In The News

BMN Attorneys and Staff Participate in Warrior Dash

Quite a few attorneys and staff members participated in this year's Warrior Dash. The Warrior Dash is 3.15 miles filled with fire leaping, mud crawling and extreme obstacles all for the hope of winning a coveted Warrior Helmet.

Celebrating Two Years of WaterCooler: Young Entrepreneurs Networking in Nashville


Two years ago, I was talking with my friend Wade Munday about how I wanted to start a fun, informal, monthly event for young entrepreneurs in Nashville to meet each other.  The goal was to provide networking opportunities and to learn about interesting topics or hear from speakers within our own age range (20s through 40s).  He helped me come up with the name WaterCooler, which sounded a lot better than CornerOffice and other names that we considered.  Then he moved to Boston for a year before coming home and getting married.
My friend Renata Soto, who runs Conexión Americas, graciously agreed to co-chair and co-host these events with me.  Our first speaker was Kimberly Pace of Owen Management School at Vanderbilt University, who talked about personal brands:  how each of us creates a personal brand with every action or inaction that we take.  We hosted the first one at Cantina Laredo, which had awesome guacamole and margaritas, but didn’t have the best acoustics.  We later moved to 1808 Grille at The Hutton Hotel, which provided a rock star environment, but was too small for our growing crowds.  Then we moved to Miro District.  We decided it was time to take the show on the road.
During that time, we hosted some amazing speakers, ranging from Becca Stevens, who talked about her work with former prostitutes at Magdalene and Thistle Farms, to Clint Smith of Emma, Laura Creekmore, who gave an overview of social media (which now seems like it was eons ago), and Alan Young of Armor Concepts, whose products I see on billboards all around the city.
Our first field trip was to Yazoo Tap Room, where Linus Hall and Neil McCormick gave everyone a tour of their brewery and free tastes of Yazoo.  That event turned out to be our most popular yet, and it showed us that WaterCooler was good not only for participants (who, in that case, reaped free beer) but also for the hosts whose businesses we showcased, because it gave them an opportunity to connect with their audience and further build brand loyalty.  I know, for myself, that I buy a lot more Yazoo beer now than I did before, because I heard Linus’ story and know how fresh it is, in addition to merely wishing to support the local economy.
From there, we realized that our niche was really in focusing on locally-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and not just hearing from a variety of speakers in our age range.  We went to Oliver & Sinclair Chocolate Factory, which was so jam packed that we had to turn people away at the doors for fear of overcrowding/fire marshals.  We also visited Corsair Distillery and heard from Darek Bell and his partner.  More recently, we toured CentreSource, then walked down the street to City House for drinks.
Our hope in doing this, in hosting and starting WaterCooler, was to build connections, for ourselves, and with each other.  We want folks to come whenever they’re inspired by the topic or have an interest in the location or the host or the product.  But we didn’t want to do anything that required people to sign up for one more commitment.  Everyone has enough of those already.  Because of that, we don’t have an official membership, and we don’t ask people to pay dues.  
We know that we are achieving our goal, because we have made connections with you resulting in new clients for our businesses/practices, new donors for our non-profits, new jobs, and more generally new friends.  And we know that you have done the same.  Emma has gotten new clients because one person who attended was impressed with Clint Smith's story.  And at least one person has gotten a new job because of a relationship she made while trying to attend our event at Olive & Sinclair.  These are the sorts of things we want to happen with WaterCooler.  If you have more examples of good connections that you’ve made, or if you have interesting locally-owned businesses based in Nashville that you want to highlight, please let us know.  These are the stories that we want to help you tell.

Celebrating Two Years of WaterCooler: Young Entrepreneurs Networking in Nashville


Two years ago, I was talking with my friend Wade Munday about how I wanted to start a fun, informal, monthly event for young entrepreneurs in Nashville to meet each other.  The goal was to provide networking opportunities and to learn about interesting topics or hear from speakers within our own age range (20s through 40s).  He helped me come up with the name WaterCooler, which sounded a lot better than CornerOffice and other names that we considered.  Then he moved to Boston for a year before coming home and getting married.

My friend Renata Soto, who runs Conexión Americas, graciously agreed to co-chair and co-host these events with me.  Our first speaker was Kimberly Pace of Owen Management School at Vanderbilt University, who talked about personal brands:  how each of us creates a personal brand with every action or inaction that we take.  We hosted the first one at Cantina Laredo, which had awesome guacamole and margaritas, but didn’t have the best acoustics.  We later moved to 1808 Grille at The Hutton Hotel, which provided a rock star environment, but was too small for our growing crowds.  Then we moved to Miro District.  We decided it was time to take the show on the road.

During that time, we hosted some amazing speakers, ranging from Becca Stevens, who talked about her work with former prostitutes at Magdalene and Thistle Farms, to Clint Smith of Emma, Laura Creekmore, who gave an overview of social media (which now seems like it was eons ago), and Alan Young of Armor Concepts, whose products I see on billboards all around the city.

Our first field trip was to Yazoo Tap Room, where Linus Hall and Neil McCormick gave everyone a tour of their brewery and free tastes of Yazoo.  That event turned out to be our most popular yet, and it showed us that WaterCooler was good not only for participants (who, in that case, reaped free beer) but also for the hosts whose businesses we showcased, because it gave them an opportunity to connect with their audience and further build brand loyalty.  I know, for myself, that I buy a lot more Yazoo beer now than I did before, because I heard Linus’ story and know how fresh it is, in addition to merely wishing to support the local economy.

From there, we realized that our niche was really in focusing on locally-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and not just hearing from a variety of speakers in our age range.  We went to Oliver & Sinclair Chocolate Factory, which was so jam packed that we had to turn people away at the doors for fear of overcrowding/fire marshals.  We also visited Corsair Distillery and heard from Darek Bell and his partner.  More recently, we toured CentreSource, then walked down the street to City House for drinks.

Our hope in doing this, in hosting and starting WaterCooler, was to build connections, for ourselves, and with each other.  We want folks to come whenever they’re inspired by the topic or have an interest in the location or the host or the product.  But we didn’t want to do anything that required people to sign up for one more commitment.  Everyone has enough of those already.  Because of that, we don’t have an official membership, and we don’t ask people to pay dues. 

We know that we are achieving our goal, because we have made connections with you resulting in new clients for our businesses/practices, new donors for our non-profits, new jobs, and more generally new friends.  And we know that you have done the same.  Emma has gotten new clients because one person who attended was impressed with Clint Smith's story.  And at least one person has gotten a new job because of a relationship she made while trying to attend our event at Olive & Sinclair.  These are the sorts of things we want to happen with WaterCooler.  If you have more examples of good connections that you’ve made, or if you have interesting locally-owned businesses based in Nashville that you want to highlight, please let us know.  These are the stories that we want to help you tell.

Can that post get me fired? The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media and Employment Law

Join us for our interactive panel to learn about common concerns with Employment Law, Human Resources and  Social Media.


Friday, September 16th 8 am-9:30 am

Complimentary breakfast at 8 am

Panel begins promptly at 8:30 am



Nashville City Center

511 Union Street, Suite 1600

Our speakers include Employment Law attorneys James Crumlin and Keith Dennen of Bone McAllester Norton, along with Lynn Hutson, the Director of Human Resource Services at XMi. We look forward to educating you on the impact of  social media on all aspects of employment law and will leave you with some ideas to protect you and your employees.

Zagat Survey Summary Includes Bonelaw Clients

The results of the 2011 Fast Food/Full Service Chain Restaurants are out and we are proud to represent quite a few of them!


Congratulations to Five Guys, Chipotle, P.F. Chang's, Bonefish Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Maggiano's Little Italy, Wei Asian Diner, Buffalo Wild Wings, Outback Steakhouse, Longhorn Steakhouse, Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, TGI Friday's, Carrabba's Italian Grill, Romano's Macaroni Grill, Red Lobster, Red Robin, Chili's, and Mimi's Cafe. Keep up the great work!

Using Technology to Tap into New Sources of Revenue: Highlights of Technology Panel at Bone McAllester Norton


