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Week in Review

By Michael Smith

AT&T/Time Warner Merger Likely to Face Federal Communications Commission Review

The planned merger between AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Inc. (not Time Warner Cable) already is expected to face tough scrutiny from the Justice Department. Some lawmakers are now pushing for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) review as well. Time Warner owns dozens of FCC licenses, which cannot be transferred without the FCC's permission.


New FCC Rules Require Opt-In for ISPs to Share Personal Data

The FCC adopted new regulations requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain affirmative consent from consumers before sharing consumers' personal information (e.g., browser history) with third parties. By contrast, the Federal Trade Commission regulations that apply to non-ISPs like Facebook and Google do not require "opt-in" by the consumer, except in the case of sensitive data like health or financial information. ISPs and other internet companies (including Google) oppose the regulations.


Judge Greenlights $10 Billion Civil Rights Action Against Charter Communications

A federal judge in California ruled that a class action against Charter Communications seeking $10 billion for alleged violations of ยง1981 of the Civil Rights act can move beyond the pleading stage. The complaint alleged that Charter discriminated against African American-owned media networks in granting cable licenses, and that Charter's executives made racist comments. The court found that the plaintiffs sufficiently alleged "continued stonewalling and provision of excuses [for refusing to carry African American-owned networks] that do not match up with Defendant's practices with non-African American-owned media companies."


Redstone Sues Ex-Girlfriends for Elder Abuse

Former Viacom chairman and courthouse aficionado Sumner Redstone sued two former girlfriends, alleging that they conspired to take his money by, among other things, persuading him to sell hundreds of millions of dollars in stock options and shares in CBS and Viacom in order to give them each a $45 million gift. Redstone alleged that he was forced to borrow $100 million to cover associated tax obligations because the women had "cleaned out [his] bank accounts."


Daily Fantasy Sports Websites Settle with New York State

FanDuel and DraftKings, the two leading fantasy sports companies,agreed to pay $6 million each to settle lawsuits brought by New York State, which claimed that the companies engaged in misleading promotional activities that misrepresented the likelihood of winning and the "addictive nature" of their games. They also agreed to include statistics about rates of user success and resources for gambling addiction in their marketing and promotional materials.


Russian Sports Minister Resigns in Wake of Olympic Doping Scandal

Yuri D. Nagornykh, Russia's deputy sports minister, was accused of coordinating a state-sponsored doping program that led to the suspension of nearly a third of Russia's Olympians at the Rio games. In July, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released a report finding that Nagornykh "held the chief responsibility of the execution" of the scheme at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. An investigation by the Russian prosecutor general's office is ongoing. Meanwhile, Russia's sports minister -- whose ignorance of the doping scheme is "inconceivable," according to the WADA report -- has been promoted to deputy prime minister for sports, tourism, and youth affairs.


Anti-Doping Agencies Demand Reform

Representatives of national anti-doping organizations from across the globe issued a joint statement listing reforms to WADA policies that they believe are necessary to restore confidence and fairness to sport, including a recommendation that antidoping decision makers not hold policy-making decisions.


The Rebirth of a Condemnation

Nate Parker, the writer/director/star of the movie "The Birth of a Nation," was charged with rape in 1999, when he was a wrestler at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State). Parker ultimately was acquitted, but Penn State's handling of allegations about Parker is under scrutiny. Tim Curley, a former university official being prosecuted for failing to report Jerry Sandusky's sexual abuse of children, was one of the officials who dealt with a trainer's complaint that Parker exposed himself to her. Prosecutors reportedly are considering whether these cases indicate a broader pattern.


Jury Finds That Penn State Defamed Assistant Coach

A Pennsylvania jury found that Penn State defamed former assistant coach Mike McQueary through statements made when it fired McQueary during the investigation into Jerry Sandusky's conduct. In 2001, McQueary reported what he believed to be sexual abuse by Sandusky. McQueary alleged that Penn State "threw [him] under the bus," and that he was unable to find a job because of the way the school portrayed him. The jury agreed, awarding him $7.3 million.


Court Order Could Keep Gophers Off Field

A woman who accused University of Minnesota football players of sexually assaulting her obtained a temporary restraining order against five players requiring them to stay away from her home and place of work. The woman works at the university's football stadium. The district attorney's office declined to prosecute, claiming insufficient evidence, but four of the players served three-game suspensions. The order, which prevented the five from playing in a game against Rutgers last Saturday, will remain in place until a hearing next Thursday, two days before the next home game.


$10 Million Painting Declared a Forgery

A celebrated painting thought to be the work of seventeenth century Dutch painter Frans Hals when it surfaced several years ago was declared a "modern forgery." Five years after brokering the private sale of the painting for $10 million, Sotheby's auction house returned the buyer's money in light of a recent technical analysis showing traces of twentieth century materials in the painting. It is unknown who the forger might be, but other pieces "discovered" by the same collector who surfaced the "Hals" painting are being sent in for testing.


Gallery Owner Accuses Alec Baldwin of Tax Evasion

Mary Boone, the art gallery owner Alec Baldwin sued for allegedly selling him the wrong painting, filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit. The motion argues that Baldwin's claims are time-barred, and accuses Mr. Baldwin of fraudulently avoiding $16,625 in sales tax on the painting. Boone alleges that Baldwin had the painting shipped to his home in Los Angeles, and then back to his apartment in New York, to avoid paying New York State sales tax.


Playboy Wins Energy Drink Trademark Battle

A Chicago jury awarded Playboy Enterprises, Inc. $7 million in damages caused by defendants Play Beverages, CirTran Beverage, and CirTran Corporation for their continued sale of PLAYBOY-branded energy drink products after their license to do so had expired.


Warner Bros. Sues over Leaked Screeners

Warner Bros. sued Innovative Artists Talent and Literary Agency (Innovative Artists), accusing the talent agency of allowing "screeners" -- pre-release DVDs of movies, often provided to awards voters or reviewers -- of Warner Bros. films to be pirated. The complaint alleges that Innovative Artists would upload digital copies of the DVDs and make them available on a shared Google Drive account from which people inside and outside the agency downloaded copies.


Costner Sues Filmmaker for Trading on his Name

Actor Kevin Costner sued Kylin Pictures for breach of contract and fraud, alleging that the film company agreed to pay him and his production company millions of dollars and a share in the profits to be involved in the production of a film called "Shanghai Sojourners". Costner alleged that, after using his name to attract investors, Kylin dropped him from the production and refused to pay him.


Parted Puppet Partners in Spat over Parody

The writer and producers of "Thank You for Being a Friend," a puppet parody of the '80s sitcom "The Golden Girls," are suing Jonathan Rockefeller -- the co-writer of "Thank You for Being a Friend," alleging that he misappropriated the rights to the show to put on "That Golden Girls Show! A Puppet Parody," a nearly identical show now playing off Broadway. Rockefeller contends that the plaintiffs agreed that Rockefeller could mount another, competing show.


There is Good News About the Election

A nation can now rest easy. Superstar recording artist Justin Timberlake will not be prosecuted for posting a photo of himself inside a Tennessee polling station on Instagram. Calling a previous statement that Timberlake's actions were "under review" (taking a photo in a polling place is a misdemeanor in Tennessee) "incorrect," the Shelby County District Attorney General said her office had no intention of investigating the matter.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 29, 2016 8:16 AM.

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