United States

The lawyers for the rock band Rush (one of my all-time favorite bands) served a cease and desist letter to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul for unauthorized use of their songs.

According to the Courier-Journal (first time I ever encountered the paper), the next legal step depends on the formal response the band’s general counsel gets from the Paul campaign.  They can be subject to damages of up to $150,000 for each work. Under 17 USC 412, statutory damages are only available for works that were registered with the Copyright Office prior to infringement, or within three months of publication.

For all of you Rush fans (probably only white men), here are a list of the offending songs and what the campaign used them for:

  • Spirit of Radio (first song on Permanent Waves). The Rand campaign pumped up the crowd with this one. The lyric Glittering prizes and endless compromises/shatter the illusion of integrity was used by Rand during his campaign speeches.  However, I think that his supporters may be more worried about the government sending out invisible airwaves crackle(ing) with light.
  • Tom Sawyer (from Moving Pictures). The campaign thought this was great fundraising music. This is the lyric that I am sure brought in the money from fans of the libertarian candidate: No his mind is not for rent. To any God or Government.

The lawyers for Rush say that it is not a political issue, after all they are all Canadian (with their socialized health insurance).

It is not unusual for entertainers to have issue with political candidates using their songs without permission.  The most famous example is during the 1984 Presidential campaign, when Ronald Reagan used Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA without his consent (he also had no idea what the song was about).

Well… There is unrest in the forest, there is trouble with the trees…


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“Art,” Linchpin, Seth Godin and the Law

by Fred Abramson on April 14, 2010 · 2 comments

This post has nothing to do with the law. It’s about art. I am not talking about art in the traditional sense, like Jackson Pollack or Pablo Picasso. I am talking about the art that you bring to your work and to your life.

In our economy, you are no longer guaranteed lifetime employment. The publishing industry is in upheaval. GM is running on fumes. The insurance company that you work for could be bought out tomorrow.  Just because you have depth of knowledge doesn’t mean that your job is secure. It doesn’t matter if you own your own company or you are an employee. The only way to get your worth is to stand out. You need to be seen as indispensable and to produce interactions that people care about. Seth Godin says that you need to be what he calls a “Linchpin.” (Read his thought provoking book). Now, success means being an artist.

To quote Seth Godin:

“Be remarkable. Be generous. Create art. Make judgment calls. Connect people and ideas … and we have no choice but to reward you.”

Every morning after dropping off my kids at daycare, I work to be a remarkable attorney. I am generous with my time. My art is providing legal services that are tailored to you. I write articles nearly every day working to educate you. You are paying me for my knowledge of the law and my intellectual ability to make judgment calls for you.  My goal is to connect you with the rest of my tribe.  Hiring a lawyer should be a unique experience for you and I work to make your life better.

I understand that you have a variety of options when choosing an attorney.  You may decide that you may want to hire a lawyer that costs less money. You may think that I don’t handle an area of law, like real estate and don’t bother calling me (yes I do handle real estate closings).  That’s all ok. I’m here to let you know that you know that I am here for you and for all of your legal needs.  No, I don’t handle every area of the law, but I probably know a lawyer who can help.

Let me know what you think about Seth Godin’s words and continue to do good work.

The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson practices the art of law in New York State.  You may contact me at 212-233-0666

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H-1B Visas Remain Available for 2010-2011

by Fred Abramson on April 13, 2010 · 1 comment

New H-1B visa applications for Fiscal Year 2011 have been accepted by USCIS since April 1, 2010.  The Immigration service has received only approximately 13,750 H-1B visa petitions.  The cap for 2011 is 65,000.  This is a huge decrease in visa applications compared to 2010.  I expect  that H-1B visa numbers will be available for quite some time.

H1-B applications can be filed with premium processing with an additional $1000 fee.  If you file an application using premium processing, the USCIS must process your application within 15 days that the petition is received.

What is an H-1B visa?

H-1B visas are granted by the immigration service (USCIS) to foreign nationals that are individuals who are offered a position in a specialty occupation.

What is a Specialty Occupation?

A specialized occupation is one in which require a high level of specialized knowledge.  The Immigration Service generally mandates that the job offered to would required at least the equivalent of a 4-year US Bachelor’s degree.

Employer Requirements:

  • The job offer must be in a specialty occupation
  • The job offered for the visa must meet Department of Labor criteria for wages
  • The company, not the employee submits the immigration visa application
  • No US Citizen is available for the job

Advertising Requirements:

  • The employer is required to advertise the position offered in the United States before petitioning to employ H-1B workers for those positions

If you have a question regarding H-1B visas or any immigration matter, contract me at the Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson at 212-233-0666.

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An Iron Worker close to Baytown, Texas prepare...

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The constuction industry is subject to more than its fair share of litigation. This not because the people who you work with are bad people (even though there a few bad apples). It is because industry itself if very complex.

There are many factors of what makes a project sucessful.  A successful project may not have anything to do with the parties involved. This includes anything from material shortages to the weather.

The people and companies involved in any given construction project are independent and often have competing business interests. The owner, contractor and architect are often at odds.

The time for an owner to begin thinking about construction litigation, which includes its avoidance, alternatives and costs is at the very beginning of the construction project. Obviously, the most important goal is to limit the possibility of a lawsuit as the most basic goal.

Unforutantely, due to the unpredicable nature of construction projects and the number of people involved in any given project there are likely to be disputes.

The time to consider litigation occurs before the point of confrontation. As an owner you should try to avoid it as much as possible by being aware of its possibility. You can do this by being careful about the people who you hire, and to define the legal rights and obligations of everyone involved in the project.

As an owner, the ability to  avoid a construction lawsuit is made likelier by the following:

  • A comprehensive background check of all the participants
  • A strong set of contracts that is uniquely drafted to suit your needs. This means you should avoid using the same agreement for each project and should be aware of independent contractors.
  • Setting out before the project each parties administrative duties and obligations. 

You should be aware that even a contract that is drafted with every considering in mind will not inherently protect you from a lawsuit.  However, with careful planning, the likelihood of your company being involved in a costly lawsuit diminished greatly.

The Law Office of Frederic R. Abramson represents both owners and contractors in drafting contracts and construction litigation. If you have any questions, call at 212-233-0666

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Senators Dick Luger and John Kerry introduced today a new piece of legislation entitled “The Startup Visa Act of 2010.” This visa would permit immigrant entrepreneurs to stay or immigrate into the  United States if they have secured “significant” funds to start a new company. The goal of the act is to bring new jobs, opportunity and investment to the US.

To make the visa available, a new EB-6 category would be created. This new visa category would draw from visas under the existing EB-5 category.

One potential sticking point for many budding entrepreneurs is the proposed legislation’s definition of “significant” funds. The bill requires investment capital available from a sponsoring US venture capital or angel investor of at least $100,000 in an equity financing of not less than $250,000. If after 2 years the immigrant entrepreneur can show that he or she has generated at least 5 full time jobs or attracted at least $1 million in additional capital or revenue, then he or she would achieve legal status.

Clearly, this bill is aimed at attracting startup immigrant all-stars. Perhaps the young entrepreneur from Russia who started Chatroulette would qualify.  It will also help young entrepreneurs with great ideas who have recently graduated from college who have  obtained venture funding.

Most immigrant entrepreneurs who contact my office have great ideas but only limited access to capital.   I field a few calls a week from potential immigrant entrepreneurs who have amazing business plans which would be inexpensive to implement, but would fall short of the capital requirements.  I am not sure Bill Gates would qualify for a visa under the Startup Visa Act of 2010 if he hailed from Bangalore when he started Microsoft.

Nevertheless, this proposed law is  a step in the right direction and I support the bill.

Full Text of Proposed Legislation of The Startup Visa Act

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For 2011 H-1B Visa Applications April 1, 2010 is the filing date #Immigration #USCIS

February 5, 2010

On April 1, 2010 The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will accept new H-1B visa applications for Fiscal Year 2011 (for work which starts on October 1, 2010).  Now is the time to review your files to see whether you are in need of any H-1B visas for your workers.
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