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Author Archives: Gordon Firemark

Defending against knockoff-artists and copycats?  The struggle is real!

Defending against knockoff-artists and copycats? The struggle is real!

I'm working on something new…

Recently, I've had conversations with several information product and online-course creators who've faced copycats and knockoff artists who steal their programs and content.  It's a frustrating problem… and it's growing!

Registering your copyrights and trademarks provides a degree of protection, but unless the owner of the material is prepared to pursue costly legal action, there's not much of a remedy available.

Sometimes, even sending a cease-and-desist letter can be tricky and can even lead to costly litigation.

There's got to be a better way!

Fortunately, I've been able to help these folks develop some additional strategies to act as deterrents, to provide swift recourse to take-down illegitimate copies, and to allow for actions in which legal fees may (sometimes at least) be paid by the defendant.

Join my waitlist

I'm currently preparing something, (white paper? webinar? mini-course?  I don't even know yet). What I can tell you is that it will teach you how to implement some less obvious, but effective strategies.

Want a sneak-peak?

How the spice of life saved my bacon!

How the spice of life saved my bacon!

This past 16 months have been hard for everyone… with the pandemic-related shutdowns and restrictions, so many business have been hit hard. When it all began, I was fearful. I knew that film, television and theatre production ( my most significant law practice areas) would basically be dormant… and that meant my practice could well be stagnant (or worse) for who knows how long?

They say that Variety is the spice of life! Well, I'm a believer!

Fortunately, I had built some variety into my practice and my life. As a podcaster, I've always devoted some energy and resources to that community, and I'd been doing some online teaching for a while already, too.

Luckily, those skills have been in demand, and the world of podcasting has taken off!

So, I'm grateful for the diversity. I'm grateful to whatever power or influence guided me to develop these new practice areas and skillsets.

Coming out of the darkness

But now, as we start to emerge from the darkness, and film, tv, and theatrical productions resume, I'm grateful for that as well. It's good to see the sunshine again. The arts will recover.

If you rely on just one thing for your income, I urge you to consider diversifying. Develop something else that you can rely on in case things come crashing down again. Call it a side-hustle, call it moonlighting, call it diversification, whatever. I'm betting you've got some unique, special bit of knowhow or expertise that would provide value to others… so why not look at expanding on that? (and if you want a little advice or help exploring that, let me know… I'm happy to help.)

What actually IS a podcast network, anyway?

What actually IS a podcast network, anyway?

This week, I've been head-down on a couple of projects for start-up podcast networks. Every network is a little bit different, but they all have a few common hallmarks. Here are some examples:

  1. Overall character of the relationship. Is the host a gun-for-hire, or an owner of the show? What are the responsibilities of the host/podcaster? What does the host/podcaster receive as compensation/benefit for being part of the network?
  2. Network Ad-Sales – most networks are mainly about shifting the monetization of podcasts to the network, which handles selling ad inventory within the various shows, managing the ad ‘traffic', billing, collections, etc.
  3. Revenue Splits – this varies widely. Some networks retain only a small portion of revenues (akin to a sales commission), while others keep a larger slice of the pie. Typically, this relates to the level of other services the network provides. (e.g., media- and web-hosting, production facilities and equipment, production and post-production services, etc.)
  4. Network Services. Some networks are high-touch, and others are very loose, handling little more than ad-sales and a bit of promotion of the episodes.
  5. Distribution. Many networks insist on controlling the distribution of shows, so that they're only accessible through the network's designated rss feed, channels, etc. This relieves show creators of a burden, but also limits how portable the show is later on.
  6. Cross-Promotion. Most networks expect their podcast hosts to invite hosts of other network-programs onto their shows as guests. Many also furnish network cross-promo ads to be played, and graphics to be displayed. Network ID messages are also typically required of all shows.
  7. Intellectual Property and liability issues. All networks have to be concerned about the content they distribute. They require assurances that the content furnished by the show hosts is original or properly licensed, in conformity to the network's technical, quality, and content specifications. (i.e., no explicit content, no discussion of certain topics, etc.). The network will also require that the content creators indemnify against any problems that may arise. Content creators are justified in asking for similar assurances against claims that arise as a result of network action, errors, or omissions.
  8. Termination, This is often a hotly contested deal point. What happens at the end of the term of the contract? What if things aren't working to everybody's satisfaction? Can one party end the relationship? Who gets what if that happens? Who actually owns the show title, format, episode content. What happens to the RSS feed? Hosting accounts? Social media and email?

Bottom line: Although each network operates a little differently, they generally follow common themes that are not too dissimilar to those we also encounter in the television industry.

If you're starting or joining a network, please don't try to do everything yourself and reinvent the wheel. Let me help you work out your deal terms and protect your interests.

A glimmer of good news for theatres, producers and other live-performance operators suffering during pandemic

Theatre owners, operators and producers are among those eligible for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program being administered by the Small Business Administration. The program was created under The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, signed into law on December 27, 2020. The program includes $15 billion in grants to shuttered… Continue Reading

Promoting your show with sweepstakes, contests and  lotteries

Promoting your show with sweepstakes, contests and lotteries

Running a contest or a giveaway is a brilliant, and cost-effective way to get your audience engaged and get fresh leads, drive lots of meaningful actions, Attract people to your content, get them to share it, and more.  But it’s important to exercise caution and make sure that you’re complying with the relevant laws. You… Continue Reading

Can (and should) producers use COVID-19 waivers from cast and crew to limit their liability?

Can (and should) producers use COVID-19 waivers from cast and crew to limit their liability?

The scenario An actor client today told me that she’s been asked to sign a document before coming to work on a new project. The waiver expresses all kinds of new protocols for minimizing disease transmission on and around the set, but then it goes on to include a waiver, stating that she understands that… Continue Reading

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