Archive for May, 2013

MPR: Minnesotans are part of the copyright controversy over lawsuits alleging illegal porn downloads

May 20, 2013

Minnesota Public Radio’s Martin Moylan has a nicely done piece involving tactics that porn companies and their lawyers are using to combat what they see as copyright violations involving downloads.

Similar efforts exist involving owners of stock photos who, for example, sue mom-and-pop businesspeople over photographs that web-site builders used without the owner’s consent.  I’ve represented one such Minnesota business, and there are many more who need help.

The statutes authorizing lawsuits over such alleged illegalities typically have attorneys’ fees provisions in them, so such litigation can be attractive to lawyers.  The potential defendants in a tough spot:  pay up a settlement, or pay a lawyer to try to defend the case.

IRS vs. Tea Party “scandal”: Minnesota nonprofits have not been immune from IRS action

May 16, 2013

Many eyes are on the White House over news the IRS has been targeting Tea Party-like tax-exempt corporations.  The law in question is 26 U.S.C. 501 (c)(4), which provides tax-exempt status to organizations that are “operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”  Those are Congress’ words, not President Obama’s.

 Under the law, (c)(4) groups get tax-exempt status.  They differ from their (c)(3) cousins because (c)(4)s get to participate in politics—the theory being that voters deserve to hear views of groups dedicated to “social welfare.”  In Minnesota, (c)(4)s have ranged from taxpayer-rights groups to Lions Clubs.

 Because Congress created the law in the first place, it has the ultimate responsibility to make sure it’s being enforced.  Secondarily the executive branch does too, by and through the IRS.  To that end, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits reports that in 2011 the IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of more than 5,100 Minnesota nonprofits, 666 of them (c)(4)s.

Many were revoked because they were no longer in existence.  Still, by its acts, the IRS was doing its job.  That also is true with respect to its investigation Tea Party groups.  But what both the IRS and Congress need to do is ensure (c)(4)s of all political stripes get the same treatment.