In The News

Three Days in January Made Copyright History

Stephen J. Zralek © 2012

Three days in January 2012 witnessed some of the most important events in recent history in the world of copyright.

On January 18, the Supreme Court issued Golan v. Holder, which held that Congress is empowered remove works like the symphony classic Peter and the Wolf from the public domain in the United States, preventing orchestras, musicians and others from using these works unless they get permission and pay a license fee to the copyright holders.

On the same day, the technology community mobilized millions of people to voice their disagreement with SOPA and PIPA, two bills supported by the entertainment industry that were designed to fight online piracy. After blackouts by Wikipedia and protests encouraged by tech giants like Google, by January 19 most members of Congress had withdrawn their support for both bills.

On January 20, the United States arrested Kim Dotcom. He was arrested in Auckland, New Zealand for a file-sharing site called Megaupload.com that was based in Hong Kong. The site allegedly generated over $175 million by illegally copying and distributing music, movies and other copyrighted material without authorization.

What does all of this tell us? Three important things.

First, protection of our country’s intellectual property relies on international cooperation. For us to arrest Mr. Dotcom, who is alleged to have stolen millions from American content creators, we needed the help of authorities in Hong Kong and New Zealand. Which is where Golan v. Holder comes in: no one likes hearing that Peter and the Wolf and other classics have fallen out of the public domain and back into exclusive ownership, but for our country to benefit from international copyright treaties, we also must abide by them. International treaties are what prompted Congress to pull certain works out of the public domain, and what prompted the Supreme Court to reach the conclusion it reached in that lawsuit.

Second, if we didn’t recognize it before the rise and fall of SOPA and PIPA, there’s no denying the tension between content creators and content providers; between the entertainment industry and the technology industry. Our technology is intertwined with our entertainment and our content, so we need these camps to work together. Unfortunately for now, the tension is insurmountable: technology camps want free flow of information while content creators want protection for their original works. Ultimately, these two teams will have to reach a compromise, and Congress cannot ignore the need to protect American intellectual property from online international piracy, like the theft allegedly coordinated by Mr. Dotcom.

Finally, the online protests of SOPA and PIPA mobilized a new segment of concerned citizens. Google claims it gathered over seven million signatures in 24 hours in opposition to the bills. The implications of that statistic are simultaneously infinite, impressive and intimidating.

WaterCooler in at the Schermerhorn

Happy 2012! We're excited about our upcoming programs for WaterCooler and hope that you are ready to get back to networking with other Nashvillians.


Please join us on Wednesday, February 8th as we get exclusive access to the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, not just back-stage, but actually OnStage.


OnStage at the Schermerhorn is designed for adult audiences to discuss, in a smaller, relaxed setting, a variety of musical topics with Nashville Symphony musicians.


OnStage at the Schermerhorn features live music and a seat right up on the stage of Laura Turner Concert Hall. With wine and hors d'oeuvres, the FREE evening of music and good conversation is a wonderful way to get to know your Nashville Symphony.


We are limited to the FIRST 40 people and this will fill up quickly!


Please RSVP by January 31st to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Doors open at 5. Please visit the Nashville Symphony website for directions and parking information.  Program is from 5:30 to 7:00.
Afterwards we will head over to


Roberts Western World on Broadway for drinks and good old fashioned honkey tonkin'!


WaterCooler is an informal networking group that meets monthly for drinks and the chance to hear vibrant speakers on the people and places that make Nashville unique.  There is no official membership and no dues -- just come when the topic interests you.  Check out our Facebook Page!


 

Stephen Zralek to chair American Bar Association Committee

Stephen Zralek has been appointed to chair the American Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Law Copyright Litigation Committee.


The American Bar Association (ABA) includes nearly 400,000 members and is the leading national bar association for attorneys in the United States.

The IP Law Copyright Litigation Committee focuses on disputes involving copyrights, monitoring recent decisions across the nation, and providing advanced educational seminars for lawyers on cutting edge topics. Mr. Zralek recently served as Vice Chair of this committee. He helped to urge Congress to amend the the Copyright Act to clarify the requirements required to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, since no uniform standard exists as interpreted by the various federal courts around the country.

Mr. Zralek is a member at Bone McAllester Norton. He helps clients from the creative, technology and entrepreneurial fields avoid and resolve intellectual property disputes, and is a highly-sought after speaker and author on intellectual property and social media legal issues. He is active in philanthropy in Nashville, and co-founded a networking event for entrepreneurs called WaterCooler. He tweets at @StephenZralek, and blogs at TheExpressive.

Stephen Zralek to chair American Bar Association Committee

Stephen Zralek has been appointed to chair the American Bar Association’s Intellectual Property Law Copyright Litigation Committee.

The American Bar Association (ABA) includes nearly 400,000 members and is the leading national bar association for attorneys in the United States.

The IP Law Copyright Litigation Committee focuses on disputes involving copyrights, monitoring recent decisions across the nation, and providing advanced educational seminars for lawyers on cutting edge topics. Mr. Zralek recently served as Vice Chair of this committee. He helped to urge Congress to amend the the Copyright Act to clarify the requirements required to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement, since no uniform standard exists as interpreted by the various federal courts around the country.

Mr. Zralek is a member at Bone McAllester Norton. He helps clients from the creative, technology and entrepreneurial fields avoid and resolve intellectual property disputes, and is a highly-sought after speaker and author on intellectual property and social media legal issues. He is active in philanthropy in Nashville, and co-founded a networking event for entrepreneurs called WaterCooler. He tweets at @StephenZralek, and blogs at TheExpressive.

Sheri Jacobs, Anne Martin, Stephen Zralek, Sam McAllester & Charles Robert Bone Recognized by Mid-South Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Sheri Jacobs, Anne Martin, Stephen Zralek and Sam McAllester have been named Mid-South Super Lawyers, and Charles Robert Bone has been honored as a Mid-South Rising Star, in the 2011 editions.

Mid-South Super Lawyers and Rising Stars honorees represent the top five percent of lawyers in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. Selections for the list are based on a rigorous multi-phase selection process that includes a regional survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by Law & Politics' attorney-led research staff, peer review of candidates by practice area, and a good-standing and disciplinary check. The Rising Star designation is awarded exclusively to top lawyers who are 40 years old and younger who have been in practice 10 years or fewer.

Super Lawyers and Rising Stars are considered leaders in their areas of practice: Ms. Jacobs is honored for her skill in environmental and administrative law; Ms. Martin, in employment and business litigation and defense; Mr. Zralek in intellectual property; Mr. McAllester, in real estate, bankruptcy and creditor and debtor rights; and Mr. Bone, in business litigation, personal injury plaintiff, general corporate, and mergers and acquisitions.

Sheri Jacobs, Anne Martin, Stephen Zralek, Sam McAllester & Charles Robert Bone Recognized by Mid-South Super Lawyers and Rising Stars

Sheri Jacobs, Anne Martin, Stephen Zralek and Sam McAllester have been named Mid-South Super Lawyers, and Charles Robert Bone has been honored as a Mid-South Rising Star, in the 2011 editions.

Mid-South Super Lawyers and Rising Stars honorees represent the top five percent of lawyers in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. Selections for the list are based on a rigorous multi-phase selection process that includes a regional survey of lawyers, independent evaluation of candidates by Law & Politics' attorney-led research staff, peer review of candidates by practice area, and a good-standing and disciplinary check. The Rising Star designation is awarded exclusively to top lawyers who are 40 years old and younger who have been in practice 10 years or fewer.

Super Lawyers and Rising Stars are considered leaders in their areas of practice: Ms. Jacobs is honored for her skill in environmental and administrative law; Ms. Martin, in employment and business litigation and defense; Mr. Zralek in intellectual property; Mr. McAllester, in real estate, bankruptcy and creditor and debtor rights; and Mr. Bone, in business litigation, personal injury plaintiff, general corporate, and mergers and acquisitions.

BMN Attorneys,Trace Blackenship, Charles Bone, and Stephen Zralek, Named "Best of the Bar"

Bone McAllester Norton is pleased to announce that three members of our firm are among 30 lawyers in Middle Tennessee named to the Nashville Business Journal's 2010 “Best of the Bar.”


 Nominated by peers and chosen by a panel of judges, these attorneys were selected for their commitment to their clients, dedication to their respective areas of the law, and their respect and professionalism toward their peers and chosen profession.


Honorees from Bone McAllester Norton are Charles Bone and Stephen Zralek in the category Outstanding Small Law Firm and Trace Blankenship for Rising Star.

BMN Attorneys,Trace Blackenship, Charles Bone, and Stephen Zralek, Named "Best of the Bar"

Bone McAllester Norton is pleased to announce that three members of our firm are among 30 lawyers in Middle Tennessee named to the Nashville Business Journal's 2010 “Best of the Bar.”

 Nominated by peers and chosen by a panel of judges, these attorneys were selected for their commitment to their clients, dedication to their respective areas of the law, and their respect and professionalism toward their peers and chosen profession.

Honorees from Bone McAllester Norton are Charles Bone and Stephen Zralek in the category Outstanding Small Law Firm and Trace Blankenship for Rising Star.

Stephen Zralek talks to WKRN about reclaiming copyrights

WKRN interviews Stephen Zralek about reclaiming copyrights.


Click for the video.

Bone McAllester Norton client chalks up a victory against Righthaven

One of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC's clients, represented by attorney Stephen Zralek, was recently discussed in the online news source, Vegas Inc., for his victory over Righthaven in obtaining dismissal over the original complaint.


Righthaven, which has filed over 275 copyright infringement lawsuits, filed an emergency motion for reconsideration, but the court denied it, upholding the court's dismissal of Righthaven's original lawsuit.


Click here for the entire article

 

Bone McAllester Norton client chalks up a victory against Righthaven

One of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC's clients, represented by attorney Stephen Zralek, was recently discussed in the online news source, Vegas Inc., for his victory over Righthaven in obtaining dismissal over the original complaint.

Righthaven, which has filed over 275 copyright infringement lawsuits, filed an emergency motion for reconsideration, but the court denied it, upholding the court's dismissal of Righthaven's original lawsuit.

Click here for the entire article

 

Stephen Zralek speaks to PPAMS Mid-South

Jailbirds Don't Tweet: The Smart, Sane, and Legal Approach to Social Media


Social media is changing everyday.  Whether you are a pro or novice, there's always something new.  Come to the PPAMS MidSouth PromoShow and learn:




  • How to avoid liability when making online product endorsements and marketing to children

  • The three features of successful content

  • What to include in a social media policy for employees

  • Real world examples

  • Practical ideas to spice up your own social media strategy

  • Issues surrounding privacy

  • Practical steps to shield against claims of defamation and copyright infringement when using social media


SEMINAR: Jailbirds Don't Tweet: The Smart, Sane, and Legal Approach to Social Media


Sponsored by Bulova


Date/Time: Monday, August 8, 2011 · 12:30am - 2:00pm


Location: Broadlands A


Speaker: Steven Zralek (Bone, McAllester, Norton), Amanda O'Brien (The Harmon Group)


 

July 2011 Newsletter Features James Mackler, Freedom Run, Las Vegas & Online Reputation Management

Bone McAllester Norton welcomes attorney James E. Mackler to our team!  To read our newsletter, click here

Stephen Zralek discusses online reputation management with News 2

Stephen Zralek was interviewed by WKRN on Friday in regards to online reputation management and offers his professional insight on how to handle different situations from a legal standpoint.
Posted:   Jun 24, 2011 9:13 PM CDT   


By Tiani Jones, Reporter







NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A  person"s online reputation is becoming increasingly more important as employers take to the Internet as a reference, which is why   lawyers around the country are seeing more cases involving online reputation assault.





Stephen J. Zralek is an attorney at the Bone McAllester Norton law firm in Nashville.

 

June 2011 Newsletter Features New Attorney, Stephanie Taylor, Human Relations Award Dinner, Wildhorse Saloon, & Jackalope Brewing Company.

Bone McAllester Norton is thrilled to welcome Stephanie Taylor and congratulate Charles W. Bone on being honored for making a difference at the 40th Annual CommunityNashville Human Relations Award Dinner.  To read the rest of our newsletter, click here.

Jailbirds Don't Tweet

Wildhorse Saloon, 120 2nd Avenue North, Nashville


Stephen Zralek, and the Harmon Group, will present "Jailbirds Don’t Tweet:

How to Build a Social Media Campaign That Won’t Land You In Legal Hot Water”.


Click here to RSVP. When creating your login, please note that you are a guest of Bone McAllester Norton.


Complimentary light breakfast will be served.

Parking is available at the Commerce Garage on

3rd and Commerce.

Stephen Zralek speaks on the American Dream and is featured in the Tennessean.

American Dream Continues To Draw People Here


When I think of the immigrants joining our community in Middle Tennessee, I think of my own ancestors. I think of the dream they had for their families, and the sacrifices they made so that my life could be better than their own.


My mother’s family came to the United States in the 1700s. Their stories begin long ago and are harder for me to access. My father’s paternal grandparents came to Chicago in the late 1800s, looking for a new life for their family. My great-grandfather worked in the stockyards in Chicago. The father of seven children, he was killed when a meat-hook ripped through his back. His wife, who spoke hardly any English, was offered a mere $100 to settle any claims she may have against the company. She had no one to advocate on her behalf. She needed whatever money she could get.


My grandfather, himself still a boy, had to grow up quickly. As a child, he got a job to help care for the family. He had five children, saw all of them go to college, find meaningful careers and start families of their own. One of them was my father, who moved to Nashville in the 1950s.


This story of arrival is the same story for almost all of us. Our ancestors’ countries of origin and the dates of their arrival may be different, but they all decided to come to this country because of its promise of opportunity — because of the American dream. They all sacrificed so that we could have better lives, and so we could reap the benefits of their hard work.  Today, our great country continues to welcome new arrivals from all parts of the globe. People continue to leave behind everything they know in hope that they can give their children a better life. Some people literally risk their life in order to enter our country.


Once they come here, they start over from square one — with nothing, taking the lowest paying jobs and working some of the hardest jobs. Their economic, social and cultural contributions to our community are immeasurable.


This Thursday, we will honor the contributions of three Latino small-business owners, whose businesses have persevered in the middle of the Great Recession. All three graduated from Conexión Américas’ small-business program, and they contribute to the prosperity of both their families and our entire community. You can join us as we "Change the Conversation" to focus on the contributions made by Latino immigrants on May 26 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel at 7:30 a.m.


For more information, visit ConexionAmericas.org.


 

WaterCooler Networking Event to Feature Conexión Américas

The next WaterCooler event is set for Monday, May 9, 2011 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at Conexión Américas.  Co-hosted by Stephen Zralek of Bone McAllester Norton, Renata Soto of Conexión Américas and Wade Munday, WaterCooler is an open invitation, informal networking group for young entrepreneurs.

This month we're headed to Conexión Américas, where we'll hear from Renata Soto, its co-founder (and our great friend and co-founder of WaterCooler).  An example of social entrepreneurialism, Conexión has the mission of "promoting the social, economic and civic advancement of Latino families in Middle Tennessee."  Founded in 2002, it is the "go-to" Latino organization in Nashville, and seen as the authority on Latino issues by civic and business leaders in our community.  Our visit to Conexión Américas comes just after the recent census revealed that over 10% of Nashville's population is Hispanic, and that Nashville has the fastest-growing Latino population of any major city in the country.

