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Week In Review

By Zak Kurtz

Russia Suspended From World Track

In an unparalleled move last Friday, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) suspended Russia from track and field in the wake of doping allegations against the country's athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and officials. The IAAF, the world's global governing body, voted 22-1 via teleconference to provisionally suspend Russia. The ban will prohibit all Russian athletes from competing in sanctioned international track and field events. The ruling also stripped Russia of the right to host next year's World Race Walking Championships in Cheboksary and the World Junior Championship in Kazan.


The Walt Disney Company Is Focus of Special Chinese Counterfeit Crackdown

Last Thursday, a Chinese government agency vowed to enforce the law against counterfeit Disney trademarks. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce made a statement that pledged to commence a special one-year crackdown on infringement of Disney's registered trademarks.

The Chinese government has sporadically waged periodic campaigns against counterfeit goods, and the Walt Disney Company was the beneficiary of this year's new nationwide "special action" campaign. The government's decision to specifically focus on Disney-related products is an eye opener. Previously, the special crackdowns focused on broad industries or products, such as online sales of counterfeit goods.


Former Cornerback's Suit Challenges N.C.A.A. Transfer Rules

Devin Pugh, a former cornerback at Weber State, challenged the N.C.A.A. by filing a lawsuit claiming that the N.C.A.A.'s transfer rules and scholarship limits violate U.S. antitrust laws. According to current N.C.A.A rules, Division I basketball and football players must sit out a season of competition if they transfer universities, unless the N.C.A.A. gives them special waivers. Pugh's lawsuit, filed in federal court in Indianapolis last Thursday, essentially asks the N.C.A.A. to allow athletes to freely transfer between colleges. It also seeks to eliminate the limit on football scholarships (which is currently set at 85).

Pugh's complaint compared the rules mentioned above for Division 1 student athletes that transfer from and to universities with coaches that do the same; the latter of which are not forced by the N.C.A.A. to sit out a year without a waiver. Pugh's lawyer, Steve Berman, has several other similar cases pending against the N.C.A.A. Most notably, one case seeks to change the N.C.A.A.'s concussion protocols.


New York Attorney General Declares That DraftKings and FanDuel Conduct Illegal Gambling

Last week, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a major blow to the top two daily fantasy sports companies. He ordered DraftKings and FanDuel to stop accepting bets from New York residents, and claimed that the sites constituted illegal gambling under New York state law.

In Schneiderman's own words: "It is clear that DraftKings and FanDuel are the leaders of a massive, multibillion-dollar scheme intended to evade the law and fleece sports fans across the country. Today we have sent a clear message: not in New York, and not on my watch."

After issues concerning transparency, regulation and potential "insider trading" among the multi-billion dollar industry first emerged several weeks ago, Attorney General Schneiderman began investigating the top two companies. This (and the slew of advertisements a day) caused many states to focus on daily fantasy sports. Now, after a short investigation, Schneiderman's decision to issue cease-and-desist orders to the two companies provides another big blow to the budding young industry. Nevada recently declared that DraftKings and FanDuel must apply for licenses to do business in the state of Nevada, or be hit with unlicensed gambling charges.

According to legal experts, the decision by New York is guaranteed to spread to other states, as many legislators are questioning how and whether the legal gambling industry should operate and be regulated. In a statement, FanDuel said: "Fantasy sports is a game of skill and legal under New York state law. This is a politician telling hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers they are not allowed to play a game they love and share with friends, family, co-workers and players across the country." In response to the cease-and-desist letter, DraftKings said: "We strongly disagree with the reasoning in his opinion and will examine and vigorously pursue all legal options available."

If the companies decide to challenge the Attorney General's order in court, the state would have to prove that chance is a material factor in fantasy sports, thus making it gambling under New York state law.


To Resolve Lawsuit, United States Soccer Will Limit Headers For Youths

Last Monday, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) introduced a number of safety initiatives into youth soccer, many of which focused on head injuries. The new guidelines will also bring to end a proposed class-action lawsuit against the USSF and others filed in 2014.

The new regulations will prohibit soccer players age 10 and younger from heading the ball. It also will reduce the amount of headers in practice for players age 11 to 13. The regulations are mandatory for U.S. Soccer youth national teams, academies, and Major League Soccer youth club teams; however, the rules are only guidelines for other soccer associations that are not under U.S. Soccer jurisdiction.

The legal case that caused the development of these new safety regulations started in August 2014. A group of parents and players filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California against USSF, American Youth Soccer Organization, and Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), alleging negligence by the organizations in treating and monitoring head injuries. The lawsuit claimed no financial damages, and only requested a change in the rules. A decision by a judge this summer dismissed the case against FIFA for lack of standing, but stated that the plaintiff could amend the complaint and file against the USSF. This announcement by the USSF last Monday satisfied the plaintiff's demands, and the plaintiff's counsel, Steve Berman, stated there will be no appear of the earlier dismissal.


Jose Reyes Arrest May Test Major League Baseball's New Domestic Violence Policy

Colorado Rockies' shortstop Jose Reyes was arrested in Hawaii last week on charges of abusing a family or household member (his wife), according to the Maui County Police Department. This case presents Major League Baseball (MLB) with the opportunity to apply its brand new domestic violence policy against Reyes, and sets the precedent for MLB and other sports to follow.

Last Tuesday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that the league was conducting an internal investigation into the case. During the annual postseason meeting of baseball general managers, Manfred stated that: "This will be the first test, and I think it will withstand the test."

After the Ray Rice incident in the National Football League last year, the focus on domestic violence was palpable throughout all professional sports. That forced MLB, and the MLB players union, to negotiate and enact a new domestic violence policy for the league in August 2015. That policy gave the commissioner power to hand down discipline and suspensions and also allowed for counseling and psychological evaluations.

Other leagues acknowledge the existence and problem with domestic violence, however they still lack a clear and concise domestic violence policy, or any policy at all. Last season, the National Hockey League (NHL) suspended former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov for much of the season after he was involved in an alleged assault on his wife. The NHL did not have a domestic violence policy in place at the time of Voynov's suspension.

Discipline over domestic violence incidents involving MLB players has been lacking, as teams have been unclear on how to treat these situations. In 2006, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Brett Myers was accused of assaulting his wife outside of a Boston bar. In that situation, MLB and the Phillies did nothing initially, and stated to the public that they were waiting for the legal case to first be resolved. Once the charges with dropped, at the request of Myer's wife, he was back on the mound pitching again shortly after. That was nine years ago, before the MLB had a domestic violence policy in place. Now that a policy is in place, it will be up to Manfred to set the tone, starting with Jose Reyes.


Ann Frank Gains Co-Author In Strategic Copyright Move

The Swiss foundation that holds the copyright to The Diary of Ann Frank recently alerted publishers of the book that Ann Frank's father, Otto Frank, is not just the editor of the book, but also the co-author. This reportedly contradicts Otto Frank's statement when he first published the book, declaring that the book mostly contained words written solely by Ann Frank, while she was hiding from the Nazis in a secret annex in Amsterdam.

The new revelation has very important practical implications, and essentially extends the copyright for the foundation for an additional 35 years. Copyrights in Europe end 70 years after the author's death. Ann Frank died 70 years ago in January at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, making her copyright expire this January. This new information allows the copyright to be extended until 2050, because Otto Frank died in 1980. The copyright in the United States will end in 2047, 95 years after the first publication of the book in 1952.

This new proclamation has an caused uproar for many. Agnès Tricoire, a lawyer in Paris who specializes in intellectual property rights in France, where critics have been the most raucous and are organizing a challenge, makes the obvious point that, "If you follow their arguments, it means that they have lied for years about the fact that it was only written by Anne Frank." Some opponents have declared that they would defy the foundation and publish portions of her text.

Another adversary of the decision is the Anne Frank House museum in Amsterdam. This museum is a separate entity that has been fighting the Swiss foundation for years now over intellectual property and ownership issues. Specifically, for the last five year,s the museum has been working with historians and researchers on a web version of the diary intended for publication once the copyright expires.


T-Mobile Video Plan Could Test Government's New Net Neutrality Rules

Last Tuesday, T-Mobile USA introduced a new video plan, allowing unlimited streaming from more than two dozen video producers, including Hulu and Netflix. This decision by T-Mobile might become the test case for the federal government's new rules to prevent favoritism on the Internet.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed the new "Net neutrality" rules earlier this year after much debate. The new rules are meant to prevent one content provider for getting preferential treatment over another. The rules are expected to face fierce opposition in the courts, but the T-Mobile plan may offer the first real look at how the FCC plans to enforce them.

The new FCC rules leave open the possibility for wireless carriers to offer services that do not count against their data limits, a practice known as "zero rating." The F.C.C. has said that this was done intentionally to encourage Internet service providers to experiment with new business models. T-Mobile's new plan does not qualify as "zero rating." Many believe that T-mobile's unlimited plan would set a dangerous precedent and distort the market. If that is the case, the FCC will certainly take a look at it and make an important decision.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 17, 2015 9:59 AM.

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