Booking Talent in Florida? Better have a Florida Talent License.

FloridaSealAre you a person or company who, for compensation, engages in the business of procuring or attempting to procure engagements for a person performing on the professional stage or in the production of television, radio, or motion pictures; a musician or group of musicians; or a model? If you do, then the State of Florida considers you a talent agent for performing artists. More importantly, were you aware that a person may not “own, operate, solicit business, or otherwise engage in or carry on the occupation of a talent agency in this state unless such person first procures a license for the talent agency from the department.” See Fla. Statutes §468.403. Owning, operating, or soliciting business as a talent agency in Florida without first procuring a license is considered a felony of the third degree and punishable by imprisonment of up to five years.

In order to obtain a license each owner of a talent agency must submit to the Florida Department of Professional Regulation an application for licensure. Among the information necessary on this application is proof of at least one year of direct experience or similar experience of the operator of such agency in the talent agency business or as a subagent, casting director, producer, director, advertising agency, talent coordinator, or musical booking agent. Each applicant must provide a full set of fingerprints and a photograph of herself or himself taken within the preceding two years. The application must also be accompanied by affidavits of at least five reputable persons, other than artists, who have known or have been associated with the applicant for at least three years, stating that the applicant is a person of good moral character or, in the case of a corporation, has a reputation for fair dealing. A filing fee and proof of a $5,000.00 bond must also be submitted with the application.

It should be noted that a license is not required for a person who acts as an agent for herself or himself, a family member, or exclusively for one artist. If you think you may qualify for this particular exception, you should consult with an entertainment attorney for a complete legal opinion as to the specifics of your circumstances.

Holding a license isn’t the final step for a Florida talent agent. Florida law requires that each talent agency keep on file the application, registration, or contract of each artist. Specifically, that file must include the name and address of each artist, the amount of the compensation received, and all attempts to procure engagements for the artist. Each card or document in the file shall be preserved for a period of one year after the date of the last entry thereon. Once again, the penalty for non-compliance is unforgiving; failure to accurately keep such records amounts to a misdemeanor of the second degree. There are other regulations by which talent agencies operating in Florida must abide. We strongly suggest that you consult with an attorney for a complete listing of talent agency regulations in Florida Statutes.

**The purpose of this article is to provide general information on the issue contained herein. This article is not meant to be a substitute for legal advice on any specific issue. If you would like to know how these issues would apply to you or your business, we suggest you consult with an attorney for a specific legal opinion.

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The Day Obscenity Became Art- from the NY Times

This is an interesting article from the NY Times Op Ed section today about the 5oth anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that re-examined America’s obscenity laws where artistic merit was concerned. 

dh lawrence

The Day Obscenity Became Art

By FRED KAPLAN

TODAY is the 50th anniversary of the court ruling that overturned America’s obscenity laws, setting off an explosion of free speech — and also, in retrospect, splashing cold water on the idea, much discussed during Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, that judges are “umpires” rather than agents of social change.

Read the Rest of the NY Times Article.

The Battle over Wikipedia’s use of Digital Images from the British Art Gallery Intensifies

BBC News Work by Sir Joshua Reynolds was among those uploaded to Wikipedia The battle over Wikipedia’s use of images from a British art gallery’s website has intensified. The online encyclopaedia has accused the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) of betraying its public service mission. But the gallery has said it needs to recoup the £1m cost of its digitisation programme and claims Wikipedia has misrepresented its position. The NPG is threatening legal action after 3,300 images from its website were uploaded to Wikipedia.

Read the rest of the story

Copyright Infringement lands U.S. Blogger a Criminal Sentence

FBIEveryone has seen the FBI Copyright Warning that flashes before the start of each DVD or Blu-Ray disc. The warning gets about as much attention as the “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law” tag on the mattress. That is, until yesterday. While the FBI Copyright Warning is mostly seen before a movie and is worded as to the reproduction the DVDs, U.S. Criminal Copyright penalties  apply to all copyrights, including music. No one knows that better than U.S. blogger Kevin Cogill, who yesterday was sentenced on U.S. copyright infringement charges. 

Kevin Cogill, 28, authors a music blog called Antiquiet. In August 2008, he was arrested by federal agents for posting 9 unreleased songs from unreleased Guns and Roses project, Chinese Democracy. Chinese Democracy was GnR’s  first new album in 17 years and was eventually released in November of 2008. However, once the songs were leaked out on the internet, containment became difficult and they spread quickly resulting in widespread speculation and commentary on the anticipated release. Incidentally, Chinese Democracy did not sell as expected and sales were described as “sluggish“. 

Last December Cogill plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of Copyright Infringement. Yesterday US District Magistrate Judge Paul L. Abrams sentenced Cogill to one year of probation. Cogill is also required to serve two months of home confinement, subject his computers to government scrutiny and record a public service announcement for the Recording Industry Association of America. Cogill has also apparently agreed to cooperate in finding the source of the leaked tracks. 

The Guns and Roses pre-release internet leak was one of many last year, including tracks leaked on the U2 recording No Line on the Horizon. According to The Sun in the UK, Bono himself was the source of the leaked tracks as they could be heard (and recorded) by pedestrians as he blasted them from his beach house in the south of France. 

The Independent: Blogger Sentenced for Guns and Roses Leak

Yahoo News: Blogger Sentenced for Leaking GN’R Album

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Tweet and Sour: a Warning about shortened URLs

Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging phenomenon. For those unfamiliar with Twitter, the website allows users to post a “tweet” with a maximum of 140 characters.  A tweet provides a short blast of information about what the user is doing at the moment no matter how interesting (“I’m shark diving in Fiji”); historic (updates on the crisis in Iran from the crowd); or mundane  (“having coffee then off to the gym”).  

