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Interview with Michael Eames of PEN Music Group

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Categories: Business, Music, Music Industry, Music Industry Interviews, Music Publishing, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m happy that the first post of 2014 is an interview with Michael Eames, President of PEN Music Group.

Michael Eames, President of PEN Music Group

Michael Eames, President of PEN Music Group

Founded in 1994, PEN is a full-service independent music publishing company with a worldwide presence who is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2014.  PEN offers efficiency and personal attention as a boutique company.  With PEN’s A-list music contacts in film, TV and advertising, and a success rate that continues to grow (with 100+ placements each year), it is an effective alternative to the large multinational publishing companies.  PEN has formed strategic partnerships with several record labels to leverage collective strengths and has joint ventures with other respected companies.  PEN’s songs have also been recorded by artists including The Black Eyed Peas, Celine Dion, the cast of GLEE, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus, kd lang, Santana, Christina Aguilera, Corinne Bailey Rae, Faith Hill, Paulina Rubio, Macy Gray, Kenny Rogers and Luther Vandross, among countless others.

 

1.  Describe a typical day at the office.

I am not sure there is a truly “typical” day which is why I like being a publisher.  But generally for me the office day starts at 8:00 am after I drop my son off at middle school.  Then the day for me will typically involve all of the following in no particular order:
– responding to emails from Europe or overseas that came in overnight
– seeking approvals from clients for requests for use of their music that we receive
– tackling some sort of software programming with our state-of-the-art copyright and royalty system called CORE so that I can continue to try to make our administrative processes as efficient as possible
– pitching our music to any needs or searches that we get (and we can sometimes get as many as 5 a day)
– seeking out new clients and business opportunities via either online research or reaching out to lawyers and business managers about their clients that may be looking for deals
– responding to inquiries from existing clients who have questions or needs
– meeting either individually or as a group with our staff so that we can keep focused on all the items that need to be done, both on the administrative side and the creative side.

 

2.  What is your favorite part of your job?

 

Even though we have been placing music in film/TV/ads for our entire 20 year existence (since 1994), nothing beats the email that we receive when someone says they want to license something and need a quote, etc.  You then feel all the effort is worthwhile and you can’t wait to let the client know that a use may happen.  And since things sometimes fall out in the mix, the ultimate satisfaction is tuning into TV and hearing our music and or in a film in a theater, etc.  There’s a sense of pride in knowing that that use would not have happened without our efforts and it’s a great feeling.

 

3.  What are some projects that you are currently working on that you can discuss?  

 

Since 2014 is PEN Music Group’s 20th anniversary, a lot of the projects these days are internal projects that we are doing to acknowledge and capitalize on the anniversary.  For example, in late January 2014 we are going to launch Phase 1 of our new website that we have been working on for a year.  There will be a few phases after this initial rollout, but we’re looking forward to getting this out there.  We are also always planning and refining our CORE software that handles all our copyright and royalties so that we can handle as much volume as possible with as little human interaction as possible.  This Spring we are also launching our web-based pitching system which completely integrates with CORE.  This will enable us to only have to enter certain data on a song once and then all that data gets pushed out to our pitching system so that as long as we have access to a browser on a laptop or mobile device, we will be able to search our catalogue of music and create pitches that we can send to music users who are in need of music for their projects and then we can track who streams what, who downloaded what, and generally see how the outside world is interacting with the music that we assemble and pitch.

 

4.  What do you think are the most important issues facing songwriters and publishers at this time?
I think the overall topic that we must address is the constant fight to devalue music.  And that fight is both with external forces as well as internal ones.  Let me explain.  First, it is clear we are moving towards a streaming-based world.  And fast.  Right now the streaming rates are crap, especially given that there seems to be more and more evidence that streaming is displacing sales that have historically given us our mechanical royalties.  We must work together as content owners as well as with the digital services to structure rates that are fair and that allow digital services to flourish.  I fear it is going to get a bit worse before it gets better, but I think ultimately this is going to be a lucrative world but it’s one in which music must be properly compensated for.  On the internal side, especially in the world of synchronization, there is a constant erosion of fees.  And this is partly due to some artists and publishers continuing to allow their music to be used for lesser and lesser fees for the increased broad media rights that producers need these days.  This is a tough one – because if you say no, there are probably 10 other companies right behind you who will allow their music to be used and you want the use to happen as opposed to not happen.  But sometimes you just have to take a stand and explain how your music is worth more than what is being offered and you can’t allow it to be used except for a fair price.  Every time you allow your music to be used for free or practically free, another content producer goes off thinking for their next project that they don’t need a big music budget because they can always get music for free or next to free.  This is a losing battle and if we are to maintain (or maybe even increase!) the value of music, we must think carefully now about what our individual and collective actions are doing to the perception of music’s value.

