Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Can I Register a Copyright If I'm Still Editing? And More Free Legal ...

On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the?LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last?Free Joe? Don?t worry. We?ve got it all right here.

Kenny: Quick question, I am about to buy a copy write for my work, but I am editing. Now, since my editing will involve correcting typos and some unneeded lines, should I finish my edits first?

Joe Escalante: I would copyright the first serious draft you have. Then leave it alone until it?s published. Unless you make huge changes, that copyright will protect the creative expression of your ideas just fine and you wont need another one.

Denise: i have a question my husband and i live in rock hill sc and he is going to be receiving a a workman compensation settelement i was wondering if i am entitled to any of the monies

Joe Escalante: Some of it, at least, would be considered community property to the extent that it was to replace earnings lost during the marriage due to the injury. The amounts determined to be for future losses of income (say, after the marriage is over) could be argued to be separate property.

Carol: If you are an authorized signed for a credit card, and the primary owner of the card has passed away, and the account will be closed, are you then responsible for the debt?

Joe Escalante: Probably yes. I can?t see them not coming after you.

Jessica: I have legal questions about a neighbor tying into out fence, which means they are on our property. The past month, we?ve had the cops called out because we supposedly have parked on ?his? property (in our front, not back where fence is) and he no longer wants us to cut his grass, which is roughly 2?. Keep in mind, our properties in the front have no fence or border, just grass all the way across
and when the renters (he owns the house but doesn?t live in it), didn?t cut that, we did and no problem at all until now. What can I do to get him to to take the fence off our property? Neither lots have been surveyed and I really can?t afford to pay for one but he is acting like an idiot, even if front of the cop HE called, cussing and screaming etc. He has also sprayed a very crooked line in the grass up to our fence to indicate where ?his? property is. I have those documented with pictures also. Any help to get him off out back without having the land surveyed, would be greatly appreciated.

Joe Escalante: Unless the land is surveyed, the courts wont know where to draw the line for trespassing. You need a survey, or a sit down over coffee to hash out an understanding. These neighbor disputes are deadly. Be calm and work it out.

Tanya: After our upstairs neighbor?s washing machine flooded our unit, our renters insurance covered most of the damage, but we are still left with an unpaid balance that is significant. The upstairs neighbor?s (who is a condo owner) home owner insurance denied our claim stating there was no negligence. Because our unit owner did not have home owners insurance, they were not able to act quickly to fix th
e unit, even though they claim they would have, after the fact. We also incurred move out costs for moving our personal property into storage. We didn?t move back in, but had to clear out our stuff for getting the unit fixed anyway. We also had to sign a waver to not go sue our unit owner, in order to get out of the lease early. There was no explanation why the washer overflowed. Is it worth our time to sue the upstairs neighbor for the remaining balance in small claims court? We have read many times, that if we can?t prove negligence, we are out of luck. Thanks.

Joe Escalante: In small claims court you can be victorious if you can show that another person?s actions caused you harm, even if there was no negligence. He?s responsible for his pipes. That shouldn?t be that hard to get across to the judge. There aren?t a lot of rules in Small Claims. You?re likely to get something for your troubles if you make a decent case with evidence, pictures, and a good court demeanor (politeness).

Ruth: I?m owed just over $600 from an art gallery that has owed me for at least 2 years. Every time I call, he doesn?t answer, or replies email saying he will send money. 2 years ago he gave me 2 checks for about $300 and both bounced. I was charged $12 each check from my bank which I then added to what he owed me. He seems to make up excuses for everyone both sellers and artists. I gave him the option to pay me by credit card or even give me money $50 every couple months and it would have been paid off by now. I don?t trust checks from him anymore. Is there an easy not so expensive way for me to get the money from him?

Joe Escalante: Small claims court would be an easy way to get a judgment against him, but you will still be faced with the task of collecting on it. Good luck.

Chris: Hello Joe,

This is Chris from HeadMetal Comics again?a few weeks back I ask you about copyright protection for my original comic series. Your response eased my concern, but now I?m wondering about something you said. You mentioned that it could be wise to purchase additional protection for new stories as new characters enter the story.
My question starts here: The original comic I purchased t
he copyright for has been redone by a new artist and the story has been lengthened to go far beyond just the origin story of my character. So if I send in this new lengthened story to be approved for copyright, will there be any red-flags raised when the people who issue the copyright see that there is a similar version of my story that is already protected by the USPTO? The copyright will still be registered under my name, however, the title we are going to use for the updated series is slightly different: the original title was simply BLUESEPH J. HEADMETAL. The new title is THE BLUESEPH J. HEADMETAL SAGA.

Sorry If I confused you. I confused me, kinda?=-)

Thanks Joe, and LegalZoom.

Joe Escalante: Since you are the owner of the underlying copyright, you will be allowed to control and register any derivative versions of it.

