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Week in Review

By Zak Kurtz

NY Judge Issues Ruling in Patriots Deflategate Case, but National Football League Immediately Appeals and Continues the Drama

It's in. Judge Richard Berman of the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York issued his verdict in the nine month long Deflategae saga that has been lurking over the amazing season the National Football League (NFL) and the Patriots had in 2014. The ruling effectively obliterates New England Patriots Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady's four-game suspension that had been issued by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and clears Brady to play in the NFL season opener on September 10th.

The judge's 40-page ruling stated that Commissioner Goodell went too far outside the bounds of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) by issuing such a punishment to Brady. Judge Berman condemned Goodell for "dispensing his own brand of industrial justice." The judge said that a player's right to notice was "at the heart" of the CBA "and, for that matter, of our criminal and civil justice systems.'' Specifically, the court found "... that Brady had no notice that he could receive a four-game suspension for general awareness of ball deflation by others."

The ruling is a clear win for Brady and the National Football League Players Association, and blackens the eye of Goodell and the NFL. However, the ruling will not end this dispute, as the NFL decided to appeal the decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan only hours after Berman's decision on Thursday. More importantly, NFL attorney Daniel Nash's motion did not seek an emergency stay. Therefore, Tom Brady would be able to play immediately as the appeals court considers the case, which could take several months as Deflategate continues.

Source: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/deflategate-judge-rules-toss-tom-brady-4-game-ban-article-1.2347193

Sony Altered Concussion Movie to prevent NFL protest

With the decision regarding Tom Brady, Roger Goodell, and Deflategate looming over the NFL's head this week, the last thing the NFL needed was more negative media attention. Yet on Tuesday, Sony Pictures Entertainment decided to release the trailer for a movie named "Concussion," focusing on the death and dementia professional football players have endured from repeated hits to the head, and the NFL's early efforts toward a cover-up.

The trailer showed several scenes depicting lead actor Will Smith portraying Dr. Omalu, who angrily demanded "the truth" from people who appeared to be from the NFL. Dr. Omalu began his work on repeated head trauma in 2002, which has gradually been added to by other scientists to get where we are today. Dr. Omalu's persistence, along with the recent string of concussion related litigations, has made the issue a large area of focus for the game. The NFL has even donated millions of dollars to study the effects and treatment for concussions.

Additionally, the same day as the movie trailer's release, hackers unearthed dozens of emails among Sony studio executives, directors, and representatives of Will Smith, where they discussed altering the script and marketing the film more as a whistle-blower story, rather than a condemnation of football or the NFL. Furthermore, hackers located a July 30, 2014, email from a top Sony lawyer that is said to have taken "most of the bite" out of the film "for legal reasons with the NFL and that it was not a balance issue." Other September 2014 emails discussed an abandoned effort to reach out to the NFL. The NFL and Sony have refused to comment on the movie or its marketing strategy.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/02/sports/football/makers-of-sonys-concussion-film-tried-to-avoid-angering-nfl-emails-show.html

College Conferences Try to Prohibit Athletes Who Have Violent Pasts

In response to the recent conviction of former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu, and the many scandals among college sports regarding sexual assaults and athletes with violent backgrounds, some prominent conferences have finally initiated measures to keep players with troubling or violent pasts off the fields.

Earlier this week, Big 12 athletic directors unanimously voted to adopt a bar on incoming transfers who had been disciplined for "serious misconduct" at their previous universities. The Big 12 becomes the second major conference to move to adopt such a transfer ban. In May, the Southeastern Conference become the first to adopt a similar rule. Overall, this reflects a rising awareness of the issue of sexual violence by athletes on campus. With similar sexual and domestic violence events occurring in professional leagues, it is likely that other colleges and leagues will be proactive and adopt similar rules and bans regarding serious prior misconduct by athletes.

Source: http://www.currenthr.com/college-conferences-try-to-block-athletes-who-have-violent-pasts/

SoundCloud Sued for Copyright Infringement by British Music Agency

Internet music streaming service king SoundCloud recently was sued in Britain by British agency PRS, the latter of whom represents more than 100,000 songwriters and producers. The lawsuit alleges that SoundCloud is guilty of copyright infringement and claims that the streaming service did not obtain licenses or pay royalties for the use of songs on its website.

SoundCloud has previously clashed with others in the music industry and been sued for copyright infringement. The streaming service has been embraced by musicians and fans for its ability to upload and share music easily and rapidly, but has run into problems with record labels and agencies about rights issues. Warner Music and Merlin have signed licensing deals with SoundCloud, but the two largest labels, Sony and Universal, have not.

PRS said that it had been in discussion with SoundCloud for more than five years about the service, but that the latter claimed to be protected by the "Safe Harbor" provisions that applied to Internet Service Providers who host third party content.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/business/media/soundcloud-sued-for-copyright-infringement-by-prs-for-music.html

Stipends, Scholarships, and Fines for College Football Players? Fines? Wait... Fines?

As the college football season officially kicked off yesterday, the NCAA's new approach to stipends and scholarship did as well. This year marks the first that so-called college "student-athletes" can be paid stipends worth as much as several thousand dollars per year. However, after recent comments by several top NCAA coaches, the rules regarding paying these "student-athletes" is unclear.

In January, representatives from 65 colleges in major conferences assembled and created a new governing structure that allowed them the independence to give stipends and make other changes. At this meeting it was decided that universities would be allowed to offer athletes extra funds as part of their financial aid agreements to make up the difference between the value of their scholarships and the full cost of attendance.

Although this was great news to current and future college athletes, the give and take of these funds has already caused confusion. Longstanding Virginia Tech defensive coordinator Bud Foster and Cincinnati Coach Tommy Tuberville have recently suggested that they would fine players and take away portions of cost-of-attendance stipends for behavioral reasons.

The two prominent coaches were instantly met with criticism and told that doing so would almost certainly violate NCAA rules. Specifically, a long-standing NCAA rule states that an athlete's financial aid may not be reduced or canceled for any "athletics reason," including "ability, performance, or contribution to a team's success." Therefore, now that cost of attendance is part of the financial aid package for students (on the 65 college teams that have chosen to adopt it, including Virginia Tech and Cincinnati) withholding any part of it would appear to violate the NCAA rule.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/28/sports/ncaafootball/fines-for-college-football-players-not-so-fast.html

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 4, 2015 9:45 AM.

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