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Week in Review

By Michael B. Smith

Florida State University Settles with Jameis Winston Rape Accuser

On Monday, Florida State University (FSU) announced that it agreed to settle with Erica Kinsman for $950,000, and will implement sexual assault awareness programs for at least five years. Kinsman is an alumna who accused the university of violating Title IX by failing to adequately investigate her claim that former Seminole quarterback Jameis Winston (now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) raped her. The university did not admit liability.

The settlement does not put an end to the ongoing investigation by the Department of Education's (DOE) Office for Civil Rights, but does stipulate that Kinsman will not accept any monetary relief the DOE may order FSU to pay. Kinsman is suing Winston for assault, false imprisonment, and emotional distress; Winston is suing Kinsman for defamation.


Heirs Fight Swiss Museum Over Looted Painting

Alain Monteagle, heir to the substantial art collection of the Jaffe family, from which more than 200 works were taken during World War II, is trying to recover a painting by John Constable called "Dedham for Langham" from the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Switzerland. The Art Recovery Group (ARG), which is assisting Mr. Monteagle and his family, says that the work was bequeathed to Monteagle's family but auctioned at a forced sale in 1943.

The museum concedes that the painting was "auctioned without entitlement," but refuses to return the work because it was gifted by purchasers in good faith. Although Swiss law does not require the Musée des Beaux-Arts to return the painting, the ARG has called upon the museum to do so "to set a great example to others."


Disney Accused of Visa Violations

Two former Disney employees have filed lawsuits in the Middle District of Florida, alleging that Disney colluded to use temporary H-1B visas to replace American workers with immigrants previously separated by dividing mountains and wide oceans.

The Spring issue of the EASL Journal will have a more in depth analysis of this issue.


Gallery Tells Jury Forgeries Were Too Good

Luke Nikas of Boies Schiller told jurors in his opening statement on Tuesday that a fake Rothko (one of dozens of forgeries sold by the gallery) was so well done that his client, New York art gallery Knoedler & Company, could not have been expected to know the work was fake. The gallery is accused of racketeering and fraud by couple who paid $8.3 million for the faux Rothko, one of dozens of forgeries sold by Knoedler & Company. The forgeries apparently were all painted by one man in Queens, and have been authenticated by various experts over the years. The trial, which is expected to last a month, is pending in the Southern District of New York.

On the second day of the trial, MoMA's chief curator emeritus testified that he had alerted Knoedler & Company years ago to the "dubious" provenance of a different work and was surprised when the gallery sold the painting anyway.



Museum Officials Face Discipline for Damaging King Tut's Mask

Eight officials at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo are accused of gross negligence in connection with the botched repair of the 3,300-year-old gold mask of King Tutankhamen. Workers at the museum accidentally knocked the beard off the mask while repairing a light fixture, and then caused further damage trying to glue it back on.

Experts have since restored the mask by replacing the epoxy with beeswax, the adhesive used by ancient Egyptians. The mask still bears scratches from attempts to remove glue stains with a sharp object.



Former Giants Safety Posthumously Found to Have CTE

Tyler Sash, who was cut from the Giants after receiving at least five concussions, died from an accidental overdose of pain mediations at the age of 27. Last week, experts in Boston diagnosed Sash with a surprisingly advanced stage of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated trauma. Of 91 former NFL players who donated their brains for research after death, 87 tested positive for CTE. CTE, which can only be diagnosed posthumously, can cause depression, aggression, and loss of memory and motor skills. Researchers believe repeated minor head trauma, and not just major concussions, can cause CTE.

Both the NFL and NCAA recently settled lawsuits over CTE. In September 2015, the same month Sash died, the NFL reached a $1 billion settlement with thousands of former players suffering from neurological disorders. Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge John Z. Lee granted initial approval of a settlement between the NCAA and players over the NCAA's handling of head injuries. The NCAA settlement, which does not include a cash award to the plaintiffs, calls for the creation of a $70 million fund for neurological screenings of former athletes, and mandates new requirements for athletes who sustain head injuries.




Attorney General Finds Ticket Sales Unfairly Gouge General Public. No One Surprised.

On Thursday, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the findings of a multi-year investigation into consumer abuses in the live entertainment ticket industry. The investigation found that, on average, over half of all tickets were withheld from the general public and reserved for industry insiders (16%) or non-public groups such as holders of particular credit cards (38%). The investigation also found that sellers like Ticketmaster regularly tacked on fees of over 20% and, in some cases, more than the price of the ticket. Third-party brokers were found to be using illegal specialty software called "ticket bots" to quickly purchase as many tickets as possible and sell them at margins of 49 to over 1,000%.


