Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


Small businesses may be very successful raising funds through Kickstarter, but those who receive those funds shouldn't forget the potential tax implications of crowdfunding.

For its part, Kickstarter (with the caveat that they are not tax attorneys) claims that in general, "funds raised on Kickstarter are considered income." However, the crowdfunding platform also claims that Kickstarters may be able to classify certain funds as "nontaxable gifts" instead.

So which is it? Should businesses treat Kickstarter or crowdfunding money as taxable income?

President Obama has signed an executive order barring the federal government and its contractors from discriminating against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender employees.

Private employers in many states can still fire employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, so this executive order gives a new layer of employment protection for some LGBT workers. The Huffington Post reports that this order does not include an exemption for religious employers.

How exactly will this executive order change employers' anti-discrimination policies?

A Yahoo! executive who's being sued over alleged sexual harassment has countersued her accuser for defamation.

Maria Zhang, Yahoo!'s Senior Director of Engineering, filed suit against Nan Shi, the woman who accused her of coercing her into multiple sexual encounters for fear of her job. Zhang claims in her countersuit that the allegations are entirely false and that Shi's only goal is "financial gain," GeekWire reports.

Could Zhang's accuser be facing more liability than the Yahoo! exec?

The Internet's sharing economy -- fueled by breakthrough startups like Airbnb and Uber -- has made its way into a somewhat unlikely new area: musical instruments.

A new service called Sparkplug allows musicians with musical instruments, gear, or practice spaces that aren't being used to rent it out to other musicians who may need it. Unlike Craigslist, eBay, or other sites where users can buy and sell musical gear, Sparkplug allows musicians with valuable equipment to generate income during downtime without having to part ways with a prized musical instrument or hard-to-find amplifier.

Sound like something you'd be interested in? Here are five legal tips for using this new musical sharing service:

Layoffs are an unpleasant task for any small business, and if they can be avoided, all the better.

That may have been a discussion within Microsoft prior to its announcement that the company would be cutting 18,000 jobs. The New York Times reports the tech giant will be making the lion's share of cuts from its Nokia-acquired groups -- about 12,500 jobs. Severance pay and other layoff costs add up for any company, and Microsoft estimates it will dole out between $1.1 to $1.6 billion to cover the massive cuts.

While your business isn't as big as Microsoft, you may be able to avoid layoffs by considering these seven legal tactics:

Iconic American theme park Disneyland opened 59 years ago today.

And as you might imagine, over the last six decades, Disneyland and its parent corporation Disney have been involved in a fair amount of litigation, from personal injury lawsuits to intellectual property disputes.

Here are five lessons your business can learn from Disney's long legal history:

It legal to post business video-surveillance footage online?

Many businesses employ video surveillance systems, and the footage can often result in useful -- or humorous -- clips that somehow find their way onto YouTube, Facebook, or other websites.

While it is likely legal for businesses to use security footage for the purpose of preventing theft, or even to track down criminals, murkier legal waters await businesses who are posting security cam footage just for laughs. Here's what business owners need to know:

The U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission has released new guidelines for the enforcement of laws prohibiting workplace discrimination against pregnant women.

These are the first new federal guidelines on pregnancy discrimination in more than 30 years, reports The Washington Post. The document, titled "EEOC Enforcement Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination Related Issues," seeks to clarify the federal rules on discrimination against pregnant workers under both the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

What do employers need to know about these new guidelines?

Insurance is a necessary part of protecting your business from liability, and as the need for protection grows, so has the field of insurance.

Whether you want to safeguard your business' physical property, prepare for suits from slips and falls, or buttress your online reputation from the slings and arrows of social media, your business needs to be insured.

Check out these five key types of insurance your small business may need:

It's 2014. Do you know what your business' intellectual property is doing?

If you didn't answer with an emphatic "Yes!" (or worse yet, had to stop and think about what exactly intellectual property is), then you may be a prime candidate for an IP audit.

What exactly is an IP audit, and what can it potentially do for your business? Here's what business owners need to know: