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July 2, 2017

Week in Review

By Eric Lanter

House Passes Two Strict Immigration Bills

The House of Representatives voted to increase prison sentences for individuals illegally re-entering the country and also to pressure so-called sanctuary cities to comply with federal immigration officials by cutting federal funding. Although these are viewed as wins for President Trump, in order to pass the Senate, the bills would require at least 60 votes, which is unlikely to occur. The American Civil Liberties Union said that the bills violate the Fourth Amendment, as there must be due process and probable cause for immigration agents to take action.


Administration Moves to Carry Out Partial Travel Ban

The Supreme Court partly revived President Trump's travel ban as it relates to prohibiting most visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East. The administration sent cables to embassies around the world clarifying who can and cannot enter from each country: for example, grandparents, nieces and nephews cannot, but step-siblings and half-siblings can. Critics and civil rights groups vow to oppose the ban as nothing more than a renewed attempt to "keep Muslims out of the country". Analysts expect that more litigation will result.


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


Disputes Over Prince's Estate Throw the Future of His Vault Into Question

Prince's death in April 2016 prompted rampant speculation as to when there would be a release of the supposed vast collection of unreleased songs the artist recorded at his compound. Thus far, the question remains unanswered. Universal negotiated with the Bremer Trust, which managed the assets initially after his death, to rights for various unreleased songs, only to later learn that the artist had signed an agreement with Warner Brothers in 2014 giving Warner the rights to some of the songs that Universal believed it was acquiring. Universal appears likely to litigate the matter, and legal experts predict a protracted fight over the songs, given their value.


Theater Jobs Skew White and Male, Study Finds

An actors' union, Actors' Equity, announced the results of a study into the theater industry, revealing that women and people of color are not being given the same opportunities in the theater industry as white men. The union surveyed approximately 51,000 people across the country in Broadway shows, national tours, and Off Broadway productions, finding that the further up in the chain, the more white and male the industry becomes. In light of these results, the union is undertaking an effort in reforming the industry and implementing more progressive policies.


Cosby Team Says His Talks Will Not Be About Sexual Assault

Following Bill Cosby's publicists announcing this weekend on an Alabama television show that Cosby would host Town Halls discussing sexual assault, his publicists have now reversed course and blamed the media for misstating the purpose of the Town Halls. His publicists announced that instead of focusing on sexual assault, he will focus on his legacy as an entertainer.



Court Orders Exhumation of Salvador Dali's Body in Paternity Case

Pilar Abel, a Spanish Tarot card reader, filed suit in Spain 2015 requesting to exhume Dali's body to prove that she was Salvador Sali's biological daughter. This week, a Spanish court granted her request as there is no other surviving relative that could provide a DNA sample. The foundation that manages Dali's museum and estate plans to appeal the order.


Supreme Court to Hear Dispute Over Seizing Iran Artifacts

Americans that were victims of a 1997 terrorist attack in Jerusalem obtained a default judgment against Iran for its role in supporting Hamas in conducting the attack. With their judgment, they filed a lawsuit to seize Iranian artifacts from Chicago's Field Museum of Natural History and the University of Chicago to pay for the default judgment. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied the seizure, holding that some of the artwork was immune to seizure under U.S. law, and others were not owned by Iran, and thus could not be seized. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case this fall.


China Will Not Allow Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate, to Receive Cancer Treatment Abroad

Chinese authorities have refused Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace laureate, to be paroled from prison for cancer treatment abroad. Authorities have not announced the reason for the refusal, but he remains under police guard in a hospital. There have been appeals to President Xi Jinping for Xiaobo to be permitted to treat abroad, including by Freedom Now, a Washington organization, which had 154 Nobel laureates sign onto the request. Given his involvement with the protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989, it is unlikely that the Chinese authorities will allow him to leave the country.



South Korea Leader Hopes for a Unified Korean Olympic Team

South Korea's president Moon Jae-in proposed that North Korea and South Korea compete as one country in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, which are to be held in South Korea's city of Pyeongchang. This would be a revolutionary development for the two countries, who are bitter enemies in sports and otherwise. North Korea has not yet announced whether it will attend the Winter Olympics, however, when South Korea hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics, North Korea boycotted it.


Report on Sexual Abuse in U.S.A. Gymnastics Urges 'Culture Change'

The national governing body of gymnastics, U.S.A. Gymnastics, announced that it will begin implementing policy changes throughout its organization. Many of the policy changes come from a recent 100-page report, which detailed sexual abuse that occurred over a period of years in the organization. The report recommends having more separation between coaches and athletes, including barring them from being in the same sleeping quarters or engaging in communication by email, text, or social media. Further, it recommended that reports of abuse be more thoroughly investigated to catch predators before they can target more victims.


New Jersey's Appeal of Sports Betting Ban Heads to Supreme Court

The Supreme Court justices decided to hear a case stemming from sports betting in New Jersey. When Congress passed the Professional and Amateur Sports Participation Act in 1992, it outlawed betting on amateur and professional sports. In 2014, New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie signed a law permitting sports betting in the state. It was challenged and wound up in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, where the federal ban was upheld. There is a strong lobbying effort to legalize sports betting, as it is a $5 billion industry in Nevada, and some anticipate that New Jersey's casinos could be revitalized by the law.


Baylor Confirms NCAA Investigation After Sex Abuse Scandal

Baylor University, under fire for a pervasive environment of sexual harassment, confirmed that it is facing an investigation from the NCAA, as well as defending itself against accusations from women who claim they were ignored when reporting instances of sexual abuse. Representatives for Baylor and the NCAA have declined to comment on the situation.


In Long-Secret FIFA Report, More Details but No Smoking Gun

After a German newspaper reported that it had acquired a copy of a massive FIFA internal report and would start leaking unsavory details, FIFA preemptively released the 430-page report itself. Known as the Garcia report, it details the questionable ethics employed by top-ranking FIFA officials in a variety of circumstances, but particularly focused on the 2010 vote to award Qatar the 2022 World Cup and Russia the 2018 World Cup. While there is no smoking gun in terms of evidence of clear wrongdoing, there are many instances of rule-bending, questionable transactions, and sly dealings.


Venus Williams at Fault in Fatal Car Crash

The police department in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida announced that tennis star Venus Williams was at fault for an automobile accident on June 9, 2017, which led to the death of a 78-year-old man two weeks after the accident. She has not been cited or charged, but has expressed condolences to the family of the decedent.



Attorneys' Fees and Sanctions Denied for Copyright Infringement of Birth Video

Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York ruled that attorneys' fees and sanctions will not be granted after a plaintiff filed suit for copyright infringement after a man publicly live-streamed a video on Facebook of his partner giving birth at a hospital. Several defendants, including NBC, ABC, and Yahoo, used the video and defended its use of the video as fair uses pursuant to the Copyright Act. The court agreed with the defendants, but stopped short of awarding attorneys' fees or sanctions, as the effect would be to deter weak plaintiffs from proceeding with litigation while encouraging those with strong positions to stand their ground. The court noted that sanctions were not justified, but defendants could pursue a claim under Copyright Act Section 505, which would allow for compensation from the plaintiff without having to produce evidence of bad faith.


ABC Settles with Meat Producer in 'Pink Slime' Defamation Case

ABC reached a settlement agreement with Beef Products Inc., a meat producer that was the subject of an ABC news report in 2012, which concluded that the company produced so-called pink slime at its factory. The company sued ABC seeking $1.9 billion in damages for its report, which characterized a "lean finely textured beef" as pink slime, affecting the sales of the company and causing it to close three plants, laying off approximately 700 workers. The details of the settlement agreement have not been disclosed.


Wall Street Journal Scrutinizes Articles by Fired Reporter

The chief foreign affairs correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon, was fired by the newspaper after it came to light that he may have had improper ties to one of his sources: an Iranian businessman named Farhad Azima. It was well known that Azima was one of Solomon's top leads for stories in the Middle East, as they had been documented together at events many times. Blogs had emerged in recent days claiming to have proof of fraud between Azima and Solomon, but the nature and extent of their ties are not publicly known.


Three CNN Journalists Resign After Retracted Story

CNN retracted and apologized for a story on its website that linked a close ally of President Donald Trump and a Russian bank. President Trump and his supporters quickly attacked the news network, as it has come under fire for being "fake news" from the administration. News organizations regularly issue corrections and occasionally retractions, depending on the inaccuracy of their stories as published. President Trump and his supporters claimed that CNN has falsely tried to paint the President as having links to the Russian government, but even some in the network are concerned that this latest story will affect whether CNN can maintain a positive reputation among more neutral viewers.


Sarah Palin Sues the New York Times for Defamation

Former vice presidential candidate and governor of Alaska Sarah Palin filed a defamation suit against the New York Times for an opinion piece that linked her and a 2011 mass shooting. The New York Times issued a correction, clarifying that there was no known link to Palin to the circulation of a map. Palin's suit alleged that this was not sufficient to rectify the error.


