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December 2020 Archives

December 4, 2020

Sports Law News for the Week of December 4th

By Bennett Liebman

Legal Sports Betting Hits New Monthly High in Colorado, https://news.bloombergtax.com/daily-tax-report/legal-sports-betting-hits-new-monthly-high-in-colorado?context=search&index=0

LAS VEGAS RAIDERS AVOID STATE INCOME TAXES IN NEVADA MOVE, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/las-vegas-raiders-tax-savings-1234617550/

Zion Williamson v. Prime Sports Marketing 12-2 decision https://www.3dca.flcourts.org/content/download/692462/opinion/200197_DC13_12022020_105145_i.pdf

Zion Williamson wins jurisdictional ruling from Florida court, https://247sports.com/Article/Zion-Williamson-Duke-Blue-Devils-New-Orleans-Pelicans-jurisdictional-ruling-appeals-court-lawsuit-impermissible-benefits-155839551/

Leeper appeals "racially discriminatory" CAS ruling at Swiss Supreme Court, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1101329/blake-leader-switzerland-supreme-court

The Opinionist: How Sports Shaped Joe Biden, http://aroundtherings.com/site/A__101760/Title__The-Opinionist-How-Sports-Shaped-Joe-Biden/292/Articles

Corona Countermeasures Spike Costs for Tokyo 2020, http://aroundtherings.com/site/A__101746/Title__Corona-Countermeasures-Spike-Costs-for-Tokyo-2020/292/Articles

Rafer Johnson dead: Olympic gold medalist helped bring Games to L.A., https://www.latimes.com/obituaries/story/2020-12-02/rafer-johnson-dead

U.S. Women's Soccer Team Settles Part Of Gender Discrimination Suit, https://www.npr.org/2020/12/01/940965382/u-s-womens-soccer-team-settles-part-of-gender-discrimination-suit

U.S. Women's Soccer Team Settlement Advances Timeline for Appeal, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/uswnt-us-womens-soccer-team-settlement-1234617521/

IOC Executive Board hears update on recommendations for approach to human rights, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1101537/ioc-human-rights-development

Northern District of Ohio decision on Hall of Fame football game tickets, Greg Herrick v. National Football League et al, http://courtweb.pamd.uscourts.gov/courtwebsearch/ndoh/qc4TWsUToF.pdf

Federal 3rd Circuit decision in Spanier case - Conviction of president of Penn State re Jerry Sandusky issues, http://www2.ca3.uscourts.gov/opinarch/192228p.pdf

Flutter Entertainment strikes $4.2 billion deal to control most of FanDuel, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/flutter-strikes-4-2-billion-deal-to-control-most-of-fanduel-11607002566

IN BRIEF: Wachtell, Wilson Sonsini get the work as Flutter ups stake in FanDuel, https://www.reuters.com/article/in-brief-wachtell-wilson-sonsini-get-the-idUSL1N2IK00C

FanDuel, Private Equity Backers Want Scottish Law Used in Suit, But Judge Unsure, https://www.casino.org/news/fanduel-pe-investors-want-suit-dismissed-judge-sees-things-differently/

Churchill Downs' new racetrack president could come from 'deep team', https://www.bizjournals.com/louisville/news/2020/11/30/churchill-downs-president-search.html

NYSportsJournalism.com - Under Cloud Of Controversy, NYRR Seeks New CEO, http://nysportsjournalism.squarespace.com/nyc-marathon-seeks-new-ceo-12/?SSScrollPosition=0

SPONSORS PILE INTO COLLEGE HOOPS DESPITE SEASON IN FLUX, https://www.sportico.com/leagues/college-sports/2020/college-basketball-adding-sponsors-1234617639/

Falcons, Atlanta United sue insurers over COVID-19 losses, https://www.ajc.com/sports/atlanta-falcons/falcons-atlanta-united-sue-insurers-over-covid-19-losses/WDN6YWMZVJD2BIJIKV4BMMH6HU/

Tyrod Taylor declines to file grievance against Chargers after team doctor punctured his lung, per report, https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/tyrod-taylor-declines-to-file-grievance-against-chargers-after-team-doctor-punctured-his-lung-per-report/

Theater News for the Week of December 4th

By Bennett Liebman

Here's what readers think of COVID-era virtual arts, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2020-12-03/pandemic-arts-survey-results

Longtime Board Chairman Steps Down at Apollo Theater, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/03/arts/apollo-theater-richard-parsons.html

Dr. Anthony Fauci Sheds Light on What Coronavirus Vaccine Efficacy Means for Broadway, https://www.playbill.com/article/dr-anthony-fauci-sheds-light-on-what-coronavirus-vaccine-efficacy-means-for-broadway

Fauci Says Widespread Vaccine Use Could Reopen Broadway By Fall 2021, https://deadline.com/2020/12/anthony-fauci-broadway-reopen-covid-coronavirus-vaccine-fall-2021-1234636379/

Intermission: How Long Until the Curtain Rises Again?, https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/intermission/2020/12/02/intermission--how-long-until-the-curtain-rises-again--december-3-2020

Cuomo Passes Law Protecting New York Actors From Unauthorized Image Use, https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/actors-unauthorized-actor-image-use-law-72205/

New Theatre Producers of Color Group Sets Mentorship Program, https://deadline.com/2020/12/theatre-producers-of-color-broadway-mentorship-education-program-tuition-free-1234635694/

Theatre Producers of Color Announce BIPOC Producing 101 Course, https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/12/01/theatre-producers-of-color-announce-bipoc-producing-101-course/

Bah, Pandemic! How Theaters Are Saving 'A Christmas Carol', https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/29/theater/christmas-carol-dickens-pandemic.html

The culture is ailing. It's time for a Dr. Fauci for the arts., https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/biden-fauci-secretary-of-arts-cabinet-post/2020/12/01/a04f3bf8-2da3-11eb-bae0-50bb17126614_story.html

Actor Harry Lennix plans to build 'the Black version of Lincoln Center' on Chicago's South Side, https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/chris-jones/ct-ent-african-american-museum-arts-chicago-20201202-4iml2mv3y5eexlvuvvcbl4rowq-story.html

Theatre companies in tier 3 areas describe 'shock and heartbreak', https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/dec/03/theatre-companies-in-tier-3-areas-describe-shock-and-heartbreak-covid

Don't vilify the giants of commercial theatre - they're the lifeblood of the industry, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/theatre/what-to-see/dont-vilify-giants-commercial-theatre-lifeblood-industry/

Andrew Lloyd Webber believes in Broadway and the West End's imminent rebirth, https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Connecticut arts groups to split $9 million in COVID relief grants aimed at making a difference 'of survival', https://www.courant.com/coronavirus/hc-news-coronavirus-154-arts-groups-receive-covid-relief-grants-20201201-vha626lvmzhi5moh3v7yz7dg4e-story.html

With Germany's Theaters Closed, the Drama's Online. Again., https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/04/theater/germany-theater-streaming.html

Movie theaters, live venues would get billions in covid aid from stimulus package, https://www.chicagotribune.com/coronavirus/ct-ent-coronavirus-stimulus-aid-movie-music-theaters-20201204-kjy2jmchyncczfo4wy5pet7ckm-story.html

State funds may have saved Racine Theatre Guild from being another COVID casualty, https://www.lakegenevanews.net/news/local/state-funds-may-have-saved-racine-theatre-guild-from-being-another-covid-casualty/article_f47e0a53-70b6-5f59-8be0-e75c799eb0f8.html

Verve Expands Theater Presence With Key Signings, https://variety.com/2020/legit/news/verve-theater-john-doyle-stew-nick-stafford-1234844112/

Health care workers raise money for out-of-work Broadway performers, https://www.wesh.com/article/health-care-workers-broadway/34866841

December 7, 2020

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, General News, and Coronavirus:


Atlantic Recordings v Spinrilla

The court held that the defendant hip-hop music streaming service was liable for infringing sound recordings and that it could not rely on safe harbor immunity under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to completely shield itself from liability.


Court Reviews Decision to Allow Multiple Accusers Testify at Bill Cosby Trial

"Pennsylvania Supreme Court justices hearing Cosby's appeal of his sexual assault conviction expressed concern that five additional women had been allowed to testify at this 2018 trial." Cosby's defense team argued that the collective weight of the testimony of the "prior bad acts" witnesses had unfairly tainted the jury and Cosby "suffered unquantifiable prejudice." The decision is not expected for several months and would require a majority vote to overturn the verdict.


Rapper Casanova Accused of Conspiring in 'Terrible Acts of Violence'

A federal indictment unsealed this week showed that the recording artist "was charged in a decade-long racketeering conspiracy that spanned murder, drug crimes and gun offenses."


Los Angeles Reverses Decision to Close Virus Testing Site for a Film Shoot

The city backtracked on its decision to disrupt testing at Union Station to allow a film shoot to go ahead in the area. The decision had been criticized for limiting testing, especially at a location that is accessible by public transit, at a time when cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.


Warner Brothers Will Stream All 2021 Movies

Pointing to the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced that it will release all of next year's movies on streaming and in theaters at the same time. The 17 movies will stream on HBO Max.


Lights, Camera, Construction!

The article tracks the various construction projects that will lead to the opening of new facilities or expansion of existing soundstages that are expected to turn new parts of New York into production hubs.


Police Beating of Black Man in France Thrusts French Police into Spotlight

Footage of police offers beating Michel Zecler, a music producer in France, is drawing attention to police brutality in the country. The focus on this issue has led the government to redraft part of a bill that would have restricted the filming of police.


South Korea Exempts K-Pop Stars from Conscription

The country passed a revision to its Military Service Act to allow Korean pop stars to defer military service until they turn 30, in recognition of their contribution in elevating the country's cultural influence around the world.



Actors Sue SAG-AFTRA Over Health Plan

In a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, the 10 plaintiffs "object to benefit cuts and changes in eligibility requirements in the [SAG-AFTRA Health Plan] that are to take effect on January 1, 2021," which they say discriminate based on age. The changes introduce a new qualifying earnings threshold. Members who are 65 or older cannot "use their residual income to qualify for the new threshold if they are taking a union pension," which means some of them will no longer qualify for health insurance.


Disciplinary Decision Against Attorney Richard Liebowitz

The Committee on Grievances for the Southern District of New York has issued an interim suspension order, suspending "copyright troll" Richard Liebowitz from practicing law in the Southern District of New York. In issuing its decision, the Committee cited the nature and seriousness of the charges, the risk and danger of recurrence, and the lawyer's repeated disregard of formal sanctions, admonishments and warnings from judges across the country.

The Grievance Committee's order is mentioned in passing by Judge Furman in Usherson v Bandshell (linked below), where the court issued an opinion and order imposing a range of monetary and non-monetary sanctions on the plaintiff's counsel, Richard Liebowitz and his firm. The order required Liebowitz to serve a copy of that opinion on every one of the firm's clients and file a copy on the docket of any pending case brought by him or any action filed within a year of that opinion, with which Liebowitz later failed to comply.


American Ballet Theater Cancels 2021 Season at the Metropolitan Opera House

The company cited the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its ability to prepare for resuming live performances at the Lincoln Center.


Artists Ask MoMA to Remove Architect Philip Johnson's Name, Citing Racist Views

"A group of more than 30 artists and academics have signed a letter asking institutions like the Museum of Modern Art to excise the influential architect's name from their spaces." Johnson championed racist and white supremacist viewpoints at a young age but spent later years trying to distance himself from them.


The Disabled Become Visible as Works of Art

Two performance art exhibitions are bringing attention to the "broadness and diversity of the field of disability dance." The first is a project called "On Display," which has dancers pose in stillness or move between poses very slowly. The other is a work by the disability arts ensemble Kinetic Light, which is streaming a film of its work "Descent" on the University of Minnesota, Northrop website.


An Artistic Director's Second Sudden Exit

Ari Roth has resigned as artistic director of Mosaic Theater Company. The departure comes as staff members had raised complaints alleging longstanding problems at Mosaic, including that Roth's "leadership style followed pattens of 'white supremacist behavior'," which he disputes.


Art Week in Miami

Even though Art Basel was canceled this year, previously closed museums in Miami-Dade announced new in-person exhibitions and galleries rolled
out solo shows despite rising COVID-19 cases and deaths in the area.


How Innovations Keep Music Programs Alive

Amidst coronavirus restrictions, student music groups across the U.S. are finding innovative ways to perform together. As an example, some marching bands are practicing exclusively outdoors, with woodwind players wearing customized masks with slits while others wrap pantyhose and trash bags around their instruments.



U.S. Women's Soccer and U.S. Soccer Settle Workplace Claims; Shifts Focus to Equal Pay Claims

The U.S. National Women's Soccer team and the U.S. Soccer Federation announced they had settled issues related to working conditions (eg. travel, hotel accommodations, and venue choices). The terms are expected to be included in the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Their current CBA runs until the end of 2021. Although the men's and women's teams are represented by separate unions and are subject to different CBAs, it appears there is a stipulation "that would automatically make reciprocal any gains by either side in future negotiations." It is expected that the players will now appeal a decision that rejected most of the players' equal pay claims.


Staten Island Yankees File Lawsuit Against Yankees, Major League Baseball

The Staten Island Yankees lost its affiliation with the Yankees in November after the Yankees did away with three minor league affiliates following a broader restructuring of the minors. The team is now suing both the club and the league for what it says were "repeated assurances [it] would always be a minor league partner." The team is seeking $20 million in damages.


Knight Commission Proposed New, Separate Body to Govern Football Bowl Subdivision Football

The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics recommended the creation of a new entity separate from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to govern the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the most competitive subdivision of NCAA Division 1 football. The commission decided to separate football, given that it is an outlier sport based on the revenue it generates. The proposal would leave the largest football programs in charge of creating a new governing body to determine eligibility criteria and set health and safety standards. It is important to note that college football's postseason is already controlled by a separate entity (the College Football Playoff), and not the NCAA. Under this proposed model, the NCAA will focus on reorganizing all other Division 1 sports to focus around basketball and March Madness, its largest revenue source.


Suspended Gymnastics Coach Maggie Haney Speaks Out on Allegations of Abuse

Maggie Haney has been barred from coaching for eight years by USA Gymnastics for what the federation called "severe aggressive behavior" toward her athletes. Haney spoke to The New York Times in what many are calling a tone-deaf response to founded accusations of verbal and emotional abuse, saying that she "cared too much" and sought perfection from the athletes.


Rights Group Demands End to Sex Testing of Female Track Athletes

A Human Rights Watch report calls for an end to testosterone regulations, arguing they are medically unnecessary, coerce medical intervention, can result in physical and psychological injury, and "violate fundamental rights to privacy, dignity, health, non-discrimination and employment." The report also states that regulations governing athletes with differences in sex development disproportionately impact women of color from developing nations.


Parkour Federation Wants No Part in Olympic Games

Parkour "purists" are opposing efforts by the international gymnastics federation to add parkour to the Olympics as early as 2024. There are currently two main events of competitive parkour, one a freestyle, the other a speed run. While the International Olympic Committee is meeting on December 7th to finalize the program for the 2024 Paris Games, no new sports are expected to be added, but individual federations might consider adding parkour events to their lineups.


A New Challenge for Triathletes: Toppling Ironman Inc.

Ironman has dominated triathlon for decades, but professional triathletes are now trying to take control with a new series of events where they can be better compensated. With the support of the Professional Triathletes Organization and investors, they have planned four major individual competitions and an annual team event, which "will offer more than $1 million in prize money that the top 20 athletes will share - significantly more than at the typical triathlon competition."


FIFA Approves Maternity Leave for Female Players

The FIFA Council passed a series of reforms, including a rule that provides a minimum 14-week maternity leave for female players, with at least eight weeks after birth. The rule is expected to be incorporated into FIFA's regulations on the status and transfer of players, which are enforced nationwide and would ensure uniform treatment in the face of different national employment laws.


Carriage Dispute Could Keep Football Games Off TV in Texas

Texans broadcasts are in jeopardy due to a dispute between AT&T and media company Tegna over carriage rates paid to the satellite TV provider. The transmission rate dispute affects 51 markets. Tegna owns 12 stations in Texas that serve about 87% of the state. Those stations will no longer be available to AT&T customers as carriage fee negotiations continue.


Tokyo Olympians to be Tested Every 96-120 Hours During Games

Athletes arriving in Japan next year will be exempt from the 14-day quarantine, but they will need to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours before arriving. They will also be tested every 96-120 hours at a testing center that will be set up in the village.


Cartoon Depiction of Naomi Osaka Aims for Aims for Accuracy

A new cartoon of Naomi Osaka will bear a closer resemblance to her after the publishing magazine was careful to get an accurate skin tone after she was portrayed with light skin in a previous illustration.


Thomas Bach Runs Unopposed for Second Term as International Olympic Committee President

Since International Olympic Committee presidents are limited to two terms in office, Bach is set to hold the position until 2025.


Soccer Coach Fired Over Interactions with Young Players Moved from Job to Job

David San Jose was fired by a French national training center for inappropriate interactions with a young prospect, but he continues to work in the game. The soccer federation says that without proof, it has no power to stop San Jose from working in soccer, especially as he has never been the subject of an official complaint of physical abuse or improper physical contact with a child.


Authorities Collect Evidence from Diego Maradona's Doctor

The offices were raided as part of an investigation into the circumstances of the soccer star's death after interviewing several relatives. Suspicions of foul play began emerging soon after his death last week, with some accounts saying the ambulance took more than half an hour to arrive and that Maradona should have remained in hospital under observation following a brain surgery this month.


Lockdown Exposes Gender Gap in U.K. Sports

Across English sports, but most prominently in youth soccer, clubs have kept trainings open for boys while closing girls' programs during lockdown. The U.K. government granted exemptions to "elite sport", but a large majority of those continuing training and competing were men's leagues, exposing a gender divide in the treatment of athletes.



Justice Department Suit Says Facebook Discriminates Against U.S. Workers

The Department's civil rights division is targeting Facebook's hiring practices, which it says favor immigrants on temporary visas over qualified U.S. workers. The complaint follows a two-year investigation into the company's use of H1-B visas.


Facebook to Remove Coronavirus Vaccine Misinformation

The company says that it will remove claims that have been debunked by public health experts in an effort to fight vaccine misinformation.


Congress Will Press Ahead on Military Bill, Defies Trump's Veto Threat

President Trump has threatened to veto the annual military policy bill over an unrelated issue - Congress' refusal to repeal a legal shield for social media companies. The bill authorizes, among other things, pay raises for American troops.


Google Researcher Says That a Paper Highlighting Bias in Artificial Intelligence Led to her Firing

Timnit Gebru says that she was fired by the company after raising concerns about biases built into artificial intelligence systems and about minority hiring in the company. She had raised those concerns in a group email that included other Google employees among the recipients.


Facebook to Acquire Start-Up Kustomer for Close to $1 Billion

The company announced that it plans to acquire the customer relationship management start-up to help build its e-commerce business.


$11 Million is Raised for Equality in Tech Sector

Non-profit organization All Raise will expand its efforts to achieve diversity in the tech industry, where companies are nowhere near gender parity and two-thirds of venture capital firms have no female partners.


Hong Kong Media Tycoon Denied Bail in Hong Kong

Jimmy Lai, who founded pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, was arrested in August as part of a crackdown under the sweeping national security law. He has now been denied bail on fraud charges unrelated to the security law.


General News

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Trump Administration's Medicaid Work Requirements

The Supreme Court announced that it will take up the case that will consider whether the federal government can impose certain work requirements on Medicaid recipients. The government will argue that it "should be permitted to test new approaches to the Medicaid program." The federal appeals court that struck down the requirement said that the government had "failed to consider how [the requirement] would advance Medicaid's goal of providing health care to poor people." The requirement would effectively deny health care coverage to people in Arkansas and New Hampshire unless they could show they were working, volunteering or attending job training.


Supreme Court Weighs Sweep of Its Ruling on Non-Unanimous Jury Verdicts

In oral argument this week, the Supreme Court considered whether its April decision banning non-unanimous jury verdicts in cases involving serious crimes should apply retroactively. The decision had previously only applied to defendants whose convictions were not yet final (i.e. where inmates had not exhausted their appeals). If the decision applies retroactively, it could potentially entitle "thousands of inmates in Louisiana, Oregon and Puerto Rico to new trials."


Supreme Court Considers Census Case

The Trump administration argued its census case before the Court this week, explaining why it intended to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the 2020 census totals that would be sent to the House next year for use in reallocating its 435 seats among the states. At issue is the interpretation of Article 1 of the Constitution and the 14th Amendment, which "require that House seats be allotted according to the 'whole number' of persons in each state." That phrase has long been held to include all of a state's residents, whether citizens, immigrants or undocumented individuals. At stake is the possible exclusion of an estimated 11 million undocumented workers, which would likely favor rural and Republican states by shifting congressional seats and federal funding to them. The Supreme Court appeared skeptical of the plan, with the justices raising concerns about whether the Census Bureau could even count the number of unauthorized immigrants, and if so, whether that number was significant enough to impact the apportionment.



Supreme Court Instructs Federal Judge to Reconsider Virus Limits on California Churches

The Supreme Court vacated a federal judge's ruling that "allowed California to impose restrictions on religious services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus" and instructed reconsideration of the case (in light of new precedent). Similar restrictions in New York were struck down last month. The California church that brought the case argued the restrictions violated the Constitution's protection of the free exercise of religion.


Supreme Court Seems Prepared to Limit Human Rights Suits Against Corporations

The justices seemed poised to reject a suit by six citizens of Mali brought against Nestle USA and Cargill for their role in allegedly aiding and profiting from forced child labor. The justices questioned whether there was a sufficient evidence tying the defendants to the abuse.


Flaws in Census Count May Imperil Trump's Plan to Exclude Undocumented Immigrants

Data-processing issues may delay the completion of state-by-state population totals that the Trump administration wants to rely on to reapportion the House of Representatives. The issue stems from discrepancies between the advance estimates provided by institutions like prisons, shelters, etc., and the totals received from census-takers in the field.


Arizona and Wisconsin Certify Biden's Wins

Both states formally signed off on their results, with Biden narrowly leading in both battleground states. The Wisconsin certification comes after a recount request by the Trump campaign.


Wisconsin's Top Court Rejects Trump Lawsuit

In a 4-to-3 vote, the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined to take a case that aimed to invalidate more than 200,000 votes cast in two of the state's Democratic counties. The court suggested that the Trump campaign refile the suit in a lower state court. Trump's efforts to challenge the vote are running out of time as "the deadline to exhaust legal challenges to state certifications is Tuesday." The Electoral College will meet on December 14th to formally vote on the next president.


Attorney General Barr Acknowledges Justice Department Has Found No Widespread Voter Fraud

William Barr said that his department had uncovered no voting fraud on a scale that could have impacted the outcome of the election, serving a blow to Trump's efforts to overturn the election results.


Judge Orders Government to Fully Reinstate Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to fully reinstate the program designed to shield young, undocumented immigrants from deportation. Judge Garaufis of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn ordered the administration to allow newly eligible immigrants to file applications for protection under the program, reversing a Homeland Security memorandum that restricted the program to people who had already enrolled.


New U.S. Citizenship Test is Longer and More Difficult

A new citizenship test went into effect, eliminating simple geography questions and adding dozens of others containing nuanced language and more complex subject matter, like the 10th Amendment and the reason why the U.S. entered the Vietnam War. Applicants are required to correctly answer 12 out of 20 questions, instead of the previous six out of 10.


Biden and Economic Team Urge Quick Action on Stimulus; Top Democrats Endorse $908 Billion Plan

Supported by Biden in their approach, Democratic leaders in Congress announced their support for a compromise plan in an effort to revive stalled negotiations for additional relief before the end of the year.



U.S. Used Patriot Act to Gather Logs of Website Visitors

According to letters produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the U.S. has interpreted the Patriot Act to permit authorities to collect logs showing who has visited particular websites, stopping short of collecting keywords entered on search engines, which it views as content requiring a warrant. A debate around proposed limits to the law is expected to resume once Biden takes office.


Head of Pentagon's ISIS Task Force Ousted, Office Disbanded

Christopher Maier held the post since 2017. According to the acting defense secretary, "his duties would be folded into two other offices that deal with special operations and regional policies."


More Biden Picks Announced

Biden has picked former Obama economics advisor Adewale Adeyemo as his nominee for deputy Treasury secretary. Cecilia Rouse is his pick to lead the Council of Economic Advisers; her work has focused on workers, discrimination, and education. Brian Deese, a former Obama administration advisor, will lead the National Economic Council. Jennifer Psaki is Biden's choice for press secretary; she will be expected to embody Biden's return to normalcy approach as she intends to bring back the daily White House press briefings.





Harris Chooses Clinton White House Veteran Tina Flournoy as Chief of Staff

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has picked a longtime aide to President Clinton to be her chief of staff. Flournoy is a founding member of a group of powerful Black women in Democratic politics and will oversee an office where the majority of the staff members picked so far are women of color.


Senate Confirms Trump Pick for the Federal Reserve Board

Christopher Waller was confirmed by a narrow margin as the Federal Reserve's seven-member Board of governors. President Trump has now chosen five of the central bank's six officials, including chair Jerome Powell.


Environmental Protection Agency's Final Deregulatory Push Runs into Staff Resistance

Career Environmental Protection Agency employees are finding themselves "in a bureaucratic battle with the agency's political leaders," who are filing dissenting scientific opinions to openly criticize Trump's deregulatory legacy.


Trump Administration to Sell Arctic Oil Rights Days Before Biden Sworn In

The Interior Department announced it will hold an auction to sell oil drilling rights on January 6, 2021, "under an accelerated timetable meant to ensure the oil and gas leases are formally issued before Biden is sworn in on January 20," making any federal contracts difficult to revoke by the incoming administration.