We'll also hear from Karla Ruiz, a graduate of Conexión’s small business program, who recently launched her own catering company, and we'll get to taste some of her tapas inspired from her native Mexico.  Karla previously worked at Martha's at the Plantation and at Fido.  If you've been to the West Nashville Farmer's Market in recent weeks, Karla is the one with the long line of folks dying to taste her food.

Around 6:30, we'll head two blocks over to Tavern (on Broadway near 19th) for drinks and more time to catch up.

If you can make it, please let us know by sending an rsvp to Kristi no later than Friday, May 6.

WHO:   Renata Soto, executive director of Conexión Américas, & Karla Ruiz, graduate
WHEN:  Monday, May 9 from  5:30 to 6:30 PM
WHERE: Conexion Americas, 800 18th Ave. South

WaterCooler is an informal networking group for young entrepreneurs in their 20s, 30s and 40s that meets (almost) every month for drinks, networking and the chance to hear vibrant speakers on a variety of topics.  There is no official membership and no dues -- just come when the speaker interests you or you want to meet some new people in Nashville.

WaterCooler began in September 2009 and has featured the following speakers/topics:

April 2011: Darek Bell & Andrew Webber (Corsair Distillery)
March 2011: Mark Rowan (Griffin Technology)
January 2011: Scott Witherow (Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co): Tour & Tasting
November 2010: Linus Hall (Yazoo Brewing Company): Tour & Tasting
October 2010: Christine Madella (WKRN): "Molding Your Image in a 24/7 World"
September 2010: Ed Nash (Oxford Fine Arts): "The Art of Buying Fine Art"
July 2010: Alan Young (Armor Concepts LLC): "Secrets of Starting a Successful Company"
June 2010: Laura Creekmore (Creekmore Consulting): "Using Social Media as a Young Entrepreneur"
April 2010: Networking for WaterCooler attendees
March 2010: Sid Chambless (Nashville Capital Network): "Investment Capital for Young Entrepreneurs"
February 2010: Bob Bernstein (Bongo Java)/Jose Gonzalez (Belmont): "Entrepreneurship with Heart"
January 2010: Freddie O'Connell (SearchViz): "Search Engine Optimization"
December 2009: Becca Stevens (Magdalene/Thistle Farms): "Walking in Gratitude"
November 2009: Chris Ferrell (SouthComm): "The Changing Delivery of Information"
October 2009: Clint Smith (Emma): "The Art of Everyday Innovation"
September 2009: Kimberly Pace (Owen School): "Personal Marketing"


 

Stephen Zralek to Discuss Laws of Social Media

Bone McAllester Norton attorney Stephen Zralek will discuss the laws of social media for "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment: The final segment of Leadership and Civility in the Digital Age," a series moderated by former FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate.


This event features Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center as he joins Deborah Taylor Tate for a discussion of the tenets of the First Amendment – religion, speech, press, assembly and petition – and how all have been affected in a digital world. Stephen Zralek will also join the conversation to discuss the evolving laws of social media, including defamation, marketing to children and employment issues.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 6 p.m.
Mullican Television Studio, Ezell Center, Lipscomb University
RSVP to Leah Davis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (615) 966-6155


 

"Online Physician Review Sites: Fighting Back to Protect Your Reputation" by Stephen J. Zralek

With the explosion of social media, physicians, dentists and other medical professionals (collectively “physicians”) are becoming daily victims of anonymous online defamation.


 Websites like vitals.com, physicianreports.com, ratemds.com, bookofdoctors.com and drscore.com now provide every patient with a megaphone to say whatever they want to the widest possible audience.


Giving patients the ability to review physicians has many upsides, but it also has downsides, as well.  Online reviews, at their best, have replaced word-of-mouth feedback from prior patients, providing patients with multiple reviews in mere minutes, unlike before.  When the reviews are honest and accurate, they help patients quickly distinguish between providers.  The downside for patients who turn to online physician reviews is that often they are no more reliable than many healthcare websites, which can scare patients into thinking that appearance of blood in their stool is colon cancer when the real culprit is the beets they had for lunch.


Similarly, online physician reviews provide both pros and cons for physicians.  Online reviews allow really good physicians to garner more wide-spread recognition.  But what about when a review is dishonest or inaccurate?  Opinion does not constitute defamation, but reviews that contain untrue facts likely could serve as the basis of a defamation claim.  What about when the reviewer is not a former patient, but rather a competitor?  How does a physician fight back?


Sometimes the negative comments are minor and the best advice is to brush them off.  But other times the comments are serious and deserve a stronger response, such as when they are tantamount to suggesting malpractice, or that your nurse practitioner has a terrible bedside manner.  These comments can damage your reputation and harm you economically if they steer business away from you.  When that happens, especially if it happens more than once from the same person, you may have grounds to assert a claim of business interference, and not just defamation.


One of the biggest challenges with the Web 2.0 is the fact that most online review websites provide no quality assurance – many of them the posting of any comment without regard to its truth, as long as it does not contain profanity.  Even worse, most online review comments are made anonymously.  If that’s the case, how can you protect yourself?  How can you even find out the identity of the poster?


Fortunately, victims are not without recourse.  Most people think that they can say whatever they want online and that no one will ever know who said it.  This is incorrect.  There are ways to find out the identity of online posters, but you need to act quickly since Internet service providers (ISPs) often destroy records of online activity after 180 days.


If you find that you are the victim of disparaging comments made online, you won’t get very far suing the website that hosts the comments (known as user generated content or “UGC”).  Websites that host UGC are immune from liability related to comments made by third parties under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.


The first step is to examine the website’s Terms of Usage or Terms of Service.  Each website that invites UGC should have its own rules of conduct.  Most sites have rules that allow those parties who have been reviewed to notify them if a comment is untrue.  Some sites, like vitals.com, have rules that allow physicians to remove up to two negative reviews within a certain time period.  If you can resolve the issue by contacting the host website, this is the fastest and most economic route.


If you cannot resolve the issue by informally contacting the physician review site, ask your attorney to send a cease and desist letter to the website demanding that the comments be removed.  Sometimes websites comply; other times their terms and conditions do not allow them to comply without a court order.


When you want to find the identity of the anonymous poster, and not just have the comments removed, you can also file a “John Doe” lawsuit against unknown defendants, empowering you to subpoena the host website for the IP address of the person posting the comments.  From there, you can determine the ISP.  Because the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 prohibits ISPs from disclosing personally identifying information about Internet users to non-governmental entities without a court order, the next step is to obtain a court order allowing you to subpoena the ISP for the identity of the poster.  Recently, a court in Nashville refused to allow an anonymous poster to hide his identity, and allowed the victim to move forward with its subpoena of the ISP.


Keep in mind that filing suit for defamation requires a plaintiff to provide details in the complaint about the allegedly defamatory statements.  Sometimes filing suit is the best option.  Other times, publicly amplifying the negative comments only adds fuel to the fire.


Finally, responding to anonymous online defamation often requires a multi-faceted approach.  Recently, one of my business clients found several comments online that accused its employee of criminal and scandalous conduct.  These comments harmed both the business and the employee.  Given the context, the client needed legal advice on not just the social media issues above, but also with employment law issues.  If the comments had been true, the employer may have needed to terminate the employee, since the comments reflected poorly upon the business.


If defamatory comments are made that threaten to damage your reputation as a physician, don’t just sit back and take it.  Instead, consider your options in fighting back.


© Stephen J. Zralek 2011.  All rights reserved.