Janice: My husband and I moved out of a home we were renting here in San Antonio Texas?.we gave a 30 day notice but it was in person. We cleaned the house from top to bottom, never heard anything until 4 months later when we received an e-mail from the landlord stating we owed her over $3,000 for damages and because we never paid a deposit??that was not true, there were 2 broken mini blinds and one of them i told her about when we moved in and i also just found the receipt she gave us for the deposit?.does anyone in this area know of an attorney or someone i can call for help? PLEASE

Joe Escalante: This is a case for small claims court, where you appear without an attorney. You can consult one for advice, but they can?t appear for you. All this stuff has to be in writing. Whoever has the best evidence at the court will prevail. It sounds like you have at least something more than your opponent with your deposit receipt. Good luck.

Lynda: Good Morning Joe,
This question is regarding education law?
If a school adopts a program that rewards all its students, whom scores an advanced or better on their CST exams, can a teacher in that school adopt her own grading scale, for her class only, in tandem with this program to penalize any student who does not score an 83% or better with a 10% penalty?

Joe Escalante: As long as the penalty doesn?t involve any physical striking of the child, I can?t see a law being broken here. However, it may very well be against some school, or district policy. I wouldn?t know. Good luck.

Michael: Hey Joe! I have a friend who is considering bankruptcy, I told him that credit counseling might be better but he is basically way in over his head with credit card debt. What should he do in this situation? We are located here in NY.

Joe Escalante: This is credit counseling, rather than legal stuff, so I really couldn?t say.

Mark: I am in the middle of a kitcehn remodel?..the salesman for the co, said he could do some of the extra work i wanted done on the side. He ripped me off for $17,500 and had someone else do the work?..He was still a partner in this business when he did this to me and after the company he worked for found out, they fired him and 2 years later I am still waiting on getting the $$ from him??If I was going to take them to court?..could the company be held liabel?.? vicarious liability? ????

Joe Escalante: There?s a slim chance they could be liable if you could demonstrate that they should have known that this guy was acting in this capacity. But if this was a way to circumvent the company, you took a risk and you probably cannot get bailed out by them.

Robin: Will vs Trust. What is the difference and which is best?

Joe Escalante: A will just tells the court who gets your stuff after a lengthy probate process. A trust is an instrument you can use to avoid probate if you establish a trust and have the trust own your property. Then, when you die, your trust lives on. Instructions in the trust dictate where the property will go next so the courts don?t get involved. If you own property and have kids, it is pretty good to have a trust, in simple terms.
A trust should also include a will that allows for things not mentioned in the trust. So you have a trust, and a will is attached. It?s all just paper signed by people, and sometimes notarized, and then pulled out of a shoe box when you die.

George: The LegalZoom company formation questionnaire asks how much the initial founders of the corporations will be contributing (cash, services, property). Are founders required to contribute by law in proportion to their allotted shares? And how are ?services? and ?property? valued?

Joe Escalante: There are lots of ways to evaluate services and other contributions. My advice is to read up on this, because it?s important (see book below that might help), and your specific tax preparer should be consulted on these matters as they relate to your present situation and how your shares are going to be owned, or should be owned (e.g., as an LLC, or another corp, or as an individual). If it still doesn?t make sense, you may need to consult with an attorney, but after reading up on this stuff you at least wont be at their mercy as much. Good luck.

Thomas: What is the best all around corporation type set up for a freelance artist studio that plans to do everything from owning creator properties to publishing to providing artwork on freelance basis. Considering taxes, properties, equipment buying and all. thanks for your help.

Joe Escalante: Most of the time an LLC is the best way to go I?ve found, but you really need to consult with your tax guy to see what?s right for your exact situation. You can also ask tax questions to Gary the tax guy on Legalzoom?s Facebook page on Thursday. See the link below. This is new!!!!!

LegalZoom: Here?s the link, Thomas:

Sophia: im wonderin in the case of immigration and applying for a spouse whos been voluntarily removed.. is it better to reside abroad for hardship or to remain in the united states while applying for the I130 which is better?

Joe Escalante: These immigration laws are in flux right now so I wold only trust the advice of a practicing immigration attorney that is working in the trenches right now. If you are in Southern California, I recommend two smart girls at The Law Office of Molina & Molina, 2266 Zoe Ave. #201, Huntington Park, CA, 90255. 323-277-3280

Alexander: Question regarding musical copyright. Im a recording artist here in southern California. Im inquiring as to What type of form is required for musical compositions/recordings. Also what the fees if applicable would be ? Thank you much (bill handel referred me to legal zoom)

Joe Escalante: I haven?t memorized all the form numbers, or price list, but lucky for you all this is on the web site when you go through the process. It?s about $35.00. You can save some money by combining works into one CD as long as each song has the same author, or goup of authors. Registering a song as an author is a different form than registering a sound recording. You should check out my radio show. This is all we talk about. It?s actually on the air right now on

Alayna: not sure where to start. does a public institution in a potential slander suit have the burden of proving a statement?s falsity?

Joe Escalante: In a defamation suit, the truth is almost always a valid defense. The defendant will have to prove that the statement was true if it was harmful and caused damages.

Nathan: What would be reasons a judge woulde grant a parent full custody??

