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Week in Review

By Anna Stowe DeNicola

For your browsing convenience, the below blurbs are divided into the following categories: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media.


Settlement Reached in "Star Trek" Fan Fiction Copyright Infringement Case

A settlement was announced between Paramount Pictures Corp. and CBS Studios, owners of the copyrights in the Star Trek portfolio, and Axanar Productions. Axanar was sued by Paramount and CBS for alleged copyright infringement for its 2015 20-minute fan fiction film, "Prelude to Axanar," which was influenced by an episode from "Star Trek". The settlement agreement was structured to "encourage fan fiction and creativity" so long as the works are non-professional in nature and met the companies' guidelines for fan films. Under the agreement, "Prelude to Axanar" may remain on YouTube, and Axanar may produce up to 2 additional films under 15 minutes in length.


Executive of AFTRA Retirement Fund Arrested for Alleged Kickback Scheme

The former co-head of IT at the AFTRA Retirement Fund was arrested and charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud connected to an alleged kickback scheme thought to have re-routed $3.4 million from the Retirement Fund. An internal investigation revealed documents that showed evidence of "unauthorized expenditures" associated with certain vendor relationships.


Performances by South Korean Soprano Cancelled in China - Suspected Casualties of Political Tensions Between the Nations

Three upcoming performances in China by veteran South Korean coloratura soprano Sumi Jo were cancelled, by separate but "seemingly coordinated notices." The cancellations are suspected to be casualties of the increased political tensions between China and South Korea, related to South Korea's announcement that it will employ a U.S. missile defense system. These concerts are the latest in a series of cancellations by the Chinese; also affected were the South Korean pianist Kun-woo Paik and several other South Korean music and television stars. In each case, a Chinese musician stepped in to cover for the cancellations. Ms. Jo's upcoming concerts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic have not been affected, and she is a featured soloist in the New York Philharmonic's Chinese New Year celebration.


Saturday Night Live Writer Suspended for Mocking Barron Trump

Katie Rich was suspended indefinitely by "Saturday Night Live" immediately following her tweet mocking Barron Trump, the youngest son of President Trump. Ms. Rich posted the controversial tweet during the Inauguration. Her post was quickly removed and twitter account deactivated. After reactivating her account on Monday, she issued an apology, stating that she deeply regretted her "actions and offensive words."


In Deal With Sprint, Top Execs at Tidal Will Continue to Oversee its Operation

Music streaming service Tidal will survive another day, thanks to an undisclosed injection of cash by Sprint, who agreed to buy a 1/3 stake in the company. Tidal faces tough competition from industry giants, such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. The company is headed by Jay Z and a roster of additional artist owners, including Beyoncé, Madonna, Kanye West, and Alicia Keys. It has attempted to distinguish itself by creating a platform that shares exclusive content from its associated celebrities. The deal will allow Tidal to tap into Sprint's 45 million customers, providing an opportunity for Tidal to greatly expand its membership base by providing exclusive content to Sprint customers who elect to subscribe to Tidal.


Cyberattack at the Sundance Film Festival Under FBI Investigation

Last weekend, the Sundance Film Festival was the subject of a cyberattack. A series of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks targeted the box office. The FBI's investigation did not find evidence that any particular film, director, or actor was the target. The attack rekindled suspicion regarding cyberattacks in the United States attributed to Russian operatives, but no specific organization or country was linked to the attacks.


Telemundo Ordered to Hold a SAG/AFTRA Vote by the National Labor Relations Board

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) confirmed a hearing officer's decision to order a unionization vote for actors at Telemundo, a big step for the network's Spanish-speaking actors, who currently work with out a collective bargaining agreement. The vote is scheduled to begin on February 7th; if it passes, the network will be obligated to negotiate with its talent. The bargaining unit will comprise of main cast actors, guest stars, day players, singers, dancers, and stunt persons. Many high-powered English-speaking actors voiced their support of the unionization efforts, which will bring Telemundo actors in line with their English-speaking counterparts at NBC, Telemundo's sister network.


President Trump's Overseeing "Apprentice" Royalties Becomes the Subject of a Lawsuit Filed in Southern District of New York

Foreign television royalty payments are the most recent legal challenges facing President Trump. This week, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics filed a lawsuit against President Trump for violation of the "Foreign Emoluments Clause." The lawsuit claims that he is in violation of the Constitution because he receives royalty payments from spinoffs of the "Apprentice" that are aired by foreign government-owned broadcasters. Specifically, the claim points to the UK and Vietnam, where government-owned networks currently air the show. The lawsuit seeks a declaratory judgment that certain activities do or will violate the Constitution.


In Response to Protests From Feminist Groups, Roman Polanski Will Not Preside Over César Awards

Roman Polanski, the French director who fled from the United States in the late 1970s, after being convicted for having sex with a 13-year old girl, declined an invitation to preside over the César Awards this year. Multiple feminist organizations were outraged in response to the news that Mr. Polanski was invited, and mounted an aggressive campaign against the invitation. Mr. Polanski holds dual French and Polish citizenship, and in December the Polish government rejected a request from the United States to extradite him in connection to the 1978 conviction. A representative for Mr. Polanski maintains that the outrage over his invitation was "based on false information."


The Show Will Go On: Resolution in Dispute Between BroadwayCon and the Actors' Equity Association

The Actor's Equity Association (AEA) lifted its "do not work" order against the second annual BroadwayCon after settling a contract dispute that threatened to disrupt the event. AEA barred its members from performing or even rehearsing for the event during the dispute, which arose over payment terms for performers engaged for this year's main-stage performances. Several actors who were scheduled to sing will continue participate in the event as speakers and panelists, and many others will be replaced by songwriters and composers. The event is scheduled to draw over 5,000 people to the Javits Center this weekend.


Director's Guild of America Ratifies New 3-year Agreement with Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers

By "an overwhelming margin" the Director's Guild of America (DGA) members ratified a new 3-year agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Gains for the DGA include increases in subscription video on demand residuals, employer contributions to the pension plan, wage increases, and increases in almost all residual bases.


Lawsuit Filed against "Hamilton" Producers For Lack of Accommodations for the Blind

Mark Lasser filed a class action against the producers of the musical "Hamilton", claiming violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, because the show does not provide audio description technology for blind and visually impaired patrons. These devices assist the blind and visually impaired, by playing an audio feed that describes each scene's visual elements. The lawsuit seeks a court order stipulating that the producers provide audio devices and live narration services at one show per week.


Artificial Intelligence as a Muse for Composers

Computer-generated compositions are not new, as computer-generated scores date back to 1950s. With significant advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), the use of computers to compose or assist in the composition of music has become more common. Today, small startups, such as Jukedeck, are moving to commercialize these compositions, shifting AI compositional output from the classical genre towards pop music, jingles, and background music for games, commercials, and videos. Several tech giants are on the AI composition bandwagon, as well. Google has "Magenta" and "DeepMind" (a Google-owned British AI company), IBM recently debuted "Watson Beat," and the Sony Computer Science Laboratory of Paris has the "Flow Machines project." Some companies, such as Jukedeck, feed scores into an AI system that then analyze them and eventually generates compositions in a similar style. Other companies give the AI output to musicians, who are then free to use some, all, or none of the generated work. So far, musicians do not see AI "composers" as a threat to replacing them in the creative process, despite the lower cost of using AI technology.


Shia LaBeouf Arrested at Live Stream Anti-Trump Art Show

Shia LaBeouf's latest art project is a Live Stream anti-Trump protest, "He Will Not Divide Us," staged at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. Mr. LaBeouf was arrested early Thursday morning in response to a call the police received, reporting an argument between Mr. LaBeouf and a man at the instillation. Mr. LaBeouf allegedly pulled off the man's scarf and scratched the man's face in the process; he was issued a desk appearance ticket and ordered to appear in court on April 4th. The installation is scheduled to continue for the duration of Mr. Trump's presidency.



Approximately 3,500 Pieces of Stolen Art and Artifacts Recovered in the European Sting Operation "Pandora"

Law enforcement agencies from 18 European countries pooled resources to investigate and arrest 75 people accused of international trafficking of art and antiquities. Among the trove of items recovered across Europe were stolen pieces from museums and looted art from countries stricken by war. The sting operation involved investigating over 48,000 individuals. Over 500 works of art were recovered from cities in Spain and Greece.


Junior Officials in South Korean Government Helped Expose Artist Blacklist

Three top officials from the government of ousted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye were arrested in conjunction with the discovery of a blacklist of almost 10,000 artists. Among those targeted by the blacklist were artists, writers, entertainers, and film directors considered hostile to the government. This practice is not new in South Korea; previous military dictators, including Ms. Park's father, also maintained artist blacklists. Junior officials in Ms. Park's government worked with investigators to expose the blacklist by covertly saving documents and data relating to the list and sharing it with a special prosecutor. The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism issued an apology on Monday following the arrests.


Cuban Art Loan to Bronx Museum Will Not Proceed

The second phase of an art exchange between the Bronx Museum of Arts and the National Museum of Fine Arts in Cuba will not move forward, after the government of Cuba declined to allow the works of art to travel to the United States. Although the State Department agreed to provide protection for the Cuban works, fears remained that the pieces would be seized to satisfy legal claims by Americans whose property was confiscated by the Cuban government after Castro took power. This exchange has not been without internal turmoil at the Bronx Museum; internal controversy over the exchange lead to the resignation of seven trustees last year. The Bronx Museum's exhibit will proceed, now with works by Cuban artists held in collections outside Cuba.


Former Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Mayor Enters Guilty Plea on Charges of Stealing Artifacts

The former mayor of Harrisburg, PA, Stephen R. Reed, faces up to 9 months in prison after entering a guilty plea to 20 counts of theft by receiving stolen property, including two felonies. In his capacity as Mayor, Mr. Reed used taxpayer money to acquire artifacts and items slated for a museum dedicated to the Wild West. The museum was never built, and in 2015 Mr. Reed found himself faced with hundreds of counts of political corruption related to the acquisitions. Of the items recovered from his home were letters, documents, and photos, some valued upwards of $3,000.


Fate of Poland's New Independent WWII Museum at Stake

Poland's new independent WWII museum, the Museum of the Second World War, was slated to provide a broad international context for the war. Now its fate is "imperiled", due to the ruling from a Polish court that will allow for a merger between the Museum and a smaller institution dedicated to the first Polish battle of WWII. The Polish government has long criticized the Museum for its lack of focus on the Polish experience during WWII. While the government maintains that it will retain the leadership of the Museum of the Second World War, the Museum's director views the move as a per se liquidation of the Museum and his position.


New Director for Smithsonian American Art Museum

Stephanie Stebich was named the next director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, slated to start on April 3rd. For the past 12 years, Ms. Stebich ran the Tacoma Art Museum, located in Washington State, and earlier in her career was at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Cleveland Museum of Art. At the Tacoma Art Museum, she acquired over 300 objects from the Haub Family collection of Western American Art.


Christo Walks Away From 'Over the River' in Protest Against President Trump

Said to be the art world's largest protest yet over President Trump, artist Christo announced that he will abandon the 'Over the River' project, along with 20 years of planning and $15 million of his own money. The project was subject to multiple lawsuits from environmentalists who claim that the instillation would endanger wildlife and disrupt habitats. Despite prevailing in every lawsuit, Christo stated that since the land upon which the project was to be installed is owned by the federal government, he will walk away. The project was slated to be the largest Christo project attempted in the United States.


Professor of Japanese Literature in Seoul Was Acquitted of Defamation Charges Over Book About WWII Military Brothels

Professor Park Yu-ha's book, Comfort Women of the Empire, has been largely controversial and the subject of both civil and criminal lawsuits. Her book presents the controversial view that the Japanese government was not "officially involved" in the recruitment of South Korean women for Japanese military brothels during WWII. Instead, she contends, Korean collaborators and private Japanese recruiters were largely responsible for placing women in the brothels. Ms. Yu-ha lost the civil case and was required to pay restitution to 9 of the surviving women from the brothels. The judge in the criminal case sided with Ms. Yu-ha, stating that her "academic freedoms must be protected," whether the expressions are right or wrong.


Court Rules That South Korea May Keep Statute Stolen From Japan

In 2012, a 20 inch bronze statue was stolen from a Japanese monastery. South Korea claimed that the statue was the work of 14th century South Korean artisans, and therefore it had a rightful claim to the object. An injunction was granted in 2013, and the statute has since been held by the South Korean government. An investigation was conducted to determine whether the statute lawfully entered Japan or was acquired by pirate raids, and the court determined that the statute was likely part of a cache of objects plundered by Japanese pirates. Japan maintains that the statute entered Japan as part of traditional cultural exchange of objects, and has formally requested that the statute be returned.