Google Faced with Massive Antitrust Fine in European Union

European antitrust officials fined Google a record $2.7 billion for unfairly favoring its services as opposed to those of its rivals. Regulators were aggressive by more than doubling the previous largest penalty in this type of antitrust case, despite the risk of appearing to target American companies with fines. Previously, European authorities fined Apple $14.5 billion for back taxes owed, and allegedly opened an investigation into Amazon's tax practices in Europe. Considering the fact that Google earns approximately $90 billion in annual revenue, although the fine is hardly going to be debilitating for the company, it serves as a warning for it and others in the industry.


Turmoil Continues at Pandora Media as Chief Executive Resigns

One of Pandora Radio's co-founders and the chief executive for approximately 15 months, Tim Westergren, resigned, leaving the company in more disarray not long after it received a significant investment from SiriusXM radio. Pandora's shareholders have long been dissatisfied with the direction of the company, given its focus on acquiring Ticketfly, a ticketing service, and its ceding to the competition: Spotify and Apple. After selling Ticketfly to Eventbrite, another ticketing startup, and giving three seats on the Board (including the Chair) to its new investor, SiriusXM, shareholders are hoping to take the company in a new direction.


What's at Stake in Discussions Among Comcast, Charter, and Sprint

Comcast, Charter, and Sprint entered into negotiations for a form of partnership that would allow for the cable companies to extend wireless services to cable customers. Some analysts speculate that while this may be good for investment bankers, consumers would not benefit from further consolidation of the market. Nonetheless, it has not stopped companies like AT&T from acquiring DirecTV in 2015, and now attempting to acquire Time Warner.


President Trump Mocks Mika Brzezinski

President Trump took to Twitter to attack Mika Brzezinski, co-host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, renewing the debate over the President's views toward women. He called her "low I.Q. Crazy Mika" and claimed that she was "bleeding badly from a face-lift", at a social gathering several months ago. Senator Susan Collins of Maine said that while it does not directly affect legislative priorities, like the negotiation of the health care bill, it is an undignified act by the president.


Setback for Rupert Murdoch in $15 Billion Sky Takeover

Rupert Murdoch suffered a setback in expanding his media empire, as the British authorities asked regulators (the Office of Communications and the Competition and Markets Authority) to examine whether his takeover of Sky, a "European satellite giant", would give the Murdoch family too large of a share of Britain's media. Authorities ruled that the Murdoch family was "fit and proper" to hold licenses to broadcast in Britain, which was welcome new,s given the revelations surrounding Fox News and its head, Roger Ailes, in recent months. However, the family will be disappointed, as it will mean a significant delay in the acquisition of Sky.


"Extreme Vetting" or Extremely Unnecessary: Trump Administration Releases New Questionnaire Asking for Visa Applicants' Social Media Handles and Biographical Information

By Michael Cataliotti

As reported by Reuters on June 1st, "The Trump administration has rolled out a new questionnaire for U.S. visa applicants worldwide that asks for social media handles for the last five years and biographical information going back 15 years."

Though the "new questions are voluntary, [...] failure to provide the information may delay or prevent the processing of an individual visa application."

However, more concerning than these two possibilities are: (1) What, if anything, will the Administration do with this information and the information in the Applicant's social media feeds; (2) How closely will the Administration look at someone's social media feeds (e.g., content posted by the applicant, content posted to the applicant, followers of the applicant, followers-of-followers of the applicant, those who the applicant follows, and so on); and/or (3) The potential for short- and long-term ramifications for any wrong answers related to forgotten handles, passwords or biographical information.

Considering the prevalence of social media use across disciplines, any of these possibilities should cause the practitioner and her or his client to be more alert about social media usage under the current Administration.


July 10, 2017

Week in Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter

Court Affirms New York Law Requiring That Juries Not Be Given Full Anonymity

In the federal criminal justice system, a judge may decide to keep anonymous the names of the jurors to protect the jury from intimidation or corruption. However, New York State law doesn't go that far. It only "allows the addresses of jurors to be withheld from the public and parties at a trial, but does not allow their names to be withheld." That law was affirmed recently by the appellate court. In an Orange County case, presided by Judge Nicholas DeRosa, the names of four defendants were withheld from the jury. Before jury selection and over objections by the defense lawyers that keeping the juror's names anonymous would be prejudicial against their clients, Judge DeRosa required the jurors to only be identified by number. His reasoning was that in the past, several jurors told him of their discomfort from encountering defendants in the court parking lot. Prior to trial, a female juror was excused, because one defendant who was released on bail, and a group of people, intimidated her in the court parking lot by gathering around her car and staring at her. Judge DeRosa did not instruct the jury that his masking of their identities was not a reflection on the defendants' guilt or innocence. The appeals court ruled that by deciding to withhold the juror's names before jury selection, "the court acted on its own initiative based on concerns expressed by jurors who served in prior trials," thereby violating stated law by empaneling an anonymous jury. The defendants were granted a new trial. Appellate Judge Mark C. Dillon provided a dissenting opinion, taking issue that the 1983 law was obsolete. As the law allows the jurors' addresses, "in today's world of internet technology, it may be reasonably argued that the law affords no real or practical protection whatsoever."


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


Tolkien Estate Settles Lawsuit Over Licensing

The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien settled its 2012 copyright infringement lawsuit for $80 million against Warner Bros. over "the digital merchandising of products from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit." Warner Bros.' countersuit claimed the loss of millions of dollars due to the lawsuit. At issue was whether a 1969 agreement granting Warner Bros. the right to sell "tangible personal property" also included "electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in services." The settlement terms were undisclosed.


Actress Files Lawsuit Over Feud Portrayal

Actress Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit over her portrayal in the "Feud: Bette and Joan" television series aired on FX Networks and produced by Ryan Murphy Productions. De Havilland, a two-time Oscar winner, claimed that the "FX defendants misappropriated her name, likeness and identity without her permission and used them falsely in order to exploit their own commercial interests." De Havilland, now 101, was close friends with Bette Davis. The series depicted de Havilland as an important character in the Davis-Crawford drama. The actress rejected the quotes attributed to her, as well as the overall tone of her portrayal. She sought "damages for emotional harm and harm to her reputation." According to the lawsuit, de Havilland "has made efforts, spent time and money, protecting her well-defined public image." She also requested an injunction against the use of her name and likeness.


Fyre Festival Organizer Charged With Wire Fraud

Billy McFarland of the failed Fyre Festival was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud. According to the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon H. Kim, the entrepreneur presented fake documents to induce investors to put more than $1 million into his company Fyre Media and its subsidiary Fyre Festival LLC. McFarland faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. He and his business partner, Jeffrey Atkins (aka Ja Rule), also face several lawsuits as a result of the Fyre Festival debacle. Atkin's attorney, Stacey Richman, stated that he is not "perceived to be a subject of this [McFarland] investigation." The complaint alleged that McFarland repeatedly misrepresented his and his company's financial position, stating that Fyre Media had earned millions of dollars in bookings, when it only earned $57,443. At least two people invested approximately $1.2 million in the two companies. However, it is believed that there are approximately 85 investors. The failure of the Fyre Festival brought on McFarland's arrest. Based in the Bahamas, the festival was marketed as an ultra-exclusive experience. Photos on social media that went viral showed anything but high-end accommodations. The festival was quickly canceled.

McFarland appeared on July 1st before Judge Kevin N. Fox of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Although he lives in a Manhattan penthouse with rents reported at $21,000 per month and drives a Maserati, he was represented by Sabrina P. Shroff, a public defender. His previous lawyers handling his myriad civil lawsuits had "not been paid enough to continue to represent him." The purpose of the hearing was to set bail. An issue at the hearing was McFarland's financial condition. When he was arrested, he had on him $5,000 in cash. In addition to the legal team representing him against the civil suits from the disastrous Fyre Festival, he also hired a crisis public relations firm. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy J. Greenberg said, "there are real questions about where his money is." McFarland has one week to complete a required financial affidavit listing his assets--it had not been completed before the hearing. Bail was set at $300,000. He was released and has one week to satisfy the bail conditions of paying $50,000 in cash or property. Preliminary hearings begin at the end of this month.



Blac Chyna Files for Restraining Order Against Rob Kardashian

Blac Chyna filed a temporary restraining order against ex-boyfriend reality star Rob Kardashian. According to her attorney, Lisa Bloom, Chyna was the victim of cyberbullying by Kardashian, who "posted sexually explicit images of the model on Instagram and Twitter." Violation of a 2013 California law penalizing "nonconsensual pornography" or "revenge porn" is a misdemeanor, carrying a jail sentence of up to six months. A hearing on the restraining order will be held on July 10th.


