impacts the economy.

Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or owner of the work for a specific period of time. The rights granted by copyright include:

* producing or reproducing the work or any substantial part thereof
* permitting the reproduction of the work or any substantial part thereof
* performing the work or any substantial part thereof
* publishing the work or any substantial part thereof
* translating the work into other languages, or creating an adaption, such as a novel into a screenplay

The significance of these rights is that the owner of the copyright can control who uses their work. As a result, the creative integrity of the work can be maintained as the owner has control over its use.

Tip 2: How do I Attain Copyright Protection?

The beauty about copyright is that it is automatic the moment you put your original work into a fixed (tangible) form. When we refer to a tangible form it means the work has to be on something physical. In other words, if you simply recite your poem to someone, you do not own the copyright. However, if you write the poem on a napkin, or record yourself reciting the poem, you will own the copyright, and the rights that go along with it.

Although copyright is automatic the moment you put your work in a fixed form, it could still be very difficult to prove you are the original creator of the work. As such, it can be a good idea to create legal proof of your ownership through a copyright registry. Many countries run their own registries. There are also registries through various artistic guilds, or even online registries.

Tip 3: What Works are Protected by Copyright?

Different countries may classify their works slightly differently. As a general guide, copyright extends to original creative works. Below are some examples and the classifications of works that can be protected by copyright:

o Literary Works (lyrics, novels, computer software source code, plays, etc.)
o Artistic Works/Visual Works (architectural work, sculptures, drawings, paintings, maps, photographs, etc.)
o Musical Works (musical composition with or without words)
o Dramatic Works (films, videos, choreography)
o Sound Recordings (recordings of music, dramas, lectures, etc. It does not include soundtracks to audio visual works).
o Serials & Periodicals (newspapers, magazines, bulletins, newsletters, journals, periodicals, etc.)

Now that you know what is protected by copyright, let's take a quick look at what is not protected by copyright.

Copyright protects the expression of a work. The idea of the work itself cannot be protected under copyright law. In other words, one thousand people can write about the concept of copyright, and each of them would hold the copyright to their specific expression about the topic. In addition to ideas, other works not protected by copyright include: concepts, names, titles, slogans, factual information, themes, catch-phrases, methods, governmental documents, etc.

The above information is meant as a general guide to further your copyright knowledge and does not constitute legal advice. For questions about your specific work, you should consult a copyright lawyer in your country.

Justine Shoolman is a Founder of Copyright Creators (CC), a service inspired by the shortfalls of poor man's copyright. CC protects copyright for life with no membership fees. Visit CC today to receive 4 free registrations.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Copyright Information - Make Money With Expired Copyrights by Bob Silber

There are a lot of ways to make money on the World Wide Web that a lot of internet users from different parts of the globe are currently engaged in different fields of eCommerce. They can be lucrative, well-known businesses or small yet manageable means of making money online. Any of these can be an option that the person can opt for to be able to earn on the sides aside from the normal 9 to 5 jobs that he or she are employed to every single day. For this article, the idea of making money through expired copyrights will be discussed as this is a possible though normally misunderstood sideline that people adopt when on the web.

If you have just been given an opportunity to make money through this kind of means and are curious as to how the job works, then this article is for you. Basically books and other kinds of works published online are marked with copyrights, which are intellectual rights that owners like authors, directors, photographers and artists exercise to claim ownership of their works that are made open to the public domain. There is a need to place such copyrights onto these works because many internet users have the knowledge and the skill to redistribute these works to different parts of the net, using their own websites for instance, and claiming them as their own. This is obviously a violation of rights for the owners of these works and, at times, a liability on the part of the ISP's or internet service providers. Not only are they involved in such cases (though without actual participation), the reputation of the company can be tainted because of lack of protection for their subscribers.

So if you want to make money online using other people's works, the best options are either to ask for permission from the creators themselves or use expired copyrights and domains to be able to make money without violating any copyright laws or misinterpreting copyright information. Here are some tips on how to gain copyright information and how to make money with expired copyrights:

* You have to remember that reselling expired copyrights go hand-in-hand with risks of copyright infringement. So before selling digital goods such as e-books, music, and the like for the public domain, you have to make sure that the copyrights of the book has already expired and has not been renewed by the author or owner of such works.

* Copyrights or patents of works normally have durations of 20 to 50 years in most countries, so you have to remember that any work in which their copyrights were bought 20 to 50 years before the current year are considered expired and open to the public domain if not renewed by the author. Once you are able to confirm that the patent has expired, then you can use these to make money.

* An example of the trend of the business: a book's copyrights have expired and are now open to the public's use. A person who wishes to make money out of this can do so by reusing the ideas of the book, adding more updated information to add flavor and credibility, and then selling it to his or her target market.