Companies Lobby Against Xinjiang Forced Labor Bill

Companies like Nike and Coca-Cola are "lobbying Congress to weaken a bill that would ban imported goods made with forced labor in China's Xinjiang region." The bill aims to crack down on human rights abuses against Muslim minorities in China and had bipartisan support in the House (and likely the Senate).


Barr Appoints John Durham Special Counsel in Bid to Entrench Scrutiny of Russia Inquiry

Durham is the prosecutor assigned to investigate the officials who conducted the Trump-Russia inquiry. The appointment gives Durham the same independence and protections against being fired as Robert Mueller, who oversaw the Russia investigation. It sets the stage to leaving Durham in place after the Biden administration takes over.


Citing Pardon, Justice Department Asks Federal Judge to Immediately Dismiss Flynn Case

The Justice Department said the president's pardon "moots this case" and made clear that the pardon was worded broadly enough to cover charges beyond those that arose out of Flynn lying to federal investigators. The case at issue relates to Flynn withdrawing his guilty plea and the Justice Department filing to dismiss the case earlier this year.


Two Trump Associates Linked to Pardons Inquiry

A federal judge in Washington unsealed redacted court records that disclosed the existence of an investigation into unregistered lobby and bribery. The people connected to a possible pardon plot involved Jared Kushner's lawyer. A billionaire real estate developer had enlisted their help to secure clemency for a psychologist convicted of tax evasion.


Scientists Suggest Microwave Attack as Likely Source of Havana Illness Among Diplomats

In a report commissioned by the State Department, a body of experts cited "directed, pulsed radiofrequency energy" as "the most plausible mechanism" to explain the illness that struck spies and diplomats working in Cuba, Russia and China. Symptoms included dizziness, fatigue and loss of hearing, memory and balance. The use of the terms "pulsed" and "directed" suggests the exposure was targeted and not the result of common sources of microwave energy.


Police Body Cameras Cited as Powerful Tool Against Stop-and-Frisk Abuses

A report on a yearlong pilot program indicates that New York City police officers who were equipped with body cameras were more inclined to record their actions and did in fact document more stops that those who did not wear then. The report is meant to guide changes to the stop-and-frisk policy and the ability of body cameras "to illuminate police encounters" can increase transparency and improve underreporting.


Egypt Frees Human Rights Workers Amid Rising International Outcry

The release of three civil rights advocates comes in the heels of widespread international outcry and pressure from the incoming Biden administration.


Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Moved to Remote Island Camps

Bangladesh intends to move up to 100,000 Rohingya refugees who fled Myanmar to the island of Bhasan Char, against their will, in a claim to ease crowding in refugee camps that are housing more than a million people.


United Nations Reclassifies Cannabis as a Less Dangerous Drug

The United Nations' Commission for Narcotic Drugs voted to remove medicinal cannabis from a category of dangerous drugs. The move is a symbolic win for advocates of drug policy change.


China's Spacecraft Departs Moon with Samples

The spacecraft will return to Earth by mid-December with a collection of rocks and soil from the lunar surface, what will be the first cache of moon samples returned to Earth since 1976.


Coronavirus Update

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Draws Up Urgent Battle Plan

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) strategy is expected to make up the foundation of a national strategy in the months to come and includes advice for individuals and state and local officials. The guidance, while not new, will stress the need for a more uniform approach across the U.S., and will place high priority on masking in high-risk scenarios and on keeping schools open.


Over 100,000 Patients in Hospital with COVID


Moderna Applies for Emergency Food and Drug Administration Approval

Moderna's coronavirus vaccine is said to be 94% effective. If authorized, injections could begin as early as December 21st.


U.K. Approves Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine, a First in the West

The emergency approval clears the way for Britain to begin mass inoculations.


Cyberattacks Are Discovered on Vaccine Supply

IBM's cybersecurity division has found that governments and companies overseeing vaccine distribution operations have come under attack by unknown agents seeking to steal network log-in credentials of officials responsible for vaccine transit and refrigeration.


Pandemic Upends Public Services and Jobs

State and local governments are making deep budget cuts that will slash public services and job numbers as they face some of the biggest revenue declines in recent years. States that depend on energy-related taxes have suffered due to a sharp decline in oil prices, while those that depend on tourism have seen revenue declines of 10% or more. Even the falloff in sales and income taxes is forcing state officials to consider laying off public servants and closing important public services.


Patients Most Infectious for Seven Days; CDC Shortens Quarantine to Seven or 10 Days

New analysis finds that COVID-19 patients are most infectious two days before symptoms begin and five days after, leading public health officials to question whether the recommended isolation time should be shorter, and whether a shorter isolation period will lead to more compliance. In related news, the CDC shortened the quarantine period to seven or 10 days.



Virus Wreaks Havoc on New York City Courts: Nine Trials in Nine Months

The virus has upended criminal trials in the city, with only nine criminal jury trials completed since March 2020 (compared to the 800
criminal trials completed in the city in 2019). Officials anticipate the case backlog to continue to grow because of surging virus cases, as more than 400 defendants languish in pre-trial detention, awaiting trial.


California to Reimpose Strict Lockdown Rules as Hospitals See Surge

New restrictions were announced as intensive-care beds filled up in the region. The restrictions will last for at least three weeks and include a ban on indoor dining and recommendation against nonessential travel.


Trump Coronavirus Advisor Scott Atlas Resigns

Dr. Atlas joined the White House in August. His views often clashed with government scientists and public health experts.


Extreme Level of Teacher Burnout in the U.S.

Educators across the U.S. are providing accounts of the various challenges of working in pandemic conditions. The article warns that "teacher burnout could erode instructional quality, stymie working parents and hinder the reopening of the economy."


Pandemic Has Made Streets More Dangerous for Blind People

Reduced traffic flow and the accompanying noises has removed one of the only clues available to the visually impaired as to when it is safe to venture into a crosswalk. In October, a federal judge found that New York City had failed to protect some of its most vulnerable residents by failing to install audible crossing signals, ordering the city to come up with a plan to install more of the devices.


Reinventing Workers for the Post-COVID Economy

The article explains the importance of training programs aimed at providing workers with skills for more resilient occupations, especially as jobs in the service industries, primarily, may not be coming back post-COVID.


December 11, 2020

Theater News for the Week of December 11th

By Bennett Liebman

As COVID-19 continues to worsen, nation needs a New Deal for the arts, https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2020/12/08/covid-continues-worsen-nation-needs-new-deal-arts-column/3812329001/

Is it Still Broadway If It's Hosted by Tina Fey, https://www.vulture.com/2020/12/best-of-broadway-nbc-tina-fey-best-and-worst-moments.html

Brighter days for arts forecast in Biden administration, https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/12/the-arts-may-heal-under-biden-harris-administration-say-experts/

November 2020: Ticket Sales & Philanthropy, https://trgarts.com/blog/benchmark-insights-nov-2020.html

Power Lawyers 2020: New York's Top 20 Entertainment Attorneys, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lists/power-lawyers-2020-new-yorks-top-20-entertainment-attorneys

TCG Releases Theatre Facts 2019, a Pre-Pandemic Snapshot of the Field, https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/12/09/tcg-releases-theatre-facts-2019-a-pre-pandemic-snapshot-of-the-field/

Rerouting the Casting Pipeline, https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/12/10/rerouting-the-casting-pipeline/

'Arts organizations are back in business': NYC performances prep for Spring 2021, https://www.nydailynews.com/coronavirus/ny-covid-nyc-culture-van-bramer-20201208-wgufmokbbbdanjmlsi4l54kdty-story.html

Moves in Culture, https://www.nytco.com/press/moves-in-culture-2/

'Six' Tries to Get Back Onstage. Again, and Again, and Again, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/09/theater/six-musical-return.html

New York Philharmonic Musicians Agree to Years of Pandemic Pay Cuts, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/07/arts/music/new-york-philharmonic-pay-cuts.html

Metropolitan Opera to Lock Out Stagehands as Contract Talks Stall, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/07/arts/music/met-opera-lockout-stagehands.html

Actors Equity Releases Statement After New Unemployment Report Reveals Highest Numbers Since September, https://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Actors-Equity-Releases-Statement-After-New-Unemployment-Report-Reveals-Highest-Numbers-Since-September-20201210

Months After Inequity Reckoning, Flea Theater Discontinues The Bats and Other Resident Artist Groups, https://www.playbill.com/article/months-after-inequity-reckoning-flea-theater-discontinues-the-bats-and-other-resident-artist-groups

Crowd-created TikTok phenomenon Ratatouille the musical is coming to Broadway, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/dec/11/crowd-created-musical-phenomenon-ratatousical-is-coming-to-broadway

Who's Zoomin' who? Playwrights adapt by incorporating digital platforms into their scripts, https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/12/09/arts/whos-zoomin-who-playwrights-adapt-by-incorporating-digital-platforms-into-their-scripts/

£165m in emergency loans given to hard-hit UK arts organisations, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/dec/11/165m-in-emergency-loans-given-to-hard-hit-uk-arts-organisations

Best theater in 2020: In a year to forget, virtuoso performances to remember, https://news.yahoo.com/best-theater-forget-virtuoso-performances-130055836.html

Sports Law News for the Week of December 11th

By Bennett Liebman

New York Democrats mull legalizing weed, taxing the rich amid COVID money crunch - and mobile sports betting, https://nypost.com/2020/12/09/ny-dems-eye-taxes-on-rich-sports-betting-amid-covid-fiscal-crisis/?utm_campaign=iphone_nyp&utm_source=twitter_app

Top lawmaker sees sports betting in Connecticut a reality next year as Foxwoods and sports entertainment business announce a deal, https://www.courant.com/business/hc-biz-foxwoods-draft-kings-20201207-bxicevl4zjhkpb2ow5muh5bysa-story.html

ANALYSIS: WHAT TO EXPECT FROM LEGAL SINGLE-GAME SPORTS BETTING IN CANADA, https://www.legalsportsreport.com/46157/what-to-expect-sports-betting-in-canada/

NFL Viewership Poised For Single-Digit Decline This Season, https://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2020/12/10/Media/NFL-Viewership.aspx

In blow to UFC, judge certifies class of fighters suing for bigger revenue cut, https://theathletic.com/2253571/2020/12/10/in-blow-to-ufc-judge-certifies-class-of-fighters-suing-for-bigger-revenue-cut/

NFL FIGHTS TO KEEP WASHINGTON MINORITY OWNER DISPUTE FROM PUBLIC VIEW, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/washington-football-team-ownership-suit-nfl-1234618036/

BIG TEN CHANGES RULES TO HELP OHIO STATE AND POTENTIALLY SECURE PLAYOFF MILLIONS, https://www.sportico.com/leagues/college-sports/2020/big-ten-ohio-state-rule-1234618030/

NWSL'S UTAH ROYALS RELOCATE TO KANSAS CITY AFTER SALE TO WOMAN-LED OWNERSHIP GROUP, https://www.sportico.com/leagues/soccer/2020/nwsl-kansas-city-expansion-team-utah-royals-1234617812/

MU tennis players say coaches told them to play through injuries, ignore NCAA rule, https://www.columbiamissourian.com/sports/mizzou_sports/mu-tennis-players-say-coaches-told-them-to-play-through-injuries-ignore-ncaa-rules/article_a816a1f8-10c7-11eb-8343-d39be6be3763.html

Volleyball Star Hayley Hodson Had It All, https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2020-12-08/stanford-volleyball-hayley-hodson-concussions-cte-lawsuit

PENGUINS, FENWAY AND FUBO AMONG $1.7 BILLION IN PPP LOANS FOR SPORTS BUSINESS, https://www.sportico.com/business/finance/2020/sports-ppp-loans-topped-1-7-billion-1234617733/

NBA fines Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn Nets for his media week no-show, https://nba.nbcsports.com/2020/12/10/nba-fines-kyrie-irving-brooklyn-nets-for-his-media-week-no-show/

NFL gets mixed grades for its hiring practices in annual diversity report card, https://theathletic.com/2248455/2020/12/09/nfl-diversity-report-card-tides/

FIFA moves away from proposal banning international regular-season games, https://theathletic.com/2247164/2020/12/08/

WHO Emergency Expert Says Be Prepared: Host City 2020, http://aroundtherings.com/site/A__101847/Title__WHO-Emergency-Expert-Says-Be-Prepared-Host-City-2020/292/Articles

Ciprès facing felony charge over alleged sexual abuse, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1101833/cipres-felony-charge-lewd-pictures

USOPC will not sanction athletes for protests as Council calls for Rule 50 changes, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1101840/usopc-protest-position-council-rule-50

Swiss prosecutor recommends criminal investigation into Infantino's use of private jet, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1101832/prosecutor-recommends-infantino-case

Video: Texas high school football player who hit referee charged with assault, https://www.kmov.com/news/video-texas-high-school-football-player-who-hit-referee-charged-with-assault/article_b3fc768e-366d-11eb-b49a-231cc8ba096c.html

Harvard's former fencing coach indicted for taking $1.5 million in bribes to help two students gain admission, https://www.marketwatch.com/story/harvards-former-fencing-coach-indicted-for-taking-1-5-million-in-bribes-to-help-get-two-young-men-into-the-school-01607439033

December 14, 2020

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, General News, and Coronavirus:


Bob Dylan Sells His Songwriting Catalog in Blockbuster Deal

In "what may be the biggest acquisition ever of a single act's publishing rights," Universal Music has purchased the entire songwriting catalog of Bob Dylan. That catalog consists of over 600 songs dating back to 1962. Although the price has not been disclosed, it is estimated at being north of $300 million.