Legal Language Divided Jurors in Cosby Trial

The case against Bill Cosby ended with a hung jury and mistrial, and many questions. According to two jurors, "a great deal of their time was spent parsing and disagreeing about the meaning of words and phrases like 'unconscious', 'reasonable doubt' and 'without her knowledge'." Wording disputes are a common challenge for jurors. Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts, says that: "Several studies have documented that jurors can have a hard time grasping the language of the jury charge." As prosecutors prepare for a retrial, consideration must be given to their words so as not to cause confusion and connect trial testimony with language of the law. For example, one juror voted against a third count of sexual assault that accused Cosby of penetrating the prosecutor's lead witness, Andrea Constand, while she was "unconscious". According to Barbara Ashcroft of Temple University Beasley School of Law, "jurors had an image of someone unconscious on a hospital bed, but unconscious in legal terms can mean being unable to give consent." Montgomery County district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, said that "his office would review the way it presented the case as part of its preparation for the retrial."


Judge Sets Retrial Date in Cosby Case

A retrial for the sexual assault case of Bill Cosby has been set. By court order, Judge Steven T. O'Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas set the retrial for November 6, 2017. According to Pennsylvania courts spokesman, James Koval, "the retrial must begin within one year of the declaration of the mistrial," which was June 17th. While the prosecutors examine whether they can get additional testimony admitted, the defense attorneys will determine whether to move the trial or seek a different pool selection altogether. It is expected that the coming months will be filled with pretrial motions, making the November 6th date tentative or unlikely.


Two Asian-American Actors in "Hawaii Five-0" Depart

Just last fall, CBS announced its Diversity Institute, a new program aimed to provide access to the network's decision-making process. Unfortunately, it will be starting from a deficit. CBS's crime series "Hawaii Five-0" lost it two leading Asian-American actors, Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim. It's been reported that they were unable to come to terms on their new contract. There is "speculation that they left because they would not be earning as much as their white co-stars." Kim's Facebook post, "the path to equity is rarely easy," suggests that pay equity was the reason he left the show after seven seasons. According to a statement by the show's executive producer, Peter M. Lenkov, they "tried very hard to keep them with offers of large and significant salary increases." Park and Kim's representatives did not comment. CBS has been criticized for lack of diversity in its shows. Its 2016 lineup included only white male leads. Guy Aoki, founding president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, "has criticized the network for not including more actors of Asian or Pacific Islander descent" in the show, which is set in Hawaii.


Propaganda and Popcorn at the Movies in China

Chinese theaters are now required by Chinese film authorities to show propaganda videos before every movie screening. Produced by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, four short videos espouse messages of "socialist core values" and President Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream", "Four Comprehensives", and the "Five in One Overall Arrangement", which are Communist Party slogans. Several A-list celebrities, such as Jackie Chan, Li Bingbing, Angelababy, Donnie Yen, and Kris Wu, are featured "quoting ancient poetry and national leaders". President Xi Jinping called on celebrities to "disseminate contemporary Chinese values." Last month, Chinese cyberspace regulators called on internet companies to resist allowing sensationalist celebrity coverage, as such bloggers do not create a "healthy, uplifting environment for mainstream opinion." As a result, several bloggers were shut down. The penalty to theater movie managers who do not show the videos is undisclosed.



The Most Expensive Art Wasn't a Gauguin

Paul Gauguin's 1892 oil painting "Nafea Faa Ipoipo" (When Will You Marry?) was revealed not to be the top ranked for high art prices in a recent lawsuit. It was originally reported to be sold by retired Sotheby's executive, Rudolf Staechelin, in 2014 for approximately $300 million. Simon de Pury, a Swiss auctioneer involved in the transaction, along with his wife and their limited partnership, sued Staechelin and his trust for $10 million in commissions owed. The lawsuit showed that the painting was only sold for $210 million. Staechelin sold the painting through a British art dealer, Guy Bennet, to the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. With this new revelation, the Willem de Kooning's 1955 painting "Interchanged" sold in 2016 for $300 million, ranks as the world's most expensive artwork.


Jenner Sisters Stop Selling Music T-Shirts

Kendall and Kylie Jenner stopped selling their "vintage" T-shirts. The $125 shirts superimposed Jenner branding over images of famous artists, such as Tupac Shakur, The Doors, The Notorious B.I.G., and Metallica, apparently without their (or their estates' or photographers') permission. According to Rolling Stone, The Doors' attorneys sent cease-and-desist letters. Voletta Wallace, mother of Christopher Wallace (a/k/a The Notorious B.I.G.), called the action "disrespectful, disgusting and exploitation at its worst!" The celebrity sisters, who have often been accused of cultural appropriation, apologized via Twitter.


China Invites Cancer Experts to Treat Nobel Laureate

Cancer experts from several nations, including the U.S. and Germany, have been called to treat Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in a Chinese hospital. At 61, Xiaobo is currently suffering from advanced liver cancer that was discovered in May. After "helping organize the Charter 08 manifesto, which called for democratic reforms in China", he was incarcerated in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power". In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." Calls for his unconditional release have been made since news of his illness, including a petition signed by other Nobel laureates and prominent writers. Xiaobo was denied permission to travel abroad for treatment.


A Last Wish from Albee: Destroy Work Left Undone

Renowned playwright Edward Albee, who died last September at age 88, directed his estate executors to destroy any incomplete manuscripts. His "dead hand control" instructions were left in his 2012 will, which is filed with the Suffolk County Surrogate's Court. Mr. Albee, most famous for his play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", has received several awards, including three Pulitzer Prizes for "A Delicate Balance" (1967), "Seascape", (1975) and "Three Tall Women" (1994), and two Tony Awards for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1963) and "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" (2002). The Edward Albee Foundation will benefit from the playwright's art collection, which will be auctioned by Sotheby's this fall. and is expected to net more than $9 million.

The estate's executors, Arnold Toren and William Katz, an accountant and designer respectively, communicated that they will honor Albee's request. Known for exacting very strict control over his materials, they have already exercised his desires by refusing to allow an Oregon production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" to cast a Black actor as a blond character. Artists and legal experts are split on "dead hand control" instructions. According to the president of the Dramatists Guild of America, Doug Wright, of unfinished drafts, "the author has the right to determine their fate." Author of Estate Planning for Authors and Artists, John Sare, also a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, explained the quandary: "You may feel a moral obligation to do as you've been asked, but that may be in competition with a moral obligation to do what's best for the history of arts and letters and a legal obligation to conserve the assets of the estate for the beneficiaries." University of Chicago Law School professor, Lior J. Strahilevitz, disagrees, stating that what makes an artist great is "the ability to curate, and it's frequently the case that artists build great reputations by being selective about what they show to the world."

This is not the first time that heirs have substituted their own judgment over the deceased artists. Kafka's friend allowed publication of the writer's unpublished novels against his request that they be burned, and Eugene O'Neill's widow allowed "Long Day's Journey Into Night" to be published a full 22 years before he wanted it to be. We shall see whether Albee's last known project, "Laying an Egg", will be destroyed, as he had withdrawn it from a Signature Theater production, stating that it wasn't ready. Albee left to the discretion of his executors the determination of what material "counts as incomplete".


Hobby Lobby Agrees to Forfeit Over 5,500 Ancient Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq

A civil complaint was filed in by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn against Hobby Lobby, the seller of arts and craft supplies. The suit claims that Hobby Lobby acquired more than 5,500 rare and valuable artifacts that were smuggled from Iraq. The company's Evangelical Christian owners have an established interest in the biblical Middle East. In 2009, it began collecting cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent, including tablets, clay talismans, and cylinder seals. Although hiring a cultural property law expert who warned that the artifacts might have been looted, Hobby Lobby purchased the clay slabs for $1.6 million without determining their heritage. In a stipulation of settlement filed with the complaint, Hobby Lobby is required to "return all of the pieces, and to forfeit to the government an additional $3 million, resolving the civil action", plus "adopt internal policies to better govern its importation of cultural items, hire qualified brokers and experts and submit quarterly reports to the U.S. attorney's office for the next 18 months." The Justice Department will determine the return of the items. Artifact owners will have 60 days to submit claims to the pieces; then the Iraqi government will have its opportunity to submit a claim. In response to the smuggling allegations, Hobby Lobby's president Steve Green stated that "Hobby Lobby was new to the world of acquiring these items and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisition process."



Social Media Presents a New Challenge in Curbing Domestic Violence

Two recent Major League Baseball (MLB) domestic violence investigations were not spurred by traditional sources, such as law enforcement or video, but instead, by social media posts. Kristen Eck, former fiancée of Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris, posted her accusations on Instagram, and Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was named in an Instagram post of a friend of Russell's wife, Melisa, stating that Russell hit his wife. MLB and the player's union joint policy on domestic policy do not account for the role of social media in such investigations. Under the new policy, players are required to cooperate with the investigators. However, players must be cautious not to prompt a police investigation. Norris states that he will "go above and beyond" to cooperate with the investigation, as has his former fiancée. However, Melisa Russell, who has now filed for divorce, and her friend have not. These cases are very similar to those of Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys) and Jamison Crowder (Washington Redskins). These National Football League cases also have women posting photos on social media of their injuries. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence's chief executive Kim Gandy, "by turning to social media, victims may also be hoping that pressure from peers, or even employers, will stop the abuse." However, Margaret Duval, executive director of the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, explained that posting on social media is a double-edged sword, as it "also enables fans who adore their athletic idols to harass those making the accusations." Social media's ubiquitousness to the millennial generation further complicates MLB's effort.