Recently my law firm hosted a panel on technology.  It was a packed audience, and more guests showed up than rsvp’d, showing us that this was a topic that people really want to know more about.  Usually law firms invite clients and friends to hear about risks or changes in the law.  This event was all about business opportunity.
Since the beginning of 2011, I’ve given 1-2 speeches a month on the legal issues involved in using social media.  These talks typically have revolved around social media as a marketing tool, but not necessarily linked directly with creating new revenue.  At our tech panel, we wanted to focus instead on how companies and individuals can use technology to create new streams of revenue.  How can they tap into new revenue sources by creating their own apps, games and contests?  And what is on the horizon that none of us has even contemplated?
We invited an expert panel, comprised of David Owens of Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management, Nicholas Holland, CEO and Founder of CentreSource, and two of our clients, Parker Polidor, CEO and Co-Founder of Cell Journalist and Carter Hopkins, CEO and Co-Founder of City Streak, LLC.  Our audience was made up of leaders of financial institutions, educational institutions, technology companies, start-ups, developers, and venture capital firms.  We asked our panel and our audience to focus on three things:  (1) using technology to create new revenue streams, (2) tapping into the growing technology sector here in Nashville, rather than shipping assignments out of state to Silicon Valley or Texas, and (3) using our panelists’ stories as inspiration.
David Owens kicked off the discussion by talking about how companies that develop technology these days are recruiting high school students and high school graduates rather than college graduates, because young people are so connected with technology these days.  He talked about how younger people are physically developing stronger hands, fingers and forearms as a result of constantly using Smartphones, and how marketing firms are beginning to place signs and advertisements at foot level and knee level in stores, rather than overhead, because our bodies are getting used to looking down at a hand-held device all day, rather than looking up.  These are just some of the physiological and physical changes that are taking place from an evolutionary perspective, based on our recent adoption of certain technological devices.
Nick Holland did a great job providing an overview of how businesses can tap into technology from a variety of perspectives and in order to accomplish multiple goals.  His company is one of the fastest growing technology companies in America, and its based right here in Nashville.  Already as a result of our panel, members of the audience have hired CentreSource to help them with their needs.  This is great for them, for CentreSource, and for Nashville.
Parker Polidor shared his company’s amazing story, which deserves far greater recognition in Nashville than it currently has.  Cell Journalist is one of the biggest connectors and providers of user-generated content (UGC), such as videos of the floods captured from the Northeast over the past few weeks on individuals’ cell phones, which they then upload to various local and national news stations across the country.  As a direct result of the panel that we hosted, Cell Journalist was approached by one of the nation’s largest media conglomerates and is in the process of negotiating additional work.
Finally, Carter Hopkins, who was the youngest person in the room, and had just graduated from college at SMU in May 2010, captivated the audience by telling his story of how he and his business partner invested just over $10,000 to start this company, which already has thousands of fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook.  His company is similar to a combination of The Amazing Race and Groupon, which lets its target audience of individuals in college and recent graduates go on scavenger hunts in urban locations around the country.  They hunt for prizes and the game is based on speed and skill.  They also realize that they are in a unique position to help companies promote their products and services by incorporating them into the scavenger hunt as clues.  One of my takeaways from the morning was a conversation after the event with one of the older attendees, who said how inspired she was by Carter’s presentation.  She said it got her wheels spinning and that she is already thinking about new ways she can incorporate similar concepts into her own app.

Using Technology to Tap into New Sources of Revenue: Highlights of Technology Panel at Bone McAllester Norton


Recently my law firm hosted a panel on technology.  It was a packed audience, and more guests showed up than rsvp’d, showing us that this was a topic that people really want to know more about.  Usually law firms invite clients and friends to hear about risks or changes in the law.  This event was all about business opportunity.

Since the beginning of 2011, I’ve given 1-2 speeches a month on the legal issues involved in using social media.  These talks typically have revolved around social media as a marketing tool, but not necessarily linked directly with creating new revenue.  At our tech panel, we wanted to focus instead on how companies and individuals can use technology to create new streams of revenue.  How can they tap into new revenue sources by creating their own apps, games and contests?  And what is on the horizon that none of us has even contemplated?

We invited an expert panel, comprised of David Owens of Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management, Nicholas Holland, CEO and Founder of CentreSource, and two of our clients, Parker Polidor, CEO and Co-Founder of Cell Journalist and Carter Hopkins, CEO and Co-Founder of City Streak, LLC.  Our audience was made up of leaders of financial institutions, educational institutions, technology companies, start-ups, developers, and venture capital firms.  We asked our panel and our audience to focus on three things:  (1) using technology to create new revenue streams, (2) tapping into the growing technology sector here in Nashville, rather than shipping assignments out of state to Silicon Valley or Texas, and (3) using our panelists’ stories as inspiration.

David Owens kicked off the discussion by talking about how companies that develop technology these days are recruiting high school students and high school graduates rather than college graduates, because young people are so connected with technology these days.  He talked about how younger people are physically developing stronger hands, fingers and forearms as a result of constantly using Smartphones, and how marketing firms are beginning to place signs and advertisements at foot level and knee level in stores, rather than overhead, because our bodies are getting used to looking down at a hand-held device all day, rather than looking up.  These are just some of the physiological and physical changes that are taking place from an evolutionary perspective, based on our recent adoption of certain technological devices.

Nick Holland did a great job providing an overview of how businesses can tap into technology from a variety of perspectives and in order to accomplish multiple goals.  His company is one of the fastest growing technology companies in America, and its based right here in Nashville.  Already as a result of our panel, members of the audience have hired CentreSource to help them with their needs.  This is great for them, for CentreSource, and for Nashville.

Parker Polidor shared his company’s amazing story, which deserves far greater recognition in Nashville than it currently has.  Cell Journalist is one of the biggest connectors and providers of user-generated content (UGC), such as videos of the floods captured from the Northeast over the past few weeks on individuals’ cell phones, which they then upload to various local and national news stations across the country.  As a direct result of the panel that we hosted, Cell Journalist was approached by one of the nation’s largest media conglomerates and is in the process of negotiating additional work.

Finally, Carter Hopkins, who was the youngest person in the room, and had just graduated from college at SMU in May 2010, captivated the audience by telling his story of how he and his business partner invested just over $10,000 to start this company, which already has thousands of fans and followers on Twitter and Facebook.  His company is similar to a combination of The Amazing Race and Groupon, which lets its target audience of individuals in college and recent graduates go on scavenger hunts in urban locations around the country.  They hunt for prizes and the game is based on speed and skill.  They also realize that they are in a unique position to help companies promote their products and services by incorporating them into the scavenger hunt as clues.  One of my takeaways from the morning was a conversation after the event with one of the older attendees, who said how inspired she was by Carter’s presentation.  She said it got her wheels spinning and that she is already thinking about new ways she can incorporate similar concepts into her own app.

Congress Should Take up Conyers' proposal to Clarify Copyright Law

Today's New York Times reports that Rep. Conyers is calling on Congress to revise the Copyright Act to clarify that recording artists are entitled to recapture ownership over their copyrights in sound recordings.  As the article explains, and as I referenced in my last blog post, questions exist whether transfers in copyrights in sound recordings (like other works) may be terminated, or whether they are "works made for hire," disqualifying them from being recaptured/terminated. 

The article indicates that the big four record labels and their allies in Congress may prefer to ignore the issue and let the courts decide it.  While such strategy would undoubtedly provide job security for us copyright litigators, it seems to make little sense for anyone else.  This is an issue that Congress can and should decide now, putting recording artists in the same camp as every other type of author, with all of the same rights. 

Congress Should Take up Conyers' proposal to Clarify Copyright Law

Today's New York Times reports that Rep. Conyers is calling on Congress to revise the Copyright Act to clarify that recording artists are entitled to recapture ownership over their copyrights in sound recordings.  As the article explains, and as I referenced in my last blog post, questions exist whether transfers in copyrights in sound recordings (like other works) may be terminated, or whether they are "works made for hire," disqualifying them from being recaptured/terminated. 

The article indicates that the big four record labels and their allies in Congress may prefer to ignore the issue and let the courts decide it.  While such strategy would undoubtedly provide job security for us copyright litigators, it seems to make little sense for anyone else.  This is an issue that Congress can and should decide now, putting recording artists in the same camp as every other type of author, with all of the same rights. 

James Crumlin speaks on Social Media and Background Checks.

Social Media Background Checks: A Slippery Slope


By John Borrowman, CPC
Borrowman Baker, LLC, BV Staffing + Consulting
Houston, TX


Interviewee: James Crumlin
Bone, McAllester, Norton
Nashville, TN

Understandably, employers want to get as much information as they can about a candidate. And the Internet makes it easy to use sites like Facebook to do a "social media background check." Taking that approach can be more complicated than it sounds, however.

For a more nuanced view, we turned to James Crumlin, a Partner in the Nashville law firm of Bone, McAllester, Norton. James specializes in the area of employment law.

Borrowman: It almost seems like a no-brainer for an employer to do a social media background check on its candidates. What could be wrong with that?


Crumlin: Well, there's nothing wrong if that process follows the same rules as any other background check. It's in the nature of a social media background check, though, that it can invite employers to look at information that may not be relevant to job performance. For example, your candidate may have posted vacation pictures that may not be very tasteful. But, are those pictures really relevant to whether the person can do the job he's being considered for? Or, is it simply unflattering information?

Borrowman: Is the process of drawing that line any different than drawing the line when it comes to non-work related information gathered in a standard background check?

Crumlin: Not really. You just need to make sure you're not using the social media background check to do something you couldn't do otherwise. In a social media background check, for example, you might find reference to a person's religion, race, marital status, disability or other information that is protected under Federal employment laws. When you're interviewing a candidate, you're not supposed to inquire about any of that information.

As with any other background check, the candidate must consent to the social media background check and be notified of any adverse information that is found. There are companies that do this kind of background check. The FTC has determined that they are compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, which governs other forms of background checking.

Borrowman: Fundamentally then, things that you can't ask in an interview, you can't do research on in a social media background check.

Crumlin: Right.

Borrowman: So, why would you go looking at social media sites? Is there likely to be anything there that is truly relevant? Crumlin: It depends. You might not want a candidate who has a history of talking about former employers and bosses in a defamatory way on a social media site. People do weird things with social media. They think they can say anything. If the candidate is bragging about having a few drinks at lunch and then going back to work, that would be information that might be relevant to the hiring decision.

Borrowman: And that's where a social media background check becomes a slippery slope? Crumlin: That's right. It complicates things because you have to wonder whether or not the information that you find is relevant to job performance. If the information is not relevant to job performance and if you use that information, do you violate Federal laws?

