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Week in Review

By Michael Smith

Petition Seeks to Keep Painting out of Trump Inauguration

An art historian and an artist have initiated a petition calling on the St. Louis Art Museum to reverse its decision to make a painting in its collection, George Caleb Bingham's "the Verdict of the People", available for display at Donald Trump's inauguration luncheon on January 20th. As of Thursday, the petition had fewer than 2,000 signatures. The museum has said it will meet with the two women who initiated the petition.


Artist's Grandson Sues to Keep Works in Prague

In 1913, American philanthropist Charles R. Crane, who financed the creation, by Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, of a series of enormous paintings titled "Slav Epic", agreed that the works would be donated to the city of Prague on the condition that they be permanently housed in their own facility. Last month the Prague City Gallery announced that it would be lending the works to the National Art Center in Tokyo. Mucha's grandson has sued for ownership of the works to be transferred back to the Mucha estate.


Simon & Shuster Criticized for Publishing Breitbart Editor's Book

Simon & Schuster has come under attack in the Twitterverse for publishing a book by Milo Yiannopoulos, an editor of Breitbart News. Mr. Yiannopoulos, who openly delights in the public humiliation of others -- and in particular of women -- was permanently banned from Twitter for inciting his Twitter followers to bombard "Saturday Night Live" and "Ghostbusters" actor Leslie Jones with abusive tweets.


Annotated Mein Kampf Big Hit in Germany

A two-volume annotated version of Adolf Hitler's manifesto, Mein Kampf, the first edition of the book to be officially published in Germany since 1945, has sold roughly 85,000 copies and spent 35 weeks on Der Spiegel's best-seller list. The 70-year copyright in the work, which had been held by the German state of Bavaria, expired in 2015. An audiobook version narrated by David Hasselhoff is rumored to be in development.


Cowboy Receives Third Suspension for Drug Use

The National Football League (NFL) suspended Dallas Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory for the third time this season--this time for at least a year--for violating the NFL's substance-abuse policy.


Announcer Criticized for Praising Player Who Punched a Woman

ESPN announcer Brent Musburger was on the receiving end of harsh Twittercism on Monday after he said that he hoped Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon "goes on to have a career in the National Football League." In 2014, Mixon was videotaped punching a woman in the face, breaking her jaw and cheekbone--an act for which he received a deferred prison sentence and community service. Musberger defended his statement later in the game, saying that Mixon's actions ware "brutal" and "uncalled-for," but that he hoped Musberger made the most of his second chance.


Cooperstown Considers Canonizing Jocks Who Juiced

The New York Times reports that many of the sports writers who decide who gets into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, are reconsidering whether to keep out players who used performance-enhancing drugs. Many pointed to the recent induction of former baseball commissioner Bud Selig (by a separate committee of voters), who was widely criticized for failing to combat the use of steroids, as a justification for including the players who actually used the drugs. One of the voters, sports writer Kevin Cooney, said it would be "hypocritical to put the commissioner of the steroid era and a manager who had connections with the steroid era in and leave out the greatest pitcher and the greatest hitter of that time," referring to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. It is not clear whether Mr. Cooney considered whether Bonds and Clemens would have been as successful without cheating, and whether playing by the rules should be considered when evaluating a player's "greatness."


Draft Ops Loss is Good News/Bad News Situation

The good news for Emil Interactive Games LLC (Emil), operator of daily fantasy sports operator Draft Ops, is that the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota has declined to conclude that daily fantasy sports contests are illegal in that state. The bad news is that the court therefore rejected Emil's argument that its sponsorship agreement with National Hockey League team the Minnesota Wild is illegal and therefore void. However, the other good news is that the court declined to sanction Emil for making that argument. Yet the other bad news is that it did so because a court could still determine that Emil's conduct violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and the Illegal Gambling Business Act. A classic win/win/lose/lose situation.


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On Tuesday, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California found that an unauthorized "Star Trek" fan film was not protected by the "fair use" doctrine, paving the way for Paramount Pictures Corp. to move forward with its copyright infringement lawsuit against Axanar Productions, Inc. At the same time, the Language Creation Society has renewed its request for leave to file an amicus brief arguing that languages (specifically, the "constructed" Klingon language featured in the "Star Trek" franchise) are not copyrightable. The briefs, and the decision, are lousy with painfully forced references to the series.


Texas Sports Fans Could Find Themselves Alone in the Bathroom

On Thursday, Texas officials announced a bill that would require persons to use the bathrooms corresponding to their "biological sex." The law is similar to one passed last year in North Carolina, which triggered a backlash that included moving several major sports events out of the state. If the law passes, the 2017 Super Bowl may be the last national sporting event to be held in Texas for a while.


Federal Circuit Declines to Revisit Alice Lip-Sync Ruling

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has denied the request by Electronic Arts and other gaming companies that the court reconsider its ruling that plaintiff McRO Inc.'s lip-sync animation technology was not an abstract idea ineligible for patent protection under the Supreme Court's 2014 decision in Alice Corp. Pty Ltd. v. CLS Bank International. The defendants had argued that McRO's patent merely described an automated version of a process previously performed manually by animators, but the appellate court found that the computerized process claimed by McRO was "unconventional" and represented a technological improvement over existing animation techniques.


Ex-Manager Loses Bid to Avoid $9.35 Million Judgment on Jurisdictional Grounds

In 2012, the record companies that hold the distribution rights to songs by David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and John Mellencamp won a $9.35 million judgment against the rock stars' former manager, Anthony Defries, for distributing songs without authorization. Defries, a resident of California, filed a "Motion to Confirm that Plaintiffs do not have Personal Jurisdiction over Defendants", seeking to have the judgment vacated and declared void ab initio. The court denied the motion, stating that there was no case or controversy and that the court's authority over the matter had expired.


Record Labels Settle with Amway in "Ambush" Lawsuit

In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida in 2014, Amway accused Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp., and UMG Recordings Inc. of "ambushing" Amway with infringement claims in breach of their agreement to notify Amway of infringement claims prior to filing suit. Earlier this week, the case was dismissed as part of a confidential settlement.


Court Finds No Jurisdiction Over Allegedly Infringing Label

On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed claims that UMG Recordings, Inc. infringed the copyright for plaintiff Syl Johnson's 1968 song "I Feel the Urge" by using it without permission in a 1991 song "Know the Ledge." The court found that Johnson failed to establish specific jurisdiction over UMG by alleging that UMG shipped "6,194 wholesale units to third-party distributors and/or retailers with Illinois mailing addresses over the course of 16 years."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 6, 2017 5:14 PM.

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