Four Years Later, Fired Leader Gets Court Date Against the Player's Union

Billy Hunter, former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, will have his day in court. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Huey P. Cotton set a March 5, 2018 trial date for Hunter's wrongful termination suit and the union's suit for breach of fiduciary duty. At issue is the validity of Hunter's employment contract. The player's union disputes whether his contract extension was ratified. Hunter contends that ratification was unnecessary for contract extensions, and that "his contract was implied in fact since all parties operated under its terms as if it were valid for more than two years." The four-year battle has involved many NBA players, including LeBron James and Chris Paul, who were deposed. Hunter is seeking his remaining salary of $10.3 million. It is estimated that the union's legal fees thus far are $6.1 million.


Venus Williams Faces Wrongful Death Suit

A wrongful death suit was filed against Venus Williams for the death of a passenger in the car that crashed into hers on June 9th. Jerome Barson, 78, died on June 22nd from his injuries. His wife, Linda Barson, 68, who was driving the vehicle, sustained a "cracked sternum, shattered right arm, broken wrist, hand and fingers." The suit was filed by Audrey Gassner-Dunayer. Williams did not sustain any physical injuries and was able to compete in Wimbledon. According to the initial police report, Williams "was at fault for violating the right of way" of the Barsons' car. However, after further investigation, the police reported that Williams was driving in a legal manner. Known for remaining cool under pressure, Williams was overcome at a recent press conference at Wimbledon when questioned about the accident.



Baylor Settles Lawsuit by Former Student

A former student who filed a federal lawsuit against Baylor University for mishandling her 2015 sexual attack reached a settlement agreement with the university. It is the first settlement of several lawsuits from women who allege that they had been attacked and claimed that the university bungled their cases. As a result of the scandal, the former university president Ken Starr was demoted (and eventually resigned), and the former football coach Art Briles was fired.



Fox Sports Abruptly Fires a Top Executive Amid a Claim of Misconduct

21st Century Fox Sports group executive, Jamie Horowitz, was fired on July 3rd, amid allegations of sexual harassment. Fox Sports did not announce the reason for the firing. However, it was reported that the company investigated the allegations. Horowitz, who was in charge of sports programming, hired attorney Patricia Glaser to represent him. 21st Century Fox, owned by the Murdoch family, includes Fox News, Fox Sports, and other entertainment properties. The media giant has been involved in many sexual harassment scandals stemming from July 2016, claiming the jobs of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, news host Bill O'Reilly, and others. Eric Shanks, president of Fox Sports, stated that all employees are to adhere to professional conduct at all times.


Fox Network Suspends Anchor Amid Inquiry Into Conduct

Heads continue to roll at 21st Century Fox due to sexual misconduct allegations. Its subsidiary, Fox Business Network, suspended Charles Payne, a longtime anchor. A former CNN and Fox News contributor with whom Payne admitted to having an extramarital affair has alleged misconduct. A Fox Business Network spokesperson stated the company has a "zero-tolerance policy" and is thoroughly investigating the allegations. Payne recently renewed a multiyear contract. His attorney Neal Korval could not be reached for comment.


Social Media Aggregator Sues for Copying

Distractify, a social media aggregator, sued Brainjolt LLC, which owns 22 Words, another social media aggregator, for being a social media aggregator. Both companies repackage content from other websites. Distractify's complaint seeks to distinguish copyright infringement from what is typically seen on aggregator websites--a curation of "emerging memes, social media posts and uplifting stories" from other websites. According to Distractify, 22 Words committed "acts amounting to digital piracy and plagiarism", by repackaging posts from its website. As an example of the 51 instances of the alleged copying, after Distractify wrote: "Ellen DeGeneres Used 'Finding Dory' to Criticize Trump's Immigration Ban," 22 Words wrote: "Ellen DeGeneres Used 'Finding Dory' Plot to Slam President Trump's Immigration Ban." At issue is whether facts and story concepts, such as the topic of an article, are subject to copyright protection. Staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Daniel Nazer, asks: "How is this infringement if their original articles aren't infringement?" Distractify is not without its own allegations of infringing. At least two photographers, Jeffery Werner and Peter Menzel, sued Distractify for posting their photos without their permission. They are represented by attorney Scott Burroughs of Doniger/Burroughs.


Germany Tells Sites to Delete Hate or Pay Up

On June 30th, Germany passed a law penalizing social media companies if they do not delete illegal, racist, or slanderous comments and posts within 24 hours. Germany is one of the most aggressive countries to "crack down on hate speech and other extremist messaging on their digital platforms." Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that the new law "ensured that rules that currently apply offline would be equally enforceable in the digital sphere", as there has been an increase in racist comments and anti-immigrant language since 2015, after the arrival of a million--mostly Muslim--migrants. The law takes effect in October. It requires companies such as YouTube (owned by Google), Facebook, and Twitter to remove any content that is illegal in Germany within 24 hours of it being brought to their attention. If content is flagged, but not clearly defamatory or inciting of violence, the companies have seven days to make a determination. The companies also have to report biannually how they have handled the complaints. Fines for taking too long to take down illegal content range from €5 million to €50 million. Advocacy groups, including digital and human rights groups, and social media companies oppose the new law. Members of the Global Public Policy Institute, Mirko Hohmann and Alexander Pirang, call the law "misguided". They wrote that "setting the rules of the digital public square, including the identification of what is lawful and what is not, should not be left to private companies." Facebook said that it will be increasing staff to work on these issues. Like Google, it has "taken steps to limit the spread of extremist messaging and to prevent 'fake news' from circulating."


Climate of Fear Grips Journalists in Myanmar After Arrest

On July 3rd, Lawi Weng, a reporter for the online magazine The Irrawaddy and two reporters from The Democratic Voice of Burma were detained in Shan State, Myanmar and charged "under a colonial-era 'unlawful association' law, which carries a potential jail sentence of up to three years." The government considers the rebel group an unlawful organization under the 1908 law. Critics say that ever since the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party led by Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, came to power 15 months ago, there has been a clampdown on the news media and free speech. Anyone who has criticized the government's authority, including journalists and activists, have been prosecuted.

U Win Htein, a spokesperson for the NLD, told the national television channel, MNTV: "For us, peace, national development and economic development are the priority, and then democracy and human rights, including press freedom." According to him, the journalists needed government permission to go in the territory controlled by the armed ethnic group, Ta'ang National Liberation Army. According to their editors, the three journalists were going to attend an event marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The event was held by rebels battling the government for autonomy from the central government in Shan State, a hotbed of opium farming.

Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Shawn W. Crispin, stated that State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was elected partly on standing for democratic progress and protection of rights. The NLD government's campaign against the journalists and other critics hurts the notion that her government stands for human rights.


On Social Media, Vietnam's Dissidents Grow Bolder Despite Crackdown

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, whose online handle is Mother Mushroom, was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison for national security offenses. A Vietnamese blogger and environmental activist, she was charged with sharing anti-state propaganda. Arrested last October, she has been silenced since then, and attendance at her trial was severely restricted to further control her communication. Nevertheless, her attorney summarized his trial arguments and her final statements on Facebook, where he has 61,000 followers. According to him, she said, "I hope that everyone will speak up and fight, overcome their own fears to build a better country." Facebook and other online platforms have become the de facto forum for dissenting voices in authoritarian Vietnam. Now the government has a two-prong approach to clamp down on online protests by arresting bloggers and pressuring social media companies to censor content. According to Human Rights Watch Deputy Director of Asia, "Facebook is being used as an organizing tool" and "as a monitoring device for people when they are being detained and when they get released." Nguyen Anh Tuan, a pro-democratic activist, posted a copy of his summons from when he was called in for questioning by the police, with a note demanding compensation for the time he was detained. His post went viral and inspired others to do the same. Almost half of Vietnam's population (45 million) use Facebook to "organize prison visits and vigils outside police stations for detainees, and to solicit donations for political prisoners." As the government can easily block internet blogs, dissidents are moving to Facebook, where its vastness makes blocking it infeasible. Families of prisoners of conscience, such as Quynh, are supported by Tuan, who receives funds from Vietnam residents, whereas in the past it was mainly from overseas Vietnamese. The local Vietnamese know that the government can trace their contributions, but they are willing to take the risk. To assert greater control, the government has resorted to jailing over 100 bloggers and activists, including stripping one of his citizenship and deporting him to France where he held dual citizenship. When protests are expected, the government cuts access to Facebook. As a further crackdown, the government has asked Facebook and YouTube to help eliminate anti-government content, and it has warned "companies that their ads must not appear next to that sort of content." Notwithstanding the government pressure and the violent attack from thugs on the bloggers and activists, everyday citizens are raising their voices by sharing information with family and friends, and supporting the dissidents.


