Toronto Band Finds New Way to Protect Music

Bitcoin blockchains will also store music now. 22HERTZ, an industrial rock band from Toronto, will be encoding their new single into the Bitcoin blockchain. The band had attempted to gain a copyright for a single they worked on with Yoad Nevo, but ran into problems while doing so. The copyright issued only covered the title of the song, not the lyrics or the melody. The band was not satisfied with this and continued to search for new ways to protect their song. 22HERTZ then though of encoding it in the Bitcoin blockchain. Ralf Muller sat down for an interview with Coin Telegraph to explain why his band took the Bitcoin route.

Muller said two words explained why his band went with Bitcoin blockchain instead of the copyright they were issued: free and absolute. Muller said only protecting the title of their song was not enough. It was very disheartening for his band to learn that his song wasn’t truly protected and they continued to look at their options. Muller said he has previously heard of a book being “hashed into” a blockchain and the idea had been at the back of his mind since then. The interviewer also asked Muller very technical questions about the “hasting route” and “OP_RETURN limits” on the blockchain. Muller admitted to not knowing much about the blockchain, but he did say he feels comfortable using Bitcoin because he knows his music cannot be changed. When asked about his band accepting Bitcoins through their online store, Muller said he would do anything to help destroy the greatest evil on this planet, the Federal Reserve System. Muller believes that more musicians will move towards accepting Bitcoins for sales of albums and merchandise in the future.

Muller may be correct about the expanded use of Bitcoin blockchains in the future. Each bitcoin transaction contains a two-part script before the transaction is verified and accepted. Not only is Bitcoin able to encode songs, it can also code small data like texts and images. The largest advantage of Bitcoin, as Muller mentioned, is that the power of the network makes it impossible for anyone to change the information encoded in the blockchain. This may be very attractive to musicians and artists in the future. We hope this post has helped our readers understand why musicians are turning to Bitcoin blockchains to “copyright” their lyrics and melodies.

Source referenced: Coin Telegraph

How to Make a Great First Impression

How to Make a Great First Impression

As we go on with our day to day life, we meet many new people. Businessmen and women often believe that showcasing their skills, experience, and capabilities is more important than presenting themselves as trustworthy and likeable. Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Psychologist, says establishing your credentials is not always the first thing you should do when meeting a new client. She says the first question a potential client subconsciously ask themselves is: “Can I trust him/her?” Here, trust is defined as being likeable and warm. Cuddy believes only after you have proven yourself trustworthy should you being showcasing your skills and talents. Many people do not have trouble with showing off their expertise, but not everyone is able to immediately make a great first impression. In this blog post, we will discuss Cuddy’s tips on how to make a great first impression.

Don’t Talk, Listen: We have the tendency to talk a lot more than we listen. However, listening to the other person and offering nonverbal cues, such as nodding or smiling, helps the other person feel like they are important. In addition, do not offer advise until you are specifically asked for it.

Praise Others : Everyone enjoys hearing that they did well on a certain projects or assignments. If you do not know much information about someone, find out ahead of time about what they have been working on and recognize their hard work. Not only do people enjoy being recognized for their achievement, it is more likely to motivate them to work even harder in the future.

Don’t Practice Selective Hearing: There are many times when people feel superior to others in a conversation. Think back to the last time you had a conversation with your boss. There was most likely a moment when he/she was not really listening to what you had to say. This does not feel good. In order to make a great first impression, stop practicing selective hearing and give everyone a fair chance to make themselves heard. Someone’s social status or position in the business should not impact your behavior towards them.

Pay Attention: There are many times during conversations where we become distracted by our phones or even our thoughts. Not giving someone your full attention can definitely result in a bad first impression. If you give someone your full attention, it is more likely to will enjoy being around you.

Don’t Receive, Give: This may sound confusing to some, but it is something we do on a daily basis. In conversations and throughout the day, we are often concerned with how we can receive a benefit from something. However, you should only be focusing on giving and establishing a real relationship with someone you have just met.

Don’t Act Self-Important: If you walk into the room expecting attention or behave pretentiously, nobody will want to be around you. Stop trying to impress people and try to connect with them instead.

