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Month in Review

By Zak Kurtz

Europe Plans to Ease Copyright Rules On Digital Content

Last Wednesday, European policy makers announced new plans to overhaul the European Union's copyright rules, including new rules that will reshape which online video and music services are available. The new rules would allow Europeans to temporarily view movies and videos they have bought on a digital service, no matter where they are in the 28-member bloc. Copyright restrictions currently limit access to the European country in which the content is bought. The announcements are part of Europe's efforts to create a so-called "digital single-market." The goal is to offer Europeans "unfettered access to online services across the region -- a single set of rules for all digital players here -- so that the European Union can better fulfill its promise of a unified market of more than 500 million people." Critics say that the new rules for online distribution could favor larger companies, Like Netflix and Google, and hurt smaller regional players.

The new rules on digital content are expected to go into effect in 2017. However, the European Parliament and the 28 member states still must still approve them.


Rodeo Stars' Plan for Tour Are Opposed By Sports Governing Body

The winner of the National Finals Rodeo was decided in Las Vegas this past Saturday; however, the biggest news in the sport will be decided in a Texas courthouse in 2016. Last Wednesday, the Elite Rodeo Athletes (E.R.A.) announced a 2016 regular season schedule. This decision to start their own rodeo tour by some of the sports biggest stars is now at the heart of an important legal battle.

Over 80 of the sport's top athletes have already committed to the new E.R.A tour schedule, and each will be given an ownership share in the enterprise. More importantly, the E.R.A also announced that a television contract from Fox Sports was already in place.

While the new tour sounds great for the rodeo cowboys, they lack the support of the Pro Rodeo Cowboys Association (P.R.C.A.), the governing body of the sport. This past fall, the P.R.C.A. reacted to E.R.A.'s plans by changing its bylaws for 2016. The 2016 laws now state that anyone with a financial interest in a competing rodeo association cannot buy an annual P.R.C.A. membership card, which is required to compete in any of the P.R.C.A.'s 624 sanctioned rodeos in North America. That includes the season-ending National Finals Rodeo, which has a $10 million purse.

To combat this decision, the E.R.A. filed a class-action antitrust lawsuit against the P.R.C.A. last month in United States District Court in Dallas. A hearing is scheduled for December 29th.


'Happy Birthday to You' Case Settled

According to Law 360 BREAKING NEWS, Warner/Chappell Music settled the highly anticipated class action 'Happy Birthday to You' copyright case to avoid further litigation about how much it must repay the thousands who licensed the right to use the song.

United States Women Dig In and Force Soccer to Give Ground

In the midst of a 10-city victory tour, the United States Women's National Soccer Team stood up for the sport, and told U.S. Soccer officials that its players would not set foot on the artificial turf field that was to be the playing surface for the game against Trinidad and Tobago. When hit with this news, U.S. Soccer was forced to cancel the match. It must now address this issue before the remainer of the tour gets cancelled.

According to reporters, the women claimed that the field "was not good enough." The team posted on pictures of the field on Instagram, including a photo of an injured player who hurt herself on the turf, and made other comments indicating that they were fed up with such playing conditions.

Most glaringly, the team noted that the men's national team does not play on artificial turf. Even when it schedules a game in a stadium that has turf, sod is laid down, regardless of the cost. The women, however, were set to play eight of the 10 games of their current World Cup victory tour on artificial turf. That might now change, as it appears that the players have won this battle.

In response to the team's announcement, U.S. Soccer stated: "In the future, we will hear them out and discuss what we can do before it ever gets to that point."

Danh Vo and Bert Kreuk Settle Legal Battle Over Artwork

Bert Kreuk, a wealthy Dutch art collector, and Danh Vo, a Danish and Vietnamese installation artist, recently settled a bitter legal dispute over a commissioned artwork piece created by Danh Vo for an exhibition. The feud had lingered for months over claims of broken promises and name-calling, because the two had never signed a formal contract for an installation by Mr. Vo.

