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Week in Review

By Martha Nimmer

Goodell Under Fire

National Football League (NFL, league) Commissioner Roger Goodell has come under increased pressure in the last two weeks for his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal. Goodell first found himself at the center of the controversy after he decided to suspend the Baltimore Ravens player for just two games after it was revealed that Rice had hit his then-fiance, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City casino in February. Goodell later upped Rice's punishment to a lifetime suspension from the NFL after the commissioner reportedly viewed a surveillance video, released last week by TMZ, that showed Rice hitting Janay Palmer.

Now, Goodell finds himself on the defense again: last week, the Associated Press (AP) reported that law enforcement officials had sent the surveillance video to NFL officials back in April. This revelation has taken on a line of questioning harkening back to the days of the Watergate break-in during the Nixon Administration, with many observers asking "what did Roger Goodell know, and when did he know it?" The AP report stated that "a source played a voicemail from April 9 that came from a phone number at the NFL offices, in which a female voice says the tape was received, expresses thanks and says: 'You're right. It's terrible.'" According to the AP, the source could not verify if anyone at the NFL offices had viewed the video.

This disclosure by the AP has raised many more questions than it has answered, with football fans demanding to know who at the NFL received and watched the video, and whether it was shown to Commissioner Goodell. The NFL responded to the AP story by continuing to insist that no one at the league had seen the video before its release by TMZ last Monday: "[w]e have no knowledge of this. We are not aware of anyone who possessed or saw the video before it was made public on Monday. We will look into it." Unsatisfied with the league's response and Goodell's lack of transparency, some observers have called on the commissioner to step down.

To complicate matters further, Ray Rice announced yesterday that he intends to appeal his indefinite suspension. He will be represented by the NFL Players Association and his attorney. Commissioner Goodell will preside over the appeal, but Rice "could ask that a third-party hearing officer be designated to the case due to potential bias," writes SB Nation.




Search engine powerhouse Google announced earlier this month that it had reached a settlement with a group of photographers and visual artists over the unauthorized use of their intellectual property in Google Books. The photographers and artists filed suit against the company in April 2010 for copyright infringement.

Although the exact terms of the settlement are confidential, Google's statement makes clear that the agreement "includes funding for the PLUS Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping rightsholders communicate clearly and efficiently about rights in their works." Additionally, the agreement does not include any admission of liability by Google. Finally, because "the settlement is between the parties to the litigation, the court is not required to approve" the agreement's terms.


Read the Google press release here: http://googlepress.blogspot.ca/2014/09/google-photographers-settle-litigation.html

Dungeons & Dragons and Lawsuits, Oh, My

The quest to make a documentary film about the fantasy role-playing game "Dungeons & Dragons" has ended with a lawsuit. Anthony Savini, the director of Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary , has sued his former partners for launching another documentary on the same topic.

Like so many great dramas, this one begins in New York City. While working together on the acclaimed crime show Law & Order, Savini and Andrew Pascal, one of the producers of the "upstart" Dungeons & Dragons documentary, The Great Kingdom, began playing the game. According to the New York Times, "a Dungeons & Dragons game involves user-created characters who interact in combat, diplomacy and other adventures, in encounters that can last several hours or even days." During one of these gaming sessions, Savini claims that he and two friends came up with the idea of making a documentary about the game. Pascal, however, disputes Savini's recollection, claiming instead in an affidavit submitted in State Supreme Court in Brooklyn that he (Pascal) had learned in late 2010 about the game's history, and posed the idea for a documentary to his friend James Sprattley, a cameraman based in Los Angeles. The two men, Pascal claims, later approached Savini a few months later and asked him to direct the film.

As the men worked together to raise funds through Kickstarter for the documentary, "tensions simmered." According to Pascal's affidavit, Savini accused Pascal and Sprattley in June 2012 of "trying to steal his [Savini's] movie after we, as part of our job, merely offered suggestions for a possible narrative for the film." Unfortunately for the three partners, even a welcomed capital injection from Kickstarter could not salvage the relationship: "The Dungeons & Dragons faithful had pledged more than $195,000 in exchange for rewards like an autographed copy of 'Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire' for $65 or more, and associate-producer credits for $1,000 or more. But by April 2013, Mr. Savini was asking for mediation, which failed."

Eventually, attorneys for the two embattled sides reached an agreement that gave Savini creative control of the film, while allowing Pascal and Sprattley to retain half of the ownership rights. Earlier this year, however, Savini and his new partner, Cecily Tyler, discovered that his former partners were making their own film, called The Great Kingdom, which also happened to be about Dungeons & Dragons. Pascal and Sprattley also began reaching out to the same people who were interviewed for the original documentary. Pascal even began a new Kickstarter campaign, referring to "creative differences" with Savini and promising a "new direction" for the new documentary.

Last month, however, Savini received some good news, when Justice Carolyn E. Demarest granted his request for an injunction and ordered The Great Kingdom creators to cease work indefinitely on their project, "ruling that, as former partners in the original film, they had a fiduciary responsibility not to damage it." The Great Kingdom filmmakers filed an appeal last month, and the two sides have started settlement negotiations.


NFL Releases New Concussion Data

Playing professional football is a dangerous business, a fact made even more apparent by concussion data released last week by the NFL. Specifically, information released on Friday "suggests that nearly 30% of former NFL players will end up developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia across their lifetime, placing them at a significantly higher risk than the general population."

This startling research was compiled as part of the former NFL players' ongoing concussion lawsuit against the league. According to the report by the Analysis Research and Planning Corporation, an actuarial firm commissioned by the players, "about 14% of all former players will be diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease; and another 14% will develop moderate dementia." In response to these disturbing figures, lead counsel for the retired players said, "[t]his report paints a startling picture of how prevalent neurocognitive diseases are among retired NFL players, and underscores why class members should immediately register for this settlement's benefits." As part of its concussion lawsuit settlement, the NFL had originally allocated $675 million for an estimated pool of 21,000 eligible former players. After presiding Judge Anita Brody expressed concern that the funds set aside would be insufficient, the NFL "relaxed the cap on that fund this summer, saying it would pay an unlimited amount to settle player claims," according to Forbes. Under the terms of the NFL's settlement, players are eligible to receive compensation based on a "sliding scale linked to how many years they played in the NFL," and how old they were at time of diagnosis.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 16, 2014 8:34 AM.

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