I would always recommend that the employer stick to the essentials of the job; that they stick to the job requirements. If the employer learns something that appears contrary to information provided during an interview, there can still be a question about whether the information is job-related.

Borrowman: Can you give an example?

Crumlin: You could be in a situation where the job requires the candidate to do a lot of travel. The candidate says travel is fine. In the interview, you can't ask questions about family. In the social media background check, though, you discover photos of a wife and young kids. If the decision not to hire is based on that information, the employer could be in trouble.

Borrowman: How would an employer handle that new information? You shouldn't ignore it. But, you can't ask about it.

Crumlin: No, you can't use the social media background check to learn information that you can't learn in interviewing or other background checks. You have to look to his qualifications, to see whether he traveled in a previous position. You could ask references whether the candidate ever had problems with the travel requirements of the job. That's about as close as you can get.

Borrowman: Do you have any "bottom-line" recommendations about doing a social media background check?

Crumlin: One thing employers should not do is take a casual approach to using social media background check as a quasi-background check. They should not (and should not allow their employees to) think "I'll just go on Facebook and see what I can find out."

If you're going to use this process, you need to have it as a formal part of the hiring process. You need to treat it just like you would any other background check that the company does. You should notify the candidate that you are doing the background check, have them consent to it, and also inform them of any adverse information you find. If it leads to a decision not to hire, you have to explain that, too. All the while, you have to make sure you're in compliance with Federal employment laws in conducting these background checks.

Regaining Ownership over Copyrights

The Tennessean recently published my article on recapturing copyrights.  This is what I wrote: 
 
         
             If they’re not scrambling yet, Nashville songwriters, recording artists, publishing houses and labels soon will be as they jockey to control copyrights. Starting this year, authors can begin to give notice to terminate the transfer of any copyright that was published on or after January 1, 1978.   
            Generally, whoever owns the copyright owns the right to distribute, sell and reproduce the work in question, whether it be lyrics or music to a song, sound recordings, motion pictures, manuscripts, software, architectural designs, or photographs.  When an author transfers ownership, he or she loses those rights.  But by terminating the transfer, authors redirect royalty streams away from the current owners (labels, publishers, and so forth) and back to the original authors.
            A five year window opens up 35 years after publication, allowing authors to terminate transfers they made in the past.  For those works published in 1978, the first opportunity to terminate the transfer will be in 2013.  (For works published or registered prior to 1978, different rules apply, but authors can still recapture their copyrights.)  The Act requires authors to provide at least two years notice, so those who want to terminate their 1978 transfers in 2013 must send notice in 2011. 
            Historically, when working to get established, authors (be they poets, songwriters, filmmakers or sculptors) have had little leverage with their publisher or label.  In exchange for receiving financial advances and getting published, young authors often must transfer ownership of the copyright in the work to the publisher/label.  For example, Garth Brooks currently has a lot more negotiating power than newer artists because he has a track record of producing huge hits.  
            Recognizing the uneven bargaining power that authors possess when first trying to make it big, Congress leveled the playing field by giving them the ability to recapture the copyrights they transferred to the publisher/labels 35 years ago.  Whether an artist’s record contract says he has created a work made for hire, or whether she has signed a contract promising never to terminate the transfer, it doesn’t matter because the right to terminate transfer is irrevocable. 
            Congress left open many unanswered questions that courts across the country will have to answer.  With Nashville’s stature in the music and publishing industries, as well as our growing technology community, this has the potential to wreak as much havoc on business as the switch from vinyl to digital.  Given the impact of this law on our own community, I feel certain that Nashville’s federal courts will be in the center of this storm.
            The rules in this area are complicated, even to many lawyers.  They are highly technical and require jumping through many hoops.  Once the window to recapture closes, it generally closes for good.  Authors who are interested in recapturing their copyrights should start working on this right away, take this into account when writing their wills, and enlist professional help from a lawyer in this field. 

Regaining Ownership over Copyrights



The Tennessean recently published my article on recapturing copyrights.  This is what I wrote: 


         
             If they’re not scrambling yet, Nashville songwriters, recording artists, publishing houses and labels soon will be as they jockey to control copyrights.  Starting this year, authors can begin to give notice to terminate the transfer of any copyright that was published on or after January 1, 1978. 

            Generally, whoever owns the copyright owns the right to distribute, sell and reproduce the work in question, whether it be lyrics or music to a song, sound recordings, motion pictures, manuscripts, software, architectural designs, or photographs.  When an author transfers ownership, he or she loses those rights.  But by terminating the transfer, authors redirect royalty streams away from the current owners (labels, publishers, and so forth) and back to the original authors.

            A five year window opens up 35 years after publication, allowing authors to terminate transfers they made in the past.  For those works published in 1978, the first opportunity to terminate the transfer will be in 2013.  (For works published or registered prior to 1978, different rules apply, but authors can still recapture their copyrights.)  The Act requires authors to provide at least two years notice, so those who want to terminate their 1978 transfers in 2013 must send notice in 2011.

            Historically, when working to get established, authors (be they poets, songwriters, filmmakers or sculptors) have had little leverage with their publisher or label.  In exchange for receiving financial advances and getting published, young authors often must transfer ownership of the copyright in the work to the publisher/label.  For example, Garth Brooks currently has a lot more negotiating power than newer artists because he has a track record of producing huge hits. 

            Recognizing the uneven bargaining power that authors possess when first trying to make it big, Congress leveled the playing field by giving them the ability to recapture the copyrights they transferred to the publisher/labels 35 years ago.  Whether an artist’s record contract says he has created a work made for hire, or whether she has signed a contract promising never to terminate the transfer, it doesn’t matter because the right to terminate transfer is irrevocable.

            Congress left open many unanswered questions that courts across the country will have to answer.  With Nashville’s stature in the music and publishing industries, as well as our growing technology community, this has the potential to wreak as much havoc on business as the switch from vinyl to digital.  Given the impact of this law on our own community, I feel certain that Nashville’s federal courts will be in the center of this storm.

            The rules in this area are complicated, even to many lawyers.  They are highly technical and require jumping through many hoops.  Once the window to recapture closes, it generally closes for good.  Authors who are interested in recapturing their copyrights should start working on this right away, take this into account when writing their wills, and enlist professional help from a lawyer in this field. 

August 2011 Newsletter Features Can That Post Get Me Fired? The Do's and Don'ts of Social Media and Employment Law

Join us for our interactive panel to learn about common concerns with Employment Law, Human Resources and  Social Media. To read the rest of our newsletter, click here.

Attorney James Mackler Discusses Pentagon's Investigation Into Cutting Military Pension Plans

James Mackler was interviewed by Channel 2 about the possible pension cuts facing the US Military.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Almost 10 years ago America, for the first time in modern history, was attacked at home.


Thousands of young men and women decided they couldn't sit at home. They wanted to serve.


Attorney James Mackler was one of them.


"I was in private practice for about seven years in Colorado and after September 11, I decided to join the army and be a part of the fight that was going on," Mackler recalled. "Our country had just been attacked, so I went to my local recruiting station and said, ‘Hey I want to join up.'"




Mackler went to flight school and in 2005 was deployed with the Ft. Campbell 101st Airborne Division as a Black Hawk Pilot. Today he's a Reservist back to practicing law in the private sector.


 

Click here for the entire story and the video
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August 2011 Newsletter Features Legislative Recap of Beer and Liquor Laws.

The Bone McAllester Norton Alcoholic Beverage Group has kindly published a legislative recap to help you stay aware of beer and liquor laws.  To read the rest of our newsletter click here.

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)


 

Alcoholic Beverage Group Provides a Recap of 2011 Liquor and Beer Laws

By Will Cheek and Rob Pinson

It was another busy year for liquor and beer laws at the Tennessee General Assembly.  Although most citizens were watching the wine in grocery stores legislation, a number of important liquor industry bills passed, and many failed.

Tastings Kosher at Package Stores.  State law now allows retail liquor stores to offer tastings inside the store.  This is a major change from prior law, which limited liquor stores to selling wine and spirits, selling lottery tickets and cashing checks.  Liquor stores could also do tastings off-site, but every other business was illegal. The new law simply provides:  "a retail licensee may offer complimentary samples of the products it sells for tastings to be held on the premises of the retail licensee. Such tastings shall be for sales, education and promotional purposes."  The law prohibits wholesalers from providing any products, funding, labor, support or reimbursement for tastings. Unlike LBD tastings, no notice is required and servers do not have to hold server ABC permits.  In fact, the law does not require servers, leaving open the possibility of self-service by customers.   There is no limitation on the number or duration of tastings - it may be legal to leave bottles up front for customers to sample as desired. The law raises many questions.  Liquor stores cannot sell mixers.  Can they provide mixers with spirits?  How about ice?  Can stores even provide glassware or plastic for serving wine and spirits - they certainly cannot sell it?  Can food be served? The ABC plans to adopt regulations for retail tastings and the process is set to begin this week.  Long Live the ABC.  In prior legislative sessions, there has been discussion about merging the ABC with another agency.  The ABC has been plagued by a bad audit that disclosed bad cash management procedures and employee theft auditors thought was not properly handled, among other issues.  Last year, the ABC was approved at the eleventh hour of the legislative session. The future of the ABC is a little brighter after this year’s legislature extended the life of the ABC through June 30, 2013, and did so relatively early in the session, without much fan fare.

