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Todd Karate
03-29-2011, 10:41 AM
Seriously. Stop it. It is stupid at best and dangerously stupid at worst.

The answer to your legal question is "Contact an entertainment attorney."

The people on here giving you advice are not lawyers (except that one lawyer). They don't know anything.

zenplato
03-29-2011, 10:54 AM
So true...people assume because it's "logical" in their head that it has legal merit and thus a valid argument. There is a reason lawyers go to school and take the Bar.

I should also add that those who are doling out bad advice seem to be insouciant when someone challenges their credentials. Like, no big deal, take it or leave it.

People should be aware how detrimental their ignorance is when pontificating.

JeffLowell
03-29-2011, 11:13 AM
So true.

The people on here giving you advice are not lawyers (except that one lawyer). They don't know anything.

And I'd add, don't listen to the lawyers, either, unless you're paying them and they're representing you.

Here's advice a practicing lawyer handed out on these boards about the legality of posting scripts online, back when the ScriptShadow controversy was erupting:

"Carson has removed scripts in the past (and says he will do so should the writer request so). The site is 'not for profit' and the copyright rules are vague. But Carson still removes if requested and is not battling production companies or screenwriters."

"Carson puts on the site that he will remove the script if the writer requests so. He's taken down reviews before as well. That means that the scripts that are on the site are there with the writer's tacit permission."

"Fair Use is the fuzzy area. If the site is not for profit it's fair use. Carson doesn't advertise any service on the site. Plus, he removes the script if requested by the writer or copyright holder."

"You do realize that film companies have lawyers? If they really felt Carson was a threat he'd have been sued out of existence and into bankruptcy already. Just filing the lawsuit and request for injunction would end the site."

Again, that's a lawyer talking. Reading all of that, one would think that they were safe posting scripts online as long as they took them down when asked, since they were protected by "tacit permission," fair use, not for profit status, vague copyright laws, and the fact that no one had sued anyone before.

Yeah, not so much.

Listen to TK.

emily blake
03-29-2011, 11:18 AM
What if it's my goal to trick other writers into making stupid deals so they won't succeed and I can take their jobs?

This was a rock-solid plan and now you're trying to ruin it.

zenplato
03-29-2011, 11:29 AM
And I'd add, don't listen to the lawyers, either, unless you're paying them and they're representing you.

Good catch...

Just because they are a lawyer doesn't mean they are an entertainment lawyer, or a lawyer who is specialized in that area of law. Or that you are a good lawyer in general and know what you are talking about.

It's like going to a Gynecologist for a root canal, or going to the dentist for a...well, you get the idea.

Arroway
03-29-2011, 11:50 AM
Here's advice a practicing lawyer handed out on these boards about the legality of posting scripts online, back when the ScriptShadow controversy was erupting:

"Carson puts on the site that he will remove the script if the writer requests so. He's taken down reviews before as well. That means that the scripts that are on the site are there with the writer's tacit permission."

"Fair Use is the fuzzy area. If the site is not for profit it's fair use."

Utter nonsense from this supposed "practicing lawyer"...

Kermet Key
03-29-2011, 11:55 AM
Seriously. Stop it. It is stupid at best and dangerously stupid at worst.


Dangerously Stupid is my middle name. :shifty:

LIMAMA
03-29-2011, 12:06 PM
I love my lawyers. And so far as I know, they love me. It's a match made in Heaven.

cshel
03-29-2011, 12:43 PM
I love my lawyers. And so far as I know, they love me. It's a match made in Heaven.

Ohhh, now I understand how you're paying for their services. :eek: :p

gravitas
03-29-2011, 12:54 PM
There are some great book resources to familiarize yourself with the business nomenclature, general knowledge. I read one of Mark Litwak's books and it was pretty informative, answered a lot of broad questions. I'd recommend them, with the caveat being to listen to your own attorney, that's what they do. (I say this as someone who is an enthusiast only, I just like to have a sense of the terms their throwing around. )

NikeeGoddess
03-29-2011, 01:57 PM
What if it's my goal to trick other writers into making stupid deals so they won't succeed and I can take their jobs?

This was a rock-solid plan and now you're trying to ruin it.and now people won't even need to read between the lines. you just told them the plan. dammit, janet!

what's the deal with the fact that lawyers are natural liars? is there any truth to that fact?

jkk808
03-29-2011, 02:17 PM
what's the deal with the fact that lawyers are natural liars? is there any truth to that fact?

Yes.

Ronaldinho
03-29-2011, 03:04 PM
Utter nonsense from this supposed "practicing lawyer"...

Yeah. That's boggling. NFP does not equal fair use.

TheKeenGuy
03-29-2011, 03:34 PM
I don't think it's the case that there's absolutely no useful legal advice to be gained here.

Sometimes, there are legal questions with easy answers. Other times, there's a more difficult question, and someone happens to have experience in the area to provide a good deal of guidance.

But it is true that this is not a board full of legal experts, and those asking question should keep in mind that people often talk with a great deal of authority on legal subjects, when in fact they are just taking their best guesses, and sometimes those guesses are, like Todd states, dangerously stupid.

On the legal advice-giving front, it's definitely best to only offer legal advice when you KNOW what you're talking about, and if you are going to speculate, then make sure you highlight the fact that you don't really know the answer for certain.

silvercop
03-30-2011, 01:54 PM
Even attorneys consult attorneys. Hence the adage, "A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client."

wcmartell
03-30-2011, 02:07 PM
It's like going to a Gynecologist for a root canal

Something they left out of that movie TEETH.

- Bill

Scriptonian
03-30-2011, 03:40 PM
Todd, one can have good experience or knowledge about the law without being a lawyer. I just read a post on another thread by a newspaper reporter who was spot on in his/her information on securing heirs' right in non-fiction writing. That reporter has tons of training and experience in the subject matter, and more I dare say than most lawyers. Good and free advice to be considered.

One can be a lawyer without identifying herself as a lawyer. Message boards are for opinion. Any facts posted are based upon one's opinion or belief of the facts. To discourage free legal help on any thread is foolish. To discourage legal discussion and know-how about all fields of the law is to ignore a valuable resource.

The law covers such topics as criminal trial evidence, constitutional law, civil rights, labor laws, administrative courtroom law and procedure, child protection laws, criminal procedure, torts or civil actions, appeals, prison administration, rights of the accused, duty of the judge and jury, and a host of other script-related possibilities. The offering of legal or other opinion-based fact in an effort to help writers should be widely encouraged, not frowned upon.

Joe Unidos
03-30-2011, 05:10 PM
I think the real issue is usually that almost all the scenarios where legal advice is sought are no money, pie-in-the-sky borderline-hypothetical scenarios where the poster has absolutely no intention of consulting a real lawyer because there is no real money involved.

Jeff_Shurtleff
03-30-2011, 05:33 PM
But it is true that this is not a board full of legal experts, and those asking question should keep in mind that people often talk with a great deal of authority on legal subjects, when in fact they are just taking their best guesses, and sometimes those guesses are, like Todd states, dangerously stupid

And sometimes people post when they are really drunk, and anything they say shouldn't be taken too seriously. :bounce:

Jeff Shurtleff

Pasquali56
03-31-2011, 08:23 AM
What's your overhead as a screenwriter? It's next to nothing -- especially in relation to other careers/businesses. Investing in a good lawyer to review your contracts is definitely one expense you can afford if you're serious about it. I've learned that the hard way. Never again will I accept an option (even free) without having a lawyer involved.

scripto80
03-31-2011, 11:14 AM
To play devil's advocate here, I think the thing is that some aspiring writers simply don't have a few hundred dollars to be able to walk into a lawyer's office and ask a simple question. I don't think anyone is looking for bullet proof legal advice that they can go to the bank with, at least I hope not. Rather, it seems some people just want some general idea about how things usually work.

Sometimes you need a lawyer, sometimes you just need people with experience, and sometimes you just need people with experience to recommend that you get a lawyer, lol. So to Todd all I'll say is...chillax, dude.

Craig Mazin
03-31-2011, 01:59 PM
Todd, one can have good experience or knowledge about oncology without being an oncologist. I just read a post on another thread by a newspaper reporter who was spot on in his/her information on curing advanced stage melanomas. That reporter has tons of training and experience in the subject matter, and more I dare say than most oncologists. Good and free advice to be considered.

One can be an oncologist without identifying herself as an oncologist. Message boards are for opinion. Any facts posted are based upon one's opinion or belief of the facts. To discourage free cancer treatment help on any thread is foolish. To discourage cancer treatment discussion and know-how about all fields of oncology is to ignore a valuable resource.

Oncology covers such topics as chemotherapy, neoplasms, radiation, palliative care, surgical therapies and a host of other cancer treatment possibilities. The offering of medical or other opinion-based fact in an effort to help cancer patients should be widely encouraged, not frowned upon.

C.

Todd Karate
03-31-2011, 03:21 PM
Plus, doctors are expensive. If you just have standard/boilerplate cancer you don't really need one.

sc111
03-31-2011, 03:56 PM
Plus, doctors are expensive. If you just have standard/boilerplate cancer you don't really need one.


"My name is melanoma -- prepare to die." :D

Ronaldinho
03-31-2011, 04:12 PM
One of my big concerns about people giving legal advice online is that it's often wrong. And people do a lot of "advice shopping" - I've seen people ignore correct legal advice and follow bad legal advice because it was what they wanted to hear.

Hey, look, I'm sure I'm wrong too. Not claiming to be perfect, although I always try to sufficiently caveat anything that might be close to legal advice.

And this is fundamentally different from a disagreement about how to format a slugline. You get a slugline wrong, who cares - but in some of the examples I've seen, you're potentially encumbering a project fatally. This legal stuff is important, and people need to tread very carefully.

Archduke
03-31-2011, 06:08 PM
The offering of legal or other opinion-based fact in an effort to help writers should be widely encouraged, not frowned upon.

Is this a typo or do you just really love oxymorons?

silvercop
04-01-2011, 10:32 AM
Boards such as this are a use at your own risk proposition. But there is nothing wrong with discussion.

One possible lesson for someone asking legal advice on DDP is that lots of people are of the opinion that this is a serious issue that requires a paid attorney's input.

Yet, there are a variety of "legal" questions for which a reasonable answer could be found in the opinion of people on DDP. There is a lot of experience on this forum and that's why most of us are here.

Do I think someone should post a contract here for review? No.

Can people here help determine at what point one needs an attorney? Yes.

tucsonray
04-01-2011, 10:58 AM
One thing about legal advice is that the answer is almost always it depends.

... And what it depends on is where good lawyers earn their money as when a lawyer knows enough about a particular area of law and jurisdiction only then can they can give you a sound opinion.

And unfortunately as I think we all know, we've gotten to a point where 'being sued, even if you've done nothing wrong' can be almost as devastating as 'being sued for having actually done something wrong' given the cost, time, and stress involved in any legal proceeding.

Thus, at least from my little piece of the world, being a lawyer means that sometimes 'yes, the issue will be pretty black/white and I can give advice with confidence if I know the territory', but often it means managing a situation over time to a 'soft landing' so all interested parties are content with the outcome. It's not just something I can answer on a forum, and I'm not sure how many careful attorneys could (though it is possible at times, so I am not being critical of those who have done so)

Is consulting a lawyer cost prohibitive? Unfortunately sometimes it is -- but there are a number of lawyers who volunteer their time to advise people in the creative arts as you probably know, and you can also feel free to pm me too, as if I cannot help (which will often be the case) I can at least try to point you in the right direction as when I ran an Attorneys Training Institute out of Notre Dame's Law School I was fortunate to have developed a large network of lawyers throughout the US and Canada I can connect with. If there is interest I could also see about putting together a little advisory board exclusively for Done Dealers through these contacts (people who work in a variety of entertainment-related fields) - kind of like the pro's forum, but that may run contrary to the wishes of the original poster, who generally makes a good point about legal advice online.

And I say this with the hope that I did not offend the OP as I don't want this to seem like I am offering any advice here, or butting in where I do not belong.

I just want to contribute to our 'family' here in one of the few ways I know how, as I will leave writing advice to the pros in that area.

ps and if I there's anyone who needs a root canal I can...

LIMAMA
04-01-2011, 12:53 PM
One thing about legal advice is that the answer is almost always it depends.

... And what it depends on is where good lawyers earn their money as when a lawyer knows enough about a particular area of law and jurisdiction only then can they can give you a sound opinion.

And unfortunately as I think we all know, we've gotten to a point where 'being sued, even if you've done nothing wrong' can be almost as devastating as 'being sued for having actually done something wrong' given the cost, time, and stress involved in any legal proceeding.

Thus, at least from my little piece of the world, being a lawyer means that sometimes 'yes, the issue will be pretty black/white and I can give advice with confidence if I know the territory', but often it means managing a situation over time to a 'soft landing' so all interested parties are content with the outcome. It's not just something I can answer on a forum, and I'm not sure how many careful attorneys could (though it is possible at times, so I am not being critical of those who have done so)

Is consulting a lawyer cost prohibitive? Unfortunately sometimes it is -- but there are a number of lawyers who volunteer their time to advise people in the creative arts as you probably know, and you can also feel free to pm me too, as if I cannot help (which will often be the case) I can at least try to point you in the right direction as when I ran an Attorneys Training Institute out of Notre Dame's Law School I was fortunate to have developed a large network of lawyers throughout the US and Canada I can connect with. If there is interest I could also see about putting together a little advisory board exclusively for Done Dealers through these contacts (people who work in a variety of entertainment-related fields) - kind of like the pro's forum, but that may run contrary to the wishes of the original poster, who generally makes a good point about legal advice online.

And I say this with the hope that I did not offend the OP as I don't want this to seem like I am offering any advice here, or butting in where I do not belong.

I just want to contribute to our 'family' here in one of the few ways I know how, as I will leave writing advice to the pros in that area.

ps and if I there's anyone who needs a root canal I can...

And you can take that to the bank. I love Ray to pieces.

tucsonray
04-01-2011, 03:10 PM
Hey PJ, I would write about how much I love you but people here would get the RIGHT idea! You are the best. You are my hero, and a hero to so many here who you will likely never know. And thank you!!

Scriptonian
04-03-2011, 08:55 AM
Craig, I enjoyed reading your amusing (and well written if you don't mind my saying so) oncology post. Had your oncologist been writing a script adapted from somewhere (novel, court case, life event), and needed to secure heirs' rights for the project, as was/did the newspaper reporter I referenced, I'd be interested in what your oncologist's experience could teach me. S(he) dealt with the subject, researched it thoroughly perhaps, maybe even saw a lawyer, and resolved the legal issue in the course of the writing. Why wouldn't I want to know the outcome, or the oncologist/writer's experience with regard to the legal matter?

The fact is: valuable legal advice based on experience, knowledge, and belief is available to writers on these sites. We should listen to it, consider it, and form our own opinion - to the same extent a cancer survivor call tell us much about cancer, and good ways to deal with it based upon experience, knowledge, and belief.

Are we going to tell cancer survivors they don't know what they're talking about?

If an entertainment attorney were needed for routine legal matters, there's be no standard legal forms available on this site and elsewhere for writers' use.

jcgary
04-03-2011, 10:06 AM
There's a difference between, "Hey, what was your experience with cancer like? Do you have any advice on what I'm going through?" and, "Hey, could you please diagnose and treat my cancer over a message board?"

The internet has been around for a long time. I hope by now no one needs to be told to triple check anything they read on the internet.

Richmond Weems
04-03-2011, 12:00 PM
The internet has been around for a long time. I hope by now no one needs to be told to triple check anything they read on the internet.

I'm not sure I agree with those statements. Let me check on that, and I'll get back to you.

HH

Craig Mazin
04-04-2011, 11:59 PM
Are we going to tell cancer survivors they don't know what they're talking about?

YES.

You know why? THEY DON'T. My dad is a cancer survivor. Know how he survived? He called a DOCTOR.

When I want legal advice, I call my lawyer or I call my sister (who is a lawyer). I don't call people who have been sued.

C.

Scriptonian
04-05-2011, 01:50 AM
Not everyone has a sister who's a lawyer, Craig.

When it is complicated, certainly consult with an attorney. Practice common sense and fairness for the routine of it. Ask questions (of anyone who has an attorney sister), and consider the experience, practice, and informed opinion of peers.

nic.h
04-05-2011, 05:42 AM
When it is complicated, certainly consult with an attorney. Practice common sense and fairness for the routine of it. Ask questions (of anyone who has an attorney sister), and consider the experience, practice, and informed opinion of peers.

Or you could just ask me and I'll make something up - and then, when corrected, tell you that this is how it works in Australia.

NikeeGoddess
04-05-2011, 08:17 AM
I don't call people who have been sued.

C.maybe call people who have sued and WON! they can tell you how they did it and then refer you to their lawyer.

but i agree with those who put things in perspective, armchair hacks can handle the easy ones and the more complicated questions and advice should go thru a lawyer.

zenplato
04-05-2011, 11:46 AM
If you don't consult a lawyer, do so at your own discretion. Then when the **** hits the fan because you were improperly advised and someone asks:

"Did you get advice from a lawyer"?

You can say,

"Nay, I just asked someone on the internet...they seemed to know what they were talking about. Sounded good to me."

Ronaldinho
04-05-2011, 01:30 PM
When it is complicated, certainly consult with an attorney. Practice common sense and fairness for the routine of it. Ask questions (of anyone who has an attorney sister), and consider the experience, practice, and informed opinion of peers.

I suppose that part of the problem is that inexperienced people don't have any sort of meter to judge, "oh, maybe this is complicated," or "hm, how do I know if this is a fairness/common sense area of the law or if the law is actually very specific here."

Specifically, there's a world of difference between a legal question like, "I want to adapt something that's in the public domain ..." and "I have an agreement with somebody about X, but now I'm worried about how it impacts Y."

In the first case, yes, some of us might have some relevant experience. In the second case, we don't. The specific wording of the existing deal matters. There are specific legal concepts which may or may not sound "fair" to the people involved which may apply.

And yet, on this board in the past month, I've seen non-lawyers offer answers to questions like the second one, where even a decent lawyer wouldn't answer it without reading the existing deal memo first, without caveat or codicil.

And that's a big, big problem.

There are some situations where "talk to an entertainment attorney" is the only reasonable answer - and yet we have people offering advice on them anyway.

Scriptonian
04-05-2011, 02:54 PM
'I have an agreement with X, but now I'm worried about how it affects Y.'

Ronaldinho,

Fact: you have an agreement with 'X.' Let's assume it's a written agreement.

Problem: you're worried the agreement will be unfair to, or adversely affect, 'Y.'

Common Sense: you can re-negotiate (change or modify) your agreement with 'X' to ensure fairness to 'Y,' provided 'X' is willing. If 'X' is unwilling, you can enter into an agreement with 'Y' to give 'Y' a portion of your script proceeds. You cannot contract for or bind 'X.' You can only obligate yourself. That's common sense.

Let's say you optioned a script (agreement with 'X'). Later, you recall the original idea for the script belongs to your friend 'Y.' 'Y' did none of the writing - but it was 'Y's' idea. Fairness dictates that you compensate your friend for the idea. Common sense says the idea is worth five or ten percent of the script sale, or even twenty percent depending upon how well developed was the idea. So, promise 'Y' the agreed upon percentage. Put it in writing, date it, sign it, and give 'Y' a copy.

If unsure, ask on message boards what others think is a fair percentage.

Any other 'X' and 'Y' scenarios that can't be resolved with common sense and fairness as guiding lights (and help from other writers)?

Ronaldinho
04-05-2011, 04:25 PM
Let's say you optioned a script (agreement with 'X'). Later, you recall the original idea for the script belongs to your friend 'Y.' 'Y' did none of the writing - but it was 'Y's' idea. Fairness dictates that you compensate your friend for the idea. Common sense says the idea is worth five or ten percent of the script sale, or even twenty percent depending upon how well developed was the idea. So, promise 'Y' the agreed upon percentage. Put it in writing, date it, sign it, and give 'Y' a copy.


Great example.

Legally, of course, what Y is entitled to is very much a subject of dispute. You may promise him 10%, and he thinks he deserves 50%. Only now you've given him a paper trail proving that the idea began with him and he's entitled to compensation.

And of course, you optioned the script and your option contract probably (because every option contract I've ever seen) requires that you stipulate that you own the underlying material outright. So now that clause is invalid. And let's say the movie's a huge hit and your friend now decides he wants more than that 10% you gave him.

He sues the production company. Since you signed a false contract, you're not on the hook for their legal costs defending against his claim. He's got your signature on a piece of paper saying the idea was his originally, and that throws the presumption that you were acting in good faith under a bus. So even if they win, you're paying their lawyer's fees. If he rattles his saber before they go into production (which might be stupid) then he might torpedo the project. Afterwards, he's merely spawning a massive legal fight for which you're footing the bill.

Do you think that, somewhere around here, you're going to wish that you consulted an entertainment attorney rather than merely deciding that you could handle it yourself?

This is just one fairly obvious way in which your simple lawyer-free plan could go horribly wrong. We could probably come up with more if we sat around and thought about it for very long.

Scriptonian
04-06-2011, 06:06 AM
You'll note that I said you 'later recalled' the story idea was owing to your friend. As with everything in life, mistakes are made in this business. We don't run away from mistakes; we correct them. We give credit where credit is due.

In this case scenario, you'd inform the producer ('X') who optioned your script of the error. You would try and agree upon appropriate ownership of the script with your friend 'Y,' who might receive 'Story by' credit on the script. You and 'Y' would both do your research to determine what's fair to 'Y' in terms of money, and you and 'Y' would agree to resolve the issue, correct the mistake.

Lawyers are necessary where common sense and fairness are not the operative themes. When you forget someone special's birthday ('Z') do you consult with an attorney about how you should make-up for the unintentional oversight?

Where common sense and fairness are not in play... lawyers usually are needed.

sarajb
04-06-2011, 07:13 AM
Common sense and fairness are terrific attributes, but they're not a substitute for the law. They don't supersede it, either. Good intentions don't carry a lot of weight, when someone realizes they've been screwed by bad information.

Craig Mazin
04-06-2011, 12:53 PM
Scriptonian:

Best of luck.

C.

Scriptonian
04-06-2011, 04:02 PM
Nothing supersedes the law, Sara, and no one is exempt from it, but I know of no court ruling that isn't based upon common sense and fairness.

This thread boldly tells writers to 'stop asking for legal advise, and stop offering legal advice.' The OP said there are no lawyers on the site ("except that one lawyer"); an assertion that is incorrect and, in any event, irrelevant.

My point is that much of the law is routine, and does not require an attorney any more than routine home maintenance requires a certified or licensed landscaper, plumber, electrician, or carpenter. Others who are neither landscapers, plumbers, electricians, nor carpenters may have the knowledge, practice, and informed opinion I'd like to consider, and I'd be smart to consider, before undertaking (or during) my home maintenance project, or before deciding I need a professional.

And if anyone wants to know how to retrieve the wedding ring that's fallen down the sink drain, I'd be happy to tell them - so that they have the option of considering my free-advice or, instead, calling an expensive plumber.

What's wrong with asking for or offering advice of any kind if it helps writers make decisions? Some of the best routine legal advice I've heard comes from people (non-lawyers) with experience in the subject matter, and their opinions are free.
I think it a shame to discourage the asking or telling of anything law-related.

hscope
04-06-2011, 04:25 PM
Whenever I receive legal advice on this board, I check with my lawyer before following it.

Mac H.
04-06-2011, 05:02 PM
I know of no court ruling that isn't based upon common sense and fairness.Seriously? I agree that the law is pretty impressive with how it manages to balance fairness in most cases - but clearly it is logically impossible for all court rulings to be based on common sense and fairness.

This is because some court rulings are overturned on appeal. If the original ruling was based upon common sense and fairness - then clearly the appeal overturning it can't be ! (Clearly not every appeal-worthy decision is appealed either. I know of at least one example where the family had already re-mortgaged their home and sold everything they could to pay for the original court case - they literally had no more money to pay for an appeal)

But, ignoring the logic, there are plenty of rulings which are clearly based on technicalities rather than common sense and fairness. I'm really surprised that you you haven't heard of them.

For example - can you explain how the ruling against Diane Huang was based on common sense and fairness?

Her crime is that she imported lobster tails. The problem is that she imported them from Honduras and the exporter there decided to ship them in clear plastic bags. She didn't ask for them to be put in plastic bags - they normally come in cardboard boxes. It wasn't a problem in US law for them to be moved around in plastic bags. (They obviously don't need airholes - they have gills. Airholes just dry them out faster and are a bad idea).

However moving lobsters in plastic bags was against an obscure Honduras guideline (Resolution 030-95) .

And under a U.S law called 'the Lacey Act' it is illegal to take wildlife in violation of foreign law. That doesn't just include taking endangered species .. it also includes any offences to do with transporting wildlife. And since she imported the lobsters in clear plastic bags she was now guilty of breaking a U.S law. Remember - they can be shipped around the USA in clear plastic .. but not in Honduras. (There was also 2.5% of the lobsters that were too small - but again .. that wasn't her fault. She didn't select them and ask to be cheated by the exporter! Nor, according to the judge, was that a factor in the judgement.)

The Honduras government gave a submission to the court pointing out that, in fact, no Honduras law had been broken because Resolution 030-95 wasn't a law. (See reference here: CasePaz-HumanRightsCommCertifications.pdf (http://www.iamnotguilty.org/CasePaz-HumanRightsCommCertifications.pdf))

So - based on fairness and common sense ... what should the court's judgement be?

You guessed it - two years in jail. Please explain how that judgement is based on fairness and common sense. She wasn't even aware of the foreign resolution that wasn't even a foreign law.

Imagine you buy a nice watch on eBay - something that appears to be 100% legal. But then you get arrested and put in jail for 2 years because the manufacturer broke a Kenyan law when they transported the animals incorrectly ... and those animals ended up being used to make the leather watchband. According to the Lacey act - since you bought it on eBay from overseas you are the importer and are responsible for every transport violation of animal products in every foreign country the leather may have come from or passed through.

If you want to see the opinion of a legal expert on this (so you know I'm not just making this stuff up) read the statement of the dissenting judge on her appeal for yourself:

CaseDecisionFay.pdf (http://www.iamnotguilty.org/CaseDecisionFay.pdf)

I've only linked to verifiable, official statements rather than website opinions.

I trust that you will never again be able to say that 'I know of no court ruling that isn't based upon common sense and fairness'

Mac

anmegrl
04-06-2011, 06:01 PM
Darn Mac, you beat me to it. Just saw this thread today and that "common sense and fairness" comment irked the heck out of me.

The court's definition of what is "fair" and "common sense" often has absolutely no relation to what lay people think is fair. Most of the time the outcome is "Sorry sucker, you should have sought legal advice before doing this. Now you're going to pay for it." You provided one clear cut example. Ask any attorney and you'll get similar "common sense" cases in all types of areas from real estate law to criminal law and especially contract law.

There is no excuse to refuse obtaining an attorney's advice on any issue. Unlike with doctors, many attorneys will give you a free consult. Those who don't may only charge a potential client up to about $250 for a one hour consult. Obviously, our business relies on repeat clients. Don't be suspicious of the low initial consultation fees. You will receive valuable, on point advice from as many attorneys as you wish.

I had an employee contract issue (not my area of practice) and consulted with three different attorneys - all for free - without telling them my legal background.

Mac H.
04-06-2011, 06:29 PM
Darn Mac, you beat me to it. Just saw this thread today and that "common sense and fairness" comment irked the heck out of me.

The court's definition of what is "fair" and "common sense" often has absolutely no relation to what lay people think is fair.As a layperson who has been involved with the courts only occasionally (and for the right reasons!!) I've actually been pretty impressed with how much the courts try to be fair and follow common sense.

For example - I was once cross-examined by a guy acting as his own lawyer. It was quite painful - we could all see what he was trying to achieve but he didn't have the knowledge to do it right. Not only was the judge bending over backwards to try and help - even the prosecutor was being helpful! (eg: "I object - I might suggest that he ask if the witness saw the document rather than ask if the document existed")

Maybe I'm still naive but even though courts makes insane decisions sometimes and are ruled by Byzantine regulations rather than 'fairness' .. I'm still impressed by the legal profession's attempts to be decent about it.

Yeah - I'm all Polly-Anna inside.

Mac

sarajb
04-06-2011, 07:05 PM
What's wrong with asking for or offering advice of any kind if it helps writers make decisions? Some of the best routine legal advice I've heard comes from people (non-lawyers) with experience in the subject matter, and their opinions are free.
I think it a shame to discourage the asking or telling of anything law-related.
Laws aren't all the same from state to state. Laws are enforced differently from state to state. A non compete clause (for irrelevant example :| ) may be ignored in one and strictly enforced in another.

It's just too complicated to boil down to fairness and common sense. Even fairness is a moving target and not just from state to state or person to person. What seems fair knowing what you know about a situation/subject might change, completely, if you knew all there is to know.

Anyone in a known or potential legal situation that they will be acting on or reacting to in any way should consult an attorney. Preferably, a specialized attorney. Preferably, preferably, a specialized attorney in the state that will be governing the situation.

carcar
04-07-2011, 06:41 AM
Common sense and fairness? Come on, this is show business.
:rolleyes:

Ronaldinho
04-07-2011, 11:43 AM
Nothing supersedes the law, Sara, and no one is exempt from it, but I know of no court ruling that isn't based upon common sense and fairness.

You're fortunate that you have had such pleasant experiences with the law.

A friend of mine just lost his business and two years worth of work. Why? He thoughts about what he would make - didn't do any actually work, just thought about it - while under contract to his former employer.

He liked his ideas, decided to go into business for himself ... spend over two years building up his new business ...

... and now his former employer owns all of it.

Common sense and fairness?

I honestly hope you never learn the hard way just how wrong you are.

Scriptonian
04-08-2011, 07:44 AM
Ronaldinho, your friend's former employer prevailing in protecting proprietary information and ownership of intellectual property is based upon common sense and fairness, and your friend's losing the case, or accepting a settlement, was a just result. Everything an employee acquires by virtue of his employment, except compensation, belongs to his employer whether acquired lawfully or unlawfully, or during or after the expiration of his employment. I'd be willing to wager your friend signed a non-competition agreement to that effect prior to his employment. If a work is made-for-hire the employer, not the employee, is the sole owner.

An employee's work must closely resemble that of an independent contractor for his ownership rights to trump those of his employer who is paying him to come up with ideas, not to come up with ideas and enter into competition against him.

What's not fair or fails to make common sense about that?

Alliebro
04-08-2011, 09:18 AM
Most employers out there require such an agreement as a term of employment, especially in the high tech fields. You do have the opportunity to note on the agreement form of any "ideas" you are currently working on and those "ideas" wll remain yours.

Ronaldinho
04-08-2011, 02:21 PM
Ronaldinho, your friend's former employer prevailing in protecting proprietary information and ownership of intellectual property is based upon common sense and fairness, and your friend's losing the case, or accepting a settlement, was a just result.

Its not appropriate for me to discuss the specifics of the case online, but this is an absurd statement.

For you to call it "just" and "fair" strikes me as an example of you having decided in advance that all rulings must be fair, and therefore applying it retroactively to this case.

I will say this:

a) there was no non-compete clause.
b) my friend did no work on his new idea while working for his former employer
c) my friend invested a considerable amount of time and money after leaving his old employer into creating his new business, which his old employer now owns 100% of.

You're saying that it's fair that a few minutes of off-the-clock thought somehow entitle for former employer to years of work, capital, and energy? That's absurd.

Todd Karate
04-08-2011, 04:36 PM
Wait, how is any of this still up for discussion? Isn't every post just hammering the point home further?

SuperScribe
04-08-2011, 04:40 PM
Todd Karate, meet the Internet. The Internet, meet Todd Karate. ;)

Todd Karate
04-08-2011, 05:13 PM
Todd Karate, meet the Internet. The Internet, meet Todd Karate. ;)

I feel like doing the "hold out my hand for a handshake, then pull away and smooth my hair when you reach for it" thing.

SuperScribe
04-08-2011, 05:17 PM
I feel like doing the "hold out my hand for a handshake, then pull away and smooth my hair when you reach for it" thing.

I've been trying to pull a "Psych!" on the Internet for over a decade.

Instead, it keeps psyching me out. Alas.

Done Deal Pro
04-08-2011, 07:11 PM
This might need to wrap up very soon since it's going around and around a bit.

But I will add this in case it might help some... There is nothing wrong with asking. Asking hurts no one. If you are a bit curious about what some legal wording means, then see what folks say. Look at the examples we offer on the main site. Learn what you might deal with some day.

The key is not to act on legal advice given on the Internet. Have a (entertainment) lawyer look at every single word, comma and period on the written agreement, contract, etc. before you sign it and/or send it to anyone.

You can ask until your blue in the fingers. But don't put pen to paper on anything until an actual lawyer looks at every detail on the paper(s) you are signing. Even if a top entertainment lawyer tells you online it's okay, don't do it. They need to see everything to be safe.

NYNEX
04-10-2011, 12:26 AM
Well, some sources on the internet are perfectly legitimate. The copyright law and the purpose of registering with the copyright office is spelled out pretty well on http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#what

When random people on the internet make claims, that's when you need to take them with a grain of salt and triple check everything. Yes, if its something major consult with a lawyer AND do your own research into the matter to see what you can pull up.

In terms of rulings being automatically fair, I would disagree. I've had lawyers explain lawsuits like this. In order to win a lawsuit, one must prove that the law has been broken AND that you have damages or injuries because of that broken law.

Someone could in theory be fired in a state like Mississippi just because they're gay, go into a deep depression, and the courts might not do anything because its legal to discriminate against gays (there's no federal gay employment protection clause, and Mississippi is not one of the states that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation)

But in terms of asking individuals, yes, sometimes advice or support from someone who has been through something similar might help. People who deal with cancer or other illnesses sometimes connect with people who have similar illnesses, for referral to the best medical treatments for said condition, for support and advice on how to cope with the treatments (which maybe rough) and to get a better sense of what treatments to take (the doctor is not good, nor is the lawyer or whoever)

Scriptonian
04-10-2011, 09:16 AM
NYNEX, in your Mississippi employment example, sexual orientation discrimination practiced against gay or lesbian public employees (any workplace receiving federal dollars), is unlawful and actionable. Last month, the Forrest County Sheriff's Department entered into a consent order and settlement agreement re-instating a gay corrections officer after an ALCU lawsuit against the county. Only employees of private companies in Mississippi lack protection from sexual orientation discrimination, but a bill is now before Congress to provide such protection to employees of private companies with fifteen or more employees.
President Obama is in support of the legislation.

Scriptonian
04-10-2011, 12:26 PM
Seriously? I agree that the law is pretty impressive with how it manages to balance fairness in most cases - but clearly it is logically impossible for all court rulings to be based on common sense and fairness.

This is because some court rulings are overturned on appeal. If the original ruling was based upon common sense and fairness - then clearly the appeal overturning it can't be ! (Clearly not every appeal-worthy decision is appealed either. I know of at least one example where the family had already re-mortgaged their home and sold everything they could to pay for the original court case - they literally had no more money to pay for an appeal)

But, ignoring the logic, there are plenty of rulings which are clearly based on technicalities rather than common sense and fairness. I'm really surprised that you you haven't heard of them.