New National Basketball Association Collective Bargaining Agreement in Effect

By Michael Kusi

The National Basketball Association (NBA) Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) terms went into effect on July 1st. This was after intense negotiations between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). The CBA is a seven year deal, but the players or the NBA can opt out a year before the end of the deal. Among the points of agreement in the new CBA, is one that concerns when a team and player agree on a contract buyout, to limit the compensation in conjunction with the basketball team submitting a request that this player be waived. In such a case, the team will not be able to consequently sign the player to a new contract with new teams, or get the player off waiver, before the end of one year after the contract is terminated or the July 1st after the final season of the player's contract, whichever is later.

Another provision of the CBA is that the NBA provides worker's compensation to both NBA and Two-Way Players, the latter of whom are players who have played both in the NBA and in the NBA G-League.

The CBA also retained the one and done provision that allows college basketball players to go to the NBA after a year of playing college basketball. This was a compromise between the NBA's position, which wanted a zero or two position, where a high school basketball player could come into the NBA after high school or would have to play two years in college, and the NBPA's position, which wanted the one and done rule entirely eradicated.

Additionally, in the CBA a contract might be voided if, among other reasons: A player cannot pass his physical examination, the contract is not approved by the NBA, the player is disqualified from playing because he failed a drug test, or makes an assault on NBA officials, players or people in attendance at the game. The NBA has said that it had the power to void all player contracts during negotiations with the previous CBA, but had never exercised that power.

July 12, 2017

California Travel Ban Could Affect College Football

By Michael Kusi

California created a travel ban on January 1, 2017 against eight states: Texas, Kansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and South Dakota, for what it claims are discriminatory laws that violate LGBT rights. For example, a Texas law grants an exemption for adoption agencies to deny services or refuse to allow LGBT couples to adopt. Any football contracts signed before January 1, 2017 for college football games are not affected by the California ban.

The travel ban prevents state-funded travel for employees from traveling these eight states. It does not, however, impact travel to these states by private citizens.

This travel ban could affect much college football, because California coaches and staff would not be able to recruit prospective high school football players from the eight banned states using state-funded travel. However, coaches and staff would be able to travel using funds from non-government sources. Public colleges in California, such as UCLA, would not be able to play football in any of the eight states, either for the regular season or the post-season, whereas football games between the USC and Texas football teams would still be played, because private colleges are not affected by this ban.

UCLA officials state that they will not schedule games in Texas in the upcoming football season, because of the California travel ban. Whether UCLA, or other California public colleges would be able to go to bowl games in the postseason, remains to be seen.

July 15, 2017

Week In Review

By Anna Stowe DeNicola

In Memoriam: Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

On Thursday, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo passed away from cancer at the age of 61. Xiaobo "held vigil" over the protest at Tiananmen Square in 1989, and later promoted a pro-democracy charter that landed him in jail. He spent the remainder of his life imprisoned. The Chinese government revealed in June that Xiaobo had cancer, at which point he was beyond treatment. Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest and intense surveillance. Her detention has made it difficult for her to publically comment on the medical treatment and care received by her husband. Strong concern for Xiaobo's condition was felt across the globe, a testament to the respect people felt for him and how he was viewed as a symbol for peace and human rights. The Chinese government has been harshly criticized for its treatment of Xiaobo and some have gone as far as to blame the government for his premature death. Xiaobo's condition was not made public until he was unable to receive meaningful treatment, and even after his condition was made known the Chinese refused to release him from custody in order to seek medical treatment abroad. Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. As he was imprisoned at the time, he was not able to accept the Nobel Prize in person. An empty chair, meant to represent him, was a powerful symbol at the ceremony, and the trial statement the Chinese government prohibited from making served as his Nobel lecture. Xiaobo is the second Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in state custody. Among his final words were handwritten notes for the preface of an unpublished collection of his wife's photographs: "Love as intense as ice, love as remote as blackness."





California Supreme Court to Exert Control Over California Bar Exam in Response to Poor Passage Rates

The California Supreme Court announced that it will take control over the bar exam and change the way the certification score for passing the California bar examination is set. Long seen as one of the most difficult bar exams in the country, the California exam boasts the second highest benchmark for a passing score - 144 (second only to Delaware, with a required score of 145 to pass). Last year's passage rates for first time test takers in California reached a new low of 62%. Deans from 20 ABA-accredited law schools in California came together to petition the state Supreme Court to take control of the exam and set a lower passing score. They say the high benchmark keeps many qualified candidates out of the profession. Those in favor of retaining the current passage requirements argue that the state has an ethical obligation to ensure that only well-prepared lawyers join the bar. Many first-time test takers who fail the California exam would pass most others. Each state offers its own bar exam, although many have moved towards a uniform exam. The major differentiation is where the states set their own passing scores. Justices of the California Supreme Court stated that they will announce their decision in September, and the new regulations will go in effect in January.


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


The Path From Miss Universe to Accusations of Russian Collusion

In 2013, Moscow hosted the Miss Universe pageant. At the time, Donald Trump mused on Twitter whether he would meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, and if so, whether "he will become my new best friend." While the two didn't meet that fall, Trump made deep connections with several other people who, through a series of connections, ultimately led to Donald Trump, Jr. meeting last year with an attorney linked to the Kremlin. Russian pop star Emin Agalarov and the pop star's father, Aras, sponsored the pageant in Russia. The two are real estate developers who have a relationship with the Kremlin. Trump has remained in contact with the Agalarovs over the years, and it was Emin, through his publicist, who requested that the younger Trump meet with attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya. The Agalarovs introduced President Trump to many prominent Russians, including, in Trump's words, "top-level people, both oligarchs and generals, and top-of-the government people." The Agalarovs introduced him to former Russian economy minster Herman Gref, who hosted a dinner in Trump's honor during his time in Moscow. As part of the pageant, Miss Universe contestants were made to appear in one of Emin's music videos. While any potential plans for a Trump Tower in Moscow were abandoned when Trump announced his presidential bid, the Agalarovs continued to exchange messages with the President.

Donald Trump Jr. came under harsh criticism this week for his failure to disclose the meeting with Veselnitskaya, which took place in Trump Tower in June 2016. Trump Jr. was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton, which was said to come from a senior Russian government official. Trump Jr. was told that the information would incriminate Secretary Clinton and be useful for his father. The story continues to unfold, but last weekend the exchange of emails between Trump Jr., and Emin's publicist, Rob Goldstone, was made public by Donald Jr. just minutes before the New York Times was set to publish them. Each day more facts come to light, including the number of people in the meeting. President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, and several others were present, although Donald Jr. only initially disclosed the presence of Kushner at the meeting. The White House is reeling in the wake of these revelations, and several reports emerge each day with new facts and information surrounding the meeting. The President defended his son, stating that "anyone" would have taken the meeting, and it was "standard practice" to do so. Several former Republican campaign advisors stated that their approach would have been to ignore the contact and/or notify the FBI.




Prince's Music Catalog Again on the Market

The $31 million distribution deal between Universal Music Group (Universal) and Prince's estate for Prince's music catalog was rescinded by a judge, after Universal made claims of fraud and misrepresentation by the estate during negotiations. The catalog includes previously unreleased recordings and a set of "disputed rights" that became the heart of the case between the parties. Universal claimed that several of the rights to Prince's catalog were already held by Warner Bros. Records, and was not disclosed as part of the negotiations for the distribution deal. Warner Bros. owned the rights to many of Prince's early albums, and claims that a deal was signed with Prince in 2014 to extend the duration of the rights for those early works. Lawyers for Prince's estate claim no wrongdoing, and the court neither addressed Universal's claims of fraud against the legal team, nor interpreted the underlying contracts for the rights to Prince's catalog. The estate now will have to refund the full price for the distribution rights, which were paid as an advance, and shop the catalog for a new buyer.


Murder Charges in Manhattan Rap Concert Shooting

Charges against Brooklyn resident Daryl Campbell, a/k/a Taxstone, were handed down on Thursday. Campbell was accused of the fatal shooting of Ronald McPhatter, a bodyguard, during a T.I. concert in Manhattan last year. Three other people were also injured during the shooting, including Roland Collins, a rapper with the stage name Troy Ave, who was also accused of firing a weapon and was charged with attempted murder. For months prior to the shooting, Campbell and Collins engaged in a "war of words". Surveillance video shows the confrontation and resulting shooting incident. The murder weapon was found in the car that brought Collins to the hospital after the shooting. Collins claims that he is the victim, as he wrestled Campbell's gun away and used it in self-defense. The firearms charge against Campbell were a twist in the investigation. He plead guilty in federal court last month to receiving a firearm by interstate commerce with the intent to commit a felony and possessing a firearm as a felon. He was indicted on the murder charges by a state grand jury on Thursday.