Want to learn how to make serious cash from expired copyrights? Go to to learn how today!

Monday, July 6, 2009

How to Copyright - Common Law and Statutory Law Compared by Brian A. Hall

It is widely misunderstood that one must file a copyright with the Copyright Office in order to secure a copyright. While acquiring a registration does indeed have its advantages, a registration within the Copyright Office is not required to secure rights. Instead, under common law, a copyright is automatically created when it is fixed in a tangible form for the first time. As long as it is an original work of authorship, you may claim ownership and protection and even place a copyright notice, including the "small c with a circle" symbol, on the particular work. Although a notice is not required any longer, should one desire to use it, it is important to follow the convention of using the © symbol followed by the year of the first publication of the work followed by the owner of the copyright and the work.

While creating and maintaining common law copyright protection is beneficial, the Copyright Act, a federal statute, provides additional benefits and protection rights to an owner. The most commonly recognized rights are the ability to sue within federal court, the ability to recover statutory damages up to $150,000.00 for willful infringement, and the ability to recover attorneys' fees. However, in order to receive these benefits, the copyright must be registered with the Copyright Office at the Library of Congress. While the time of filing for registration may affect which statutory damages are available, one must receive registration or be refused registration in order to proceed with an infringement lawsuit in federal court. Therefore, for a relatively small price, it is advisable to seek registration for all original works of authorship at the time of, or prior to, publication of the work. In addition, creating a public record of the work claimed, establishing a prima facia evidence of the validity, and other benefits make registration well worth the cost. With the ability to use online filing, there is no excuse for failure to register a copyright for whatever kind of work, including literary works, musical works, dramatic works, pantomimes and choreographic works, pictorial graphic and sculptural works, motion pictures and other audio-visual works, sound recorders, and architectural works.

Ultimately, people must remember that as soon as an original work of authorship is fixed in a tangible form and published, a copyright exists. However, under statutory law, and practically speaking, having a copyright registration with the Copyright Office will provide the additional benefits and advantages should the need to enforce it arise.

Brian A. Hall is an attorney and partner of Traverse Legal, PLC, a law firm specializing in complex litigation, intellectual property matters, internet law, and copyright registration and copyright infringement matters. Speak with a copyright attorney today and learn more about the importance of understanding the intricacies of copyright registration and other copyright issues.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Copyright a Logo by Shannon Moore

When deciding to protect your logo or design it can be a bit confusing trying to decide how to protect it. After all, your logo is basically the face of your product line or your services so it makes sense that you'd want to do the right thing when it comes to ensuring that you have exclusive rights to it.

The question is should you copyright your logo or trademark your logo? The answer, surprisingly, may be both.

The US Copyright Office states "copyright protection may be available for logo artwork that contains sufficient authorship." What does this mean exactly?

Each logo or design is going to vary from the next in regard to being eligible for copyright protection, of course, but the key to understanding is learning what is meant by "sufficient authorship." Logos or designs that fall into any one of the two categories are not eligible for copyright protection:

* "familiar symbols or designs," e.g. the peace sign, a single arrow, a Latin cross, etc.
* "mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering or coloring," e.g. text in Times New Roman font, Text Using Only Sentence Case, text in purple

An even easier way to think about is to ask yourself one question about your logo - was there any creativity involved at all in designing the logo? If you're using a symbol you found in Microsoft Word or in a clip art program, then no. If you're using a logo you or someone else designed for you that contain a degree of creativity and/or uniqueness of some form or fashion, then yes.

Even if your logo does qualify for copyright protection, do not assume it's the same as trademark protection. Copyrights and trademarks are fraternal twins - obviously related but look nothing alike. Copyrights protect the image itself whereas the trademark protects the image as it is used within the marketplace.

To protect your logo IN CONNECTION with your product line and/or services, a trademark is the way to go. The purpose of having a trademark, be it for a name, logo or slogan, is to obtain exclusive rights to the mark within your particular industry. This ensures that there will not be customer confusion when it comes to your goods/services and another within your industry.

Filing a trademark for a logo is similar to filing a trademark for a name. Comprehensive research is likely needed to ensure that the same or similar design is not already filed. I know what you're thinking - I know my logo is unique OR I paid for my logo to be designed so I know no one else has it - we hear that a lot. The one thing to always remember about trademarks is that the mark need not be exact to another. If there's a chance for customer confusion, it can be a problem.

Shannon Moore is the General Manager for TradeMark Express. Since 1992, TradeMark Express has met the needs of their clients with comprehensive research, application preparation, attorney referrals and trademark consultation. For further details, please visit us on the web at TradeMark Express or call Shannon directly at 800.340.2010.