Other People are More Important: Instead of acting like you are the most important person in the room, treat other people like they are more important than you. By doing this, you will be able to learn more from them. If you just treat yourself as a the star of the room, others will hesitate to open up to you.

Choose Your Words Carefully: The words you choose can portray a lot about your attitudes and feelings towards others. Instead of saying you have to go to a meeting, say you get to go to a meeting with wonderful people. Always associate yourself with happiness and enthusiasm. Not only can the words you choose make a better first impression, they can help people around you feel better as well.

Don’t Discuss the Failures of Others: In an office setting, there are times when everyone enjoys hearing a little bit of gossip. However, never be the one that dishes out the dirt. If someone makes a mistake, don’t laugh at them. Simply learn to be kind. If you are one of the first ones to laugh at another person, the people around you will start to wonder if you do the same to them when they are not around.

Admit Your Failings: While it is not always wise to poke fun at others mistakes, do not be afraid to admit your own failures. Be humble and prepared to share your mistakes with others. Learn to laugh at yourself and this will cause those around you to laugh with you, instead of laughing at you. The more fun and open you seem, the more likely that people will want to be around you.

Source referenced: Inc.

Think Twice Before Flying Your Drone

Think Twice Before Flying Your Drone

The State of California has always been very concerned about its citizens privacy and has done its best to protect it. In the 21st century, the biggest threat to someone’s privacy is a camera drone. California is tackling this problem with Assembly Bill No. 2306. This law makes it both illegal and costly for anybody seeking to invade someone else’s privacy by taking photos of them with a camera drone. Many people say this law applies to paparazzi, but this is not entirely true. Drone sales have been increasing and many people buy drones for personal use. This can lead to concerns over where they  can legally fly their drone in certain areas. As a rule of thumb, a drone should not fly anywhere someone would have a reasonable expectation of privacy. An example would be your neighbor’s backyard.

The bill is an attempt to “expand a person’s potential liability for constructive invasion of privacy  by removing the limitation that the person use a visual or auditory enhancing device, and would instead make the person liable when using any device…to engage in illegal activity.” California lawmakers felt that existing laws on invasion of privacy did not cover drones and adding Assembly  Bill No. 2306 would better protect people’s privacy. The full act can be read at the link specified below.

Past laws on privacy said that a person was liable

"for 'constructive invasion of privacy' for attempting to capture, in a 
manner highly offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, 
sound recording, or other physical impression of another person engaging 
in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the  
plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy, through the use of a 
visual or auditory enhancing device."

Assembly Bill No. 2306 removes the statutory tort of “constructive invasion of privacy,” which required that device used to invade someone’s privacy either enhance the video or audio. Removing this part of the bill allows drones to fit the requirement.

The civil punishments for this act are very expensive and should serve as a deterrent for possible criminals. The act says any “person who comes within the description of this subdivision is also subject to a civil fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) and not more than fifty thousand dollars ($50,000).” In addition, anyone in violation of this law would be liable for up to three times the amount of any general, special damages, or punitive damages. In the case of paparazzi or anyone else invading someone’s privacy for commercial gain, all profits from the invasion will be given to the victim.

Although drones are available to buy in many big box stores and on several online sites, we recommend everyone to be careful when flying their drones. Many experts recommend flying drones in rural areas and far from residential areas. The fines and penalties for violating this law are very expensive, so we highly encourage everyone to strongly consider the purpose behind flying their drone and taking all necessary precautions.

Source referenced:

  1. PetaPixel
  2. Assembly Bill No. 2306
  3. Assembly Bill No. 2306 Analysis



Eavesdropping Explained

Eavesdropping Explained

As residents and citizens of California, everyone in the state enjoys the “inalienable right of privacy.”The California government has always taken privacy very seriously. In 1967, the state legislature passed an “Invasion of Privacy Act,” which outlined criminal penalties for invading another citizen’s privacy.

Today, Penal Code 632 makes it “a crime to use an electronic device to overhear or record a private conversation.” In order for eavesdropping to be a crime, the following elements are required:

  1. Must be intentional.
  2. Must take place without the permission of the parties to the overheard conversation.
  3. The conversation needs to be confidential. In other words, at least one party intended that no one else hear the conversation and expected privacy.
  4. Must involve the use of an electronic device, either to hear the conversation or to record it.