Trading Box Office for Streaming, Stars Still Want Their Money as Streaming Will Rival Theaters

Disney revealed that its "big-budget movies will first go to theaters" and other "offerings will debut online," while Warner Brothers
announced that it will release its films in theaters and streaming. This transition has not occurred without complications: studios like Warners Brothers have had to renegotiate contracts with representatives and talent agencies because the typical measure, box office sales, will not be the measure of a film's popularity in the near-term.




Visa and Mastercard to Investigate Financial Ties to Pornhub

Payment companies Visa and Mastercard announced that "they would investigate financial links after The New York Times reported that videos on Pornhub depict child abuse." Visa stated that it was "actively engaging with the relevant financial institutions," and the company "works with 61 million merchants and moves nearly $12 trillion in money through the financial system in a year." It also announced that if the website is not complying with "applicable laws or the financial institutions' acceptable use policies and underwriting standards, they will no longer be able to accept Visa payments."


FKA twigs Sues Shia LaBeouf, Citing 'Relentless' Abusive Relationship

The musician FKA twigs filed an action in Los Angeles against Shia LaBeouf, alleging "sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress." In one instance detailed in the action, she alleged that in 2019, LaBeouf was "driving recklessly" and then removed his seatbelt and threatened to crash the vehicle "unless she professed her love for him." In bringing this action, she said that she would "like to be able to raise awareness on the tactics that abusers use to control you and take away your agency."


Under the Mask, the Next Batman Will Be Black

A new Batman comic is coming, written by John Ridley (who authored "12 Years a Slave"), and the new Batman will be Tim Fox, "the son of a business associate of Bruce Wayne." That is not the only change in the comic, which DC Comics has teased for months: "in addition to Timothy Fox as Batman, Jonathan Kent, the son of the Man of Steel, is Superman, and Yara Flor, who is from Brazil, is Wonder Woman."


A Costly Quip Angers Chinese Moviegoers, and a Film Is Yanked

In the film "Monster Hunter," a pun about knees was been deemed "racist" and led to a boycott of the film. The film was "based on a popular video game", but has since been pulled from theaters, with the distributor vowing to cut the scene from the movie and re-release it. Critics wrote that the dialogue, containing a pun based on the words "knees" and "Chinese," was a "reference to a racist playground taunt implying that people of Asian descent are dirty."



Metropolitan Opera to Lock Out Stagehands as Contract Talks Stall

The Metropolitan Opera (Met), after having reached "a bargaining impasse," said that "it would lock out the workers needed to build sets for next season's productions." The Met announced that it "needs to cut labor costs significantly if it is to survive until and after it reopens," but the unions "bristled at the request, saying that their members cannot handle such a long-term financial hit after going many months without pay."


Dispute Erupts Over Translation Rights to New Nobel Laureate

Louise Gluck, after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature, "has found herself at the heart of less-welcome publicity, because of a dispute over who should hold the Spanish-language rights to her work." The dispute arose when her agent switched publishers, and the previous publisher has said that "it should be rewarded for broadening her readership and publishing, at a loss, her work." The publisher stated that it may not litigate the dispute, but that "there is also something called ethics." Gluck has declined to "weigh in" on the issue.


Carnegie Hall Stands By Its Chairman, Despite Tax Violations

The chairman of Carnegie Hall, Robert F. Smith, "has acknowledged his involvement in a 15-year scheme to hide more than $200 million in income and evade taxes, but he retains the support of the hall's board." He had promised to be "a stabilizing presence at Carnegie" when he took the chairman position in 2016. Smith has acknowledged that he "signed a nonprosecution agreement in which he agreed to pay large fines and cooperate with investigators."


Ronald Lauder Gives Major Arms and Armor Gift to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ronald Lauder, "at a time when cultural institutions all over the world are struggling in the pandemic," has donated "91 pieces of arms and armor to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which the New York institution is calling the most important donation of its kind in 80 years." Lauder, "the cosmetics magnate and philanthropist," has declined to "disclose the donation's value."


Dutch Panel for Looted Art Claims Must Change Course, Report Finds

A committee in the Netherlands found that the "country's art restitution panel", the Dutch Restitutions Commission, "showed too little empathy to victims of Nazi aggression and sided too often with museums." This comes after the Netherlands had developed a reputation for "taking action to research stolen art and return it to its rightful owners," but the committee concluded that the commission had "essentially moved in the wrong direction" when balancing the interests of "claimants against those of museums."


In Cuba, Internet Fuels Rare Protests

Artists have used the internet to fuel protests that have swelled to become the "largest protests in decades" in Cuba. The protests began "after seeing videos of police detentions that were filmed on cellphones and circulated online," and the "swift mobilization of protesters was a rare instance of Cubans openly confronting their government--and a stark example of how having widespread access to the internet through cellphones is testing the power balance between the communist regime and its citizens."


Black Ballerina, Playing a Swan, Says She Was Told to Color Her Skin

A dancer with the Staatsballett Berlin, Chloe Lopes Gomes, said that she was "directed to use white makeup to perform in 'Swan Lake'" and had other "racially insensitive incidents" during her time at the ballet. She was asked several times to apply white makeup, and when she told a supervisor that she would "never look white," the supervisor said, "Well, you will have to put on more than the other girls."



U.S. Will Not Punish Olympic Athletes for Peaceful Protests

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, in a break with the International Olympic Committee, announced that "it would not prosecute athletes who participate in demonstrations", such as "kneeling or raising a fist at a medal ceremony." The policy "has come under heightened scrutiny as mass protests calling for racial equality, including demonstrations by professional athletes, have spread widely this year in the United States and other countries."


Fighters Win Key Ruling in Case That Could Upend Ultimate Fighting Championship's Business

A federal judge has ruled that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters are entitled to "class-action status" in an action alleging that UFC has suppressed the fighters' pay. If the fighters prevail in the action, it could lead to UFC paying significantly more to the fighters to the tune of billions of dollars, fundamentally altering "the world of mixed martial arts and establish[ing] new antitrust case law."


Virtual Cycling and Real Cheating: Cracking Down on 'Digital Doping'

Companies like Zwift are attempting to help cyclists and runners to compete during the pandemic, but there have been concerns about cheating. The company has sought to stop "the practice of manipulating race data to either improve digital performances or cover up human or technical errors," but some professional athletes who have been accused of cheating have said that "they did not intentionally cheat and that they had been made scapegoats as the company tries to show it is taking the matter seriously."


Suspension Reduced for Gymnastics Coach Accused of Emotional and Physical Abuse

An arbitrator determined that Maggie Haney, a "top gymnastics coach accused of berating and mistreating athletes", will face a five-year ban from the sport rather than an eight-year ban. The arbitrator found that some of the testimony at the underlying hearing should have been excluded, but the five-year ban still is the "harshest one that USA Gymnastics" has "handed down in a case that did not involve sexual abuse."


Questions Mount for a French Soccer Federation in Crisis

The French soccer federation is facing pressure from Nike, "its main sponsor", for permitting an environment to exist that consists of "bullying, misbehavior, and sexism, and troubling details about interactions between an official at its top player academy and a teenage prospect." Last week, France's ministry of sport announced that it will launch an investigation into allegations detailed in The New York Times that detailed the federation's mishandling an investigation "involving inappropriate behavior by a former instructor at its national training center."


The Women Faced Off to Play Soccer. One Team Lost Because of Hair Dye

The women's teams "at Fuzhou University and Jimei University" in China were going to face off in a tournament, but "they were barred from participating because players from both teams had dyed hair, which was against the rules." The Chinese province's rules state that players may be disqualified "from a match if they wear accessories or jewelry, or have 'strange' hairstyles or dyed hair."



U.S. and States Say That Facebook Illegally Crushed Competition

The Federal Trade Commission has teamed up with 40 states in accusing Facebook "of buying up its rivals to illegally squash competition, and they called for the deals to be unwound, escalating regulators' battle against the biggest tech companies in a way that could remake the social media industry." This comes after an 18-month investigation by federal and state authorities, which have focused on Facebook's acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp.


Twitch Cracks Down on Hate Speech and Harassment

The live-streaming site twitch has "announced new guidelines after contending with claims that its streamers were too easily abused." The site has become very popular for streaming video game players, and Amazon owns the site. Twitch "will ban lewd or repeated comments about anyone's physical appearance and expressly prohibit the sending of unsolicited links to nudity."


Google Chief Apologies for AI Researcher's Dismissal

The chief executive of Alphabet (Google's parent company), Sundar Pichai, apologized for dismissing AI researcher Timnit Gebru, "whose exit has roiled the company's work force and raised questions about its stated commitment to diversity and the responsible development of AI technology." Pichai has not admitted to employees that the company was wrong, but Gebru has said that Google fired her after she sent an email criticizing Google's "lack of progress in hiring women and minorities as well as biases built into its artificial intelligence technology."


Jimmy Lai, Hong Kong Media Mogul, Charged Under New Security Law

In Hong Kong, police on Friday announced that Jimmy Lai, "the outspoken founder of an ardently antigovernment newspaper, had been charged under the city's new national security law with colluding with foreign forces." The move represents "the rapidly shrinking space for speech and independent journalism in China," and Bloomberg News also announced that "plainclothes security officials had earlier that week detained Haze Fan, a Chinese staffer in Beijing, also on potential national security violations."


Afghan Journalist Is Killed in Latest Attack on Media Figures

Malalai Maiwand, "a well-known TV and radio journalist," was killed in "one of a string of high-profile targeted killings in Afghanistan." ISIS gunmen were found responsible for the attack, which occurred while she was traveling to her work and is the "third fatal attack on a well-known media personality in just over a month and sowing fear in a community that came of age reporting on a country at war for decades."


General News

Options for Reversing Election Results Continue to Fizzle as Biden Administration Takes Shape

In the latest example of President Trump's fizzling effort to reverse the election results--only at the presidential election level--the Supreme Court declined to hear a case brought by Texas arguing that the election results should be reversed and that Trump should have been re-elected. To date, the result fits into a pattern of defeat for Trump and his allies, as no court has yet reversed state or local results based on Trump's arguments of widespread election fraud. Nonetheless, there remain other efforts in addition to overturning the election results: following the pardon of Michael Flynn, there is discussion abound of Trump issuing pardons to close allies and family before leaving office in the event they face prosecution after leaving the administration (which may come from investigations into the Trump Organization's taxes and the Manhattan District Attorney's investigation). Meanwhile, the incoming Biden administration is continuing to take shape, with many former Obama era associates coming back, albeit in different roles (including Susan Rice, Denis McDonough, and Tom Vilsack). While the Trump administration has taken to issuing regulation changes and executive orders in the waning weeks of the administration, it is widely expected that those will be reversed once Biden takes office.















Supreme Court Backs Muslim Men in Case on No-Fly List

The Supreme Court "ruled in favor of three Muslims men who say they were put on the no-fly list in retaliation for refusing to become government informants." Additionally, the Court "dismissed a challenge to Delaware's court system, which takes account of the political affiliations of judges in an attempt to achieve ideological balance."


Supreme Court Hears Holocaust Survivors' Cases Against Hungary and Germany

The Supreme Court, after having heard arguments regarding "whether a 1976 law that bars most suits against other nations allows Jewish victims to sue over the theft of their property," appeared to be wary in ruling on whether "Hungary and Germany must pay for property said to have been stolen from Jews before and during World War II." The two cases center on Hungary and Germany having taken possessions from Holocaust survivors and their families during the war and forcing families to sell their art collections in the years before the war.


Supreme Court Weighs President's Power to Fire Head of Housing Agency

The Supreme Court heard arguments in an action brought by shareholders of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac arguing that "the law that created the agency [the Federal Housing Finance Agency] was unconstitutional" and that the shareholders were owed billions of dollars in payments. Several justices "seemed wary of the sweep of a second aspect of the shareholders' arguments, which said the lack of presidential supervision of the housing agency's director meant that a 2012 agreement between the agency and the Treasury Department must be undone, requiring the repayment of vast sums."


House Passes Defense Bill Overwhelmingly, Defying Trump's Veto Threat

The House of Representatives passed a $741 billion defense policy bill that "would require that Confederate names be stripped from American military bases, defying President Trump's veto threat and moving lawmakers one step closer to a potential showdown in his final weeks in office." The vote was largely bipartisan, with 335 members voting for the bill and 78 voting against, and the bill may ultimately be the "first veto override of his presidency."


