Live Streamers Doing Business and “In Personam Jurisdiction”

Mitch Jackson is The Streaming LawyerPlease note that while I am a California lawyer, I am not your lawyer. No legal advice is being given. Contact a lawyer in your state with questions.

Many of us travel around the country to do business. If you’re live streaming while traveling on business, you should be aware of the legal principle commonly known as In Personam Jurisdiction.

When most people here this Latin phrase they think #WTF (and I don’t mean “Wow that’s fantastic!”). What this concept is all about is that when a lawsuit is brought against a person, that person must be properly served with a summons and complaint giving the court jurisdiction. Generally speaking, in order for someone to serve your with a summons and complaint and hold you individually accountable to appear and defend yourself, in their state, you must live, be physically present and/or do business in their state. There are exceptions and this is a complicated and much adjudicated concept.

Click here to watch today’s Periscope!

Here are more details…

Live streaming business owners need to be aware of the following concepts:

Example #1: If you have a company based out of New York and are sued in California by a disgruntled citizen, and you neither live or do business in California, an argument can be made that the California courts do not have In Personam Jurisdiction over you as an individual. The California citizen cannot serve you with a lawsuit and force you to travel to California to defend yourself. He will need to travel to New York to pursue his alleged claims against you.

Example #2: In this example and in most states, if you are “doing business in another state” such as California (and this applies to internet businesses and sales), or are physically present in California, then California could very well have In Personam Jurisdiction over you. You could be forced to travel to California to defend yourself.

The reason I’m bringing this up is that if you are a live streamer as described in Example #1 and only do business in New York and lived in New York, but popped on Periscope while traveling in California to share and sell your products or services, a very strong argument could be raised that you have subjected yourself to In Personam Jurisdiction with the California courts. The fact that you are physically live streaming from within California, and talking about business, is probably enough for that state to have jurisdiction over you. This same concept applies to any live streams you may have participated in, from every state you physically visited, along the way.

The take-away is to simply understand that while it is easy to click and stream from almost anywhere in the world, doing so while traveling may subject you to the In Personam Jurisdiction of that particular state’s court system. I’m not suggesting this is going to happen to you but I did want to bring this to your attention.

If you have a question about this, please contact a lawyer in your state.

If you like this live streaming business tip, then make sure to get on my weekly email newsletter where I share more tips just like this!

What Do All GREAT Communicators Do Without Exception?

 

They believe their message will change lives and make a difference!

mitch jackson streaming lawyer believe in your messageThere are many tips and approaches to help make you a good communicator. How you look and sound is important. Sharing good content is critical to success. Using storytelling, anchors and other techniques also will increase the chances of your message reaching your audience.

While all of the above is critically important, when it comes to effectively communicating, motivating, and empowering an audience of one or one thousand, nothing is more important than your mindset.

If you believe in your message and feel that it’s so important that it will change lives, and then show that in your delivery, you will have an impact.

If you believe what you are sharing is something your audience needs to hear and that you are sharing incredible value, then your message will be listened to and acted upon.

If you believe in who you are and what you are doing, then so will others.

Taking a position and having conviction about your topic will result in your audience being empowered to take action.

You can watch today’s recorded Periscope here.

And just for fun…

Anyone remember Ben Stein as the economics teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?” Don’t be this guy when presenting 🙂

People Helping People on Live Stream

Help others by sharing your unique experience, expertise and tips with your digital community. Why do I say this? Because the chances are high that something you know and take for granted might turn out to be a valuable tip others haven’t given much thought to. By sharing your specialized knowledge, the community gets better and grows stronger.

Earlier this week I shared “Biz Owners- Use These 8 Words To Start Your Next Live Stream” on Periscope (video link here). Today I was honored and pleasantly surprised to learn that my friend and Instagram Expert, Sue B. Zimmerman, shared my post with her amazing audience (click here). Because Sue took the time to share, thousands of very smart people, beyond my immediate sphere of influence, can benefit from this simple legal tip. That’s the power of social. That’s what makes the digital platforms, especially live streaming social media, so awesome!

My challenge to you? Share something unique and special with your audience today. Send me the link when you do so I can share. You’ll be glad you did!

Click here to watch or on the image of Sue below 🙂

sue b zimmerman streaming lawyer

Did you miss my interview with Sue earlier this year? You can watch here…

Live Streaming Expert, Vincenzo Landino, of Brand Boost

Vincenzo Landino joins Mitch during today’s Blab. Grab a pen and paper and take notes. Massive value is shared by this live streaming expert. Also joining us today at the 41 minute mark is change evangelist Brian Fanzo!

Click here or on the picture below!
mitch_byran_and_vincenzo human social

Biz Owners- Use These 8 Words To Start Your Next Live Stream

Mitch Jackson Shares 8 Words To Use on PeriscopeWhen selling products and services on Periscope, or any other live streaming platform, it’s important to give notice to the consumer (your audience) that the stream is being shared by a company and not by you individually. Should a consumer bring a claim or lawsuit because of the use of your product or service, you want that claim to be brought against your company and not you personally.

