Valentines - Free Cards

Valentines - Free Cards
By Sue Basko

Happy Valentines Day!  I designed these cards you can send to your online friends.  Just pull them off the page or click and download.  These don't have the blue border - that is just on the site. - -Sue   

Merry Christmas

Wishing your and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas and a joyful New Year!
-- with love, from Susan

30 Ideas on Raising Children

The apple does not fall far from the tree.
30 Ideas on Raising Children
by Sue Basko 

As a little Christmas gift, I want to share my tips on raising children.  I raised children into happy adults.     Unlike most people, I sat down with a pen and notebook at the start of my child-raising career and made a list of how I wanted to do it.  And this, I share with you:

1. Think of raising your children as a career or job.  You are there to do a good job. To do that, you need to be in good shape physically and mentally.  You need to be ever-conscious of the goals, the process, and the success (or lack thereof) of your techniques.

2. Give your best to your family.  Use your best manners on your family.  Give your best efforts to your family.  Use your best furniture and dishes on your family.  Invest your money and time in your family.    Home should not be where you slack off and give your least; it is where you should be on your best and give your best.  Please, thank you, respecting privacy and property.

3. Don't tolerate a degradation of the family or home environment from anyone, including yourself.  "Sorry, we don't do that in our family" is legit.

4. Be sober and sane and healthy.  Drinking, using drugs, unchecked depression or mental problems, obesity --  all these are incompatible with parenting.  To be a good parent, you need to be in great shape physically and mentally.   Think of parenting like being a Marine or astronaut (or some such thing).  It takes all you've got to do the job right.

5. Every child is different.  They have different temperaments, different interests, different gifts. This is because God makes each person unique so we have a full society.  No child is made "wrong."  Your job is to watch and see what are your child's unique gifts, and then nurture those.   The things that a person is good at and that they enjoy are the things they are meant to do.

6. The more time and attention you put in while your child is a baby and preschool age, the easier your job is later.  Laying that solid foundation really pays off later.   

7. Think in terms of giving your children skills and experiences that will last a lifetime, rather than giving your child things.   Make a list of skills you want to help your child acquire: Play a musical instrument, sing, cook, hike, jumping rope, sew, draw, swim, doing math.   And so forth. Your child should leave home with a set of skills sufficiently developed that she or he could teach those skills to someone else.  

8. Prepare your children to be independent.  When my children were young, I made a list of skills I wanted to teach them so they would be able to leave the nest and be independent.   With each skill, I showed the children and then made them do it at least once.  That is enough for a skill set that lasts a lifetime.  I made a list and checked off each item as the lesson was completed.  The list included such skills as:
  • Making basic meals with simple foods, such as grilled cheese sandwich, an omelet, a casserole, bake a cake, bake a loaf of bread.
  • Sew by hand with a needle and thread.
  • Sew on a button.
  • Iron a shirt.
  • Clean a bathroom.
  • Wash a window.
  • Use basic handtools: screwdrivers, drill, hammer, saw, sandpaper.
  • How to shop for food: how to shop the perimeter, how to choose produce, how to pay.
  • How to do laundry at a laundromat.
  • How to write a thank you note.
  • How to use public transportation: reading maps and schedules, planning times and routes, paying, being alert.
  • How to fix a bike tire.    
I got some good laughs when my son called me from his first college apartment to say, "Apparently, I am the only person my age in all of New York who knows how to clean a bathroom."

9. Think of toys in terms of their play potential.  Spend more of your money on things with a lot of play potential.  How many hours of play will come from this?  Things with a lot of play potential include Legos, art supplies, a computer, a camera,  a bike, a skateboard.  Things with little play potential include action figures, gag gifts, single-purpose toys.  Of course, if a child has a dream toy and it is affordable and reasonable, you want to try to fulfill that dream.

Children do not need new toys every week.  It is perfectly reasonable to have gift-giving limited to birthdays and holidays.  Children who are given toys with a lot of play potential can always do something new with those toys. Children who are given toys with little or no play potential will always want new toys, since there is nothing to do with their toys other than possess them.  Such a pattern of toy ownership sets kids up for a lifetime of dissatisfaction with what they own.

10. What goes into our heads manifests itself in attitudes and actions.  Thus, we did not watch any violent or horror movies or television shows.  Actually, we did not watch any TV until the children were about 10 years old, and then only 2 hours one evening a week.  Teach your kids that they control what they put into their heads and that what goes in is important.  What manifests from a brain filled with violence and horror?  There are now many families that avoid TV and carefully choose movies and video games.  It feels joyful to consciously pick good entertainment.

11. Eat healthily.  Plan and make good meals with high nutritional content.  That means you are not buying junk food.  Just don't have it in your home.  If you don't buy it, you can't eat it.  Skip the soda, sugared "fruit" drinks, candy, chips, cheetos, white bread, fried foods.  Almost anything that comes in a package or can is not going to be as healthy as something from the fresh aisles of a grocery.  Childhood obesity is rampant and those foods cause it.  Raise healthy kids.

12. Eat meals together.  Set the table nicely every day, with napkins, flowers, candles.  TV, radio, or phones should not be at your meal.  It is time for you to be together.