A Single Senator Dashes Hopes for Latino and Women's Museums--For Now

Senator Mike Lee, Republican of Utah, "blocked the creation of Smithsonian museums honoring women and Latinos, warning they would worsen societal divides." Bipartisan bills had passed through the House "for the first time by overwhelming margins," but the objections of Lee were sufficient "to stop both measures and ensure that for now," proponents of a National Museum of the American Latino and of a national women's history museum are left frustrated.


Justice Department Executes Two Men, Making 10 Executions This Year

The Trump administration has now overseen the execution of 10 inmates this year after it "resumed its use of capital punishment in July after a 17-year hiatus." This makes 2020 the "deadliest year in the history of federal capital punishment since at least the 1920s."



Three Years After Family Separation, Her Son Is Back. But Her Life Is Not

With many migrant families having been separated under the Trump administration's "most controversial immigration policy" and now reunited, some have detailed their struggles: one, Leticia Peren, had left her young son upon entering Texas, and 26 months later, she found that her son had "made new friends, went to a new school, learned to live without her" while she had developed stress-related physical conditions from the frantic time she spent separated from her son.


New York's $226 Billion Pension Fund Is Dropping Fossil Fuel Stocks

New York State's pension fund "will drop many of its fossil fuel stocks in the next five years and sell its shares in other companies that contribute to global warming by 2040." The pension fund is "one of the world's largest and most influential investors", as it has over $226 billion in assets and influences other retirement funds' investment decisions.


Minneapolis City Council Votes to Remove $8 Million From Police Budget

Minneapolis' city council has voted to "divert nearly $8 million from the proposed policing budget to other city services, a move heralded by some as an important step toward transforming public safety in a city where law enforcement has long been accused of racism." The funds are approximately 4.5% of the total police budget of $179 million and "was not nearly the sweeping change that activists and some lawmakers had demanded in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May."


Shift to a Not-So-Frozen North Is Well Underway, Scientists Warn

A new report has been released opining that "there is no reason to think that in 30 years much of anything will be as it is today" in the Arctic as it continues to see "near-record warming." The region has seen "shrinking ice and snow cover," and the changes are ones "that were scarcely imaginable even a generation ago."


Lebanon Prime Minister Charged With Negligence in Beirut Blast

The Lebanese prime minister, Hassan Diab, has been charged with negligence by an investigating judge in relation to the August explosion that killed nearly 200 people in the capital. The charges "were a significant escalation in the effort to identify those responsible for the blast by targeting political figures who many in Lebanon had feared were too powerful to hold accountable." However, Diab and a former minister have attacked the integrity of the inquiry, "setting the stage for a battle between the judiciary and the politicians that could end up derailing the investigation."



Coronavirus Numbers Continue to Rise, Necessitating Additional Shutdowns

As the third "wave" of coronavirus cases continues to search for its peak, states, and local governments have grappled with balancing additional shutdowns (such as the ending of indoor dining in New York City) with keeping economic vigor. As cases have risen, the nightmare scenario--overburdening medical facilities--has become reality in several hotspots throughout the country. Nonetheless, there is optimism, as vaccines begin to be approved and administered: in the United Kingdom, the first vaccines are being administered as the vaccine received expedited approval. With the economic fallout continuing to be an issue, investors and Americans alike have looked to Congress to see what aid may be coming: thus far, it remains far from clear what an additional stimulus package may look like or whether it may actually come into existence. In Europe, as countries have grappled with rising rates despite more organized shutdown efforts, a new aid package was approved--providing hope that Congress will negotiate an effective stimulus.

















December 18, 2020

Theater News for the Week of December 18th

By Bennett Liebman

Stimulus talks could spill into weekend as lawmakers scramble to complete deal, https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/12/17/stimulus-checks-900-billion-relief-package/

Behind The Scene: David Weingarden on the Battle to Save Our Stages, https://relix.com/articles/detail/behind-the-scene-david-weingarden-on-the-battle-to-save-our-stages/

The Flea Theater Conflict Raises Questions of Equity and Exploitation, https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/the-flea-theater-off-broadway-interviews-72294/

When Broadway comes back: 5 ways the pandemic will transform the live theater industry, https://fortune.com/2020/12/13/covid-live-theater-broadway-west-end-reopening-innovation/

What is the Future of Streaming Theater, https://www.backstage.com/magazine/article/virtual-streaming-theater-pandemic-2020-72309/

Bushnell Needs Aid to Survive Pandemic, https://www.courant.com/coronavirus/hc-coronavirus-bushnell-blumenthal-commerce-committee-save-our-stages-20201216-ttglp4xsnjhtnkkyqtb2ljkhf4-story.html

New York City Awards to Cultural Groups, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/15/arts/nyc-arts-grants.html

UK Theatre Problems, https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2020/dec/15/this-government-wrong-foots-british-theatre-at-every-step

Ann Reinking and Chicago, https://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/chris-jones/ct-ent-ann-reinking-appreciation-jones-1218-20201216-ykxhvc2gwnczxe7fygdrl7zmxu-story.html

Ann Reinking Dies at 71, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/14/theater/ann-reinking-dead.html

Shubert Organization Appoints Pamela Newkirk, https://deadline.com/2020/12/shubert-organization-pamela-newkirk-board-of-directors-broadway-diversity-inc-1234657765/

Manhattan West Includes Theater, https://deadline.com/2020/12/manhattan-west-development-midnight-theater-venue-broadway-connection-1234657665/

'Moulin Rouge' to Tour, https://deadline.com/2020/12/moulin-rouge-musical-national-tour-2022-1234657514/

Lin-Manuel Hopeful about Broadway, https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/lin-manuel-miranda-hopeful-broadway-140054334.html

Covid-19 and LA Cultural Institutions, https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2020-12-17/covid-19-walloped-our-cultural-industries-some-may-never-be-the-same

Live Theater in Atlanta, https://www.ajc.com/things-to-do/live-theater-or-not-that-is-the-question/QVEUDZZC7BFFZD74V5NNH7MZGE/

Producers and Podcasts, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jerylbrunner/2020/12/13/how-this-visionary-producer-is-transforming-the-theater-podcast-landscape/?sh=586f4f2c5123

Actors Finding Work, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/12/15/how-out-of-work-broadway-actors-find-ways-to-earn-money-amid-pandemic.html

Changing the American Theatre, https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/12/16/change-in-the-american-theatre-begins-and-ends-outside-the-theatre/

AFTA Leader Robert Lynch on Leave, https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/robert-lynch-afta-ceo-paid-leave/2020/12/16/b0bb617a-3fd1-11eb-8bc0-ae155bee4aff_story.html

Theater community takes on new roles during the pandemic, https://broadwaynews.com/2020/12/18/theater-community-takes-on-new-roles-during-the-pandemic/

Bumps on the Road From Broadway to Hollywood, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/18/theater/broadway-film-adaptations.html

Sports News for the Week of December 18th

By Bennett Liebman

How Adrian Peterson is fighting back, claiming in court filings he doesn't owe the entire $7.5 million (and rising) debt, https://theathletic.com/1139230/2019/08/15/how-adrian-peterson-is-fighting-back-claiming-in-court-filings-he-doesnt-owe-the-entire-7-5-million-and-rising-debt/

Charles Oakley wants Knicks owner James Dolan named in assault suit, https://theathletic.com/2266870/2020/12/16/charles-oakley-wants-knicks-owner-james-dolan-named-in-assault-suit/

NFLPA votes unanimously to amend player benefits in CBA, https://theathletic.com/news/nflpa-votes-unanimously-to-amend-cba/gznkfxH3Iaix

What's in a name change? The logistics of retiring and creating a team nickname, https://theathletic.com/1928239/?source=twitterhq

WADA "disappointed" elements of Russia sanctions watered down but claims victory in CAS case, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1102119/wada-disappointed-claim-victory-doping

CAS DECISION IN THE ARBITRATION WADA V. RUSADA, https://www.tas-cas.org/fileadmin/user_upload/CAS_Media_Release_6689_decision.pdf

Russia has been barred from competing at the upcoming Olympics, World Cup, and more, https://www.insider.com/russia-olympics-world-cup-ban-impact-on-individual-athletes-2020-12

Democratic senators introduce 'College Athletes Bill of Rights' that could reshape NCAA, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/college/2020/12/17/ncaa-overhaul-come-democrats-college-athletes-bill-rights/3935483001/

Supreme Court Will Hear A Sports Law Case That Could Destroy The NCAA's Restrictions On Athletes, https://abovethelaw.com/2020/12/supreme-court-will-hear-a-sports-law-case-that-could-destroy-the-ncaas-restrictions-on-athletes/

U.S. SUPREME COURT TO HEAR NCAA ATHLETE PAY LIMITS CASE, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/ncaa-supreme-court-1234618495/

Supreme Court to consider NCAA student-athlete compensation, class action rules, https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/12/supreme-court-to-consider-ncaa-student-athlete-compensation-class-action-rules/

Silencing the Spoilsports: How 'Pay the Players' Drowned Out College Sports' Fiercest Critics, https://www.sportico.com/leagues/college-sports/2020/ncaa-reform-pay-players-movement-critics-1234618397/

MINOR LEAGUE CLUBS PUSHING BACK ON MLB'S BLANKET FRANCHISE AGREEMENT, https://www.sportico.com/leagues/baseball/2020/minor-league-season-agreement-1234618402/

'Massive Step Forward': Premier Lacrosse League Taking Over Major League Lacrosse, http://nysportsjournalism.squarespace.com/premiere-lacrosse-takes-in-mll/

CLEVELAND INDIANS NAME CHANGE RUNS INTO OWNERS OF 'SPIDERS' AND 'BASEBALL TEAM', https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/cleveland-indians-name-change-1234618268/

DraftKings in a New York state of mind with huge potential seen, https://seekingalpha.com/news/3645318-draftkings-in-new-york-state-of-mind-huge-potential-seen

Governor Cuomo Opens Avenue to New York Sports Betting in 2021, https://www.lineups.com/betting/governor-cuomo-opens-avenue-to-new-york-sports-betting-in-2021/

European Union General Court says ISU rules did breach competition law, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1102107/eu-general-court-isu-competition-rules

Circuit Umps Look Poised to Knock Out Class Action Over Baseball Cheating Scandal, https://www.courthousenews.com/circuit-umps-look-poised-to-knock-out-class-action-over-baseball-cheating-scandal/

Yankees fight in appeals court to keep report on sign stealing secret, https://www.nydailynews.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-yankees-sign-stealing-appeals-court-20201214-qv3fh6fkvnaytf2znyrtk4o3re-story.html

December 21, 2020

Week In Review

La-Vaughnda A. Taylor, Esq.
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, General News, and Coronavirus:


New York City Awards Arts Groups $47 Million

The Department of Cultural Affairs announced that more than 1,000 of the city's cultural organization would receive $47 million in grants. The grants include $12.6 million in new investments, nearly $10 million of which is designated for coronavirus pandemic relief and arts education initiatives. Funding will increase over the prior year for grantees, including larger increases for smaller organizations. The allotment includes a $3 million increase for 621 organizations in low-income neighborhoods and those most affected by the pandemic. The Apollo Theatre, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Museum of Chinese in America will be among the 93 organizations to receive some of the largest grants, in excess of $100,000 each.


If It's Fiction, Can It Be An Invasion of Privacy?

Emmanuel Carrére's latest novel, Yoga, has stoked debate in France after the author's ex-wife, Héléne Devynck, accused him of writing about her without her consent. The French literary world has been grappling with the questions what happens when someone no longer wants to appear in an ex-partner's work. One of France's most celebrated writers came under question about gaps in the mostly autobiographical narrative because he is legally barred from writing about his ex-wife without her consent and she alleges that he broke that agreement in Yoga. The dispute has divided many in France, where artistic freedom is seen as sacrosanct. Literature has been its fair share of legal wrangling over nonfiction and autobiographical fiction in recent years. American readers will have to wait to read the novel.


Canadian Fashion Mogul is Charged with Sex Trafficking

Peter Nygard, the former CEO of a Canada-based fashion line, has been arrested and charged with racketeering, sex trafficking, and other crimes after authorities in Manitoba acted on a U.S. request for his extradition. Nygard, 79, is accused of using the influence of his now defunct company, Nygard International, employees, and funds to "recruit and maintain adult and minor-aged female victims" over a period of at least 25 years for the "sexual gratification" of himself and "his friends and business associates." He allegedly targeted women and minors from "disadvantaged economic backgrounds," including those with a history of abuse.



Supreme Court Says It Will Hear Case Challenging NCAA's Athlete Compensation Rules

The Supreme Court announced that it will hear an appeal from the NCAA and 11 of its top-level conferences in a case that challenges teh NCAA's restrictions on the compensation that athletes can receive for playing college sports. This decision adds a momentous element of uncertainty to an enterprise that has been shaken by state and Congressional legislative efforts concerning not only athletes' abilities to make money from their names, images and likenesses, but also the fairness of their overall treatment by the schools for which they help generate billions of dollars annually.


After Years of Protest, Cleveland's Baseball Team Will Change Its Name

After years of protests from fans and Native American groups, the Cleveland Indians have decided to change the team name, which has long been criticized as racist. The baseball team's process is being lauded by many rights groups for its thoughtful reconsideration of the name "Indians". Over several months, the organization, led by the team's controlling owner, Paul Dolan, conducted research and held interviews with what it called stakeholders - fans of the team, Native American groups, religious and civic leaders from a variety of backgrounds, researchers, historians, and psychologists. The move follows a decision by the Washington Football Team of the National Football League in July to stop using a name long considered a racial slur and is part of a larger national conversation about race. It is not immediately clear what Cleveland's exact steps will be beyond dropping the name. The transition to a new name involves many logistical considerations. Cleveland spent much of the year before the 2019 season phasing out the logos and imagery of the cartoon mascot Chief Wahoo. The team has been known as the Indians since 1915.



Major League Baseball Officially Elevating Negro Leagues to Major League Status

Majoe League Baseball (MLB) officially elevated the Negro Leagues to "Major League" status, "correcting a longtime oversight in the game's history." Heading forward, MLB will recognized the "statistics and records" of approximately 3,400 players who partook in the seven leagues between 1920-48. MLB credits all of the baseball research community for discovering additional facts, statistics, and context that exceed the criteria used by the Special Committee on Baseball Records in 1969 to identify six "Major Leagues" since 1876. It is the MLB's view that the Committee's 1969 omission of the Negro Leagues from consideration was clearly an error that demands today's designation. The following leagues are being elevated: the Negro National League (1920-31); the Eastern Colored League (1923-28); the East-West League (1932); the Negro Southern League (1932); the Negro National League (II) (1933-48); and the Negro American League (1937-48).


To Protect Players, Soccer Looks at Concussion Substitutes

Soccer leagues and tournaments around the world will be allowed to experiment with concussion substitutes starting in January, the body that oversees the sport's rules announced last week. The change is the most tangible action to be taken by soccer leaders amid growing concerns about the effects of head injuries at all levels of the game.


University of South Carolina Tries to Avoid Sports Cuts Amid $40M in Losses

School President Caslen said that the school's board of trustees met to discuss cutting sports, namely men's soccer, men's and women's swimming, diving, and equestrian. However, that was not a path he wanted to take. Calsen also said that in his ideal situation he would like to expand athletics, but the department opened the year facing a projected budget deficit of more than $40 million. It is expected to take on some kind of loan to make ends meet this fiscal year.


Court Reduces Russia's Ban to a Largely Symbolic Two Years

Russia's four-year ban from global sports was halved last week by a court in Switzerland, a decision that could signal the end of its yearslong battle with antidoping regulators who had accused the country of running one of the most sophisticated doping schemes in history in pursuit of sporting glory and Olympic medals. The decision, issued by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, the final arbiter on global sports disputes, means that Russia will not be able to enter teams in the next two Olympics - the rescheduled Tokyo Games next summer and the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing - or have its anthem or its flag represented at other high-profile competitions. However, it left open the possibility that many Russian athletes will still compete at those events, as so-called neutral competitors.



Russians Hack U.S. Agencies in Bold Attack

In "one of the most sophisticated, and perhaps among the largest, attacks on federal systems in the past five years," U.S. federal agencies and ministries, including the Treasury and Commerce departments, were spied upon by the hackers suspected to work for the Russian government. The hackers had free access to internal email traffic and the breach was serious enough to prompt a meeting of the National Security Council at the White House. The breach may be related to the hacking earlier this year of cybersecurity firm FireEye, a company with major business and government contracts.

The Pentagon, intelligence agencies, nuclear labs, and Fortune 500 companies also use software that was found to have been compromised by Russian hackers. The sweep of stolen data is still being assessed. About 18,000 private and government users downloaded a tainted software update that gave Russian hackers a foothold into victims' systems, according to SolarWinds, the company whose software was compromised. Investigators are trying to understand the extent of the damage in what could be a significant loss of American data to a foreign attacker.



Range of Tools In a Vast Hack Elevates Fears

Federal officials issued an urgent warning that hackers who targeted American intelligence agencies believed were working for the Kremlin used a far wider variety of tools than previously known to penetrate government systems, and said that the cyberoffensive was "a grave risk to the federal government." The discovery suggests that the scope of the hacking, which appears to extend beyond nuclear laboratories and Pentagon, Treasury and Commerce Department systems, complicates the challenge for federal investigators as they try to assess the damage and understand what had been stolen.


Suit Accuses Google Tech of Monopoly

Last week, a group of 38 attorneys general announced a bipartisan lawsuit against Google, alleging that the company has engaged in "illegal, anti-competitive conduct" to create a monopoly in search and search advertising. The state of Colorado is co-leading the lawsuit with Arizona, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah. Compared to the Texas-led suit against Google announced earlier, the second lawsuit represents a broader coalition of 35 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam. The new lawsuit will run in parallel with the Justice Department's own federal suit, which also alleges that the company has abused its power to create and maintain a monopoly.


Google's Legal Peril Grows in Face of Third Antitrust Suit

More than 30 states, including Massachusetts, added to Google's mushrooming legal woes last week, accusing the Silicon Valley titan of illegally arranging its search results to push out smaller rivals. One day after 10 other states accused Google of abusing its dominance in advertising and overcharging publishers, and two months after the Justice Department said the company's deals with other tech giants throttled competition, a lawsuit said that Google downplayed websites that let users search for information in specialized areas, like home repair services and travel reviews. The prosecutors also accused the company of using exclusive deals with phone makers, like Apple to prioritize Google's search service over rivals, like Bing and DuckDuckGo. That suppression, the states said, has locked in Google's nearly 90% market dominance in search and has made it impossible for the smaller companies to grow into formidable competitors.


Tech Giants Shift Posture on Legal Shield

As tech companies face intensifying attacks from political leaders, a number of industry leaders have said in recent weeks that they are open to changes to the law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The shifting rhetoric comes as both Republicans and Democrats have threatened to make major changes to the legal shield or repeal it entirely. The law, passed in 1996, limits companies' legal exposure of the words, photos and videos posted by users of their sites. Trump has threatened to veto a critical defense funding bill because it did not include a repeal of the protections. President-elect Biden has called for the shield to be "revoked." Lawmakers in both parties have proposed major trims to it.


Major Outage Stops Work Across Globe

Internet users worldwide suffered a major outage Google outage for about an hour, sending many of its most popular services, including Calendar, Gmail, Hangouts, Maps, and YouTube offline. The crash halted productivity and sent angry users to Twitter to vent and students struggled to sign into virtual classrooms. Google tools were failing to load for users in the U.S., the U.K., and across Europe. The service disruption came from a technical flaw in services that requires users to log in to online accounts. The company said it was not caused by a cyber-attack.


Pinterest Settles Gender Bias Lawsuit for $22.5 Million

Pinterest has agreed to settle a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit brought by its former chief operating officer, Francoise Brougher, for $22.5 million. The settlement includes a $2.5 million investment "to be used towards advancing women and underrepresented communities in the tech industry." Pinterest did not admit to liability as part of the settlement. The settlement brings to an end one of the most high-profile gender discrimination cases in Silicon Valley in recent memory. The lawsuit, as well as allegations of racism and discrimination from two other former employees rattled the staff, which is known for being a feel-good online destination.


U.S. Charges China-Based Zoom Executive

U.S. prosecutors charged a former China-based executive at Zoom Video Communications Inc. with disrupting video meeting commemorating the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown at the request of the Chinese government. Xinjiang Jin, 39, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of conspiring since January 2019 to use his company's systems to censor speech.


Alibaba Showed Clients How to Identify China's Uyghurs

Alibaba says that is has stopped trying to identify faces by ethnicity after the company was accused of creating a facial recognition system to detect Uyghurs. The system was built by Alibaba's clout computing team, and allegedly included the example: "Is this a Uyghur?" in an algorithm. It also reportedly included code to recognize if someone was a "minority" or "Asian". Alibaba has since said that it was "dismayed to learn that Alibaba Cloud developed a facial recognition technology in a testing environment that included ethnicity as an algorithm attribute for tagging video imagery.


Japan's 'Twitter Killer' to be Executed for 9 Murders That Shocked a Nation

Takahiro Shiraishi, dubbed the "Twitter killer," murdered nine people after contacting them on Twitter and has been sentenced to death, in a high-profile case that has shocked Japan. The 30-year-old admitted to murdering and dismembering his victims - almost all of whom were young women he met on the social media platform. He used Twitter to lure suicidal women to his home, saying he could help them die, and in some cases, claimed he would kill himself alongside them. The serial killings triggered debate over how suicide is discussed online. Public support for the death penalty remains high in Japan, one of the few developed nations to retain capital punishment.


General News

An Honor Becomes an Ordeal as Harried Electors Finally Meet

Casting votes in the Electoral College has been a routine part of election mechanics, but this year, electors have been thrust into the cross hairs of President Trump's extraordinary effort to overturn the results. For decades, Electoral College voters have served as the rubber-stamping bureaucrats of American democracy, operating well below the political radar as they provided pro forma certification of a new president. The role has long been considered an honor, but as small-town electors face harassment and more prominent figures adapt to increased security measures, a duty long considered a privilege has also become a headache.


Government Can Pursue Immigrant Census Plans

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a lawsuit to block Trump's plan to exclude immigrants living illegally in the U.S. from the population count used to allocate congressional districts to states. The 6-3 ruling on ideological lines, with the court's six conservatives in the majority and three liberals dissenting, gives Trump a short-term victory as he pursues his hardline policies toward immigration in the final weeks of his presidency. The unsigned decision said that "judicial resolution of this dispute is premature" in part because it is not clear what the administration plans to do. The decision noted that the Court was not weighing in on the merits of Trump's plan.


Barr, Who Tied Justice Dept to Trump, Will Resign as Attorney General

Attorney General Barr, who served as President Trump's most effective shield and advocate for broad presidential authority, will resign as the administration draws to a disputed close. Trump previously lauded Barr but recently turned on him after the attorney general declared that there was no widespread evidence of voter fraud in the presidential election and resisted Trump's public pressure to prosecute President-elect Biden and other former Obama officials on unsubstantiated claims. In his resignation letter, Barr thanked Trump and offered a forceful defense of his boss.


Senate Leader Seeks to Avoid Vote Challenge

Senator Mitch McConnell congratulated Biden and pleaded with Republicans privately not to join an effort by the House members to throw out the results. This act broke with Trump's drive to overturn his election loss. Although McConnell waited until weeks after Biden was declared the winner to recognize the outcome, his actions were a clear bid by the majority leader, who is the most powerful Republican in Congress, to put an end to his party's attempts to sow doubt about the election. He was also trying to stave off a messy partisan spectacle on the floor of the House that could divide Republicans at the start of the new Congress, forcing them to choose between showing loyalty to Trump and protecting the sanctity of the electoral process.


Federal Reserve Joins Climate Network, to Cheers From the Left

The Federal Reserve (the Fed) is joining a network of central banks and other financial regulators focused on conducting research and shaping policies to help prepare the financial system for the effects of climate change. The board in Washington voted unanimously to become a member of the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System. The central bank began participating in the group more than a year ago, but its formal membership is something that Democratic lawmakers have been pushing for and that Republicans have eyed warily. The Fed's halting approach to joining underlines how politically fraught climate-related issues remain in the U.S.


More Than Others, Trump Judges Show Penchant for Dissent

As Democrats look to the incoming Biden administration to reverse much of President Trump's work, the conservative imprint he has left on the federal courts is only deepening. An analysis of decisions by the country's appellate bench - where nearly all contested federal litigation ends - shows the transformation of the judiciary under Trump. In reviewing more than 10,000 published decisions and dissents during the first three years of the administration, the New York Times found that the president's picks for the appeals courts were more likely than past Republican appointees to disagree with peers selected by Democrats, and more likely to agree with their Republican colleagues, suggesting they were more consistently conservative.


Biden Makes History by Picking Native American for the Cabinet

In an historic first, Biden will nominate Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Dept. of the Interior. If confirmed by the Senate, Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico, would be the country's first Native American Cabinet secretary. Fittingly, she would do so as head of the agency responsible for not only managing the nation's public lands, but also honoring its treaties with the Indigenous people form whom those lands were taken.


Biden Adds Buttigieg to His 'Cabinet of Barrier-Breakers'

Biden's Cabinet introduced yet another of his history-making nominations: Pete Buttigieg as his pick to lead the Department of Transportation. If confirmed, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, would be the first openly gay member of a presidential Cabinet to be confirmed by the Senate. Biden's other "precedent-busting" picks include VP-elect Kamala Harris, who will be the first woman to serve in that role; Alejandro Mayorkas to head the Department of Homeland Security, who would be the first Latino in that role; and retired Army General Lloyd Austin as defense secretary, who would be the first Black American in the role.


For Trump, a Cloudy Future With a $60 Million Consolation

When Trump departs from the White House, he will have a huge pile of cash to fuel his future ambitions. He can hold rallies, hire staff, and even lay groundwork for a potential 2024 run. Deflated by a loss he has yet to acknowledge, Trump has cushioned the blow by coaxing huge sums of money from his loyal supporters, raising roughly $250 million since Election Day, along with the national party. More than $60 million of that sum has gone to a new political action committee, which Trump will control after he leaves office. Those funds far exceed what previous outgoing presidents had at their disposal and will provide him with tremendous flexibility for his post-presidential ambitions.


Police Faulted Over Protests in New York

An 115-page Department of Investigation report details a pattern of excessive use of force by improperly trained officers who at times escalated conflict when de-escalation was required. Black protesters were disproportionately arrested on the most serious charges. Mayor Bill de Blasio apologized to New Yorkers after a city report found that too many police officers were underprepared and went overboard in policing the largely peaceful demonstrations across the five boroughs last spring and summer after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.


Former Aide Says Cuomo Harassed Her for Years

Lindsey Boylan, a candidate for Manhattan borough president, claims that she was harassed for her looks while she was working for Governor Cuomo and that "many saw it." The former Cuomo adviser alleges that the behavior went on for "years." She disclosed the allegations in a series of tweets, but did not provide details or more specific allegations. A Cuomo spokesperson said "there is simply no truth to these claims."


Flaws Found, Minnesota Commutes Man's Life Term

A man serving life in prison for the shooting death of a Minneapolis girl in 2002 was released after the Minnesota Board of Pardons commuted his life sentence to 20 years. Myon Burrell was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison as a teen in the high-profile case that has raised questions about the integrity of the criminal justice system. The case made headlines earlier this year after new evidence uncovered serious flaws in the police investigation into the 2002 killing of an 11-year-old girl who was hit by a stray bullet while doing homework at her dining room table.


China Takes Rivalry With U.S. One Step Farther: To the Moon

China may have been a latecomer to the moon, but when its capsule full of lunar rocks and soil returned to Earth, it set the stage for a new space race over the coming decades. This time, it will be a competition over resources on the moon that could propel deeper space exploration. The U.S. and the Soviet Union competed for supremacy in an epic space race in the 1960s and '70s. Now China is in the fray, and today's competition - once seemingly the realm of science fiction - could be equally intense and more mercantile.



As Toll Nears 300,000, First Doses of Vaccine Race Across the Nation

Scrambling to make up for lost time after a halting start, the Trump administration is rushing to roll out a $250 million public education campaign to encourage Americans to take the coronavirus vaccine, which reached the first patients this week. Trucks and cargo planes packed with the first of nearly three million doses of coronavirus vaccine fanned out across the country, as hospitals rushed to set up injection sites and their anxious workers tracked each shipment hour by hour.


'Healing is Coming': U.S. Vaccinations Begin

The largest vaccination campaign in U.S. history is underway with health workers getting the first shots on the same day that the nation's COVID-19 death toll hit a staggering 300,000. Some 145 sites around the country, from Rhode Island to Alaska, received shipments, with more deliveries set for the coming days. High-risk health care workers were first in line. Nursing home residents also get priority.


The Food and Drug Administration Panel Recommends a Second Vaccine

In an overwhelming 20 to zero vote, with one abstention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) advisory committee recommended that the agency authorize the second Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use in the country. The FDA will now decide whether or not to take the committee's advice. This second vaccine, mRNA-1273, made by Massachusetts-based biotech Moderna, uses the same technology as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and in trials showed similar efficacy in protecting against Covid-19. Moderna's vaccine is 94% effective at preventing symptomatic illness and appears to prevent the spread of the virus as well. The findings mean that Americans could soon have two highly effective Covid-19 vaccines.



Rush by Rich Countries to Reserve Early Doeses Leaves the Poor Behind

The U.S., Britain, Canada, and others are hedging their bets, reserving doses that far outnumber their populations, as many poorer nations struggle to secure enough. Wealthy countries are fueling an extraordinary gap in access around the world, laying claim to more than half the doses that could come on the market by the end of next year. While many poor nations may be able to vaccinate at most 20% of their populations in 2021, some of the world's richest countries have reserved enough doses to immunize their own multiple times over.


Supreme Court Rejects Religious School's Challenge to State Order

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a religious school in Kentucky that is challenging the state's decision to limit in-school instruction as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision by the justices is a loss for Danville Christian Academy. The school said the order violated its religious rights under the First Amendment, which guarantees the free exercise of religion. The justices said that the school closing order "effectively expires this week or shortly thereafter, and there is no indication that it will be renewed," but indicated that the school could renew its legal challenge if another closure is announced in the new year. Two conservative justices, Alito and Gorsuch, dissented.


Evictions Looms as Millions in Aid Goes Unspent

More than 400 state and local governments are scrambling to allocate funding from the federal CARES Act intended to provide at least $4.3 billion in rental assistance. The money could save some tenants from eviction and help landlords pay their mortgages. However, with just two weeks left to distribute it, jurisdictions have more than $300 million left. They blame bureaucratic hurdles, competing budget demands, and reluctance among landlords to take part. To better dole out aid, many states and cities are simplifying applications and moving money from nonprofits that cannot process aid fast enough to those that can.


At-Home Covid Test Gets Green Light

The FDA has issued an emergency authorization for the country's first coronavirus test that can run from start to finish at home without the need for a prescription. People as young as two years old are cleared to use the test, which takes just 15 to 20 minutes to deliver a result. Unlike many similar products, this test is authorized for people with or without symptoms.


A Waiver, for Their Protection

While social gatherings are curtailed in many states, many people are still trying to gather. Coronavirus waivers that must be returned with R.S.V.P.s are becoming a new norm for social events this season, including holiday parties, birthdays, weddings, proms, large-scale celebrations, and even family reunions. Hosts say that they do not want to be held legally responsible in case guests get infected at their events, while larger outfits say that the waivers are just an extension of existing polices. Employees who work at social events are also being asked to waive their rights to sue. The waivers vary widely in scope and length. It is not clear whether the waivers offer any legal protections or are enforceable in court. Nonetheless, citing the proverbial "abundance of caution", that has become a pandemic cliché.


$1 Billion Spent on Virus Gear, Now New York Wants a Refund

As the coronavirus ravaged the state this spring, the state rushed into $1.1 billion in deals for supplies and equipment. Now, New York wants much of that money back. State officials are trying to get at least partial refunds on a third of that spending, by clawing back millions paid to vendors that they said failed to deliver on time, and working to extricate the state from deals now that stockpiles are sufficient. The same is true in New York City, where officials have canceled $525 million in agreements for virus-related goods - more than a quarter of the total virus spending for the city's primary procurement agency - and are trying to recover nearly $11 million from vendors they said did not deliver.


December 24, 2020

Filmmakers May Soon Be Allowed To Legally Employ Finders On A Success Fee Basis

Proposed Securities and Exchange Commission Exemptive Order makes Finders who follow new proposed rules eligible for success-based fees.

By Marc Jacobson

How Filmmakers Currently Raise Capital

Often, when a filmmaker starts raising money for a film, she enters into one or more finder's fee agreements. These agreements typically provide that the finder, an unlicensed individual, will receive a fee of between 3-5% of the sums invested in the picture. The finder will also receive a share of the net profits, along with a credit, such as Executive Producer or Co-Executive Producer. Importantly, these agreements, which are often completed without the benefit of counsel, usually violate the United States securities laws. The violation exists because they are "transaction based" and result in payment to the finder if the transaction closes. As such, they violate the Broker-Dealer laws of the Exchange Act of 1934.

When relying on a finder under this kind of agreement, the filmmaker and the finder face potentially significant liability. Let's assume that an investment is made through a typical finder's fee agreement. If the film's revenue does not cause the investor to receive a complete return of her investment, the investor has a very good claim against the finder and the filmmaker for 100% of the investment made by the investor in the project. This risk, coupled with the likelihood that the film will not recoup its investment for its investors, makes this form of fund raising especially challenging.

As a result of this challenge, for decades, filmmakers tried to create workarounds, all of which likely violate the law, regardless. Agreeing to pay an executive producer fee to a finder when the project goes into production may appear to solve the problem, but that agreement will only be funded if the investment is made, thus probably making it "transaction based". If the filmmaker agrees to make the finder's fee payment pursuant to an oral agreement, is still an agreement to pay the finder a fee that is "transaction based". Nevertheless, success fee agreements like this for raising money for films are as prevalent as ever, whether lawful or not.

In my practice, and in the practice of others I know, we routinely advise our filmmaker clients not to pay success fees for financing. Not surprisingly, the advice may result in the client seeking out another lawyer who is willing to work with the filmmaker and that finder on the "transaction-based" agreement. The liability on the finder and the filmmaker will exist regardless of the lawyer's position.

Notice of Proposed Exemptive Order

In October of this year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed issuing an Exemptive Order, which, if adopted, would permit finders to receive "transaction-based" compensation. The Notice of Proposed Exemptive Order (Notice) states that: "Concerns have been raised that "identifying potential investors is one of the most difficult challenges for small businesses trying to raise capital...[yet] companies that want to play by the rules struggle to know in what circumstances they can engage a 'finder' or a platform that is not registered as a Broker-Dealer." This difficulty, plus a recognition that "Finders may also help bridge gaps between traditionally underrepresented founders, such as women and minorities and VC [Venture Capital] and startup capital," caused the SEC to issue the Notice and a request for comment on this subject.

The proposed order will allow natural people - not companies or LLCs - to act as finders, if certain steps were followed: http://bit.ly/FidersFeeOrderSEC. The Notice issued after a 3-2 vote of the commissioners and generated 92 written comments and four meetings with SEC officials on the issue to date. (A review of the substance of these comments is beyond the scope of this blog.) It is unknown whether any further action will be taken with regard to the Notice, and if so, what that action will be.

Tier I Finders

The Notice contemplates two tiers of finders, both of which would be permitted to accept "transaction based" financing. This would create a safe harbor for the finders and the filmmakers so that their actions would not violate the Exchange Act. If the finder were to work only on one picture, for example, the finder could qualify under Tier I of the proposal. The role of a Tier I finder is very limited. A Tier I finder may only work on an exempt offering from a non-reporting company. A Tier I finder may only identify a potential investor to the filmmaker, and the finder may not communicate directly with the investor about this potential investment.

Tier I finders are basically restricted to giving the filmmaker a name, phone number, and email and physical address. Tier I finders are not required to provide written disclosure to the investors, while Tier II finders are so obligated. If the finder holds herself out as a Tier I finder for a film, then any further activity in support of the fund raising for that film will violate the exemption. It would seem likely, if the proposed rules were violated, that liability to the investor on the filmmaker and the finder would be available to the investor who lost her money on the film.

Tier II Finders

Tier II finders also must only work on private, non-reporting companies, must only work on exempt offerings, and must also be a natural person. These finders would be permitted to (a) provide investor contact information to the filmmaker, (b) identify, screen, and contact potential investors, (c) distribute issuer/filmmaker offering materials to investors, (d) discuss issuer/filmmaker information included in offering materials, (e) arrange or participate in meetings between the investor and the issuer/filmmaker, and (f) participate in more than one capital raising transaction within a 12 month period. The filmmakers I know would not want the finder to do more than what is permitted under the Tier II proposal.

The finder would still not be permitted to do the following acts, which Registered Brokers are eligible to perform:

1. structure the transaction or negotiate the terms of the offering,
2. engage in a general solicitation,
3. handle customer funds or securities,
4. have the power to bind the issuer or the investor,
5. participate in the preparation of sales materials,
6. perform independent analysis of the sale,
7. engage in due diligence activities,
8. assist or provide financing for investment purchases, or
9. provide advise as to the valuation or financial advisability of the investment.

In all instances, for both Tier I and II finders, the investors must be accredited investors. The filmmaker must be relying on an exemption from registration under the Exchange Act in issuing its securities, and the finder may not be associated with a Broker-Dealer or otherwise disqualified under the statute.

Although the Notice does not place a limit on the amount of money that finders may find for the filmmaker/issuer, it does make special mention of the requirement that the finder must still abide by all applicable laws, including the antifraud provisions of the Securities Act and the Exchange Act, such as the obligations under Section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 under the Exchange Act and state law. Further, an exemption from the Broker-Dealer requirement does not insulate a person from the registration requirements of the Advisor's Act, if the person is acting as an investment advisor, or any other applicable law. This Notice, if adopted, would conflict with a much stricter level of exemption extant in New York State. There is no indication that the Notice is intended to pre-empt state regulation.