Properly doing business as a corporation or limited liability company is the smart what to separate your business liability from your personal liability (see my earlier post). Starting off your next live stream with these 8 words, “This Periscope is brought to you by XYZ” is an excellent way to let your audience know that the business, and not you personally, is behind the broadcast and related products and services. Click here to watch today’s recorded Periscope!

If you’re selling anything on the live streaming platforms, make sure to do so in the capacity of your business and not as an individual.

Like this post? Get more legal, social, business, and live streaming tips in my popular “Streaming Lawyer” weekly newsletter by clicking here!

 

Six Legal Tips To Help You Safely Do Business Online

jon mitchell jackson 400“Information is the currency of democracy.” – Thomas Jefferson, Third US President, Architect and Author

In today’s digital world, the ability to use the Internet and online platforms to connect and do business with others down the street, on the other side of the country, and even the other side of the world is simple and inexpensive. Starting and running a new business has never been easier. At the same time, your exposure to litigation has never been greater.

As Thomas Jefferson was referencing, information is power and as such, the primary goal of this post is to share good information with you that will help you safely do business in our new global environment. Taking action and implementing each of these 6 online business communication tips will not only help protect you, but also will allow you to establish a firm business foundation for your future success.

As a lawyer who’s been practicing law longer than the Internet has been around, I’ve seen and litigated just about every kind of case imaginable. In almost all business cases, many of the issues and problems could have been avoided if one or both parties had utilized these 6 communication tips. My advice may require a bit of work but I can assure you that the long-term benefits and protection substantially outweigh the short-term hassle and inconvenience.

One last thing before we get started. Please remember that although I am a lawyer, I’m not your lawyer. This is not legal advice. Also, the laws in each state are different so please contact an experienced attorney in your state to discuss your questions, legal needs and options.


 

TIP #1: CORPORATIONS AND LLCs- Do Business as a Corporation or LLC and Communicate Your Message on Behalf of the Company- Be smart and build virtual brick walls for protection!

Never expose your personal assets to business liability.

Do you take trips in your car without putting your young child in a safety seat? Do you ride your bike or motorcycle down the street without a helmet?

This is exactly what people are doing when they communicate and do business on the Internet without the protection of a properly formed legal entity such as a limited liability company or corporation.

The unfortunate question in today’s business world isn’t if you’ll be sued, it’s when. According to recent statistics, the average small business owner will be sued at least 3 times during his or her business lifetime. Knowing this, I encourage you to please be smart, plan ahead, and take steps to protect yourself and your business before something bad happens.

When you do business as a limited liability company or corporation, you are putting a protective shield between your customer, business, and your personal life. So long as you correctly set up, run and manage your company, your personal assets will be protected if a claim or lawsuit is ever brought against you.

When communicating, make sure your audience knows that you’re doing so on behalf of the XYZ company. By doing this, the protective shield I mentioned above will usually limit the claims and stop them dead in their tracks at your business. Your personal life, assets and bank accounts will not be exposed.

One more thing. In my opinion you should never do business as a sole proprietor or general partnership. For the above reasons (and many more), there’s just too much liability attached to doing so.

TIP #2: CONTRACTS- Communicate in Writing, Use Written Contracts, and Read All Agreements Before Clicking

Read the fine print!

Almost everything you do online involves contract law. Be smart and communicate and confirm all deals, proposals and agreements in writing. A phone call, email or text is not good enough.

Before representing another person or company’s product or service, read all contracts and agreements. Communicate any issues in writing.

Here’s something to think about. When you sign up for a free or paid social media platform or service, or agree to become an affiliate and sell someone else’s product or service, you may be liable if something goes wrong. There is an agreement that controls the rights and remedies of all parties involved. Almost without exception, you are on your own should an end user experience harm and damages. When’s the last time you read one of these agreements before clicking the “I Agree” box?

The fact of the matter is that most internet users never give this liability exposure the thought it deserves. Dangerous products, software that doesn’t work, and business or investment opportunities that turn out to be Ponzi type schemes all expose you to liability and damages.

Keep in mind that if you did Tip #1 and put up a protective shield, and then communicate your message on behalf of the company, you will be well ahead of the game. Avoiding oral deals and agreements and communicating everything in writing will also help.

If you were able to purchase liability insurance to protect you for any online business issues, then that’s even better. The bottom line is that there is exposure. As I tell all my clients, always put everything in writing. Always perform your due diligence before clicking and agreeing to use, promote or sell a new product or service.

[prior Periscope discussing tips about getting things in writing and suggested forms]

TIP #3: DEFAMATION- When Communicating About Others, Be Kind and Careful About What You Say, Write, Record or Videotape

Smart online business owners practice the “Golden Rule”

Almost daily, I see people communicating their comments on blogs and reviews that are malicious and intended to cause harm to someone else. What these writers may not realize is that by doing this, they are potentially exposing themselves to an expensive defamation lawsuit and damages. If the false statements are made with the intent to harm another person or company, punitive damages may even be available in some cases.

Defamation also applies to oral or written communications made during webinars, podcasts and videos. Any type of untrue communication may be actionable so be very careful before starting down this slippery path.

