Much of the scholarship about cloud computing, data security, and privacy that we think about here in the US is centered on technology in common use in the western world. It's always
a good idea to encrypt data and take precautions to secure any internet connection when you are using public wifi, for example. Common sense precautions such as backing up data, password-protecting files and hardware, and end-to-end email encryption for confidential files are de rigeur
If you are planning to do business abroad, please consider consulting an attorney with a specialization in import/export laws. There are a suprising amount of national security issues and regulations related to bringing American technology to other countries (yes, that means if you are emailing specifications to potential manufacturers overseas, this could apply to you!).
If you ultimately travel abroad, there are important security considerations for the technology you bring with you. Because of the very different appreciation of intellectual property in China particularly, there are significant differences in the security concerns when you travel there. Riva Redmond at entrepreneur.com outlines 5 Steps for Keeping Digital Date Safe While Traveling to China
. You might be surprised at the close supervision paid to your laptop while you aren't occupying your hotel room.
Nina Kaufman blogs for Entrepreneur.com. Here, she
discusses reason to "break up" a partnership. The most important factor in an "amicable" separation is a clear delineation of rights and responsibilities BEFORE things go bad. Discussing and putting in writing your understanding of how to divide assets and liabilities can save you a lot of heartache and money down the road.
One of the very first steps of a new business venture is the name. The name is your brand, your product, your tag, your handle, your first impression on the customer. From a legal perspective, your business name is also the legal name on all your filing documents. Ultimately, you will have state filings, bank accounts, IRS and state tax numbers, insurance policies, leases, vendor contracts, and perhaps even trademarks and patents attached to this business name. Choosing the name is totally separate from determining the form and structure of your new venture.This article
by Yanik Silver, printed in Entrepreneur Magazine, offers 7 tips to think about before committing to a new business name.
Jeff Fabian has a detailed website called "Franchise Help" designed to guide entrepreneurs through the self-assessment process. His excellent "10 Tips for Trademark Selection
" is a great place to start.
We have previously detailed the alleged infringement of fashion student Nicola Kirkbride
by retail giant Tesco on several
occasions to follow up
A UK-based law firm's blog has a new update
: Ms. Kirkbride is pursuing legal action against Tesco. This is significant because it means Tesco didn't immediately settle upon discovery of this "mistake." Tesco is denying wrongdoing, saying they have "no idea how the mistake happened
" and they are "looking into it."
It's not clear from this blog post whether Kiteley's Solicitors is representing Ms. Kirkbride, but as HLR finds out more information, it will be posted on this blog. This is a seminal moment for internet copyright, and if Ms. Kirkbride loses, it could mean a sea change in UK copyright protection. In the internet age, copyright protection is only as good at the weakest countries' protections. We will closely monitor developments in this case.
Inthe 2007 lawsuit Viacom et. al. v. YouTube
, content-owners accused video-clearinghouse YouTube (later purchased by Google) of copyright infringement. YouTube permitted users to post copyrighted material such as movies and television show clips without any attribution or permission from the copyright owners like Viacom. In 2010, the District Court in the 2nd Circuit ruled that YouTube (and therfore parent company Google) were protected by a "safe harbor" that shields mere web hosts from being held liable for the wrongs of thier clients. YouTube escaped almost all liability. The rule coming out of the case was that rights-owners needed to police infringement aggressively and specifically. It was not enough to request that a web host remove "all episodes of my TV show," owners had to literally present a list of each instance of infringement, putting a large burden on rights-owners.
Last week, the Appellate court reversed in part
, saying that it was not a matter of course that YouTube falls under the safe harbor because it offers several services that bring it out of the "mere web host" category. The case has been remanded for further fact-finding at the District level.
What this means for your website: don't get too comfortable. When Viacom v. YouTube
was decided, it touched off a firestorm debate about whether a host server has either the technology or the obligation to screen its user-contributed data. While it may seem like all websites that only allow users to contribute content might be home-free under the safe harbor, last week's reversal should give web hosts pause. There are now some clear areas, namely whether the host company "should know better," that might increase rights-owners' ability to coopt the web host in policing of thier marks. This would shift some of the burden onto web hosts, increasing thier costs to remove infringing content and potentially give the hosts liability for infringement
Financing your business growth is a common topic on this blog. We've touched on crowdsourced funding
here before. What follows is an excellent, detailed explanation by attorney James Saksa at Fox Rothschild
of the new terms of the JOBS Act and how it's going to impact funding under $50 million.