For example - can you explain how the ruling against Diane Huang was based on common sense and fairness?

Her crime is that she imported lobster tails. The problem is that she imported them from Honduras and the exporter there decided to ship them in clear plastic bags. She didn't ask for them to be put in plastic bags - they normally come in cardboard boxes. It wasn't a problem in US law for them to be moved around in plastic bags. (They obviously don't need airholes - they have gills. Airholes just dry them out faster and are a bad idea).

However moving lobsters in plastic bags was against an obscure Honduras guideline (Resolution 030-95) .

And under a U.S law called 'the Lacey Act' it is illegal to take wildlife in violation of foreign law. That doesn't just include taking endangered species .. it also includes any offences to do with transporting wildlife. And since she imported the lobsters in clear plastic bags she was now guilty of breaking a U.S law. Remember - they can be shipped around the USA in clear plastic .. but not in Honduras. (There was also 2.5% of the lobsters that were too small - but again .. that wasn't her fault. She didn't select them and ask to be cheated by the exporter! Nor, according to the judge, was that a factor in the judgement.)

The Honduras government gave a submission to the court pointing out that, in fact, no Honduras law had been broken because Resolution 030-95 wasn't a law. (See reference here: CasePaz-HumanRightsCommCertifications.pdf (http://www.iamnotguilty.org/CasePaz-HumanRightsCommCertifications.pdf))

So - based on fairness and common sense ... what should the court's judgement be?

You guessed it - two years in jail. Please explain how that judgement is based on fairness and common sense. She wasn't even aware of the foreign resolution that wasn't even a foreign law.

Imagine you buy a nice watch on eBay - something that appears to be 100% legal. But then you get arrested and put in jail for 2 years because the manufacturer broke a Kenyan law when they transported the animals incorrectly ... and those animals ended up being used to make the leather watchband. According to the Lacey act - since you bought it on eBay from overseas you are the importer and are responsible for every transport violation of animal products in every foreign country the leather may have come from or passed through.

If you want to see the opinion of a legal expert on this (so you know I'm not just making this stuff up) read the statement of the dissenting judge on her appeal for yourself:

CaseDecisionFay.pdf (http://www.iamnotguilty.org/CaseDecisionFay.pdf)

I've only linked to verifiable, official statements rather than website opinions.

I trust that you will never again be able to say that 'I know of no court ruling that isn't based upon common sense and fairness'

Mac

"With strong hesitancy..." began Justice Fay's dissenting opinion in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals' review of the Southern District Court of Alabama's jury conviction (Judge Vollmer presiding) of David McNab, Diane Huang, et al, in a 47-count criminal indictment for violations of the Lacey Act (16 U.S. Code, Sec. 3371-3378), and ended with: "Most reluctantly, I therefore dissent."

Justice Fay was hesitant and reluctant in his dissent because only one of the Honduras laws (030-95, dealing with size of lobsters that may be harvested) was repealed in the years subsequent to the defendants convictions for violations of 030-95 and two other fishing and exportation laws that prohibited the harvesting of egg-bearing lobsters, and required export shipments of lobsters to be in boxes (not plastic bags).

The presiding judge and the appellant justices relied upon the following: in 1995 a report was received by U.S. Department of the Interior (Agriculture) that enforces the 1900 Lacey Law (oldest wildlife protection law in the USA) informing them that McNab's shipment of 72,000 pounds of lobster had been exported illegally and without the lobsters inspected or processed. Two-thirds of the shipment was comprised of lobsters (shorts) smaller than the legal 5.5-inch lobster allowed. 5,200-pounds of the shipment were egg-bearing lobsters, which constitutes a violation of Honduras fishing law. None of the lobsters was boxed.

Huang worked for a wholesale distributor who supplied lobsters to restaurants and other retail markets. She regularly ordered her firms' lobsters from McNab's shipping company. Diane Huang has not served any prison time.

Prior to the confiscation of McNab's shipment, U.S. authorities met several times with DIGEPESCA, which is the Honduran government agency responsible for enforcing the country's shipping laws. They informed U.S. authorities that McNab was in violation of three of their fishing laws, they provided copies of those laws, and they agreed to support any U.S. prosecution of McNab and others, which they did, even testifying in court against the defendants.

After the defendants were convicted by a jury and sentenced by the judge, the newly-elected Honduras government (three-quarters of their economy relies upon exportation to the U.S.) repealed one of the laws (030-95) on the lobster size allowed for harvesting. However, even at the time of 11th Circuit appeal the Honduran DIGEPESCA agency was continuing to enforce the 030-95 law. There is no dispute that at the time of the defendants' arrest and trial in 1995, the fishing law under which they were convicted was a valid and enforced law in Honduras.

The Lacey Law seeks to combat illegal trafficking in wildlife, fishing, and plants. There is no 'innocent owner' exception in the law Huang could have claimed, or the court could have found as it is not the court's job to re-write the law, only to interpret it. The law is clear in allowing no 'innocent' exceptions. When your business is trading in international markets, you're presumed to know the law.

Common sense and fairness constitute the basis of the appellate court's majority opinion denying the defendants' appeal. The district court (and jury) acted properly relying upon facts, Honduras fishing laws, and testimony provided to the court from the foreign government itself. That the foreign government changed its mind, in part, six years later (2001) does not invalidate the lawful conviction.

zenplato
04-10-2011, 12:30 PM
Is there an echo in here? :)

Scriptonian
04-10-2011, 01:24 PM
Sorry... think I got them all deleted. Every time I saved an edit it posted a new version. Don't know what I'm doing wrong....

Todd Karate
04-10-2011, 03:20 PM
Sorry... think I got them all deleted. Every time I saved an edit it posted a new version. Don't know what I'm doing wrong....

...Still talking about this?






(Sorry, you really left that sitting out there. I had to.)

Scriptonian
04-10-2011, 05:42 PM
Yes... probably, Todd. I just think every writer should be encouraged to offer whatever experience, suggestion, knowledge, and advice they have on any subject, and especially the law, which has many variables. Obviously, it's all opinion (and usually based upon general principles of law), and should be taken with a grain of salt, but often a writer's post can get you thinking about things or reasoning that may not have occurred to you, and it's free for the asking.

Maybe I just don't like any attempt at curtailing free speech here or anywhere... but that might just be the lawyer in me speaking....

JeffLowell
04-10-2011, 06:05 PM
Shouldn't the lawyer in you recognize that the 1st amendment is about government censorship of speech, and has nothing to do with this conversation?

Mac H.
04-10-2011, 11:27 PM
There is no 'innocent owner' exception in the law Huang could have claimed, or the court could have found as it is not the court's job to re-write the law, only to interpret it. The law is clear in allowing no 'innocent' exceptions..That's exactly what we are all agreeing on!

We've agreed that courts can't go by common sense and fairness - only interpret the law. In this case the result was that you import an animal product (perhaps by buying something on Ebay) and that animal product was transported in a way that violated the postal statutes (or perhaps another law) in another country then you can go to jail for 2 years.

It doesn't matter that you may not know the postal statutes (or other laws) in the other country. It doesn't matter that you don't speak that language. As you said - there is no 'innocent owner' exception to the law and it isn't the court's job to let 'innocent owners' off ... even if they are 'innocent owners'.

The fact that an average person (even a business owner) is 'presumed' to understand the law in a foreign country when highly qualified lawyers and judges and expert witnesses didn't understand the foreign law is exactly what most people would call 'unfair'.

I appreciate now that it fits your definition of 'fair' - that's OK .. it would be boring if we defined every word the same. But it does make conversations confusing - all this time I thought we disagreed! It's clear now that we do agree.

On a final note ... it's interesting that you believe that her conviction was proper.

However the US court system disagrees. The final appeal reversed her conviction !

Sorry to reduce your faith in the legal system.

Mac

(PS: You mentioned that 'There is no dispute that at the time of the defendants' arrest and trial in 1995, the fishing law under which they were convicted was a valid and enforced law in Honduras.' Did you click on the link I gave? The one signed by Secretariat of Agriculture and Livestock in Honduras? You know .. the guy in charge of the fishing law under which they were convicted?

The statement says, 100% clearly, that the regulation was NOT law.
They had a deposition from a US Law Professor at the time of the defendants' trial in 1995. It was the law professor's opinion that there the regulation was not law. How does that not count as 'a dispute' ?

The court didn't accept the deposition because he was deemed not to be an expert in the subject. I can understand that logic - there are strict rules about who counts as an expert witness in a court.

But think for a moment .. a law professor who studied the subject believed that the action was legal. A judge who heard the case believed that they hadn't committed an illegal act.

Yet, in your definition of 'fair' the conviction was 'fair' because she, as a business owner, should have be deemed to have understood that it was illegal. In other words - she is deemed to have had a better understanding of a foreign law than a law professor.

I honestly do understand your logic in arguing that it is still 'fair' ... but surely you can appreciate that it might not fit the common definition of the word !)

Scriptonian
04-11-2011, 05:42 AM
Mac H.,
When we talk about 'the law' it involves a number of concepts: the legislature who enact the law, the executive or agency (including police) that enforce the law, and the courts that interpret the law. I don't think we have any disagreement that the Lacey Bill is based upon common sense and fairness; its purpose to protect wildlife and prevent illegal smuggling into this country is a noble purpose. If a commodity leaves one country illegally, a country with which we have treaties and alliances, and attempts to enter this country, we ought not to overlook or find innocent those foreign violations of law.

We're not talking about buying a watch on eBay, and I doubt you can find any criminal prosecution of any buyer of such a single commodity. We know that buyers should be beware, and if you're buying a Rolex for fifteen dollars you're not exactly innocent.

We're talking about an exporter (McNab) who shipped what I now understand to be 400,000 pounds of lobster worth 4.6 million dollars to the United States in violation of several Honduran laws dealing with: size of lobster permitted to be harvested (Law 030-95); requirement that those lobsters be processed and inspected prior to export; violations in harvesting egg-bearing lobsters; and failure to comply with lobster packaging requirements. Diane Huang's import-export business had been doing business with McNab for years. I see no innocence in her company.

I'd be the first to agree that law enforcement often is over-zealous in deciding whom to prosecute under laws they administer or enforce, which leaves it to the courts to sort it all out, and to right wrongs that may have been committed. The sheer volume of the business Diane Huang conducted with McNab speaks to her duty to ascertain her supplier's compliance with the law. McNab produced no documents or declarations required by the Lacey law, which might have limited Haung's liability. The lobster shipment in this case was clearly smuggled - moved from lobster boats to a container ship that bagged the lobsters in plastic bags, and then skipped all check points before exporting to obliging (willingly blind) wholesalers like Huang. The egg-bearing lobsters alone (a good part of the shipment) was reason enough for Huang to be suspicious, in my opinion, as egg-bearing lobsters are also protected here in the states.

I read the district and appeals court opinions. The defendants (McNab went to jail) appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for Certiorari to review the 11th Circuit's affirming the district court's guilty verdict. I read those court documents. A Supreme Court review was not granted to my knowledge. You indicate a later ruling that exonerated Diane Huang; I'm not aware of any such ruling. Can you provide more information? Huang has not served prison time, but that may have to do with other factors having nothing to do with her guilt or innocence.

The courts are the final arbitrators of laws that legislatures pass and executive branches enforce. Again, I'm hard-pressed to find common sense and fairness absent or lacking in court rulings in the pursuit of justice.

The Road Warrior
04-11-2011, 06:26 AM
If you gain a better understanding of the basics through discussions, it'll probably assist with any later discussions with an attorney. Anyway, a lot of working law isn't about the law per se -- it's about negotiation and agreement.

Scriptonian
04-11-2011, 06:33 AM
Shouldn't the lawyer in you recognize that the 1st amendment is about government censorship of speech, and has nothing to do with this conversation?

The law is a wonderfully fluid thing, Jeff; nothing static about it. I don't recognize the limits you place on free speech, and neither do many state constitutions that provide free speech protections more comprehensive than those found in the First Amendment to the Constitution.

For instance, in the California case of Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins the court ruled that the First Amendment may allow private property owners to prohibit trespass by political speakers, but that California was permitted to restrict property owners whose property is "equivalent to a traditional public forum" from enforcing their private property rights to exclude people or curtail speech.

I believe companies licensed to conduct business on the Internet are 'public thoroughfares' that may not unduly burden, restrict, or suppress free speech. The court in the California case did find that the shopping center could impose "reasonable restrictions."

This tread is unreasonable in the OP's attempt to suppress and/or restrict speech in my informed (and nothing humble about it) opinion.

Scriptonian
04-11-2011, 06:42 AM
Totally agree with you, Road Warrior. To hear from others who've been down the road before helps to prepare you for those meetings, discussions, and contractual arrangements with agents, producers, and others, including lawyers.

sarajb
04-11-2011, 06:53 AM
This tread is unreasonable in the OP's attempt to suppress and/or restrict speech in my informed (and nothing humble about it) opinion.
The original post is advice.

The Road Warrior
04-11-2011, 07:13 AM
Totally agree with you, Road Warrior. To hear from others who've been down the road before helps to prepare you for those meetings, discussions, and contractual arrangements with agents, producers, and others, including lawyers.

It's interesting how in legal negotiations the law sits on the sidelines until people fall out. Then it rushes back in ...
:)

But for the working writer, I've found books like The Permission Seeker's Guide through the Legal Jungle by Joy R Butler useful, just a quick resource, neither too dumb, nor too heavy!

But it doesn't talk to you, hence where getting some ideas, even if that's off the web, may be useful imo.

to add: I think you have to be wary of everyone, even attorneys; how do you know for example if the advice is sound, up-to-date, or the best for you if you're being led by the nose?

Scriptonian
04-11-2011, 07:19 AM
I advise you, Sara, to not option your script. I give you my reasons, which may be based upon a number of factors. How is that any different from my exercising free speech? You have the option of ignoring my advice, considering it, researching it, talking to someone else about it (lawyer), or accepting it. I see no distinction between advice and speech for the purpose of this thread.

Scriptonian
04-11-2011, 07:26 AM
to add: I think you have to be wary of everyone, even attorneys; how do you know for example if the advice is sound, up-to-date, or the best for you if you're being led by the nose?

I agree again; it should all be considered opinion. The law changes too fast, is often different from one jurisdiction to another, and can be very precise. But asking questions and receiving answers gets you started in resolving legal issues. Who wouldn't want all the help and free advice they can get?

sarajb
04-11-2011, 07:52 AM
You have the option of ignoring my advice, considering it, researching it, talking to someone else about it (lawyer), or accepting it.
Just as you have with the advice given in the OP. Those who've heeded the OP haven't had their free speech suppressed. They simply recognize the advice as sound.

Case and point would be the advice you just gave in another thread about recording conversations without consent. Everything I've found says federal law only requires one party consent, but many states (like California) have two party consent laws which supersede the federal law. For sake of argument, let's say what I've found is true*. What if someone got in a lot of trouble, because they recorded a conversation at an agency without the other party's consent, on your word that it was okay to do it and you seemed like you knew what you were talking about?

*I don't know if it's true or how the laws are interpreted or enforced. It was a five minute internet search.

asjah8
04-11-2011, 07:59 AM
This tread is unreasonable in the OP's attempt to suppress and/or restrict speech in my informed (and nothing humble about it) opinion.

and this thread isn't about lobsters in honduras. i think this all originated because there are a lot of young unaware innocents who come in here trying to learn about screenwriting. quite often a trickle becomes a river that morphs into an ocean when discussions get out of hand and/or misread with basis in fact. imho, there's nothing unreasonable about the op attempting to stem the tide.

Gillyflower Cooms
04-11-2011, 08:26 AM
This whole board is filled with advice from people who have no real experience in the screenwriting business...Why should we take a different approach with legal business? It's funny that this thread warns about asking legal advice but it's filled with all sorts of quotes, legal precedents and lawschool quarterbacking by people who have no professional legal experience...Why am I the only one who sees the irony here? Like in true DDP tradition, the real lawyer scriptonian gets shot down by the non-pros...I thik Will and scriptonian have it right...Ask but don't act. Message baords are all about bad advice from people who have no experience or right dishing out any advice. Why should we all of a sudden discriminate when it comes to legal advice? :rolling:

sc111
04-11-2011, 08:33 AM
I think it should also be mentioned that different attorneys can often give different advice on the same exact issue.

Different attorneys will take a different approach to crafting their argument on the same case.

The difference is it's professional not amateur advice.

In the end, whether the advice is professional or amateur, the individual has to decide who's advice to take. It's still buyer (of advice) beware, no?

JeffLowell
04-11-2011, 08:47 AM
Case and point would be the advice you just gave in another thread about recording conversations without consent. Everything I've found says federal law only requires one party consent, but many states (like California) have two party consent laws which supersede the federal law. For sake of argument, let's say what I've found is true*. What if someone got in a lot of trouble, because they recorded a conversation at an agency without the other party's consent, on your word that it was okay to do it and you seemed like you knew what you were talking about?

Priceless. Yes, telephone conversations are private, and yes, all parties on the call have to give consent. And if you're calling from a one party consent state to an all party consent state, the all party consent state is the one whose law takes precedence.

The Road Warrior
04-11-2011, 09:03 AM
This whole board is filled with advice from people who have no real experience in the screenwriting business...Why should we take a different approach with legal business? It's funny that this thread warns about asking legal advice but it's filled with all sorts of quotes, legal precedents and lawschool quarterbacking by people who have no professional legal experience...Why am I the only one who sees the irony here? Like in true DDP tradition, the real lawyer scriptonian gets shot down by the non-pros...I thik Will and scriptonian have it right...Ask but don't act. Message baords are all about bad advice from people who have no experience or right dishing out any advice. Why should we all of a sudden discriminate when it comes to legal advice? :rolling:

Real lawyers try to avoid giving real advice over the telephone to their clients, so you've got no chance over the web Gillyflower.