James Franco Satire Play Shut Down

Lawyers for actor James Franco sent a cease-and-desist letter to the New York theater that was to present the play, "James Franco and Me", a satire that has been running without issue at the Epic Theater in Rhode Island. Author Kevin Broccoli was surprised and disappointed by the letter, and maintains that the play is satirical in nature and within the bounds of fair use guidelines. Broccoli chose James Franco as part of the play out of admiration for the actor. The play is about a man, played by Broccoli, who is in the hospital visiting his dying father. In the play, Franco comforts the son, and the characters forge a bond reflecting on life and mortality. Instead of change the show in response to the letter, the New York production was cancelled. Broccoli will run a new version of the show for one night only, titled "___________ and Me", removing any reference to Franco from the production.



Bolshoi Postpones Controversial Nureyev Ballet Claiming Lack of Preparation, Not Censorship

The Bolshoi was set to premiere a much-anticipated ballet this week about the life of dance legend Rudolf Nureyev. General Director of the Bolshoi, Vladimir G. Urin, stated in a press conference last week that the premiere would be delayed - likely until after May 2018. The ballet's central character, Rudolf Nureyev, was a highly controversial figure in Russia. He was an openly gay man whose sexuality influenced his work. The Russian government's 2013 ban against "gay propaganda" and its current emphasis on "Family Values" has caused many to speculate that the Bolshoi is caving to pressure from the Kremlin. A leaked video of a rehearsal, which showed male dancers performing in high heels, sparked outrage, with people calling the Russian culture minister to ban the production. Urin maintained that the motivation behind the cancellation was that it needed more work, as the choreography requires intense coordination, and recent rehearsals were shaky.


Hong Kong Indie Music Scene Under Attack

Police raids have become a common occurrence for those in the indie music community in Hong Kong. Popular clubs, or "live houses," are often infiltrated by police, who aggressively address violations of building regulations or accusations that foreign citizens are performing without proper visas. Several decades ago many manufacturing companies relocated their businesses to mainland China, leaving a swath of abandoned factories in their wake. The indie music community quickly embraced the abandoned factories as performance and gathering spaces. While the clubs were far from fancy, they thrived. However, Hong Kong's extensive system of building regulations, zoning laws, and performance rules continuously "impede artistic expression and cultural development" in the territory. On top of the sea of regulations, an industrial revitalization program was recently rolled out, incentivizing building owners to convert the factories into office space. This has caused a spike in rent, adding additional costs above and beyond the already costly public entertainment license the venues are required to obtain in order to operate. Lawmakers are starting to notice the impediments to cultural development and are planning to introduce new legislation aimed at live houses, creating avenues for them to operate as long as they meet reasonable safety standards.



LA and Paris on the Cusp of Receiving Olympic Bids

In an unusual move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week unveiled a plan to award the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics simultaneously - likely to be awarded to Los Angeles and Paris. Official voting will take place on September 13th in Lima, Peru. The cities must both agree on hosting arrangements by the vote, otherwise only the 2024 Games will be awarded. Representatives from both cities made their formal presentations to officials this week, with French President Emmanuel Macron supporting the Paris presentation in person and President Trump lending his support for Los Angeles via Twitter. The IOC voted unanimously to change the bidding process, which it believes in the past has cost losing cities incredible amounts of money to participate, and leaves them reluctant to attempt a bid in the future. Many cities withdrew from the current bidding process early, much to the embarrassment of the IOC. In addition to the enthusiasm presented by Paris and Los Angeles, both cities have an established framework for hosting the Games with several stadiums already in place and the capacity to construct temporary structures as needed without great sacrifice. Many people speculate whether the IOC will consider the current political climate when making its final decision - perhaps awarding 2024 to Paris in light of President Macron's ascendancy, and giving the Games to LA in 2028, so they are not hosted during Trump's administration.


Former Team USA Gymnastics Doctor Pleads Guilty to Possession of Child Pornography

Dr. Larry Nassar, former team doctor to the women's Team USA Gymnastics who was accused of sexually assaulting scores of women and girls, also faces unrelated federal charges of possession of child pornography. This week he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty. He is being sued by over 100 women and girls who claim that he sexually assaulted them, and faces three criminal cases in the Lansing, MI area.


Police Say That Prior to Crash, Venus Williams Lawfully Entered Intersection

After reviewing new evidence, police investigating the fatal crash involving Venus Williams issued a new report stating that Williams lawfully entered the intersection prior to the crash. The initial report stated that she ran a red light, causing another vehicle driving through the intersection with the right of way to crash into her car. Jerome Barton, the passenger in the car, later died in the hospital from injuries sustained in the crash. The Barton family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams. The police investigation is ongoing. Williams has publicly expressed her devastation over Barton's death.


FBI Investigated Basketball Hall-of-Famer Bob Knight

The Washington Post reported this week that Basketball Hall of Fame Coach Bob Knight was investigated by the FBI and the Army over complaints of inappropriate behavior back in 2015. Four women accused Knight of groping them at an event held at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in Springfield, VA. The FBI interviewed Knight at his home following the allegations, and dropped the investigation shortly thereafter.


U.S. Women's Open - Trump National Golf Club

This year's the U.S. Women's Open Golf Championship is being held at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, NJ. The women playing in the tournament find themselves having to reconcile the Donald Trump they know - a staunch supporter of women's golf in general and many of the players individually - and President Trump, who presents himself as insensitive to women and often disparages them, consciously or unconsciously. The club has served as Trump's summer retreat from Washington. LPGA player Cristie Kerr has known Trump since her early career, and says that he was proactively supportive of women golfers; often hosting the LPGA at Mar-a-Lago and inviting the women to join him on his informal rounds of golf. She often doesn't recognize the public face of President Trump, which is in sharp contrast to the supporter she knew. Lizette Salas, on the other hand, has long been critical of Trump. Salas is the top-earning American female golfer, and long has felt what she calls "subtle sexism" that pervades the sport. Bedminster has been slated to host this year's tournament since 2012 - and regardless of how the women feel about Trump, they recognize the increased visibility that women's golf will receive due to the venue for this year's Open.


Persistent Use of Offensive Chant at Gold Cup Games

Despite concerted efforts to end soccer fans' uses of an offensive chant at this week's Concacaf Gold Cup tournament, Concacaf officials acknowledged that changing fan behavior is a longer-term process. Strategies included a fan education program, public fan pledges not to use the offensive chant, and blocking the chant over the international broadcast feed by adding pretaped crowd noise to drown it out. The chant remained audible over the broadcast through the announcers' microphones, which picked it up. Ending the chant is especially important to the Mexican soccer federation, which has been fined by FIFA due to fan behavior related to the chant. If the individual federations' efforts do not yield results, FIFA has its own plan to implement - including possible team forfeits if they can't control their fans' behavior.


Cancer Leads to Death of Central Figure in FIFA Scandal

One of the central figures in the FIFA scandal died this week in New Jersey. Chuck Blazer, a former member of FIFA's Executive Committee, was in the middle of the investigation of corruption in international soccer. What started with Blazer's failure to file personal income tax returns, lead to an international investigation of improprieties in the soccer world, including racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering. The case in the U.S. alone included over 40 defendants. In Europe, Swiss authorities made a surprise arrest at FIFA headquarters in 2015, and are conducting an ongoing, independent criminal investigation. Blazer was instrumental in the early stages of the investigation. He cooperated as a witness and provided secret, insider testimony that revealed the international scope of corruption. During his lifetime, Blazer was known as an eccentric figure who dominated the soccer world. He earned the nickname "Mr. 10 Percent" from his uncanny ability to collect commissions. His lavish lifestyle and public persona ultimately could not mask the money laundering, bribes, unauthorized ticket sales, and kickback payments. He quickly agreed to cooperate and recorded conversations with international soccer officials for the authorities. FIFA barred him for life from soccer-related activities, but he was never formally sentenced for his criminal acts.



Big Win for Google in French Tax Case

Google is celebrating a big victory in France, as a French court ruled in its favor, agreeing that Google did not have to pay $1.3 billion in back taxes the French government claims it is owed for services Google sold in France through its Irish-based subsidiary. Ireland is a popular tax haven in Europe due to its low corporate tax rates. Many global companies, including Google, opened subsidiaries in Ireland in order to take advantage of these favorable tax rates. Google also has a French subsidiary, which employs 700 people. Despite this presence in France, the company used its Irish-based division to sell goods and services to consumers in France. French authorities argued that Google's French employees were "instrumental" in selling the services, even though the contracts were with the Irish subsidiary. The French court agreed with Google that the company operated within the bounds of French law and international business standards. Tax authorities in France plan to appeal the decision.