FCC Proposes Set-Top Box Choice

On Wednesday, the FCC announced a proposal that would allow cable and satellite subscribers to pick the devices they use to watch programming. The proposed rule would give TV-connected device manufacturers like Amazon, Google, and Apple access to cable and satellite programming. Currently, 99% of subscribers lease one or more set-top boxes from cable/satellite providers, generating an estimated $20 billion in annual revenue. The new arrangement would surely disrupt existing content licensing and distribution agreements.


Group Charged to Prevent Corruption in Tennis to be Reviewed

In the wake of stories alleging that tennis authorities had suppressed evidence of match-fixing and failed to investigate allegations of corruption, the Tennis Integrity Board will be conducting an investigation into the effectiveness of the Tennis Integrity Unit, including whether it has adequate funding.


Prominent Chinese Artist Closes Exhibit to Protest Asset Seizures

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei closed an exhibition at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen in response to the Danish Parliament's approval of a proposal that would authorize police to seize refugees' assets to cover the costs of food and housing.


Give me an J! Give me an E! Give me a T! Give me an S! Give me a Fair Wage!

52 cheerleaders will each receive $2,500 per season and $400 per photo shoot in a settlement with the New York Jets of a lawsuit claiming inadequate compensation. The $325,000 class action settlement is only the latest in a series of wage claims cheerleaders have brought against NFL teams.

The Summer issue of the EASL Journal will have a more in depth analysis of this issue.


States Take Varying Approaches To Fantasy Sports Websites

On Wednesday, the California State Assembly approved a bill that would permit pay-to-play fantasy sports websites such as DraftKings and FanDuel to operate in California. AB1437 is now before the California Senate. If approved, it would create a licensing regime that would permit daily fantasy sports websites to operate under regulation by the state. Website operators would undergo background checks and pay annual registration fees. They also would be required to report player winnings to state taxation authorities.

In addition, two bills that would legalize daily fantasy sports games made it through committees in the Florida House and Senate, and the Attorney General of Hawaii issued a formal opinion that daily fantasy sport games are illegal gambling under Hawaii state law.




Disney Again Faces Worry, Strife, in "The Jungle Book" Reversal

On Wednesday, a California appellate court reversed the dismissal of a lawsuit against Disney by Eliza Gilkyson, who wrote the song "The Bare Necessities," which Disney used in the animated "The Jungle Book" movie. Gilkyson transfered ownership and authorship of the copyright in that and several other songs to Disney in exchange for royalties for shares of sheet music and the mechanical reproduction rights. The contracts expressly excluded royalties for use in "moving pictures, photoplays, books, merchandising, television, radio and endeavors of the same or similar nature." Gilkyson alleges that Disney nevertheless owes royalties in connection with DVDs and VHS tapes containing "The Bare Necessities". Disney contends that "mechanical reproduction rights" does not include audiovisual media under the agreements.

Disney asserted the 4-year breach of contract statute of limitations. Gilkyson argued that the statute was tolled by the "continuing violation doctrine," or in the alternative, that she was entitled to royalties due within the four years preceding the filing of the lawsuit under the "continuous accrual doctrine." The trial court granted Disney's demurrer, but the appellate court reversed, finding that Disney's obligation to pay royalties was "unquestionably a continuing one," and noted that Disney continued to issue quarterly royalty statements. The appellate court declined to follow the Central District of California's decision in Mappa Music (2001 U.S.Dist. LEXIS 24554), finding that a single breach of contract claim accrued the first time the licensee failed to play royalties, over 40 years prior to plaintiff filing suit.


Theater Chain Accuses Largest Competitor of Antitrust Violations

On Tuesday, Landmark Theaters (owned by Mark Cuban) filed a Sherman Act lawsuit against Regal Entertainment, which controls 91% of film theater seats in Northwest Washington DC. Landmark alleges that Regal has used its monopoly power in DC and its substantial theater ownership across the country, to prevent Landmark from getting first-run films.


Ninth Circuit Revives Capitol Records Royalties Row

Dale Bozzio, former frontwoman of '80s band "Missing Persons," claims that Capitol Records and EMI breached their recording contract by improperly treating download and streaming sales as record sales rather than licensing revenue. The District Court dismissed the lawsuit, finding that Bozzio lacked capacity to sue, since the agreement in question was with the band's loan-out company, Missing Persons Inc., which is a suspended corporation. The Ninth Circuit reversed, noting that "[n]o California case has decided whether a party's status as a former shareholder or officer of a suspended corporation negates that party's ability to bring suit as a third-party beneficiary of a contract entered into by the corporation." The court also found no support in the record for the District Court's finding that Bozzio had control over the loan-out and the ability to revive it.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 29, 2016 12:03 PM.

The previous post in this blog was New York's Increasing Expansion of Member and Shareholder Liability for Unpaid Wages.

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