 

Mail Order Wine to Dry Counties.  The legislature removed a restriction on the direct shipment license that previously limited direct shipment sales to “wet” cities and counties.  Now, you can order wine from any licensed winery by mail, anywhere in the State of Tennessee.

 

Shelby County.  This law fixes a problem in unincorporated areas outside Memphis.  For years, there has been confusion about Memphis’ city limits.  Over the years, a handful of restaurants were issued liquor licenses because they appeared to be in Memphis, but were actually located in dry areas of Shelby County.  Liquor by the drink is legal in Memphis and the suburban cities inside Shelby County.  Liquor by the drink was not legal in unincorporated areas of Shelby County, where the handful of restaurants were operating with liquor licenses, but not legally authorized to sell liquor.  This law legalizes liquor by the drink in unincorporated areas of Shelby County.

 

Adventure Tourism.  This law creates a significant tax credit for creation of “adventure tourism” jobs.  The law is complicated, but for qualifying businesses, we read the bill as providing a tax credit of $4,500 for three years for each new adventure tourism job.  The state department of tourist development is charged with defining what jobs are adventure tourism.  For creative entrepreneurs, this could be an attractive opportunity.  $13,500 over three years is a big incentive to create jobs.

Wholesalers Importing.  Rumor has it that some wholesalers have been acting as importers of wine and spirits, although the practice was not specifically authorized by Tennessee law.  With the proper permit, the practice is now clearly legit.
Lexington.  Most folks ask why we are reporting about a Kentucky law, but yes, Virginia, there is a Lexington, Tennessee.  The law authorizes Lexington, by ordinance adopted by a two-thirds vote, to levy an occupancy tax on the privilege of staying in any hotel or motel in Lexington.  Lexington can set the rate of the privilege tax; but the proceeds must be spent for “tourism development.”

 

A City United.  Goodlettsville, a city long divided by county lines for alcohol, will now be able to conduct a referendum for the sale of alcoholic beverages at retail package stores in the Sumner County portions of the city.

 

Sunday Sales. The law sets the hours for the sale of beer on Sunday in a county to be the same as the hours set by a municipality that adopts liquor-by-the-drink in a referendum. The law does not apply if the county legislative body by a 2/3 vote has already set the hours for the sale of beer on Sunday in areas outside the municipality.

As usual, a few pet projects in dry areas were designated as Premier Type Tourist Resorts.  Here is our best guess at who gets liquor:

  • Buffalo River Resort in Perry County, which has 95 acres, three log cabins, 20 RV pads and a 40-seat restaurant.

  • East Fork Stables in Jamestown, with space to hold up to 220 horses and a restaurant.

  • The nonprofit Franklin Theatre may sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on  premises.

  • Blue Porch Inn in Rutherford County may sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises.

  • Woodlake Golf Club in the East Tennessee town of Tazewell may sell alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption.

  • The National Ornamental Metal Museum in Memphis may sell alcoholic beverages..


The special license in dry areas known as “Tennessee River Resort District” now includes a limited service restaurants, which is last year’s new license for places that sell less than 50% food.

Down and Out for 2011
Here are some bills of interest that failed.

 

Wine in Grocery Stores The bill was not expected to advance this year, and indeed it did not.  Insiders reported that last legislative session, a deal was struck to defer serious consideration of wine until 2012.  Read more about our analysis at Will Cheek's Blog.

Pay the Piper.  The bill would have required that all ABC fines be paid before renewal of liquor licenses and specifically authorize the ABC to charge costs from setting citations for hearing.  The ABC has historically required payment of all outstanding citations at renewal, and this bill would have made it law.  In addition, the bill would have required licensees to pay the expenses of setting a citation for hearing, even if the citation settled.  This would have been an effective tool for the ABC to clear a backlog of older citations. Currently, some licensees ignore citations because there are no clear consequences.  The bill died in the House for no apparent reason.

LBD Audits.  The bill would have changed the method to audit taxes paid on alcoholic beverages sold in restaurants.  The current system simply taxes restaurants based on a formula derived from the wholesale sales to the restaurant.  The bill would have directed the commissioner of revenue to explore the possibility of developing an on-line filing system which would permit the automatic deduction from the collector's business account for the payment of the tax due on sales of mixed drinks and setups.

Selling on Satellite.  As introduced, would have allowed TN licensed wineries to conduct business at up to two satellite locations, allowing wineries to locate in urban tourist areas, among other places.

New License Fees.  This bill would have required the ABC to implement a new licensing fee structure for restaurants and limited service restaurants based on liability insurance codes. Present fees are based on percentages of food service.  Some saw this as a way to assess higher fees for riskier businesses such as nightclubs.