Trump Administration Planning to Rescind "Start Up Visa" Rule for Foreign Entrepreneurs

The International Entrepreneur Rule was designed under the Obama administration to use the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) "Parole authority" to allow qualifying foreign entrepreneurs temporary entry into the United States without a visa. In order to qualify for the program, an entrepreneur would have to have concrete, significant financial backing. The duration of the stay was to be limited to 30 months, with the opportunity for an extension. Many in the tech world lauded this as a way to boost the startup industry. DHS this week announced that it would delay, if not fully eliminate, the rule, in response to President Trump's January 25, 2017 Executive Order on improvements to border security and immigration enforcement. Silicon Valley is dismayed - tech leaders are saying that the U.S. will lose credibility as a "beacon of innovation", and that the decision to potentially rescind the rule is short-sighted and underestimates the value of jobs and industry growth foreign entrepreneurs bring when they decide to launch their businesses in the U.S. Implementation of the rule is delayed until March 14, 2018, during which time DHS will solicit public comments on its plan to fully rescind the rule.


In Effort to Wire Rural Communities, Microsoft Attempting to Harness Unused TV Channels

10 years in the making, Microsoft announced its plans to tap into "white space", or unused TV channels, as a vehicle to provide Internet access to rural parts of the country that are without access to broadband service. Called "super Wi-Fi", the technology behaves like Wi-Fi, but instead of using broadband technology, it uses low-powered TV channels. Super Wi-Fi is more powerful than traditional wireless access, because the vehicle, TV channels, cover greater distances than wireless hot spots. It also is more powerful than cellular technology, because it can penetrate concrete barriers and other obstacles. Over 24 million people in rural areas are currently without Internet access, and Microsoft believes that this is an untapped market ripe for development. There are many barriers to this effort, including the current prohibitive cost of white-space technology. Devices compatible with white-space technology cost upwards of $1,000. Rural areas don't provide economies of scale to incentivize device makers to find ways to reduce costs. Microsoft has four devices it believes can be produced at a cost to consumers of $200 each. The bigger hurdle, however, may be regulatory. Microsoft is seeking approval from federal and state regulators to guarantee the use of the unused TV channels. TV broadcasters are fighting back against white-space technology, which they argue causes interference with broadcasts being run on neighboring channels.


News Outlets/Bargaining Rights Against Google & Facebook

In an effort to increase their bargaining power against media behemoths Google and Facebook, a group of news publishers joined together in an effort to bargain collectively with Google and Facebook regarding digital distribution of the news. Spearheaded by the News Media Alliance, the group will ask Congress for a limited antitrust exemption. By seeking approval to negotiate together, they can avoid the trouble book publishers faced when they participated in Apple's online book platform. The publishers buy-in to this effort is wide - including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, plus a large number of mid-size regional papers. Google and Facebook provide an alternate digital portal to news stories, on which publishers rely to reach a broad audience. Beyond reaching a larger audience, the group's efforts are motivated by the desire to preserve quality journalism - which is expensive to produce and difficult to compete against quick news stories (think "Pope Endorses Trump" and "Millions of Illegal Votes"). Facebook and Google are eager to support journalism. Facebook is working with publishers to develop new ways to sell subscriptions, and Google has changed the algorithms in its News Lab to favor quality news stories. Publishers recognize the efforts, but "economic imbalances" leave them without many options, especially as Facebook and Google hold close to 60% of the online advertising market. Although this type of clearance to collectively bargain is not often granted, Rupert Murdoch, Executive Chairman of News Corporation, brings a significant amount of influence to the table with both Congressional Republicans and the White House.


Measured Choice Between Facebook and YouTube for Internet Video Stars

For years YouTube has been the preferred platform for Internet video stars. YouTube shares ad revenue with its stars, which can generate large revenue streams for those with large followings. Its platform allows for subscription-based viewing, allowing stars to develop large numbers of devoted fans. As people go to YouTube
specifically to watch videos, the format trends towards longer videos. Historically, Facebook has been seen as a platform best suited for shorter video clips - viewers tend to "stumble" on videos rather than visit the site to watch specific content. Facebook is trying to change this with the introduction of Facebook Live and a pilot program aimed to cultivate Internet video stars, or "creators". In its pilot program, Facebook paid out up to $220,000 for creators to produce exclusive content. The company believes that its platform can provide similar ad revenue as YouTube. Although the participants in the pilot program have received substantial income, some creators are hesitant to make the switch while the program is in its early stages. Despite the inherent differences between the two platforms, many stars use both sites as part of their overall strategy to reach viewers. YouTube tends to be used for more substantive content delivery, and Facebook for marketing purposes and introducing brands to wider audiences. The two companies recently added features to make them more like each other - Facebook added a dedicated video tab, and YouTube recently added a feature that allows people to share videos directly with friends and added a group messaging component. The two platforms offer distinct avenues to viewers for creators, and while some prefer one over the other, many have learned to leverage the features and strengths of both to reach the widest audiences possible.


AT&T and Time Warner Deal Hanging in Mid-Air

The first major business deal under the Trump Administration will set the tone for the business world - and everyone is paying close attention. A proposed deal between AT&T and Time Warner has been intensely scrutinized by antitrust officers for months, but remains in limbo as key vacancies in the Justice Department are still unfilled, and as President Trump stated his opposition to the deal and shown willingness to use his administration's oversight as leverage over Time Warner's news network, CNN. While AT&T and Time Warner don't directly compete, antitrust issues are present, due to AT&T's nationwide wireless and DirecTV satellite service, which could be used to charge media companies and other cable and satellite companies' higher fees. For example, AT&T could charge Dish network higher fees for Time Warner content, which in turn could be passed along to rural customers who rely on satellite services. Several lawmakers have spoken out against any efforts by the White House to influence the merger review in light of Trump's contentious relationship with CNN. To some, it comes across as an inappropriate attempt by the government to use "law enforcement authority to alter or censor the press." Despite this increased scrutiny of the merger review, AT&T expects the deal will be approved - and has spent a significant amount of time and money on lobby efforts to see it through to the end.


FCC Opposition Unites Tech Industry in a "Day of Action" Online Protest

Internet companies and public policy groups banded together for what they dubbed a "Day of Action". The protest was aimed at the FCC and its plans to overturn net neutrality rules. Many tech giants are against loosening net neutrality rules, firmly arguing that the rules protect them from broadband companies treating them unfairly. Among those involved were Netflix, Amazon, Reddit, Twitter, and Etsy. Facebook and Google participated through its leaders. The twist in the protest was that many companies that have been active in pushing to rewrite net neutrality rules made statements in support of the protest. Among the companies seen to be in favor of loosening net neutrality rules, but which indicated their support of the protest, were Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T. Two possible explanations for this curious support are mere puffery - an attempt to manipulate public perception of the companies' stance on net neutrality, or, more plausibly, that the companies believe the better approach to net neutrality is through Congressional legislation, not FCC regulation. While legislation may be hard to come by, many are starting to think that it is a better, long-term solution to the neutrality fight. Perhaps a better outcome can be achieved through a legislative approach, taking into consideration business and consumer interests - which are often more aligned than it initially appears. Broadband companies have a healthy monetary interest in keeping their consumers happy. Deregulation that leads to slower load times, paid bundles of services are likely to anger consumers, hurting the bottom lines. The landscape may be ripe for legislative compromise, and the Day of Action brought to light this willingness to negotiate.



Tronic Bid to Acquire the Chicago Sun-Times Stymied by Investment Group

An investment group headed by businessman Edwin Eisendrath and the Chicago Federation of Labor won its bid to acquire the Chicago Sun-Times, ending months of speculation that the city would become a one-paper town. Publishing company Tronic, which owns The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, and The Baltimore Sun, was heavily favored to acquire the Sun-Times. The Sun-Times took matters in its own hands when it looked like Tronic was all but confirmed to finalize the acquisition, by publishing a full-page ad saying that it was looking for new ownership. Former owner of the Sun-Times Michael W. Ferreo Jr. became a majority stakeholder in Tronic in 2011, and transferred ownership of the Sun-Times to a charitable trust to avoid appearance of a conflict of interest. In response to concern that Tronic and Ferro would own two newspapers in Chicago, Eisendrath rallied the support of over 300 labor groups to submit a bid for the paper.


July 22, 2017

Week in Review

By Michael Smith

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into Entertainment, Art, Sports, and Media. First, of general interest:

Polish Parliament Curtails Judicial Independence

On Saturday, Poland's Parliament finally approved a measure that, if signed by the President (who is expected to do so) would replace the current court with a new panel of judges, and create a "disciplinary chamber" to "watch the obedience of judges and representatives of legal professions," according to Marek Chmaj, a constitutional law expert at the University of Warsaw.


Kentucky Must Pay Fees for Refusing Same-Sex Marriage License

On Friday, a federal judge ordered the State of Kentucky to pay more than $224,000 in legal fees and costs occasioned by the refusal of Kim Davis, a county clerk, to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples, in violation of the Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples.


Ignorance is Bliss in Jury Room

The New York Times explores what it says is a trend toward ignorance and banality in the selection of jurors, at least in high-profile cases.


