The Wise Photographer Podcast

Is Your Website Legal? | Attorney Paige Hulse Interview | The Wise Photographer Podcast

March 4, 2020

I'm Chelsy, a single mom in a small town, who loves photographing weddings, and helping photographers build their own businesses

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Today I’m sitting down with Paige Hulse. Paige is the founder and lead attorney at the creative law shop and online resource for contract templates and business tools for creative entrepreneurs. After working as a contract litigator by day and pursuing her creative outlet of calligraphy by night, Paige recognized the need for legally sound resources for the creative business owners and be in her own law firm. Page hosts law as well as the creative law shop back in 2017 now, Paige is thrilled to be able to support creatives around the world with the shop as well as her trademark and business law services through Paige Hulse Law. I knew I wanted to bring a lawyer onto the podcast at some point and so when I was searching around, I’d found actually found the creative law shop about six months ago and there were a few things that I’ve really loved about the shop right off the bat. 

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The first thing that you’ll find on her site, she has an extensive collection of contracts and business tools that serve so many different types of creators from photographers to calligraphers to life coaches, and she has all of the website legality templates as well. The next thing that you’ll see when you visit either of Paige’s sites is her branding. And even if you don’t need any contracts at that moment, definitely head over to her website page,  It is so beautiful and after meeting Paige, it fits her to a T. It’s beautiful, to begin with, but if you ever get the chance to meet her that her website truly represents her, which I think is one awesome for any entrepreneur, but two, especially for a lawyer!  One thing that I was really not expecting to come from this interview was how much in common me, a wedding photographer and mom of two had with a lawyer from Tulsa, Oklahoma and I’m still thankful for this crazy awesome platform for introducing me to such amazing and talented women from all over the world.

Can you share a little bit about what we as creatives mainly photographers, need to know when it comes to contracts and what types of contracts we should have in place in our businesses? 

“Absolutely. I’m glad that you’re starting with this question and obviously because it’s vitally, but kind of going back for a second to what you said, just it’s easy to feel kind of over your head. The more people get to know me, the more you will find that I will just be straight. And so I will always say that I don’t want there to be any fear. I really don’t want there to be fear around the legal side of your business and or in anybody listening of course. And that’s the sole reason why my business exists is to kind of strip some of them, at least some of the overwhelm and some of the mystery and the unknowns around it. That being said, I think if anybody can take one piece of advice from this podcast and it would be, I really, really strongly advise that you find somebody in your state that at least you know, you can call if you need to, a lawyer that you can call. “

I believe very strongly in, in every business, if you want to run it like a business, your business has to use licensed professionals.

“So even if we utilize a service like my template shop, for example, that’s a great starting point. That’s going to save you the money of a lawyer, drafting that upfront. However, it’s vitally important that you find somebody within your state that you can go to if you have questions afterward, et cetera. So that’s one thing I want to say. 

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If a photographer comes to me and they just want to do kind of like a legal audit of their business, here’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking at their business from essentially it contract wise, essentially four different angles. Um, one I am going to look at their website and I’m going to make sure that their website is, is legally sound and I know that we can touch on this in greater detail later on in our conversation. 

But in short, what I’m looking for, it’s a privacy policy. That’s a federal law you have to have that we’re also, I know we can talk about the GDPR later, but that’s also a required to under the GDPR laws. The second thing I’m going to look for is the terms and conditions. And again, I will touch on that more later on. If I’m saying that website legality is the first cornerstone, then looking for the second cornerstone that I’m looking for is going to be the actual formation of the business and ensuring that you have the right contracts in place, to have a stable foundation for that business, a stable formation. I’m looking to see if you are an LLC, I want to make sure that you have an operating agreement. So this is critical. This is something I have seen. 

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I have a client that costs nearly $50,000. It was a $50,000 mistake that they made prior to hiring me to do work for them.

They did have an operating agreement in this scenario, however, it was just something free that they pulled online and it in short did not have the correct terminology that they needed when we had to come back and restructure for tax purposes with the new tax code in 2017 because it was missing some of the language that was required. They literally lost out on a $50,000 tax break that they could have taken advantage of. So operating agreements are not exciting, I don’t think anything that we’re talking about legally is, could be described as the fun part of business, but that operating agreement is critical.”

When we are looking at websites, what are the things we, especially as photographers, need to have in place?

Paige: (17:14)
The first thing I wanted to say is that privacy policy, this has been an FTC law, so US law, federal law for years. Off the top of my head, I can’t tell you when that was enacted. That’s always been a federal requirement. That’s something that I’ve seen, overlooked for a long time until our good friend, the GDPR came out and I will come back to the GDPR in a second. The privacy policy, so again, federal law required under GDPR laws also recently. California has also, they have always required separate language in privacy policies. So if you have a website and anybody from the state of California visits your site, it has to have specific language at the time of recording this, just in the last few months, they passed new laws and require even different language.

Paige: (19:14)
he third thing that I’m going to be looking for is your terms and conditions now and like the privacy policy. I cannot tell you truthfully that this is a requirement, but I am very, very, very blunt with my clients that this is something I required them to have. Just like your operating agreement, just because it’s not required by law does not mean that it’s not going to help you or really save you from court in certain scenarios. So your terms and conditions act as the contract that governs your website. Anybody who comes to your website just automatically by scrolling through your website is agreeing to the terms and conditions.

Can you combine your terms and conditions and your privacy policy?

Paige: (21:20)
Yeah, that’s a great question. Yeah, they can be on the same page. The terms, the literal paragraphs of them cannot be combined. Um, you have to have, so they should have a header across the top of each of them just showing the separation.

Paige: (21:36)
Um, they also need to have the date that they were last updated okay. At the top, just so that a reader can easily scroll through your terms and privacy. Frequently they will know when you last updated it. So yeah, that’s a great question. And they can be linked together in the footer as well.

Chelsy: (21:53)
So for those who don’t know what the GDPR is, can you kind of explain what that is?

Paige: (22:09)
And the GDPR came out on my birthday, which I thought was just cruel and unusual. It’s was horrible. I woke up to 780 emails from people asking questions about the GDPR. That means that I have a plethora of blog posts and just free resources.

Paige: (22:28)
But again, both of my websites about it, if you have questions following listening to this. Um, so the GDPR came out on May 25th of 2018. Um, this is, an EU European union law. Even though it’s an EU law, it applies to anybody around the world who has users, from the EU accessing their websites. So for looking at the jurisdiction of it, you don’t have to be in the EU to, um, for this law to apply. It’s just literally anybody in one of those countries getting on your website now you have, no way of knowing who, getting on from where. And you can track it but you don’t know ahead of time who is going to get on your website from Belgium today. Um, so anyway, they, it’s just a safe assumption. Best practices are to assume that the GDPR applies to you.

Paige: (23:23)
The GDPR, I read every single sentence of it. Even though it’s dense, it’s also, it leaves a lot open for interpretation. So I want to operate, when I talk about it, I operate from a conservative mindset and meaning I want to be overly protective with it. So if I’m speaking generally about it, it requires that if you are collecting any sort of personal information which is defined as anything that can identify a person, so name and credit card information at an email address, anything at all the, you have to have certain things in place. So you have to have a privacy policy linked anywhere that you are doing that. And so for example, we’ve already talked about having that privacy policy on your website. If you have an opt-in page, your privacy policy should be linked right there as well because you’re asking somebody to give your email, their email address or their name and to opt-in.

Tune into The Wise Photographer Podcast

Listen here, and dive in on Paige’s path to how she began her journey and her preservice when it came to obstacles she has had to face. Her story is truly amazing, and such an inspiration to anyone one in a creative industry.

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