Joe Escalante: One reason might be that the other parent is a pile and it would be in the best interest of the child to be under the full time custody of the non-pile parent. Having no place to live is a big one; obvious drug problem; living in a Mumbai slum might be another. If one parent moved far away, then the court would likely not want the kid flying every weekend, that kind of thing. Good luck.

Carol: My ex is on facebook and DOCSE have not been able to locate him and he owes me more than $120,000 in arrears. How should I handle this situation?

Joe Escalante: Try the District Attorney?s office.

Kim: Hi Joe. I have a 2 part question. I have an idea for an event that I want to plan. The event is for profit. Should I make this event a business and LLC right away (I want it to be a yearly event) or is that necessary? I really want to protect the name of the event also. I already own a small business and someone told me to just produce the event under my business. Sort of like?Tomboy Chic is the title sponsor of ABCD Event. Is that the route I should go? That?s the first question. Second, is it necessary to trademark the name of the event? Thanks!

Joe Escalante: Your friend is right, but speak with your tax adviser to be certain it?s right for you guys. Yes, trademark the event name if you think someone will steal it.

Carlton: Would you recommend a series LLC if I were to start businesses with significantly different activities (e.g., baking and bookkeeping) or would you recommend keeping it all under one roof (i.e., one LLC)?

Joe Escalante: This is best answered by your tax person after looking at your situation. Legally, it depends on the type of activities each is involved in. If some are high risk, it might be a good idea to keep them separated.

LegalZoom: You can ask a tax pro for free on Thursday, Carlton:

Shelia: I want to shop for a publisher for the book I have written. How do I know which are legitimate and which are not? I don?t want my material stolen.

Joe Escalante: You should call my radio show for a longer conversation about how this works but if you register your material with the U.S. Copyright office, you will at least have recourse if someone steals your stuff. Call the show. Thanks.

Tabatha: We make Braille shirts as a fundraiser for a 501(c)(3) we helped create If my husband and I pay for the materials to make the shirts, can the donation (price paid for the shirt) be a fully deductible donation for donors? Furthermore, can we deduct expense of materials to make shirts on our personal tax return as a charitable expense?

Joe Escalante: You need to go over this with your tax person. Or try Gary who answers questions here on Thursdays. Gary will set you straight. Thanks.

LegalZoom: Join us on Thursday:

Minister: Want to register a ministry?what do I need to do?

Joe Escalante: Look into registering with the state as a non profit corporation. Check with Gary the tax guy who answers tax questions here each Thursday. If it?s right for you, Legalzoom can help get it started.

Florentin: When Self-Publishing A Book (Music Book Containing Original Music):

1. Is there the need for a publisher name, or can it be published simply under the author?s name?

2. How does one go about ?registering? the book for an ISBN number?

3. What is the procedure for obtaining copyright for the included content?


Joe Escalante: There?s no ?legal? reason for having a publisher name when self publishing. To get an ISBN number, click the link below.
To copyright the book, register it with the U.S. Copyright office. You can use legalzoom to help you with that if you are doing it for the first time.
Good luck!

David: My name is David Walker and I had 2-D.U.I?s in a 5-yr. period. When it was time for me to reinstate my Drivers Licence the DDS advised that the Clinical Evaluation I attended was not on the State of Georgia?s Program Registry! I?m indigent, so the Judge advised that I would have to attend a State agency (Pathway?s-37-weeks), which I did, and also while on probation fro the 2nd D.U.I. I attended
another (37-week Clinical Evaluation) which my probation officer also gave me paperwork showing yet another completion, but when I got to the DDS the first thing I heard was, The State of Georgia (DOES NOT), except anything but DUI Intervention Program Registry Query! So with these facts what advice can you give me if any? Thank You in advance for anything you can Help me with. I?m trying to care for my 85yr. old parents, taking them wherever, buying groceries, going to the drug store,Doctors,Dentist ect?, You surly can see what a mess I?m in, and to date I?ve already paid $3000.00 plus dollars for court cost, probation, and now they want me to pay a $100.00 more for a Clinical Evaluation?!~ Please Help!

Joe Escalante: Each county in each state has different rules. I would have to have intimate knowledge of the rules in your county, sorry. I don?t have any answers. I could give you a b.s. answer but it seems like you?ve been through enough of that. Good luck.

Gerard: I feel my job suspended me without proper cause. 3 attorneys said that since the incident occured in 2009 my time ran out to act. but 1 said i could sue myself that i can present my case to the courts.. be help me with this one Joe..

Joe Escalante: I would go with the majority opinion here and move on. Litigation is to unhealthy to risk when the odds are against you this much.

William: What is the fastest way to get my late Dads estate in my name after my Mother put her husband whitch is not my father on my birth certificate.

Joe Escalante: The probate court will decide who owns what in your dad?s estate. They are so slow they could use only their own blood to type the forms without harming themselves.

LegalZoom: Have a great weekend! We?ll be back next week with free tax advice on Thursday and free legal advice on Friday. Join us!

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