May 25, 2022

Doing Business Online with Gordon Firemark

Doing Business Online with Gordon Firemark

Gordon Firemark practices entertainment, media and business law in Los Angeles. He helps creative industry professionals make deals that make sense, and that get their productions developed, financed, produced and distributed. His practice also covers intellectual property, cyberspace, new media, business transactions, and corporate matters for clients in the fields of media, entertainment, content and digital business.


Mr. Firemark is frequently referred to as “The Podcast Lawyer™”, and is the author of The Podcast, Blog, & New Media Producers’ Legal Survival Guide. (Https://podcastlawbook.com)


He is also a podcaster himself. Since 2009, he has produced and hosted “Entertainment Law Update” (http://entertainmentlawupdate.com), which provides a monthly roundup of news and commentary about the field of entertainment law for artists, lawyers, and other professionals in the industry.


He holds a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Oregon, and earned his law degree at Southwestern University School of Law. He teaches Entertainment Law at Columbia College Hollywood, Intellectual Property and Media Law at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising,  and Contracts at Pepperdine Law School. Before starting his own firm, he was a partner in The Business Affairs Group, and worked in the legal and business affairs departments at Hanna Barbera Productions and the MGM/UA Worldwide Television Group.


More about Gordon at Firemark.com

Transcript

Josh:

Good day, fellow dealmakers. Welcome to the deal scout on today's show. We're going to talk about doing deals online in all the trouble you could get into if you do it the wrong way. We're going to have a conversation with an attorney. He's going to talk to us all about the things you might be doing that could get you in a lot of trouble on YouTube or podcasting and such like that. Mr. Gordon, welcome to the show.

Gordon:

Hey Josh. Nice to meet you. Nice to be here with you and hope we can provide some valuable information to you and your audience.

Josh:

Yeah, man. All right. How long have you been doing entertainment law? Give us a brief background, set the stage for, your background and your experience, and then we'll dive into some subjects.

Gordon:

Well, sir, as you mentioned, I'm an entertainment, media and business lawyer, and I've started, I've been practicing for 30 years before that I actually was involved in the production side of the businesses starting out very young, actually, when I was very little, I got excited about theater and became a sound guy doing stuff like that through high school and college and in college stuff, shifted into the radio TV and film end of things. My interest in entertainment has colored everything. When I went to law school, it was pretty obvious what direction I was going in. Out, I came into a tough legal marketplace and hung out a shingle of my own very early on. That's now been 29 of those 30 years in practice.

Josh:

Wow. All right. So you're west coast, right?

Gordon:

Yeah. Awesome. Los Angeles.

Josh:

Okay. You're in the, the epicenter of entertainment being there and representing people in such. You decided, you know, entertainment, right. Cause your background in theater and such, and you got out into the real world and what was that like getting out of college with your, your bar card and diving in and starting to want to represent people in stuff? How did that work?

Gordon:

Because I had been in that business already. I knew a lot of people from my work in the field. My earliest clients were coming for either those people or people they sent me. It was a lot of, whatever came over the transom was what I was doing at the time. So I was doing collection cases. I was doing, just really little disputes with people. I did some big litigation as well, hated litigation. I have been a deal maker for most of my career. I'm much more interested in being an advisor and, advise and counsel and guide clients through, the process from setup startup to, sometimes sale or sometimes closing the business, whatever it is. We lawyers have a lot to say about it. Entertainment law is really an interesting amalgam of legal areas. We have to know about a lot and a lot about things like copyrights and trademarks and business transactions and, private financing and some of those kinds of things. So it's an interesting blend of stuff.

Josh:

Yeah. Amalgam, what a great word. What the heck does that mean?

Gordon:

Amalgam is where you throw a bunch of crap together in one ball and call it a thing.

Josh:

Cool. I like it. All right. You got your kind of your start and you found that litigation wasn't specifically for you're now in entertainment, law, movie stars, and all sorts of entertainers, I guess, that you represent what kind of litigation occurs in Hollywood or LA?

Gordon:

Well, I mean, you see claims of copyright infringement. I almost every single day someone is doing somebody over a, Hey, that was my, you based your movie on my script, or you might've heard about Katy Perry getting sued over her song, dark horse, because some different songwriter claimed he wrote a couple of lyrics from that. Taylor swift has been accused of stealing the phrase, players kind of play, things like that. Lots of cases of breach of contract, lots of people feel that they're owed money and haven't been properly paid, or they get fired from, all kinds of disputes that come up. Also the breakups between partnerships and collaborations and things like that. So it can get messy really fast.

Josh:

Without getting too specific or given away any like secret stuff, what was the silliest thing you've ever seen in Hollywood Where you're like, I cannot believe we're actually doing this.

Gordon:

I've seen situations where an actor got upset because they showed up at the set for their movie and their trailer wasn't parked close enough to the set. So they refused to go to work. The producers, just ego-driven stuff that really has no bearing on the actual work and just ends up giving people a bad reputation for being a diva or something like that.

Josh:

I told you no brown m&ms in my M and M jar.

Gordon:

It's actually a really interesting story. I'll tell you that years and years ago it was van Halen was the mapped out. I worked on a rock show as a, I was just a rodeo. I was a kid at the time. I was the one that was assigned to pick the brown Eminem's out. Years later, I'm in law school and we're talking to the lawyer who actually drafted that aspect of the contract. He explained that it was actually the Canary in the coal mine scenario. The band knew that if they saw brown m&ms in the bowler demands management knew if they saw brown Emmons in the bowl, that meant that the folks putting on the show hadn't read the contract very carefully and all the safety requirements and all the other things that might have let slip by also. That was the red flag that, Hey, we've got to look closely at everything.

Josh:

Isn't that cool? What a great idea. So, but you were the picker.

Gordon:

At the, on the, on that particular situation. It was me with my grubby hands in this bowl of M and M's, it was really ridiculous. I hope nobody ate.

Josh:

Oh man. His team ate M and M's from your fingertips essentially.

Gordon:

Anything's possible.

Josh:

Oh my gosh. What a great idea.

Gordon:

Eddie passed away last year. I hope it had nothing to do with my grubby fingers.

Josh:

No connection, no connection. Right. That's so good to this day. Like if you get a bag of M and M's like, will you be like, I'm not in the brown ones? Like, they're just your years of brown m&m pickings.

Gordon:

It has never occurred to me to worry about it.

Josh:

Okay. Well, every time I eat a brown, I'm an M I'm going to think of you. Okay. Okay. That's that's kind of weird. You're probably no one has ever told you that. I'm sure in your lifetime, I'm the first. Alright, so, oh. Back to deals. Okay. You, you decided that you're actually a little better deal maker and you wanted to get in the process of making more deals and instead of litigation, why the shift and what did that look like?

Gordon:

Well, when you're in litigation, it's, everything is adversarial. Everybody is always angling for some, how can I win? How can this be a win for me and a loss for you? When you're in the transactional side of things, it's much more collaborative. Let's make it win-win at least most of the time, sometimes there's win, lose negotiations as well. I just found that when I was doing litigation, I think I was pretty good at it. I worked at a small litigation boutique firm for awhile. Didn't really like myself when I got home at the end of the day. I couldn't just turn off that, being Contra, everything was a controversy or conflict and that's not good for personal relationships. I, credit to the guys who can't and the women who can turn it all off and just be a normal person when they're done with the day that wasn't me. Did you recognize it and got out pretty quickly.

Josh:

Just like litigating everything to your wife or your partners or people?

Gordon:

I didn't have none of those at the time. And that was part of the reason.

Josh:

Okay, got you dog peace in your yard. I'm suing you. You're like, okay, I gotta change, focus over here. All right. It comes to entertainment, law, the deal maker, like what kind of deals do you like today?

Gordon:

I really love to help creative entrepreneurs professionals with getting their messages out and sharing something of value to the world. And entertainment has value. Sometimes it's got a powerful and important message. Sometimes it's just light entertainment, but even that has value. It keeps us, having a good time and it's good for everybody. My reward comes from seeing my clients, share their messages, get their ideas and thoughts to the world and staying safe, doing it, and being avoiding those litigations scenarios and being able to, hopefully make a nice, generous profit from it.

Josh:

We do like making money as deal makers. Now, before we go into details of copywriting and trademarks and ask cause I actually asked some questions about some things that I'm working on, but before we go there, let's ask a semi-personal question. Cause you, you grew up in the arts and theater and such if you could be in any movie, right. As a co-star, right? Like any movie of of the past and you get to be in the movie, go back and transplant yourself in the movie. What movie would that be? And why?

Gordon:

I'm such a star wars fan, I think,

Josh:

Oh, you muted?

Gordon:

I was saying, I'm such a star wars fan. I think I'd have to be in one of the star wars films. I'm not sure I care whether I'd be on the rebel side or the empire side, would be in Darth. Vader's psychic, wouldn't be too bad or whatever.

Josh:

That'd be awesome, man.

Gordon:

We can run around swinging the lightsaber. I think.

Josh:

I know how to use a sword.

Gordon:

No.

Josh:

Who knows? You know what I mean?

Gordon:

A few fencing lessons when I was younger, but nothing serious.

Josh:

You do know how to use the sword. All right. Back to deals with when it comes to copyright trademarks and other things, we see these terms all day long, but many of us may not even know what the heck that means. Why don't you give us an idea of what these different things mean and how we might be stepping on them?

Gordon:

Okay. So intellectual property, we'll start with air. That's the umbrella term that covers things like patents, which covers inventions. If you invent a unique or a new, better mouse trap design, a system, a process that can be covered by patent law, doesn't come up much in my world. Trademarks are distinctive brands, phrases or symbols and things like that become the brand. So, think of the swoosh on us, on a sneaker. Yeah. Indicates that this comes from Nike. That's what trademarks purpose is. Our red triangle on a box of cookies or crackers tells you Nabisco, the polo on a shirt tells you it's coming from Ralph Lauren, right? These are that's what trademarks do they identify the source origin of goods and services. You have a product or a brand and you want to build it up, you can try to protect that by registering your trademarks and things like that. Copyright protects works of original authorship. You sit down and write something, record a song, make a video record, a podcast episode, shoot a film, carve a sculpture, paint on a canvas. All those things that original expression is protected by copyright, which gives the owner, the author of that work, the right to make copies, distribute them, make things based on it. Derivative works. We call that or display and perform the work in public. That is a way that we Congress well, the constitution, when it was written included a provision, giving Congress the power to protect these kinds of things so that it would advance the art and science of authorship and invention, those kinds of things. We want to be able to make money from these things as an incentive for doing them in the first place. We're going to protect it, but it's for a limited amount of time, the different lengths of time for each of the different kinds of works. At some point we want to be able to stand on the shoulders of the giants that have come before us and build new things and create new stuff. So it's a balancing act.

Josh:

Yeah. So, for example, you see like the Beatles, they hadn't done some incredible work, but that's 50 years ago or even Michael Jackson, he has the happy birthday song, right. That, that I think has said, and I might be completely.

Gordon:

A little bit of a misconception. It wasn't Michael Jackson and the courts recently ruled a couple of years ago now ruled the happy birthday song. Copyright is long expired.

Josh:

Okay. I can now sing it to my kids now without getting into trouble.

Gordon:

You could even sing it on your podcast. If you really think your audience would like that,

Josh:

They probably would not like that. I've, I've been told my kids happy birthday because the fear of getting in trouble, I was just kidding.

Gordon:

Jolly good fellow. Isn't good. Standby.

Josh:

I always say that boys and girls. As you're going through this, working with copyrights trademarks, and you say you don't see a lot of patents that come across your plate. Yeah. What is, what's a day to day look like for you? Are you like scrolling through YouTube all day long? Look, for your clients looking for people screwing up or what's your day look like?

Gordon:

I I'm at a pretty high pay grade to be spending my time doing that kind of thing. My clients, I don't think they'd want to pay the hourly rate for that kind of work. My role is really, as I said, it's advising counsel is, I'd say better than half of what I spend my time doing. Client will call up with a question or concern or, Hey, I have this idea, what do I have to be aware of? Or how do I make this happen? It's my job to figure, help them figure out a strategy that works the legal angles of things. It's to draft the necessary documents, file the necessary government documents, government filings and things like that. Just navigate the process so that the client can focus on being creative or, making whatever it is they're making and not have the worry that something's going to come out of the woodwork from left field and the way to mix a metaphor. Right. Something's gonna, something's going to happen that derails the project.

Josh:

Yeah. And I've worked on things before. I think I put a YouTube video, I put probably couple hundred videos up over the years. One of them came back where they said, you're infringing on someone's. I think it was copyright. They, and I had to pull down the thing. I was just like, I didn't know. I think I had maybe my radio playing in the background or something like that. And I didn't even know. Right. And I didn't even know. I had to pull down the video and try to remove that audio, but it kind of ruined the video that I was trying to share. Nobody was probably even watching it to be honest at the time. What, what kind of things do you see for, producing like YouTube videos or even these podcasts that you see that us dealmakers might be getting ourselves into trouble?

Gordon:

Well, one thing is to really make sure you're controlling the environment you're in. That radio playing in the background isn't to represent that kind of a problem. If you're going to be making content of any kind control that environment, be mindful and aware of every little thing that's going into it so that you don't have an issue with somebody claiming something of mine made its way into your program, or you didn't get my permission to use my likeness. You're shooting video or film out and about there are rules about whether or not someone walking by in the background or those kinds of things can be used. A good news is it's not as complicated as it might sound. The bad news is you do have to think about these things. Of course, when you start talking about companies and brands and products, you have to ask questions about, are we infringing on a trademark or are we somehow disparaging? The brand that we're talking about truthfulness is usually a defense in those situations, but that's something else gotta be truthfulness is really important. Actually, we don't want to be getting into false information about people or companies because that's defamatory, libel or slander. Privacy is another concern that comes up sometimes when you're recording people and publishing interviews or other interactions with people, things like that. Yeah. Then, those are the high points for, at least for the content creation side of things. When you get into entrepreneurship and selling products and things like that, you have to, again, concerns about brands, concerns about who owns it in the first place. Did you, did you lock up all the rights to the thing? If, if you have someone who helped you create the product and and you've got to have contracts deals, and that's another aspect of things is just having your team properly structured undocumented, whether they're employees or independent contractors can be a big issue, make sure you've got it figured out and documented properly.

Josh:

Yeah. How did, when creating a podcast, you have a podcast, why don't you give us a shout out to your, your podcast kind of give us an idea of what the things you talk about. Cause they're not, I have some questions about specifically podcasting.

Gordon:

Okay. The show is called entertainment, law update. It's me and a, co-host a lawyer named Tamara Bennett who lives in the Dallas Fort worth area. She's a music lawyer, I'm a film TV and theater guy. We're both dabbling in this new technology. Babbling, we're both working in the new media and digital media arena as well. We get together once a month and we record about an hour long Roundup of the entertainment, law cases and news stories that have come up in the past month. We do our particular style is to do a lot of advanced preparation and very little editing on the backend. We record it's you'll sometimes, excuse me, you'll sometimes hear us, just fumble over something and we just leave it in. That's our sort of style. It's like live news in a sense.

Josh:

Fumbling is my style too. I, I, I fumble a lot on these shows, but all right. You guys talk about music, TV, film, podcasting, even.

Gordon:

Yeah. We talked about all, I'm sorry. Yeah. We talk about all of that. We talked about a lot about copyrights and trademarks and again, the court decisions often that impact these areas. Aren't always related to movies and television and film and theater and stuff like that, but they have an impact on it. We're watching for the big cases that, like one that we're going to be talking about on the show, we record this week deals with a clothing manufacturer, H and M the H and M stores. They sued a unit color, which is another clothing manufacturer. It came down to whether or not they had properly registered the copyright for their, one of their particular fabric designs that was infringed. The Supreme court ruled on it a few weeks ago. So we'll be talking about that. But, you can have, that has an impact on anybody who ever registered as a copyright. So,

Josh:

Wow. Yeah, absolutely. With, with music in on podcast shows, like I wanted to create a, a cool music themed to, from one of my shows. If you listen to the beginning of my episodes, I currently don't have any music. Cause I started reading all these things about like royalty-free and this kind of free. How many downloads Jeff I'm like, I don't know, so like it asks me a hundred questions and finally I just decided no freaking music for now, like, so is that the correct approach of just going, man? It seems complicated. I'm staying far away from that.

Gordon:

It's certainly the path of least resistance, but it does have an impact on your artistic vision for your show, your creative vision. Yeah, I mean the issue is that someone who wrote that song is entitled to get, to say yes or no, and to have a license issued or not. When somebody wants to use that composition in their, whatever their production is, likewise, someone who recorded version of that song with permission. Usually there's a copyright in that recording as well. You actually have two copyrights when it comes to music. If you want to use it in certain ways like streaming over the internet is different than if it was recorded and downloaded. We've got a bunch of different rights and a bunch of different kinds of use all tied up in these and these two copyrights. Podcast music in particular is really challenging because this four stop shopping you have to do. It's not true traditional radio, it's not television and it's not, you can't just do a radio show like a, the disc jockeys do and play music and talk about it and then move on to the next one that just is very hard and expensive to do right now. The best solution, if you want to use a piece of music in a production that you're making, and it doesn't have to be the rolling stones or the Beatles or whatever, there's lots of good production music out there that you can buy. Usually on a single lots of different approaches one's needle drop, where you just pay for the song, the one-time, you're going to use it. If you're looking for an opening or closing piece for everything, there are some where you have to buy a different kind of a license, but again, the royalty free just means that you're not paying every single episode and then, the best solution for some time. Some of these situations is to hire someone to write and record the music for a 15 or a 32nd intro for your podcast probably doesn't cost that much to get something that's custom tailored for your show, from a composer. Who's looking for a way to feed himself this week.

Josh:

Yes. And then, so, okay. Let's just say I commissioned a piece of art. It's a 15 to 32nd intro. I reach out to an artist and I say, Hey, I see you have some music to what I want produce this. They said, okay, it's a hundred bucks. Cool. What, what should I ask them? Make sure that it's original Ray, but then kind of do I have free will to use this however I want. Right?

Gordon:

That depends on the negotiation between you and the composer. If the contract is set up the way I would prefer it would have a clause in there that says the work is work made for hire. That means that you own it once you've paid for it, they deliver it, you own it. Depending on how much you're paying the composer might not feel like it's a good deal, right. In which case they would give you a license. As long as that's a perpetual, all territories worldwide in perpetuity, kind of a license again, you're free to do with, do it, do with it, whatever the license allows. You might be able to use it in your show, but you probably couldn't make a film and incorporate it there or, release it on an album or something like that.

Josh:

So yeah. Work made for hire is the magic approach.

Gordon:

It's copyright language. Yes.

Josh:

Yeah. Okay. I go commission my intro, yeah, that sounds so fancy, right? Like you're teaching me some big words and some lawyer speak.

Gordon:

That's actually what the copyright act uses. It says when the work is specially commissioned for inclusion in certain kinds of things. If the contract says it's a work made for hire than the ownership shifts to the commissioning party from the very beginning.

Josh:

Cool. I know some lawyers speak one of my mentors. He was an attorney and he taught me a Latin phrase. It's.

Gordon:

Ooh, you stumped me.

Josh:

Yeah. It means he was talking about a, a judge and it means he's a perfect decile. That's the only, like I want to sound smart every once in a while. So I'll throw out a Latin phrase. The only one I know is a cuss word.

Gordon:

I had a teacher in high school is the drama teacher. On his clipboard, he had a little sticker that said non illegitimized carborundum it's don't let the bastards grind you down.

Josh:

Oh, that's so good. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. It's so good, man. As you're, as you're doing things, you've got your own podcast show. You've, you've, you're very active in the podcast community that I'm in. I, I see you posting all the time, sharing this. What's the future look like for you? You've been doing this for 30 years. Like where do you see yourself? You and I are hanging out 15. How old are you? I should ask you that.

Gordon:

I'm 56. Okay,

Josh:

Cool. 14 years from now, you and I are hanging out together. You're going to be 70. I'll be, I can't do math in my head like that, but something was 54 ish when we're hanging out, ? Yeah. That was years later. What what's life gonna look like for you? You think?

Gordon:

Well, I'm still going to be paying for my kids' college. Cause we got a late start with the family thing, but so I expect I'll still be working. I hope I'm not working quite as hard and intensely as I do these days. I'm hoping that I'm some of my passive income initiatives are at least a little less active and more passive in the generation of revenue. But, I love what I do. I love working with creative people and being an advisor and a trusted advisor confidant kind of a person. So that's really rewarding to me. Most important I think is like I said, getting messages out because I think that speech and conversation is the way societies and cultures advance through know art and literature and film and television, all these things. It, it, it leaves a leaves, traces and shows us the path forward as well.

Josh:

Yeah. Super cool. When, when dealing with podcasts or specifically what's a tip and then maybe a warning for podcasts out there,

Gordon:

It's they go together. The tip is I think that it's really incumbent on every podcast or even if you're not trying to make it a, your business and make money from your podcast directly two is to be professional, taking a professional approach to what you're doing. Podcasters in my experience, a lot of podcasters are very focused on the quality of the sound, right? You and I both sitting here with these highfalutin microphones connected to our systems. We want it to sound good. We want to have great content. We want to have good numbers in terms of downloads and people hearing what we're saying and all of that. And, and yet they don't do the paperwork. They don't get the legal stuff in order. Being professional has to extend to the back office as well, having a good business structure in place, at least having thought through what your business structure is, having your team lined up and in place properly so that you're covered and ownership belongs to the right people and things like that. Having an intellectual property strategy. If you're interested in it, having a monetization strategy and the right contracts, the right relationships and the right approach to that is all assigned or they're all signs of professionalism. The fact of it is the folks who are going to pay you. How often, I mean, every once in a while you probably buy something on Etsy and you give someone, a hobbyist or an amateur, a little something, but most of the time when you buy something or spend your money, you want to know that you're buying it from reputable people who know what they're doing and who are professional about things. Sure. So same goes here.

Josh:

With money strategies, monetization you've been working in media for a long time. What are some ways that you've seen, maybe some, everyone has the, I'll get a million listeners and then I'll get a, this show is sponsored by whatever, right. Fill in the blank. Yeah. Michael Jackson's, happy birthday to you song right. Or brown m&ms other than just those ad drops. What have you seen in terms of monetization strategies that were interesting to you?

Gordon:

There's lots of different ways to monetize a podcast or really any kind of media content advertising is the obvious one that everybody sees and thinks about it. You know, we're pretty conscious of it. My show, I don't consider it a monetization strategy, but it's a positioning strategy. When somebody goes and searches for my name, they see my podcast to hear me talking about it. They hear the smile in my voice. They, they understand that I'm an expert in what I'm talking about. That positions me in a way that is useful for my marketing and eventually sales or her, client engagements. So that's one approach. You can use a podcast to position yourself and to drive traffic or business to your primary business. You don't need sponsors because you essentially are the sponsor. You can get involved. Again, this depends on having a bigger audience, but you can become an affiliate for other people's products and services, basically commission sales. Every time you mentioned their product and how to buy it, where to go to find it or doing a, what do you call it? An unboxing or a review of a particular product. You can make a little money from everybody who sees it and then follows the link and looks it up and buys it on Amazon or wherever. There are, there are paid podcasts. You can actually have a subscription based podcasts. That's one way to do it. Smaller audience can be monetized in that way. If they are intensely interested in what you're doing, and you're giving them really good content, it may not be a subject that's interesting to everybody out in the world, but if you get a few hundred people each paying, I don't know, a few hundred dollars a year, that adds up to real money. Right? So that's one way. Those are the big ones. Sponsorships affiliate. Yeah. I think that's, we've hit the high points.

Josh:

Yeah, man, when it comes to doing business online, what are some areas? What are, what other things could trip us up and get us into, into some type of issue or legal action?

Gordon:

Well, anybody who is operating a website needs to have a privacy policy. They should have a terms of service document. That's not technically required of the privacy policy is legally required in some states and several countries. Just do it, have a good solid privacy policy. It should comply with the California privacy act CCPA and the GDPR, which is the European general data protection regulation or something like that. Forgotten the exact acronym. Anyway, GDPR that you remember a few years ago, everybody was getting all these emails saying, Hey, you got to resubscribe or reauthorized. That was all because GDPR went into effect and it's hard because people have to opt in and you got some hoops to jump through, but you should have a privacy policy. Terms of service is essentially your contract with everybody who visits the site. What's allowed and what's not allowed with people who visit the site, whether they become customers or not. You want to have that should have customer agreements of some sort. It can sometimes be included in the terms of service. If you purchase from us, then these terms will apply or it can be on the sales page or the shopping cart page or something. You want to have those things clear refund policy. This is a big one, lots of folks who do business online, get burned when the customer cancels the payment plan in the middle of, signing up for a $5,000 course. I'm going to pay you 500 bucks a month for the next 10 months. In month three, they just say, yeah, it's not for me. I'm going to stop paying. It was a $5,000 purchase, but they only paid a thousand bucks. You know? If you have a solid refund policy that helps you dealing with the credit card company, dealing with, or whatever. Yeah. Right.

Josh:

Cord there. That happened to me once. Right. I had an online coaching program and someone dropped 7,500 bucks. It was like the day before I fulfilled the agreement, the guy wasn't showing up all the, whatever, terrible client, I should've fired him. Given him his money back earlier on, rather than just let it go the day before he called PayPal. He said, Hey, I didn't get what I paid for. They took the money out of my account, 7,500 bucks. I was like, you gotta be kidding me. Yeah. So that could happen. Cause I did not have proper agreement or policy, a refund policy in place.

Gordon:

Yeah. Evidence that it was a, a single price paid installments rather than a recurring. Yeah. Those kinds of things. Disclaimers is another thing that if you're doing business online, things like financial, just financial earnings, disclosure stuff, these results are not typical is one kind of a disclaimer that you want. Certainly if you're offering what might be construed as legal or medical or health advice or something, or diet and nutrition kinds of things, you got to have some disclaimers that deal with that. Certainly in the deals space, if you're giving investment kind of advice, you got to say, Hey, we're not investment advisors. We're not here to give you this investment advice. We're sharing information, use it as you want, at your own risk. All those kinds of things are really important for just carving out the boundaries of the relationship that you have with your customer, your listener, your visitor, whatever.

Josh:

Yeah. Do you, do you offer the services to write these disclaimers privacy policies, do audits, make sure it terms of agreement, client agreements, refund, policy, do all that crap. Do you, do you do all that as a part of your business?

Gordon:

Yeah. In fact, if you don't mind, I'll tell you about the way I think of my business. It's a company, not just a law firm, but it's a company that serves these kinds of creative entrepreneurs and professionals that we provide training and coaching and masterminds and consulting as well as the done for you legal services so that they can achieve their dreams, grow their businesses, that kind of thing. We provide tools and templates and instructions for some of the kinds of things as well. Whether you're doing it yourself or you want it done for you, we've got something to offer. Yes, digital online entrepreneurs is a chunk of our clientele, not just podcasters and YouTube is all of it. Content folks are fun, but I enjoy working with anybody. Who's got a creative angle on their business.

Josh:

Yeah. One of my favorite things to do on my shows is asked a question from a deck of cards. I've got some cards with questions on it. Cause then it throws complete random and destiny in the show. So you tell me when to stop,

Gordon:

Stop.

Josh:

All right. Here, sir. Is your question. If you could go back and give your parents advice on how to raise you, like when you were a kid, what would you tell them specifically?

Gordon:

Wow, that's a great question.

Josh:

Let's see. I couldn't come up with that. I had to read it off a card.

Gordon:

I think I would encourage them to encourage me more to pursue my dreams and be less concerned about academic achievement degrees and things. I mean, you get good grades. Yes. I don't know that I would have become a lawyer if I had it to do over again. I think I probably wouldn't. I was having fun doing theater and film and TV, and I was pretty good at the stuff that I was doing as a sound engineer. I think I could have had a very nice career doing that instead of what I'm doing. No regrets about what I am doing, but it's, it would have been a very different trajectory. So,

Josh:

Do you think you'd be composing or more editing, putting things? Like what would you,

Gordon:

I was a sound guy in theater. I loved being behind that mixing console while the show was unfolding in front of me. I was mixing the microphones and making sure the sound effects happened at the right time and that we didn't hear people when they're off stage and all that kind of stuff. It's a, it's an art and a science and it was a lot of fun. And, and I actually kept doing it for a long time into my adult legal career. Just keep my hand in and enjoy it for fun. Then, kids and family and other responsibilities, I had to say goodbye to that, but I always loved it. I, I, I part of me wishes I'd kept at that and made that my focus of my career.

Josh:

Awesome. W when it comes to podcasting, you've got a podcast show, you do a lot of guest appearances and such. Give us an idea of the equipment that you like to use. What's some of your favorite equipment.

Gordon:

Well, I am, I love this microphone I'm talking into now. It's the shor M V seven. I think you and I are on the same gear. I got.

Josh:

The phone.

Gordon:

Yeah. I, and for something like this, I'm very zoom call or a podcast, or I'm a guest. I'm just going straight into the computer, using the USB connection. And I think it sounds great. It's got that software that allows us to shape the sound but when I'm recording my own podcast, I use a Roadmaster pro, which is a, a mixing and recording console, but has much side effects and other things. I'm really able to produce the whole show in there, live and have a finished file when I'm done. And, connects up to a Mac book pro I'm thinking about getting a Mac mini, even the new M ones are pretty slick. And, I use editing software, Adobe audition, or sometimes just audacity. When I want to, when I need to do some editing of something for video, it's a relatively inexpensive Logitech webcam. That also is just connected up to the computer. If you're doing live video or you want to record really high quality stuff with graphics and things, changing camera angles and things that you can live software on the Mac is beautiful and fantastic.

Josh:

And you cam.

Gordon:

Cam lives.

Josh:

Yeah. He came alive. I'll check that out. What does that allow you to do?

Gordon:

Well? It allows you to connect live to Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube or whatever, and have live sessions. It allows you to do multi cameras and bringing in graphics and screen shares and things like that all from, with the push of a button. It's like back in the days when I was doing television production, we had these, a hundred thousand dollar consoles that would allow us to switch cameras and do fades and things like that. E-com is a $40 product on your computer that you push a button and it happens. The technology has come a long way.

Josh:

Awesome. Yeah. I'm going to check that out. Cause I've used OBS for live production in such little bit.

Gordon:

This is great too. It's free if you're, if you've got it and it's working, I wouldn't necessarily make a change, but if you're on a Mac,

Josh:

Okay. Yeah. I'll check that out. You can live. What about headphones? I noticed that you have in ear monitors, right? Yeah. What kind do you use?

Gordon:

I'm actually using a really cheap solution because I have to hear you, but we're not recording the sound. What I have in my ear is actually designed for like, walkie-talkie radios. It's just a little earpiece connected up behind my back to a wire coming basically out of the back of this microphone. I think it's similar to what you've got going.

Josh:

Yeah. I've got they're like a guitarist, a wrap around, but yours, I can't even see it. You look like a secret service guy.

Gordon:

Yeah. That's, that's the coiled and it, and the little speaker is back here rather than, behind me. It's just using air to get it into my ear. The advantages that says little clear little tube that just goes behind my ear and you can't see it. I'm recording video, I'd like to use this. Otherwise, I, I have a pair of source audio, big fat headphones that give me a better quality sound, but they don't look as good on cameras.

Josh:

Yeah. Now you look great buddy in the grave. Do my own hair for those listening in. He does not have any hair. I'm sure you shaved.

Gordon:

Head.

Josh:

Shake that. Yeah, it looks great. Let's ask this as we're going through this interview. One, where's a place for people to connect with you and maybe do a deal with you.

Gordon:

Well, though, my main law firm website and blog is at fire. Mark.com. My, my last name F I R E M a R K. There's more stuff at Gordon fire, mark.com, which takes you in the direction of some of the products and forms and templates and things like that. The podcast is called entertainment, law update. You can find me on YouTube unfortunately to have one of those distinctive names. So just search for me, you'll find.

Josh:

During this interview, is there something that I screwed up and completely, forgot to ask you? Cause I got nerded out on gear and stuff,

Gordon:

You know, I don't think so. You've done a pretty good job. I'll I'll say one mistake is Michael Jackson never owned a happy birthday. All right. It may have been that the publishing company that he owned or that he was part of owned it, but I've never heard him associated with it before, but that's, that's nothing big other, no, I don't think you've overlooked asking anything vital. So thank you.

Josh:

Yeah, absolutely. So, so now I'm going to go say happy birthday to my kids. I owed them each a couple of years worth of it and I'll send.

Gordon:

It to them nine times over.

Josh:

Exactly. Exactly. Well, what we'll do is we'll put the links in the show notes below. If someone needs some help with, maybe some of their disclaimers or, Hey, I need you to take a look at my website, what am I missing or my YouTube or whatever the case may be. Fellow dealmakers in the audience, if you do deals online, if you're making in doing business online or creating content, I encourage you to connect, follow, listening to his episodes and then take a look at his website. See what kind of things you might be missing that could maybe get you in business, have your podcast shut down or any of the other crazy things that could happen that you just are not aware of. I just recently he bought his book, actually shout out to your book. I bought your book.

Gordon:

Yeah. The podcast blog and new media producers. Legal survival guide. Yeah. We didn't mention that in the links it's at podcast law book.com. Everything is on that Gordon fire, mark.com page. So that's probably the place to go.

Josh:

Perfect. I'll put that all in the show. Note thing he's below. Fellow deal makers as always reach out to our guests. They thank you for being on the show. Thank you for sharing your information, connect with them, follow them, follow what they're doing and find a way to do a deal with them. Purpose and mission of the shows, but deals in makers together. If you are working on something cool, a deal that you're looking for funding. If you're looking to acquire something, if you just want to talk about a deal, head on over to the deal, scout.com, fill out a quick form. Maybe get you on the show next. I should probably add a privacy agreement, especially since they're filling out forms. So.

Gordon:

I'll.

Josh:

Be doing that indeed. All right, guys. Have a great day. Talk to you all on the next episode. Cheers.

Gordon Firemark Profile Photo

Gordon Firemark

CEO

Gordon Firemark practices entertainment, media and business law in Los Angeles. He helps creative industry professionals make deals that make sense, and that get their productions developed, financed, produced and distributed. His practice also covers intellectual property, cyberspace, new media, business transactions, and corporate matters for clients in the fields of media, entertainment, content and digital business.

Mr. Firemark is frequently referred to as “The Podcast Lawyer™”, and is the author of The Podcast, Blog, & New Media Producers’ Legal Survival Guide. (Https://podcastlawbook.com)

He is also a podcaster himself. Since 2009, he has produced and hosted “Entertainment Law Update” (http://entertainmentlawupdate.com), which provides a monthly roundup of news and commentary about the field of entertainment law for artists, lawyers, and other professionals in the industry.

He holds a B.A. in Radio, Television and Film from the University of Oregon, and earned his law degree at Southwestern University School of Law. He teaches Entertainment Law at Columbia College Hollywood, Intellectual Property and Media Law at Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and Contracts at Pepperdine Law School. Before starting his own firm, he was a partner in The Business Affairs Group, and worked in the legal and business affairs departments at Hanna Barbera Productions and the MGM/UA Worldwide Television Group.

More about Gordon at Firemark.com