Category Archive: Legal News

  1. Digital Photography & Copyright Infringement

    How to protect your digital property from copyright infringement

    Did you know that taking an image from the internet and using it without approval is considered copyright infringement?

    Copyright infringements occur over and over every day. Downloading a product image for your ecommerce website, your business website, or even for an Instagram post or meme could mean you are violating United States Copyright laws.

    In this article we will discuss best practices for how photographers can protect their content, and highlight things to avoid so that you don’t commit copyright infringement.


    A Photographer’s Best Practices

    Copyright infringement is a major issue across the spectrum of digital media, but infringement on photos is perhaps the most common. As a professional photographer, your pictures are likely on the internet for millions to view. But are you properly protecting your photos? Here are some tips we think every professional photographer should be aware of:

    • Your pictures should be copyrighted; Indication that a photo is copyrighted could be a signature at the right-hand corner or a watermark.
    • Photographers should have a website displaying prices for use of the pictures by size and duration.
    • Photographers should also have a program to search the internet for their photos. Many available programs use blockchain and web crawlers to comb the internet for your copyrighted images. All users determined to be using said photo(s) without permission (paying for use) are in violation of 17 U.S. Code §501.

    Avoiding Infringement

    Although most infringement on digital photos found on the internet is not deliberately nefarious (such as a student using images from Google), and likely committed out of ignorance, infringement detection has become somewhat of a second business for many photographers.

    Any use of copyrighted materials is a violation. Federal law does not recognize an “innocent infringer;” Ignorance of the law is not a defense. Before you save and use a photo you found online, you should obtain permission from the copyright owner first. However, this is often easier said than done.

    We Can Help

    Recently we handled a case in which a small business that provides guided tours used a photograph that was found on a stock-image site. The image was labeled as free by the website; however, it was determined that this labeling was done incorrectly and the original image was in fact copyrighted by the owner. Unfortunately, the tour business was completely ignorant of the misleading image description found on the stock-image site, but that ignorance didn’t protect them from the image owner’s copyright infringement claim.

    In the end we were able to negotiate a satisfactory result for both parties, but proper use of some of the suggested best practices we have discussed for photographers and copyright violators could have prevented legal intervention.

    Lancaster has a thriving art community and we value the hard work our local artisans put into their craft. It is important for artists, such as photographers, to get paid for their work for that work to continue.

    Additionally, we understand that those who have committed copyright infringement might not know it—we feel it is equally important to help those individuals as much as possible too.

    Contact us if you are subject to a claim or suit based upon, or arising out of, piracy or infringement of a copyright or other intellectual property.

    Alternatively, if you believe you are a victim of copyright infringement, please call with any questions as to how to protect yourself, your company, or your work.

  2. Accidents in Lancaster County, PA

    Car accidents can be a traumatic experience for all involved. And if you are a victim of an accident, you need the right local legal representation to ensure your voice is heard.

    Stats on Accidents in Lancaster PA

    Here in Lancaster County, motorists are involved in over 5,000 vehicle accidents every year. That ranks 5th out of all the counties in Pennsylvania.

    Thanks to PENNDOT, Clymer Conrad has accessed public data on every single accident in Lancaster County. This gives us vast knowledge about the types of accidents that occur, where and when they are most likely to occur, and even the common causes for accidents.

    We have also discovered unique and interesting facts about traffic accidents in Lancaster, including:

    • Which Lancaster County road has the most accidents

      (Route 30)

    • How many horse & buggy accidents occur in Lancaster County in a year


    • Which Lancaster County community has the most Amish horse & buggy accidents

      (Tie between Providence, Salisbury, and Strasburg Townships)

    Visit the website for more accident data for Lancaster County.

  3. Combating Persistent Lawyer Marketing Methods

    There are several stressful situations when you need a reliable, trustworthy lawyer on your side. Whether it’s when you’ve been injured in an accident, filing for bankruptcy, or defending yourself in court, you need an attorney to help you navigate your legal options.

    Because of this, some law firms have been known to target people in these desperate situations.

    Unsolicited Attorney Letters

    We’ve recently heard reports in central Pennsylvania of people receiving unsolicited letters from attorneys. In these letters, the lawyer is introducing themselves and their services. Moreover, these letters include a shocking and frightening headline:

    “We hear you are about to be charged…”

    The letter goes on to say that their law firm can help you fight these charges – charges that you may not have even know about!

