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Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Taylor Swift's Public Feud With Scooter Braun Spotlights Artists' Fight for Control Over Master Recordings

The issue of master recordings and the copyrights associated with them gained media attention this week after Swift responded to her former label, Big Machine, being sold to a company run by Scooter Braun. Big Machine had rights to her first six albums. The owner of a master - the original copy of an artist's work, controls all rights to exploit it, including selling albums or licensing songs. Artists like Janet Jackson and Jay-Z have insisted on deals that gave them ownership of their recordings.


Diversity in the Ranks: Minorities Make Up Nearly a Third of New Oscar Voters

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has increased its Oscar voting pool to nearly 9,000 people as part of an effort to make good on its 2016 pledge to double female and minority membership by the end of 2020. About 50% of the film industry professional invited this year are women; 20% are minorities.


Jussie Smollett Case: What Do We Know and What is Left to Investigate?

The New York Times provides a comprehensive summary of the Smollett case: the evidence, the main actors, why prosecutors dropped the charges, and what is expected next by the special prosecutor appointed to take a look at the allegations that the actor staged a hate crime.


Former Executive Director of Manhattan's Friars Club is Accused of Abusing his Position

In a sentencing memo related to his tax matter, federal prosecutors also described other, non-criminal misconduct that shows Michael Gyure took advantage of the club's lax financial oversight to enrich himself at the expense of the organization. He faces possible prison time for filing false tax returns for four years. The comedy club, known for hosting risqué celebrity roasts, lost its tax-exempt status as a fraternal organization in 2010.


French Michael Jackson Fans Sue "Leaving Neverland" Accusers in French Court

Two Michael Jackson fan clubs filed a lawsuit in Northern France, seeking symbolic damages of 1 euro each from two of the musician's alleged abuse victims for "sullying his image" in the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland". French defamation laws extend libel protections beyond death. The court said a judgment would be delivered on October 4th.


"Wolf of Wall Street" Producer Faces Charges in Malaysia

Riza Aziz, whose Red Granite Pictures produced the film, pleaded not guilty to five counts of laundering money misappropriated from a Malaysian government investment fund. The stepson of Malaysia's former prime minister joins other members of his family in facing charges in the disappearance of as much as $4.5 billion from a government investment fund.


Hong Kong Celebrities Pay a Professional Price for Supporting Protesters

Entertainers who are publicly supporting Hong Kong's recent protests are finding themselves blacklisted from the mainland Chinese market, barred from performing and their music removed from streaming websites. Others are subjected to online attacks after showing support for the anti-extradition protests on social media. The story of the cost of social activism for Hong Kong celebrities.



Lockout Continues at Baltimore Symphony

Last month, the orchestra's management locked the musicians out after they refused to agree to a contract guaranteeing fewer weeks of work (from 52 weeks to 40). The orchestra, though, is both a reflection of the city's resilience and a product of its surroundings. Much of the area's philanthropy is directed to education, health, and economic issues in a city where residents face poverty and lack basic needs; and while the orchestra will not receive much support from the cash-strapped city, it has tried to connect with the community by offering music instruction and meals to more than 1,300 children. The players warn that the proposed cuts will lower their base pay and weaken their ties to the community.


Andy Warhol's Prince Series is Fair Use, Court Rules

At issue was whether Warhol made fair use of a 1981 photograph of Prince when he created 16 artworks that are known as the "Prince Series". The ruling said Warhol transcended photographer Lynn Goldsmith's copyright by transforming a vulnerable Prince in the original photo into an artwork that made the singer look iconic, larger-than-life. Goldsmith is appealing the decision.


Kim Kardashian West Drops Name from Shapewear Line, Kimono

Kardashian will change the name of her line after internet backlash led to the mayor of Kyoto, Japan writing an open letter asking her to reconsider the name and saying that kimonos are part of "a culture that has been cherished and passed down with care."


Non-profit Group Brings Children's Books to Barbershops and Laundromats

A movement supported by non-profit groups, libraries, and community fund-raising, is creating literary spaces by bringing children's books to places where children most often get bored - laundromats, salons, and barbershops. National programs that promote childhood literacy are among those contributing books.


Theatrical Productions for Seniors

Licensing company Music Theater International is partnering with community centers and nursing homes to tailor productions for older actors, the first of which is "Into the Woods Sr.". The initiative recognizes that there are both social and health benefits to performing, as a 2014 study found that seniors can experience an improvement to their physical and mental well-being from participating in productions.


