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Week in Review

By Michael B. Smith

Formerly, the Artist Known as Prince

On Thursday, April 21, 2016, Prince Rogers Nelson, a/k/a Prince, a/k/a Jamie Starr, a/k/a Christopher Tracy, a/k/a Alexander Nevermind, a/k/a The Purple One, a/k/a Joey Coco, a/k/a "the Love Symbol", a/k/a The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, was found dead in Paisley Park, his home in Minnesota. Prince, unquestionably one of the most talented and influential musicians of his time, was no stranger to the world of law. In the early 1990s, while Prince was embroiled in a legal battle with his label, Warner Brothers, he appeared in public with the word "slave" written on his face and announced that he had changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol as the "first step toward the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros." He also was an ardent defender of his copyrights. The DMCA takedown notice of a home video in which Prince's song "Let's Go Crazy" played in the background led to the Ninth Circuit's 2015 decision in Lenz v. Universal Music Corp, which held that copyright holders must consider fair use before issuing a DMCA takedown notice. Prince was 57 years old when he died.


Library of Congress Nominee Gets Confirmation Hearing

On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Rules & Administration held confirmation hearings on President Obama's nomination of Carla Hayden, director of Baltimore's public library system, to head up the Library of Congress. Hayden told the Committee that she would expand access to the library, including increased accommodations for the blind and disabled; put documents online; and take Library of Congress exhibits "on the road." Hayden, whose father was a recording artist, said she would work hard to protect copyrights (the Copyright Office is overseen by the Library of Congress).


Supreme Court Rejects Authors Guild Challenge to Google Books Settlement

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in the Authors Guild's appeal from the Second Circuit's ruling that Google's online library of millions of scanned books constitutes fair use. Google Books allows users to search the contents of the books, and displays relevant excerpts. Google says users cannot access "any substantial portion of any book."



Twins Aim for Nothing but Net

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins announced they intend to comply with Major League Baseball's "Fan Safety Recommendations" by installing new protective netting in Target Field.


Prescribing Fiancée Linked To Pharmacist's Role in Doping Controversy

Charles Sly is the pharmacist at the center of Al Jazeera's report implicating Peyton Manning, Ryan Howard, and others in the use of performance-enhancing drugs. In the report, Sly admitted to providing performance-enhancing drugs to many athletes. After the report aired, he recanted his statements. An ongoing investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency has expanded to include Sly's fiancée, Karen Lopez-Bartlett, who committed suicide two months prior to the airing of the report. Lopez-Bartlett was a nurse practitioner who, unlike Sly, had the authority to write prescriptions. Sly told Al-Jazeera that Lopez-Bartlett had written prescriptions for him, and that he had access to her prescription pad.


Pro Cyclists Accused of "Mechanical Doping"

On Sunday, journalists in France and Italy published evidence obtained using thermal imaging implicating seven cyclists in the use of hidden motors on their bicycles. The International Cycling Union has been investigating "technological fraud" in the sport since January. The journalists allege that five riders were using tiny electric motors and two were using magnetic propulsion systems.


Third Circuit Upholds $1 Billion Concussion Settlement

In 2013, football players settled a lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) for head injuries. As part of the settlement the NFL admits no fault, but agrees to pay nearly $1 billion to the class of over 8,000 retired players. The settlement was challenged by approximately 150 players, who may yet seek en banc review. The Court acknowledged that the settlement was not perfect, but called it "fair."


National Hockey League Suspends Blackhawk for Anti-Gay Slur

During Game Four of the Stanley Cup playoffs, which the Chicago Blackhawks lost to the St. Louis Blues, forward Andrew Shaw shouted a homophobic slur from the penalty box and "direct[ed] an inappropriate gesture" at referees. In response, the National Hockey League suspended Shaw for one game and fined him $5,000. Shaw expressed remorse, and the team expressed disappointment.


ESPN Fires Curt Schilling Over Offensive Facebook Post

ESPN released a statement Wednesday announcing that it had fired Curt Schilling as an analyst for the network due to his "unacceptable" Facebook post objecting to the use of public women's rooms by transgender males. Schilling shared a grotesque photograph with an offensive caption, and then posted his own, sympathetic views. ESPN suspended Schilling last year for a tweet comparing Muslims to Nazis.


European Broadcasters Fined for Soccer Cartel

Italy's antitrust authority fined European broadcasters Mediaset Premium TV and Sky Italia for "carving up" the rights to broadcasting soccer matches to the exclusion of their competitors. Mediaset is owned by former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi; Sky Italia is controlled by Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox.


Producers Make Profit-Sharing Deal With Cast of "Hamilton"

Attorney Ronald H. Schechtman, who represents the original cast members of the top-grossing Broadway musical, "Hamilton" announced that the show's producers agreed to give those cast members a share of the show's profits. Details have not been disclosed, but some think it will lead to an increase in such arrangements.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, lyrics and music to the musical, also received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Drama.



La Scala Must Reinstate Outspoken Ballerina

In 2012, the La Scala Theatre Ballet School fired Mariafrancesca Garritano after she publicly accused La Scala of encouraging eating disorders among its dancers. Earlier this week, Italy's highest court affirmed a ruling against La Scala, and ordered it to reinstate Garritano.


Artists Want Works Returned In Ace Gallery Bankruptcy

Los Angeles art dealer Douglas Chrismas has lost control of Ace Gallery, which he founded in 1967. Chrismas was replaced by a chapter 11 trustee after he failed to make a $17.5 million payment in the gallery's bankruptcy proceedings. The gallery holds an estimated 2,750 works, which the trustee said he plans to sell. Several artists filed claims for the return of their art and, because California law protects works held on consignment that therefore cannot be used to satisfy creditors, the trustee must determine which works are on consignment. This task is complicated by the fact that Chrismas kept no computerized inventory.


Conflicting Claims (Even Within India) on the Koh-I-Noor Diamond

India has been asking for the return of the 105-carat Koh-I-Noor diamond since its independence in 1947. The gem has been in British possession since 1849, and currently encrusts the Queen Mother's crown. Britain says it obtained the stone legally as part of its annexation of Punjab. Earlier this year, the nonprofit All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front sued for the diamond's return, claiming that the British "illegally and forcefully" took the stone from India. During a hearing in India's Supreme Court on Monday, lawyers for India's culture ministry surprised everyone when they said the diamond was a "gift" to the British. On Tuesday, the culture ministry issued a statement clarifying that that was the government's "historical" stance, and that it would "make all possible efforts to bring back the Koh-I-Noor diamond in an amicable manner." Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan also have claimed ownership of the stone.


Granddaughter Questions Viacom Mogul's Mental Health

Keryn Redstone, granddaughter of Viacom's controlling shareholder, Sumner Redstone, has asked to join a lawsuit filed by Sumner Redstone's former girlfriend, Manuela Herzer. Herzer alleges that Sumner Redstone, 92, was not mentally competent when he removed her from his healthcare directive and replaced her with Shari Redstone--Sumner Redstone's daughter and Vice Chair of Viacom and CBS. Keryn Redstone filed an affidavit claiming that Shari Redstone opposed medical treatment for her grandfather and said "[l]et him die at home." Karyn Redstone also suggested that Shari Redstone had destroyed documents. Shari Redstone said Keryn Redstone's statements were false.


Merkel Greenlights Erdogan Suit Over Blue Poem

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has granted the request of Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan for the prosecution, in Germany, of Jan Böhmermann, the German comedian who gained international attention for his poem insulting Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan (or, more accurately, for Erdogan's reaction to that poem). Böhmermann would be prosecuted under section 103 of the German criminal code, which makes insults against representatives of foreign states punishable by up to three years in prison, and five years if the insult is found to be slanderous. Merkel's decision is itself controversial, and many have accused her of sacrificing freedom of the press for diplomatic expediency. Merkel has defended her decision, saying that "[i]n a constitutional democracy, weighing up personal rights against freedom of the press and freedom of expression is not a matter for governments, but for public prosecutors and courts." Merkel nevertheless said she considers the law under which Böhmermann would be prosecuted unnecessary, and that she would work to have it removed from the penal code.


U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Seeks Review of Offensive Trademark Ruling

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has filed a writ of certiorari asking the United States Supreme Court to review the Federal Circuit's en banc ruling that Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, which bars the registration of trademarks that "may disparage...persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute," is unconstitutional. In December, the Federal Circuit overturned the examiner, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, and the three-judge panel that initially heard the appeal, concluding that musician Simon Tam can register his band's name, "The Slants," as a trademark. The Fourth Circuit is scheduled to hear an appeal from the Eastern District of Virginia's ruling upholding the revocation of the Washington Redskins' trademarks.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 23, 2016 8:25 AM.

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