« Scam Targets NY Payroll and HR Professionals | Main | Center for Art Law Case Law Updates »

Week in Review

BY Michael B. Smith

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into Entertainment, Art, Sports, and Media:


Cert Denied in Capital Records v. Vimeo

On Monday, March 17th, the Supreme Court denied cert in Capital Records v. Vimeo, thereby leaving intact the Second Circuit's 2016 decision (826 F.3d 78 (2d Cir. 2016)) finding that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act does apply to pre-1972 sound recordings to protect compliant providers from copyright claims under state laws.


Southern District of New York Denies Section 24 Infringement Claim

In 2014, the heirs of Edith Newlin sued Warner Brothers for violating the copyright in lyrics Newlin wrote in the early 1930s. Newlin's lyrics were published in a songbook by The Willis Music Group (Willis), which registered the copyright for that book as a musical composition in 1937 and renewed the registration in 1964. Section 24 of the Copyright Act of 1909 permitted the author of a composite work to renew copyright in that work, and the individual contributors to renew copyrights in the individual works, but did not give the proprietor the right to renew the individual's copyright. The court found that Newlin's heirs had no valid copyright because Willis's renewal was not effective as to Newlin's copyright -- unless Newlin had assigned her copyright to Willis, in which case there was nothing left for the heirs to assert. The court rejected the plaintiffs' argument that Newlin assigned her "common law copyright" while retaining "copyright" and "other rights," noting that under the 1909 Act there was no pre-publication statutory copyright, and common law copyright was extinguished upon publication.


Chinese Disney Executive Inked Deals Worth Billions Without Authority

The Walt Disney Company is investigating allegations that a former executive, Meng Dekai, had secretly signed several deals with local Chinese governments for Disney-related projects without authorization.


Unlike "La La Land", PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Gets to Keep its Honor

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has decided not to fire PwC, despite its spectacular failure at this year's Oscar awards ceremony, which resulted in Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announcing that "La La Land" had won the best picture award, when in fact "Moonlight" was the winner. The Academy is instituting new protocols to prevent such errors in the future.


Southern District of New York Smashes Iron Man Armor Copyright Claim, Leaves Poster Claim Standing

The Southern District of New York ruled on Marvel Entertainment's motion to dismiss a copyright infringement action brought by Horizon Comics Productions, Inc. claiming that (a) Marvel had copied promotional art for the plaintiff's "Radix" comic in a poster promoting "Iron Man 3" and (b) the mechanized armor worn by Iron Man in the movie is a copy of the mechanized armor worn by Radix in Horizon's comic. The court found that Horizon had stated a claim for infringement as to the promotional poster, but not as to the armor itself.


Recording Industry Association of America Reports an 11% Increase in Revenue for 2016

On Thursday, the Recording Industry Association of America reported that music sales in the U.S. were $7.7 billion in 2016, up 11.4% from 2015, driven by a 69% increase in revenue from online streaming. These revenue figures are still far less than what the industry saw in the heyday of the CD.


Cosby Prosecutors Want to Use his Drug References as Evidence

Prosecutors in the sexual assault trial against Bill Cosby asked the court to allow them to introduce evidence of statements Mr. Cosby has made over the last several decades regarding his use of Quaaludes and "Spanish fly" in his pursuit of women. In his deposition in connection with an earlier civil action brought against him by the victim in the criminal case, Cosby testified that he obtained prescriptions for Quaaludes in the 1970s, intending to give them to women he was pursuing for sex. He testified that he did not have the prescriptions when he met the victim in 2004. Prosecutors also want to use passages from Cosby's 1991 memoir, Childhood, in which he wrote about trying (and failing) to attract girls by giving the cookies laced with the aphrodisiac "Spanish fly" when he was an adolescent, as well as similar comments he made on Larry King's talk show when the book came out.


Cosby Prosecutors Oppose Enhanced Vetting of Jurors

Bill Cosby's lawyers argue that the intense media coverage of the case against him justifies a special questionnaire being sent to hundreds of potential jurors several weeks before trial in order to screen them for bias. The district attorney argues that the standard jury selection process is sufficient to weed out biased jurors.



Endowment Cuts Threaten Veterans' Programs

The National Endowment for the Arts, which funding would be eliminated if President Trump's proposed budget is adopted, funds many programs that benefit members of the military and veterans, including art therapy for patients with traumatic brain injuries or PTSD. The New York Times suggests that this may cause some Republicans to push back against efforts to eliminate what Mr. Trump and many other Republicans view as an unnecessary expenditure.


Iranian Gallery Won't Risk Personnel, Art to Attend New York Photo Show

Ag Galerie would have been the first Iranian exhibitor at the Aipad Photography Show in Manhattan this week, but its owners decided not to participate, citing concerns that the gallery's owners, or its works of art, would be held up in customs as a result of President Trump's travel ban.


Celebrated Scholars Are Accused of Facilitating Smuggling

Octagenarian scholars Emma Bunker and Douglas Latchford are considered leading authorities on Southeast Asian antiquities. According to the New York Times, they also are the unnamed co-conspirators referred to in a criminal complaint filed by the Manhattan district attorney, alleging the falsification of documents establishing the provenance of looted Cambodian relics so they could be sold by New York gallery owner Nancy Wiener.


"Open Casket" Stirs Racially-Charged Controversy

"Open Casket," a painting by Dana Schutz, appears in the recently-opened Whitney Biennial exhibition. The painting depicts the mutilated face of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American who was brutally killed by white men in Mississippi in 1955 for supposedly flirting with a white store clerk. Ms. Schutz is white, and some African American artists have objected to what they view as Ms. Schutz's misappropriation of "black subject matter."



North Carolina Revises "Bathroom Bill"

On Thursday, North Carolina's governor, Roy Cooper, signed into law HB142, which eliminates the requirement in an earlier law (HB2, commonly referred to as the "Bathroom Bill") that transgender people use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in public buildings. HB142 left in place HB2's invalidation of local ordinances protecting gay or transgender people from discrimination, and prohibits local governments from enacting any new protections until December 2020. After HB2 was passed last year, the NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) both pulled their events from North Carolina. The ACC said on Friday that North Carolina is back in consideration for neutral-site championships; the NCAA is still considering whether the change is sufficient.


Women's Hockey Moves Closer to Gender Equality

After announcing that it would boycott the World Championship, the U.S. Women's National Hockey Team won concessions from U.S.A. Hockey, the sport's national governing body. Those concessions include travel and insurance provisions equal to what the men's team receives, a $2,000/month training stipend from the United States Olympic Committee, and larger performance bonuses for winning medals. U.S.A. Hockey will also form a "Women's High Performance Advisory Group" to advance women's and girls' hockey at youth levels.


Senate Judiciary Committee Hears Testimony on Sexual Abuse in Gymnastics

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is co-sponsoring a bill that would require organizations overseeing Olympic sports to immediately report allegations of sexual misconduct. One catalyst of the bill is the scandal surrounding Dr. Larry Nassar, who is accused of having sexually abused young gymnasts for over 20 years as a doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics and for Michigan State University's gymnastics team. Some of those gymnasts testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. Notably absent from the hearing was U.S.A. Gymnastics, which had been invited to testify.


Familia Suspended for Mistreating his Familia

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred suspended Mets relief pitcher Jeurys Familia for the first 15 games of the season in connection with domestic violence accusations involving his (Familia's) wife. Familia will lose at least $730,000, must make a donation to a charity for domestic violence victims, and speak to Major League rookies and others about domestic violence. Manfred said there was no evidence that Familia used or threatened physical force, but Familia acknowledged that he acted "in an unacceptable manner" and will not appeal the discipline.


FIFA Expands World Cup Qualifiers

On Thursday, FIFA announced its planned allocation of new automatic qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup. The U.S. would get three more (for a total of six), four would go to Africa (for a total of nine), four would go to Asia (for a total of eight), South America would get two (for a total of six), Europe would go from 13 to 16, and Oceania would get one (since Australia left for the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, New Zealand and other Pacific Island countries have not had an automatic qualifier).


National Football League Approves Raiders' Move to Las Vegas

On Monday the National Football League (NFL) gave the Oakland Raiders its blessing to become the Las Vegas Raiders. The Raiders's lease of the Oakland Alameda Coliseum expires after the 2018 season. Oakland Raiders fans, long known for their lukewarm interest and flagging loyalty, were unmoved by the decision, which was unrelated to NFL profit margins.


Argentina Shedding Tears Over Messi Suspension

On Tuesday, FIFA issued a four-game suspension against Argentine football team captain Lionel Messi for insulting a referee during Argentina's win against Chile in a World Cup qualifying match. Messi's absence could harm Argentina's chances of qualifying for the World Cup, and his teammates and countrymen have spoken out against the suspension. On Wednesday the Argentine Football Association elected a new president, who vowed to reduce the suspension.


NFL Owners Agree to New Rules

At a meeting on Tuesday, NFL owners approved several rule changes designed to speed up the game and enhance safety. Referees will now watch replays on the field using tablets; "leapers" trying to block kicks are outlawed; a rule disqualifying players penalized twice in a game for specific unsportsmanlike conduct fouls was made permanent; crackback blocks by a backfield player who goes in motion no longer are legal (whatever that means); and multiple fouls during the same down for purposes of manipulating the clock will trigger an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.


Knicks' Noah Suspended for Doping

After testing positive for androgen receptor modulator LGD-4033, a prohibited performance-enhancing substance considered to be similar to anabolic steroids, the Knicks' Joakim Noah was suspended for 20 games. His suspension became effective Wednesday morning, when the NBA's medical expert declared him physically able to play after a recent knee operation.




Congress Passes Repeal of Broadband Privacy Rules

On Tuesday, Republicans in Congress passed a repeal of broadband privacy rules adopted by the Obama administration in October. A White House spokesperson said that Donald Trump intends to sign the bill. If Trump does so, broadband Internet providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, will no longer need to obtain consumer consent before using users' private information (including location, financial, health, and browsing history) for advertising and marketing.


