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Week in Review

By Anna Stowe DeNicola

Happy Father's Day to all of our readers who are Dads.

Ivanka Trump's Brand Announced Cancellation of a Deal with Company Backed by the Japanese Government

This week, Ivanka Trump's brand announced, in response to questions posed by the House Judiciary Committee, that it cancelled a deal with Japanese apparel company Sanei, after it was discovered that one of the Sanei's shareholders was a bank owned by the Japanese government. The Ivanka Trump brand was negotiating the deal with Sanei back in December, when Trump sat in on a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Although Trump rolled her brand into a blind trust, overseen by her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Trump and the Ivanka Trump brand remain under close scrutiny now that Trump has officially joined the White House staff as a presidential advisor.


Donald Trump Added Six New Chinese Trademarks to the Trump Portfolio

It was announced this week that China preliminarily approved six new trademarks for President Trump. Under Chinese trademark law, a preliminarily approved trademark is considered formally registered if no objections are received within three months. The trademark applications were filed in April 2016. Mr. Trump has over 120 Chinese trademarks, four of which are registered under a holding company. The Trump Company stated that it rolled the remaining trademarks into a holding company, and that they are no longer personally held by President Trump. Trademarks open the door for licensing opportunities and also serve as a means to protect brand integrity, especially in a country ripe with counterfeiters. Preemptive filing of trademarks in China is standard practice, and The Trump Organization firmly maintains that filing for trademarks are necessary defensive measures for the brand. The news of these new trademarks will further fuel the President's critics, who believe it is yet another example of how his business interests violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.


President Trump's Russian Trademarks Renewed Last Year

Contrary to President Trump's repeated statements that he does not have any Russian business interests, last year the Russian government extended six trademarks in Mr. Trump's portfolio that were set to expire. The trademarks were for hotels and branding deals that never came to fruition, and were set to expire in 2016. The trademarks were each renewed for additional 10-year terms. While trademark extensions are normal in the course of business, it is unusual for unused trademarks to be extended without challenge, especially if they were unused (as in the case of those at issue). More than the optics of the Russian government extending Mr. Trump's trademarks amidst an election cycle where Russia allegedly meddled in the election through extensive hacking efforts, this revelation does not look good for the President, who insists that he does not have business interests in Russia. Intellectual property interests are valuable assets to a company, and while President Trump may not have active business ventures in the foreign state, these extensions "preserve conditions" for future business deals. Russia is a "first-to-file" country, where prior use of a mark does not preclude registration of another company who is first to file. However, the trademarks must be used, and become open to challenge after being dormant for three years.


Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media.


Mistrial Declared in Cosby Sexual Misconduct Case

After five days of deliberations, jurors remained deadlocked in the sexual misconduct case of Bill Cosby, causing Judge Steven T. O'Neill to declare a mistrial. Throughout the week, the jury asked to rehear portions of testimony and for clarifications on the law and the meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt." On the forth day, the jury reported that it was deadlocked. Judge O'Neill sent jury members back for further deliberations, called a "Spencer charge" under Pennsylvania law.

Andrea Constand accused Cosby of sexual assault, alleging that he invited her to his home, drugged her, and engaged in sexual activity her while she was incapacitated. Cosby's defense team mounted a defense built on discrediting Constand, who, at the time of the alleged misconduct in 2004, offered inconsistent statements to the police. Several women also came forward with allegations that Cosby similarly took advantage of them while they were incapacitated after taking drugs or alcohol supplied by Cosby. Many people saw Constand as a "proxy" for these women, and as other claims are now time-barred, Constand's case may be the only time Cosby stands trial for these actions. Many on Cosby's team were hoping a not guilty verdict would clear his name and boost his tarnished reputation, but a mistrial leaves the star, and his accusers, in continued limbo. Constand's attorney stated that they will seek to try the case again.



Paradise No More for "The Bachelor's" Latest Spin-Off

The cast and crew from "The Bachelor" franchise's latest show, "Bachelor in Paradise", were sent home this week. Production was stopped after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced, and Warner Brothers announced that production was suspended and an investigation was underway. It is very rare for the production of a reality show to be suspended, and the nature of the allegations are unclear at this point in time. The incident highlights the risks associated with producing this genre of show.


