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November 5, 2017

Week In Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter, Esq.

President Assails "Joke" Justice and Seeks Visa Program's End

President Trump used the recent terrorist attack in Manhattan to advance his immigration agenda. The attack on pedestrians walking on a popular bike path caused the death of eight people. The devastating midday attack was decried by many as a cowardly, horrendous act. President Trump took to Twitter, tweeting that the American justice system is "a joke" and that he would send the perpetrator to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He later reversed his position on the military prison, but continued to tweet that the perpetrator should get the death penalty.


Securities Exchange Commission Warns Celebrities Who Promote Virtual Coins

The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a statement this week warning celebrities of possible criminality when promoting virtual coins. The SEC's Enforcement Division and Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations stated that "celebrities and others using social media networks" to make endorsements "to encourage the public to purchase stocks and other investments...may be unlawful if they do not disclose the nature, source, and amount of any compensation paid, directly or indirectly, by the company in exchange for the endorsement." Investors are warned to seek additional information before being influenced by persons who may not have the expertise to ensure that the proposed investment is appropriate.


Protecting the Disgraced

There's a term for when high-profile employees benefit from "the willingness of companies' supposed overseers to ignore credible allegations in order to retain a perceived star." The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission calls them "superstar harassers." According to a 2016 EEOC report on sexual harassment, superstar harassers only account for a small portion of reported allegations. However, because of their status, they cast a long shadow. "Superstars are able to evade the consequences of their actions for years, and they exert outsize influence over their organizations." An employer's reasoning that it cannot afford to lose a perceived "high-performer" is often incorrect, because such "toxic employees" tend to drive out other employees, and the costs to keep the superstar, such as settlements and legal fees, far outweigh the benefits of keeping the superstar.


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


Top Producer Faces Harassment Allegations

Brett Ratner, another prominent Hollywood producer, is accused of sexual harassment by several actresses. Ratner, whose films include "Rush Hour" and "The Revenant," stepped away from his projects with Warner Brothers where he has a co-financing agreement. Some of his accusers include Natasha Henstridge and Olivia Munn. The allegations stem over a period of two decades.


Netflix Halts Production on "House of Cards" Amid Scandal, and Actor Kevin Spacey is Suspended Pending an Investigation

Netflix, the streaming media service, suspended production on its hit series "House of Cards" after allegations against its star, Kevin Spacey. Spacey was accused by actor Anthony Rapp of "unwanted sexual advances toward him in the 1980s, when Mr. Rapp was 14 and Mr. Spacey was in his mid-20s." The show was already scheduled to end this season, according to a Netflix spokesperson. As a result of the scandal, Spacey's online acting lesson videos on MasterClass have been pulled, and a documentary about Gore Vidal in which he was to star and produce is no longer moving forward.


Paralyzed Concertgoer Sues Travis Scott

Travis Scott, a rapper known for his "high-octane punk shows," is being sued by a concertgoer. Kyle Green was paralyzed in April when he was pushed from a third-story balcony while attending Scott's concert at Manhattan's Terminal 5. Videotape from The Bowery Presents concert shows Scott encouraging concertgoers to jump from the second-floor balcony. Green, a 23-year-old student, must now use a wheelchair. The NY State Supreme Court lawsuit was filed in Manhattan and also names Scott's manager, the concert promoter, and the concert's security company.



Artist's Ex-Assistant Charged with Theft

Arturo Rucci, a former assistant of prominent visual artist Sean Scully, was arrested recently for stealing the painter's work. Scully, whose works have sold for over $1 million, discovered that his works were missing by a chance email from an auction house that was attempting to confirm details on three works in its possession. His works were stolen from his storage space by Rucci, who worked for him as an inventory worker. Rucci's arrest is yet another in a series of arrests for theft by artist assistants.


A Scapegoat for the Fashion Industry

Some of the biggest fashion magazines in the industry have begun to cut ties with Terry Richardson after a renewed outcry of his sexual harassment allegations. In 2014, Richardson was accused of "cavorting naked at shoots and forcing his penis on models" and was effectively blacklisted. Charges were never brought forward, and no new allegations have arisen. He has since entered therapy, married, and became a father. He had begun to gain work again in the fashion industry when Elle's editor Nina Garcia commissioned him for work. However, Conde Nast International, Net-a-Porter, and Hearst and brands Valentino, Bulgari, and Diesel recently cut ties with Richardson. Many are speculating that he is being made a scapegoat in light of the recent rash of sexual harassment accusations across the entertainment and media industries.


An Ancient Limestone Relief Is Confiscated at an Art Fair

The European Fine Art Fair was disrupted last week when prosecutors "seized an ancient limestone bas-relief of a Persian soldier with shield and spear" from the Park Avenue Armory where the fair was in session. London antiquities dealer Rupert Wace was selling the artifact valued at $1.2 million. The Manhattan district attorney's office handled the seizure. No arrests were made.


Where Mice Are Underfoot, Some Call It Cruel

"The Social Network," an art exhibit featuring live mice in clear Plexiglas boxes designed to be stepped upon, drew criticism that calls into question cruelty of animals. The artist Joseph Grazi, who keeps the mice well fed, says the animals are feeder mice that were bred to be eaten. Critics protested the exhibit. Natasha Millikan, a rodent activist, explained that the mice "have the instinct to be terrified by anything up above them. Even shadows." The Guggenheim dismantled exhibitions with live animals recently. The Castle Fitzjohns Gallery owner, where "The Social Network" may be viewed and stepped on, sees things differently, stating, "the public response has revealed the challenge of weighing criticism against artistic repression."



Judge Reinstates Elliott's Six-Game Suspension

Ezekiel Elliott has 24 hours to appeal a U.S. District Court Judge's decision to deny the player's union request for a preliminary injunction. Without an appeal, Elliott will be out beginning on Sunday, November 5th with eligibility to return on December 17th. National Football League Commissioner Goodell initially issued his suspension, stemming from allegations of assault in 2016.


Astros' Yuli Gurriel Banned From Five Games for Racist Gesture, but Not During the World Series

Yuli Gurriel, the Houston Astros' first baseman, was caught on camera in the dugout pulling his face back to slant his eyes. He also appeared to say "Chinito" toward Yu Darvish, from the Los Angeles Dodgers, from whom he had just homered. This racially insensitive gesture went viral and cost Gurriel a five-game suspension starting at the beginning of the 2018 season. The Major League Baseball Players Association decided on the punishment start date in consideration of Gurriel's teammates and a financial penalty that could only be applied in the new season.



Fiery Exchanges on Capitol Hill as Lawmakers Scold Facebook, Google, and Twitter

Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee took the tech giants to task for "failing to better identify, defuse and investigate Russia's campaign to manipulate American voters over social media during the 2016 presidential campaign." Facebook, Google, and Twitter each sent its general counsel to testify at the ire of committee members on both sides of the aisle, who were expecting to hear from the high-profile CEOs who were noticeably absent.


Russian Content on Facebook, Google, and Twitter Reached Far More Users Than Companies First Disclosed, Congressional Testimony Says

Testimony at recent congressional hearings revealed how far and vast the Russian content was on social media during the 2016 campaign period. Facebook, Google, and Twitter disclosed that the numbers reported earlier were considerably low. Many speculate that the tech companies purposely under reported the numbers so as not to raise scrutiny. Facebook now reports that as many as 126 million people were exposed to the Russian content, up from its original 10 million figure. Google and Twitter also increased their earlier reports.


Top Editor at National Public Radio Forced Out Amid Harassment Accusations

Michael Oreskes, National Public Radio's (NPR) senior vice president for news and editorial director, was placed on leave due to allegations of sexual harassment. Multiple women accuse him of the offenses while he was the Washington bureau chief at the New York Times in the late 1990s. Oreskes joins the ranks of Mark Halperin, Leon Wieseltier, Hamilton Fish, Roy Price, and Harvey Weinstein who have all fallen due to similar allegations.