13. Communicate.  Talk with your kids. Listen.  Listen. Listen. Be trustworthy.  Don't repeat to others what your children say.  Respect the communications.  If your kids are not sharing with you, it may be that you have not respected or valued their communications in the past.

14.  Don't snoop.  Period.  Of course, be aware and take action if your child seems to be acquiring weapons, drugs, stolen goods, etc.  But other than the obvious, don't snoop.  Respect your child's privacy and rely on communication with them.

15. Don't be afraid to tell your children that you have expectations.   Tell them you expect them to do well in school, keep out of trouble, go to college.  Or whatever you expect.  Tell them why you don't want them to do certain things or hang around with certain people.  Tell your children fact-specific things to do to handle certain situations.  For example, one of my children had some friends who were into shoplifting.  I told my child I would prefer he not hang around with those people, but that if he was going to be with them anyway, if they started to shoplift when he was with them, to immediately walk out of the store and leave them behind.  Do not discuss with them, just leave.  Not long after I explained this to him, he had the occasion to leave a store when his friends started shoplifting, and then to watch his friends taken out in handcuffs and put in a police car.  Whew, what a sad lesson.

16.  Share your faith and beliefs.  Wherever it is you draw your strength, share that with your children. I have a prayer-based faith, so I prayed with my children every day.   I also take a lot of joy and strength in nature and wanted to share that, too.  We often visited the beach, listening to the surf as the sun set.  We went hiking in the woods, pretending to be little Native children, trying to be silent in our footsteps.  Whatever is your source of strength, share it with your children.

17. Value education.  Spend your time and efforts helping your children learn.  Get them to bed on time so they have enough rest.  Give them a good breakfast and send them to school ready to learn.  Participate in the parent groups.  Get your kids plenty of books from the library or book store or yard sales.  Keep your home clean, non-chaotic, and quiet, so your kids have time and place to learn.  Bring your kids to museums, galleries, parks, plays, concerts, and other cultural activities.

18. Sing together.  Sing together as a family.  Make holiday videos or perform a family show where you sing together.  Nicer still if your family plays musical instruments.  Dance together.

19. Tell your children, "I love you," every day. Or several times each day.

20. Praise your children every day.  Tell your children they are good, smart, pretty, handsome, good artists, clever, good cooks, handy.  Laugh at their jokes, listen to their stories, tell them thank you.

21.  Be grateful and teach your children to be grateful.  Talk about how you are lucky to have each other, to have a home, food to eat, health.  Thank people. Teach your children to say "Thank you."  Thank your children.

22. If you are ever feeling bossy or on a power trip, stop and calculate the time until your child turns 18 and can be on her own and do whatever she pleases. The purpose of raising children is to let them learn how to make decisions for themselves.  A 16 or 17 year old should be making all their decisions on their own, with you there as guidance.  If not, how will they be ready to be 18?  A child should be allowed to make some of their own decisions, from a very early age.  Give children choices, where each choice is acceptable.  A 14 year old should be able to pick their own classes and activities, choose their own meals, choose their own friends, do their own schoolwork, choose their own clothes and hair style, set their own schedule.  If you want to control those things for your child, then don't be surprised if your child is not "ready to launch" when it is time.  Learning comes from making some mistakes.

23. Teach your children compassion. Teach them not to bully, to be kind to the underdog, to respect people of all races and religions. Take them on cultural excursions to meet different kinds of people and share in different cultures.

24. Teach your kids to be part of a community.  Take them with you as you volunteer.  Bring them with you while you give food to the homeless, go to protests, work on a community garden.  Teach your kids how to pass a petition, form an organization, stand up for what is right.

25. Let kids play outside.  Every day.

26. Teach your kids how to choose friends and how to be a friend.  When one of my children started at a big high school in seventh grade, he was concerned about having friends.  He had the lead role in the school play, so he was popular, but needed close friends at this new school.  I told him to look for people who shared his same interests and values and to make best friends with those people. I told him that anyone that has one or two best friends is automatically popular because they feel happy and secure.  Others will gather around that core of two or three close friends.

27. Laugh a lot.  Joyful laughter, not mean laughter.  Don't mock, tease, or taunt.  Have a lot of fun laughing with your kids.  Have family in-jokes.   We had a joke that ran for many years, where whenever we just missed a bus or train, we would say we did not miss "our bus," that the next one was "our bus." This extended to anything we missed: it was not ours, ours was the next one.

28. Teach your kids about sex. Teach them that their bodies are sacred. Teach them to respect others. Don't sexualize your children.  Dress your kids as kids, not as sexy little adults.  Give your kids a simple rule: Don't have sex till they are in college.  In California, it is illegal for anyone under age 18 to have sex.  That makes this an easy rule to explain and insist upon.  The legal age is lower in some states, but it is rarely conducive to getting an education and good start in life to have sex younger than age 18.

29. Have open communication with your children about the internet.  Talk to them about sexting, revenge porn, bullying.  Let them know the internet is wonderful, but is also a playground for predators.  Teach them that not everything is as it seems.  Teach your children to respect others on the internet, and not to engage in hacking, bullying, or posting sex photos.  Teach them to keep their computer cameras covered, except when in use. Teach them never to agree to meet anyone from the internet unless they run it by you.  Tell them that many sex predators meet victims this way.  Yes, this means you need to explain to your kids about sex predators.