Mad Magazine is Leaving Newsstands After 67-Year Run

After the next two issues, Mad Magazine will no longer include new materials, except in year-end specials. A creation of the 1950s, the publication hit a circulation peak of 2.8 million in 1973. Since then, however, it has steadily lost readers and relevance. The New York Times calls the baby boomer humor bible a "victim of its own success," as its "skeptical, smart-alecky sensibility" became dominant in American popular culture.


Suspect Linked to Mackenzie Lueck Case Wrote a Novel With Two Burning Deaths

Authorities investigating the murder of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck became aware of a book published under the suspect's name last year. The book included the burning deaths of two people. Police say charred remains were found in his backyard, where a neighbor recently observed him burning something with the use of gasoline.


Idris Elba Denies Plagiarism in Dispute with British Playwrights

Two playwrights who worked with Elba to create the theatrical production "Tree" say they are not being acknowledged as members of the creative team despite the play, as described on a festival website, having similarities to their script. The playwrights wrote a script outline for "Tree" and signed a "deal memo" with Elba's production company, but both voluntarily stepped back from the project after they were told that it needed to go in a different direction.


British Artists Call on National Portrait Gallery to Cut Ties with BP

Leading British artists and activists say that arts organizations should not be accepting oil and gas money. More specifically, they are calling on the National Portrait Gallery in London to cut ties with BP, whose role in furthering climate crisis they say makes it unacceptable to accept new sponsorship from the company. The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House have also come under criticism lately for their ties to BP.


Germany City Rejects Claim for Mondrian Paintings by Artist's Heirs

Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian's heirs say that four of his works had been lent, not given, to the museum in the German city of Krefeld. Mondrian's heirs say that the artist lent several works to the museum 90 years ago for an exhibition that never took place and left them behind when he fled Europe during World War II. While neither side has definitive proof, the museum's position is that the works could have been acquired by one of the museum's benefactors and then given to the city.


Tutankhamen Head Sells for $6 Million, Despite Protests from Egypt

Egypt's government says that the stone head of pharaoh Tutankhamen was looted and should be returned to the country, while Christie's auction house maintains that the sale was legal. A former Egyptian minister of antiquities believes the sculpture was taken from the temple of Karnak and illegally exported in 1970, the year when Unesco instituted an international convention to prohibit and prevent the illicit trade in cultural property. The provenance published by Christie's states that the stone head was acquired in 1973 or 1974 by the director of a Vienna gallery from the collection of a German prince who acquired it by the 1960s.



Rays and Giants Sign Supreme Court Brief Supporting LGBTQ Rights

The Rays joined more than 200 major American corporations signing on to an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that calls for the court to rule that current federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Nike Pulls Patriotic Sneaker After Kaepernick Raises Concerns

The heel of the shoe featured a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle, a design created during the American Revolution and commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross flag. Sources say that Nike pulled the shoe after Kaepernick reached out to company officials and identified the flag as an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.



Former U.S. Olympics Chief Executive Received $2.4 Million Severance Amid Scandal

Scott Blackmun resigned under pressure and was heavily criticized for failing to protect gymnasts from sexual abuse in the Larry Nassar case. The severance payment of $2.4 million was revealed in a financial report made public this week, and defended by the chairman of the board of directors, who cited Blackmun's serious health challenges and the fact that the separation agreement was provided for in his contract.


Former Rio Governor Describes Bribery in Bid for 2016 Olympics

A former governor of Rio de Janeiro state, already jailed for fraud and corruption, told a judge that he paid about $2 million for the votes of International Olympic Committee members to award Brazil the 2016 summer games. He implicates countless others, including the former head of the Brazil Olympic Committee, and the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations.


Israel Folau and Rugby Australia Fail to Reach Agreement in a Case That Has Sparked National Debate Over Religious Freedoms

Israel Folau is taking his unfair dismissal case to Federal Court after failing to reach an agreement with Rugby Australia. The evangelical Christian rugby star was removed from the national team for breaching his employment contract by posting homophobic messages online. He argues that he was unfairly dismissed on religious grounds, is seeking $10 million in damages, and wants his contract reinstated.