California has also acted quickly to protect cell phone and cordless phone calls. Penal Code 632.5 and 632.6 say intercepting “a call between two cell phones, two cordless phones, a cell or cordless phone and a landline phone, OR a cell phone and a cordless phone, with criminal intent and without the consent of both parties to the call” has the same penalties as ordinary eavesdropping.

Penal Code 632 Penalties

The penalties for eavesdropping can vary based on the accused individual’s record and the prosecutor. A prosecutor may try eavesdropping as a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is a misdemeanor, the accused individual can be fined up to $2,500, one year in county jail, or both. If it is a felony, then the accused can be fined $2,500 and/or sixteen months, two years, or three years in state prison. The maximum fine can be raised to $10,000 if the individual has a record of eavesdropping.

Not only can the accused face criminal penalties, an eavesdropper may also face a civil lawsuit. A victim of eavesdropping can sue for up to three times the damages they suffered or for $5,000, whichever is greater. Even if the victim does not suffer any economic damages as a result of the eavesdropping, he or she can still sue for up to $5,000.

Can you use information gathered through eavesdropping as evidence?

The answer to this question is no. Although gathering information by using an electronic device to eavesdrop may seem like a reasonable way to win a legal argument, you can face criminal charges for the eavesdropping. The evidence gathered through eavesdropping will not be admissible in a court of law.

When can you eavesdrop legally?

There are certain circumstances and situations where private citizens can eavesdrop legally to gather evidence. An individual can legally eavesdrop if he/she is one of the parties in the conversation and the person recording the conversation is collecting evidence because he/she believes that the other person is involved with the following crimes: extortion, kidnapping, bribery, any felony, or any annoying phone calls (Penal Code 653m).

You can also legally record a conversation with someone, without their permission, if you are seeking a restraining order against that person. This usually falls under the CA Domestic Violence laws and Penal Code 273.6. These recordings would be admissible in a court of law.


CA Penal Code 631 prohibits wiretapping. While eavesdropping and wiretapping are similar crimes, wiretapping is “the act of intercepting and listening in on phone conversations by using a machine to ‘tap’ into the phone line over which they take place.” Eavesdropping is only listening in on the conversation. Similar to eavesdropping, the penalties for wiretapping depend on whether the crime is tried as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Eavesdropping and Wiretapping by Law Enforcement

Interestingly, most citizens are not concerned about other citizens eavesdropping on their private conversations. They are more concerned about the government listening to them. The 1967 Invasion of Privacy Act made it very clear that eavesdropping laws did not apply to law enforcement officials. In addition, any evidence they gather by eavesdropping is accepted in court.

However, this does not mean law enforcement officials can listen in on your private conversations whenever the want to. If they want to wiretap your phone or intercept your calls, they must get a court order. Authorities are usually able to get court orders for the following crimes: serious drug crimes, murder or solicitation of murder, kidnapping, and terrorism. They must also convince the judge that other investing procedures have failed and wiretapping and eavesdropping are a last resort.

For Americans today, eavesdropping has become a serious issue with the rise of terrorism. We hope this analysis of eavesdropping laws in California has provided you with more information on illegal and legal eavesdropping. Our goal is that a more thorough understanding of eavesdropping laws in California will better protect our clients and businesses.

Source referenced: Shouse California Law Group

California Authorities and Biometric Technology

California Authorities and Biometric Technology

Police Departments and Biometric Data

Police departments in California have been using biometric data to identify fingerprints and recognize faces in an effort to find suspects. Agencies around the state have been using smartphone cameras and mobile apps to recognize faces of suspects. Los Angeles, San Jose, and a couple of other agencies use fingerprint data from biometrics to match them with criminal files. Some police departments are also beginning to use tattoo and iris recognition to catch lawbreakers. Los Angeles County police departments are willing to go as far as using DNA recognition and analysis to catch criminals, but this new technology will likely come with a hefty price tag. The facial and tattoo recognition biometric technology has already cost $2 million and the next step of the technology can cost up to $10 million.