30. Take pictures often.  Children grow up quickly.


What is a Booking Agent?

What is a Booking Agent?
by Sue Basko

The answer to this question differs from state to state, depending on the Talent Agency law of that state.  In the two states in which I am licensed, California and Illinois, the laws are quite similar to each other, though California enforces and publicizes the law much more rigorously. California is much better at protecting actors, musicians, and other talent from unscrupulous people who claim to be agents or bookers. 

A booking agent is a talent agent that works on behalf of venues to book talent for them. A booking agent is required to be licensed as a Talent Agent.  To get such a license, a person must apply to the state and must meet requirements such as a background check, testing, insurance, an in-state place of business, and other requirements.  It is not cheap or easy to become a talent agent.  

The purpose of licensing of talent agents is to protect actors, musicians, and other entertainers, as well as the venues that book them.  The talent agent is required to make sure the whole deal meets the requirements of the law so that people get paid and safety and decency laws are met.  Working with a non-licensed talent agent or booking agent is terribly risky.  Many people that call themselves booker or booking agents are actually operating without a license.  Before doing business with them, you should ask if they are licensed and check it out.

There are two other types of people that might be booking talent for shows.  One is called a Talent Buyer.  A Talent Buyer is an employee of a venue or of a company that owns numerous venues.  A Talent Buyer books talent for a venue and usually deals with the licensed agent that represents the talent, or with the manager or talent directly, if the talent has no agent.  It will be the duty of the licensed Talent Agent to be sure the contract offered by the Talent Buyer meets the requirements of the law as well as the needs of the Talent. 

The other type of person that might be booking a show is called a Producer. The producer is a person who takes financial and legal responsibility for creating a show.  Like a Talent Buyer, a Producer will work with the licensed Talent Agent that represents the talent.   If the talent does not have an agent, a lawyer should be engaged for and by the talent to be sure the contract and deal are acceptable.

Selling Beats

Selling Beats

by Sue Basko, Esq.

Imagine: You create a beat that sounds like a leaf blower with something stuck in it.   The beat is used to make a bouncy K-Pop song, along with a silly video.  The video and song go viral. Someone is making a lot of money.  Is it you, the beatmaker?  That depends on the underlying contract when you sold the beat.   When you license or sell any beat, the deal should include that you make a small amount more for each copy that is sold or each time it is streamed.  Without such a deal, you might have sold your beat for $10 while someone else gets rich selling the song made from it.  

A beat is a short bit of music or sound that is meant to be the hook of a song.  Or it can be the underlying bed over which a rapper or singer or producer creates a song.  Beats differ from loops in that beats are meant to provide a unique focus for a song, while loops are meant to be staples that might be put into many songs.  Loops are noodles; a beat is that fabulous mushroom perched on top of the pile of noodles.  It makes a song what it is.

Many beatmakers like to sell their beats.  Some sell downloads off their own websites, and some sell on websites designed for beat sellers.  On your own site, you will take a higher percentage, but your beat may get more exposure on a group site.   Then again, on group sites, your beats may be buried.

Before you sign up for any beat selling website, have a lawyer read the contract.  Many of these sites have contracts that are contradictory, even senseless.  I just saw one site that says it gives the full beat sales price to the beatmaker, with the buyer paying a small transaction fee. Then it goes on to say that some categories of sellers will be docked with a 40% commission fee paid to the site and others will be docked with an 80% commission fee.  These categories are made to sound special, as if it would be a privilege to be included.  The same site has very confusing and contradictory rules of what the buyer is allowed to do with the beat once purchased.  

My usual thought is that if a website cannot convey in clear simple language what the deal is, then the website owners are probably unclear what the deal is.  And surely, if there were ever a dispute and the contract ended out in a court of law being interpreted by a judge, if the judge cannot figure out the intentions of the website from what is written in the contract, then anything can happen.  Therefore, have a lawyer read over the contract before you join. If the contract is not crystal clear, don't  join.  Go to a website that knows what it is doing and that considers its agreements important enough to hire a lawyer who can write well to craft its contracts.

If you want to create your own beat selling site, there are site layouts you can buy, all set to be placed onto your own website.  You will need site hosting, a domain, and to purchase the layout.  One such pre-made layout is MusicMakerTheme.  This is sold for $37 or $57 via paypal, depending on the features.  

There are 2 basic ways to sell beats: Licensing and Sales.  A license means that you retain the copyright, but you license the buyer to have certain rights.  A sale means the buyer is being assigned the copyright on the beat, and can use it for whatever purposes.  If you sell a beat, you lose all control over it.  If you are selling a beat, you need to be sure you are getting a price for it that will satisfy you, even if the songs created from it go on to earn a good deal of money.  That's why licensing with a good well-written contract is usually best for the beatmaker.  If however, someone famous is offering you a nice chunk of change for a beat, it might be a good bargain. But that is a rarity.

Most beats are licensed. If you are opening up your own beat shop, you should have a music lawyer write up your licenses.  Do not try to do this yourself.  And do not copy licenses off another site, unless you have them checked out first by a lawyer.  Lots of bad licenses get copied and passed around this way.  This can lead to genuine disaster.