For Diehard Fans, Iran's Zumba Ban Will Not Stop Them

The Iranian government issued an edict: Zumba is illegal and contrary to Islamic precepts. The country recently has gone through a fitness revolution, with both men and women flocking to the gym to exercise. Women in particular have been participating in group fitness classes, and Zumba quickly took off, gaining a cult following. The Zumba craze highlights the tension between leaders of Iran and the country's evolving middle class. Shiite Muslim clerics codified hundreds of regulations that are meant to deter sinful activity, which they believe undermines families. Though punishment can be harsh, the laws are seldom enforced, and in many cases, are tolerated as long as the "sins" are committed out of the public eye. Zumba has been taught and practiced for years in Iran, and it was a surprise to many that suddenly Sports for All Federations issued a letter stating that Zumba was not an accepted sport, and citing the ban on dancing as the basis. The instructors who built the Zumba craze are passionate and dedicated, and despite the ban, vow to return to the gyms and go ahead with their scheduled classes.


New York Public Theater's Production of "Julius Caesar" Strikes Many Dissonant Chords

Controversy erupted over New York Public Theater's Shakespeare in the Park production of "Julius Caesar", ultimately causing major corporate sponsors to back out of the production. Shakespeare's iconic play is hardly without controversy on its own - Caesar's assassination is the core around which the play revolves. Modern productions have been met with criticism, from a Mussolini-like Caesar (staged leading up to WWII), an Obama-like Caesar (five years ago) and now, Public Theater's Trump-like leading man. The central premise of the play has long been debated, with scholars and audiences either sympathizing or condemning the conspirators. The play has inspired violence, and contemporary productions that stage the play in modern attire (think business suits, not togas) have perhaps made the play feel more relevant to modern times. Oskar Eustis, Public Theater's artistic director, stands by his decision to portray Caesar as a Trump-like persona. He blames the "right wing hate machine" for causing the outcry, and for comparing the production with the recent photo of comedian Kathy Griffin holding what looked like the President's decapitated head. The public outcry that ensued over Eustis's interpretation caused Delta and Bank of America to immediately withdraw their funding. Sponsors face increasing pressure to align their brands with uncontroversial productions - and can be forcefully criticized on social media at the blink of an eye. Even under pressure, some sponsors of Public Theater's production, including the New York Times, have maintained neutral in the debate, preferring to defer to Public Theater's artistic control over its interpretation of the play.

For artistic director Oskar Eustis's comments:

For more on the Sponsor Withdrawals:

For more about modern-day interpretations of 'Julius Caesar':

Polanski's Rape Victim to Court: Please Drop This Case

Samantha Geimer addressed Judge Scott M. Gordon of the Los Angeles County Superior Court, and asked it to drop the decades-old sexual abuse case against director Roman Polanski. Polanski plead guilty to unlawful sex with a minor and subsequently fled the United States before his sentencing decades ago. The United States has been trying to extradite him for years, so he may face trial. Geimer "implore[d]" the court, asking the Judge to drop the case "out of mercy for myself."


Yoko Ono Recognized With Co-Writing Credit for "Imagine"

The National Music Publishers Association announced that Yoko Ono would be added as a co-writer of the 1971 hit, "Imagine". In an interview in the early 1980s, John Lennon stated that "the lyric and concept came from Yoko", and that the song should have been credited as a co-authored song by the couple. Although the process is in the works and has yet to be officially confirmed, Ono shared the news via Twitter after the public announcement on Wednesday.


Case Dismissed Against iHeartMedia for Copyright Infringement of Pre-1972 Sound Recordings

A federal court in the Northern District of Illinois ruled this week on the iHeartMadia case. Finding for the defendants on all four counts and dismissing the case with prejudice, the court held that the digital radio giant (1) did not infringe on the plaintiff's common law copyrights in the plaintiffs' portfolio of pre-1972 sound recordings (under state common law copyright, the plaintiffs' voluntary sale of the sound recordings acted as "publication" of the works, and as such, the plaintiffs' lost their common law right to control public performances of the sound recordings); (2) did not misappropriate plaintiffs' property rights to the sound recordings under the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act (iHeartMedia did not act deceptively when it broadcasted the recordings, as there is no common law right to limit the broadcast of a published work; and creating a digital copy of a sound recording solely for broadcast purposes does not violate the law); (3) did not commit conversion of the plaintiffs' sound recordings when it broadcast the sound recordings (the plaintiffs did not have a property right to preclude public performance of the sound recordings, therefore the sound recordings could not have been converted when broadcast by iHeartMedia); and (4) was not unjustly enriched, as such cause of action is not independent, and therefore failed with the previous three claims.

Read the full opinion here: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/illinois/ilndce/1:2015cv09229/316921/50/

Big Victory for the "Jersey Boys" Musical: Copyright Infringement Verdict Overturned

A federal judge in Nevada this week vacated a jury verdict that found that the hit musical "Jersey Boys" infringed on copyrighted material found in Jersey Boys member Tommy DeVito's autobiography. The judge instead found that the musical was a fair use of the material. The opinion walked through the four factor test for fair use, and found that (1) the play did not have an effect on the potential market for the book, as the book had no market value until after the play was written and produced, (2) only 2% of the words in the play also appear in the book - 145 words out of the 68,500 in the book, (3) that although the commercial purpose of the play weighs against fair use, that factor alone was not dispositive in the inquiry, and (4) the play was substantially transformative. The autobiography, co-authored by DeVito and Rex Woodard, was based on FIOA requests, newspaper articles and interviews, and told the story of DeVito from a singular perspective. The nature of the book was informational. The play, however, incorporated multiple new elements, including perspectives from all four members of the band and had elements of creative expression not found in the book. This finding of fair use follows a trend of recent cases, including the recent Drake sampling case and Dr. Seuss/Star Trek mash-up case. If the decision is appealed, it will head to the Ninth Circuit.



Atlanta's Celebrated Murals Become the Center of a Legal Debate

Murals line city streets in Atlanta, and are a source of neighborhood pride. However, in recent years, "street art" has come under scrutiny and is potentially viewed as illegal. A rarely-invoked 2003 city ordinance requires murals on private property to have approvals from five sources - including the mayor, City Council, and the Urban Design Commission. The proposed art is evaluated to see if it conflicts with the city's public art program, and whether it constitutes a dangerous distraction to motorists or pedestrians. The city rolled out a retroactive amnesty program in April, streamlining the certification process and imposing a hard deadline for compliance. Several street artists joined in a federal lawsuit against the city, citing First Amendment protections and arguing that the ordinance was unconstitutional. Atlanta's Mayor, Kasim Reed, supports revising the city code, while maintaining protections against harmful or offensive content. The parties recently entered into settlement negotiations.


Major Leadership Restructure Announced at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Effective immediately, Metropolitan Museum acting Chief Daniel H. Weiss will assume the new role of President and Chief Executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). Weiss stepped in after the February resignation of the Met's Director, Thomas P. Campbell. Met Trustees voted unanimously to place Weiss in the new leadership role. The institution will undergo a search for a new Director, who will report to Weiss, and will focus on "core mission functions." This new structure shifts the focus of the Met's leader to the museum's financial health. Both the Chief and Director positions will serve on the Board and work collaboratively in shaping the Met's mission and priorities. With a background in academic leadership (Weiss is a medieval scholar and a former president of Haverford College), coupled with an MBA from Yale, Weiss is well-equipped to focus on the business aspects of running the Met - with its $316 million budget, 2,200 staff, and $3 billion endowment.


In a Rare Showing, Members of Venezuela's El Systema Movement Take to the Streets in Protest

Venezuela's El Systema program is celebrated worldwide as an incredible system that has transformed the country, and gave hundreds of thousands of children the opportunity to learn an instrument and become global ambassadors. Despite years of growing unrest in Venezuela, the program and its members maintain a neutral façade, and refrain from expressing political viewpoints. However, a young violist named Armando Cañizales was recently killed in the middle of a protest, and musicians trained in the program are speaking out en masse, instruments in hands, and denouncing the increasing violence. Many people protest under cover, but others bring their instruments and play amidst the fighting. El Systema has been Venezuela's pride and joy for four decades. After the 2013 death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the country faced serious inflation and lack of basic resources that are now affecting the program from drops in teacher salaries, to concert halls, and instruments that are not properly maintained. The death of Cañizales shocked the El Systema community, which now is showing a greater willingness to take a public stand against the current Venezualian government.


Philanthropist Agnes Gund Establishes a Criminal Justice Fund, Seed Funding From the Sale of a Lichtenstein

At an event this week at the Museum of Modern Art, the new Art for Justice Fund was announced by Agnes Gund. Gund, a prominent arts philanthropist and president emerita of MOMA, started the fund with $100 million of the proceeds from the January sale of Lichtenstein's "Masterpiece." The sale netted $165 million and was sold specifically to start this fund, which will be administered by the Ford Foundation. Gund is hoping that the fund will inspire other arts philanthropists to follow suit - and she has challenged the philanthropic community to match her $100 million over the course of the next several years. The idea of using art collections to "advance social justice" is new in arts philanthropic circles. Already committed to the cause are Laurie M. Tisch, Kenneth and Kathryn Chenault, Jo Carole Lauder, Daniel S. Loeb, and Brooke Neidich. The Art for Justice Fund will give grants to leaders and organizations that have an established record in criminal justice reform. The inspiration for the Fund came from within Gund's family - six of her grandchildren are African-American. Michelle Alexander's book on mass incarceration of African-Americans and Ava DuVernay's documentary, "13th", inspired Gund to take steps to impact change in the criminal justice system. Many people, including Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, hope this fund will "energize" support over criminal justice reform and the role philanthropists can play in effecting change.



National Football League Concussion Settlement Sees its First Two Claims

The National Football League (NFL) recently reached a billion-dollar settlement deal with former NFL players surrounding concussions and their long-term effect on player health. The settlement process is being overseen by the Federal District Court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The first two claims in the settlement were disclosed this week; the first involving a $5 million payout, and the second a $4 million payout. Former NFL players who have been diagnosed with A.L.S., Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, or dementia are eligible to participate in the settlement.


Guilty Plea in FIFA Money Laundering Case

Former managing director at Suiss bank Julius Baer, Jorge Luis Arzuaga plead guilty to money laundering this week. At the federal district court in Brooklyn, Arzuaga publicly admitted to arranging financial processing of $25 million in bribe payments and kickbacks as part of the international investigation into soccer's overseeing body, FIFA. He is the first banker to be convicted in the case, and is also under scrutiny by Swiss officials, who have helped extensively with the investigation and arrests of implicated defendants. Arzuaga agreed to pay $1 million to the government. Julius Baer is one of several financial institutions implicated in this case, and the investigation has revealed an extensive system of money channels for bribe payments through the international banking system. The investigation is the result of coordinated efforts among the Justice Department, FBI, and IRS criminal investigation division. Arzuaga's conviction signals a new stage in the investigation, where financial institutions and their associated bad actors are coming under increased scrutiny.


Mets Exceed Major League Baseball Recommendations for Protective Netting at Citi Field

The Mets this week announced that they will extend protective netting at Citi Field beyond the current Major League Baseball (MLB) recommendations in an effort to increase fan safety. City Councilman Rafael L. Espinal Jr. introduced a bill a month ago requiring stadiums to increase safety measures, and although the bill has not been presented for a vote, the Mets volunteered advance compliance. The Yankees have yet to agree to enhanced measures, but have stated that they are considering the unique elements of Yankee Stadium in conjunction with architects, engineers, and the MLB.


Pitino and Louisville Face Further NCAA Sanctions

Basketball coaching legend Rick Pitino received a five-game suspension this week for his role in the Louisville Cardinal's basketball scandal. Additionally, the team was ordered to forfeit multiple victories, which may include the Cardinals' 2013 national championship, and the school was placed on a four-year probation. Two assistant coaches received show-cause orders, which will affect their ability to coach elsewhere in the NCAA system. These sanctions are in addition to the self-imposed sanctions Louisville announced in 2016. The University quickly announced that it will appeal the ruling, and Pitino said that he will personally appeal the decision. Coach Pitino was found by the NCAA to be ultimately responsible for the actions of his former director of basketball operations, who provided strippers and prostitutes to players and recruits in a campus dormitory as part of his recruitment efforts.


An Unusual Partnership Between the Seattle Storm and Planned Parenthood

This week, the WNBA team Seattle Storm announced a partnership with Planned Parenthood. The partnership, between an all-female owned sports franchise and the embattled health care agency, marks a departure from the norm for sports franchises, which often avoid the political arena when choosing causes to support. However, for the owners of the Storm, the choice was easy. The team will hold a "Stand with Planned Parenthood" Rally at its stadium, donating $5 from every ticket sold for that day to Planned Parenthood. The team will also host a fund-raising auction. Planned Parenthood is thrilled by the partnership, and hopes it will attract new donors and supporters of its mission. The team owners did not conduct market research to determine whether the efforts will be met with criticism, but believe strongly that they know their fan base and community, and that the support will come naturally.


Dennis Rodman Back in North Korea

Dennis Rodman this week returned to North Korea, where he has visited with North Korean President Kim Jong-un. Rodman is one of the first Americans to meet and interact with the North Korean leader, and has received criticism for his willingness to engage with the oppressive regime. Many people have speculated that he will convey a message from President Trump and are also noting that his visit coincides with the surprise release of American student Otto F. Warmbier, who was held by North Korea for over a year and released to the United States in a coma. Americans are warned not to travel to North Korea, and the Department of State maintains that Rodman is not traveling in an official capacity. Regardless of the nature of these visits, personal or as a private diplomat, Rodman has been able to provide a glimpse into the life of Kim Jong-un. Jong-un is an avid basketball fan. Both the Harlem Globetrotters and other former National Basketball Association (NBA) players have traveled to North Korea with Rodman, who enjoys a close relationship with President Trump. Rodman appeared twice on "Celebrity Apprentice", and several people believe it is highly unlikely that Rodman undertook this trip without communicating or coordinating with the President.


Former NBA Star Sebastian Telfair Arrested in Brooklyn on Gun Charges

Last weekend, former NBA point guard Sebastian Telfair was arrested in Brooklyn after police found four loaded guns and a bulletproof vest in his vehicle. A lit marijuana cigarette was also found in the center console of the truck. This not the first time Telfair has been caught with a loaded weapon - he was fined by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2006 for concealing a loaded handgun in a pillowcase on the team's private plane, and was dropped from the Boston Celtic's roster after police found a loaded gun in his car during a routine stop in Yonkers. A basketball prodigy and Brooklyn wunderkind, Telfair went straight into the NBA draft after high school. He has not played in the NBA since 2014, and in recent years has been playing for the Chinese Basketball Association.


Court Poised to Decide Whether Paddleboarding is Canoeing or Surfing

The most recent Olympic controversy thankfully is not about doping - but rather the nature of standup Paddleboarding. The question is heading to mediation in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, where both the International Surfing Association and the International Canoe Federation want to oversee the sport. Neither governing body has shown a willingness to compromise thus far. The sport is up for consideration for the Olympics, so the competition for control is fierce. Canoeing has been a part of the Olympic games since the 1930s, and Surfing is slated to be added at least for the 2020 games.


Pre-2005 World Records May Be in Jeopardy

In an attempt to bring credibility back to a sport that has been mired with doping scandals, European Athletics asked the track and field governing body to considering wiping out all pre-2005 track and field records. 2005 marks the year when blood and urine samples started to be stored for future testing. European Athletics has proposed that only world records made by athletes who have undergone strict testing for illegal substances be recognized. The record-holders themselves, however, feel that they will inaccurately be perceived as guilty by association. Included among the athletes who would be affected are those who lived behind the iron curtain, and had little or no choice but to compete for the state. Jarmila Kratochvilova, the famed Czech track star who blew the sport away with her incredible 1983 record 800 meter run, is an example of the issue's complexity. She adamantly denies taking banned substances, but her name has appeared in documents about a covert Czech doping program. Kratochvilova was highly scrutinized as an athlete, not only because of her astonishing speed, but also her incredibly muscular physique, which many believed must have been the result of some combination of hormones or other substances. Many athletes have already stepped up and said they would challenge any attempt to wipe away pre-2005 world records, including American Mike Powell and British athlete Paula Radcliffe. It is unlikely that these records would be cleared without just cause, and many wonder if former Eastern bloc countries will be willing to present concrete evidence, if found, about state-sponsored efforts to enhance athletic performance.


The Latest News in Sports Doping: Russian Pentathlete Barred and Russian Boxer's Appeal Dismissed

Russian Boxer Misha Aloian appealed the decision to strip him of his 2016 Olympic silver medal, but his appeal was denied. Mr. Aloian tested positive for tuaminoheptane, and the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that no discretion is allowed in doping cases, and therefore the disqualification was a "necessary consequence."

Another Russian athlete, Maxim Kustov, was barred for four year for participating in a doping cover-up. Kustov, a pentathlete, was barred from the Rio Olympics after he tested positive for three banned substances in 2014. His positive test results were recorded as negative by Russian officials. The four-year ban, handed down by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, is backdated to October 2016.


McDonalds Pulls out of Olympic Sponsorship

McDonalds has been a long-time sponsor of the Olympic Games, and this week announced that it planned to end its 41 year sponsorship three years early. The company stated that it was time to refocus its efforts on its core business, but also cited declining TV ratings and high sponsorship costs. The company will continue its sponsorship through the upcoming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.


Michigan is Suing to Terminate the Parental Rights of Former USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar

Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the Women's Olympic Gymnastics Team, is facing a lawsuit from the state of Michigan. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has filed to terminate his parental rights. Nassar has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women and girls. His wife filed for divorce and sole custody of their children, and Nassar's lawyer maintains there is no evidence that he abused his own children. He faces federal lawsuits by dozens of women and girls who have accused him of sexual molestation while he was the team doctor for USA Gymnastics.



Manslaughter Verdict in Teen Texting Suicide Case

A Massachusetts juvenile court judge found Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter for her role in the suicide of Conrad Roy III. Both Carter and Roy were teenagers at the time of Roy's death. The verdict was a surprise to legal scholars and law enforcement officials alike, because the judge found that Carter's words alone "were reckless and essentially killed him." Massachusetts Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz will sentence Carter, who waived a jury trial, on August 3rd. Carter, then 17, corresponded with boyfriend Roy leading up to and during his suicide attempt. At one point she "ordered" him to get back into his car, which he had flooded with carbon monoxide. At no time was Carter physically present during Roy's suicide, but the judge ruled that Roy's exit of his vehicle during his attempt, broke "that chain of self-causation," and that Carter's insistence that he return to the vehicle "constituted wanton and reckless conduct." Carter's attorney's painted a picture of a pained young woman, who genuinely tried to help others. Her team relied upon the defense that she was "involuntarily intoxicated" by the antidepressants she was taking.

The evidence in the case hinged on an incredible number of text messages and online correspondence between the two. Legal scholars noted that this case could indicate a need for the law to "catch up" with new behavioral norms that have arisen with our society's increasing reliance on technology to communicate and interact. Even though this verdict will not likely set a wide reaching legal precedent, it is a social wakeup call to heed online behavior that moving forward could be construed as criminal.


Evaluating the Growth Trajectory of Spotify

Spotify's newly-released annual report highlighted the company's impressive growth over the last year, reporting a 52% increase in revenue from 2016. However, the company's losses increased significantly ($600 million, increased from $257 million in 2015) and its growth slowed. The company has continuously stated that it believes its model "supports profitability at scale," but has declined to explain what it means by "scale." The biggest budget item by far is licensing rights, which eats up around 85% of the company's revenue. On top of that, the company spends $900 million in other areas, including salaries, marketing, and product development. With plans to go public, the company's business model will come under greater scrutiny. Industry experts believe a more robust financial position would position Spotify to become an industry innovator - rather than acting as a response to Napster. The company boasts 140 million users, 50 million of which are monthly subscribers. For now, Spotify is focused on building its base of paid members and increasing its number of users across the globe, with the idea that an expanded user base and subscriber model will improve the company's margins.


Washington DC Circuit Strikes Down Cost Caps on Inmate Phone Calls

A federal appeals court in the Washington DC Circuit struck down Obama-era regulations that cap the costs of inmate phone calls from state prisons, ruling that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) exceeded its authority when it created the rate caps. Inmate phone calls are typically placed through private telecommunications companies. Costs are exorbitant - sometimes up to $10/minute. The FCC had been mounting a defense to the rate caps prior to the appointment of its new Chair, Ajit Pai. Pai has been pushing to roll back FCC regulations, including media ownership rules and net neutrality regulations. He opposed the rate caps as a commissioner, and now has vowed to work with Congress and members of the FCC to address the inmate phone call cost issues "in a lawful manner." Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn strongly supports the rate caps and views the price of inmate phone calls as "the greatest form of regulatory injustice."


Verizon Acquisition of Yahoo is Complete - at a Final Price Tag of $4.48 Billion

Sayonara, Yahoo. This week Verizon completed its $4.48 billion purchase of Yahoo, and rolled out a new division called Oath, that will combine Yahoo with AOL under the leadership of Tim Armstrong, AOL's chief executive. Oath currently has 1.3 billion users, and Verizon is hoping it can build its number of viewers by bringing its content and new advertising models to Oath. Yahoo's chief, Marissa Mayer, will step down. Yahoo stockholders will retain stock in a new company, Altaba, which will own investment interests in Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan.


Negative Impact of Technology in the Criminal Justice System

Automation efforts in the criminal justice system have been helpful to streamline and improve the system. From AI assistance in deploying police to probabilistic software programs used by forensic analysts to digital evidence, computers play a role in all aspects of criminal justice. However, people are noticing that the technological developments come with a hidden price, often paid by criminal defendants. The companies developing these new technologies are largely private, for-profit businesses that hold closely their technology, often refusing to share information about how it works with criminal defendants and their council. Defendants have been unable to challenge how code is used to identify and match DNA samples, rendering defendants unable to challenge the evidence. Other examples include an inmate who, despite an almost perfect rehabilitation record, was unable to obtain parole because of a glitch in a computer program that was used being used to weigh parole factors. Companies can rely on trade secret evidentiary privilege, to shield disclosure of proprietary information about how their technology works. This new privilege is troubling - as the Times stated, "property interests do not usually shield relevant evidence from the accused." Trade secret laws are in place to shield companies from business competitors, not withhold relevant evidentiary information in court. The Supreme Court is considering whether to hear a case that will address this issue - whether reliance on trade secret privilege is a violation of due process.


Are Advertisers Weighing in Too Heavily on Content?

In today's social climate, advertisers are finding themselves under increased scrutiny over their ad placements. Consumers are quick to weigh in on anything they find offensive, and vocally criticize brands for their perceived support of controversial topics. This week, Delta and Bank of America withdrew their support for New York Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar", after consumer outcry on social media forced them to retreat from the production. JPMorgan Chase also withdrew its ad spots from NBC News over Megyn Kelly's decision to interview controversial figure Alex Jones, the latter of whom has made a mark in right-wing circles for his outlandish conspiracy theories. Last month, advertisers fled from Breitbart News and "The O'Reilly Factor". This climate presents a unique challenge for brands and producers of content alike, and many are wary of this new trend. Brands may feel compelled to ask more questions about what they are supporting and weigh in on content - otherwise withdraw their support. JPMorgan has a company policy to not financially support fake news, which it believes Jones perpetuates with his theories. However, the question whether JPMorgan should use its ad buying power to decide what content is newsworthy has raised some eyebrows. While advertisers often "balk" at any appearance of engaging in editorial decisions, recent pressure on brands from all sides may cause some to weigh in or walk away.


Hotseat for Megyn Kelly and NBC

Just days into her tenure at NBC, Megyn Kelly (and NBC) has found herself in the hot seat for her decision to interview right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. Jones is known for promoting the theory that the mass shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut and Aurora, Colorado are vast hoaxes. Families and communities are outraged by the decision to air the interview, and several NBC affiliates have refused to broadcast the segment, citing "community concerns." NBC is standing strong behind Kelly, but the backlash about the interview has taken the network by surprise. The network has taken steps to "retool" the interview, and Kelly has personally reached out to many families of the victims from the Sandy Hook shooting, asking if they would be willing to publicly respond to Jones. Many have declined to participate in the interview, stating that their appearance would only give credibility to his opinion. To add to the fire, JPMorgan Chase has withdrawn its sponsorship of Sunday's show. This is a rocky start for Kelly and a network who has invested significant capital in what it hopes will be its "next flagship star."


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