This case received international attention last summer, after a Rotterdam judge ordered Vo to complete the work within one year or face daily fines. The two men ended the bitter dispute after six hours of negotiations at an appeals court in Hague. The settlement agreement stated that Mr. Vo did not have to create a large work commissioned in 2013 for $350,000 by Mr. Kreuk.


Pistorius Found Guilty of Murder by Appeals Court

On Thursday, December 3rd, Oscar Pistorius was convicted of murder by a South African appeals court. The Supreme Court of Appeal overturned a lower court's conviction on the less serious charge of manslaughter. The decision adds another layer to the terrible tragedy that followed a celebrity athlete's plunge from greatness.

According to Justice Lorimer Eric Leach of the appeals court: "The accused ought to have been found guilty of murder on the basis that he had fired the fatal shots with criminal intent." The murder conviction means that Pistorius will head back to jail, where he spent one year of a five year prison sentence before being put under house arrest at his uncle's mansion in Pretoria this past October.

In South Africa, the minimum sentence for murder is 15 years. However, exceptional circumstances in this case, including time already served, Pistorius' disability, and his status as a first-time offender, could mean that he will get a lesser sentence. The sentencing decision will be left up to the North Gauteng High Court, where Pistorius was tried. The South African media reported that Judge Thokozile Masipa, who presided over the original trial, would handle the matter.


New York Judge Rebuffs Daily Fantasy Sports Sites Initial Requests

Last month, the New York Attorney General attempted to shut down the daily fantasy sports businesses in New York State of DraftKings and FanDuel. He initiated this legal battle by sending cease-and-desist letters to the two sites, claiming that they were offering illegal gambling under New York law. In response, DraftKings and FanDuel argued that they offered games of skill, not of chance, as defined by New York's gambling laws.

In separate complaints filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, FanDuel and DraftKings first asked a judge for an injunction, arguing that the Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had wrongly characterized their businesses as illegal gambling operations. The judge, however, rejected the requests of the daily fantasy sports website operators for an immediate restraining order to stop Attorney General Schneiderman until they could present their case, as each company claimed that it faced irreparable damage.

After this initial decision, DraftKings said that it was "confident in our legal position" and that it intended to keep operating in New York. DraftKings said that it had 375,000 New Yorkers among its 2.5 million players, and that Mr. Schneiderman had told the company's vendors in letters that it was at risk of not doing business in New York anymore.

FanDuel claimed that it had hundreds of thousands of users in New York -- among more than one million over all -- and that it had been unable to process New Yorkers' deposits since Friday. The company said that Schneiderman's office had already contacted the bank and payment processors handling FanDuel's customer deposits and withdrawals, deterring the customers from continuing to do so.


Daily Fantasy Sports Site Appears to Close Digital Loophole

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that users in all six of the states in which daily fantasy sports are considered illegal were able to place bets and avoid a loophole on the DraftKings site. Since then, DraftKings appears to have closed the easily accessible loophole.

The technique, using a proxy server, is one of the simplest and most widely available services to let a computer appear to be somewhere other than its true location when its user logs on to a website. However, since early December, DraftKings appeared to close that loophole, and will now decline users logging on in those states. Draftkings released a statement that "proxies are now being blocked." FanDuel and other sites are blocking users for similar reasons as well.


Museum of Modern Art To Return Work to Heirs of Jewish Collector

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has decided to end a 10-year skirmish and return an Ernst Ludwig Kirchner landscape to the heirs of its original Jewish owner. The decade long quest included archive detectives, location mix-ups, vintage postcards and a coveted art collection torn apart by war. The MoMA made an official statement, announcing that the German expressionist painter's 1917-18 canvas "Sand Hills (By GrĂ¼nau)" rightly belongs to the heirs of a Berlin writer, Max Fischer, who had to leave his art behind when he fled Germany for the U.S. in late 1935.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 14, 2015 6:50 PM.

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