Pirates, Pilots, and Passwords: Flight Sim Labs Navigates Legal Issues (w/ Marc Hoag as Guest) [e297]

July 24, 2018

Flight Sim Labs, a software add-on creator for flight simulators, stepped into a PR disaster and possibly some substantial legal issues when it allegedly included a Trojan horse of sorts as malware to combat pirating of its $100 Airbus A320 software. The hidden test.exe file triggered anti-virus software for good reason as it was actually a tool that could steal passwords stored through Google Chrome. Flight Sim Labs had to later explain once they were outed by a user on Reddit that the tool was only targeting those who stole the software.

In this episode, Nasir and Matt are joined by good friend, entrepreneur, attorney, and podcaster, Marc Hoag. We discuss the legal issues surrounding this mess of a situation created by what seems an overzealous developer / development team, including hacking, malware, terms and conditions of Reddit, defamation and libel, DRM and anti-piracy, and copyright infringement.

Credit to MeowCaptain who brought this to our attention outside of the /r/flightsim subreddit with his video summary.

Full Podcast Transcript

NASIR: Welcome to our podcast!My name is Nasir Pasha.

MATT: And I’m Matt Staub.Two attorneys here with Pasha Law – practicing in California, Texas, New York, and Illinois.

NASIR: And this is where we cover business in the news and add our legal twist to that news. Legally Sound Smart Business. It’s been a little bit of time here – almost a couple of months – but, today, I think we have a pretty nice story about flight simulators, and aviation, and software, and piracy – the kind where you steal software. Plus, we have a guest. Right, Matt?

MATT: Yeah. As you said, there’s a lot of things in play here, so I think we needed to find a guest who could hit all the checkmarks on this, and I think we found one – at least in my opinion.

MARC: Hoag – licensed attorney, aviation fanatic, podcast host, business owner. I think we’ve hit everything we can here, right?

NASIR: Startup founder, yeah. You’re right. It’s across the board.Welcome to the show,


MARC:: Thanks very much for having me, guys! Great to be here!

NASIR: Now, there’s only two hosts of the show. I know you’re a perfect candidate to take over our podcast but, you know, there are no openings, but I do appreciate you as a guest.We were talking to him earlier. We asked him if he’s an aviation hobbyist. He said, “Fanatic.” You were saying your wife picks out planes and their model numbers? What were you saying?

MARC:: No, I think it’s contagious. We actually recognize flights. We’re up here just north of San Francisco. All the Europe and Middle Eastern flights out of SFO end up arching right over our house here as they head on their way, northeast, out of the bay. Yeah, we actually recognize flight routing and numbers and just call them out just because we’re super weird that way and, yeah, it’s just kind of neat. You see a thing and you know, in eight hours, ten hours, fifteen hours, it’s going to be somewhere else.

NASIR: Yeah, that’s really weird. But, anyway, perfect guest.Let me give you some background of the story we’re getting. It is one of those stories where it’s kind of hard to follow but lots of legal issues which is fun for us to cover, of course.We have this company called Flight Sim Labs. They basically create add-ons for popular flight simulators. The one I’m familiar with that’s been around forever is Microsoft Flight Simulator – great name, very descriptive. From my understanding – Mark, correct me if I’m wrong – Flight Simulator by Microsoft is pretty much the main software that everyone uses for both hobbyists and even people that want to train to be a pilot, right?

MARC:: Well, kind of. It is still true. It’s alive and well in the after-market community.Microsoft, as you might know, actually stopped developing it quite a few years ago. What took its place was actually a product called X-Plane. It was initially developed by an aeronautical engineer whose name is Austin Meyer. Over the last ten-ish years – maybe more – he kind of developed it into a full-blown project which effectively competed directly with and he practically has essentially replaced Microsoft Flight Simulator – at least in the retail space. it’s the only one you can still buy.

NASIR: This is what this company does. They developed an add-on for two popular software – at least one of them was Flight Simulator. Basically, in order to use the software, you may want to get certain specs of a certain plane or certain equipment. They developed an add-on for the A320 which is some plane, I think, by Airbus, right?

MARC:: Correct, but it’s worth mentioning it’s a rather unique plane by virtue of being Airbus because, unlike the Boeing aircraft, I think it holds a certain hobbyist interest. I actually did a similar thing – an A320 add-on for X-Plane simply because it was modeling the so-called “fly by wire” flight characteristics which are a totally different way of flying the aircraft to what Boeing offers. Really, you’re flying it through the flight computer rather than through the aircraft itself to a certain degree. Obviously, there’s nuances there, but that’s why there’s a very particular interest in that aircraft.

NASIR: Very cool. Obviously, the demand is there because they’re able to sell this software at $100 apiece, and one of the issues that I think is happening across all software industries is fighting piracy. And so, of course, different software publishers, they put in some kind of DRM protections for their software. Of course, Flight Sim Labs did the same except the way they went about it was a little unique, I think. And so, basically, this thing blew up on Reddit.This user called “crankyrecursion” – I love the username – he basically posted his findings. “Hey! Look, I found this executable. It’s called test.exe that’s embedded within the installer of the A320.” It’s basically a tool called Chrome Password Dump. That tool pretty much does what it says. It looks into your Chrome browser and, if you have saved passwords in the browser, then it extracts those passwords and then sends if activated to wherever the creator wants it to go.And so, after this post, the post kind of just blows up on Reddit and Flight Sim Labs eventually responded and said, “Yes, this is a software that’s in there to protect against piracy. In fact, this poster is probably someone who stole the software.” But that wasn’t exactly true because, apparently, this tool was embedded within every single software. Of course, Reddit users and the community itself pretty much pushed back on this whole idea and it became a whole PR mess, and there were legal accusations thrown around back and forth, it just kind of blew up to what it is now, and that’s why we’re talking about it, of course.

MATT: The one thing you don’t want to do is just they basically doubled-down on Reddit which is probably the worst that you could do because you have a whole community of people that are going to dig into every single thing that you say after that point. But, you know, they could have tried to correct it there right away, admit at some fault, and just moved on. Instead, they really opened things up and that’s when it really started blowing up. It got to the point where the moderator for the page on Reddit felt the need to actually post some sort of formal response. And then, it really kind of snowballed from there. Again, like I said, just made it even worse all around.

NASIR: What’s interesting too is that there are some posts in the forums of Flight Sim Labs where users are saying, “Hey! My anti-virus software is flagging your installer.” The response is, “Oh, just turn off your anti-virus software or make an exception or allow it.” Of course, in retrospect, that’s pretty much what it was. Of course, users are scared that this legitimate software may be stealing passwords. Of course, it’s a privacy breach and so forth.Initially, their response is, “This is a DRM protection.” Reddit users and the community pushes back, but then they basically concede and say, “Here is a new installer without that software,” and they remove it. But, to get to that point, they did a few things. This is kind of where we get to some of the legal issues.First, they started attacking the moderators and basically telling them that all these posts, “These comments in this particular post that blew up are defamatory, libelous, and we’re basically going to sue you and sue everybody.” I’m sure you have an idea of how people responded.

MATT: That’s what I was saying before. You don’t want to open the door to all these individuals that post on Reddit because they’re just going to keep going. They’re just going to keep prying into things and discovering more facts, especially for a company like this that appears to have done something wrong. We’ll get to it later, but they do kind of admit some sort of fault – whether it be indirectly or not.You know, like I was saying, they doubled-down on everything. They said, “What you’re saying is defamatory,” and, not only do they do that, they started doing some other things that essentially violate the terms and conditions for Reddit. They created fake accounts to manipulate the upvoting or downvoting on Reddit. They abused the Reddit reporting system, flagging comments that shouldn’t have been flagged, harassing individuals on there.Basically, Flight Sim Labs had said, “We open the sort of fair comments and some sort of criticism,” but it doesn’t seem like that’s the case at all for them. It’s actually quite the opposite.

NASIR: What do you think, Mark? Obviously, piracy, there’s a huge negative aspect. Do you think Flight Sim Labs went overboard here? As you know, there’s not a lot of things to do technically to fight piracy. Hackers are going to find a way to do it, and they do.

MARC:: Yeah. I mean, I’m not really seeing it as more of a piracy issue as I am first of all seeing it as, “Was this some sort of intentional sabotage? Was this some weird just negligent act?” Admittedly, I haven’t read all the content from Flight Sim Labs, but I haven’t seen anything where they’re doing anything other than simply just saying, “No, we haven’t done anything.”In other words, I guess what I’m trying to say is – again, having done seven years running two startups – I feel like, if one of our products, if we were accused of something in our website has caused this awful thing to happen, I’m not going to just say, “Hey! No, we didn’t!” or “No, it didn’t!” If a lot of people say this has occurred, that’s a pretty alarming thing.It seems to me that the most obvious first response is going to be, “What just happened? How and why?” and figure out what caused that. I don’t see anything here – and maybe I’m wrong and maybe you found something – which suggests that Flight Sim Labs has actually sort of engaged in active discovery. “Oh, this is what may have happened, this is what may have done it.” That’s the obvious thing to do. That’s what I would do.

NASIR: I assume they didn’t go that route because maybe they did it intentionally.In other words, I don’t know if this was some sort of rogue act.

MARC:: I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. I mean, I find it more unbelievable that this company would do that intentionally rather than that somebody intentionally sabotaged them from the inside or frankly even from the outside somehow.

NASIR: That’s an interesting take. I never thought it could be that, and that would definitely change things. But then, that begs the question. They didn’t even go on the defensive. They went on the attack and started attacking people. It is strange.Basically, what you’re saying is there might be something else going on here but definitely a bad PR response. I think we can all agree with that.

MARC:: That’s exactly what I’m saying.The way they’ve handled this is totally counterintuitive to what an otherwise innocent party you’d expect them to say. And so, I think that’s the big issue here – well, not the issue – but that’s what they’ve done that’s wrong, I think.And so, I’m trying to, on the one hand, just give them the benefit of the doubt that this can’t have been intentional. It blows my mind if that were the case. But, that said, the way they’ve reacted certainly suggests something else is going on. It’s weird to think because this is like some really tightknit community and it’s a very mixed community at that – the super high-end flight sim world.I should say, just as a quick aside for people listening who may not be familiar with these flight sims, just to be super clear, a lot of people, they hear flight sim, they hear the words “flight sim” but their brain interprets videogame. This is not a videogame. Some of these, to a certain extent, especially with certain functionality – like, for example, X-Plane and I think even Microsoft Flight Simulator for a while – they’re actually FAA-certified for certain aspects, especially if they use power full-motion flight simulators – that kind of thing. Even to the extent that they’re not properly certified for whatever reason – maybe you don’t have the correct full-motion simulator experience – many pilots use these just to kind of brush up on their skills – just to refresh.The notion, this is such a small community, especially to have to pay this kind of money for this kind of thing, it just kind of blows the mind that this would occur.

NASIR: I forget if I mentioned but this particular software is $100 apiece for this A320.

MARC:: I believe it.Again, with respect to the version I was using for X-Plane, I was lucky to get an older free version. I don’t recall what the paid version cost, but this is really complex stuff that they’re able to model now, and frankly it’s incredible that we can do this at home in the first place because, again, it’s not simply just a matter of modeling aircraft dynamics which is certainly complex enough. But, now, you’re modeling the nuances of the actual flight planning computer and everything that goes along with it. That’s pretty incredible stuff.

NASIR: Yeah. Look, piracy is wrong. It’s infringement of copyright – there’s no doubt.From a legal perspective, I don’t know if we need to spend too much time. I think that’s pretty clear. But let’s talk about some of their allegations with libel and defamation. I thought the moderators’ response, they basically publicized their private exchange of messages between the Flight Sim Labs and the moderators because Flight Sim Labs is basically threatening legal action – obviously, from a non-attorney because, whoever is the author, he or she made some references to defamation law which ended up being incorrect which the moderators very perfectly corrected which is they reference the fact that, “Hey, look, one of the defenses of defamation is that, if it’s true or it’s a matter of opinion – and we’ve talked about that many times – and also referenced the Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act which, of course, gives moderators immunity for these kinds of things.

MATT: Yeah, I think that was pretty telling by the moderators’ response. I mean, they were leaning on multiple legal things in their favor – like the Communications Decency Act – you know, just rebutting. Flight Sim Labs, I think, said the burden of proof rests with the defendant on any sort of defamation claim which – at least in the US – is not the case. I didn’t see if it was different. I’m sure it can be different in different jurisdictions, but the initial response by Flight Sim Labs just didn’t seem like it was put together at all.Like you said, Nasir, it definitely wasn’t vetted by an attorney because, well, to be frank, it wasn’t vetted by an attorney or someone who’s in PR because, I think, for both of those, it struck out. It went 0 for 2.

NASIR: You know, PR people, I mean, as lawyers, we work with PR people all the time. People don’t realize, it’s not enough, especially when you’re working with PR, it’s not enough just to be able to spin it in your favor. You have to be able to spin it in a way that doesn’t open you up to more liability, doesn’t make you look stupid like it does here, and I think the liability aspect was – again, I know we keep teasing him, but we’re going to get to it in a second – about them admitting that they basically did this could open themselves up to more liability.But, before we get there, let’s talk about how the moderators also alleged that these guys violated the terms and conditions of Reddit. Of course, Flight Sim Labs complains about moderating and so forth. And then, the moderators come back and say, “Well, if we’re going to talk about rules, you guys broke these different terms and conditions.” They basically accused them of – I think you already mentioned this, Matt – vote manipulation and things like that. I know Matt is kind of a Reddit user – a casual Reddit user.Mark, are you an active user?

MARC:: I’ve been resisting it for a long time. I do tend to read it now and then, but I haven’t yet committed to signing up. I say that rather with a sigh of relief, actually. I think it’d be a rather large time-sick.

NASIR: It is. For social media, that’s one thing that I do have a weakness to – Reddit, including the Dunder Mifflin Office-based Reddit, but that’s for a different show.

MARC:: I spend enough time over on Quora as it is. I don’t think I need another channel.

NASIR: By the way, Mark is a master at that Quora over there. You actually have a special designation there – as a writer of some sort, correct?

MARC:: I managed to land their top writer nomination three times now. So, I’m a 3X top writer.

NASIR: That’s crazy. Congratulations! That’s pretty good!

MARC:: I actually don’t know how or why. It turns out people like what I write. So, go figure.

NASIR: Well, very good.Matt, let’s talk about the real issue here.They admitted that they have a software that steals passwords from computers, but they say, “But it only works or only is active because we’re trying to gather evidence of piracy for those that steal our software.”What do you think about that?

MATT: Let’s go into just a little bit more detail on what they exactly said. First of all, there are no tools used to reveal any sensitive information of any customer who has legitimately purchased our products. And then, it goes into the piracy part.

NASIR: Emphasis with legitimate.

MATT: Yeah, they admit that it’s there, but they’re saying it’s only a protection for piracy, basically.

MARC:: Can you actually flesh that out? Because that makes no sense at all.

NASIR: It doesn’t, but I was telling Matt earlier, this is what I’d compare it to. If I have a convenience store and I have a problem with people shoplifting. So, what I’m going to do is I’m going to put a piece of gum or a pack of gum and hide a bomb in it or a firecracker or whatever – not something less lethal to make this a little bit easier to swallow, right? I don’t allow anybody to purchase legitimately, but I’ll put it in a place where, if it gets stolen and they steal it and it blows up, “Hey! It’s not my fault. I mean, they’re the ones that stole it. I just wanted to stop them from stealing, so that’s my defense.” It just doesn’t hold water. It doesn’t make sense.

