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Week in Review

Week of February 22, 2016
By Michael B. Smith

Rauschenberg Foundation Embraces Fair Use

The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation has instituted a new copyright policy that permits free reproduction of Rauschenberg's artwork for "noncommercial, scholarly, and/or transformative purposes." The Foundation acknowledges that its permission is not required where the reproduction is "fair use," but encourages publishers to obtain free authorized reproductions and citations from it to ensure accuracy.



Eight Circuit Affirms Dismissal of National Football League Right of Publicity Case

The Eighth Circuit found that the District of Minnesota properly granted summary judgment to the National Football League (NFL) in a putative class action lawsuit brought by former players claiming that the NFL's use of their names and likenesses in NFL-produced historical documentaries violated their rights under the right-of-publicity laws of various states. The district court found the claims were pre-empted by the Copyright Act; that the films were "expressive, non-commercial speech" protected by the First Amendment; and that the films would in any event fall under the newsworthiness or public interest safe harbors of the applicable laws. The Eighth Circuit also affirmed dismissal of the players' Lanham Act claims, finding that the the films were non-commercial, and that there was no likelihood of confusion.


University Agrees to Return Looted Painting

Last Tuesday, the University of Oklahoma announced that it would return a 130-year-old painting looted by Nazis. Léone Meyer, 76, whose father owned the painting ("La Bergère" by Camille Pissaro), agreed to allow the painting to continue to be publicly displayed, alternately in France and in Oklahoma.


Parliament Questions Efficacy, Independence of Tennis Anti-Corruption Efforts

Several of tennis' top administrators came before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the British House of Commons to answer questions about match fixing. Nigel Willerton, head of the Tennis Integrity Unit (TIU), told the Committee there had been 246 reports of suspicious betting on professional tennis matches in 2015, up from 91 in 2014, 46 in 2013, and 14 in 2012. Most of these alerts came from the low-level Futures circuit, whose oversight body recently signed a data-sharing agreement with a company that makes live sports data available to online gambling sites. Chris Kermode, chairman of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), acknowledged that the ATP's anti-corruption efforts are underfunded. Willerton said that he would be recommending greater independence of the TIU, which is funded by and reports to the ATP and tennis' other governing bodies.


FIFA Shortens Former Presidents' Bans Ahead of Reforms

After hearing from former FIFA president Sepp Blatter and former UEFA president Michel Platini last week, the appeals panel of FIFA's Ethics Committee decided on Thursday to shorten their eight-year suspensions to six years. Blatter and Platini were banned for violations of the FIFA Code of Ethics in connection with a $2 million payment Blatter made to Platini. On Friday, FIFA elected Gianni Infantino to succeed Blatter as president, and approved a package of reforms that aim to separate commercial and political decision-making, increase oversight of senior officials, and promote the involvement of women at higher levels of the organization.



Venezuelan Soccer Chief Agrees to be Extradited

Even as a failed appeal sends FIFA's former president back to his home in Switzerland, the former president of the Venezuelan Football Federation has withdrawn his appeal against extradition from Switzerland to the United States. Rafael Esquivel was arrested in Zurich last May in connection with accusations by U.S. authorities that he accepted millions of dollars in bribes.


White House Asks Tech, Entertainment Companies for Help with National Security

Representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Microsoft met with Justice Department officials last week to discuss how to deal with extremists online. This was the latest in a series of meetings at which the Obama administration has reached out to the private sector for help combating terrorism. Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry asked entertainment companies to help create "counternarratives" to those of terrorists on the Internet.


Violent Retaliation Against Football Player Who Helped Woman Report Rape

The complaint in a Title IX lawsuit against the University of Tennessee was amended to include allegations that Tennessee football players assaulted their teammate, Drae Bowles, after learning that he helped a woman report having been raped by two other players. The amended complaint alleges that when Bowles told the football coach about the assault, the coach told Bowles he had "betrayed the team." The eight plaintiffs allege that Tennessee's policies and practices made students more vulnerable to sexual assault and more likely to be harassed after reporting such assaults, and that the university's disciplinary process favors male athletes. The accused rapists were indicted in February 2015.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art Accepts Class Plaintiffs' "Suggestion"

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) settled a class action lawsuit filed against it in 2013, by agreeing to revise its signage to make clearer that the posted ticket prices are optional. The signs in question listed different amounts for adults, seniors, and students under the heading "Admissions." The word "Recommended" appeared below the word "Admissions" in a much smaller font. The Met has agreed to refer to the $25 price as "Suggested," rather than "Recommended," and to use the same font size as "Admissions."


Cosby Drops Defamation Suit

Bill Cosby voluntarily dismissed the defamation suit he had filed in December against supermodel Beverly Johnson, who accused Cosby of drugging her. The dismissal is without prejudice; Cosby's lawyers say he is temporarily withdrawing the lawsuit because he is busy defending against criminal charges in Pennsylvania.


Florida AG Settles with New Jersey Talent Company

Florida's Attorney General announced a $26 million settlement with InterFACE, a New Jersey-based talent company accused of unfair and deceptive business practices. The Attorney General alleged that InterFACE promised modeling and acting jobs in exchange for large up-front fees, but gave clients nothing more than photo shoots and introductions to industry professionals.


Richard Prince Moves to Dismiss Copyright Claims

"Appropriation artist" Richard Prince filed a motion to dismiss a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against him in the Southern District of New York by photographer Donald Graham. Prince contends that the allegedly infringing work (a printout of a photograph of a printout of an Instagram post of a cropped copy of Graham's photograph) is fair use. Prince relies on the Second Circuit's 2013 decision in Cariou v. Prince, which found that Prince's similar use of another photographer's works was transformative.


Parent Sues Over Smoking in Kids' Movies

Timothy Forsythe has filed a putative class action against the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and most of the major film studios, alleging that they have known since "at least 2003" that "exposure to tobacco imagery in films rated G, PG and PG-13...is one of the major causes of children becoming addicted to nicotine," and that the representation of smoking in such films is "negligent, false and misleading, and a breach of fiduciary duty." The MPAA has publicly defended its rating system and claims protection under the First Amendment.


Second Circuit Says Jay-Z Sound Engineer Waited Too Long to Sue

The Second Circuit affirmed the Southern District's dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Jay-Z and Roc Nation by a sound producer who claims co-authorship of sound recordings included on Jay-Z's 1999 album "Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter." The Court of Appeals agreed that the plaintiff's claims were time-barred because he had constructive notice of his injury based on copyright registrations filed by Jay-Z's record label, the albums' packaging, and the fact that no one had sent him royalty checks in the 25 years since the album's release.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 29, 2016 9:53 AM.

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