It's all about Professional Indemnity insurance.

Gillyflower Cooms
04-11-2011, 09:41 AM
I get it but it's the internet...I don't take the advice I get from fortune cookies seriously but I look forward to them at the end of a Chinese dinner...It's all the same around here...there's only about a dozen people here that should really be doling out screenwriting advice...but that doesn't stop all the traffic and it's fun to read advice from experts who have zero expertise. My point is that bad screenwriting advice can hurt too but we still encourage it. Everyone should understand that anything on an anonymous board isn't meant to be taken seriously...use any of the info as a starting point for your won research. Whether its about how to approach a producer or what movie to see or how to use a comma in a sentence or lthe relevance of "we see" or even legal advice. It's all for entertainment purposes only.

Scriptonian
04-11-2011, 12:58 PM
Gillyflower, I wouldn't go so far as to say questions and answers on message boards are designed for entertainment, but I agree with you they constitute a good starting point of useful information.

SC111, you are correct in that different lawyers offer different advice based upon their own interpretation of the law, which (as here on the board) may be right or wrong. In every court case there are two sides, and each side is represented by an attorney usually. One-half of those lawyers lose their cases, and one-half win.

Sara, I was incorrect to speak in broad terms on the age discrimination thread; I have corrected my post. Thank you for pointing out the potential harm.

It is not my position, Sara, the OP's thread should be removed. Todd's right to free speech is as important as mine. I merely want to argue as loudly as he does.

I point out to you and Todd that the title of this forum category on the Message Board is BUSINESS QUESTIONS AND ADVICE.

Legal contracts constitute the business end of writing for film and TV.

Jeff, in your example where the tape-recorded conversation is made from one state to another, each of which has different laws on consent, courts have held that in those cases the federal law (that does not require the consent of the party being recorded) supersedes the conflicting state laws.

The Road Warrior
04-11-2011, 01:33 PM
I get it but it's the internet...I don't take the advice I get from fortune cookies seriously but I look forward to them at the end of a Chinese dinner...It's all the same around here...there's only about a dozen people here that should really be doling out screenwriting advice...but that doesn't stop all the traffic and it's fun to read advice from experts who have zero expertise. My point is that bad screenwriting advice can hurt too but we still encourage it. Everyone should understand that anything on an anonymous board isn't meant to be taken seriously...use any of the info as a starting point for your won research. Whether its about how to approach a producer or what movie to see or how to use a comma in a sentence or lthe relevance of "we see" or even legal advice. It's all for entertainment purposes only.


Is writing really that fixed. Is it so esoteric?

And is the law for that matter?

nb -I've had 10+ years of experience within commercial law so I'm one of those lawyer thingymagigs, but I'm not convinced that makes me an all-seeing expert, I'm trained, I'm informed. I know quite a lot about certain things. Large disputes within engineering/construction law for example.

JeffLowell
04-11-2011, 02:18 PM
Scriptonian:

You are providing the perfect example of exactly what Todd was talking about. You gave the following advice in unequivocal terms:

It is lawful to tape-record any conversation you are a party to without giving notice to the other party to the conversation. Protect yourself from unlawful discrimination. If you believe it's being exercised against you, regardless of your age, gather your evidence.

If someone followed your advice about what is "lawful," they'd be breaking the law and could end up in huge legal trouble.

When called on it, you said:

Jeff, in your example where the tape-recorded conversation is made from one state to another, each of which has different laws on consent, courts have held that in those cases the federal law (that does not require the consent of the party being recorded) supersedes the conflicting state laws.

Again, you're speaking in definite terms: "courts have held." One second of googling, and I found another lawyer who said:

The situation can get hairy when a person in a one-party consent state calls and records a conversation with a person in an all-party consent state, but does not get that personís permission. There are several factors that go into which consent law applies. It is generally safer to assume that the stricter, all-party consent law will apply where either the caller or receiver is in an all-party state.

Again, you're giving legal advice that is, at the very least, open for debate. And if you're wrong, you're telling people that it's safe to break the law in a very authoritative way.

Todd's right to free speech is as important as mine.

This is the second time you've raised "free speech" as an issue on this board. Free speech does not cover a private board like this. If the owner of this board wants to censor and ban anyone who says the word "potato," he can.

For someone opining on the value of legal opinions one can gather on this board... you're not doing your side any favors.

nojustice
04-11-2011, 02:30 PM
PJ got very bad legal advice here. The worst possible, with the most dire consequences. PJ's situation is evidence of just how bad the legal advice here is, and what the outcome of that can be, and all this despite the fact that there seem to be more lawyers than screenwriters on this site.

You all might find the conversation entertaining, but people's lives can be destroyed when they're mislead in their understanding of the law.

It's easy to say take it or leave it, but when it's printed publicly and supported by a large group of people, many of whom claim to be lawyers, it gains the appearance of credibility, which makes it all the more dangerous.

sc111
04-11-2011, 02:49 PM
PJ got very bad legal advice here. The worst possible, with the most dire consequences. PJ's situation is evidence of just how bad the legal advice here is, and what the outcome of that can be, and all this despite the fact that there seem to be more lawyers than screenwriters on this site.

.

I don't recall PJ posting on Done Deal asking for legal advice.

But I'll shoot her a email and ask.

nojustice
04-11-2011, 03:22 PM
Whether she asked for it or not, she clearly wasn't discouraged, she was supported in it. By many who appear to have knowledge of the law, on a website that freely gives out legal advice.

Get your legal advice from the people around you, even if they're not lawyers, at least you have a perspective on who they are and how they live, and what they're real standing is.

zenplato
04-11-2011, 03:28 PM
Whether she asked for it or not, she clearly wasn't discouraged, she was supported in it. By many who appear to have knowledge of the law, on a website that freely gives out legal advice.

Get your legal advice from the people around you, even if they're not lawyers, at least you have a perspective on who they are and how they live, and what they're real standing is.

Do you know PJ? Did she tell how she did stuff?

nojustice
04-11-2011, 03:34 PM
No, not at all, I've just been browsing around the older threads here.

The official script request thread says it all.

She spent a large number of years posting here every day, that's very intensive, and now she's facing a serious lawsuit, couldn't any of the lawyers here have pointed out what the likely outcome of that was?

zenplato
04-11-2011, 03:36 PM
No, not at all, I've just been browsing around the older threads here.

The official script request thread says it all.

She spent a large number of years posting here every day, that's very intensive, and now she's facing a serious lawsuit, couldn't any of the lawyers here have pointed out what the likely outcome of that was?

Let's not make assumptions, please.

I'm sure you could PM PJ and ask her.

nojustice
04-11-2011, 03:40 PM
It's not a big assumption. Who else was influencing her?

zenplato
04-11-2011, 03:42 PM
It's not a big assumption. Who else was influencing her?
Ask her...

nojustice
04-11-2011, 03:52 PM
The biggest issue in this is the fact that most here don't interact with people in the film industry, and never have. If you ask a few legal questions and get a few opinions from people who work in a key role, you certainly will get a starting point for related issues and questions in a matter, but when you ask a message board full of people who have never had anything to do with making movies you'll get pure make-believe. And they are the ones who constitute the numbers here, and give a dominant impression. I don't think the lawyers here have had anything to do with the business, or they'd know just how cautious you need to be.

Scriptonian
04-11-2011, 04:02 PM
I'm not sure PJ won't win her case - on the basis of common sense and fairness. I wasn't here at the time, but I've read through those old threads, and I see no encouragement or discouragement in the posts. Not fair to blame any lawyer/writers on site at the time; copyright and fair use are complex areas in the law, ever changing, and there is something to be said for common practice among writers, I believe, along with other legal arguments in support of PJ. If blame is to be passed out, then I hold the site accountable with its sticky posts that give full impression of script sharing lawfulness. A brief on behalf of PJ should be filed by attorneys for the site it seems to me, or some site support to her defense given. Alternatively, DDP might be a proper party-defendant.

The Road Warrior
04-11-2011, 04:06 PM
Whether she asked for it or not, she clearly wasn't discouraged, she was supported in it. By many who appear to have knowledge of the law, on a website that freely gives out legal advice.

Get your legal advice from the people around you, even if they're not lawyers, at least you have a perspective on who they are and how they live, and what they're real standing is.


I'm not sure that "getting legal advice from the people around you" will assist? But perhaps we're getting confused here, are we discussing actual advice, that's an attorney-client relationship, fees paid; or asking for details about the basics of copyright, or what an option agreement is?

nojustice
04-11-2011, 04:13 PM
When you work in the industry you can ask the people around you some questions, like directors, or producers, or other working writers, people who work in a key role. You can see where they're coming from, to broaden your own understanding of the issues.