Department of Homeland Security Will Release up to 15,000 H-2B Summer Visas

The Department of Homeland Security announced that it will release up to 15,000 additional seasonal visas to businesses that prove they will suffer irreparable harm without foreign workers. The number of available visas was halved in December, when Congress chose not to renew a provision that exempted previously-admitted workers from counting against the quota.


Non-Disparagement Clauses Could Frustrate Harassment Claims

The increasingly common inclusion of non-disparagement clauses in employment contracts, especially at tech companies, may be having a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual harassment, which is also pervasive in tech companies.



Spotify Slammed over "Fake" Artists on Playlists

Music streaming service Spotify came under fire for allegedly stacking its playlists with songs by "fake" artists who it either controls or with whom it has sweetheart deals. Many of these songs are pseudonymous instrumental works ("mood music") that Spotify may have commissioned, and for which it likely pays lower royalties than it does to publicly-known musicians. Spotify denies owning the rights to these songs, and asserts that their placement on playlists is based solely on popularity.


Warner Takes (Better) Half of Songkick

Songkick, a British company that handles concert ticket sales and provides concert listings and recommendations, sold its name and concert-recommendation service to Warner Music Group for an undisclosed amount. Warner did not buy Songkick's ticket sales business, which has been embroiled in antitrust litigation with its biggest competitor, Ticketmaster.


Frog v. Mouse

Steve Whitmire, the performer who was the voice of Kermit the Frog between Jim Henson's death in 1990 and last October, when Disney (which bought the Muppets from the Jim Henson Company in 2004) fired him, spoke out about the termination. Whitmire called the decision a "betrayal", and claimed that he was terminated without warning for "minor reasons". Disney said that Whitmire was hostile to co-workers and difficult in contract negotiations. Members of the Henson family supported the dismissal.


DMX Pleads Not Guilty to Tax Fraud

Earl Simmons, a/k/a DMX, pleaded not guilty to 14 charges of federal tax fraud charges on Friday and was released on a $500,000 bond. Prosecutors allege that X din' give it to tha IRS.



House Committee Approves Funding for Arts, Humanities

The Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would appropriate $145 million for each of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. President Trump's proposed budget would have eliminated both agencies.


Mayor's "Cultural Plan" Ties Funds to Diversity

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a "cultural plan" for the city that would link funding to museums and art groups to the diversity of their employees and board members.


Antiquities Dealer Sues The Wall Street Journal over ISIS Article

Hicham Aboutaam, co-owner of Manhattan gallery Phoenix Ancient Art, sued The Wall Street Journal for defamation. Aboutaam claims that his "personal and professional reputation and business opportunities have been decimated" by an article stating that he was under investigation for possibly trafficking in artifacts looted by ISIS.


Judge Blocks Auction of Madonna Memorabilia

New York Supreme Court Justice Gerald Lebovits granted Madonna's request for a preliminary injunction halting the sale of 22 personal items by a former friend. Madonna contends that she still owns those items and that the auction site, GottaHaveRockandRoll.com, has no right to sell them.


Judge Green-Lights Prince Copyright Suit

Judge Sidney H. Stein of the Southern District denied artist Richard Prince's motion to dismiss a copyright case filed against him by the photographer whose work Prince used in an installation in which he printed Instagram posts on large canvases with his own comments. Prince, who made headlines recently when he returned in protest a $36,000 payment for a work featuring Ivanka Trump, responded with a very Trumpian tweet: "Phony fraud photographers keep mooching me. Why? I changed the game...."


Grave Robbing on the Rise in China

As global demand for Chinese antiquities rises, the Chinese countryside has seen an uptick in tomb-raiding. China's State Administration of Cultural heritage reported over 100 such cases in 2016, and many more are believed to have gone undetected. Up to eight out of every 10 tombs in China has been robbed, according to that agency.


Syrian Performers (Mostly) Make it to U.S. in Time for Performance

Eight of the nine Syrian cast and crew members of "While I Was Waiting" were permitted entry into the United States in time to open Wednesday at Lincoln Center. It was long feared that the show would have to be canceled due to President Trump's travel ban, and many of the cast and crew, coming from six different countries, faced difficulties.


Modigliani Exhibit Closes After Allegations of Fraud

An exhibit in Genoa featuring the work of Amedeo Modigliani closed early this week, after Italian prosecutors alleged that one third of the works were fakes. The investigation began when art collector Carlo Pepi, who saw images of the works online, said the exhibition's catalog was "full of fakes."


Dalí Still Keepin' it Surreal

The body of Spanish artist Salvador Dalí was exhumed earlier this week, after a woman claiming to be his daughter obtained a court order authorizing a paternity test. Pilar Abel, a fortune-teller, could claim part of an estate worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Which is all well and good, but the real story here is that Dalí's famous mustache remains intact!


Looted Painting held by Goering Returned

A Renaissance-era painting owned by a German banker was looted by the Nazis during World War II and added to Hermann Goering's enormous collection. The piece recently was found and returned to the banker's heirs.


Harvard's A.R.T. Institute Suspends Admissions for Three Years

Harvard's graduate program in theater, known as the A.R.T. Institute (named after the school's American Repertory Theater), halted admissions to "work on a strategic plan for the Institute." Earlier this year, the institute was named on a list of predatory schools whose students amass more debt than they can afford to repay, and its long-time director, Scott Zigler, left last month to become dean of UNCSA's drama school.


Macmillan Books' Newest Imprint: Celadon

Jamie Raab and Deb Futter, who left Hachette's Grand Central Publishing late last year, founded Celadon Books, a new publishing division of Macmillan. Celadon plans to publish 20-25 fiction and non-fiction titles per year.



Judge OK's Discovery into "Deceptive Practices" Targeting Former National Football League Players

The federal judge presiding over the National Football League concussion settlement authorized plaintiffs' lawyers to investigate reports that companies have been trying to take advantage of retired football players by offering to help fill out paperwork for a fee, or to obtain helpful diagnoses. The judge indicated that she might void agreements that were based on deceptive or misleading solicitations.


Former Ohio State University Linebacker Leads Suit for Unauthorized Use of Likeness

Chris Spielman, who played football for Ohio State University (OSU) from 1985-1987, filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of current and former OSU players, alleging that OSU conspired with IMG College (a sports marketing company that negotiates licenses on behalf of schools) and advertisers like Honda and Nike to use the likenesses of Buckeyes without permission or payment.


Brazil Won't Punish Lochte

The criminal case against American swimmer Ryan Lochte, who was charged with filing a false robbery report in Brazil during the Rio Olympics, was dismissed.


Texas Trying to Get Back up in Your Bathroom Stuff Again

The so-called "bathroom bill" that would require restrooms, showers, and changing facilities in public locations "must be designated for and used only by persons of the same sex as stated on the person's birth certificate", is back under consideration before the Texas Senate. The bill died last year under pressure from pro-business Republicans concerned about the loss of revenue from relocated sports events and economic boycotts similar to those estimated to have cost North Carolina hundreds of millions of dollars when it passed a similar law.


Boxing Federation in Financial Straits

Boxing's international federation, known as the AIBA, borrowed millions from Azerbaijani investors, and sold a major stake in its marketing subsidiary to a Chinese investor. Now, it may be on the hook for tens of millions of dollars. Accounting irregularities and reports of minimal cash flow have raised serious questions about AIBA's ability to repay the Azerbaijani loan, and the Chinese investor wants his money back.



Trans-Pacific Partnership (Minus US) May Still Impact IP, Digital

The 11 other countries involved in the negotiation of the (TPP), a multinational trade agreement intended to shore up economic power against China, met this week in Hakone, Japan to discuss reviving the deal. In its present form, the TPP contemplates the loosening of restrictions over the cross-border transfer of online data, including requirements regarding the locations of servers. It also seeks to level the playing field in service industries like software, legal, and IT.


British Broadcasting Corporation So White

The annual report of the British Broadcasting Corporation includes contains information regarding the amounts that it paid to its top stars (i.e., performers earning over £150,000 per year) last year. According to the New York Times, the data show a lack of gender parity and a dearth of minority stars.


China Comes Down Hard on Soft Cultural Icons of the West

A recurring meme in Chinese social media is the resemblance between Winnie-the-Pooh and Chinese President Xi Jinping. When such comparisons are on the rise, the Chinese government swings the ban-hammer. Days after reports that China is once again censoring posts about the plush bear, the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture announced that Justin Bieber was banned from China for "bad behavior". Like the bear after which Pooh was named, Bieber comes from Canada. Coincidence?



China Blocks WhatsApp

Turning its attention briefly from its censorship of a childish cartoon character and Winnie-the-Pooh, China also partly blocked use of FaceBook's messaging app, WhatsApp, preventing users from sending videos and photos. Facebook and Instagram are already fully blocked in China.


About July 2017

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in July 2017. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2017 is the previous archive.

August 2017 is the next archive.

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