Why are Los Angeles Country Police Departments in the Spotlight?

Los Angeles County police departments seem to be at the forefront of biometric technology. This may be a result of the San Bernardino Shooting. As people around the nation were watching Apple and the FBI battle over unlocking the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, something else was going on in Glendale, a city only an hour away from San Bernardino. Authorities in Glendale had found a phone that belonged to an Armenian gang member. When they found the suspect’s girlfriend,Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan, authorities wanted her to unlock her phone so they could get more information about the alleged gang activity. Her iPhone was protected by her fingerprint, but she was required to comply with the authorities and provide her fingerprint. This forced many to ask the question of how far the government could go to obtain fingerprints and other biometric markers.

Is the government going too far with biometric data?

Many lawyers and scholars were outraged after Bkhchadzhyan was forced to provide her fingerprint. Law professor Susan Brenna said the contents of a phone may be incriminating and therefore forcing someone to provide their fingerprint may be a violation of the 5th Amendment. Bkhchadzhyan’s finger was seen as testimony by many scholars and the information in the phone was seen as physical evidence. The US Supreme Court allows authorities to search phones and has permitted authorities to compel people in custody to provide fingerprints without a judge’s permission. Many people were upset by this issue of forced unlocking with a fingerprint, but others argue that the information found in a phone is similar to something that would have been found with a warrant. George Dery, a law professor and a lawyer, said, “Before cell phones, much of this information would be found in a person’s home. This has a warrant. Even though it is a big deal having someone open up their phone, they’ve gone to a judge and it means there’s a likelihood of criminal activity.”

The legal battle between Apple and the FBI really forced many people to take a critical view at the government and how authorities may be collecting too much information about average Americans. Although it was uncommon to see lawsuits over fingerprints and biometric data in the past, we expect to see a lot more litigation on this issue in the coming years. Since police departments in California are working on purchasing newer technologies to gather more data, we may see more lawsuits arising in the state in the near future.

Sources referenced:

  1. ABA Journal
  2. PC Mag
  3. Los Angeles Times
Do lawyers have an ethical duty to replace hacked client funds? It depends.

Do lawyers have an ethical duty to replace hacked client funds? It depends.

The North Carolina State Bar released an ethics opinion regarding an attorney’s responsibility when a client’s money is stolen by a hacker. The ethics opinion, which did not address the legal liability of the attorney in such situations, focused on the attorney’s duties to maintain computer security. Attorneys should educate themselves about the risks of security banking and hire technology consultants for any advice. Staffers should be adequately trained on trust-account management and taking proper safety measures when it comes to client’s confidential information.

Attorneys have an ethical responsibility to replace the client’s stolen funds if the attorney’s failure to take safety precautions was the proximate cause of the trust account theft. In plain language, the attorney should replace the funds if the funds were lost as a result of the attorney’s mistake. The opinion provided a hypothetical scenario in which a lawyer carelessly wires money to a spoof email set up by a hacker. The lawyer had previously been told to contact the seller by phone before any transactions, but he did not bother to do that. As a result of the lawyer’s mistake, his client lost money. Instead of immediately wiring the money, the lawyer should have contacted the seller directly. By doing this, he might have found out about the hacker’s spoof email. In this case, the lawyer has an ethical duty to replace the funds.

Lawyers are advised to immediately notify their client of any stolen money and help them identify ways to cover the losses. The hope is that lawyers will be more careful with their client’s funds and take the best security measures to protect their client’s personal information. These ethical standards from the North Carolina State Bar are only standards and cannot be imposed on attorneys. There may not be a clear-cut answer on whether or not attorney’s should replace hacked client funds, but the State Bar has attempted to outline a set of ethical guidelines.

Source referenced: ABA Journal

Is your Smart TV spying on you?

Is your Smart TV spying on you?

Quick Recap

Vizio, a consumer electronic company known for its affordable televisions, recently came under fire for its data collection methods. A feature in the televisions, Smart Interactivity, collects information about the user’s viewing habits and remains active unless you opt out of it. Vizio then shares the data it collects with third parties, such as advertisers and content providers. However, Vizio argues they never shared any information that would lead the third parties to identify the user. It is important to note that Vizio does not consider IP addresses to be personal information.


