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3 Legal Tips on How to Handle Digital Assets in a Prenuptial Agreement

Living in the 21st century digital world is nearly inescapable at this point. Digital assets abound and can include some unexpected items that may actually possess some unexpected value. Don't believe it? A digital trading card of Hans Solo, that was recently released, goes for $225. Digital assets can include items that have real, transferable monetary values, like online bitcoin accounts, or simply items that have high sentimental value, such as collections of family photos. Regardless of how an item is valued, during a divorce, both tangible and digital assets must be divided, but some digital assets may prove more challenging to divide. As such, including digital assets in a prenuptial agreement is becoming increasingly advisable. Below you'll find three legal tips on how to include digital assets in a prenup. 1. Agree to Maintain Separate Accounts For things like iTunes accounts, digital music, movies, games, and apps, you may just want to agree to maintain separate accounts that will remain separate property, or will be appraised, valued, and offset upon divorce. As opposed to sharing one account, maintaining separate accounts might require a double purchase of an app or game that both you and your spouse want to use. This downside occurs most often with entertainment-related digital assets because these usually only provide purchasers with a single user license, meaning that a game, app, or digital download can only be used by one account. Note that some digital game assets and collections may be transferable and can be valued at thousands of dollars (i.e. the Hans Solo digital trading card mentioned above). As such, you may wish to put a dollar threshold on the value of separate digital accounts. 2. Appraise and Clearly Identify Separate Digital Property Any couple considering a prenup these days likely already has a collection of digital assets, such as their iTunes music library. Most states will consider property acquired prior to marriage as separate property. However, over time, if separate property appreciates in value during the course of a marriage, it could become partly marital or community property. The same is true for digital assets, and can include assets such as social media accounts, particularly if they are related to a business or occupation, or even websites, such as blogs or online businesses. In a prenup, it can be helpful to identify all separate digital assets, and agree that certain ones, like those relating to only one spouse's business, remain separate property. Appraising prior to a prenup can be helpful to ensure that spouses are fully aware of the value, and can track the increase or loss in value for purposes of offsetting property division. 3. Agree to Copy What You Can Digital assets often include items that can be copied freely, such as photos, home movies, and even music. For digital items that can be copied for free, such as iTunes music without DRM protection, it can be agreed to that these will be copied and shared. However, for digital photos, you may want to include a provision prohibiting the sale of photos, as technically the copyright is held by the person who takes the photo, and likeness rights vary from state to state. Related Resources: Need help with family law? A lawyer can review your case for free. (Consumer Injury - Family) Pros and Cons: Premarital Agreements ("Prenuptials") (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) What Can and Cannot be Included in Prenuptial Agreements (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Digital Estate Planning: How to Prepare Digital Accounts for the End of Life (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Death and Digital Privacy: Please Delete My Browser History, Bro (FindLaw's Common Law)
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Getty Makes 35M Images Free for Bloggers’ Use

Getty Images is now allowing bloggers to use 35 million of its images for free as long as they're used for non-commercial purposes. Despite Getty placing a watermark on all its online images, Getty executives are aware that people have been copying and pasting copyrighted pictures without permission. So they've created a new system that allows select Getty images to be embedded on websites, with the proper attributions prominently displayed, Forbes reports. What do bloggers need to know about using Getty's free images? Getty's Free 'Embedded Viewer' Now that Getty is allowing users free access to millions of its images, it's also removing the watermark from the photos it's providing for free. The problem with Getty's old watermark system was that once an image was purchased, the watermark would be removed; once removed and placed on a website, anyone online could copy and paste the image and use it without proper attribution or permission from the original owner. Instead of a watermark, Getty is now allowing bloggers to embed many of its photos -- but only via a new "embedded viewer" tool. The tool drops the image into a blog or website with a footer crediting Getty and linking people to its licensing page, according to Forbes. The footer and link could help reduce copyright infringement because they don't allow users to use the image without including a link to Getty's licensing page. A Reminder About Fair Use Laws Bloggers using Getty's new "embedded viewer" generally won't have to worry about copyright infringement -- as long as they're not using the images for a commercial purpose. (However, Getty doesn't mind if you make a little money off your blog via Google Ads, Forbes reports.) Still, it's important to keep fair use laws in mind when adding images, videos, and other multimedia to your personal (or commercial) website. Fair use allows the use of copyrighted material without permission from the original author under certain circumstances, including: Criticism, News reporting, Comment, Teaching, Parody, and Scholarship and research. For example, if you're a college student researching political issues and you use an image of two politicians at a meeting for your term paper, that's probably protected under fair use law. On the other hand, if a person uses a copyrighted image to advertise his lawn-mowing business, then that's likely to be considered copyright infringement. Even with Getty's free images, using them in advertisements, promotions, or advertising is not allowed. Although 35 million of Getty's stock images are now free for non-commercial use by the public, bloggers don't have free access to Getty's entire collection of images, reports Forbes. For that, you'll still have to pay. Related Resources: The world's largest photo service just made its pictures free to use (The Verge) What Is Fair Use? Consider These 4 Factors (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) What Do Copyright, Trademark Symbols Mean? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Copyrighting Your Screenplay (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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What Is Fair Use? Consider These 4 Factors