The Road Warrior
04-11-2011, 04:41 PM
When you work in the industry you can ask the people around you some questions, like directors, or producers, or other working writers, people who work in a key role. You can see where they're coming from, to broaden your own understanding of the issues.


Now I'm with you, you don't just mean people, as in family/friends? You mean people who really know.
:)

sc111
04-11-2011, 05:20 PM
Whether she asked for it or not, she clearly wasn't discouraged, she was supported in it. By many who appear to have knowledge of the law, on a website that freely gives out legal advice.



Well... this is far different than the accusation you posed earlier.

So now you're saying (implying?) because she was not discouraged -- by other members, by the site owner -- this qualifies as bad legal advice?

Richmond Weems
04-11-2011, 06:47 PM
I was all set to agree with those that said it was ok asking for legal advice, as long as it's understood that it's just advice coming from a message board on the internet. I thought Todd's initial post, while well-intentioned and reasonable, probably came down a little too hard in discouraging those with a certain skill-set or experience.

Until I read the last few pages of this thread, and saw those that profess to having legal experience confusing private message boards with free speech issues, and another castigate all of us for giving legal advice by omission.

So, yeah, I'm agreeing with Todd, and the only thing I'll be asking anyone on here for is bail money.

HH

Mac H.
04-11-2011, 08:54 PM
You indicate a later ruling that exonerated Diane Huang; I'm not aware of any such ruling. Can you provide more information? Dude - this is legal research 101. You seriously can't find it? I'm referring to the appeal over the request for retrial.

Read the judge's statements.

.. the real lawyer scriptonian gets shot down by the non-pros...This is frightening.

Scriptonian - please come out publicly and say that you aren't a lawyer. Obviously this is the case - you implied that in your entire life you'd never even read of a single case where a judgement or law went against common sense - but for some reason at least one person here believes that you are a lawyer.

Please clarify this. I'll come out and admit that I'm a total amateur in most areas of life - including law, love and screenwriting.

So don't take my comments on any of them without serious professional advice.

Especially the ones on love.

Mac
(PS: Ironically, though, I have a copy of 'The Telecommunications Interceptions Act' on my desk right now, which would be useful for the discussion on recording a phone call without the other parties' consent ... except that it's Aussie law instead of US law. And my copy is out of date anyway .. the damn politicians keep changing the rules. But it IS a lot more based on common sense than your version! [Basically, under these rules, if you are a primary party to the conversation you can make a recording without the other party's consent or knowledge for the 'protection of your legal interests'. But you can't broadcast it or even, except under certain circumstances, tell anyone who wasn't a primary party to the conversation that the recording exists. It seems to be a good compromise - it preserves privacy and still enables people like myself with goldfish memories to know what they actually agreed to. Common sense wins!])

DavidK
04-12-2011, 01:39 AM
In every court case there are two sides, and each side is represented by an attorney usually. One-half of those lawyers lose their cases, and one-half win.

This raises an interesting distinction between lawyers and other professionals. For example, when I go to a dentist I expect a better than fifty percent chance of getting my tooth fixed. When I hire a plumber I expect a better than fifty percent chance of getting my drain unblocked. When I hire a mechanic I expect a better than fifty percent chance of my car brakes working safely. What is it about lawyers that allows them to charge such huge fees when the best they can offer is a fifty percent chance of winning my case?

I think there's something about lawyers we're not being told.

The Road Warrior
04-12-2011, 02:18 AM
This raises an interesting distinction between lawyers and other professionals. For example, when I go to a dentist I expect a better than fifty percent chance of getting my tooth fixed. When I hire a plumber I expect a better than fifty percent chance of getting my drain unblocked. When I hire a mechanic I expect a better than fifty percent chance of my car brakes working safely. What is it about lawyers that allows them to charge such huge fees when the best they can offer is a fifty percent chance of winning my case?

I think there's something about lawyers we're not being told.


David - the 50/50 example is complete nonsense. Cases settle out of court. Statistics often place this figure above 90%. There are always exceptions and which area of law are we talking about anyway? Which cases? We're back into b.s. territory, again.

The Road Warrior
04-12-2011, 02:29 AM
I'm not sure PJ won't win her case - on the basis of common sense and fairness. I wasn't here at the time, but I've read through those old threads, and I see no encouragement or discouragement in the posts. Not fair to blame any lawyer/writers on site at the time; copyright and fair use are complex areas in the law, ever changing, and there is something to be said for common practice among writers, I believe, along with other legal arguments in support of PJ. If blame is to be passed out, then I hold the site accountable with its sticky posts that give full impression of script sharing lawfulness. A brief on behalf of PJ should be filed by attorneys for the site it seems to me, or some site support to her defense given. Alternatively, DDP might be a proper party-defendant.


This is complete and utter nonsense.

People shouldn't even be referring to a case that is up and running, let alone spewing out this kind of tosh.

DavidK
04-12-2011, 03:02 AM
David - the 50/50 example is complete nonsense. Cases settle out of court. Statistics often place this figure above 90%. There are always exceptions and which area of law are we talking about anyway? Which cases? We're back into b.s. territory, again.

I'm relieved to hear that. And I thought the guy was a lawyer. Perhaps he meant something else by the expression "the lawyer in me" but I dare not speculate. Maybe the lawyer is only fifty percent in him. Or using your figures, ninety percent.

nojustice
04-12-2011, 04:25 AM
I see no encouragement or discouragement in the posts.


I found one post, that seemed to allude to the legalities, although it doesn't actually discourage:

"One could argue that we're not even supposed to have these scripts in the first place and they'd be correct. "


But there are posts aplenty that encourage, some could very easily be taken as legal advice:

___________________________________________

I'd like to thank LIMAMA for her work to update, maintain, and offer her Mediafire account publicly. I believe the last four of my downloads came from there.

___________________________________________


Nothing wrong with requesting, after all it is a request thread

___________________________________________


Big Props and respect to LIMAMA (with her MF Beast) -- you rock! Thanks for sharing and all of your posts. Excellent folks. It's because of the cool people that share on here that makes this forum worth reading.

___________________________________________


I wouldn't have a problem downloading. Wink. Wink. Hint. Hint.

___________________________________________


Hey everybody. First of all thanks to Mama for the beast .

___________________________________________

Holy hell! You are awesome,

Thanks so much for posting these.


___________________________________________


are we in a union?

More like the Freemasons.

More like a gay sauna.

DOWN WITH ELITEISM!!!

___________________________________________


This should be good for everyone in the end.

___________________________________________


to LiMama: keep up the good work!

___________________________________________


i also really dig what LIMAMA does because having that resource is great for people. no one should be complaining about any of this because its a privilege that anything leaks these days. Just be thankful anyone is willing to risk whatever connections they have or in some cases, their jobs, just to get new material out in the open for average folks to read and analyze and debate over.

___________________________________________


If somebody wanted to find out my identity because I posted it, it wouldn't be that hard to track me down. Is this really something that should concern me? Hundreds of others have posted screenplays here before me and I've never heard of any concerns.

___________________________________________


And the moral of the story is: just keep checking LIMAMA'S beast

____________________________________________

we're all here to learn screenwriting and hopefully be a community that looks out for each other. as noobs, we're all in the same boat. if folks don't want to join tb, i really do suggest limama's beast as she is clearly professional and careful about what is fair game to pass along.

____________________________________________


I'm all for sharing, and love the community

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In my opinion everyone is free to do whatever he wants with his collection

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I stress that the whole project is designed for educational purposes.

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Why you do not become an honest guy ? All of us share. Why you do not give up these stupid rules of exchange?

____________________________________________


kudos to Limama for her amazing collection. You're really awesome.

____________________________________________


Hi LIMAMA. If you need any scripts let me know. Would love to help out, even with donating to get a better file sharing account at another place.

____________________________________________


I could care less if that guy gets burned as a result.

_____________________________________________


If someone wants to share a script in a thread strictly dedicated to such, what's the problem?

______________________________________________

Richmond Weems
04-12-2011, 05:21 AM
But there are posts aplenty that encourage, some could very easily be taken as legal advice...

Only by you. If you truly think the statements you posted could "very easily be taken as legal advice" then I have all kinds of "legal" advice I can give you.

HH

nojustice
04-12-2011, 05:36 AM
I said *some*.

"I stress that the whole project is designed for educational purposes."

This comment is suggesting it's legal as long as it's educational.

The point I'm making is, when you ask for legal advice here, these are some of the voices that will be advising you, and they couldn't be more wrong, yet they're convincing to the layperson because there are so many of them.

I'm just saying Mr Karate is right, you're making a mistake asking for, or offering, legal advice here.

Todd Karate
04-12-2011, 09:36 AM
Mods, can we lock this soon? It's been all downhill since Mazin's oncology post.

ihavebiglips
04-12-2011, 09:41 AM
****in' Mazin. I swear.

Done Deal Pro
04-12-2011, 10:06 AM
All right. It looks like this has been covered enough for now -- if not for quite a while.