Two federal lawsuits were filed in California against Vizio in November of 2015, one in Northern California and the other in Central California. The suits allege that tracking violates CA consumer laws because private information is disclosed without permission of the viewer. While purchasers can opt out of the data collection, they are not provided with adequate disclosures on the information being shared about them in the time they did not opt out. Both lawsuits were mainly concerned with Vizio violating the Video Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits “any company engaged in rental, sale or delivery of audio visual content and not necessarily just video tapes—from divulging any personally identifiable information about its customer to a third party, except where the customer has clearly consented to such data sharing.” Vizio consumers never consented to the data sharing. In addition to Vizio being named as the defendant, the lawsuits also went after the company that provided the software to track users.

The new year brought good news for Vizio. Judge Beeler, in the Northern California lawsuit against Vizio, approved the order for the companies to use mediation to resolve their dispute. Since these lawsuits quickly became class action lawsuits, there are hundreds of thousands of people demanding answers from the television company.

With the majority of the televisions becoming smart televisions, we urge consumers to be careful in protecting their privacy. Not only are smart televisions capable of tracking your viewing habits, they can also track your cell phone number if that cell phone is connected to the same Wi-Fi as the television. While Vizio did not directly respond to the lawsuits, they continue to state that users can opt out of the Smart Interactivity feature.


  1. ABA Journal
  2. TechHive
  3. Top Class Actions
  4. Northern California Lawsuit
  5. Central California Lawsuit
Are you hiring an Independent Contractor or an Employee?

Are you hiring an Independent Contractor or an Employee?

What is the issue?

Many employers treat their employees as independent contractors in an attempt to reduce their tax burdens. This misclassification has caught the attention of state governments and court systems across the nation. Illinois and New York have enacted strict laws imposing penalties on employers misclassifying their employees as independent contractors. Both states have task forces that are responsible for uncovering any misclassification in the construction industry.

Federal courts use an “economic realities” test to determine whether someone is an employee or an independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Depending on the state, they may also use framework provided by the IRS to determine the hired individual’s status. IRS Publication 1779 looks at three categories to answer the crucial question: Behavioral control, Financial control, and the Relationship of the Parties.

1. Behavioral Control

This category of the IRS Publication 1779 focuses on how the work was performed and the level of supervision. Some other questions to consider when identifying your employee or independent contractor are:

  • Who has the right to supervise the work?
    • Employees are highly supervised, while independent contractors are rarely supervised.
  • Who provides the equipment or the supplies needed for the job?
    • An employee is provided with the tools necessary for the job, while the independent contractor brings his own supplies.
  • Can the individual hire helpers or “subcontract” the work?
    • An independent contractor is usually able to hire helpers.
  • Who controls the timing of when the work is completed?
    • Employers strictly control timing for their employees, but not for their independent contractors.
  • Are training or company procedures required to perform the work?
    • Independent contractors should not need any training to perform their job, while employers are expected to provide their employees with training. Employees should also be aware of company policies and procedures.

2. Financial Control

This second category focuses on the financial control within the relationship. It looks at how financially invested an individual is in the job. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is the individual significantly invested in his/her work or are they just working for a paycheck?
    • Independent contractors are generally more invested in their work than employees, who only work for a paycheck.
  • Is the individual reimbursed by the employer for business expenses?
    • Employees are typically reimbursed, while independent contractors see business expenses as business costs.
  • Does the individual have an opportunity for profit or loss based on quality and/or quantity of the work?
    • The quality and quantity of the work done by independent contractors usually determines their profits or losses, but the same cannot be said for employees.

3. Relationship of the Parties

The last category of the IRS Publication 1779 focuses on the relationship between the individual and the employer. Some questions to consider when identifying the individual you are hiring are:

  • Is there a written contract between the individual and the company?
    • Independent contractors should have a written contract with the company.
  • Does the individual receive any benefits from the company?
    • Employees may receive benefits from the company, but the independent contractor only receives the consideration set forth in the written contract.