Tweets also allow the user to share interesting stories, websites or articles on the web. On such an occasion, a user would post a tweet with the web address (URL) of the article. However, many URLs are long and have more than 140 characters alone. To solve this dilemma services that shorten the URL by replacing it with a smaller URL web address appeared. TinyURL was the first service to appear in 2002 and shortly thereafter over 100 similar sites followed. This service has not been without its problems.  Consumer Reports yesterday cited a growing issue with some of these URL shortening sites: a bait and switch. Instead of the reader being directed to the intended article or link, the reader is being misdirected to a spam site or other malicious destinations. Last month Computerworld reported that a hacker hacked into Cligs a URL shortening site and misdirected 2.2 million users to the destination of his choice. Fortunately, the redirection went to a blog rather than a malicious site. The Cligs incident emphasizes the risk inherent in using these URL shortening sites.

In May of this year, Twitter changed its default shortener from TinyURL to its competitor, Bit.ly.  However, caution must still be used when using a shortened URL or when clicking on its link, as security is never absolute on the web. If at all possible post the full URL and keep your introduction short.  After all, brevity is the point of Twitter. 

Consumer Reports Blog 

Computer World: Hacker Hacks TinyURL Rival


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An invitation to Rick Newcombe and the Creators Syndicate in L.A.: Come to Business Friendly Florida!

A little bit of background for the general public: If you don’t know who Rick Newcombe is exactly, you’re not alone. I recently learned that Rick Newcombe is the entrepreneur behind the Creators Syndicate. Names aside, I was however, very familiar with his work with his company Creators Syndicate. Since 1987 Creators Syndicate has represented hundreds of influential writers in syndicating their words in newspapers and websites around the world. Writers such as Hillary Clinton, Bill O’Reilly, Susan Estrich, Thomas Sowell, Roland Martin and Michelle Malkin along with Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonists have benefited from the hardworking efforts of Mr. Newcombe and his company. Mr. Newcombe represented the wide range of voices from his hometown of Los Angeles. 

Mr. Newcombe loved his hometown of Los Angeles. So it was as a shock to him when, about 15 years ago, the city reclassified his tax category from a “resale and wholesale” classification to the much higher tax rate classification of “occupations and professions.” Rick did what any business owner in the same situation should do: he hired a team of attorneys and took on city hall.  To make a long legal story short…Mr. Newcombe won.  After several administrative hearings, it was determined that Creators Syndicate should be classified at the lower tax classification.  All was good in the world.

The city of Los Angeles left Creators Syndicate alone until 2007. It was then that according to Mr. Newcombe, the city council changed its position without warning. Disregarding the previous deterination, the city asserted that it wasn’t bound by any prior adverse rulings.  The city reclassified Creators Syndicate into the higher tax classification. Once again, Rick Newcombe found himself at the front lines of a legal battle. He hired another team of attorneys and brought a lawsuit seeking to have the city of Los Angeles abide by the previous ruling.

The outcome is still pending. It is an outcome that I will be watching here at http://www.FloridaSolicitor.com. In a recent editorial recently, Rick Newcombe declared that if the city of Los Angeles manages to prevail in the pending court action, he would move the Creators Syndicate to a more business friendly location. He himself would also leave the city that has been his home for the past 30 years.  A letter from Rick Newcombe detailing why he will leave LA can be found at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124718265362620253.html

Enough with the background – the remainder of this post is directed to Mr. Rick Newcombe himself.

Mr. Newcombe, I would like to weigh in on your search for a new home for Creators Syndicate. WE INVITE YOU TO RELOCATE TO BUSINESS FRIENDLY FLORIDA.  

Did you know that Florida is one of the best states to conduct business? Florida ranks No. 1 in the nation for workforce; it is among the top 10 in technology and innovation, and moved up to rank third overall in Chief Executive’s 2009 survey of the best places for jobs and business growth.

As an entrepreneur you can appreciate that Florida continues to gain ground among the nation’s top states for entrepreneurship. In 2008 Florida moved up to rank fourth overall in the 2008 Small Business Survival Index.  As for taxes, Florida’s continues to rank in the top 5 states for best tax climates according to the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council and the Tax Foundation survey. With no state income tax, low corporate taxes, a low unemployment insurance tax rate and sales tax exemptions for certain business transactions.

According to Forbes’ Best States for Business in 2008, Florida’s economic climate ranked No. 1 in the U.S. Florida also scored among the top five in the Labor and Growth Prospects categories. Four of Florida’s major metropolitan areas, Orlando, Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Cape Coral-Ft. Meyers and Jacksonville were designated by BizJournals in 2009 as being among the nation’s best places to start as small business.  Just in case you were thinking of launching a new endeavor.

My accolades only scratch the surface. More information about the economic benefits of having a business in Florida can be found at Enterprise Florida, a public-private project devoted to statewide economic development. www.EFlorida.com

The quality of life in Florida, and in particular South Florida, is just as attractive as the business climate. We have beautiful tropical oceans lined by coconut palms that sway in the smog-free ocean breezes. South Florida is sub-tropical so while other parts of the country swelter in the summer heat, it rarely gets past the 90s.  So imagine yourself at the beach, wirelessly finalizing the syndication of one of your columnists while contemplating all the money you will save without having to pay any Florida state income tax. 

And of course, while you are ordering a mojito making your final plans to relocate to Florida, I know an excellent attorney that can help you and your business with its relocation.  Just click on the Contact Us page at www.FloridaSolicitor.com

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It has begun… the first Bruno lawsuit

There were seven lawsuits in total against Sacha Baron Cohen with Borat. Bruno’s first lawsuit was filed a month before the movie’s premier. This lawsuit however, is more serious as it involves a personal injury claim. It will be worth following. 

Bruno

Sacha Baron Cohen sued over ‘Bruno’

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