The main categories in licensing are nonexclusive and exclusive.  Many beat selling websites have this all mixed up. They will sell a beat as nonexclusive and also exclusive. This truly makes no sense. Either the beat is nonexclusive, and multiple people can license it , or it is exclusive, and only one person can license it.  Some use the term "semi-exclusive," by which they mean they will sell the license for the low nonexclusive price to as many takers as come along, and if someone wants to buy it as a "semi-exclusive" license,  the beatseller will stop licensing it to others from then on.  However, the licenser paying the higher semi-exclusive price may find that those who earlier bought the less expensive nonexclusive beat license have the same rights as they do.  It is hard to create and sell an original hit song if there are already 35 other people making songs with the same beat.

On the other hand, it is hard to refrain from licensing a beat for $10 or $20 many times, hoping someone will come along with more money.

The dream of beatmakers is to be commissioned by someone famous to create exclusive beats for nice high prices.  Such a dream is as much about connections and friendships as it is about beatmaking creativity.  If such an opportunity ever presents itself, make sure you bring in a music lawyer to write or read the contract.  The important thing is you want to make some small royalty on each copy sold or streamed, as well as a small piece of performance royalties.  You don't want to be the beatmaker whose beat is in a song being played on the radio hundreds of times per day, and you're not making a penny from it.  And that is what will happen if you don't have a music lawyer in on the deal.

One of the most important legalities of beats is that they must not contain any loops or samples, unless you have a signed clearance agreement to use the loop or sample.  On this, too, you must have a music lawyer.  The beats you sell must be 100% your own work, or with legal clearance. This means you cannot take any part of any other loop, other beat, and cannot sample any song, any movie, any TV show, etc., even if you remix it, remove parts, change it around, etc.  If you are using any such bit of sound created by anyone else, you must have a contract with them that spells out very clearly what they are giving you the rights to use, how you may you it, and how they will be paid for it. 

If you use a bit of sound belonging to someone else in your beat, without clearance, your beat is poison and so is every song made from it.  The people who licensed your beat with the good faith belief that it was your original work can be sued for copyright infringement by the owner of the sample or sound that you used without permission.  The financial responsibility will come back to you.

Buying a copy of an old record or movie does not give you rights to take samples of the sound and use them in  your beats.  Owning a physical copy is different from owning the underlying intellectual property rights.  If you want to use a snippet of sound from a movie or TV show or old record, you must get clearance.  Sometimes getting clearance is expensive and sometimes the owners refuse to give clearance.  That is their right.  If you have been denied clearance, and you go ahead and use the sample anyway, expect to be sued.

 If you want a type of sound, usually such samples are easy to create on a program like GarageBand or ProTools.  For example, say you want the sound of a 1940s radio commercial.  Rather than get clearance on such a commercial, you can create your own fictional product and write your own commercial or part of one, record it simply, and add filters to give it that 1940s sound.  A can filter, a limiter, a bit of a crackle or scratch sound, and a small amount of bounce and you'll have a 1940s sound.  With the variety of filters and effects on GarageBand, you can make almost any kind of sound.

How long should your beat be?  Most beats are made in a set of lengths.  If a beat is supposed to be a hook, it will probably be about 3 seconds to 5 seconds long.   A hook beat can be sold in a longer version and cut down, or it can be sold as a set of various lengths.  

A kit of complementary beats that could work together in a song can be sold.  This might also be considered a remix kit.  Such a kit might contain original loops or might contain stem tracks from an existing song being licensed out for remixing.  A remix kit might contain as many as 20 beats and loops ready to be remixed into new creations.  Most contracts that go with a remix kit will state that the elements themselves cannot be changed, other than being shortened.  Other contracts allow for more manipulation of the beats or loops, and this can make for some highly original, exciting sounds.    Most such contracts will also include a provision that a new element must be added, such as unique original vocals.  This provision assures that the end product will not sound too much like the original.  

To sum up, the two main rules in selling beats is to own what you are selling and to have well-written,  contracts that clearly spell out the deal. 

My work with people with Autism and Mental Disabilities

My Work with People with Autism and Mental Disabilities
by Sue Basko

People know me as a lawyer for music, video, websites, etc. but there is a whole other side of my work - helping those with autism and mental disabilities.

I am asking people if they can please donate to help support my work with young men with autism or mental illness or mental disability who have become caught up in the legal system and desperately need help.  I have set up a paypal donation button to make it easy for those who wish to help. It is here:

If you know anyone who might like to help, please pass this along.

What I've Done:  The past two years, a series of young men with mental disabilities came along or were sent to me for help after they had gotten in trouble with the legal system.  I have been able to advocate, to be a liaison, to cut through a lot of red tape, to help get what they needed.  Maybe they need a lawyer, or a new lawyer.  Maybe they need mental health care.  Maybe they need to be connected on up with a professional or an organization that can help. Maybe they need info on how to write their own court motions, or their family needs help gathering evidence and information.  I've done all these things and many more.  

The U.S. prisons are loaded with mentally disabled people. They fall into the system and they cannot get out.  I have been able to help a few of these over the past couple of years. There is no question that my advocacy and hard work have been highly effective in helping these people.  Most all of them have been located in areas of the nation that are very backward, with few resources and "survival of the fittest" attitudes. 

This work has been hugely consuming of my time and resources, and also very difficult because of mockery and resistance - a lot of people believe that the mentally challenged do not deserve or need help.  This work is also unpaid, volunteer work - and also costs a lot in expenses, including the incredibly expensive prison phone call system that costs about $20 for a 10 minute phone call.

 Run-Down of some of the work I've done:

Brian:  For the past year, I have been helping Brian, a young man with autism, "brittle" diabetes, and other issues.  Brian was questioned with no lawyer or advocate present, and "confessed" to something he did not do, just to get out of there because his blood sugar was dropping. 

Brian was charged with a federal crime, labeled "delusional" (he is not) and his public defender did no discovery, made no motions to suppress, and denied Brian needed an autism advocate. 

Brian is in a socially backwards location in the nation with few resources.  We found legal and autism organizations that wanted to help, but B's public defender  rejected their help.  Brian's family is caring, but poor, sick, and have few personal resources to help Brian.  

After HUGE amounts of work and putting myself on the line, working with Brian, we were able to get the Judge to finally grant Brian a new lawyer.  Unfortunately, since Brian was already coerced to plead guilty, it may be too late.  But maybe not.  The new lawyer appointed is private and highly experienced.   Brian's family is meeting with the new lawyer later this week.

The work I have done for Brian adds up to hundreds of hours over a year, and hundreds of dollars in expenses, all unpaid. 

MR A:  Mr. A is a brilliant young man who had undiagnosed bipolar illness. He became very manic and delusional, and did many strange things online, some of which were charged as crimes.  He landed in a jail in another backwards part of the nation.

The Jail did not sign Mr A up for a public defender because he was too mentally confused to fill out the form.  He was totally delusional and yet allowed to attend 2 court hearings with no lawyer.  I located the public defender's office and asked them to represent Mr. A. Later, I advocated for him to get mental health care, that is, to be sent to a mental hospital for long-term treatment.  This was a big deal, very difficult to accomplish, since mental health care is expensive and the county was forced to pay for it.   Once Mr A was finally given medical treatment, he became mentally healthy, a day and night difference.

After two years of being in jails, prisons, and mental hospitals, Mr. A recently went home to his family, ready to rebuild his life. 

MR B: Mr B has traumatic brain injury and memory loss. His home was raided by the FBI, mainly because of lies told by other young people who had gotten in trouble online who thought he was a convenient scapegoat because of his mental disability.  I've acted as a liaison for Mr B in his dealings with the FBI, helped him get connected up with better medical care, and arranged for a volunteer lawyer licensed in his state to assist him if he should be arrested.      

MR C: Mr C has Asperger's Syndrome and was seen as an easy mark by trolls online.   He was "swatted" by some fools online, that is, they called in a fake hostage situation so he would be raided by police.  He was raided, in a full SWAT situation where young children in the family were held at gunpoint by police, he was held handcuffed for hours, the house was searched and his computer taken, etc. 

I helped Mr C get a very excellent volunteer lawyer licensed in his state. The lawyer helped him get his computers back and is on standby in case something else happens. 

SEVERAL OTHERS: There have been several others I assisted over the past few years.  But, you get the idea.  Each simple act I name represents many hours of work over days, weeks, and months.  For example, finding a volunteer lawyer for someone - this can take huge amounts of time.  The lawyer must be licensed in that location, must know the areas of law, must be able and willing to work with a person who has mental disabilities, etc. 

Getting mental health care for a person in custody in a place that does not routinely provide for it is monumental challenge, way beyond anything you can imagine.  Public defenders are overworked and in most places, are in very little contact with those they represent. 



Youtube Songs Letter

Youtube Songs Letter

Mail!  This email came today:

Sue Basko,

As a recording artist, your blog has provided more useful information about copyright laws than any other source I have found so far!  I have not yet recorded any cover songs (only originals), but am hoping to eventually.  I am just trying to educate myself first so that I can avoid violating copyright laws.

One question I have is this: if one were to record a cover song, and make a music video for YouTube using the recording, would it involve the same requirements as it would for a recording of a live cover on YouTube, or would that involve a separate set of requirements?

-- Scott

Dear Scott,

Keep in mind, copyright law was written long before something like Youtube was dreamt of.  So the law does not perfectly match the reality.

Most people who make a simple at-home cover song live-to video do not get any licensing.  Could they be sued for copyright infringement? Theoretically yes.  If they are recording a hit song, this is usually considered a fan video, and flattery.  Usually the very worst that will happen is their video may get flagged or have ads put on it.  Theoretically, synch licensing is needed, but this would be rare for anyone to get that unless they are actually a  pro, plan to put ads on it, or expect it to be a hit. 

If the video were to be insulting to the song or have inappropriate visuals, there could be trouble.