Some advantages of the JOBS Act include permitting up to 2,000 non-employee shareholders without requring "going public" and all its expensive accounting and reporting, the opportunity to add up to $1M in "crowdsourced" funding without triggering SEC regulation of the company, and some protections on how much an investor is allowed to lose if the gamble doesn't work out.
The ability to solicit capital for ideas that are solid, workable ideas but don't have the sturm und drang
to rocket to instant success and a 50x return on inventment (what VC would like to see) has the potential to strengthen smaller businesses. Attorney Saksa estimated that most crowdfunding offerings would be for $100,000 or less, despite the $1M cap. This is a huge opportunity for small business owners who need a boost to get a prototype or a marketing channel going.
Attorney Saksa reccomends that investors looking for crowdfunding opportunities consider themselves angel investors, not stock purchasers. The risk of loss is high and liquidity is low, so regardless of what the new guidelines say you are "allowed" to lose, don't invest money you can't live without!
To combat fraud, brokers and portals selling crowdsourcing opportunities will need to be registered with the SEC and submit to regulations because they are selling securities.
The recent antitrust lawsuit against Apple's iTunes and several book publishers
for setting e-book prices in an anticompetitive way has drawn much attention to the digital publishing industry. Antitrust is a tricky issue that doesn't typically affect small businesses until they become market dominators, so we will detail this case later.
This article outlines some of the opportunities for authors who want to forgo traditional publishers and e-publish on their own
. In the 21st Century, we post our own blogs, record and share our own videos and photos, and generally have opinions on everything. It's a natural extension of the internet for authors to think that e-publishing is a cheaper, faster, better way to reach readers and make money.
There are, however, downsides. People still buy books, so publishers are still dominant. Bypassing traditional channels also avoids any marketing assistance or digital rights management
("DRM"). DRM "locks" each copy of your content so that it can't be shared without paying a new license fee. The decision to protect your content from new readers is not one to be made lightly, and depending on the stage in your career and the capital investment you are able to make before you "hit it big," self-publishing may be the best short-term solution.
Consider carefully with whom you share any material to which you wish to later sell rights. Most reputable publishers have standard non-disclosure agreements and waivers, but if you are looking for a bargain, don't forget to ask from where the costs are being cut!
Do you need a Public Reputation manager? As "paper" media fades away and the world moves to a 24-hour news cycle, many individuals and companies find themselves victim to "drive by" attacks on their professional integrity. It costs nothing for a disgruntled customer or employee to post bad news about you on a blog, a professional ratings site, or even their own domain name. (Yes, some people have shelled out the dough for things like www.IHateRyanAir.org
If you are a victim of this kind of treatment, what do you do? First, if the allegations are false, you could consider suing for defamation. It's tough to track down anonymous internet posters and tough to prove damages (how do you measure the phone calls you are not getting, for example?). There have been successful lawsuits, often at a high cost, when the poster has defamed you with knowledge that what they are saying is untrue. Opinions, on the other hand, cannot be prosecuted. It's rarely a crime in the US to have or state an opinion, no matter how abhorrent. You could strike back, fighting fire with fire. Most professional reputation managers (formerly called "PR People") would discourage this. Demanding a retraction can often have the same effect: you only reiterate the bad news in order to retracted half-heartedly. See here.
What many companies consider as a proactive part of a healthy marketing campaign can also be a crisis-management tool: Search Engine Optimization. Firms like www.reputation.com will, for a price, manage the results of searches for and about you and your company so that the bad news appears less damning. It doesn't come cheap, and on the marketing side it may be useful to have an in-house person (a staff member, a college intern, or family member) promoting your firm with regular blog postings, news updates, and fresh content. But when something goes horribly wrong, it might be time to call a professional. They cannot remove the negative content, but they can frame the results in a way that helps the perception of your firm match the reality.
As HLR continues to monitor the copyright infringement situation with Nicola Kirkbride and Tesco
in the UK, it occurs to us that not everyone wants to prevent others from using their products. Enter the Creative Commons License
, as explained by Dave Johnson in Computerworld
. If you make it known that your works are available for sharing through a CCL, it gives others confidence that they can use your unaltered images without fear of a copyright infringement suit. The other interesting thing the CCL does is cause any derivative works (alterations to your original) created by someone who accessed your work through the CCL to be committed to the public according to the same terms of the license. This prevents someone downstream from profiting exclusively from something you let them use for free, and prevents them from suing you for infringement (crazy as it might sound, it does happen. Read those contracts!)
This kind of license helps disseminate your work product without the downside of someone later claiming it's theirs. Some artists find it beneficial to share some works without remuneration to generate interest and goodwill.