Some States Moving to Fill Void Left by Federal Rollback of Privacy Regulations

Even as President Trump's pen is poised to repeal the Obama administration's broadband privacy regulations, state legislators are moving to limit how companies can use private data. Illinois lawmakers are considering proposals that would give consumers the right to find out what information about them is collected and with whom it is shared; regulate when consumers' locations can be tracked; and limit the use of microphones in Internet-connected devices. New Mexico may follow California and Connecticut in restricting government access to online communications, and other states are considering similar restrictions for employees, students, and tenants. In many cases, it may be easier for companies to follow the most restrictive state guidelines than to attempt to apply different policies and practices on users from different states.


Trump has Sights Set on Net Neutrality

The White House announced on Thursday that it intends to repeal the net neutrality rules approved by the FCC in 2015. Those rules are intended to prevent broadband Internet providers from discriminating against classes of users, content, websites, and platforms, by charging more or slowing down the data.


Trump Repeats Threat to Change Libel Laws

During his campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to change the laws to make it easier for him to sue media outlets that cover him. On Thursday, Trump returned to that refrain on Twitter: "the failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?" The New York Times looked at what Trump could do to make good on his threats.


Employees Sue Fox News for Racial Discrimination

In a complaint filed Tuesday in the Bronx Supreme Court, two African American women accused Fox News comptroller Judith Slater of "top-down racial harassment," and said that Fox News and 21st Century Fox did little to address her behavior. Fox fired Ms. Slater on February 28th.


Luckey Leaves Facebook after Lawsuit Loss

Facebook announced that Palmer Luckey -- a founder of Oculus, the virtual-reality company Facebook acquired three years ago -- is leaving the company. Earlier this year, Facebook was hit with a $500 million jury verdict in a lawsuit filed by games publisher ZeniMax, alleging that Mr. Luckey and his colleagues at Oculus stole ZeniMax's virtual reality technology.


Napolitano Back, but not Backing Down

On March 21st, Fox News suspended long-time commentator Andrew Napolitano indefinitely after he reported (citing anonymous sources) that British intelligence had helped the Obama administration spy on Donald Trump. On March 29th, Napolitano was back on the air, repeating the same unverified claims.


Britain Pressuring U.S. Tech Companies to Make Bigger Changes to Fight Extremism

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Sunday that tech companies provide "secret place[s] for terrorists to communicate," and called upon them to do more. In a closed-door meeting with tech giants Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft, Rudd was expected to call upon them to do more to prevent extremists from using social media and encrypted messaging to plan attacks. Britain and the EU are seeking increased government access to encrypted systems and user communication data, which is likely to decrease the security of such systems against third party exploits.


Some Advertisers Fleeing Google, Unwanted Associations

Ads for companies like the Guardian, AT&T, Coca-Cola, and Walmart have been appearing on YouTube videos promoting hate speech, terrorism, and racism. Images of these unfortunate juxtapositions are going viral, causing increasing concern among advertisers that Google is not doing enough to prevent their ads from being displayed alongside offensive content. Accordingly, these companies have pulled some advertising, and are evaluating ways to better target their ads.


Brands Blacklisting Breitbart Bummed

Some companies who moved to prevent their ads from appearing on the alt-right fake-news website "Breitbart News" have been disappointed to discover that their ads are still popping up on the site. Although relatively few ads are slipping through the automated systems that determine ad placement, many are watching the site to see -- and share -- whose ads are appearing there.


JPMorgan Chase Cuts Online Ads by 99%, Sees Little Change

JPMorgan Chase has limited its online advertising from about 400,000 websites to about 5,000, in a move away from "programmatic advertising" -- the automated process of placing ads based on specific users' browsing habits as opposed to specific sites. As site-neutral advertising increasingly leads to unwanted associations (e.g., with "fake news" or offensive videos), there is increasing value in being able to predict where ads will -- and won't -- show up. After a few days of this curated approach, JPMorgan Chase claims to have seen no significant change in the cost of impressions or the visibility of its ads.


The Weekly Standard Fighting Back Tide of "Fake News"

Speaking with New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg, Stephen F. Hayes, editor in chief of The Weekly Standard, described his efforts to bring truth back to conservative reporting. Rutenberg's column describes the 60-year arc of a pendulum intended to counteract liberal bias in the mainstream media that substantially undermined the value and meaning of facts. Hayes is betting that "facts, logic and reason," directed at issues of importance to conservatives and without liberal bias, will prove more palatable than the reckless red meat of fake news.


Vucic Reaches for Presidency, with one Hand Over Media's Mouth

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic is running for president. He was widely expected to win the general election, but many say the elections are undemocratic because of Mr. Vucic's stranglehold over the Serbian media.


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 2, 2017 9:30 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Scam Targets NY Payroll and HR Professionals.

The next post in this blog is Center for Art Law Case Law Updates.

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