MARC:: It’s like the classic case on point about installing a deadly or dangerous apparatus in your home to prevent somebody breaking into your home – like an automated weapon of some kind?

NASIR: No, I think it’s even worse than that because, in theory, it’s like, “Well, I’m defending my home.” It’s like putting an alarm system. Now we’re going back to law school, right? Because, in some jurisdictions – what are they called? The shotgun traps or whatever or those lethal traps at home can be legal in some states. I don’t know if it’s still the case, but I remember at the time, that was the case.You’re right – something similar.But, take it back – whether it’s lethal or not – the point is that hacking and installing malware which has its own definition – every state in the country has its laws against that – both in the United States and in the United Kingdom. There’s federal laws prohibiting against it. Not only is it a crime, there’s civil repercussions from it.This is definitely a potential class action. I’m not saying it’s a slam dunk, but it’s definitely something there, and there’s no defense that I’m aware of when it comes to hacking and malware. “Well, look, they did something to me, so I’m going to commit a crime in exchange.” It just doesn’t work that way.

MATT: Yeah, and they did change the way they’ve worded it throughout. So, we mentioned they said they didn’t reveal any information with anyone who’s legitimately purchased the products, then they later go on to say in a different statement that Flight Sim would never do anything to knowingly violate the trust that customers have placed in them.There was another part where they say, “Well, there was one instance, but we don’t even know how that happened.” They’re all over the board here. I mean, it’s hard to know what to believe but, when you’re just trying to evade the topic, there’s usually a reason behind that.

NASIR: Here’s my question. Who’s the PR expert on this episode here? What would have been the best response? As soon as you found this out or as soon as this was blown up on Reddit, what would you say?Mark, why don’t you start?

MARC:: Yeah, I think the easy answer is just the right answer which is you very proactively and – I don’t know – at least humbly sort of say, “This is honestly a terrible thing. We want to work to figure out what’s happened here, but we don’t know what’s happened. Let’s figure it out,” rather than just categorically denying it and saying, “Hey! You guys are trying to defame us!” That just comes across wrong.You proactively try to own up to it and figure out what’s happened.

MATT: In 2018, someone could just hand you a checklist of things to say, and that exists because there’s been so many instances of this.Mark, I don’t know if you saw their most recent response. Basically, everything you just said, not only did they not do it, they decided to take a 180 of everything and really push the other way. They’ve really screwed this up.

MARC:: Wow. Funny. I did not see that final response, no.

NASIR: I always think, what if Flight Sim Labs called me and what would I tell them? Of course, I’m not a PR expert, so I’m not going to pretend into that, but I think there is some difficulty here because, for example, if Mark’s right where you have this rogue person or there’s some negligent act, that’s probably best-case scenario because then it absolves you from an intentional act.But, in this case, you know, a crime by the individual could still expose you to liability because, there’s criminal negligence, too. And then, worst case scenario is that, if there was some intentional act here, you also can’t tell the public – like, just in response to you, Mark – what if it was an intentional act? Then they can’t really say, “Oh, we don’t know what’s going on here.” That would be kind of tough to tell the public when later you find out that’s not the case.

MARC:: Yeah. Actually, an analogy comes to mind. It’s a little bit of a stretch but bear with me.The recent thing in the news about the kind of sabotage over at Tesla about two weeks ago I think it was. There was an employee and he literally sabotaged, I guess, their internal manufacturing computer or the system designed, or which is used to build Model 3 Teslas.As an analogy, that sabotage actually was not so much just for the robots that build the cars but rather the onboard system. All the Teslas can be updated, modified with over-the-air updates, right? Suppose you did some sort of sabotage that actually sent some really malicious update to all the Tesla where they just – I don’t know – accelerate forever, this would obviously kill a lot of people very, very quickly.Obviously, no one’s going to die in simulation world, but you do have lost passwords. You’ve got a breach of privacy.Again, look at what Tesla did. Elon Musk came out very transparently and said, “Hey! This is what happened. We’re trying to work and resolve it. We don’t know who it is yet. We’re trying to figure it out.” He kept the public informed. That’s the way you do PR – not this.

MATT: Like I was saying before, it is basically a madlib that you plug in your name, the company’s name, when it happened, and what you did wrong. It’s all the same, and they still couldn’t get it right.

NASIR: Actually, you guys are absolutely right.Just take Uber with all of its executives that are quitting or resigning over harassment. Or you have data breaches, or you have – what was it? Experian or was it Equifax, right? And how they have to deal with the PR.You’re right. Whatever the issue is, there’s a pretty consistent way to go about it, right? What was it? Papa John’s CEO just stepped down and admitted to using a racial slur on a conference call that he, at first, either did not admit or denied at the time and, now, months later is admitting to it and apologizing.These are mistakes that should not be repeated but, hey, you know? I’m just a lawyer, so what do I know about PR anyway?

MATT: Basically, he starts off by saying, “We’re upset that the moderator on Reddit decided to make this public rather than discussing it in private,” despite all of Flight Sim Labs’ mistakes and manipulation on Reddit. It goes through the person that writes it who’s their – I forget how he signs it, but it’s something to the effect of PR expert – basically talks about what defamation is, gets that incorrect, and then says, “To be entirely open, I do not take a wage from Flight Sim Labs probably because I am far too generous.” That’s a direct quote of what he says.He says, “I don’t need FSL,” and then, like I said, he goes through and tries to give examples of what defamation is and what it isn’t. That’s basically the whole thing. It’s just kind of throwing people off the set. I’m not sure exactly what it is. It’s a half-crafted thought at best – probably a quarter-crafted thought. I’m not really sure how to describe it. We’ll link it in the show notes, but it just doesn’t really make sense.I saw one Reddit user described it as “this is the Streisand Effect.” I don’t know if you two are familiar with what that is, but I thought that was a pretty apt description.


MATT: I’m not getting all—

NASIR: No, I missed that reference. What does that mean?

MATT: The Streisand Effect? Have you guys not heard of that?I’m not sure exactly. I probably should get the facts correct on this, but basically there was some issue with Barbara Streisand’s house of some aerial photographer who was taking photos of it, invading her privacy. I mean, usually something like that would be picked up very quickly. It just wasn’t in the news. And then, she filed some sort of lawsuit over it and then it became very, very much so in the news.It’s basically a way to describe a situation where there’s been a wrong and no one really knows about it and it could go away very easily. But, instead of doing that, you do something that publicizes it and then it becomes a much greater issue when it didn’t need to be.

NASIR: That’s so appropriate here.I do like some of the other comments just really quick.One is “how to tank your company in three, two, one…” I thought that was clever.Another saying, “Oh, thank you, mods! I need this information for my lawyer,” because, obviously, they’re being threatened with a legal action, et cetera.Anyway…

MARC:: Do we have any idea how many people are actually affected by this thing?

NASIR: Well, that’s a good question because I don’t think we know because how would we know unless they tell us? Because they say that only people that pirate – that actually steal the software, the tool is activated on one hand. But then, on the other hand, people are saying that, whether you buy it legitimately or not, this executable is within the software installer itself. It seems like anyone who bought it would be affected in the way that the malware is there whether or not it was activated or not. Frankly, how is someone supposed to know? The only company that really knows is the publisher.

MARC:: I think I’m missing something. Can you just connect the dots?What was the game plan here? It almost sounds like they’re admitting that, even if that were the case, this was done for the purpose of somehow harming or – I don’t know – maybe catching those who pirate the software. I mean, even if that were the case, what’s the endgame? I mean, if it’s just to harm them, well, that’s going to stop them from pirating software, was it to try to catch them somehow?

NASIR: What they’re saying is that being able to get access to their password – I’m filling in the dots, right? I don’t think they say this exactly but what they say is it’s for the purposes of gathering evidence. I think that the idea is that, “Hey, look, if we can look into their passwords, it also includes username. We can identify who the owner of the computer is.” By that, they can prove who is accessing the software.

MATT: I had the same thought process, but they wouldn’t be able to use that information, right?

NASIR: I think there might be some evidence inclusions for that. I think it would depend on the jurisdiction. I think it’s an eloquent argument or a nuanced argument there. Actually, Redditor comments actually make that same point. They think that they can use this evidence, anyway. But it might be illegal.

MATT: Yeah, that’s what my thought was. I didn’t know if they were trying to use it as leverage or what. I agree with Mark. I don’t know what exactly the endgame here was.

NASIR: I don’t think this is a big company. by the way, I don’t know if this is true. This is just my speculation and opinion, right? I don’t want to get sued myself but my opinion is that I think there’s a good chance that this is a small software development team. They don’t like their software being stolen which is a legitimate thing.One way that they’re going to prevent people from doing it is basically punishing them because why a password stealer? Because, if you have access to someone’s passwords, you know that you can do tremendous damage in many, many ways. Now, I’m not saying that they actually did that or actually had the intention to do that or follow through but, look, that’s a powerful tool that I don’t care if you’re a police officer or what, that’s a lot of power to give in an illegitimate way.

MATT: Yeah, I agree. It’s perplexing to say the least.

MARC:: You know, the other thing that’s bizarre here I just thought of, again, we’re talking about a super high-end flight simulator model. As an aside, I was just looking at the price, for example, of the other A320 model I mentioned earlier that I used with X-Plane, that also sells for around I think it was $89.00.It’s not exactly the kind of thing that I would imagine would be right for privacy. Let me put it this way. You don’t just sort of download this thing, run it on your computer, and think, “Yeah, I’m going to have some fun today.” It’s not a fun thing to do. It’s a very, very in-depth hardcore learning thing where you’ve got to read a ton of stuff on how to make this all work.Put it a different way, if you’re somebody who’s installing this thing, you one of two sorts of people, really. You’re either a pilot or a pilot in training. Or you’re some really weird person like me who just has a fascination of learning about it. Either way, you’re not someone who’s going to pirate this thing. It just doesn’t add up.I guess what I’m trying to say is the very notion that you’re trying to do a thing to kind of hurt somebody for stealing their stuff, I have a really hard time believing that most of their customers turn out to be the sort that will pirate it in the first place.

MATT: Yeah, I think that’s a good point.

NASIR: I hear you. I think that’s a good segment of the community and I bet you 99 percent but I don’t know. People steal, especially if it’s easy to do, especially if it’s software, especially if it’s anonymous, you know. I don’t know.

MATT: Especially pilots.

NASIR: Pilots are the worst! You know that! They have a reputation of stealing software.

MATT: Yeah, I’ve had my wallet stolen on 24 flights.

NASIR: I actually had a pilot steal my music out of my iPod – when iPods were popular – while I was on a plane. Horrible. Never fly that airline again. I’m not going to mention who. I’m just joking.

MARC:: I happen to have a love affair with pilots. I think they’re amazing human beings. But, like I said, I’m a fanatic about aviation and flight.

NASIR: Well, very good.Of course, Mark has a podcast and we have to plug it because it’s awesome – Autonomous Cars with

MARC: Hoag. Of course, you can find it through iTunes and just Google. It will come up the first result. Definitely listen to him if you enjoyed his commentary. If you don’t, listen to it anyway.Of course, continue to listen to us as well and subscribe to our channel and like it.Right, Matt?

MATT: As always, yeah.

NASIR: Okay.Thank you for joining us,

MARC:! That was a good, fun perspective!

MARC:: It’s been great!

NASIR: All right.Well, thanks for joining us, everybody!

MATT: Yeah, keep it sound, keep it smart!

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The Podcast Where Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub cover business in the news with their legal twist and answer business legal questions that you the listener can send it to info@legallysoundsmartbusiness.com.

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Legally Sound Smart Business

A business podcast with a legal twist

Legally Sound Smart Business is a podcast by Pasha Law PC covering different topics in business advice and news with a legal twist with attorneys Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub.
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Latest Episodes

November 21, 2023

In this episode, Nasir Pasha and Matt Staub explore the legal implications of Artificial Intelligence in the business world. They delve into the most talked-about issue of 2023: AI and its impact on the legal landscape. Although AI isn’t necessarily a new topic, it has many unanswered questions in the legal world. Nasir and Matt…

July 12, 2023

In this episode, Attorney Nasir Pasha and Attorney Matt Staub delve deep into the complexities of mass layoffs and offer valuable insights, real-life examples, and practical advice to employers grappling with the aftermath of such challenging situations. Nasir and Matt emphasize the critical importance of effective communication when executing mass layoffs. They stress the need…

January 9, 2023

As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, businesses scrambled to adapt to the new reality it presented. In this blog post, we dive into the case of Goldman Sachs, a financial services giant, to examine their response to the crisis and the lessons other businesses can learn from their return-to-office strategy. From prioritizing employee…

October 28, 2022

Full Podcast Transcript NASIR: Finally, my two favorite worlds have collided – both the law and the chess – right here at Memorial Park in Houston, Texas. Windy day. We have some background noise – ambient noise. What are the two worlds that collided? Well, Hans Neimann has sued Magnus Carlsen for defamation in one…

September 26, 2022

Through a five-round championship bout, Matt travels to Texas from California to determine which state is better for business. Will it be a knockout with a clear winner or will it go to the scorecards?

July 7, 2022

Whether you are buying or selling a business, the transaction goes through the same steps. However, they are viewed from different perspectives. Sellers may not want to fully disclose all the blind spots while Buyers will want otherwise. Nasir and Matt battle it out in this Buyer vs. Seller to determine who has the advantage!…

May 12, 2022

When it comes to Restrictive Covenants, employers are fighting to keep their company safe while employees may use them to their advantage. Keep listening to find out if the Employer or the Employee wins this battle. Round 1: Trade Secrets A company’s trade secrets encompass a whole range of information and are one of the…

February 14, 2022

The Supreme Court rejected the nation’s vaccine mandate. Businesses with 100 or more employees are NOT required to have their employees vaccinated or go through weekly testings. However, this policy remains in effect for health care facilities. In this episode of Legally Sound | Smart Business, the team sat down to discuss their thoughts on this ruling.

December 1, 2021

In this episode of Legally Sound | Smart Business by Pasha Law PC, Nasir and Matt cover the Business of Healthcare. There is more to the healthcare industry than just doctors and nurses. Many Americans have health insurance to cover their yearly needs, but most Americans are not aware of what really goes on behind…

October 12, 2021

In our latest episode, Nasir and Matt are covering the legal issues on Social Media. The average person spends most of their day on social media, whether they are scrolling for hours or publishing their own content. However, just because you publish your own content on Instagram does not equate to you owning that image….

September 28, 2021

What is a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and when do I need one? In this episode, Nasir and Matt shares why you need to use Non-Disclosure Agreements, basic facts about NDA’s, and discuss about the infamous Jenner-Woods story. Having the right Non-Disclosure Agreement in place not only protects you and your business, but it also makes the…

June 16, 2021

Covered in this episode of Legally Sound Smart Business are some typical business mistakes blunders small businesses often make and how to avoid them. Blunder #1: Copying and pasting agreements It may sound like a good idea at the time, but this blunder comes with hidden pitfalls. Having an attorney draft terms that are specific…

February 4, 2021

How you terminate an employee can make the difference between a graceful transition to avoidable negative outcomes like a dramatic exit or even a lawsuit. We gathered a panel of experts and asked them – is there a “right way” to fire an employee? We would like to thank our guests for this episode: Amr…

December 2, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned nearly every aspect of life on its head, and that certainly holds true for the business world. In this episode, Matt and Nasir explain how the early days of the pandemic felt like the Wild West and how the shifting legal playing field left a lot open to interpretation and…

November 16, 2020

After plenty of ups and downs, our buyer has finally closed on the purchase of their business. While we’re marking this down in the ‘wins’ column, it never hurts to review the game tape. In this final episode, our hosts, Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha, return to the deal almost a year later to reflect…

September 15, 2020

The ink is drying on the signature line and things are looking great for our buyer. After so much hard work, the finish line is in sight and the cheering within ear shot.   Though the landlord is still serving friction, things seem safe to move forward and for now, our buyer will be keeping…

July 31, 2020

Though things are coming along well, the journey would not be interesting if it was purely smooth sailing. After our buyer opens escrow, they are forced to push the closing date back when suddenly a letter from an attorney was received claiming the business, we are buying has a trade mark on the name!  Now…

June 12, 2020

With frustration at an all-time high and professionalism at an all-time low, our friend the Buyer has “had it” with the Seller and quite frankly their lack of knowledge. At present our Buyer is rightfully concerned that the latest misstep from our loose-lipped Seller will threaten not only the entire operation of the businesses but…

May 11, 2020

As we go deeper into the buying process, we start to uncover more challenges from our seller and encounter some of the wrenches they are tossing our way. When we last left off in episode three our team was knee deep in due diligence for our buyer, had already penned and signed the Letter of…

April 4, 2020

One word–interloper! When a new mysterious broker enters the transaction and starts to kick up dust, Nasir and Matt take the reins. The seller signed off on the letter of intent (see episode 2), yet this “business broker” serves only friction and challenges by refusing to send financials, whilst demanding more of a firm commitment…

April 4, 2020

Just as most stories and deals start out, everyone is optimistic, idealistic and full of hope for clear skies. It’s a perfect outlook with a perfect setup for the ups and downs yet to come. Peek further behind the curtain and into the first steps of buying a business: the letter of intent. After the…

April 4, 2020

When a savvy buyer hears opportunity knocking to purchase a prime positioned business, she decides not to go it alone and taps in the professionals to help navigate what could potentially be a fruitful acquisition. “Behind the Buy” is a truly rare and exclusive peak into the actual process, dangers, pitfalls and achievements, that can…

August 7, 2019

GrubHub is subject to two “matters of controversy” that have likely become common knowledge to business owners: “fake” orders and unfriendly microsites.

May 28, 2019

In this podcast episode, Matt and Nasir breakdown the legal issues of the subscription industry’s business on the internet. Resources A good 50-state survey for data breach notifications as of July 2018. California Auto-Renewal Law (July 2018) Privacy Policies Law by State Why Users of Ashley Madison May Not Sue for Data Breach [e210] Ultimate…

March 12, 2019

In recording this episode’s topic on the business buying process, Matt’s metaphor, in comparing the process to getting married probably went too far, but they do resemble one another. Listen to the episode for legal advice on buying a business.

December 3, 2018

Nasir and Matt return to discuss the different options available to companies looking to raise funds through general solicitation and crowdfunding. They discuss the rules associated with the various offerings under SEC regulations and state laws, as well as more informal arrangements. The two also discuss the intriguing story about a couple who raised over…

July 24, 2018

Flight Sim Labs, a software add-on creator for flight simulators, stepped into a PR disaster and possibly some substantial legal issues when it allegedly included a Trojan horse of sorts as malware to combat pirating of its $100 Airbus A320 software. The hidden test.exe file triggered anti-virus software for good reason as it was actually…

April 17, 2018

Attorneys Matt Staub and Nasir Pasha examine Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional hearings about the state of Facebook. The two also discuss Cambridge Analytica and the series of events that led to the congressional hearings, the former and current versions of Facebook’s Terms of Service, and how businesses should be handling data privacy. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR:…

March 10, 2018

The Trump presidency has led to a major increase in ICE immigration enforcement. It’s critical for business owners to both comply with and know their rights when it comes to an ICE audit or raid. Nasir, Matt, and Pasha Law attorney Karen McConville discuss how businesses can prepare for potential ICE action and how to…

February 5, 2018

New years always bring new laws. Effective January 1, 2018, California has made general contractors jointly liable for the unpaid wages, fringe benefits, and other benefit payments of a subcontractor. Nasir and Matt discuss who the new law applies to and how this affects all tiers in the general contractor-subcontractor relationship. Click here to learn…

January 2, 2018

With a seemingly endless amount of new mattress options becoming available, it is unsurprising that the market has become increasingly aggressive. As companies invest in more innovative solutions to get in front of customers, review sites, blogs and YouTube videos have moved to the forefront of how customers are deciding on their mattresses and how…

December 7, 2017

In recent months explosive amounts of high profile allegations of sexual harassment, assault, and varying acts of inappropriate behavior have transcended every sector of our professional world. With a deluge from Hollywood and politics, and the private workforce, accusations have inundated our feeds and mass media. This harassment watershed has not only been felt within…

November 16, 2017

If you are not familiar with the EB-5 program started in 1990 to give green cards to certain qualified investors in the United States, then you may not have been alone a few years ago. Currently, the EB-5 program has since exploded since its inception and now hits its quotas consistently each year. The program…

October 10, 2017

Government requests come in multiple forms. They can come in as requests for client information or even in the form of investigating your company or your employees. Requests for Client Information General Rule to Follow Without understanding the nuances of criminal and constitutional law and having to cite Supreme Court cases, any government requests for…

August 24, 2017

Nasir and Matt suit up to talk about everything pertaining to employee dress codes. They discuss the Federal laws that govern many rules for employers, as well as state specific nuances in California and other states. The two also emphasize the difficulty in identifyingreligious expression in dress and appearance, how gender-related dress codes have evolved…

June 28, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the life cycle of a negative online review. They talk about how businesses should properly respond, how to determine if the review is defamatory, the options available to seek removal of the review, how to identify anonymous reviewers, whether businesses can require clients to agree not to write negative reviews, and…

June 7, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Mattbreak down social media marketing withguests Tyler Sickmeyer and Kyle Weberof Fidelitas Development. They first discuss contests and promotionsand talk about where social media promotions can go wrong,when businesses are actually running an illegal lottery, and the importance of a soundterms and conditions. Next, they…

April 3, 2017

On this episode of the Ultimate Legal Breakdown, Nasir and Matt go in depth with the subscription box business. They discuss where subscription box companies have gone wrong(4:30), the importance of a specifically tailored terms and conditions(6:30), how to structure return policies (11:45), product liability concerns (14:45),the offensive and defensive side of intellectual property (19:00),…

February 1, 2017

Nasir and Matt discuss the suit against Apple that resultedfrom a car crashed caused by the use of FaceTime while driving. They also discuss howforeseeable use of apps can increase liability for companies. Full Podcast Transcript NASIR: Hi and welcome to Legally Sound Smart Business! I’m Nasir Pasha. MATT: And I’m Matt Staub. Two attorneys…

January 5, 2017

The guys kick in the new year by first discussing Cinnabon’s portrayal of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia soon after her death, as well as other gaffes involving Prince and David Bowie. They alsotalk about right of publicity claims companies could be held liable for based on using someone’s name or likeness for commercial gain.

December 22, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the recent incidentat a Victoria’s Secret store where the store manager kicked out all black women after one black woman was caught shoplifting. They then each present dueling steps businesses should take when employees are accused of harassment.

December 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt return to talk about the different types of clients that may have outstanding invoices and how businesses can convert unpaid bills to getting paid.

November 10, 2016

After a long break, Nasir and Matt are back to discuss a Milwaukee frozen custard stand that is now revising it’s English only policy for employees. The guys also discuss how similar policies could be grounds for discrimination and what employers can do to revise their policies.

October 6, 2016

The guys discuss the new California law that allows actors to request the removal of their date of birth and birthdays on their IMDB page and why they think the law won’t last. They also discuss how age discrimination claims arise for business owner.

September 29, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the racial discrimination claims surroundingAirbnb and how it’s handled the situation. They also discuss some practical tips for businesses experiencing similar issues.

September 8, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss whyAmazon seller accounts are getting suspended and banned without notice and how business owners can rectify this situation through a Corrective Action Plan.

August 25, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the accusations surroundingfashion giant Zararipping off the designs of independent artists like Tuesday Bassen and howsmaller companies can battle the industry giants.

August 18, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss Brave Software’s ad replacing technology that has caught the eye of almost every national newspaper and has a potential copyright infringement claim looming. They also welcome digital marketing expert Matt Michaelree to speak on the specifics of what Brave is attempting to do and whether it has the answers moving forward.

July 28, 2016

Nasir and Matt discuss the sexual harassment lawsuit filed by Gretchen Carlson against Fox CEO Roger Ailes. They also talk aboutthe importance of sexual harassment training and properly handling such allegations in the office.

July 15, 2016

Nasir and Matt talk about the changes at Starbucks that have led to many disgruntled employees and customers.

We represent businesses.
That’s all we do.

Oh, and we love it.

We love our work. We love reviewing that lease for your new location. We thrive on closing that acquisition that nearly fell through. We’re fulfilled when we structure a business to grow, raise capital, and be legally protected.

We focus on developing close relationships with our clients by being like business partners. A partner who provides essential, personalized, proactive legal support.

We do all of this without utilizing the traditional billable hour model. You pay for the value we bring, not the time spent on calls, emails, and meetings.

Our team is made up of attorneys and staff that share these values and we are retained by clients who want the same.

Pasha Law PC operates in the states of California, Illinois, New York, and Texas.

Meet Our Team

Fractional General Counsel Services

Pasha Law Select offers the expertise of a high-end general counsel legal team for every aspect of your business at a fixed monthly rate. Pasha Law Select is deliberately designed to allow our legal team to be proactive, to anticipate, and to be comprehensive in serving our clients. To be great lawyers, we need to know our clients. We can’t know our clients unless we represent a select number of clients in the long-term. This is Pasha Law Select.

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