If a person is making a recording of a song or video to distribute or sell, they buy mechanical licensing, which is very inexpensive and easy to get from a company like Limelight

If that song recording is to be turned into a video, the person either will seek synch licensing or will not.  Again, theoretically, a youtube user can be sued for copyright infringement for using a cover song in a video without having a synch license from the music publisher.  More likely, if there is any adverse happening, it is likely to be that the video will be removed by youtube or will have ads added onto it.   If the person making the cover song video is a pro, plans to put ads on it, or expects it to be a hit, they will seek synch licensing. That is gotten from the publisher and they can say yes or no and can name any price.  Some publishers have a set price for youtube videos and make it easy.  Others do not.

Please note that what happens on youtube is different from what happens on other sites that allow the users to upload their own music videos.  Youtube has an automatic system in place that makes it easy for the music publishers to protect their rights.  Given the options, most publishers prefer to either place ads onto an infringing video or to have it removed or to simply leave it up as a fan video.  The rules and repercussions can be quite different on other video-upload websites. 

-- susan

BitVote Intro

BitVote Intro
by Susan Basko, Esq.  

BitVote is a new voting method and program invented by Aaron Bale and in development by some of the finest minds today.  BitVote is an online voting system that promotes Distributed Democracy.   Distributed Democracy harkens back to the days of direct democracy, which is decision making done by the people without representatives.  In smaller organizations, this works.  As a political unit becomes bigger, direct democracy has often been replaced by having elected representatives who then make it their daily work to know about the issues, attend meetings, and vote on the issues and laws.  In the U.S., many people have found that representative democracy results in government that pleases no one and that spends too much money and confers little or no societal benefit on the average person.  The widespread availability of the internet may make direct democracy possible once again. The townhall meetings of yore can take place on the internet, with those interested in a particular topic in attendance, though separated by thousands of miles.

BitVote works by giving a voter one voting unit per each minute of life the person lives after registering as a voter.  That means each voter gets 1,440 votes per day.  The votes are like currency, to be spent on whatever amounts on whichever topics are of interest to that voter.  A voter may save up votes to make a big impact on an issue of great interest to that voter. BitVote is a way of giving value to a person's time and enthusiasm, rather than to one's money.   BitVote makes issues less dichotomal by allowing voters, for example, to allocate 100 votes to one solution and 200 votes to another solution.

The BitVote system is envisaged to be fluid in function.  If the people vote for the system to work in a certain way, and allocate money for this, then the system can be designed to reflect that functionality.  The votes have the meaning assigned by the voters.  For example, voters decide the process on how a certain solution or initiative will be funded or staffed.

BitVote is built on Ethereum, an open platform that works in units called contracts.  The contracts can speak to each other.  Vitalik Buterin  is the founder, owner and lead developer of Ethereum. He is a winner of Theil Award that encourages computer program development.  Ethereum recently issued its own currency or esoteric collateral, called Ether.  Ether and BitVote are but two applications suited to the Ethereum platform.  Over time, Ethereum and its uses will develop.

Aaron Bale came up with the idea for BitVote based on his own life experiences.  Leah Pearl, who is a nursing school graduate, is the BitVote Communications Director.

I personally have been a sounding board for Aaron's ideas and a legal assist. I went from thinking that a voting system where each person gets 525,600 votes per year as a preposterous mess, to thinking of these votes as neat currency in a voting wallet, to be spent to create a better world.  I like the idea that life is valued, and that each person's contribution is valued. - Vote with your Life.

What is BitVote?  
BitVote is a universal voting ecosystem for the Internet era. For every minute of your lifetime, you'll automatically earn a "voting minute" that can be cast on any cause of your choice. Voting results are globally available in a transparent and decentralized legend, robustly resistant to manipulation or censorship and fully compatible with any preexisting social network or political system.

Why BitVote? 
Remember how you felt when you first discovered the Internet? Remember how empowering and hope inspiring it used to be when we were growing up? How sharply does that contrast with the concerns people have now? Where's the Internet is going to be in five or ten years? Neutrality. Surveillance. Censorship. What if future generations don't have that same type of feeling we have? What if instead of inspiring and empowering them, the internet terrifies and debilitates them? I created BitVote on the hopes hope that we will be able to tip the scales back in our favor and give us a chance to systematically fix whatever it is that is causing this change.

Who is BitVote? 
Aaron Bale (@arkbg1) founded BitVote in 2012 during the SOPA Blackout, with support and inspiration from Aaron Swartz (@aaronsw),  Sven Swootleg (@joepie91) and Leah Chase (@leahxpearl). In 2014, BitVote began collaborating with Jasper den Ouden (@o-jasper), Stephan Tual (@stephantual), Joris (@mids106), Ethan Buchman (@ebuchman) and Vlad Zamfir (@vladzamfir) of Ethereum. The project has been developing for over two years through the teamwork of a network of programers, activists, lawyers, advocates, politicians, artists and normal citizens around the world. All the developers have one thing in common: a desire to have the voice of the people heard and heeded.

Street Performing as Public Service

Street Performing as Public Service
by Susan Basko

Street performance, also known as busking, is a form of public service.  Street performers make music, juggle, create art.  Their audience is whoever happens to be there.   I encourage street performers to think of their performance as sacred service, creating moments of happiness for those who may most need it.
I recently got this email:

Hi, Sue

We exchanged emails a while ago concerning my busking on Venice Beach and the police response to me regarding noise. I believe in your last email to me you told me to keep on playing, that I was doing a service for the people on the beach. I really didn't understand that.