The legal doctrine of fair use allows you to use copyrighted material for certain purposes without permission from the copyright owner. Stated otherwise, fair use is a defense against a claim of copyright infringement. If your use of copyrighted material qualifies as fair use, it would not be considered illegal infringement. To be considered fair use, your copying must be limited and serve a "transformative" purpose. Fair Use Factors To determine whether your use of a copyrighted work is fair, the court will typically perform a balancing test by weighing the following four factors: The purpose and character of your use. Did you copy someone else's work verbatim or did you use it to help create something new? Also, was your use commercial (for-profit) or non-commercial? Courts tend to favor transformative uses and nonprofit uses. The nature of the copyrighted work. Fair use is easier to find with nonfiction works than creative works. Also, it's tougher to get fair use for using copyrighted unpublished works than published ones. The amount or substantiality of the portion used. Generally, the more you use, the less likely it's a fair use. Also, if you use very little of the copyrighted work, but your use "takes the heart" of the copyrighted work, that might not be fair use. The effect of your use on the potential market for, or value of, the original work. If your use competes with the source you're copying from, that will weigh against fair use. Your use should avoid interfering with the copyrighted work's intended market or audience. Common Fair Uses The following uses are generally considered fair: Criticism and commentary, if you're using the copyrighted material for comment or criticism (think music and book reviews). Parody, if you're using copyrighted material to make fun of it, usually by imitating it in a funny way (think "South Park"). News reporting, if you're summarizing or quoting from copyrighted material in a news report. Research and scholarship, if you're summarizing or quoting from copyrighted material for research or academic purposes (namely, to illustrate or a clarify a point you're making). Nonprofit educational uses, if you're using copyrighted material for teaching purposes (think photocopies of passages for use in a classroom). There are no hard-and-fast rules for fair use, making it tough to predict what is and isn't considered fair use. If you have copyright infringement concerns, you may want to consult an experienced intellectual property attorney. Related Resources: 'I Have a Dream': MLK's Estate Has a Copyright (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) What Do Copyright, Trademark Symbols Mean? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Copyrighting Your Screenplay (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Kanye West Sued For Sample in 'Gold Digger' (FindLaw's Celebrity Justice)
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Legal How-To: Copyrighting Your Screenplay

So you've written a screenplay. Before you share it with others, you'll want to legally protect your script by copyrighting it. While your work is technically copyrighted the moment you create it, certain legal protections exist only when you register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. For example, registration with the Copyright Office is required before you can file a lawsuit for copyright infringement. A written treatment or outline of a fully developed, unique story should be enough to qualify for copyright protection, and a completed script usually does. Here's a general overview of what screenwriters need to know about the process: Online Copyright Registration Registering screenplays through the Copyright Office's online system is now the primary method to register works. Online registration has several advantages, including: a lower filing fee, faster processing, secure electronic payment options (versus a check or money order), the ability to upload the script as an electronic file, and online status tracking. Here's how to register your screenplay online: Registration Process Overview, Screen 1. Start on Copyright Office registration website, input your login information, and click on "Register a New Claim." Screen 2. Click on "Start Registration." Screen 3. Select "Work of the Performing Arts" in the drop down menu. Screen 4. Select "Title of the Work Being Registered" and input the title of your script. Screen 5. Select "No" if your work hasn't been published (which is most likely). Remember, your work isn't considered published when you send it to agents or producers. Screen 6. Put your name as the author and select "No" for the Work for Hire question. Screen 7. Check off the "Text" box. Screen 8. If you're the claimant, put down your name and address (or your P.O. box). Screen 9. Leave the "Material Excluded/Previous Registration" page blank if this is your first registration and your script is original. If it's based on someone else's material, identify it in the "Other" box. Rights & Permissions Information. Add your name and address again. Correspondent. You know the drill -- name and address. Mail Certificate. Input the address to which you want the copyright certificate mailed. Special Handling. Leave blank. Certification. Check the "I certify" box and type in your name. Review Submission. Review your information. If you click the "Save Template" button, it'll save your information, so for future registrations, you'll only need to change the title of the work and year of completion. ...
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What Do Copyright, Trademark Symbols Mean?

You see copyright and trademark symbols everywhere, but what exactly do they mean? Generally speaking, they put a stamp on your ownership. Each of these symbols provides notice to the world that you are claiming legal rights in the mark or work. A few may require you to actually register your mark or work with the government. Here's an overview of what each of these symbols mean: Copyright: �. When you write a "C" with a circle around the letter, or use the word "copyright," you are giving notice to the public that the work is copyrighted and that you are the owner of the work. Next to the symbol, owners should include the year of first publication and the owner's full name. Inclusion of a "�" is no longer required to protect your work -- it's automatically protected when the work is created. But it's still a good idea to include it in order to fend off claims of innocent infringement (i.e., infringement that occurs when the infringer didn't know that the work was copyrighted). You don't need to get permission from, or register with, the Copyright Office to use the copyright notice. Unregistered trademark: � and SM. You may use the � on marks identifying tangible goods, and the SM on marks identifying services. Both of these symbols are used to give potential infringers notice that a term, slogan, logo, or other indicator is being claimed as a trademark. They are used for unregistered trademarks. However, including � or SM doesn't guarantee that the owner's mark will be protected under trademark laws. Registered trademark: �. The � symbol provides "statutory notice." It can only be used if your trademark is federally registered on either the Principal or Supplemental Registers maintained by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Use of � with any unregistered trademark can lead to claims of fraud or other obstacles in obtaining and/or enforcing trademark rights. For extra help on how to copyright or trademark your work, logos, or services, consult an experienced intellectual property lawyer in your area. Related Resources: Legal How-To: Looking Up Patents, Trademarks (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Legal How-To: Protecting Your Invention (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Trayvon's Mom Wants to Trademark Her Son's Name (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) e-Book Authors May Need a Legal Book Review (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
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