Copyright registration with the United States Copyright Office is a precondition to filing a copyright infringement lawsuit, however until earlier this month, there was a split as to when registration actually occurs. In Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street.com, LLC, the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that registration occurs when the Copyright Office registers a copyright. The alternative view was that registration occurs when a copyright owners submits a proper application to the Copyright Office. Therefore, you must have a copyright registration certificate from the Copyright Office before filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Continue Reading When Can You Sue for Copyright Infringement?

This is part two of a three-part series about courtroom procedure and etiquette. Part one of this series was How Do I Get There?

In my previous post, I walked through what a litigant or witness can expect from the time they enter the courthouse to when they enter the courtroom. In this second installment of the series, I will discuss who you can expect to see in a courtroom and what their role is.

When you are in a courtroom, the star of the show is the judge. The judge sits at the “bench,” which is typically located on an elevated platform in the front, center of the courtroom. The judge presides over the hearing, rules on objections, instructs jurors and is responsible for how things are done in the courtroom. Each judge has different requirements and expectations for parties, their attorneys, witnesses and observers. For example, some judges require attorneys to stand up any time they speak, while other judges permit attorneys to remain seated. Some judges allow jurors to take notes, while others do not. Your attorney can clue you in to what the particular judge you are appearing before prefers. Continue Reading What to Expect When You’re Expected in Court Part II: Who Are These People?

One of my primary fitness activities this past winter has been riding our Peloton bike. Workouts on the bike are always interesting because Peloton has numerous great instructors, varied ride types for all skill levels, and great music. You may have seen in the news earlier this week that Peloton is being sued for using music without permission in its video fitness classes. The lawsuit was filed by a group of several music publishing groups, claiming that Peloton does not have licenses in place for more than 1,000 songs owned or administered by the groups over a period of years.

As an attorney that works with both businesses that use others’ intellectual property and creators of intellectual property, music licensing and other types of intellectual property licensing is a commonly misunderstood issue. Songs are protected by copyright law, which grants exclusive rights to the owner of the song. If you don’t own the copyright, you need a license from the copyright holder in order to legally play their songs. Small businesses that play music for their customers are no exception to this rule; in fact, they are often the target of litigation when they ignore these obligations. Continue Reading Peloton’s Cautionary Tale: Music Licensing and Your Business

Every business has those key employees who you really do not want to lose. A common risk for this is when your customers see how well an employee performs and decides it would be even better to bring them in-house (cutting out you and your profit margin). Many businesses protect themselves against this risk with a “no-hire” clause in customer contracts where they agree not to poach employees from you. But that may no longer be possible here in Pennsylvania. Continue Reading Keeping Your Employees from Being Poached Just Got Harder in Pennsylvania

This is part one of a three-part series about courtroom procedure and etiquette.

For many, the idea of “going to court” can be intimidating and nerve wracking. An appearance in court often involves difficult and important life circumstances. As lawyers, we often take for granted how infrequently most people appear in court since it is something many of us do on a regular basis.

Whether you are in court due to a custody or divorce matter affecting your family, a civil matter affecting your business or financial well-being, or a criminal matter affecting your personal liberties or rights as a victim, knowing what to expect and how to present yourself can reduce some of the stress and allow you to focus on presenting the best case.

To help reduce some of the stress associated with appearing in court, I have put together a three part series walking you through the process from before you arrive in the courthouse to when you walk out at the end of your hearing.

In this first part of the series, I will discuss the process from entering the courthouse to arriving at and entering the designated courtroom. Future posts will include information on who you can expect to be present in the courtroom and how to present yourself in appearance and speech. Continue Reading What to Expect When You’re Expected in Court Part I: How Do I Get There?

I recently presented a national webinar explaining interest rate swaps, caps and floors.  I had the pleasure of presenting with Chrys A. Carey, counsel with Morrison and Foerster in Washington D.C. I have written before on the growing interest in these hedge agreements.  Chrys and I and a number of the “attendees” of the webinar agreed that hedge agreements such as interest rate swaps and forward swaps are becoming more a part of commercial real estate transactions.

Chrys and I brought different perspectives to our presentation.  While I am involved with the borrower or lender, Chrys has much more knowledge with the regulatory side of hedge providers  and traders under the Commodity Exchange Act and the Dodd-Frank Act Regulations.  Despite these different perspectives, our  overlap in experience brought up some interesting discussions.  Some of those are:

  • What happens after LIBOR? Most hedge agreements use LIBOR as the standard for interest rates.  Luckily, most of the variable interest rate loans that are involved in these transactions also use LIBOR as the standard interest rate.  As you may know, LIBOR is set to be discontinued sometime in the next few years.  Chrys believes the hedge providers and exchanges will settle on one single benchmark interest rate (such as the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate).