    When we’ve looked into these letters, they seem to come from out-of-county lawyers who have access to police databases. Around the time you are charged, and sometimes before you are charged, they will send out a form letter vying for you to become their client. It doesn’t matter whether they have experience with your type of case; they are casting a wide net to get as many clients as possible.

    Not only is this practice distasteful, it leaves the recipient shocked, upset, and angry – not the best way to start an attorney-client relationship.

    Navigating Through Lawyer Advertisements

    This is just one of the many marketing schemes law firms use to find new clients. From expensive television commercials making bold claims to these type of unsolicited communication, law firms are willing to try whatever – and spend whatever – to get you as their client. Often, that’s because they want to churn out clients, handling as many cases as possible.

    If you receive a letter like the one mentioned above, you want to do your due diligence. Don’t agree to work with the first law firm you come across or the first one that reaches out to you. Do some research, ask questions, and find out whether they are a good fit for you and your case.

    In our Guide to Finding the Right Attorney, we listed 7 tips when considering your legal counsel. These have more to do with the relationship and trust you want to develop with a lawyer, so that they treat you like a person and not a case number.

  4. Finding the Right Attorney: 7 Issues to Consider

    Everyone needs a lawyer at some point. From estate planning to starting a business, or possibly even a run-in with the law, a lawyer is necessary for important life events. In the good times and the stressful times, a lawyer is a trusted advisor that you want at your side.

    But how do you pick the right lawyer?

    Some choose the lawyer with the catchy jingle they can’t get out of their head. Others choose one based on personal recommendations. Still others choose their lawyer based on proximity, unique names, or whoever appears first in Google’s search results.

    When choosing a law firm, here are 7 categories you should consider before making a decision. By answering these questions, you have a better chance of finding an attorney that you trust for your case.

    Seven Categories for Selecting the Right Lawyer:

    1. Accessibility

    You want a lawyer who you can actually talk to and get a hold of. Some lawyers will give you their direct line or cell phone, so you can call or text them questions at any time. At a minimum, you want someone who will give you their email address, so you can direct any questions you have via email.

    2. Experience

    The difference between a young lawyer and a seasoned, trial-tested attorney can make or break your case. Experienced lawyers have worked on cases similar to yours, have a relationship with the other lawyers, judges, and courts in your area, and know the steps needed for your case. Be sure to find a lawyer that specializes in and has deep experience with the area of law concerning your legal matter.

    3. Philosophy

    Can you relate to your lawyer? It may seem like a minor or unimportant matter, but trust is built through personal connections, and sharing similar philosophies about truth and justice can be important. If you are a Christian or someone who values faith-based principles, it’s even more important to find a lawyer who shares your same views.

    4. Geographic Location

    Does the attorney practice in your geographic area? Are they familiar with the area? Are they respected and trusted in the area?

    5. Disciplined by the Bar

    Lawyers can be disciplined by the state bar association for a variety of reasons, including inappropriate behavior, wrong certification, or unethical behavior. You definitely want to know of any disciplinary actions before choosing a lawyer.

    6. Malpractice Insurance

    Malpractice insurance protects clients from negligent lawyers, so if they completely botch your case, you won’t be left with nothing. While lawyers may practice without carrying malpractice insurance, it would be wise to only work with a law firm that carries this protection.

    7. Cost

    Before you decide on an attorney, you will want to find out their costs and how you are charged for their time. Do they charge a flat fee, a retainer and hourly billing, or a percentage of the case’s winnings? These methods usually depend on the lawyer and the type of case they are representing.

    Get Answers in an Initial Meeting

    You may be able to answer some of these questions through a lawyer’s website. But most often, it will be during a phone call or an initial meeting that you get the answers you are looking for.

    If you are not comfortable with a lawyer or don’t think it’s a good fit, say something. It’s much easier making a clean break now, before any work has started, than remaining in an uncomfortable lawyer-client relationship for the duration of your case.

  5. Supreme Court Decision Changes PA DUI Laws

    In Birchfield v. North Dakota, the Supreme Court made an important ruling that has a direct impact on DUI cases here in Pennsylvania. In a 7-1 decision handed down on June 23, 2016, the justices ruled that the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures” applies to warrantless blood tests for DUI cases.

    Blood Testing and DUI Laws in Pennsylvania

    In the past, when an officer makes a traffic stop with the suspicion of DUI, they could pressure the driver into giving a blood draw. Under the Pennsylvania Implied Consent laws, a person who refused to undergo a DUI test like a blood draw could face greater criminal charges for that refusal. In some cases, the officer would explain this by saying the individual was required to take a blood test. In essence, the Commonwealth and the police were coercing people to submit to a blood test, or be punished for refusing.

    The Supreme Court Decision

    In this ruling, the Court determined that this practice was unconstitutional without a warrant. They also ruled that testing via breathalyzer is still allowed under each state’s implied consent laws, but drawing blood is more invasive and would need a warrant to carry out.

    What this means to Pennsylvania DUI Cases

    This decision has huge implications for past, current, and future DUI cases here in Pennsylvania. First, it means the current PA implied consent law needs to be rewritten, as it explicitly mentions chemical blood testing. Second, if you are pulled over and the officer suspects you are driving under the influence, they cannot coerce you into taking a blood test. That means they can’t draw your blood until you see a signed warrant.

    Finally, this case has some interesting ramifications on current and past DUI cases. Current cases that rely on the defendant’s blood test as evidence will be inadmissible unless there was a warrant involved. And if you had a DUI case prior to June, or you are part of the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program in Pennsylvania, and your blood was drawn under the implied consent laws, this Supreme Court decision will affect your case. We suggest you talk to a DUI lawyer to see in what ways this decision changes your case.

  6. Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?

    Much was made about the recent medical marijuana bill signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on April 17, 2016. Some thought this legalized all forms of marijuana, while others wondered at how strict the guidelines will be to receive medical exemptions. And while media reports debated how this will affect residents of Pennsylvania, the law will not be fully implemented until at least 2018.

    But what does this law mean to you?

    Facts About the New Marijuana Law

    First the facts. This law allows individuals with certain medical conditions to receive medicinal marijuana treatments. This legislation is comprehensive, involving the establishment of applications, ID cards, a state-wide regulatory system for growing and dispensing marijuana, and a Medical Marijuana Advisory Board. Most of these regulations will come from the state’s Department of Health, who will be responsible for establishing and overseeing the new Medical Marijuana Program.

    Timeline for the Medical Marijuana Program

    By signing the bill into law in April 2016, Gov. Wolf did not instantly make marijuana legal in Pennsylvania. Rather, a whole host of regulatory systems and guidelines need to be established, which will take anywhere from 18-24 months to complete.

    Temporary guidelines were announced by the Department of Health in June 2016. Starting this month, parents and caregivers can apply for a Safe Harbor letter, which gives them permission to administer medical marijuana to minors. There are several restrictions:

    The Health Department hopes to have temporary regulations ready by the end of 2016 for growers, dispensaries, physicians, and patients. The full slate of guidelines and laws will likely not be complete until 2018.

    How Does the Medical Marijuana Law Impact You?

    From a legal perspective, it is important for us to reiterate that this law is not a sweeping legalization of all forms of marijuana usage; there are only certain medicinal situations that will qualify for this, and they will be tightly controlled by the Department of Health. Growing and selling cannabis will be even more regulated, with a lengthy application process and fees that start at $210,000.

    The standard state and federal drug laws still apply in Pennsylvania, and won’t change because of this law. Possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute is a felony; this even applies to selling one joint to a friend. In addition to fines and jail time, you will lose your PA driver’s license if you are convicted of possession with intent.

    So while you may have heard that this marijuana bill legalized the drug in Pennsylvania, in reality the law is much more narrow. That means marijuana is still considered a Schedule I controlled substance, and possessing it with intent to sell is considered a felony in Pennsylvania.

    For more, watch Jeff Conrad’s recent interview on WGAL concerning the Safe Harbor letters.

  7. You Could Be Liable for Texting When You Are Not Driving

    Texting while driving has been illegal in Pennsylvania since 2012. But, pending the outcome of a civil trial in PA, you could be liable if you send a text to someone you know is driving. This expansion of liability should be on the radar of everyone in Pennsylvania with a cell phone, regardless of whether you text and drive.

    Using a Phone while Driving in Pennsylvania

    According to Section 3316(a) of the Vehicle Code, drivers are prohibited from sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving a vehicle. If you are charged, you face a $50 fine.

    But based on the outcome of a civil case happening right now in western Pennsylvania, this law could affect anyone texting someone they know is driving.

    The Case

    In a recent preliminary ruling in a civil action in Lawrence County, PA, an individual was added as a defendant because he was allegedly texting someone whom he knew was operating a moving vehicle. The driver with whom he was texting negligently struck and killed a motorcyclist while reading and responding to the texts.

    The man filed preliminary objections, claiming he is not liable for the driver’s actions in reading a text message. The judge overruled this objection, meaning the man will remain a party as the case goes to trial. That means a jury will decide, among other things, 1. if this man was communicating via text message with someone driving, and 2. to what extent he is liable for the claims of negligence and wrongful death.

    Repercussions of This Case

    To our knowledge, this is the first case in Pennsylvania to deal with the liability of sending a text message to a driver, though there is precedent in other states. In the Judge’s decision, he cited Kubert v. Best, a 2013 New Jersey Superior Court decision, writing:

    “[T]he sender of a text message can be liable for sending a text message while the recipient is operating a motor vehicle if the sender knew or had reason to know the recipient was driving.” [source]

    Given the rise of texting while driving accidents across Pennsylvania, it is likely that we will see other civil cases pop up connecting those sending text messages with the liability of accidents. It also leads to the potential of someone being charged with manslaughter for sending a text message to the driver.

    Regardless of the final outcome of this case, this preliminary ruling should cause all of us to rethink sending a text to someone whom we know is operating a motor vehicle at the time.


  8. Survivor of Family Killing Forgives Murderer on Death Row

    Indiana County man, Larry “R.J.” Bobish Jr., said he forgives the man who fatally shot his mother, father, and pregnant sister 12 years ago.

    During a drug dispute in 2012, Mark Duane Edwards Jr. shot Bobish’s father twice, shot Bobish through the hand into his head, stabbed Bobish five times, shot Bobish’s mother while she slept, and then shot Bobish’s pregnant sister as she screamed.

    After Edwards set fire to the house, Bobish was awakened by the flames and crawled to the driveway. Bobish was the only survivor.

    Yet, when Bobish heard that Mark Duane Edwards Jr.’s death warrant had been signed, he cried.

    “I forgive him, even though my family was taken away from me,” said Bobish, “I know [Edwards] has a son, and I would not want his son to grow up without a family.”

    Bobish said he forgave Edwards because, “I believe Jesus died for us. God paid for our sins and gives mercy. If Jesus can do that, I can forgive someone.”

    Bobish hopes to communicate his forgiveness to Edwards before his execution.

    “The main thing to me is, if he’s going to die, I want to hope he would get saved before it would happen,” Bobish said. “I believe everyone should get a chance to have that happen.”

    A petition has been filed to stay the death warrant pending an appeal under the Post Conviction Relief Act.

    Read more here.

    Photo credit Ken Piorkowski.

  9. PA Supreme Court Considers Anti-Union Firing Case

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court will decide whether a long-standing employment dispute is, indeed, over union preferences.

    In 2010, two Lancaster County Youth Center officers claimed they were spitefully fired because of their pro-union preferences. The youth center claimed Tommy Epps and Adam Medina were fired for stealing co-workers’ snacks.

    Originally the labor relations board concluded that the firings were a result of anti-union bias. The ruling, however, was overturned by the Commonwealth Court, which found that there was not enough evidence to support the idea that the firings were union related.

    In September 2014 the Supreme Court accepted the case and will soon be giving its own opinion.

    Read more here.

    Photo credit Kansas Sebastian

  10. Superior Court Strikes Minimum Sentences

    On August 20, 2014, the Pennsylvania Superior Court found mandatory minimum sentences to be unconstitutional.

    Judge Kate Ford Elliott said the minimum sentence statute “can no longer pass constitutional muster. It permits the trial court, as opposed to the jury, to increase a defendant’s minimum sentence based upon a preponderance of the evidence.”

    Attorney Jeff Conrad said, “[The ruling] recommits to the judges the ability to do what [they] want” with sentencing, and “of course, the [defendants] will be happy.”

    Read the full Opinion here. Read the Lancaster Online article here.

    Photo credit Brian Turner.