 

5.  Everyone is now on the “placement” train, where they think the only viable way to make money is to get placements in TV and film.  Do you agree with this?  

 

Generally speaking I do agree with this.  But I think it depends on what kind of artist and songwriter you are.  Albums aren’t selling what they used to so everyone is looking at synch to make up the difference (see previous answer directly above).  And the synch world can still be a lucrative area, especially in ads and trailers where the fees are still higher generally than uses in TV and film projects.  TV uses are also in many ways the only “radio” that many artists receive these days given the corporate dominance in mainstream radio programming.  A successful TV show using your music can mean 10 million+ people hearing your song in one night.  That kind of exposure can’t be beat, especially if it’s a placement where you can actually hear the song as opposed to it just being background in a bar for example under dialogue where no one will hear it.  But successful touring artists can still make a lot of money off their music and never get a placement.  I talk to the indie artists about the concept of the “superfan” – strive to find, develop and maintain a direct artist-fan relationship with 1,000 people who love what you do so much that through the year they will spend $100 on you (whether that be in CD sales or digital downloads, tickets to a show, merchandise, etc.).  If you can do that, that’s $100,000 a year and you are successful at music and you’ve been able to do that with just 1,000 people and no placements.  It can be done.  And then there are some artists that are just synch-focused and they work hard and make a good living.  It can be done a number of different ways, but either way it takes commitment and a dedicated work ethic.

 

6.  What other avenues are still profitable for publishers and writers?

 

Other than the placement world, I think everyone is looking to YouTube to be a new frontier of sorts in generating income.  And you can generate a lot of income on YouTube but it takes a LOT of views to have a decent financial impact.  We are in a visual world now – any artist who wants a fighting chance should plan on making videos of their songs – whether they are gimmicky videos that go viral or not.  It’s all about getting the exposure.  But once you can get it (however you do it and it can be done outside of the major label paradigm), it’s how you use it and manage it that will determine your financial success.  As mentioned before, successful touring artists sell records still and that generates mechanical income.  It all feeds upon itself – the trick is figuring out where an artist or songwriter will first connect and then you take that and run with it.

 

7.  What types of deals are mostly being offered now among the independent publishers?

 

I think generally speaking the deals fall into 1 of 3 types: 1) the placement/licensing deal; 2) the admin deal; and 3) the co-publishing deal.  Regarding the placement/licensing deal, as the name implies this deal’s main focus is synch.  The publisher generally doesn’t get involved in any aspect of the writer/artist other than synch.  This can be a way for a publisher and artist to develop an initial working relationship to scope each other out.  But one word of caution to the artist is non-exclusive deals that get offered that involve re-titling the songs.  This is increasingly being frowned upon for a variety of reasons, so consider deals of this nature that are offered very carefully.  Then there’s the admin deal.  In this scenario, the writer/artist owns everything 100% still and the publisher takes on the administrative and hopefully creative responsibility to make things happen for the artist.  The more things that happen, the more income is earned for both parties.  Then lastly there’s the co-pub deal.  In these deals the publisher and the writer/artist split the publishing 50/50 and this deal generally involves some sort of upfront financial payment or investment in the writer/artist.  This is the highest level of commitment and as long as you feel you have the right partner who believes in what you are doing, this deal structure can work out well.  It all depends on what you as the writer/artist feels comfortable with.  Meet lots of publishers and go with who you feel “gets you” and who is offering what you feel is a fair deal.

 

8.  What is an independent publishing company looking for when considering signing a new artist?

 

Speaking for us as PEN Music Group, we are looking for great music in genres that we don’t have much of.  We don’t like to take on too many artists of the same genre where they will be cannibalizing each other in the opportunities we bring to them.  But it has to be music that we all connect and react to.  This is sometimes hard to put into words – it’s just a gut feeling.  But you know it’s good when you hear it.  Then we want to spend the time getting others to hear the music since we feel they will like it.  We are also looking for writer/artists who know how much hard work is involved in this career and don’t expect that if we take them on we will do all the work for them.  No one will ever work as hard for what they do as they should.  And if we see someone who is smart and organized and business savvy on top of being creatively unique, then we know we have something.

 

9.  Is there any criteria an artist/writer needs to have to even be considered for a deal?

 

Existing income and activity is always nice, but in the end it comes down to the music.  It has to be great music.  If we don’t react to it, then we won’t fight for it.  It’s all about commitment.  If they have committed to doing the best music possible and that shows, then we will want to get involved whether there is any existing income or not.  Because at that point we believe we can generate the income.

 

Thanks to Michael for this very informative interview.   Learn more about PEN Music Group here.

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Client News: Adam Small Launches New Venture in Music Consulting, Management, Licensing, and More

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Categories: Clients, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My client Adam Small of My Music Masterclass has now launched Adam Small Music, a company focusing on music career consulting, management, licensing, publishing, and more.

profile_pic_small

Adam is a professional touring bassist, has a large career in music licensing, and is also a mastering engineer, studio consultant, video editor, web designer, computer tech, etc.  He is now using his more than twenty years experience in the music industry to help other artists with their careers.

I encourage you to learn more about Adam Small Music at www.adamsmallmusic.com.

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How to Protect Your Music and Avoid Legal Pitfalls

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Categories: Business, Copyright, Infringement, Law, Legal Issues, Music Industry, Music Publishing, Record Labels, Royalties, Trademark, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I recently had the privilege of being interviewed for My Music Masterclass about how musicians can protect their music, avoid some common legal pitfalls, and more.  The video is available for a temporary stream or permanent download HERE.

My Music Masterclass is a fantastic website where users can view exclusive masterclass sessions with the top touring musicians and industry professionals.  (Registration required and there is a small fee for the streams and downloads.)

You can view a preview of the full video below.  This video is packed with a lot of information and I hope it helps artists to further understand and take control of their careers.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me so I can help you to protect your music and grow your career.

Stream or download the full video here!

This preview video is also available on YouTube – please like, comment, and share it!  (Subscribe to my YouTube channel here.)

The information contained in this video and any linked resource is intended to provide general information and does not constitute legal advice by Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. or My Music Masterclass. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. This video is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. and you should not act or rely on any information in this video without seeking the advice of an attorney.   YOUR USE OF THIS INFORMATION IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. YOU ASSUME FULL RESPONSIBILITY AND RISK OF LOSS RESULTING FROM THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION. ERIN M. JACOBSON, ESQ. AND/OR MY MUSIC MASTERCLASS WILL NOT BE LIABLE FOR ANY DAMAGES WHATSOEVER RELATING TO THE USE OF THIS INFORMATION.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 8

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Over the last several weeks, I have outlined many qualities to consider when choosing an attorney.  Once you have decided what kind of attorney you want, the next step is actually finding one

How to find an attorney?

Ask your other creative friends whom they use as their attorney.  With the wealth of information on the Internet, it is also possible to find information for the attorney of another artist you admire.  There are several attorney directories like lawyers.com and findlaw.com you can browse.  You can also search for attorneys and view their websites, or refer to networks like LinkedIn.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 7

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

You know what they say:  “Location, location, location!”

Location

If you have to meet with your attorney or go to his/her office, you may want to make sure the attorney’s office is in a convenient location or that you are willing and able to travel to his/her office.

Next time, I’ll discuss how to find an attorney after thinking about all of the criteria I have explained over the last several weeks.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 6

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Always an important concern is price.  How much does the attorney charge?

Price

Attorneys have different billing rates based, which are mostly based on their experience and number of years in practice.  Some attorneys only bill hourly and/or take retainers, while some will also charge a flat fee or take a percentage of income.  Take serious consideration of what the attorney quotes you and whether you can afford it.  An attorney will not be happy if you think you can afford their rate and then rack up a large bill you cannot pay.

There is one point I need to address because I feel a lot of people do not understand it.  Lawyer’s rates are based on time expended on a matter, experience, years of schooling and learning a skill.  It is different than walking into a store and getting a product.  Many people seem to feel that they should not have to pay for legal services because they do not walk out of the office with a tangible product in hand.  When you pay an attorney, you are paying for that person’s time and skill.  You are paying them to provide a service to you that you should not provide for yourself.  Even attorneys hire other attorneys when they have legal problems.  Just as you spent your time and used your talent to craft a song or write a screenplay and expect to be paid for it, the attorney will do work for you and expect to be paid for it.

Next time, I’ll address attorney location concerns.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 5

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Consequences

Something that goes along with your attorney’s style is the consequences of your attorney’s style.  Some attorneys have bad reputations and people do not want to  deal with them.  Other attorneys have killed or almost killed deals for clients because they are difficult to work with or have a large ego.  Ask other people you know in the industry if they know anything about the attorney, or even ask the attorney for references.  If they are well respected, it will show.

Next time, I’ll talk about fees.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 4

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Another very important consideration in choosing an attorney is that attorney’s style.

Style

When you envision your attorney, what do you see?  There are some attorneys that scream at everyone to get the job done.  There are attorneys that would like to party with the band on the tour bus.  Some attorneys are not that extreme, but are still friends with their clients.  Other attorneys do not like to socialize with their clients and prefer to quietly sit in their offices.  Some attorneys are in the middle of all of those types.  Your attorney is part of your team and is a representation of your image in some cases.  Think of how you want to do business and there will be the type of attorney for you.

Next time, I’ll talk about the consequences of some of these attorney practice styles.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 3

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I have already covered attorney personality and artists’ needs in choosing an attorney.  Another thing to consider may be whether the attorney has similar clients to your musical genre.

Similar Clients

One way to help an artist find an attorney is for the artist to consider an attorney that might already have clients similar in style and genre to your music.  If you are a hip-hop artist, you might want to go with an attorney that has other successful hip-hop clients.  If you are a metal band, try to meet with an attorney who handles work for several other successful metal bands.  This is not essential, but it is a good starting point for an artist who does not currently know any attorneys and wants to do some research on who he is interested in talking to further.  Also, an attorney with clients in your particular genre may also have existing relationships with important people within that “world,” which will be beneficial to your career.

Next time, I’ll talk about different attorney practice styles.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.

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How to Choose the Right Attorney for YOU – Part 2

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Categories: Business, Music Industry, Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Last week, I talked about the importance of an attorney’s personality.  This week, I address another top concern in choosing an attorney — the artist’s needs.

Artist Needs

Attorneys do different things.  Some litigate (sue people), some draft and negotiate contracts.  Other attorneys “shop” or try to get clients a deal, while other attorneys have a strict “no shopping” policy.  What do you need at this point in your career?  What do you think you may need as your career grows?  Think about these things and try to find an attorney whose services match your needs.

Many attorneys do not shop, so it is wise to check the attorney’s website or ask the attorney for his/her shopping policy before requesting that the attorney shop you.

Next time, I’ll talk about attorneys with a client base that fit your genre.

© 2010 Erin M. Jacobson, Esq. All Rights Reserved. If you like this article and want to share it, you may provide a link to www.erinmjacobsonesq.com or a direct link to the post for others to read it. You may not reprint this article without written permission from Erin M. Jacobson, Esq.

This site is not intended or offered as legal advice. These materials have been prepared for educational and information purposes only. They are not legal advice or legal opinions on any specific matters. If they are considered advertisements, they are general in nature and not directed towards any particular person or entity. Transmission of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship between this site, Erin M. Jacobson, Esq., and you or any other user. The content is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or up-to-date. The law may vary based on the facts of particular circumstances or the law in your state. You should not act, or fail to act, upon this information without seeking professional counsel. No person should act or fail to act on any legal matter based on the contents of this site. Unless expressly stated otherwise, no document herein should be assumed to be produced by an attorney licensed in your state. For more information, please click on the “Disclaimer” section in the top menu of this site.
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