Continue Reading Interest Rate Hedges in Real Estate Finance

  • 5329. Consideration of criminal conviction. 

(a)  Offenses.–Where a party seeks any form of custody, the court shall consider whether that party or member of that party’s household has been convicted of or has pleaded guilty or no contest to any of the offenses in this section or an offense in another jurisdiction substantially equivalent to any of the offenses in this section. The court shall consider such conduct and determine that the party does not pose a threat of harm to the child before making any order of custody to that party when considering the following offenses:

23 Pa. C.S.A. § 5329 and § 5330 address a number of criminal offenses that may give rise to additional custody proceedings under certain circumstances in addition to participation in a custody conference.  Those enumerated offenses, in addition to an involvement with a County Children and Youth Agency or the Protection From Abuse (PFA) system, are required to be addressed under PA law prior to a Court entering a Custody Order.  Many County Courts have struggled with the best way to address this requirement when considering the timeliness of custody decisions, the cost of prolonged litigation, the additional strain on the calendars and resources of the Court system and, most importantly, the effect on children and families. Continue Reading Risk of Harm Procedures in Lancaster County

This is the final installment in a three-part series about data breaches and the requirements of Pennsylvania law relating to data breach notification. The previous posts in this series are: Doing Business in 2019? You Should Be Thinking About Data Security; and When Does a Data Breach Require Disclosure Under Pennsylvania’s Data Breach Notification Act?.

After determining that a data breach has occurred which triggers notification under the Pennsylvania Breach of Personal Information Notification Act, the next steps are to comply with the applicable notification requirements.

Notification Requirements

If a breach requiring notification has occurred, notice in a clear and conspicuous manner may be made by any of the following methods:

  1. Written notice to the individual’s last known home address;
  2. Telephone notice if the individual can reasonably be expected to receive it; or
  3. Email notice, if a prior business relationship exists.

Notice must be given “without unreasonable delay”, subject to a delay requested by law enforcement. Built into the reasonableness requirement for timing is an entity’s ability to take measures necessary to determine the scope of the breach and to restore the reasonable integrity of the data system.

Potential Penalties

Failure to comply with the Breach of Personal Information Notification Act is a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, which allows the Pennsylvania Attorney General to seek an injunction, restitution, and civil penalties of up to $3,000 for each willful violation.

Additional Things to Prepare For

In addition to these legal requirements, make sure you also take practical steps to prepare for any customer questions or backlash. Make sure your employees know about the breach and what to say if a customer asks them. Consider getting out in front by issuing statements that not only satisfy the letter of the law, but also emphasize what you’ve done to protect them. In many cases you can prevent an unfortunate situation from becoming worse by thinking through the public relations aspects of a breach at the same time you handle the legal requirements.

Think your business has suffered from a data breach? You should immediately consult with your IT professionals to get as much information about the breach as you can and to prevent further information from being compromised. Then contact your legal counsel to determine your notification obligations under Pennsylvania law and other applicable laws.

Matt Landis is an attorney at Russell, Krafft & Gruber, LLP, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He received his law degree from Widener University Commonwealth School of Law and works regularly with business owners and entrepreneurs. Matt is one of the founding members of the RKG Tech Law Group.

This is part two of a three-part series about data breaches and the requirements of Pennsylvania law relating to data breach notification. Part one of this series was Doing Business in 2019? You Should Be Thinking About Data Security.

 The first post in this series made the case for why you should take data security seriously. Otherwise, you’ll need to worry about the daunting task of complying with a multitude of data breach notification laws and the public relations nightmare of being the next company that revealed its customers’ personal information.

But as the saying goes: the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Continue Reading When Does a Data Breach Require Disclosure Under Pennsylvania’s Data Breach Notification Act?

“I’ve got to do a Will so that the government doesn’t get everything!”  I cannot tell you the number of times I have heard some version of this sentiment.  While I am certainly a proponent of having and regularly updating a Will, preventing the government from getting everything is not actually one of the reasons you need a Will.  Those of you who have read my Myths of Estate Planning series might remember some examples I have given about how probate assets are distributed when a person fails to have a Will. In this series of posts, we will help you understand what could happen if your estate is distributed according to Pennsylvania intestate rules. Continue Reading Intestate Laws – What Do You Need to Know?