Instagram Boosting Interest in Art Auctions

Online sales of art have been historically uncommon, but the trend of major auction houses, galleries, curators, and high-profile collectors to use Instagram to promote art has greatly increased the number of art sales that can be linked to the Internet. Auction houses such as Phillips, Sotheby's, and Christies (each with several hundred thousand followers) are actively using Instagram as a marketing tool. Many galleries are exclusively promoting exhibits through Instagram, and curators are using their personal Instagram accounts to share works of art up for sale. Younger collectors are especially engaging with the market through Instagram, and perceive it as a "safe place" to enjoy art and engage in the market. Although it is difficult to quantify the effect Instagram has had on art sales, the use of Instagram as a marking and promotional tool has quickly become a "game changer" for the art market.



Woody Johnson Named Ambassador to Great Britain

President Trump named Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets, as ambassador to Britain. This ambassadorship is historically viewed as one of the more prominent diplomatic posts, but Britain's impending exit from the European Union could place additional challenges on the Ambassador. President Trump has offered support of "Brexit," and his especially close personal relationship with Ambassador Johnson is seen as an advantage in maintaining strong ties between the two countries. The Irish Ambassadorship of Pittsburgh Steelers' Chair Dan Rooney sets a likely precedent for Ambassador Johnson's ongoing relationship with the Jets. Johnson will likely surrender the daily operation of the team to his younger brother, but the impact of his Ambassadorship on the team remains unclear.



Women's National Basketball Association Players Risk Their Safety by Working Overseas to Supplement Their Salaries

It is not uncommon for Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) players to supplement their income in the off-season by playing abroad. This year, 26 WNBA players ended up in Turkey during the off-season, and the rise of terrorist attacks in the region highlighted a need to keep the players safe or, alternatively, in the United States. In response to increased security threats, the WNBA instituted new security measures for its players that chose to go abroad. Steps taken include stronger communication with players during the off-season and the use of apps that provide information about safe areas and emergency contacts. Additionally, the WNBA collaborated with the U.S. State Department to develop a crisis management plan and educate players about State Department programs designed to keep Americans safe while abroad. The players remain grateful for these efforts, but not far from their minds is the desire for higher salaries here in the U.S., eliminating the need to play abroad in the first place.


Jamaican Men's Relay Team Stripped of 2008 Gold Medal

Members of the Jamaican Men's 4x100 relay team, including Usain Bolt, were stripped of their 2008 gold medals due to the doping violation of one of its members. The Olympic Committee generally keeps samples for up to 10 years. Recent retesting of Nesta Carter's sample revealed the banned substance methylhexaneamine. Traditionally, if one member of a relay team is found guilty of a doping violation, all are stripped of their medals. Exceptions to this practice do exist, and the athletes may appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


Russian Tatyana Lebedeva Stripped of Two Olympic Medals

Tatyana Lebedeva, a retired Olympic athlete and current Senator from Russia, was stripped of two silver medals from the 2008 Beijing games after the steroid turinabol was detected during reanalysis of samples taken at the time of the games.


Decline in Reported Concussions for this National Football League Season

The National Football League (NFL) reported that the number of concussions dropped 11.3% this season. Despite this positive news, the NFL recognizes that more must be done to further reduce the occurrence of concussions. Steps taken to do so include incorporating limits on full-contact practices into the most recent labor agreement with the players, and staffing games with more medical spotters. Challenges remain in recognizing concussions in real time, and the NFL recognizes that flaws exist in current concussion protocols. Significantly reducing the number of concussions remains a top priority for the medical team.


No Penalties or Charges Filed in Kansas Jayhawks Rape Case

Charges were yet filed following a police investigation of the reported rape of a 16-year old girl in a Kansas Jayhawks dormitory. Although five players were listed as witnesses on the police report, Coach Bill Self stated that he had no reason to discipline players following the incident.


Discovery of Falsified Player Documents Lead to East Timor Suspension From the 2023 Asian Cup

East Timor was suspended from the 2023 Asian Cup and ordered to forfeit 29 matches after an investigation revealed that the team falsified documents of at least 12 payers. The Asian Football Confederation worked in conjunction with FIFA, and the investigation uncovered falsified birth and baptism certificates. At stake are 7 additional matches and the potential for FIFA to impose its own punishment, including the possibility of banning the team from the 2022 World Cup. Two team officials were punished, but neither the Timorese Federation nor the players subject to the investigation were officially sanctioned.


Brawl Leads to 15 Division II Suspensions

A brawl during a Division II basketball game last Saturday lead to the suspension of 15 players and the imposition of fines on the respective colleges and coaches. The incident occurred during a game between Lane College and LeMoyne-Owen. The Memphis police are conducing an investigation of the incident.


Indian Protests Over Bull Riding Ban Turn Violent

Protests against an Indian Supreme Court Ban on jallikattu, a traditional Indian bull-wrestling sport, turned violent in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The Supreme Court issued the ban after years of complaints about the sport, including allegations of animal cruelty. PETA India alleges that the bulls are poked with sharp objects and given alcohol, while men compete to see who can hold onto the bulls for specific distances or lengths of time. Many claim that jallikattu is essential to their cultural identity. The protesters blocked parts of the beach and many roads in Chenni, the capital city of Tamil Nadu, and attacked the police station and burned several cars and other vehicles. In response, the state adopted an emergency law allowing the sport to continue while the Supreme Court reviews its ruling.



Incoming Head of the Federal Communications Commission is a Critic of Net Neutrality

Ajit Pai was confirmed as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week. Chairman Pai has been an FCC Committee member since 2012, and one of two Republicans on the currently 3-member Committee. He is a critic of net neutrality, and has stated that the FCC needs to cut "unnecessary regulations that hold back investment and regulation." Critics of his views are concerned that deregulation will lead to large scale mergers, and an increase in costs for media and technology companies.


Ninth Circuit Rejects Appeal

A judge in the Ninth Circuit ruled this week that plaintiffs suing tech services for copyright infringement must show volitional conduct or causation when claiming a service infringes its copyrighted material. Adult publisher Perfect 10 sued Giganews for copyright infringement after Giganews failed to respond to a series of takedown notices. Giganews successfully challenged the validity of the notices in district court, and was awarded $5.6 million in attorney's fees. On appeal, Giganews argued that since it is the users that do the actual copying, a plaintiff alleging copyright infringement must show that a tech company "caused" the wrongful copying. The Ninth Circuit agreed, and stated that a central part of the analysis is active versus passive infringement. The Court found that because users uploaded the infringing content, Giganews did not play an active role in causing its distribution.


Google & Facebook War Against "Fake News" - A Small Drop in a Large Bucket

Both Google and Facebook announced actions that they have taken to combat the proliferation of "fake news" on their websites. Google announced that it banned over 200 publishers from its AdSense Network, and Facebook announced changes to its "Trending Topics" feature in order to promote more reliable news sources. However, industry leaders say that these steps are a very small drop in the large bucket that is the battle against "fake news." Both companies are facing widespread backlash about the lack of oversight and responsibility taken in response to fake news on their sites, and accusations that fake news swayed voters and the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.


Apple's Latest Infringement Suit - Jamie xx Sues for Violation of Right to Privacy Under CA Law

Persuasions Singer Jerome Lawson is suing Apple for violation of his right to privacy for the company's use of Jamie xx's song "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)" in a televised iPhone 6 commercial. The song was previously subject to controversy, when it was alleged that Jamie xx did not obtain a license for the use of the Persuasions' song, "Good Times," but the controversy was ultimately resolved by Universal. Mr. Lawson contends that because his voice is "prominent and recognizable," his fans were "deceived into falsely believing that Lawson endorsed Apple and/or the iPhone." The lawsuit also alleges a direct violation of both SAG and AFTRA collective bargaining agreements. However, the larger legal issues may be federal preemption of copyright and the issue of copyright protection for pre-1972 sound recordings.


Additional Woes for Qualcomm as Apple Files a Lawsuit Over Unpaid Rebates

Apple filed a federal lawsuit against Qualcomm in the Southern District of California over Qualcomm's withholding of $1 billion in rebates. Apple's lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal battles for Qualcomm, which was recently accused by the FTC of using anti-competitive practices in conjunction with "elevated" royalty payments for its advanced wireless technology. Additionally, Qualcomm faced a $975 million fine from China, $850 million fine from South Korea, and was the subject of multiple activist shareholder complaints. The company, however, maintains that Apple mischaracterized the agreements between the companies and vowed to fight the lawsuit.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 28, 2017 7:51 PM.

The previous post in this blog was EASL Speakers Bureau/New York Foundation of the Arts Program: Your Art Will Outlive You - How to Protect it Now!.

The next post in this blog is The Creative Commons, or "Commonly Creative".

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.