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Week in Review

By Michael Smith

Hayden Sworn In

Last Wednesday, Carla D. Hayden was sworn in as the 14th Librarian of Congress, who also oversees the U.S. Copyright Office, which is part of the Library. She is the first woman and the first African-American to hold the position.


Music Industry Continues to Grapple with Streaming

In the latest conflict spawned by the music industry's efforts to reconcile decades-long practices and decades-old laws with the relatively new digital streaming model of music distribution, a group of songwriters sued the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging a recent ruling in which the Department of Justice required music rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI to offer "100 percent licensing" of their songs -- in other words, they cannot license songs for which they do not have 100% of the rights. This is often not the case, because many songs are co-written by authors who belong to different organizations. The plaintiffs allege that the ruling violates their property rights by nullifying contracts among co-writers of songs.


"Napalm Girl" Sparks Discussion About Facebook Content Rules

When a Facebook user posted an iconic 1972 photograph of Vietnamese children running from a napalm attack, Facebook took the photo down because one of the children in the photo was naked. The resulting outcry was substantial and widespread and, although Facebook initially defended its decision, it recently backed down. The incident has renewed debate over whether Facebook is a media outlet.


Nike-University of Michigan Deal Raises Privacy Concerns over Wearable Tech

The University of Michigan entered into a $170 million apparel contract with Nike that includes a provision allowing Nike to harvest anonymous data from players' wearable technology (heart-rate monitors, fitness trackers, etc.). Privacy experts have expressed serious concerns about the level of control and protection afforded to the athletes, especially in light of the rapidly-expanding scope of data that can be collected by wearable tech, and the likelihood that the data could be hacked.


Russian Hackers Release Athletes' Medical Records

A group of Russian hackers has been leaking information from the World Anti-Doping Agency's athlete database. The group, which calls itself "Fancy Bear," and which has been linked to the recent hacking of the Democratic National Committee's servers, claims to be exposing American hypocrisy about doping in sports. The documents Fancy Bear leaked show that U.S. athletes, including Serena and Venus Williams and Simone Biles, tested positive for banned drugs. All three women had been granted exemptions to take those drugs to treat existing conditions.


Univision Removes Gawker Sites Post-Acquisition

On Friday, executives at Univision Communications--which has acquired news websites from bankrupt Gawker Media -- voted to remove six posts on those websites about people who are currently suing Gawker. They did so over the strenuous protest of Executive Editor John Cook, who called the decision "an affront to an idea that we have been committed to for 13 years, which is that we should be able to say true things about public figures."


Shmurda Rap/Hip Hop Artist Pleads Guilty

Boby Shmurda, a/k/a Ackquille Pollard, accepted a 7-year prison sentence when he plead guilty to conspiracy and weapons possession charges last week. Pollard was accused of being a leader of a violent, drug-dealing gang responsible for one murder and several shootings. Two of Pollard's co-defendants took the same deal. Two other co-defendants were convicted earlier this year--one received 98.5 years, the other 53.5.


Making a Murderer Subject Asks for Prison Release Pending Appeal

Brendan Dassey, whose story is documented in the Netflix series Making a Murderer, was convicted of murder in 2005. The show has raised many questions about the legitimacy of his conviction, and earlier this year, a federal judge found that Dassey's confession had been coerced and overturned the conviction. The prosecution appealed from that decision, and Dassey was ordered to remain in prison pending that appeal. Last Wednesday, Dassey's lawyers moved to have Dassey released on bond during the appeal.


Gymnastics Team Molestation Allegations Continue to Mount

Last month, while the U.S. Gymnastics team was competing in Rio, the team organization was accused of repeatedly turning a blind eye to allegations of sexual abuse by coaches. Since then, several women have come forward to accuse the team's former physician, Larry Nassar, of sexually molesting them. On Friday it was reported that several additional women have alleged that Nassar abused them.


Baldwin Accuses Artist, Gallery Owner of Bait-and-Switch

Alec Baldwin thought he was buying "Sea and Mirror," a 1996 painting by Ross Bleckner, when he paid $190,000 to art gallery owner Mary Boone. In fact, he says, what he got was a very similar painting that Mr. Bleckner made for Ms. Boone to sell to Mr. Baldwin after Ms. Boone failed to procure the original painting from its current owner. Boone says Baldwin knew he was not getting the original painting.


California State Official Resigns Over Canceled Show About Race

Michele Roberge, director of the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University, Long Beach, has resigned in protest over the University's decision to cancel a campus performance of a controversial play, "N*W*C" (nigger*wetback*chink), which deals with issues of race in America.


Twitter Launches Free Sports Streaming App

This week, after having obtained the appropriate licenses, Twitter launched a free app that will stream live sports events on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One. #sportsball!


Leaders Move to Make Streaming Content Consistent Across the EU

Streaming content typically is licensed on a country-by-country basis. As a result, French Netflix does not have the same shows and movies as Polish Netflix, for example. The EU has proposed changes to copyright laws that would make streaming content more readily and consistently available to citizens in all member states.


National Football League to Spend $100 Million on Head Injury Safety

On Wednesday the National Football League (NFL) announced a $100 million initiative focused on preventing, diagnosing, and treating head injuries through technological advancement sand medical research. Although many have praised the initiative, the NFL remains subject to strong criticism from safety advocates.


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