Although many states do not have strict laws enacted against misclassification, we recommend employers carefully consider whether they have hired an employee or an independent contractor. The financial ramifications of misclassification are significant. Not only can employers be held liable for unpaid minimum wages and overtime pay, they may also have to pay the employer’s portion of FICA contributions. We recommend using the IRS framework provided above to carefully consider whether you have hired an independent contractor or an employee to avoid financial penalties in the future.

Source referenced: JD Supra

Avoiding HIPAA Penalties

Avoiding HIPAA Penalties

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) shared a resolution agreement it reached with Anchorage Community Mental Health Services (ACMHS) in 2014 as a way to emphasize the importance of basic security measures when it comes to HIPAA.

OCR and ACMHS entered into a resolution agreement after ACMHS failed to updates its IT requirements and had unsupported software. This compromise in security led to a breach of 2,743 individual accounts. The investigation by the OCR found that ACMHS adopted sample Security Rule policies, but failed to adhere to them. Not only did they fail to conduct accurate assessments of potential risks, ACMHS even failed to ensure information technology resources were regularly updated. Due to their carelessness, ACMHS paid a $150,000 fine and was required to come up with a corrective action plan. The OCR also required a two-year compliance reporting period from the mental health services provider. Listed below are some tips that can help  you avoid being in ACMHS’s situation.

Six Tips to Avoid HIPAA Penalties

Tip #1: Identify software key to the security of information and establish procedures. Maintenance schedules to ensure timely installation of patches and updates.

Tip #2: Identify employees who are responsible for monitoring and installing available patches and updates. Be sure to inform them about the importance of their job and the importance of adhering to HIPAA guidelines.

Tip #3: Ensure firewalls are in place with threat identification monitoring of inbound and outbound traffic.

Tip #4: Adequately support information technology resources.

Tip #5: Regularly conduct security risk assessments, including an evaluation of what risks might be posed by the software and hardware in use, and promptly address areas of high risk.

Tip #6: Implement, follow, and regularly update HIPAA policies and procedures that are developed to address the security risks of your organization, as identified by security risk assessments. Don’t put sample HIPAA policies on a shelf to collect dust, utilize them.

HIPAA was very generous to ACMHS in only fining them $150,000. Unfortunately, they are not always so generous. Following the tips specified above should help you avoid costly HIPAA penalties for your business or organization.

Source referenced: JD Supra




California Drivers MUST Give Wide Birth to Bicycle Riders.

See that bicyclists up ahead, pedaling on the side of the road? There is a new Three (3) Feet Passing Rule going into effect in California on Tuesday.

California Vehicle Code Section 21760 requires drivers to give three (3) of clearance when passing a bicycle.

Here is the text of the new code:

(a) This section shall be known and may be cited as the Three Feet for Safety Act.
(b) The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking and passing a bicycle that is proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall pass in compliance with the requirements of this article applicable to overtaking and passing a vehicle, and shall do so at a safe distance that does not interfere with the safe operation of the overtaken bicycle, having due regard for the size and speed of the motor vehicle and the bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and the surface and width of the highway.
(c) A driver of a motor vehicle shall not overtake or pass a bicycle proceeding in the same direction on a highway at a distance
of less than three feet between any part of the motor vehicle and any part of the bicycle or its operator.
(d) If the driver of a motor vehicle is unable to comply with subdivision (c), due to traffic or roadway conditions, the driver
shall slow to a speed that is reasonable and prudent, and may pass only when doing so would not endanger the safety of the operator of the bicycle, taking into account the size and speed of the motor vehicle and bicycle, traffic conditions, weather, visibility, and surface and width of the highway.
(e) (1) A violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d) is an infraction punishable by a fine of thirty-five dollars ($35).  (2) If a collision occurs between a motor vehicle and a bicycle causing bodily injury to the operator of the bicycle, and the driver
of the motor vehicle is found to be in violation of subdivision (b), (c), or (d), a two-hundred-twenty-dollar ($220) fine shall be imposed on that driver.
(f) This section shall become operative on September 16, 2014.

For some interesting commentary, check out this article: