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Week in Review

By Zak Kurtz

Former Executive Director of the Authors Guild Paul Aiken Passes Away At 56

Paul Aiken, who died on January 29th at his home in Manhattan from complications of Lou Gehrig's disease, will be remembered as a strategic champion of authors' rights. Paul was the Executive Director of the Authors Guild at the dawn of the digital era.

Author Scott Turow, one of seven Guild presidents under whom Mr. Aiken served, said Mr. Aiken "believed passionately, like the Framers, that copyright was the key to maintaining the class of independent authors who are essential in a democracy, and he fought with fervor and imagination to bolster writers' livelihoods and to defend them from the many who scheme to reduce the value of the written word."


-Editor's Note: I was fortunate to have had Paul as my boss years ago, and know that this kind, inspirational man will be missed. -Elissa

All Parties In Lawsuit Over Fake Rothko Painting Settle This Week

A lawsuit in Manhattan Federal District Court against Knoedler & Co., a once celebrated New York art gallery accused of selling a fake Rothko painting to a pair of collectors for $8.3 million, ended in a settlement on Wednesday. On Sunday, only several days' prior, the gallery's co-defendant and former president, Ann Freedman, also reached a settlement with the plaintiffs.

The Knoedler & Co. settlement terms were not revealed, however the agreement resolved all claims by the collectors, Domenico and Eleanore De Sole, who had requested $25 million in damages, claiming that the defunct gallery and its former president, Ann Freedman, had participated in a "racketeering scheme" to sell forged works. The De Soles' case was the first of 10 similar lawsuits to go to trial. All stemmed from the sale by Knoedler & Co. of more than 30 fake artworks that were said to be by "Abstract Expressionist masters, like Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock."

Apparently, Knoedler & Co. ignored the most eminent experts for 15 years, buried unhelpful research, made up stories about the provenance of the works, earned profit margins that virtually announced the fraud, hid the truth, and lied to collectors. The paintings were actually created in a garage in Queens by a Chinese artist, Pei-Shen Qian. Mr. Qian has been charged criminally, but has fled to China. A Long Island dealer, Glafira Rosales, who provided the works to Knoedler & Co., has also pleaded guilty to criminal charges but has not yet been sentenced. The defendants have long maintained that they were duped by the forgeries, which were also embraced by some art experts as genuine.


National Football League Addresses Gender Gap In Hiring

Last Thursday at the National Football League's (NFL) first ever Women's Summit, Commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement that the NFL would start requiring that at least one woman will be interviewed for any executive position openings in its office. The announcement is an expansion of the NFL's Rooney Rule, named after the Pittsburgh Steelers chairman, Dan Rooney. The Rooney Rule necessitates each of the 32 NFL teams to interview at least one minority candidate for any head coach or general manager opening. The new provision addressed by Goodell last week only covers only openings at the NFL's headquarters and jobs on the executive level.

The NFL already has several women in key positions, including Dawn Hudson, its chief marketing officer; Cynthia Hogan, a chief lobbyist; Anna Isaacson, its vice president for social responsibility; and Lisa Friela, a former prosecutor who runs investigations into player misconduct. Overall, 30% of the 330 employees at NFL headquarters are women, while 30 out of the 120 executive positions, or 25%, are held by women.


A Mishandled Concussion Leads To New Protocols

After reviewing the botched concussion situation of former St. Louis Rams (Now the Los Angeles Rams) Quarterback Case Keenum, the NFL stated that it may change its concussion protocol for the upcoming season. For various reasons, Keenum was not removed from a game after being knocked out and obviously suffering a concussion. The NFL further mentioned that team doctors and its medical personnel would meet to discuss whether to alter the rules on concussions.

More specifically, Keenum was knocked to the ground late in a game against the Baltimore Ravens in November and could not get up. He attempted to stand, but wobbled and fell back down before eventually being helped to his feet by a teammate. The Rams trainer, Reggie Scott, ran onto the field to look at Keenum, who then went to the ground. Scott was told by an official to leave the field or his team would be charged with a timeout, so he returned to the sideline. Two plays later, Keenum was sacked, and he fumbled. After the game, Keenum was found to have sustained a concussion, and he did not play in the next two games.

According to the NFL, the number of documented concussions increased by 31.6%, from 271 in 2015 compared to 206 in 2014. The NFL believes that this is partly because the number of players who were screened for concussions doubled, as more players are now self-reporting.


Revaluing Family Treasures For the Taxman

Wealthy families around the world are using an increasingly popular tax strategy when dealing with art, vintage cars and other collectibles passed down to family heirs. These items are often subject estate or gift taxes, and therefore the values of these assets can often be subjective. Some families are using special appraisers and selective data to value their family heirlooms and lower their tax bills.

This situation was highlighted last Friday in Paris, when a red Ferrari sold for 32 million euros, or about $35.8 million dollars, making it, by some measures, the most expensive car ever sold at auction. The celebrated racing car captured not only the attention of wealthy car collectors around the world, but also attracted the interest of the French tax authorities. Members of the family initially valued its stable of over a dozen Ferraris at around 70 million euros, or $78 million. However, experts say the collection could be worth over $200 million, bringing the new trend to the forefront of tax law news.


Facebook Loses Battle In India On Free Web Use

Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook want to connect the entire world. Zuckerberg's plan staled out this past Monday, when Indian regulators banned free mobile data programs that favor some Internet services over others.

After months of intense public debate over how to extend the Internet to India's poorest citizens, Facebook decided that its Free Basics program was the way to go. However, the new regulations will effectively block Facebook's controversial Free Basics program throughout the country.

The media views this as a miscalculation by Facebook in introducing the program to India. While Facebook expected to be welcomed with open arms, its message to the country focused on itself rather than the broad coalition of telecommunications firms supporting the effort, experts said. That, in turn, fostered a climate of distrust about Facebook's future intentions in the country and led to the questions from regulators.

In a post to his personal Facebook page on Monday, Zuckerberg stated, "Connecting India is an important goal we won't give up on, because more than a billion people in India don't have access to the Internet."


Two Kenyan Athletes Accuse Federation of Taking Bribes

According to two banned Kenyan track athletes, the chief executive of Athletics Kenya asked each of them for payments to reduce their suspensions. Joy Sakari and Francisca Koki Manunga, told The Associated Press that CEO Isaac Mwangi asked for the payment in an Oct. 16 meeting, but that they could not raise the money. The two claimed that he asked them each for a $24,000 in bribe money to reduce their suspensions. They were then informed of their four-year bans in a Nov. 27 email.

The two claim that they never filed a criminal complaint because, they say, they had no proof to back up their bribery accusation and also feared repercussions. Mwangi dismissed the allegation as a "just a joke," and denied ever meeting privately with the athletes.


Surprisingly, National Hockey League Enforcer Did Not Have CTE

In September, longtime National Hockey League (NHL) enforcer Todd Ewan died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Similar to many NFL players, Ewan faced severe depression and mental problems in his later years, reportedly from repeated head trauma. As such, his brain was sent to researchers thereafter to see if he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head.

On Wednesday, researchers in Toronto announced that Ewen did not have CTE. This surprised many. Dr. Lili-Naz Hazratie, the neuropathologist who conducted the autopsy, stated that, "these results indicate that in some athletes, multiple concussions do not lead to the development of CTE."


Details of Settlement for 'Happy Birthday' Lawsuit Revealed

Highly anticipated details of the settlement regarding the 'Happy Birthday' lawsuit have now been released. The terms state that music publisher Warner/Chappell will pay $14 million to those who have licensed the song in the U.S. An additional $4.6 million will be paid to cover legal costs. On top of the payouts mentioned above, by accepting that the song is now in the public domain, Warner/Chappell is probably giving up another $14 million or more in future royalties, as the song would have been owned by it until 2030, had this settlement not been reached. The settlement must still be approved by the judge; however, the work is now officially part of the public domain. In Europe, the song will go into the domain on January 1, 2017.


Players' Personal Details Included In United States Women's Soccer Lawsuit

The United States Women's Soccer team decided to sue the union representing them on Wednesday. In doing so, the women opened themselves up to unwanted discovery areas. The players noticed that detailed personal information was included in U.S. Soccer's filings, and were astonishingly outraged. The personal information about which the players complained included home addresses and the personal email accounts of some of the team's most prominent players. The players claim that they are public figures, and that they have legitimate privacy concerns regarding hacking and stalkers.

The lawsuit initiated by U.S. Soccer claims that the team's collective bargaining agreement with the federation, which expired at the end of 2012, should remain in effect because of a memorandum of understanding that U.S. Soccer signed with the players' representatives in March 2013. The union's leadership contends that it does not and that it can repudiate the agreement with 60 days' notice.

In another wrinkle, last Monday, lawyers representing the team told the judge that they opposed an expedited schedule to resolve the lawsuit between them and the players' association. In response to the complaint, the union agreed that the key question in the lawsuit was whether the women's team has a valid collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer. The union also maintained that U.S. Soccer had filed "misleadingly incomplete" documentation to support its lawsuit.



United States Gets Two More Cuban Baseball Defectors

Cuba has lost another two great baseball players to the United States. Lourdes Gourriel Jr. and his brother, Yulieski, are the latest Cuban stars to leave Cuba without permission to play professional baseball in the major leagues. The brothers are from a famous Cuban baseball family. Originally, Lourdes spoke of his dream to one day play in the major leagues, but said he would wait for his government's permission. Last Monday the brothers apparently changed their minds and left a Cuban team hotel in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, after competing in the Caribbean Series.

Lourdes is an athletic infielder and outfielder and considered to be one of the best prospects in Cuba. Yulieski is a third baseman and is widely regarded as the top player on the island.


Louisville Men's Basketball Team Will Skip Postseason

The University of Louisville is voluntarily withholding its men's basketball team from this season's Atlantic Coast Conference and N.C.A.A. tournaments, while the N.C.A.A. investigates a scandal where a former basketball employee is accused of having purchased strippers and prostitutes for recruits and their fathers from 2010 to 2014.

At a news conference, university President James R. Ramsey announced the decision, which he said he made in consultation with Athletic Director Tom Jurich. Louisville is ranked in the top 10 in the N.C.A.A. Division 1 men's rankings. The team is clearly looking out for the future of the university and the program, at the expense of the seniors and athletes this year.

Louisville Head Coach Pitino reiterated previous statements that he had been unaware of the alleged violations. The N.C.A.A. started investigating the claims after accusations from a book published late last year stated that a woman said that Andre McGee, Louisville's former director of basketball operations, hired her to provide strippers and prostitutes at 22 parties at the University's residential hall for basketball players.

This result is similar to Syracuse's decision last year, when it withheld its men's basketball team from the postseason a month before the N.C.A.A. Committee on Infractions found violations related to players' academics.


Judge Rules that Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Can Keep Elite Rodeo Association Members Out

Judge Barbara Lynn of United States District Court in Dallas ruled that the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) can prohibit members of a breakaway group from competing in PRCA events, but refused to dismiss the Elite Rodeo Athletes (ERA) antitrust lawsuit.

The lawsuit brought by the ERA sought a court order to temporarily and permanently stop the PRCA from enforcing its new bylaws that (in part) prohibited PRCA members from competing in ERA and other events. The case was heard in a Dallas courtroom on December 29, 2015.

The Judge stated that: "Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing that they will suffer irreparable harm absent a preliminary injunction, nor that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims." Due to the Judge's ruling, the PRCA bylaws at issue will be immediately enforced and will certainly change rodeo events the rest of the year. With many of the ERA's top cowboys competing in the Fort Worth Stock Show rodeo, it will be interesting to see the instant impact of this ruling.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 12, 2016 9:09 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Darlene Love v. Google Are Publicity Rights Needed in Addition to Master & Synchronization Licenses?.

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