Well, I've continued playing on a once-a-week basis with no more problems (just south of Rose St.). Yesterday, a homeless man who was "camping" out on the grass near me, approached me as I was setting up. He was like many of the homeless, suffering from obvious psychological problems, but he wanted to give me two ceramic balls (about six inches in diameter). I offered to pay him, but he refused, saying they were a gift. He then handed me a dollar bill, and said, "I've heard you play before. This is for the two hours of entertainment you're going to give me. God bless you."

So now I get what you meant. 

And although it never has bothered me when "down and outers" smile at me, give me thumbs-up, stop and tell me that they're enjoying my blues, but of course don't tip (which I really don't need anyway), suddenly their positive responses mean so much more than the tourists who throw the money in. 

Willie the Bird sat down next to me while I played yesterday, lit up his pipe, and when I finished my song thanked me. Then he fished through his Rastafarian bag, and placed a tip in my container - a three quarter used lighter. We shook hands, and he "God blessed me."

It doesn't get much better than that.

Thanks for your encouragement, Sue.


Chicago Street Performers! New Law!

Chicago Street Performers!  Get ready for Summer fun and moneymaking.  Get a Street Performers license and head on out to entertain the thousands of tourists traipsing through this gorgeous city.

Also see the older post about Chicago Street Performing for lots of info:

As always - KEEP IN MIND:   The Chicago Street Performers permit does NOT include CTA stations or Metra or Amtrak or the airports.  CTA has special, very restrictive permits.  Metra  requires a special permit and appointment, possibly with insurance.  Airports are very restrictive, other than the approaches that are actually part of the CTA.  Amtrak is a performance in its own right.

Chicago updated the Street Performer's Law:

What does the permit cost? 

Chapter 4-5-010 (27)
Street Peddler and Street Performers   
$100.00  (EDITOR NOTE: A reader wrote in to say this $100 is for 2 years.)

   Provided, however, that the fee shall be $50.00 if the licensee is: 65 or more years of age at the time of application; or a veteran of the armed forces of the United States, whose discharge from military or naval service was other than dishonorable; or a person with a physical or mental disability, as certified by a medical doctor.

CHAPTER 4-244 


Bookmark4-244-010  Definitions.
   As used in this chapter:
   “Commissioner” means the commissioner of business affairs and consumer protection or the commissioner's designee.
   “Department” means the department of business affairs and consumer protection.
   “Licensee” means any person holding or required to hold a license under this Chapter 4-244.
   “Millennium Park” has the meaning ascribed to the term in Section 10-36-140.
   “Peddler” or “street peddler” means any individual who, going from place to place, whether on private property or on the public way, sells, offers for sale, sells and delivers, barters or exchanges any goods, wares, merchandise, wood, fruits, vegetables or produce from a vehicle or otherwise.  The term “peddler” does not include (1) a “grower” or “producer” as defined in Section 4-12-010 of this Code, or (2) any class of peddler specifically defined and licensed or required to be licensed under other chapters of this Code, including, but not limited to, (i) any junk peddler within the meaning of Section 4-6-150; (ii) any merchant within the meaning of Chapter 4-212 of this Code, or (iii) any mobile food dispenser within the meaning of Chapter 4-8 of this Code.
   “Perform” means and includes, but is not limited to, the following activities: acting, singing, playing musical instruments, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing or reciting.
   “Performer” means any person holding or required to hold a street performer permit under this chapter.
   “Public area” means any sidewalk, parkway, playground or other public way located within the corporate limits of the City.  The term “public area” does not include transit platforms and stations operated by the Chicago Transit Authority or the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
   “Special event” means any special event conducted by the City of Chicago, including, but not limited to. events conducted with the permission of the Chicago Park District in parks or other facilities operated by the Chicago Park District.(Prior code § 160-1; Amend Coun. J. 10-7-09, p. 72718, § 3; Amend Coun. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 117)

