Posts on Dec 2015

UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (OR, IN PLAIN ENGLISH, “DRONES”)

The Federal Aviation Administration recently announced a rule requiring drone owners to register their UAS (Unmanned Aircraft Systems) by Feb. 19, 2016. Drone owners must register through a website unveiled, yesterday, Dec. 21 2015.

If you, like many of my clients (and friends) are a hobbyist – which is to say that you do not use your UAS for commercial purposes – and your UAS weighs more than 0.55 lbs. (250 g) and less than 55 lbs. (25 kg), you should register here: https://www.faa.gov/uas/registration/. Unmanned aircraft weighing more than 55 lbs. cannot use this registration process and must register using the FAA’s Aircraft Registry process.

The registration fee is $5 per UAS owner, in line with current FAA requirements for registering an aircraft. To encourage registration, the FAA will refund the $5 fee for drones registered in the first thirty (30) days of the site’s availability, through Jan. 20. Registration will cover all of an owner’s drones weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds.

If you use your UAS for commercial purposes, there’s a paper application, but the FAA themselves have indicated that, “The online registration system does not yet support registration of small UAS used for any purpose other than hobby or recreation – for example, using an unmanned aircraft in connection with a business. The FAA is developing enhancements that will allow such online registrations by spring of 2016.”

The FAA said the rules are meant to educate drone operators who don’t necessarily realize it may be unsafe to fly a certain way, such as near an airport, while allowing enforcement and easier identification of operators behind reckless drone flights.

To register, a UAS owner must provide his or her name, physical address, email address, and credit card information to process the payment. After registering, operators will receive a certificate of registration with a unique identification number, which the owner must then clearly display on all UAS’s. Registration isn’t required at point-of-sale, but is mandatory before drone operation.

Registration must be renewed every three years, and prior to selling your drone, you should remember to remove your personal registration number.

Civil penalties for violation of these rules could include a fine of up to $27,500, and criminal penalties include a fine of up to $250,000 and three (3) years in jail.

‘TIS THE SEASON FOR SCAMS

There is no end to the ways that unscrupulous people will attempt to defraud others – especially at this time of year. Please keep these in mind this holiday season:
 
If you get a shipping notice claiming that you have a package from UPS, FedEx, USPS or DHL but you need to click on a link for details, DO NOT CLICK on the link. Go to the courier’s website to authenticate the message.
 
Think before you click a link, especially when you have been searching for popular items and see these items for bargain prices. Often these are rogue retailers that will deliver malware when you click on these links.
 
Another reminder to never enter credit card information on any page that does not start with https://.
 
These may seem like “old” tips but it is startling how many people are still caught in these scams and the tips bear repeating.

STOP! ART THIEF!

While the title may be flippant, the subject of this entry is near and dear to my heart and is the result of a conversation (admittedly over drinks) with a group of professional illustrators at this year’s Illuxcon.

Let’s start with a question. In today’s marketplace where the download of an “illegal” MP3 could bring down the wrath of the RIAA – what organization provides similar protection for illustrators’ intellectual property? For the fantasy and sci-fi community? There are several professional association entities out there, but as I’ve discovered, none of them seem to provide the quick and dirty support that most independent illustrators need.

Three drinks in, Jim Pavelec sat down. I’d been told that we should meet since I was just launching my solo firm and he had this thing called PACT that I should hear more about. Sitting around that table at a hotel bar in Allentown, PA, I learned that most illustrators need simple contract documents and clear tools they can use to protect and enforce their rights.

So, I volunteered to provide a few.

You can learn more about PACT here, but the real point of this article is the following summary of your IP rights if you are an illustrator, painter, designer, writer or other creative. In keeping with the “quick and dirty” theme, and without excessive legal jargon, here’s what you need to know:

1. You need to be absolutely sure the infringer is really infringing. Is it actually your work? If so, proceed to #2.

2. If you’ve sold or licensed all rights in the work to a client, you should notify that client immediately. They are responsible for protecting the value of their IP.

3. If the work is yours, it is your responsibility to enforce your rights. No one will do it for you.

4. If your IP is in a physical product, sold in stores, or about to be sold in stores, contact an attorney immediately. At this late stage of f the game, you should not attempt to confront the infringer on you own.

5. If your IP is on a website, I’d still recommend the attorney route, but you can (and should):

a. Immediately contact the website owner and send a cease and desist letter;

b. Immediately contact the website host and send a DMCA takedown notice.

6. In all cases you need to set a hard deadline (I recommend a week) for a written response.

7. If your communication(s) are ignored, you need an attorney. Do not be afraid of this. Many will take these cases on a contingent fee basis – though you can expect to pay them a good chunk of whatever they are able to recover.

8. If all else fails, have your attorney (you have hired one by now, right?) write a final letter before filing a suit against the infringer.

9. Finally – do not be afraid of litigation should it come to that. It is your attorney’s job to worry and be stressed about your case. Not yours.