Dave Ratner Presents

June 24th, 2016

Creative Law Network’s Dave Ratner has recently presented on numerous topics to a variety of audiences throughout the state. In the past few weeks, Dave has given presentations to:

Colorado Creative Industries Summit – Dave teamed up with attorney and CPA Ken Ransford to help creative people, businesses, and organizations better understand entity formations. Formations of limited liability companies, corporations, and non-profits was discussed and the presentation was featured in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent.

Moxie U – This event was presented by Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum, RedLine, and the Arts Student League of Denver. Visual artists of all types came to the museum to learn from Dave about intellectual property and business law as it relates to their work.

AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) – Dave spoke as part of AIGA’s “Buzz” series about “Knowing Your Creative Rights.”  An eager and well-caffeinated group of graphic artists learned about copyrights, trademarks, contracts, entities, and how to protect their rights!

Entertainment and Sports Section of the Colorado Bar Association  – At this luncheon and continuing legal education event, Dave presented on how copyright law applies to the music industry. Attorneys in attendance learned about the unusual and unique ways that copyright works in the music business. Dave also explained industry players and standards of the industry.

Rocky Mountain Intellectual Property and Technology Institute – Dave presented with attorney and former record label executive Bill Kelly to intellectual property and technology attorneys from across the country on counseling artists and arts organizations. The pair educated attendees about issues specific to the arts and what special considerations are important in the practice. This presentation was recorded and will be available online in the future!

Top 5 Instances When A Musician Should Hire a Music Lawyer

August 22nd, 2014

Musicians have the unique opportunity to make a career creating great songs but those songs – and the musicians themselves – need to be protected in order to find success. A good music lawyer can help a musician protect his rights and be successful in the long run. At Creative Law Network, we know the ropes and we can help. Here are five reasons why it’s important for a musician to hire a music lawyer:

  1. Forming a Band

When a group of musicians get together to form a band they are usually combining the efforts and talents for the good of the group. But who owns what and in what amount? Does everyone own the songs or only the person(s) who write the songs? What about the recordings? And how are decisions made? What happens if one member leaves the band? Does he continue to be paid for the songs he recorded? All these questions should be answered in advance and in writing so there are no disputes down the road. A music lawyer can help you craft a band agreement to memorialize this vital relationship and plan for future success.

  1. Live PerformancesMusic-Laywer-Denver

All the details of a live performance should be agreed upon in advance and written down in a performance agreement. Musicians need to be fully aware of what they are obligated to do and what they will receive for their work when they perform. At the very least, the major points must be clear: where to play, how long to play for, who gets paid, and how much. A performance agreement also needs to be clear about what happens if a performance is cancelled. A music lawyer will prepare and/or review a performance agreement to ensure the musicians are protected and the terms are clear.

  1. Signing a contract

Contracts are part of doing business in any industry but music industry contracts can be particularly confusing. Many contracts have a lot of “fine print” and contain confusing legal language that is not easily understood.  A music lawyer should fully explain a contract, answer any questions, and revise the contract in your favor. Signing a bad contract – or just a conract that you don’t completely understand – can cause significant problems in the future.

  1. Protecting intellectual property

The rights in your songs (copyright) and in the name of your band (trademark) are valuable intellectual property. What is intellectual property? Intellectual property includes things that you can own and that have value but aren’t physical items. A musician’s intellectual property is his most valuable asset. It is what will make him money and help him be successful. But intellectual property must be protected.  A good music lawyer will help you protect your intellectual property.

  1. Using Music in Movies, Television and Videos

The use of music in movies, television and videos is a great way for musicians to make money from their work. Music can only be included in a “moving image” with the express, written consent of the owner of that music. So if a TV show wants to use your song in the show, they have to get your permission to do so, in writing. They should also pay you for this right. Your music lawyer should negotiate these deals and prepare the contracts (known as “licenses”) so that it’s very clear what is happening and what you’ll be paid. Be sure to engage a professional that knows the deal so that you get the best deal!

At Creative Law Network, we understand the importance of your work and the need to protect it. Our experienced music lawyer, Dave Ratner, knows how to navigate the legal landscape to help you be successful. Hard working musicians deserve a lawyer who knows the deal and will work hard to make it happen. That’s Creative Law Network. Contact us today for a free consultation.


What is Copyright Protection All About?

August 21st, 2014

These days, with such easy access to everything on the Internet—from movies to books to pictures—many people assume that creative works are free to be used by anyone for anything. If it is on the Internet then it’s public, right? Wrong. Finding a photo online doesn’t mean that the person who owns it wants you using it on your website or for your own purpose. You can search for new music online, but that doesn’t mean you can freely copy and play that music wherever, whenever, or however you please. So, how can you tell what works are protected by copyright?

Copyright Defined

Copyright is the term used to describe the rights given to the creator of an artistic work. Copyright ownership begins at the Copyrightmoment the work is created and put in a form people can touch, see, or hear. The moment you finish a drawing or painting, it is copyrighted. The moment you express your ideas on paper or in digital format, what you’ve written is copyrighted. The moment you write and/or record a song, it is copyrighted. Copyright covers what are traditionally thought of as artistic works, such as writings, pictures, music and sculpture, but it also covers computer programs, technical drawings, maps and databases—the unique expressions of creative minds and bodies.

Ideas cannot be copyrighted. It is only when those ideas get their unique, tangible expression that they are copyrighted. If a person takes a photo of a building or writes about the zombie apocalypse, the idea of the picture or story can’t be copyrighted, but the way those ideas are expressed is what is copyrighted and owned by the creator.

What Owning Copyright Means

What does owning a copyright mean? There are many exclusive rights that come with being the owner of a copyrighted work. Copyright owners have the exclusive right to, or to authorize others to, reproduce a work, distribute a work, publish or present a work, and prepare other works based on that work—like adapting a book into a movie. Having the “exclusive” right means that the copyright owner is the only one allowed to use or license these rights. Anyone else that uses these rights without permission is infringing – or violating – the copyright owner’s rights.

Copyright Registration

Although a creator owns a copyright as soon as the work is created, in the United States it is best for the creator to register that copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registrations are fairly inexpensive and can be submitted online. Often times, mulitiple works can be registered with one registration application and one registration fee. A copyright registration is the best proof a person can have that they own the copyright in a work. The value of that registration frequently far exceeds the cost of registration.

Copyrights are valuable and the rights granted by copyright are exclusive. So, next time you’re online and thinking of using someone else’s creative work, be sure you have the right to do so.  Just because it is online doesn’t mean you have permission to use it.

Creative Law Network has expert attorneys based in Denver, CO to guide clients through the intricacies of copyright law and help them protect their rights. For more information, visit http://creativelawnetwork.com.

Hiring an Entertainment Attorney – Some Insider Tips

July 8th, 2014

If you find yourself needing an entertainment attorney to represent your creative business, these tips will come in handy. Finding the right lawyer and law firm for your business is one of the most important steps for your company.  While your creative business may allow you to color outside the lines, or even create your own coloring book, the world of law expects you to color by numbers and keep those crayons inside the lines.  To help you navigate this world, here are a few tips for selecting an entertainment lawyer and/or entertainment law firm to best represent your business.

Ensure you’re looking for the right type of attorney. 

Selecting an attorney requires you to find the right type of attorney, whether or not your business is part of the creative industry.  If you are a creative person or your business is in a creative industry, you should find an attorney and a firm that specializes in entertainment law and law for the creative arts. You want an attorney that knows the ins and outs of your particular type of business and/or industry.  Your attorney should already have the industry knowledge and know-how to best represent the interests of your company.

Ensure the attorney provides the services you need. 

entertainment-attorneys-denverIf you find an entertainment attorney and/or entertainment law firm that specializes in entertainment law, be sure they provide the specific services you need for your business.  If you want to hire an entertainment attorney to help with your trademarks and copyrights, make sure that attorney has the necessary expertise and experience before you hire him or her.  Otherwise, you’ll have to go right back to the drawing board. If you’re not sure, just ask!

Ask about the attorney’s and firm’s history. 

You also want to make sure that the attorney and/or firm you hire has a good track record and looks after the best interests of its clients.  Ask the attorney questions about his or her other experiences with the specific issue you are dealing with.  Ask how the attorney proposes to help you achieve your goals. And don’t hesitate to ask how much it will cost. You deserve to have these questions answered!

Creative Law Network provides expert legal services related to entertainment law, intellectual property law and business law.  Our attorney has years of experience helping clients protect their rights and achieve their goals.  Contact us to have all your questions answered. It’s a great first step!

Current Trends in Copyright, Trademark and Entertainment Law

July 7th, 2014

The digital era has introduced us to convenience, instant communication, instant information and unlimited databases for research.  Along with digital information comes the growing need for ways to protect it.  Our Copyright, Trademark and Entertainment Laws must be improved to protect against copyright infringement in the digital age.

What’s Happening?

In 2013, approximately $9.7 billion worth of software was pirated in the United States.  While copyrighting software has been Copyright Trademark Entertainment Law Trendspracticed for decades, the means to illegally replicate and distribute it has grown tremendously.  Finding ways to protect software developers and their products is imperative to keeping their companies running.  Similar issues are occuring in digital fields such as databases and digital media.  Today’s technology allows for easy, cheap and instantaneous file sharing.  Twitter, for example, averages over 9000 tweets per second globally.  It literally takes seconds for an original document or file to become globally accessible.  As these changes and technological advances occur, there is a growing need to update copyright laws and practices.

What Is Being Done?

The U.S. government is reviewing the current state of affairs and considering steps needed to update the relevant copyright, trademark and entertainment laws.  There is a recognized need to improve these rules to protect developers and distributors.  Database rights are also being reviewed.  Databases fall outside the protections of the U.S. Copyright Law because a database is not a creative work.  Regulation has been encouraged to govern the use of this factual information. Exclusive rights to digital media rights are also being reviewed for improvements.   Social media has exploded in recent years and the sharing of files is possibly one of the most common features of these social media websites.  Photographs, written documents, music and videos are passed around the internet millions of times each day, every day of the year.  The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was implemented in 1998 to protect the owners of creative works in the digital world.  However, technology has continued to advance and evolve faster than the copyright laws can adapt.

Present and Future

Databases, digital media, software and internet technology are part of our daily lives.  While many people give little thought to how information is received, there are specific rules governing the ownership and transfer of data and materials. There is a growing need to focus on updating the laws that protect the owners and creators of creative works and information.  The digital revolution presents new challenges for the current copyright, trademark and entertainment laws.  Changes must be made to ensure that artists, creators, distributors and owners are able to produce, protect and profit from their material under the protection of the appropriate laws.

At Creative Law Network, we help you make sense of all of these legal issues and changes.  If your work is available online, talk to us about ways to protect both yourself and your work.  We will help you understand the law and use it to your advantage.

Benefits of Hiring a Professional Trademark Attorney

March 28th, 2014

Many people look to start their own business, but starting a business raises many questions, including those regarding trademarks. For anyone looking to establish a trademark it is important to take the proper steps to ensure the trademark will be valid and protected. A trademark attorney can help you take the necessary steps to ensure you choose the right trademark and that your trademark is registered so that it is protected.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is a name, tagline, design, logo, or symbol associated with a particular business, product, or service. Trademarks are important to help distinguish and protect a business and its brand. Trademarks help consumers distinguish one product or service from another.

Deciding What to Trademark

Your trademark may be the name of your company or it may be the name of the product or service your company offers. Your trademark may just be words (known as a “word mark”) or may include a stylized design like a logo, symbol, or insignia. Your trademark should convey your message to your clients and customers. You can choose your trademark to convey the message you choose for your business. However, it is very important to also choose a trademark that can be protected and that is not likely to infringe others trademark.

Checking a Trademark

When deciding on a business name it is important to choose something that stands out and that people can remember, but it is also important to choose something that is unique and unlike other competing businesses, products, or services. This is particularly important when you view your business name as your trademark. You don’t want your trademark to be similar to any other competing trademark. If one trademark is too similar to another trademark, the first trademark may be infringing upon the second. To avoid infringement, check to make sure there are no other businesses, products, or services that might be confused with your possible trademark. Checking a trademark is an important step to ensure there is no likelihood of confusion between any two trademarks.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) maintains a database where you can search for registered trademarks and pending trademarks. However, searching the USPTO database takes special skill and an in-depth understanding of the specifics of trademark law. It is best to hire a trademark attorney to conduct a trademark search.

Registering a Trademark

Choosing to register a trademark is a daunting task to handle alone, which is why it is important to hire an attorney who specializes in trademarks. An attorney can conduct an in-depth search to ensure the trademark is not likely to be confused with another existing trademark. An attorney can prepare and file the necessary documents to properly register a trademark. An attorney can also offer advice on the best strategy to protect a trademark.

Starting a new business and registering a trademark can be complicated, so using the service of a professional trademark attorney is the best advice.  For more information about how to protect your trademark, or for information on how to prepare your trademark application, contact us at Creative Law Network today.

Basic Facts about Trademarks and What Every Small Business Should Know Now

March 28th, 2014

Here at Creative Law Network, we know that your trademark is one of your business’ most valuable assets.  It is your brand, the face of your business and the icon with which your clients will connect.  While it may seem small and is often overlooked, it is important to ensure that your trademarks are protected properly.

What is a business trademark?

A trademark is a recognizabletrademarks word or words, image, design, symbol, or expression which identifies a product or service as belonging to a specific business or organization, distinct from the other products and services offered by other businesses and organizations.  Your trademark may be your name, logo, or tagline.  Trademarks can consist of words, symbols, patterns, designs, slogans, catch phrases or expressions, icons, and even sounds—like jingles.  Trademarks are intellectual property and can be owned by an individual or a business.  Trademarks can be located on a package, a label, a flyer, or a business card, and can be displayed anywhere you might see a business or brand name.

What are trademarks used for?

In general, trademarks are used for identification, allowing clients and customers to associate particular products or services with the business that manufactures or offers them; however, trademarks also serve a much more significant legal function.  By using a trademark to mark any product or service, a business is claiming exclusive rights to use that trademark — which means that if another business or individual attempts to use or copy that particular trademark, it may be an infringement of that trademark.  The most effective way to claim rights to a trademark is to register that trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Trademark registration can be a complex process. Although engaging a lawyer to register a trademark is not required, it is strongly recommended.

How can you tell is something is trademark protected?

Trademarks are designated by distinct symbols that indicate of the level of protection a trademark enjoys. These symbols include:

• The ‘trademark symbol,’ ™ indicates an unregistered trademark. This indicates a trademark enjoys “common law” rights;
• An unregistered ‘service mark,’ ℠ is used to identify a service; and
• The trademark ® indicates that it has been granted registration by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Where did trademarks come from?

One of the first uses of trademark symbols dates back to the Roman Empire, where blacksmiths would often mark the swords they made with a symbol identifying the sword’s maker.  In 1266, King Henry III passed the first trademark legislation under the Parliament of England requiring all bakers to use distinctive trademarks on the bread they sold.

Why are trademarks so important?

Your business’ trademark is one of its most important assets.  It ensures that your potential clients and customers know your name, your company, your products, your services, and your brand.  It is the recognizable icon of your business, and it promotes and advertises your business as effectively as that persistent jingle that always gets stuck in your head.  However, simply having a recognizable name or symbol for your business is not enough.  Your trademark needs to be registered to ensure that both it and your business remain protected from instances of infringement, piracy, and misrepresentation.  For more information about how to protect your trademark, or for information on how to prepare your trademark application, contact us at Creative Law Network today.

Photo Credit

Our Copyright Attorney in Denver has the Information you need

February 22nd, 2014

The Internet has become one of our main sources of distribution and recognition.  Files and creative works have largely changed from paper format to electronic format.  Leisure online time has similarly transformed.  In just four short years, the Internet had 50 million users.  It took radio 38 years to reach this same number.  Most people use the Internet as their source for music, movies, videos, and general information.  “Sharing”, “Liking” and “Tweeting” photographs and videos are a common part of using the World Wide Web.  Many people do not realize that this simple action may be illegal.  Our copyright attorney in Denver can inform you of your rights to your creative works and advise you on the best ways to protect them.

As an artist, musician, photographer or journalist, you want to maintain and protect the rights to your work.  Unfortunately, the Internet makes it very easy for others to violate your copyrights.  For example, while photographs are easy to watermark with today’s computer programs it is just as easy for somebody else to remove that identifying feature.  A single image can be passed around the world within minutes.  In that same amount of time you will lose control and credit for your work.  Avoiding digital circulation is difficult but having protection from copyright infringement is not.  Our experienced copyright attorney in Denver has worked with many clients helping them protect their work from those who may illegally distribute it.

If you do not want to pay to protect your work or believe that your work is not valuable enough to protect, you should reconsider.  That one photograph may be taken by someone else and used on an expensive website or to market someone else’s company. The money that you deserve will wrongfully go  to the person who stole and claimed your work as their own.  Yes, copyrighting does cost money, but not a lot compared what you can lose by not protecting your work.  Contacting a copyright attorney in Denver may save you years of regret and make you lots of money.

Let’s look at the facts. Flickr averages 3000 image uploads per minute.  Facebook shares 70 billion pieces of content each month. YouTube averages 92 million page views each month.  These are staggering numbers.  Consider how much of that material was copyrighted and how much of it was downloaded, shared or saved without consent from the owner.   How many of these photographs, songs and writings were uploaded without proper rights?  It is also worth noting that there are individual website rules governing what happens to your content after it is uploaded to a site.  You must be aware of these rules in order to protect – and profit from – your work.

Creative Law Network is experienced and knowledgeable about copyright law and how to protect you from copyright infringement.  We have years of experience dealing with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Our goal is to help you protect your copyrights and your work.  Contact us for a free consultation about how we can help.

Exploring Intellectual Property Laws in Colorado

February 21st, 2014

At Creative Law Network, we know how challenging it can be to create and develop intellectual property. This is why it is important to protect your intellectual property, both while it is being developed and when it is finished. For this reason, Creative Law Network focuses on leveraging the intellectual property laws in Colorado to protect our clients’ intellectual property so they can own, sell, and license their intellectual property without worry.

What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual Property refers to creations of the mind—that is, property that cannot be physically touched but which can be sold, owned, and licensed. This legal concept applies to works that result from creative processes including inventions, designs, and works of a musical, artistic, literary or scientific nature. These works are those to which an individual has rights and for which that individual may apply for patent, copyright, or trademark protection. If handled properly, the owners of intellectual property may be granted exclusive rights to their intellectual assets. At Creative Law Network, we are devoted to utilizing the intellectual property laws in Colorado to recognize and protect your valuable intellectual property.

When were Intellectual Property Laws established?

The concept of the intellectual property, which forms the basis of our intellectual property laws in Colorado, predates modern times. The term “intellectual property” dates back to at least 1867 when the constitution of the North German Confederation initially granted legislative power to the protection of intellectual property. Furthermore, the concept of intellectual property greatly predates the modern terminology. For instance, copyright protection is included in the Constitution of the United States and the history of the patent dates back to the Royal Grants of Queen Elizabeth the First in 1558.

What are Intellectual Property Laws?

Intellectual property laws, including our intellectual property laws in Colorado, fall into multiple separate and distinct categories including patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Patents grant the rights to make, use, sell, and import an invention for a limited time in exchange for public disclosure of that invention. In contrast, copyrights give a creator the exclusive rights creative works such as literary, musical and dramatic works. Copyright protection is granted for a limited lime and does not protect ideas but rather the form or manner in which they are expressed. Lastly, trademark describes a recognizable name, design, or expression that identifies the source of a particular product or service. Each form of intellectual property law covers significantly different components and specifications of the Intellectual property it is designed to protect. While these distinctions can be complicated, at Creative Law Network we ensure the intellectual property laws in Colorado provide our clients with the appropriate legal coverage for their needs.

At Creative Law Network, we work hard to protect our clients’ intellectual property rights and, through our expertise in the intellectual property laws of Colorado, we can even help our clients to leverage those rights in order to attain the greatest possible benefit to their creative pursuits. We work hard to ensure intellectual property receives the specialized protection it deserves.

As Entertainment Attorney, I Look after Your Creative Needs

January 8th, 2014

What is an entertainment attorney?

An entertainment attorney is an attorney that serves the entertainment community. At Creative Law Network, we are entertainment attorneys that also specialize in law for the creative arts.  Entertainment attorneys represent actors, musicians, bands, production companies, dancers and artists.  We also represent chefs, managers, agents, publishers, distributors, clothing houses, product placement companies – any person or company that has a stake in the entertainment or creative industries.  Our entertainment attorney in Denver covers all of these professions, including non-profit organizations.  We function as the legal department for creative people and organizations throughout Denver.

Can’t I represent myself?

Of course you can… in the same way you can build your own house, launch your own five-star restaurant or design your own car.  All joking aside, yes you can act as your own entertainment attorney in Denver, but why would you want to?  As a creative, your focus is on your creative pursuits.  We are trained to prepare and negotiate contracts, protect your interests and advise you on legal matters as they pertain to your craft.  You could spend hours poring over long and complicated contracts, get tied up in tricky negotiations, or feel helpless if a studio or employer violates your rights.  Or you can rely on us, the Denver entertainment attorney specialists that have the skills and experience to fully manage the legal aspects of your career and business.  We are happy to work behind the scenes to help you succeed.

Where can I learn more?

A great place to learn more about entertainment lawyers and what they do is through HowStuffWorks.com.  Their article, How Entertainment Lawyers Work, goes into detail about the many different (and dare we say, fascinating!) aspects of what it takes for us to be entertainment attorneys in Denver.  The article mentions the Viacom/Google lawsuit, the Nas album fiasco, and the infamous writer’s strike, but also points out the more routine aspects of entertainment lawyer work, such as research, working with unions, and keeping the public interest in mind as well as our clients’ interests.

Why should I call Creative Law Network?

As our name implies, we are a different type of law firm.  We represent creative people and creative businesses.  Those in entertainment and/or creative fields face unique challenges; we know this because we have experience in these fields.  When you are looking for the best entertainment attorneys in Denver, you can have confidence in us.  We are here to help you because we passionately believe in what you do.  We want to represent you because we want you to focus your business so we can help you succeed.  From heavy metal bands to quaint cafés, from fashion houses to watercolor artists – Creative Law Network is the law firm that can represent them all.

Sounds great! How do I get in touch?

As the entertainment attorneys of choice in Denver, we are happy to offer you a free consultation.  Call us at 720-924-6529 or use the handy contact form on our website.  We look forward to helping you with everything from intellectual property law to licensing and everything in between.