The best advice I can give on this topic is to simply not communicate unkind, inaccurate or untrue comments about others. Don’t say, write, post or record bad or negative things about someone else or another business. If you do feel like it’s your obligation to say something, do yourself a favor and wait at least 24 hours before posting or saying something. In most cases, time heals all wounds and what seemed like a good idea yesterday will be a waste of your time today. I know that on the Internet 24 hours sounds like an eternity but it’s just the smart thing to do.

TIP #4: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY- Don’t Communicate Using Protected Intellectual Property

Think before your click, copy, download, and use content.

It’s easier than ever to “borrow” written content and images from someone else and use it for your own communication purposes. How many times have you searched, clicked, copied or downloaded someone else’s picture or content? Be honest. You know what I’m talking about.

The problem is that regardless of how easy it is, by using someone else’s material without their permission, you may be breaking the law and exposing yourself to civil money damages. Searching google for the term “Cats” and then using an image that you find on your blog probably violates someone’s copyright or trademark. Adding a popular song to your video or blog post without the permission of the artist is probably also a violation. Don’t do it.

There are plenty of resources on the Internet that allow you to use or purchase images, videos and songs for your online work. Take advantage of these sites and you’ll never have to worry about an intellectual property claim being filed against you. It really is that simple.

[see earlier video post re legal tips involving copyright and fair use on live streams]

TIP #5: MEDIATION AND ARBITRATION- Avoid Expensive and Time Consuming Litigation by Clearly Communicating this Provision

“…trial by jury…the only anchor ever yet imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution….” — Thomas Jefferson, letter to Tom Paine, 1789

I’m a trial lawyer. I understand and appreciate the importance of our jury trial system. I enjoy trying cases and truly believe the American justice system is the best in the world. Having said that, I do suggest the following for most readers of this article.

When individuals and small businesses are setting up and using contracts to support their online efforts, I recommend communicating clearly in writing, in large bold print, a mediation and arbitration provision. While you’re at it, also include a venue and attorney fees clause. Have a place next to the paragraphs for the other person to initial and date. Note that the laws in each state vary so check with local counsel about how to do this correctly in your state.

The fact of the matter is that having and clearly communicating the existence of your mediation and arbitration agreements will increase the chances of you having the opportunity to resolve a dispute with another party without the need for litigation. Not only will you save a great amount of time and aggravation by avoiding litigation, you’ll also save a great deal of money.

A good attorney fees clause will do two things. First, it will help eliminate frivolous lawsuits because the winning party will be entitled to have her attorney fees paid by the other side. People will think twice about suing you. Second, it allows you to retain a good lawyer who you may not otherwise be able to afford. If a client comes into my office with a good case but can’t afford to pay my hourly rate, I may still take the case if there is an attorney fees clause and, the other side has assets or insurance to cover the fees after we win our case in court.

Clearly communicating these provisions will avoid many unnecessary claims and also help you resolve unavoidable claims in a timely fashion.

TIP #6: VENUE CLAUSE- When it’s Time to Tango, Communicate Exactly Where the Dance Will Take Place

Prior preparation prevents piss poor performance. Use a venue clause.

Sometimes you have to walk out on the dance floor and do the legal tango. If this happens, where will the dance happen? Where will the legal matter be resolved? In what city and state will the mediation, arbitration or litigation take place?

A well written and communicated venue clause will determine where all legal disputes will be resolved. Smart business owners have venue clauses in all their contracts and invoices.

For example, let’s say you have venue clause that states all disputes and litigation will take place in Orange County, California. A disgruntled New York based customer will need to travel to Orange County to resolve all disputes. If litigation becomes necessary, the New York customer will need to hire California legal counsel to handle his dispute or claim in Orange County.

A good venue clause can be an effective deterrent to frivolous claims. It can also be a good tool to help you keep your litigation expenses to a minimum.

Conclusion

I enjoy and embrace the Internet and social media platforms. These are truly exciting times and we are all lucky to be living and doing business in today’s global digital business environment. When it comes to setting up and running a business, what used to take weeks and even months to accomplish, can now be done with a couple of mouse clicks.

But, as I point out in this article, speed and ease of use do not necessarily translate into safety and long-term security in business. Take a moment and always communicate these six things to your customer or client. Confirm important things in writing. Handshakes, emails and text are great, but written contracts are better.

Also make sure the general public and your customers all appreciate that they are doing business with you on behalf of your limited liability company or corporation. Use letterhead and descriptions above or beneath your name to show that you are entering into a contract on behalf of your company and not personally.

Review and discuss these six communication needs with your business partner, advisor and/or lawyer and see if there are communication improvements you can make to increase your protection and minimize your risks.
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“Jon Mitchell Jackson enjoys combining law, technology and social media to disrupt, hack, and improve our legal system. He has been a trial lawyer for almost 3 decades and is the 2013 California Litigation Lawyer of the Year (CLAY Award) and 2009 Orange County Trial Lawyer of the Year. When he’s not trying cases, Mitch uses social media and technology to help good attorneys become great trial lawyers and to show everyone (not just lawyers) how to communicate better. His law firm website is JacksonandWilson.com and his social media and livestreaming can be found at Streaming.Lawyer.  Connect with Mitch on social at Mitch.Social