Germany Fines Facebook $2.25 Million Under Hate Speech Law

German authorities imposed the fine under a law designed to combat hate speech after finding that Facebook had "failed to meet transparency requirements for its handling of hate speech complaints." More specifically, Facebook's report for the first half of 2018 did not reflect the actual number of complaints about suspected illegal content, which includes insults and material designed to incite hatred against persons based on their religion or ethnicity.


Government-Mandated Internet Blackout Plunges Myanmar into Darkness

There have already been instances of internet or social media shutdowns in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Sudan, a measure that is increasingly being used to silence and isolate local populations. Myanmar has now shot down the internet in conflict areas, prompting a UN expert to warn of potential human rights abuses during the suspension.


The Internet's Darkest Concerns Resist New Zealand's Efforts to Fight Online Hate

The level of disturbing online activity in New Zealand following the mosque shootings underlines the immensity of efforts on the part of both companies and governments to try to restrict the spread of hateful ideology.


General News

Court's Ruling on Gerrymandering Heats Up Bid for Control of Election Maps at the State Level

The Supreme Court's gerrymandering ruling has raised the stakes for state legislative races. The party that wins control of the state legislature will gain the power to draw once-a-decade maps setting district boundaries for state and congressional elections after a new census count. In states where Republicans are firmly in control of the legislature and seem unlikely to lose it, Democrats are pushing to remove mapping power from the politicians in favor of nonpartisan redistricting committees.


Armed Forces-Themed Ceremony Marks July 4th in Washington

President Trump used the Lincoln Memorial as the backdrop for his tribute to the country's five branches of the military, avoiding giving an
overly political speech. Trump later blamed a teleprompter outage for his sometimes puzzling, historically non-linear speech that was marked by anachronistic references to airports in the context of the Revolutionary War. Critics said the celebrations turned the day into a Trump-branded rally for America, with the president using the troops and military gear as political props.




Trump Administration Drops Efforts to Put Citizenship Question Back into Census

In a series of mixed messages this week, the Trump administration initially abandoned its quest to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but the Justice Department then reversed course and said it was looking for a way to restore the question, on orders from the president. Officials now believe there could be a "legally available path" to restore the question.



House Democrats File Lawsuit to Obtain Trump Tax Returns

The House Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury and the IRS for access to the president's tax returns. The Committee had previously requested and then subpoenaed the returns. The dispute now moves into the federal courts as the House argues that the administration's defiance of its request amounts to an "attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS and tax laws" and asks a judge to order the defendants to comply.


Inspector General Reports Squalid Conditions at Border Detention Centers

Inspectors from the Department of Homeland Security visited five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in June, reporting severe overcrowding, standing-room-only cells, and children without showers and hot meals. The report corroborated some of the Democratic lawmakers' own findings after visiting migrant holding centers this week, where migrants spoke of limited or no access to showers, medications, and sometimes, drinking water. These disturbing accounts were exacerbated by reports of a secret Facebook group where current and former Border Patrol agents joked about migrant deaths and threats to members of Congress.



Inside the Migrant Detention Center in Clint, Texas

A group of reporters profile the border station in the desert outside of El Paso after lawyers reported seeing filthy, overcrowded conditions for migrant children.


President Trump Says Migrants Are "Living Far Better" in Border Facilities than in Home Countries

In a series of tweets this week, President Trump said that the migrants are living in far safer conditions than where they came from, despite government reporting of difficult conditions at border facilities and overcrowding that poses an immediate risk to both agents and migrants.


Migrants Who Have Been Ordered Deported and Stay Now Facing Fines from Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now issuing fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars to unauthorized immigrants who refuse to comply with deportation orders. One woman was sent a fine of nearly half a million dollars. ICE officials said that the agency has the right to impose civil fines of up to $799 day on those who are undocumented and who have been ordered removed or have failed to leave the country.


Federal Judge Blocks Attorney General Barr's Attempt to Deny Bail to Asylum Seekers

A federal judge in Seattle ruled that the order, which would have denied migrants a bail hearing and kept them detained indefinitely, was unconstitutional. Judge Pechman said that the plaintiffs had established a constitutionally protected interest in their liberty, a right to due process, and that they must be granted a bond hearing within seven days of a request or be released if they have not received a hearing in that time.


Opinion: The Immigration Crisis is Corrupting the Nation

The editorial board of The New York Times says the realities of the crackdown on migrants and asylum seekers have created conditions that Americans would condemn if they saw them happening in another country. Only a desensitized nation could continue to allow the separation of children from their parents, and their detention in squalid conditions, as a morally acceptable form of deterrence.


Ivanka Trump's Role as Unofficial Diplomat

Ivanka Trump tried to assert herself at a few diplomatic events in recent weeks, including the G20 Summit and President Trump's visit to the Demilitarized Zone to meet with the North Korean leader. Critics say that her presence undermines the professional look of the Trump delegation, both to other countries and to national security professionals who serve in the administration.


Department of Housing and Urban Development Hires Trump Aide Who Resigned Over Racist Blog

Senate Democrats are criticizing the hiring of Eric Blankenstein, a former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official, who resigned after blog posts he wrote in 2004 surfaced in which he repeatedly used a racial slur. In a more recent exchange, he also defended the birther movement as "not racist". In their letter to the housing department, the senators question what the department knew of the previous investigation into his blog posts, and ask whether anyone in the executive office of the president pushed for the hire.


Prominent Republicans File Brief to Support LGBT Rights in Legal Case

A group of prominent Republicans is urging the Supreme Court to declare that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBT persons. They argue that their view about how the law should be interpreted represents "a common sense, textualist approach." They do concede that Congress and the American public may not have anticipated the law would apply to LGBT persons, but they argue that the text of the law is clear when it explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.


Judge Says Teenager Accused of Rape Deserves Leniency Because He's From a "Good Family"

A Monmouth Country judge earned a sharp rebuke from an appeals court for saying that the 16-year-old teenager accused of rape came from a good family and had good grades. He had also questioned the charge and defined rape as something reserved for an attack at gunpoint by strangers, and said that prosecutors should have explained to the complainant that pressing charges would destroy the accused's life.



The Supreme Court Agreed to Hear an Appeal of the Defendants in the "Bridgegate" Scandal - Here's Why It Could Backfire on Prosecutors

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the corruption convictions in the "Bridgegate" scandal. Both defendants were top aides to Governor Christie and were found to have blocked access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to "punish" a mayor who refused to offer a campaign endorsement.

A number of Supreme Court cases have recently limited prosecutorial discretion and authority in corruption cases. Legal experts think this latest appeal has the potential of continuing that trend by testing another aspect of federal corruption law - what happens when the alleged conduct was not about personal gain, in a strict monetary sense? The defense in this case argues that even if the defendants hatched a scheme (which they still deny), it was nothing more than political gamesmanship and does not constitute a crime because there was no personal financial or material gain.


Family of Las Vegas Shooting Victim Sues Gunmakers of AR-15

The lawsuit targets gun manufacturers for the ease with which their products can be converted into fully automatic weapons, which are heavily restricted under state and federal laws. It argues that the AR-15 rifles are illegal because they are one modification away from becoming a fully automatic rifle, and are often designed for customization. The lawsuit comes at interesting time. The vast immunity offered by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from liability began to give way earlier this year, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that families victimized in the Sandy Hook shooting could sue gun companies over their marketing practices.


Trump Administration Says the Prospective Threat of Chinese Spying Justifies Huawei Ban

The government's court filing in the federal case involving Huawei suggest that the Trump administration believes that it may not have to produce conclusive evidence of past wrongdoing by Huawei to uphold the law that was passed last year restricting federal agencies' business with the company. Instead, the government takes the position that the mere potential for Beijing to influence the Chinese technology giant is enough to justify last year's spending bill, whose purpose was not to punish Huawei, but to protect American networks from Chinese cyberattacks.


Opinion: Police Body Cam Company, Axon, Bans Use of Facial Recognition On Its Devices

Axon supplies 47 out of the 69 largest police agencies in the United States with body cameras and software. The company's ethics board now says that facial recognition technology is not reliable enough to justify its use and is especially prone to inaccuracy when used with police body cameras, which often operate in low-light conditions and produce shaky footage. At the state level, California lawmakers recently announced that they are considering a statewide ban on facial recognition in police body cameras.


Minority Women Are Winning the Jobs Race in a Record Economic Expansion

Hispanic women have emerged as the biggest job market winners in an economy that has reached its longest expansion on record - 121 straight months. Employment rates for Hispanic workers between 25 and 54 increased by 2.2 percentage points since 2007, while black women came in second, adding 1.6 percentage points.


Jeffrey Epstein Charged with Sex Trafficking

Billionaire New York financier Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with sex trafficking after years of accusations that he had molested dozens of young girls. Epstein avoided criminal charges in 2007 and 2008 after pleading guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution.


Boeing Pledges $100 Million to Those Affected by 737 Max Crashes

Boeing said the investment would be made over multiple years to "support education, hardship and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities." The two 737 Max crashes killed 346 people over the past year.


Beverage Companies Embrace Recycling as Long as It Isn't Too Costly

The beverage industry lends its support to many recycling programs, except for one approach that has been proved to work - container deposit laws, known as "bottle bills". In the 10 states where consumers can collect a few cents when they return plastic containers, recycling rates are significantly higher, sometimes twice as high as in other states. However, beverage companies and retailers have lobbied against these measures, saying that they function like a tax and allow governments to collect millions in unclaimed deposits. Critics say the industry's true rationale for opposing these laws is that they cost money, but one of the industry's other criticisms of bottle bills is that they deprive municipal recycling programs of valuable scrap materials that they can sell to offset the cost of processing other items.


What Should Cities Do If Hit by Ransomware?

The column runs through the options available to cities that are victims of cyberhacking. The FBI-endorsed approach is to take a principled stand, refuse to pay, and then repair the damage. This was Baltimore's preferred approach following the ransomware attack of May 2019. The "post-Baltimore mind-set", however, is to pay to recover the system, which could be cheaper and faster, but encourages more attacks. This leads to the ideal option: cities are encouraged to be proactive, improve security, have contingency plans in place, and take out cyber insurance.


Iran Will Accelerate Uranium Enrichment Barred by Nuclear Accord

Iran has announced that it will be enriching uranium beyond the limit allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal. The foreign minister said that the Europeans have failed to fulfill their promise of protecting Iran's interests by compensating for billions of dollars in losses to the economy caused by American sanctions.


Iran Breaches Critical Limit on Nuclear Fuel Set by 2015 Deal

International inspectors confirmed Iran had exceeded the limit set by the 2015 agreement on how much nuclear fuel it can possess. Since the move does not give Iran enough material to produce a single nuclear weapon, many see it as a strategy to gain a diplomatic advantage for future negotiations.


Afghan Peace Negotiations Show Signs of Progress

The Afghan government plans to meet with Taliban representatives in Qatar. The discussions are expected to lead to direct negotiations for a peace deal. The U.S. is currently in the seventh round of its peace negotiations with the Taliban, which do not include any Afghan government representatives.


Christine Lagarde is Nominated to Be President of European Central Bank

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde is the first woman to be chosen for the post at European Central Bank. She will have a leading role in steering the world's second-largest economy.


Germany's Defense Minister is Next President of the European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen will hold the top job in the 28-nation bloc if confirmed by the European Parliament later this month. Building expertise in national security, she served 14 years alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel and is described as someone with a unique mix of conservative and liberal values.


A Heat Wave Tests Europe's Defenses

A growing field of research called "attribution science" lets experts assess the role of global warming in the occurrence of any given weather event. A rapid analysis of the most recent heat wave in France found that human-induced climate change made it at least 5 times more likely and 4 degrees Celsius hotter than it would have otherwise been.


China Has Been Installing Spyware on Tourists Phones in Xinjiang Region

Visitors entering the Xinjiang region of China are being forced to install a piece of malware known as BXAQ or Fengcai on their phones that gathers personal data from phones and scans for material considered objectionable. It is one of several high-tech surveillance measures employed by the Chinese government to monitor and subdue the area's predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, but the first of its kind to target tourists and other visitors.


Alitalia Pulls Video with Actor in Blackface as Barack Obama

The Italian airline has now removed an ad it released on social media that featured an actor wearing blackface playing former President Barack Obama. The ad was one of four Italian-language videos made to promote non-stop flights from Rome to Washington. Alitalia is just the latest in a line of international brands whose ads and products were recently criticized as racist, including Gucci, Prada, and H&M.


Indonesian Woman is Jailed for Recording and then Sharing Her Boss's Lewd Phone Calls

Indonesia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a woman who was sentenced to six months in prison for recording and sharing a phone conversation she had with her boss to prove that he was sexually harassing her. The court ruled she was guilty of spreading "indecent" material.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 8, 2019 7:54 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Center for Art Law Case Law Updates.

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