Filmmaker Seeks to Redo Documentary on Weinstein

Barry Avrich, a Canadian filmmaker who produced a 2011 documentary on Harvey Weinstein titled "Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project," would like to remake the film. Avrich claims that the online movie distributed by IFC Films was not only "sanitized," but held back from theatrical release in favor of Weinstein. IFC Films refutes these claims. Avrich may proceed with a new film without IFC Films.


Publisher Under Fire for Blocking Article Access

Springer Nature, a leading academic publisher whose publications include Scientific American, International Politics, and Nature, has bowed to the Chinese government's pressure to censor articles on its Chinese websites. Chinese president Xi Jinping has cracked down on publishers who provide content relating to human rights, politics, and other subjects that the Communist Party considers sensitive. Springer Nature defended its actions by stating that it did so to avoid even greater censorship by China.


November 8, 2017

New York Paid Family Leave Forms Are Available

By Kristine A. Sova

The New York Workers' Compensation Board has prepared and released the forms necessary for implementing the New York Paid Family Leave Law, which goes into effect on January 1, 2018. The forms are available on the New York State website.

The available forms include the PFL-1 form, through which employees may request leave, and other forms specific to each covered purpose of paid family leave. The PFL-1 form is attached to the other specific forms pertaining to the sought-after leave:

PFL-2 - for employees requesting leave to bond with a newborn, adopted child or foster child,
PFL-3 and PFL-4 - for employees requesting leave for a family member's serious health condition,
PFL-5 - for employees requesting leave to assist family member(s) due to another family member's active military duty or impending active duty abroad
Also available on the New York State website are the waiver form for employees who will not reach eligibility as well as the Employer's Application for Voluntary Coverage (PFL-135 and PFL-136).

November 14, 2017

Week in Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter, Esq.

Democrats Score Two Big Victories in Trump Rebuke

The most recent election sent a clear message: Americans rebuke President Trump and Republicans. Virginia was decidedly clear, with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam's 9-point victory over Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee. Although Mr. Gillespie introduced wedge issues, such as immigration to Confederate iconography into the race, Virginians rejected that strategy. New Jersey had similar results, with Philip Murphy winning the governorship with a large majority. The Democrats were big winners in local elections across the nation.


Being Famously Wealthy, as Quietly as Possible

Files from one of the world's largest offshore law firms show how the ultra-wealthy hide, keep, and flex their wealth. Documents from the Bermuda offshore law firm Appleby were obtained by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, who shared them with an international journalist consortium. Last year, practices of another firm, Mossack Fonseca, were revealed in the infamous Panama Papers. Offshore firms provide high-profile clients secrecy as well as tax minimization opportunities. Some firms like Appleby "are more scrupulous than others by shunning overtly corrupt criminal clients." Appleby maintains offices in locations that offer "low or zero tax rates." Its spokesperson stated that it has done nothing wrong and is a firm whose job is to advise its clients on legitimate and lawful ways to conduct their businesses.


Prosecutors Drop Criminal Case Against Activist Arrested After Laughing at Sessions

Laughing out loud can be a crime. Just ask Desiree Fairooz. Fairooz, a political activist who attended Attorney General Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing, laughed during the hearing when it was stated that Sessions' record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented." Apparently, this statement struck Fairooz as comical, so much so that she burst out laughing on two occasions and disrupted the confirmation. The 61-year-old activist was arrested on two misdemeanor charges of unlawful conduct. In May, she was convicted by a jury whose conviction was later overturned in July by Chief Judge Robert Morin of the DC Superior Court. The case was set for a retrial this month. Without explanation, federal prosecutors have dropped the case, much to the relief of Fairooz, who saw the legal ordeal as no laughing matter.


Where to Draw the Line on Free Speech? Wedding Cake Case Vexes Lawyers

Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission (No. 16-111), also known as the wedding cake case, is a challenge even for the nation's foremost free speech lawyers. Where to draw the line on protected expression is at issue. Attorneys who once supported freedom of artistic expression find themselves on opposing sides when it comes to cakes. Attorney Floyd Abrams takes the position that "when an artist sells a message, he must take all comers." His amicus brief is also supported by distinguished law school deans Kathleen M. Sullivan and Geoffrey Stone, and filed by former acting Solicitor General Walter Dellinger. Attorneys on the other side--Michael W. McConnell, Richard W. Garnett and Randy E. Barnett--filed a brief supporting the Colorado baker Jack Phillips. Their position is that the "state's effort to compel Phillips to use his artistic talent in a manner that's violative of his sincere convictions offends the vital constitutional commitment to freedom of expression." Eugene Volokh, another leading First Amendment scholar, took a different position in support of the gay couple, David Mullins and Charlie Craig, stating "cakes may be tasty and pretty, but creating them is not an expression protected by the First Amendment." He's opposed by attorneys once on the same side. Professor Dale Carpenter and the Cato Institute in their brief support the baker, stating, "the fact that the [baker's] medium are icing and chocolate rather than ink or paint does nothing to diminish the artistic content of his work." The case will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court next month.


Uneven Breaks Among the Wealthy

How you earn your millions will be impacted by the new tax revisions. The Republican tax bill would be bad for professional athletes. High-earning owners of certain businesses known as pass-through entities would receive large tax breaks, while millionaires who earn money solely from their high-salaried employment would take a tax hit. Once drafted, the tax bill would "likely cut the taxes of Robert Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, while likely raising the taxes on Tom Brady, the team's quarterback." Members of the House Ways and Means Committee began debating the bill last week. President Trump is pushing to have the tax bill passed by the end of this year.


In Frustration, President Flays Justice System

President Trump crossed the lines traditionally held by sitting presidents by ridiculing the Justice Department and making public statements calling for criminal executions. He called the Justice Department "a joke," called for the execution of the individual who plowed his van over pedestrians in Manhattan, and scolded the FBI "for not investigating his political opponents." Some political leaders and attorneys caution that President Trump's actions are inappropriate, while some conservatives state that "it would be dangerous to have an attorney general and an FBI director who do not answer to elected leaders." Nevertheless, President Trump's comments exceed what presidents have done, by way of political pressure, to law enforcement since Watergate.


Is the Terrorism Trial Process "a Joke"? Experts Say No

President Trump called the terrorism trial process "a joke," despite numerous convictions. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee explained that President Trump was expressing his frustration with the system when he tweeted that the Manhattan attack terror suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, should be executed. President Trump overlooked the fact that most terrorists are not captured alive, and those who are captured have been dealt with swiftly.


President Assails "Joke" Justice and Seeks Visa Program's End

President Trump was eager after the recent terrorist attack in Manhattan to advance his policy on immigration. The driver of the van that plowed into pedestrians on a popular bike path was from Uzbekistan. Trump "pressed Congress to end a visa lottery program that allowed the immigrant driver into the country." The Diversity Visa Lottery program, referred to by President Trump, was enacted in 1990 with bipartisan support. It has since been proposed to be terminated as part of a comprehensive immigration plan that was passed by the Senate in 2013 but was "blocked in the House by Republicans."


Trump Accusers Feel Forgotten, But a Lawsuit May End That

Women who made claims of sexual misconduct against Donald Trump during his presidential campaign expressed dismay that their claims were swept under the rug, while recent accusations against high-profile executives received widespread support and attention. Temple Taggart, Summer Zervos, and Jessica Leeds are among the more than 10 women who made allegations against President Trump for misconduct before his presidency. Zervos brought a defamation lawsuit against President Trump, claiming that he defamed her while on the campaign trail, when he called her and his other accusers liars and Hillary Clinton operatives. Her suit is before Judge Jennifer Schecter of the New York Supreme Court.


Tariq Ramadan, Oxford Scholar, Takes Leave After Rape Allegations

Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies at the University of Oxford, was accused of rape by two women--one in 2012 and one in 2009. Another four women came forth with claims that he sexually harassed them in 2002, while in Geneva when they were students. Ramadan denies all the allegations. However,the University put him on a leave of absence so that he can address the accusations. It also stated that the leave of absence should not be taken as a presumption of guilt.


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


On the Dance Floor, Everybody Cut Footloose (Legally)

What would you do if a law that fined you for swaying at a rock concert was lifted? Shake your groove thing! That's what bars across the five boroughs are doing, since the 1926 Cabaret Law was struck down. The Prohibition-era law made it illegal to host musical entertainment, singing and dancing, or other forms of amusement without a license. The licensing process is onerous as well as cost prohibitive. Only 97 out of 25,000 establishments possess a license. It has been a long and arduous process to have the law repealed. The City Council vote was welcomed with dancing.


Comic Admits to Sexual Misconduct as Media Companies Sever Ties

In a written statement, Louis C.K. acknowledged that he engaged in sexual misconduct with the five women named in a recent New York Times article. He admitted that although he asked these women first if it was okay, he realizes now that because of the power he wielded, "the request wasn't a question to the women but a predicament." The repercussions have been swift. His publicist, agent, and several production companies have dropped him.


Swiss Won't Pursue Latest Polanski Case

The statute of limitations has expired for a 45-year-old sexual assault claim against Roman Polanski. His accuser, Renate Langer, now 61, filed a police report in September, claiming that the director raped her when she was 15. Polanski contests the new allegation. He remains a fugitive from the United States, after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor in 1978.


Weinstein Company Records Subpoenaed

Manhattan prosecutors issued a subpoena for Harvey Weinstein's former company and two law firms that represented him in furtherance of its investigation into sexual assault allegations. The prosecutors are seeking documents on Weinstein's settlements relating to sexual misconduct and payroll records, among others. The law firm Boies Schiller Flexner represented his production company, and the Morvillo firm defended him against sexual assault accusations in 2015.


Harvey Weinstein Hires Two Renowned Lawyers

Harvey Weinstein hired two high-powered attorneys on both coasts to represent him in his mounting sexual assault suits in Manhattan and Los Angeles. In Manhattan, he will be represented by Benjamin Brafman (who was a panelist during the 2017 EASL Annual Meeting), who has an esteemed reputation for high-profile clients, like Sean Combs for gun possession and Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Sanford I. Rubinstein, who both faced sexual assault allegations. On the West Coast, he will be represented by Blair Berk, who represented him last year, as well as artist CeeLo Green.


Weinstein Work Puts New Glare on Lawyers

Respected litigator David Boies recently found himself in the spotlight. Representing high profile clients ranging from Harvey Weinstein, to Adelphia, and even the New York Times, Boies is known to be hard-nosed. However, his ethics were recently questioned when it was reported that his firm, Boies Schiller Flexner, hired a private investigation company to investigate the New York Times, while the firm was representing Harvey Weinstein. According to a New Yorker exposé, the law firm helped hire the private investigation firm to block a negative article about Weinstein on which reporters for the New York Times were working. The New York Times is ending its relationship with the law firm. Many in the legal community are speculating as to whether there are any ethical violations.


Police Building Case to Arrest Movie Mogul

The Manhattan Police Department stated that it is gathering evidence against Harvey Weinstein related to allegations of sexual assault by actress Paz de la Huerta. According to Chief Boyce, de la Huerta has "put forth a credible and detailed narrative." However, because the allegations stem from an assault seven years ago and the fact that Weinstein is outside of jurisdiction, Boyce's department is building the case. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. further stated that his office is not yet ready to charge Weinstein.


Prosecutors Examining Transactions Connected to Weinstein and Charity

Harvey Weinstein allegations continue to fly, now for fraud. The office of the Attorney General for the Southern District of New York is investigating a $600,000 transaction to AIDS charity amfAR, chaired by fashion designer Kenneth Cole. Cole stated publicly that the Manhattan-based charity will be cooperating with federal prosecutors. The allegations stem from several transactions involving Weinstein's production "Finding Neverland," the American Repertory Theater, and the charity's fundraiser, chaired by Weinstein.


Spacey Accused of Assaulting an 18-Year-Old Man in 2016

Another person came forward with allegations of sexual assault by Kevin Spacey. Heather Unruh, a longtime TV broadcaster in Boston, issued a public statement that Spacey sexually assaulted her son last summer, when the boy was only 18 years old. The incident occurred at a Nantucket bar, and was reported to the Nantucket police. Spacey has been under fire since Anthony Rapp announced that he was sexually assaulted by the lauded actor 31 years ago, when Rapp was only 14 years old.


Spacey Is Dropped from Finished Movie

Hollywood continues to distance itself from Kevin Spacey in the aftermath of his sexual assault allegations. Director Ridley Scott dropped Spacey from his film, "All the Money in the World". Spacey had already filmed eight days of his character, John Paul Getty, yet will be recast by Christopher Plummer, an unusual move for a film already finished and scheduled for release in December. However, Scott was concerned that Spacey's involvement in the film may affect moviegoers and film critics, even though he is unrecognizable under his makeup for his supporting role.


Meek Mill's Lawyer Accuses Judge of Bias

After Robert Rahmeek Williams, professionally known as Meek Mill, was sentenced to two to four years in prison for probation violations, his attorney Joe Tacopina accused Judge Genece E. Brinkley of extreme bias against the rapper. Tacopina stated that the judge behaved inappropriately during the case by asking to be named in one of the rapper's songs and counseling on who should be his manager. Williams was on probation for a 2008 conviction on possession of guns and drugs. There are plans to appeal the sentence.


Lawyers Ready as Accusations of Sex Offenses Flood Internet

With online accusations come lawsuits. Sexual assault allegations continue to fly in the news, and especially on social media, with consequences for the accused as well as the accusers. One self-proclaimed victim is finding out the hard way. Melanie Kohler, who now runs a scuba-diving company in Hawaii, took to Facebook to announce that Hollywood producer and director Brett Ratner raped her in 2004 when she was doing marketing in Los Angeles. After a call from Ratner's attorney, Martin Singer, Kohler removed the post. Now, however, she's being sued for defamation. She has her own attorney, Roberta Kaplan. More claims and consequences are anticipated to be seen as more victims become emboldened to go public. Miles Feldman of the Los Angeles law firm Raines Feldman, which handles online defamation cases, said "there is less fear now in making these assertions in various media."


A Film Festival Tests the Limits of Independence in China

The newly launched Pingyao Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon International Film Festival strives to provide a platform for filmmakers in China in the face of President Xi Jinping's era of censorship. The ambitious festival, which aims to be the Sundance of China, is the brainchild of Jia Zhangke. The festival was named in homage to director Ang Lee. For the festival to proceed, all 52 film entries had to be reviewed by government officials, and the festival had to adjust its dates around the Party Congress.


Awards Show Lifts Question Restrictions

The Country Music Awards felt backlash when it tried to wield a heavy hand. Organizers of one of the largest awards shows in the music industry tried to avoid politically sensitive topics by threatening "to revoke the credentials of journalists on the red carpet and backstage who direct coverage 'to the Las Vegas tragedy, gun rights, political affiliations or topics of the like'." Journalists and country music stars took umbrage, going on social media to complain about the CMA's new guidelines. The award show quickly changed its tune and lifted the restrictions.



Court Halts Museum's Plan to Put Rockwell Paintings and Others Up for Auction

The Massachusetts Attorney General appealed Judge Agostini's decision, asking the Massachusetts Court of Appeals for an injunction halting the sale until it had more time to review the museum's plan. The court granted the state's request, stating that "allowing the sale created more of a risk than stopping it." It issued an injunction until December 11, 2017.

Judge Agostini's decision would have allowed the Berkshire Museum to be able to proceed with its planned sale of 40 pieces of art from its collection. Largely criticized since its July announcement, the museum stated that the Sotheby's auction was necessary to "increase its endowment, renovate its building and expand programming." Some of the artwork include artists such as Norman Rockwell, Alexander Calder, and Albert Bierstadt. Rockwell's sons, museum members, and even the Massachusetts attorney general's office opposed the sale.


Court Orders Return of a Looted Pissarro

American couple Robbi and Bruce Toll must return French masterpiece "La Cueillette des Pois," or Picking Peas, by Impressionist Camille Pissarro to descendants of its pre-Holocaust owner, Simon Bauer. Tracing the history of ownership is an unfortunate yet common saga of art seized during the Holocaust. "...Bauer, a Jewish art collector, was detained during World War II in the Drancy internment camp near Paris. When he returned to Paris, he found his art collection had been confiscated by the Vichy government. Before his arrest, he made a detailed list of 93 pieces of art he owned. A Vichy art dealer then sold the painting and it passed through the hands of several buyers eventually landing at Sotheby's in 1966." The painting later came into Christie's possession. The Tolls purchased the work in 1995 at Christie's for $800,000. Last spring, the couple allowed its exhibition at the Musée Marmottan Monet. Bauer's grandson, who is 88, recognized the work when it was exhibited in Paris. The French court ruled against the Tolls but stressed they acted in good faith. It's not clear why the painting was never detected as looted. The Tolls plan to appeal the decision.


Art Fair Director Ousted Over Claims of Harassment

Benjamin Genocchio, executive director of The Armory Show, was replaced amid allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior. Five women claim that they suffered unwanted touching from Genocchio over several years, and a number of women acknowledged being aware of his behavior. He apologized if his behavior was interpreted as disrespectful.



Gymnast Aly Raisman Says Team Doctor Molested Her

American gymnast Aly Raisman revealed that Dr. Nassar, the Olympic team doctor currently awaiting trial for sexual molestation, assaulted her. The 23-year-old team captain revealed the incident on television and in her new book, Fierce. She won the 2012 gold medal for floor exercises. Raisman is the second athlete to come forward recently. Teammate McKayla Maroney and Jamie Dantzscher also accused Dr. Nassar. He is currently awaiting trial for 22 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Over 100 women have accused him of sexual abuse.


UCLA Basketball Team Returns Home from China Without Three Players Who Were Arrested for Shoplifting

UCLA freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley, and Jalen Hill were arrested in China while participating in a Pac-12 basketball tournament. The three players are accused of shoplifting sunglasses from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel. Under Chinese law, if convicted, the players face a one- to two-year sentence based on the value of the stolen sunglasses.


Leak May Expose Full Scope of Russian Doping

The World Anti-Doping Agency announced on Friday that it is now in possession of an electronic file thought to contain all testing data from early 2012 to mid-2015 on "thousands of drug screenings ran on Russian athletes." The global sports drug regulator received the database via a whistleblower. The information on the database is expected to confirm the depth and level of the drug doping violations made by Russia during the 2014 Winter Sochi games. With the new information, the International Olympic Committee could issue stiffer penalties against Russia, including preventing the country's participation in the upcoming Winter Games in South Korea.


Putin Sees Conspiracy After Russian's Doping Ban

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued another set of penalties against Russian athletes for their use of performance-enhancing drugs during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. Four cross-country skiers, Yuliia Ivanova, Alexey Petukhov, Evgeniya Shapovalova and Maksim Vylegzhanin--were disqualified and barred from competing in future Olympics. President Putin called the sanctions an American orchestration in retaliation for Russia's alleged involvement in the U.S. presidential election, stating that Americans are now trying to undermine his upcoming election. He is up for reelection in March 2018. The athletes will likely appeal the decision.


Ban Anthem of Russia? IOC Weighs Drug Penalties

It is expected that the International Olympic Committee will issue its decision on Russia's doping charges as early as December 5th. Some of the possible penalties being considered include barring Russia's national anthem from being sung during the games, preventing the athletic delegation from participating in the opening ceremony, and having the athletes compete under a neutral flag or wear a neutral uniform at an upcoming game. The IOC could also issue financial penalties and bar athletes as well as Russian leaders who were involved in the doping. It is expected that Russia will take the penalties lightly, as it has yet to comply with the IOC's 2015 mandate.


Jones Demands Vote on Goodell's Contract By All National Football League Owners

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones continues his crusade against National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell, now threatening to sue the NFL if it does not alter Commissioner Goodell's new contract extension. Jones is still upset about the way Goodell handled the suspension of Ezekiel Elliott and of players protesting during the national anthem. Jones claims that financial conditions have changed since May, and wants Goodell's new contract to have "less guaranteed pay and more incentives tied to the league's financial performance." He is demanding a full vote by the owners instead of the league compensation committee. It was unanimously agreed upon last spring to approve Goodell's contract extension and to allow the compensation committee to work out the details.


NFL Opposes Republican Tax Bill

If the proposed Republican tax bill is adopted as drafted, local governments could no longer issue bonds to help finance the building and renovating of stadiums. The NFL is opposed to the new bill, stating that "football stadiums stimulate economic development and federal tax breaks should be available." A 2016 Brookings Institute report showed that 36 out of the 45 most recent stadiums built or renovated received a partial tax subsidy.


Women's Marathon Champion Banned

Kenyan Jemima Sumgong, the 2016 women's Olympic marathon winner, tested positive for EPO, a performance-enhancing hormone. The Anti-Doping Agency of Kenya issued her a four-year ban from competing. She will miss the 2019 World Games and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.


Powerful Voice, Tied to Bribery Case, Resurfaces

This week's annual meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees brought out its beleaguered leader who had been out of the spotlight recently. Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah of Kuwait was named a co-conspirator for bribery and corruption earlier this spring by former Guam soccer leader, Richard Lai. In his April plea, Lai claimed that Sheikh Ahmad made off-the-book payments from the Olympic Council of Asia (of which Sheikh is president) to him to "influence key appointments in regionals and international soccer bodies." Although Sheikh Ahmad is currently being investigated by FIFA and the IOC, the leaders that gathered this week "ratified their support by acclimation of a resolution" of Sheikh Ahmad.


Ezekiel Elliott On Again, Off Again

Dallas Cowboys' running back Ezekiel Elliott was going to play on Sunday, Nov. 12th, according to a Nov. 3rd federal appeals court ruling that blocked an earlier ruling reinstituting his suspension. However, that ruling was overturned. On Nov. 9th, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit "terminated a temporary administrative stay of the suspension and denied a request for a temporary injunction." Many have found it hard to keep up with the status of his six-game suspension issued by NFL Commissioner Goodell that was due to allegations of domestic assault in August.



Ex-Dolphin Pushes NFL on Concussion Research

Nick Buoniconti, a former Hall of Fame linebacker and leader of the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s, announced that he will donate his brain to medical research on brain concussions. Buoniconti suffers from diminished capacity stemming from too many hits to the head. He was inspired to contribute to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research due to the NFL pulling its funding from Dr. Ann McKee from Boston University's CTE Center. The CTE Center has found links between head hits and CTE. Former NFL players Warren Sapp, Matt Hasselbeck, and Leonard Marshall also pledged to donate their brains to the research.


How Climate Change Affects Marathon Times

Should marathon race times be adjusted for temperature conditions? A recent report "analyzed over 4.7 million race finishing times from 20 years of data on almost 900 marathons," and determined that temperature matters. With day of race temperatures increasing more than 20 degrees, the report states that the best times are run on days with temperatures in the 40s. It is expected that finish times will increase almost 13 seconds during the New York City Marathon, when temperatures are in the 60s. Changes in temperature could affect planning sporting events in the future.



Russia Warns of Crackdown on U.S. Media, Including CNN

Russian government officials stated that they would impose a crackdown on American news outlets in retaliation to the U.S. Justice Department requiring Russia Today to register as a foreign agent. American intelligence sources label the state-run news outlet as a propaganda tool. Russia threatened to also designate U.S. media outlets operating in Russia, such as CNN, as hostile intelligence outlets or foreign agents, thereby restricting their access and distribution.


Racial Quip Becomes a Rallying Cry for Brazilians

A video capturing a Brazilian news anchor commenting to a guest that a car honking its horn while driving by was "a Black thing. No doubt.," has gone viral to much indignation. William Waack, the anchorman on Brazil's leading television station Globo, was suspended until the company can investigate. The cameraman who recorded the exchange stated he didn't release it at the time out of fear of losing his job. He no longer works for the company. The public reaction has taken an interesting turn, with postings on social media of the accomplishments of Black Brazilians with the hashtag #It'sABlackThing.


Disney Ends Ban on Los Angeles Times After Fierce Backlash by News Outlets

The Walt Disney Company had issued a blackout against The Los Angeles Times, stemming from a September 2017 article exposing the company's business ties with Anaheim, California. After experiencing its own backlash from other media outlets and entertainment leaders, the company is reversing its decision. The Los Angeles Times will also be allowed to attend advance screenings of Disney films.


Television Station Is Attacked in Afghan Capital

Shamshad TV, a leading television station in Kabal, Afghanistan, was attacked by two armed men. According to a spokesperson for the Afghan Health Ministry, 2 people were killed and 19 were wounded. The rest of the roughly 150 employees were able to escape. Online posts claim that the Islamic State is responsible for the attack.


In Reversal, Tech Titans Back Bill on Sex Trafficking

Tech giants, such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter, have succumbed to political pressure and now support the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act. Initially opposing the bill, the tech companies gave up their fight when battered recently on Capitol Hill for their facilitation of Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The bill "allows victims to sue websites who knowingly support and assist sex trafficking on their sites." According to Michael Beckerman of the Internet Association, "the bill will grant victims the ability to secure the justice they deserve, allow internet platforms to continue their work combating human trafficking, and protect good actors in the ecosystem." The new act amends Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects online companies from
liability over content they host on their sites.


DNAinfo and Gothamist Shut Down After Workers Join a Union

On October 26th, DNAinfo and Gothamist voted to join a union, the Writers Guild of America East. It wasn't an easy road to unionization with its owner, Joe Ricketts, who became owner when DNAinfo bought Gothamist earlier this year, refusing to recognize the union. The National Labor Relations Board had to conduct the vote. Before the vote, Ricketts wrote to his employees, and stated that as long as his money is financing the company, he will be the one deciding how it will be managed. The vote carried with 25 out of 27 workers agreeing to unionize. On November 2nd, Ricketts shut down the companies.


November 19, 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:

Ninth Circuit Partially Reinstates Trump Travel Ban

The Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the Trump administration's travel policy blocking entry to travelers from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen can be implemented, except as to people who have a "bona fide relationship" with close family or an organization in the United States.


Australians Vote to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage

61.6% of Australians responding to a government survey voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. The votes were non-binding, but sent a message to legislators regarding public support for legalization.


Signs of Russian Interference in Brexit, British Infrastructure

Researchers have identified more than 150,000 Russian Twitter accounts that tweeted messages meant to inflame xenophobia and otherwise encourage Brits to vote for Brexit. On Tuesday, Britain's National Cyber Security Centre accused Russian hackers of attacking the British energy grid and telecommunications and media industries.


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Upholds Standing to Challenge Secrecy of Its Opinions

In a first of its kind and closely decided en banc decision, the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court vacated its initial decision that the ACLU and Yale Law School's Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic suffered no injury-in-fact and thus lacked standing to bring First Amendment claims seeking access to redacted portions of the court's opinions. The six-judge majority concluded the initial opinion had improperly considered the merits of the claim, which were not relevant to the standing inquiry. The dissent argued that the First Amendment right of public access does not apply to judicial proceedings that have never been public.



Old Vic Reports 20 Accusations of Spacey

London's Old Vic theater released the reports of an investigation into Kevin Spacey's tenure as the theater's artistic director, revealing that 20 people have alleged that Spacey engaged in inappropriate behavior. The theater was not able to independently verify the allegations, but apologized for "not creating an environment or culture where people felt able to speak freely."


Fox's "Empire" Doesn't Infringe On Record Label's Trademark

The Ninth Circuit Court affirmed the Central District's ruling that Fox Television's use of "Empire," the name of its hit music-industry drama is protected by the First Amendment and does not infringe upon the rights of real-life music company Empire Distribution, Inc.



Alec Baldwin Settles with Art Dealer

Actor Alec Baldwin settled his dispute with art dealer Mary Boone over a painting that Baldwin purchased in 2010. Baldwin claims that the painting Boone delivered was not the one for which he paid $190,00. Reportedly, Boone will pay Baldwin a seven-figure sum and two paintings.



FIFA Trial Moves Forward

On Monday, the trial of three former presidents of the soccer associations of Peru, Paraguay, and Brazil opened in the Eastern District of New York. The men are charged with soliciting and accepting bribes in exchange for television and marketing contracts. They are three of dozens of defendants, many of whom have plead guilty or avoided extradition to the United States.


Accusations of Misconduct in FIFA Trial

Prosecutors asked Judge Pamela Chen to revoke bail for defendant Mauel Burga, former president of the Peruvian soccer federation, for intimidating witness Alejandro Burzaco. Prosecutors say that Burga made throat-cutting gestures during Burzaco's testimony. Burzaco's lawyer, Bruce Udolf, says Burzaco is a "serial liar," and Burga was simply scratching a rash on his neck. Judge Chen will hold a hearing next week on the allegations of witness tampering, and said Burga should be examined by a dermatologist.


Apparent Suicide Linked to FIFA Trial

On Tuesday, Jorge Delhon, an attorney who worked for Argentina's government-run soccer television program "Futbol Para Todos," was hit by a train and killed. His death came hours after a witness in the FIFA trial testified that Delhon had received bribes.


Marketing Executive Says That Fox Sports Paid Bribes

On Tuesday, a former executive of sports marketing company Torneos y Competencias testified in the FIFA trial that media companies, including Fox sports, paid bribes to obtain television rights for soccer matches.


Paraguayan Judge Authorizes Extradition of Former Soccer Official

On Thursday, a Paraguayan judge authorized the extradition to the United States of Nicolas Leoz, the 89-year-old former head of the South American Football confederation. Leoz is accused of bribery.


Jones v. Goodell Continues

Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, has been vocal in his opposition to the extension of Commissioner Roger Goodell's contract, which is being negotiated by the National Football League's (NFL's) compensation committee. Jones hired David Boies and threatened to sue the league and its owners, and other owners believe that his actions are motivated by resentment over Goodell's decision to suspend Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Jones says he is trying to make the contract talks more transparent, and is pushing to have all team owners vote on the contract extension. In a letter sent to Boies last week, the members of the committee accused Jones of "conduct detrimental to the league's best interests"--language evocative of the basis for sanctions (including possible suspension) against a team owner.



Elliott Drops Suspension Appeal

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will not continue to pursue an appeal of his six-game suspension. Elliott was suspended after an NFL investigation concluded he had engaged in acts of domestic violence. Elliott denies the allegations and says his decision is not an admission of wrongdoing.


Players Say NFL is Standing in the Way of Settlement Payments

Retired players and their families are accusing the NFL of delaying or obstructing payments due to them pursuant to a 2015 settlement of a lawsuit over the NFL's dealing with head trauma. Of 1,400 claims filed so far, only 140 have been approved, and only about half of the approved settlements have been paid out. Players say the hoops they have to jump through to get paid are unreasonable, and that the NFL is unreasonably denying claims and intentionally moving slowly.


WADA Committee Recommends Russia Not be Re-Certified

The World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA's) compliance review committee recommended that Russia not be deemed compliant with anti-doping regulations. If WADA adopts the recommendation, Russia will remain banned from major sports events, such as the New York City Marathon and the Paralympics.


Trump Intervenes on Behalf of UCLA Basketball Players

When President Trump learned that three UCLA students visiting China as part of a sponsored sports program had been arrested for shoplifting, he raised it during his meeting with China's president, Xi Jinping. Soon thereafter, charges were reduced and the players were released to their hotel.


Virginia Marathoners Disqualified for Russian Connections

The winner of the men's division of the Richmond, VA marathon and the first- and third-place finishers in the women's half marathon, were all disqualified because they share an agent: Larisa Mikhaylova, a Russian who has been accused of providing runners with performance-enhancing drugs. Mikhaylova registered the athletes using an alias.



Federal Communications Commission to Loosen Media Ownership Regulations

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai said on Wednesday that the FCC intends to roll back regulations that ban cross-ownership of a newspaper and broadcast TV station in the same market. Pai said the decades-old rules, which were instituted prior to the ascendancy of cable news and the Internet, no longer make sense.


Missouri Investigating Google Business Practices

Missouri's attorney general disclosed that his office subpoenaed Google for information concerning the company's collection and use of private information, the use of other content providers' information on its sites, and possible bias in search engine results.


YouTube Purges Awlaki Videos

After years of criticism and pressure, YouTube has taken much more aggressive steps to eliminate videos of Anwar al-Awlaki, a jihadist known as the "Osama bin Laden of the Internet". Awlaki was killed six years ago by a U.S. drone strike, but until recently YouTube hosted tens of thousands of videos of Awlaki's recordings. Using a combination of video fingerprinting technology and human review, YouTube has drastically reduced the number of videos of Awlaki available on the site, and those that remain tend to be reportage or commentary.


Journalist Charged in Inauguration Protests Goes to Trial

Alexei Wood, one of two reporters set to stand trial for his involvement in Inauguration Day protests in front of the Capitol, appeared in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia on Wednesday. Nine journalists were charged, but charges against seven were dropped. Wood and the other remaining journalist, Aaron Cantú, are charged with rioting and destruction of property.


Advertisers Send Mixed Messages on Hannity

After Sean Hannity made comments on his television show calling one of Roy Moore's alleged encounters "consensual," many called on advertisers to pull their ads from his show. Some advertisers, including Keurig, Reddi Whip, Realtor.com, Nature's Bounty, and Volvo tweeted messages indicating that they had pulled their ads. However, earlier this week many of those advertisers were clarifying or deleting those tweets.


Russia May Require Foreign Media to Register

On Wednesday, Russia's Parliament approved legislation that could require foreign media organizations operating in Russia to identify themselves as "foreign agents". President Putin, who must sign the legislation into law, expressed concerns the rule may go too far. The move is seen as a response to the United States Justice Department's decision to require Russian state-run TV to identify itself as a "foreign agent" under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, which was intended to combat Nazi propaganda.


November 20, 2017

Conducting Salary Discussions in New York City after November 1, 2017

By Marc Jacobson, Esq.

Don't ask for an applicant's salary history, whether for you or your client, when interviewing that applicant for employment in New York City.

You were asked to represent a film production to take place in NYC. As part of that engagement, you were asked to negotiate agreements for the director, cast members, and for the department heads, including makeup, sound, transportation, costumes, and others.

Calls start coming in and you're ready to get to work. An actor's agent confirms that her client wants to play the female lead. In turn, you say the role requires eight consecutive weeks of shooting preceded by one week of rehearsal. You want to minimize costs for the production, and ask: "What's her quote?", meaning, what was her fee per week on her last film?

Or, you're working on any other NYC production--a TV show, play, or music video-- and you need to negotiate the agreement for the Costume or Set Designer. You ask each agent for a quote.

Under a new law, now in effect in NYC, each such question can subject the production to a fine of $125,000.

Section 8-107 of the NYC Administrative Code was recently amended to add a new subdivision 25. That subdivision prohibits employers from inquiring about or relying on a prospective employee's salary history prior to setting a new salary. When enacting the law, the council said: "When employers rely on salary histories to determine compensation, they perpetuate the gender wage gap. Adopting measures like this bill can reduce the likelihood that women will be prejudiced by prior salary levels and help break the cycle of gender pay inequity."

It is now unlawful for an "employer, employment agency, or employee or agent thereof:
1. To inquire about the salary history of an applicant for employment; or
2. To rely on the salary history of an applicant in determining the salary, benefits or other compensation for such applicant during the hiring process, including the negotiation of a contract."

There is a definition of "inquire" in the code as well:
" 'to inquire' means to communicate any question or statement to an applicant, an applicant's current or prior employer, or a current or former employee or agent of the applicant's current or prior employer, in writing or otherwise, for the purpose of obtaining an applicant's salary history, or to conduct a search of publicly available records or reports for the purpose of obtaining an applicant's salary history, but does not include informing the applicant in writing or otherwise about the position's proposed or anticipated salary or salary range."

The term "salary history" is also defined: "For purposes of this subdivision, 'salary history' includes the applicant's current or prior wage, benefits or other compensation. 'Salary history' does not include any objective measure of the applicant's productivity such as revenue, sales, or other production reports."

The employer, or its representatives, "may, without inquiring about salary history, engage in discussion with the applicant about their expectations with respect to salary benefits and other compensation..."

Going further, and making these interviews/negotiations even more awkward, "where an applicant voluntarily and without prompting discloses salary history to the [employer or its representatives] the employer [or its representatives] may consider salary history in determining salary benefits and other compensation for such applicant, and may verify such applicant's salary history."

If you're in the midst of such a discussion, you cannot "prompt" the applicant to tell you his or her salary history. Further, if you learn it from another source, you also cannot "rely" on it in determining the salary of the applicant.

However, if the applicant voluntarily reveals that information to you without prompting, you can rely on the information, and make whatever decision you want.

Without a tape recording of every conversation between the employer or the employer's representatives, and the applicant or the applicant's representatives, it seems like whatever happens in these calls will be difficult to prove.

Under §8-126 of the NYC Administrative Code, if the Human Rights Commission, which has the authority to enforce the new subdivision, finds that a person "has engaged in an unlawful discriminatory practice, it may, to vindicate the public interest, impose a civil penalty" of not more than $125,000. This penalty is in addition to the complainant's right to bring a private action under the code. Criminal misdemeanor penalties are available for "any person who shall willfully resist, prevent, impede or interfere with the commission or any of its members or representatives in the performance of any duty" under the code.

Whether acting for yourself or your clients, it is now a violation of the NYC Administrative Code to inquire about salary history, or to rely on salary history, to determine the salary of any employee.

Link to the NYC Charter: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/law/chapter-1.page#8-107.1

The code, as enacted, with summary of the law: http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/LegislationDetail.aspx?ID=2813507&GUID=938399E5-6608-42F5-9C83-9D2665D9496F

Marc Jacobson, Esq. is the Founding Chairman of the NYS Bar Association Section on Entertainment Arts & Sports Law. He speaks regularly at bar association and other events about issues related to his practice. He is licensed to practice law in New York, California, and Florida. He can be reached at marc@marcjacobson.com or +1-212-245-8955. www.marcjacobson.com

November 27, 2017

Week in Review

By Eric Lanter

Australian Furor Over Chinese Influence Follows Book's Delay

Clive Hamilton is the Australian author of a book detailing how China's growing influence in Australia has a tremendous impact on Australians, and his book experienced delays in its release because of Chinese influence. The publisher, Allen & Unwin, one of the country's largest publishers, delayed publishing the book for fear that it may anger China's Communist Party and harm relations between the two countries, particularly through China bringing lawsuits in relation to the book. When the author reported the reason behind the delay, he set off an uproar in the country and a realization that Australia has become closer to China, as China's power and influence has grown in recent decades.


Italy Fears Outsiders Will Meddle in Election

The news that Russia had interfered with the U.S.'s 2016 election, Britain's vote to exit from the European Union, and the latest Catalan effort to secede from Spain and form its own state, Italians are in fear that Russia will be involved in its national election. The governing Democratic Party, led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, is fearful that Russia will intervene to bring down one of the last remaining center-left political parties in Western Europe. Facebook indicated that it will have Italian fact-checkers in the country as the elections loom to prevent "fake news" from being spread on social media, and analysts expect any "fake news" to be part of an effort of promoting the right-wing Five Star political party, which has increased its power in recent months and may be poised to do well in the national election.


India's Gay Rights Activists Seize Momentum After Landmark Court Ruling

In August, India's Supreme Court ruled that there is a fundamental right of privacy that extends to citizens of India, and the Court noted that sexual orientation falls within the umbrella of privacy. This has inspired Indian lawyers and members of the LGBTQ community in India, as they still contend with an 1861 law that prohibits homosexual acts. The Supreme Court of India estimated that approximately 200 people have been prosecuted under the law, but it has been part of a wider culture of homophobia that Britain's colonization of India brought in a marked change to India's culture, which openly embraced gender fluidity and homosexuality. One Indian lawyer, who has been working for years to overturn the antiquated law, sees the Indian Supreme Court's ruling as a nail in the coffin for the law, and expects challenges to the law to ultimately sink it.


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


Charlie Rose Made Crude Sexual Advances, Prompting His Firing

After eight women came forward accusing television host Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct, CBS fired him and PBS canceled distribution of his self-titled nightly interview program. Bloomberg TV, which also carried "Charlie Rose" and rebroadcast the program from PBS, announced it, too, was terminating its agreement. Rose released a statement acknowledging that he "behaved insensitively at times," but that he "always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken."



Jeffrey Tambor Leaves 'Transparent' After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The star of the Amazon series "Transparent," Jeffrey Tambor, announced that he will not return for the show's fifth season after two women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. He denied the allegations, which came from a co-star and a former assistant. His co-star announced that he made sexual advances and comments, and then sexually assaulted her between takes of filming. His former assistant wrote on Facebook that he sexually harassed her and then groped her. He released a statement, part of which stated: "Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don't see how I can return to 'Transparent.'" Amazon has not commented on his departure.


Who We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Harvey Weinstein

Annabella Sciorra, an actress since the 1980s, told journalist Ronan Farrow that she was a victim of Harvey Weinstein's scheme of sexual assault. She detailed his raping her and terrorizing her career later. She joined a group of women, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd, who made casting decisions solely on the basis of rumors and dealing with Weinstein. While many ask questions about how Weinstein's work has been interpreted, the columnist asks readers to ask a different question: How does what has been done to these actresses bear out in art they never were able to make? The columnist speculates that Sciorra's talent and skill was likely to place her at the top of the profession, but her falling into Weinstein's predatory exploits and viciousness prevented her from achieving her full potential.


U.S. Charges Iranian Hacker After HBO Hack

In the Southern District of New York, charges were unsealed against Behzad Mesri. It is alleged that Mesri hacked into HBO's computer systems and stole over 1.5 terabytes of data, which included unreleased episodes and scripts for the HBO hit "Game of Thrones." The charges include fraud, extortion, and identity theft, but when Mesri will be charged is unknown, as he remains in Iran. He sought $6 million in Bitcoin payments from HBO after stealing HBO's material, and prosecutors question whether he is working on behalf of the Iranian government, given his previous connection with it. One expert in the field guessed that this hacking is just one example of a broader pattern of Iranian hacking, and he expects that additional hackers could be caught and charged with crimes.



Creator of Brazil's Outdoor Museum Inhotim Sentenced to Prison

In Brazil, the Inhotim Institute is an outdoor contemporary art museum. Its founder, Bernardo Paz, was sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of using money raised for the institution for expenses related to a conglomerate of mining and steel companies that he also operated. In 2007 and 2008, he received over $98 million in donations for the art museum, part of which he siphoned to his other companies. Paz has consistently denied the allegations, and his family says that an appeal is likely.


Donald Fagen Sues Walter Becker's Estate for Control of Steely Dan

The only remaining member of the band Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, sued the estate of Walter Becker, his longtime bandmate who died in September 2017, for ownership of the band's name and damages over $1 million. At the heart of the dispute is an agreement that the band members signed before their debut album in 1972. The agreement stipulated that whenever a member died or left the group, that member's shares would be sold back to the remaining members. The Becker estate sent a letter to Fagen four days after Becker's death, claiming the agreement was null and that Becker's window, Delia, should be appointed as director or officer of the band. Fagen also sued Steely Dan's accounting and business management firm, accusing it of accounting errors, "secretive behaviors and/or withholding information."


Trying to Save a 1950s Mural of 1800s Chelsea From Demolition

Sitting in a bank in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is a mural on canvas depicting the intersection of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in the late 19th Century. The property developer, Gemini Rosemont, acquired the property and is planning to convert the building into condominiums and retail space, but it does not know yet what it will do with the mural. The City Council Member for the area, Corey Johnson, teamed up with Save Chelsea, a preservationist group, to save the mural. The developer announced that it contacted several galleries to determine the value of the mural and to see whether there was any interest in the work, but the developer claims that it did not receive any positive responses.


Town Hall Meeting Held on Sexual Harassment

The Public Theater is holding a Town Hall for all to attend in light of the recent revelations of sexual harassment throughout the entertainment industry. Stephanie Ybarra, the director of special artistic projects at the Public Theater, announced that the event is being held, as the institution is not only an artistic venue but a civic one, and a place where people should gather to freely talk about their stories and to suggest ways to prevent and report sexual harassment. The event, which is open for anyone in the theater industry, is scheduled for December 2, 2017 at 2 PM and is free.



Debate at FIFA Trial: Witness Tampering or Itchy Skin?

The first week of a federal trial regarding FIFA's bribes, corruption, and vote-buying schemes ended in a debate about one of the defendant's skin condition. Defendant Manuel Burga, who was a Peruvian soccer official now facing a racketeering conspiracy charge, appeared to make throat-slitting gestures toward the first witness testifying in the case. His attorney attributed the gestures to a skin condition that made his neck itch, and because the gestures were captured on camera, it is expected that the prosecution will introduce the video as evidence as the trial progresses. In the meantime, Judge Pamela Chen, overseeing the case, indicated that if the gestures were an attempt to tamper with the witness, she will imprison Burga, who has been free on bail.


Nasser Al-Khelaifi Discussed Buying Company Linked to Bribes

A Qatari businessman, Nasser al-Khelaifi, was president of Paris St.-Germain, one of France's top soccer clubs, and linked to a corruption inquiry regarding payment of millions of dollars in bribes for rights to coveted television contracts. He had planned to acquire a 51% stake in an Argentine company, Full Play Group, the founders of which have been charged in a United States Department of Justice soccer corruption investigation. Al-Khelaifi denied the accusations and met with authorities. Whether he will be charged is not yet known.


A Star on Washington's Ice With a No. 1 Fan at the Kremlin

Alexander Ovechkin, a Russian national, is one of the most accomplished hockey players, and plays for the Washington Capitals. He recently appeared in an Instagram post alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, in what appeared to be an endorsement of the Russian president in the lead-up to his re-election (which is virtually guaranteed). A major Russian public relations company, which devised the term "Putin Team," denies that it was involved in getting Ovechkin to pose for the picture. Analysts suspect that the post is aimed at securing more support for Putin.


Major League Baseball Bars Former Braves Executive in Signings Scandal

Major League Baseball (MLB) barred John Coppolella, who was previously the Braves's general manager, for violating MLB's rules regarding how players were acquired. The rules allow teams a "specified bonus pool to spend on international amateurs," and if it exceeds that amount by more than 5%, it may not sign any additional players for over $300,000 for the following two years. MLB found that the Braves, while Coppolella was at the helm, did not report the full extent of its signings: it inflated the bonuses of lesser prospects not covered by the aforementioned rule while funneling the money to better prospects who had signed within the rule. Coppolella resigned his position last month amidst the the investigation, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he is confident the Braves will put procedures in place to prevent similar conduct in the future.


Jerry Jones Calls Off Threat to Sue National Football League Over Goodell Contract

The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, announced that he will not pursue suing the National Football League (NFL) and the six owners of its compensation committee who are in the middle of negotiating a contract extension for Roger Goodell, the commissioner. Jones reinforced his reputation for acting independently, but he joins the likes of former owner of Oakland Raiders Al Davis, who regularly attacked the NFL main office. Jones' objections to Goodell were said to be centered on declining television ratings and the players' protests during the national anthem before games, but others think that the objections came down to Goodell's decision to suspend the Cowboys' star running back, Ezekiel Elliott.


Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas Says Team Doctor Abused Her, as Doctor Pleads Guilty to Charges

Lawrence Nassar, the doctor who worked with the United States gymnastics team and Michigan State University's gymnastics team, pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual assault on Wednesday and is facing a minimum of 25 years in prison. He is also accused of sexually assaulting at least 130 other women and girls, including Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Gabby Douglas. Raisman came to the media in recent weeks with the revelation that she was assaulted, and while Douglas initially attacked Raisman, she too admitted that Nassar had assaulted her while she was on the United States gymnastics team. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar in court: "You used your position of trust in the most vile way: to abuse children. I agree that now is a time of healing, but it may take them a lifetime of healing while you spend your life behind bars thinking of what you did by taking away their childhood."



Striker Sentenced in Absentia

Brazilian soccer star Robinho, who played for his country and for AC Milan (and now plays in Brazil for the club Atletico Mineiro), was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for his taking part in a gang rape of an Albanian woman at a club in 2013. He has two appeals as of right, and Italy will not seek extradition until the legal process is exhausted, but Brazil does not allow the extradition of its own citizens.


More Russian Doping Means Upgrading of Medals

Four more Russians were disqualified from the Sochi Olympics for doping. This development has put more pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide whether Russia can be permitted to compete in the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. In total, 14 Russians have been disqualified during this month alone, relinquishing nine medals. There is an IOC meeting scheduled for December 5, 2017, where it is expected that a decision will be made as to whether Russia's team will be permitted to compete, given the state-sponsored doping that has occurred. This decision is similar to the one made just prior to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, when it was well-known that at least some Russian athletes had been flagged and disqualified for doping.



Murder Sentence Increased for Oscar Pistorius

On Friday, South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal reviewed the lower court's sentencing of former Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius and found that the sentence should be doubled from six to 15 years. Given his time served, he faces an additional 13 years and five months in prison for the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in their home in February 2013. South African law requires a minimum sentence of 15 years for murder, but permits a more lenient sentence "if there are mitigating circumstances." In Pistorius's case, the court noted that he "displays a lack of remorse and does not appreciate the gravity of his actions." It is not yet known whether his lawyers will appeal to the Constitutional Court, South Africa's highest court.


Canadian Football Has Taken Steps to Lessen Hits, Unlike NFL

The Canadian Football League has faced pressure and lawsuits to protect its players against concussions and the disease CTE, which is widely presumed to result from repeated concussions or hits to the head. The pressure and lawsuits led the commissioner to institute reforms such as three bye weeks during the course of the 18-week season and, more controversially, a prohibition of direct contact between players at practices during the season. While the NFL in 2011 reduced the number of practices where full contact is permitted to 14 per season, it has not further reduced them since then, despite the fact that research has grown about CTE and its correlation with the sport. While Canadian players have anecdotally reported feeling more rested and fresher during their games, it will be some time before the full effects of hit-less practices and more bye weeks are known.



Federal Communications Commission Plans Net Neutrality Repeal in Victory for Telecoms

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a plan to eliminate regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, which would allow internet service providers to charge users to use certain contact. Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, made the announcement, which appears to be part of his broader effort to reverse the Obama administration's policy of net neutrality. The change in policy pits titans of the industries against each other: AT&T and Verizon against Google and Amazon, as companies like Google and Amazon see the rollback of rules empowering telecom companies to prevent access to certain information and entertainment. The telecom companies view the rollback as allowing them to offer customers a wider selection of services at various price points. Pai's announcement does not come as a surprise, given his agenda of deregulation, but so far he has received 20 million public comments regarding his agenda.


Justice Department Sues to Block AT&T and Time Warner Merger

AT&T made an $85.4 billion bid to acquire Time Warner, and the United States Department of Justice filed suit to stop the acquisition. This action, under President Trump, represents a shift from President Obama's administration, which permitted Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal after imposing conditions on the acquisition. Already, AT&T is one of the largest internet and telephone providers, and it acquired DirecTV in 2015, at that time the largest satellite company. Time Warner owns a number of companies that would add to AT&T's empire: HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner Broadcasting, which owns the television networks CNN and TNT. The chief executive of AT&T, Randall Stephenson, said in a news conference about the Justice Department's filing of an action: "It defies logic, and it's unprecedented."


Glenn Thrush, The New York Times Reporter, Accused of Sexual Misconduct

One of The New York Times's (the Times) most prominent reporters, Glenn Thrush, was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, and the Times suspended him in light of these allegations. Female journalists reported to the website Vox that Thrush had acted inappropriately toward them, such as unwanted kissing and touching. The Times released a statement condemning his behavior as "very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times."


21st Century Fox Establishes Workplace Culture Panel

21st Century Fox (Fox) announced that it is establishing an oversight panel called the Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council, which will report to the company's directors and the company's website instances of sexual harassment. This is part of an agreement struck between the company and a shareholder that is intending to overhaul the workplace culture at the network: the City of Monroe Employees' Retirement System in Michigan. The shareholder had filed an action in Delaware, and the creation of the panel is only one term of the settlement of the action. Fox is also due to pay the shareholder $90 million from third-party insurers, minus the cost of attorneys' fees and costs. These changes come after the company has paid out around $50 million in costs to deal with settling sexual harassment and discrimination allegations.


John Lasseter, Pixar Co-Founder, Takes Leave After 'Missteps'

A co-founder of Pixar, John Lasseter, announced that he will take a "six-month sabbatical" after "missteps" that made his staffers feel "disrespected or uncomfortable." He apologized in an email to employees for hugs that may have been unwanted or gestures that "they felt crossed the line in any way, shape or form." An article in the Hollywood Reporter identified Rashida Jones, the actress and writer, as one who was a victim of Lasseter's "unwanted advance," causing her to leave a Pixar assignment earlier than expected. Pixar previously came under fire for not being supportive of minorities and women, with one piece of evidence being that of its 19 feature films, only one has a female director (who Lasseter fired midway through production).


Chicago Journalists Faces Showdown Over Sources

Jamie Kalven, a journalist in Chicago, uncovered dashcam video of a police officer shooting a 14-year-old boy carrying a folding knife. The police officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first-degree murder, and his trial is approaching. Kalven is scheduled to appear in December at a pretrial hearing and face questions related to how he uncovered the existence of the dashcam video. Kalven, however, has no plans on answering those questions, as he views the First Amendment as protecting the anonymity of his sources for the story. The case surrounding the shooting has been prominent in Chicago newspaper headlines since its occurrence in 2014, but Kalven's testifying in the case is the latest controversy as he is prepared for a long, drawn-out fight regarding his right to preserve the anonymity of his sources.


November 29, 2017

Sixth Circuit Creates 'Presumption' of Unmasking Copyright Infringers

In what it called an "issue of first impression," the Sixth Circuit yesterday, by a 2-1 vote, created a "presumption in favor of unmasking" adjudicated copyright infringers -- and other "anonymous defendants".

From the majority opinion:

In this issue of first impression, we hold that like the general presumption of open judicial records, there is also a presumption in favor of unmasking anonymous defendants when judgment has been entered for a plaintiff. When deciding whether to unmask an anonymous defendant, courts must consider both the public interest in open records and the plaintiff's need to learn the anonymous defendant's identity in order to enforce its remedy. The greater a plaintiff's or the public's interest in unmasking a losing Doe defendant's identity, the more difficult it will be for the Doe defendant to overcome the presumption and remain anonymous. Further, where a Doe defendant's speech is found to be beyond the protection of the First Amendment, countering the presumption will require a showing that the Doe defendant participates in a significant amount of other, non-infringing anonymous speech that would be chilled if his identity were revealed.

The dissenting judge rejected the majority's "balancing test" and would have gone further:

Doe's identity was entitled to limited protection at the discovery stage because, at that point, it was not clear whether he had committed any wrong, and disclosure of his identity would cause irreparable harm in the event it was determined that he was innocent of copyright infringement and properly engaging in protected anonymous speech. For this reason, the Art of Living balancing test was properly applied during the discovery phase. But it is a temporal and temporary measure, created to facilitate discovery and to protect innocent defendants. It should not be extended to shield an adjudicated copyright infringer from the ramifications of the judgment against him. Having rejected Doe's fair use and copyright misuse defenses, having determined that Doe was liable for copyright infringement, and having ordered injunctive relief, there was no legal basis for entering a judgment that did not identify Doe. Thus, the district court erred in reapplying the Art of Living test after it had determined that Doe (by his own admission) was liable for copyright infringement and placing the burden on Team to establish why unmasking Doe's identity was necessary.
* * * * *
The majority's concern here is like that of an overprotective parent. Doe should not be shielded from the consequences of his own actions, since he could have preserved his right to speak freely and anonymously by simply refraining from copyright infringement

The opinion is available here:signature.pdf

About November 2017

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

October 2017 is the previous archive.

December 2017 is the next archive.

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