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“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ~ Aldous Huxley

In today’s world, aspiring singer-songwriters can no longer rely on record studio executives to guide them through the ever changing maze of challenges and opportunities that wait for them. They themselves must be alert and attentive if becoming a professional, adequately compensated recording artist is their ultimate goal. There are multiple platforms that they can use to showcase and sell their songs, including, but not limited to, YouTube, SoundCloud, and AudioMack. The value of these platforms is that for minimal upfront costs to the performer, they can expose their music to millions of potential fans and consumers. The downside of online musical platforms is that they are breeding grounds for the unscrupulous to expropriate the intellectual property of the artist. That is why copyright law is so important.

Copyright offers legal protections to performing artists for their creative works. Registration provides notice to the rest of the world that the copyrighted material is protected, and the owner of the copyright is the presumptive creator. Considering the important protection that it provides, obtaining copyright registration is very reasonably priced.
However it is not necessary to formally copyright one’s creative work in order for it to be copyrighted. A work is automatically copyrighted once it is fixed in a “tangible means of expression” and contains a “modicum of originality.” The threshold for originality is not high. In layman’s terms this means the work cannot be the product of someone else’s creativity, cannot be in the public domain, and has to be in a medium capable of duplication.

But to receive compensatory damages because someone ripped you off by copying your lyrics, stole your hooks, or sampled your tracks without consent, your work must be registered with the U.S. Copyright Office. It is also important to note that sound recordings have two copyrights : one copyright for the underlying composition and another for the recording. The copyrighted composition acquires publishing and mechanical rights—the right to reproduce onto CDs, DVDs, records and tapes, while the copyrighted recording confers rights to the masters.

The music industry is littered with tales of naïve artists who were exploited because they were unaware of their rights and unwittingly signed inadequately vetted contracts which assigned away their copyrights. Online platforms are even more precarious. Perhaps more than any other industry, the music industry requires knowledge of copyright law to ensure maximum protection. Whether one seeks a traditional publishing or recording contract, or aims to take advantage of cutting edge online music platforms, it is essential to have one’s music copyrighted.

Restaurant & Bar Regulations: The Finer Points of Compliance

Restaurant & Bar Regulations: The Finer Points of Compliance by Aaron Pierce Only takes 5 minutes to read!

It seems that everyone in the city loves to pick away at the margins of a hospitality owner. New York—especially New York City—red tape has made it very difficult to turn a profit. One of the best ways to maintain, and hopefully build upon, the already-thin margins permitted is to remain compliant with state and city regulations. As with most things, it is important to tend to the minutia. In other words, the devil is in the details.

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AIA Agreements Part 2

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AIA Agreements Part 2 by Aaron Pierce

In part two, we will continue the discussion on AIA agreements. If you’re an owner, a contractor or subcontractor, contact me here with questions or comments about AIA agreements.

Get landlord signoffs wherever appropriate.

The owner of the property, the landlord, has to sign off on practically every little bit of work before it is started. If not, the work will likely be considered a breach of your lease agreement. In this case, you could end up spending a quarter of a million dollars having work done on your property only to have the landlord then claim you breached the lease in doing so, and may even be able to have you evicted.

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What Is in an AIA Agreement? Part 1

What Is in an AIA Agreement? Part 1 by Aaron Pierce

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The AIA A101 is the standard form of agreement furnished by the American Institute of Architects which is used in generating well-defined business relationships between a Pand a contractor. These contracts have been crafted, published, and promoted by a very influential and nationally renowned industry group. Consequently, the standardized version is designed to protect the interests of the contractor and can be protective of a contractor to the sometimes-costly detriment of the rights and flexibilities of the owner.           

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Miscategorizing Employees as Independent Contractors Carries Serious Consequences

Miscategorizing Employees as Independent Contractors Carries Serious Consequences by Aaron Pierce

Only takes 5 minutes to read!

It is vital that all employers understand how seriously both the IRS and state agencies take the issue of miscategorizing employees as independent contractors. Any appearance of impropriety is assumed to be the case. It’s understandable when you consider how much money a business can save by classifying an employee as a contractor: employer contributions to Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, and worker’s compensation are non-existent in an independent contractor relationship.

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Forming a Corporation: Legal Documents You Can’t Do Without – Part 1

Forming a Corporation: Legal Documents You Can’t Do Without - Part 1 by Aaron Pierce

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Forming a corporation is a bit like entering into marriage: all the parties need to agree beforehand on how the corporation will work, i.e. what rules the entity will generally function under. Taking the time early on in the formation of the corporation to discuss and implement corporate operating documents will help avoid disruption and additional costs, especially legal fees, later on when disputes almost inevitably arise.

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New York Employment Policies & Employee Handbooks

New York Employment Policies & Employee Handbooks by Aaron Pierce

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Every employer with any number of employees should have written employee policies, delineated in a readily-available employee handbook.

Written policies serve to clarify expectations and reduce the company’s exposure. In many cases, policies must comply with statutory requirements from the state and federal government. I recommend that handbooks be signed by employees upon hiring, to demonstrate that the employee has read, acknowledges, and understands the policies of the company.

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