Order Up Red Bull and Vodka.  With caffeinated alcohol drinks being banned at the federal level, legislators tried to extend the ban to mixed “energy” drinks at bars.  The bid to say goodbye to selling caffeinated mixed drinks this year failed.  In all fairness, it is difficult to craft a law that bans Red Bull and Vodka, but allows Jack and Coke.

For Profit Movie Theaters Stay Dry.  Bills to allow liquor sales at a Knox County Theatre and two Nashville theaters were rejected.  The Davidson County proposal required one auditorium to be restricted to patrons 21 years of age or older.  Although a few nonprofit theaters have been approved for liquor, the legislature clearly declined to extend the right to for profit businesses.

*Many thanks to our intern, Eliot Goldfarb, for his research and input to this year's Legislative Recap. Eliot is a recent graduate of USN and is part of our service center team for the summer.

Bone McAllester Norton Hosts Technology Panel

Attorney Stephen Zralek gathered a panel of Nashville's finest business owners and interactive experts to discuss how technology can lead to a new revenue stream for companies for an invitation only breakfast event.


Panelists included:
David A. Owens is professor of the practice of management at Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Management, where he focuses on entrepreneurship. Specializing in innovation and new product development, he is known as a dynamic speaker and is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. He provides consulting services for a wide range of clients around the world,  including NASA, The Smithsonian, Nissan LEAF, Gibson Music, TVA, Cisco and LEGO, and his work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal,  and NPR’s Marketplace. Prior to his time at Vanderbilt, David was the CEO of Griffin Technology in Nashville.

Nicholas Holland is Founder of centresource, an interactive agency in Nashville, which was recently named the 46th fastest growing inner-city firm in the United States. Centresource's motto is to "build, brand and boost" and they help businesses look at their overall strategy and find new ways to make or save money through interactive media.
Before starting centresource, Nicholas worked as a Risk Analyst, which provided a foundation in business analysis and that has been invaluable to operations and financial management.

Carter Hopkins, a recent college graduate, co-founded CityStreak. Finding his way from Shreveport, Louisiana, Carter occasionally finds his roots with his thick Cajun accent.  When he can be understood, he is most likely talking wild ideas about traveling the country or passionately pursuing life. Described by some as a combination of "Groupon" and the "Amazing Race," CityStreak already has an amazing following after launching just a few months ago. Their mission is to connect people with each other to make memories and have a blast in their city. Come hear how two young entrepreneurs turned a dream into a thriving business that's built on a digital platform.

Parker Polidor is the Founder of Cell Journalist, which provides a real-time, hyper local content platform to 150+ local TV stations and newspapers.  Prior to Cell Journalist, Parker, an inveterate entrepreneur, started and later sold Mountain Valet, the first parking management company in Vermont serving ski resorts. Mountain Valet grew from three employees and one account to seven locations with over 40 employees across three states. Parker has traveled to 37 countries and participated in humanitarian trips to Asia and Central Africa.

 

CommunityNashville Names Charles Bone as Honoree for 40th Annual Human Relations Award Dinner

Bone McAllester Norton founder and chairman, Charles Bone was honored for making a difference at the 40th Annual CommunityNashville Human Relations Award Dinner.  He was honored along with Ellen and John Tighe, Rev. Neely Williams, Gail Kerr and the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

The dinner raised money for the CommunityNashville Building Bridges Program at Oasis Center, which helps youth learn about themselves, to respect others and to understand the root causes of prejudice.

"The annual Human Relations Award Dinner is one of the biggest and most important events in our city recognizing outstanding individuals whose commitment to human rights makes Nashville a better place for all of us," said co-chair Art Rebrovick.

 

Entertainment Industry's New Copyright Alert System May Create New Form of Evidence in Copyright Infringement Lawsuits & Lead to Higher Damages


It was big news earlier this month when many of the big entertainment companies entered into an agreement with Internet service providers (ISPs) regarding efforts they will take to self-regulate and self-police copyright infringement. The name of this plan is the "Copyright Alert System."
According to the Wall St. Journal and the Center for Copyright Information, the plan has six steps, from the mildest (in issuing warnings), to the intermediate (in requiring users to acknowledge that they received notice), to the most severe (in slowing down the speed at which alleged infringers may access the Internet).
As a copyright lawyer who goes to court to resolve disputes, I am most interested in the intermediate step. It strikes me that if users are forced to acknowledge that they have received a warning that their conduct may constitute infringement and yet they proceed forward anyway, the fact that they acknowledged such warning may be used against them in a copyright infringement action. The ISPs will not be releasing the identity of these users voluntarily. But a court can always grant permission to subpoena material showing that they took this intermediate step. This new policy may be opening up a whole new world of evidence of willfulness that can be used against people who knowingly infringe on others' copyrights. And willful infringement entitles copyright plaintiffs to increased money damages.