Article III.  Street Performers
Bookmark4-244-161  Permit – Required.
   No person may perform in a public area without first having obtained a permit issued under Section 4-244-162 of this chapter.
(Added Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 125)
Bookmark4-244-162  Permit – Conditions.
   (a)   A permit shall be issued by the commissioner to each applicant for such permit in exchange for a completed application and a permit fee in the amount set forth in Chapter 4-5 of this Code.
   (b)   A completed application for a permit under this section shall contain the applicant's name, address and telephone number and shall be signed by the applicant.
   (c)   The permit required under this section shall contain (1) the name and permit number or department account number of the permit holder; (2) a clear photograph of the permit holder; and (3) the year in which the permit was issued.  The permit shall be in a form that can be displayed.
   (d)   The permit required under this section shall be nontransferable.
   (e)   Upon issuing a permit under this section, the commissioner shall also issue to the performer named in such permit a printed copy of this chapter.
(Added Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 125; Amend Coun. J. 11-8-12, p. 38872, § 125)
Bookmark4-244-163  Permit – Display.
   A performer shall carry and display a permit on his or person at all times while performing in a public area, and shall wear the permit in a manner that is clearly visible to the public.
(Added Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 125)
Bookmark4-244-164  Duties – Prohibited Acts – Other requirements.
   (a)   A performance may take place in any public area, but only between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays and 10:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
   (b)   A performer may not block the passage of the public through a public area.  If a sufficient crowd gathers to see or hear a performer such that the passage of the public through a public area is blocked, a police officer may disperse that portion of the crowd that is blocking the passage of the public, or may order the performer to cease performing at that location until the conditions causing the congestion have abated.
   (c)   A performer may not perform on the public way so as to obstruct access to private property, except with the prior consent of the owner or manager of the property.
   (d)   (1)   A performer shall comply in all respects with the relevant portions of the noise and vibration control provisions of the Chicago Noise Ordinance, Chapter 8-32 of the Municipal Code, and all other applicable Code provisions, which prohibit a street performer from generating any sound by any means so that the sound is louder than an average conversational level at a distance of 100 feet or more, measured either horizontally or vertically from the point of generation. Failure to comply with these noise control limitations shall constitute a violation of this subsection (d)(1) and shall subject the violator to the penalties set forth in subsection (e) of this section and to the fine set forth in Section 4-244-170(b).
   Any performer whose performance in the area bounded by Lake Michigan on the east, Oak Street on the north, Congress Parkway on the south and LaSalle Street and Wacker Drive on the west (including both sides of the named boundary streets), has exceeded the noise limitations set forth in Section 8-32-070, and restated in this subsection (d)(1), and who is given notice thereof and requested to move by a police officer, shall move the location of his or her performance at least two city blocks from the location where the noise violation occurred.  Failure to obey such a request to move is a violation of this section.
      (2)   It shall be a separate violation of this subsection (d) for a street performer to generate any sound by any means so that the sound is louder than an average conversational level at a distance of 200 feet or more, measured either horizontally or vertically from the point of generation.  Failure to comply with these noise control limitations shall subject the violator to the penalties set forth in subsection (e) of this section.
   (e)   Anyone found guilty of two violations of subsection (d)(i) of this section within one calendar year, and anyone found guilty of one violation of subsection (d)(2) of this section, shall have his or her street performer's permit revoked by the department for a period of one calendar year.  Permit revocations shall be conducted in accordance with procedures established by the department.  In addition to permit revocation and the fine provided for in Section 4-244-170(b), a person violating subsection (d) of this section may also be required to perform up to 24 hours of community service.
   (f)   All street performers are prohibited from performing in the highly congested area on both sides of Michigan Avenue, bounded by East Delaware Place on the north and East Superior Street on the south.
   (g)   No performer shall, while performing on the public way (1) along that portion of Jackson Boulevard that lies between Columbus Drive and Lake Shore Drive at any time during which a concert is being performed in the Petrillo Music Shell, or (2) along that portion of Randolph Street that lies between Columbus Drive and Michigan Avenue, and along that portion of Columbus Drive that lies between Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street, at any time during which a concert is being performed in the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, emit noise that is audible to a person with normal hearing more than 20 feet away.
   (h)   No performance by a performer shall be allowed at any time in Millennium Park, or on any sidewalk that abuts Millennium Park.
(Added Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 125; Amend Coun. J. 11-8-12, p. 38872, § 126)
Bookmark4-244-165  Acceptance of contributions.
   A performer who performs and accepts contributions under the provisions of this chapter shall not be committing disorderly conduct under Section 8-4-010 of the Municipal Code of Chicago by virtue of those acts.
(Added Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 125)
Bookmark4-244-170  Violation – Penalty.
   (a)   Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, and in addition to any other penalty provided by law, any peddler who shall be found liable or guilty of any fraud or misrepresentation, or who shall violate any of the provisions set forth in Article II of this chapter, shall be fined not less than $50.00 nor more than $200.00 for each offense.
   (b)   Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, and in addition to any other penalty provided by law, any person who violates any of the provisions of Article III of this chapter, including, but not limited to, the noise control limitations set forth in subsection (d) of Section 4-244-164, or who knowingly furnishes false information on the permit application required under Section 4-244-161, shall be subject to a fine of $300.00 for the first offense and $500 thereafter for any subsequent violations.  Except as otherwise specifically provided in Article III of this chapter, any person found guilty of three or more violations of any of the provisions of Article III of this chapter within one calendar year shall have his or her street performer's permit revoked by the department for a period of one calendar year.  Permit revocations shall be conducted in accordance with procedures established by the department.
(Added Coun. J. 12-9-92, p. 25465; Amend Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 126; Amend Coun. J. 11-8-12, p. 38872, § 127)
Bookmark4-244-175  Special events.
   The mayor, by and through the commissioner of the department of cultural affairs and special events, shall have the authority to promulgate reasonable rules and regulations governing the time, place manner and duration of all performances permitted under this chapter which occur during the course of a special event, including during its set up and clean up.
   Such regulations shall include establishing specified areas within, or reasonably near the perimeter of, the grounds of a special event to which performers shall be limited, and such other restrictions as are reasonably necessary to ensure attendees' enjoyment of planned events, protection of unique public art and landscapes, and public safety and welfare.  Copies of such regulations shall be published and made available both in advance of and at the location of the special event.
(Added Coun. J. 5-9-12, p. 27485, § 127; Amend Coun. J. 11-8-12, p. 38872, § 128)