I understand why those who are registered Broker-Dealers would want to protect their positions as the gatekeepers between entrepreneurs and the capital they need. They work hard for their licenses and must maintain and protect them. However, in the film community, I think it is extremely rare for a Broker-Dealer to assist any filmmaker in any manner in the raising of capital for one or more films or TV shows. The Broker-Dealers largely ignore this market, and as such permitting finders to work on "transaction based" agreements would likely ease the formation of capital pools, create more content to fill the ever-growing number of pipes of content into the home, and in turn create more jobs. My clients are always advised to only accept investment from accredited investors in any event.

Permitting finders to accept transaction-based financing in the film business will speed the formation of capital and in my view, will not take a dollar away from Broker-Dealers. I support the adoption of the Proposed Exemptive Order.

Theater News for the Week Ending December 25th

By Bennett Liebman

Broadway Sees Lifeline in $15 Billion Aid for U.S. Entertainment, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-22/broadway-sees-lifeline-in-15-billion-aid-for-u-s-entertainment

Broadway community applauds relief package, but says more is needed, https://broadwaynews.com/2020/12/22/theater-community-applauds-relief-package-but-says-more-is-needed/

Stimulus Offers $15 Billion in Relief for Struggling Arts Venues, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/21/arts/covid-stimulus-theaters-venues.html

House And Senate Pass Massive Covid-19 And Government Spending Package: What's In It For Showbiz, https://deadline.com/2020/12/covid-19-relief-congress-save-our-stages-1234660371/

My dream for theater: Toss the old business model in the dumpster fire of 2020, https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/my-dream-for-theater-toss-the-old-business-model-in-the-dumpster-fire-of-2020/ar-BB1c6KyK

A Chance to Invest in the Next 'Hamilton'? Broadway's Financiers Say to Call Them Now., https://www.riaintel.com/article/b1ps502v3xc60p/a-chance-to-invest-in-the-next-hamilton-broadways-financiers-say-to-call-them-now

Rebecca Luker, a Broadway Star for Three Decades, Dies at 59, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/theater/rebecca-luker-dead.html

Rebecca Luker, 3-Time Tony-Nominated Performer, Passes Away at 59, https://www.playbill.com/article/rebecca-luker-3-time-tony-nominated-performer-passes-away-at-59

With a Beloved Cafe Threatened, Broadway Stars Put on a Show, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/theater/west-bank-cafe-telethon.html

The most exciting theater now is a figment of our imagination, How TikTok and social media are changing Broadway fandom, https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2020/12/22/tiktok-broadway-musical-theater-ratatouille/

Turning Great Plays into Bad Films, Thttps://www.wsj.com/articles/turning-great-plays-into-bad-films-11608654000

The 10 Best Theater Moments of 2020, https://www.vulture.com/article/the-10-best-theater-moments-of-2020.html

Let's Be Real: These Programs Won't End Racism at Your Theatre, https://www.americantheatre.org/2020/12/22/lets-be-real-these-programs-wont-end-racism-at-your-theatre/

'It's More Money Than I Imagined.' So He's Giving Some of It Away, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/theater/jeremy-o-harris-commission-philanthropy.html?smid=tw-share

Why Would a Broadway Actor Choose to Live in Philadelphia?, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/22/realestate/rob-mcclure-mrs-doubtfire-diy-philadelphia-house.html?auth=login-email&login=email

The Artists We Lost in 2020, in Their Words, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/22/arts/artists-who-died-2020.html

Remembering Broadway's shining stars who died in 2020, https://nypost.com/2020/12/23/remembering-broadways-shining-stars-who-died-in-2020/

An Online Show that Runs and Runs (and Runs), https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/23/theater/stars-in-the-house-rudetsky.html

Seven Broadway Stars Who Have Created New Businesses During the Pandemic, https://variety.com/2020/legit/news/broadway-pandemic-covid-19-robbie-fairchild-jeremy-o-harris-1234873686/

How Broadway's workers are getting through the shutdown together, https://nypost.com/2020/12/23/how-broadways-workers-are-getting-through-the-shutdown/

Sports Law News for the Week of December 25th

By Bennett Liebman

Why LeBron James seeks $1 million from courtside photographer in countersuit, https://theathletic.com/2279041/2020/12/22/lebron-james-photographer-lawsuit/

Report: Washington paid $1.6 million to settle a sexual misconduct accusation against Daniel Snyder, Rhttps://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2020/12/22/report-washington-paid-1-6-million-to-settle-a-sexual-misconduct-accusation-against-daniel-snyder/

SNYDER SEX MISCONDUCT ALLEGATIONS CLOUD SALE BY WASHINGTON LIMITED PARTNERS, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/dan-snyder-sexual-misconduct-allegation-1234618898/

NBA RETURNS WITH FANS IN SOME ARENAS AND REVENUE SHORTFALLS EVERYWHERE, https://www.sportico.com/leagues/basketball/2020/nba-opens-season-revenue-shortfall-1234618855/

Santabarbara: It's time for legal mobile gambling, https://dailygazette.com/2020/12/22/santabarbara-its-time-for-legal-mobile-gambling/

Report: NHL looking to raise US$15m from 2020/21 helmet sponsors, https://www.sportspromedia.com/news/nhl-helmet-sponsors-value-2020-21-season?utm_content=149856551&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter&hss_channel=tw-28330466

'It Doesn't Work': Critics of Russia's Doping Ban Blame the System, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/21/sports/olympics/russia-doping-wada-cas.html?referringSource=articleShare

KEYONTAE JOHNSON COLLAPSE AND MYOCARDITIS DIAGNOSIS SPARKS HEALTH AND LIABILITY CONCERN, https://www.sportico.com/law/analysis/2020/keyontae-johnson-florida-1234619037/

Opinion: By handing drug enforcement to U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, can horse racing clean up its act?, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/columnist/dan-wolken/2020/12/22/horse-racing-serious-catching-cheaters-usada/4016180001/

Column: If Supreme Court rules against NCAA athlete compensation, the fight must not end, How might Supreme Court rule on NCAA athlete compensation? https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2020-12-20/supreme-court-ncaa-athletes-compensation

Supreme Court to Weigh in College Sports: The Intersection of Antitrust and "Amateurism", https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/supreme-court-to-weigh-in-college-13406/

Michigan Appeals Court decision in People v. Larry Nassar, COA 345699 PEOPLE OF MI V LAWRENCE GERARD NASSAR Opinion - Per Curiam - Unpublished 12/22/2020 http://publicdocs.courts.mi.gov/opinions/final/coa/20201222_c345699_88_345699.opn.pdf#search=%22Nassar%22

Joe Nocera: Supreme Court can end the college sports charade, https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/Op-Ed/2020/12/19/Joe-Nocera-Supreme-Court-can-end-the-college-sports-charade/stories/202012190007

USADA find three-time Olympic archer Ellison not at fault after positive doping test, https://www.insidethegames.biz/articles/1102352/ellison-not-at-fault-for-positive-sample

HOW A NEW VISA POLICY COULD IMPACT US ONLINE SPORTS BETTING PAYMENTS, https://www.legalsportsreport.com/46378/visa-us-sports-betting-online-payments/

Sun Yang's doping ban referred back to Cas after Chinese swimmer's appeal, https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2020/dec/24/sun-yangs-doping-ban-referred-back-to-cas-after-chinese-swimmers-appeal


COVID, legislation, lawsuits signal change in college sports, https://www.foxnews.com/sports/covid-legislation-lawsuits-signal-change-in-college-sports

Parents sue Illinois Gov. Pritzker over winter sports cancellation due to COVID, https://news.yahoo.com/parents-sue-illinois-gov-pritzker-003000337.html

Athletes, doctors, former AGs file briefs opposing Idaho transgender sports law, https://www.postregister.com/news/education/athletes-doctors-former-ags-file-briefs-opposing-idaho-transgender-sports-law/article_5806616d-65f4-5412-ac7d-94a607d4765c.html

December 28, 2020

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Arts, Sports, Media/Technology, General News, and Coronavirus:

Spending Bill Includes Several Intellectual Property Measures, Creates Copyright Small Claims Court

The $2.3 trillion spending and coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress includes several intellectual property provisions, such as creating a copyright small claims court, making unauthorized commercial streaming of copyrighted material a felony, and altering some trademark and patent procedures.



Governor Cuomo Signs Legislation Establishing Post Mortem "Right of Publicity" in New York State

The legislation is meant to protect deceased individuals against the commercial exploitation, or unauthorized use, of their name or likeness, and takes effect on May 31, 2021. These rights can also be exercised by their descendants, "giving performers' estates the ability to control and protect their likeness or image after they have died." The law also "creates new penalties for publishing sexually explicit depictions of individuals, protecting people from revenge porn and 'deep fakes'."



A 'Great Cultural Depression' Looms for Legions of Unemployed Performers

The article discusses the impact of COVID-19 in the arts and the resulting unemployment that left 52 percent for actors, 55 percent of dancers and 27 percent of musicians out of work in the third quarter of 2020.


R. Kelly is Set to Face Trial in Chicago in September

The singer's federal trial for child pornography and obstruction charges has been moved to September 13, 2021. Originally scheduled to begin in April 2020, it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Sesame Street Creates New Muppets for Rohingya Refugees

The two muppets are named Noor and Aziz and will be featured in programming run by the Sesame Workshop and shown in refugee camps. The characters will speak Rohingya, the language of the Rohingya Muslims who escaped ethnic cleansing in their native Myanmar.


Epstein Associate Charged with Rape of Minors in France

Former modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel has been charged with rape of minors of the age of 15 and sexual harassment. The Epstein associate is also "under investigation on suspicion of human trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation." The indictment is the result of an inquiry opened by French prosecutors in 2019 to uncover potential offenses committed in France or against French victims in connection with the Epstein scandal.



Stimulus Bill Offers $15 Billion in Aid for Struggling Arts Venues

The coronavirus relief package that Congress passed on Monday includes $15 billion for music venue owners, theater producers, and cultural institutions impacted by the coronavirus. Entertainment businesses can apply for grants from the Small Business Administration "to support six months of payments to employees and for costs including rent, utilities and maintenance. Applicants must have lost at least 25 percent of their revenue to qualify and those that have lost more than 90 percent will be able to apply first."


Congress Approves New Museums Honoring Women and Latinos

Funding for two long-sought Smithsonian museums dedicated to the contributions of women and Latinos has been secured as part of the $2.3 trillion year-end spending bill. It is unclear where the museums will be located, given that the crowded National Mall may not be able to accommodate additional construction.


Trump Makes Classical Style the Default for Federal Buildings

President Trump signed an executive order that "establishes classical architecture as the preferred style for new federal buildings but stops short of banning newer designs from consideration." In addition to praising Greco-Roman architecture and describing Modernist designs as "ugly and inconsistent," the order also establishes a new selection process that will apply to the construction of federal courthouses and agency headquarters, and projects costing more than $50 million.


Star Trek and Dr. Seuss Mash-Up Not Protected Under the Fair Use Doctrine

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that a book titled "Oh, the Places You'll Boldly Go!", which consisted of Start Trek characters inserted into the 1990 children's classic, was not protected from a copyright infringement claim and failed to meet the required standards for fair use, "partly because it was not a parody or otherwise transformative." The Court found that all of the fair use factors favored the plaintiff (the author's estate), and that the district court had erred in putting the burden on the plaintiff as to the fourth factor, the market harm element, given that fair use is an affirmative defense for defendants.


Decision: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0?ui=2&ik=edaa24804e&attid=0.1&permmsgid=msg-f:1686793996906190129&th=1768b23402dad531&view=att&disp=inline&realattid=1768b22c1aa87e7e3e81

Actors and Writers Lobby for Congressional Support

Advocacy Group Be an #ArtsHero is lobbying Congress and pushing "to help shape legislative language so [pandemic relief] bills include relief to artists and workers, not just institutions." One of its founding members has also circulated an open letter to the U.S. Senate arguing that "cultural work is labor" and underlining the importance of the culture sector as a job creator.


Phishing Scam Targets Book Manuscripts

An international phishing scam is targeting authors, agents and editors by tricking them into sending unpublished book manuscripts, with no clear sign of what the motive is or who is profiting, and how. There have been no ransom demands and the manuscripts are not showing up on the black market. One of the leading theories in the publishing world is that this is being done by someone in the literary scouting community, who is familiar with insider lingo and the path a manuscript takes.


Sheldon Solow's Collection Faces Uncertain Future

The art world is waiting to see whether real estate tycoon Sheldon Solow's collection of paintings and sculptures, valued at $500 million, will be heading to a private museum or to auction. Solow amassed the collection over 50 years but was criticized in 2018 "for having benefited from the tax-exempt status his art foundation has held since 1991 while keeping the works in the collection largely inaccessible to the public."


A Legal Tug-of-War Over an Idyllic Work

After discovering the whereabouts of a looted Pissarro painting that belonged to her family, Leone Meyer brokered a compromise with a museum at the University of Oklahoma to rotate the painting between the university and a French museum. After finding it difficult to secure museums that would take on the liability of transporting the painting, Meyer is now seeking to change the agreement and permanently keep the painting in France. A judicial tribunal is Paris has ordered Meyer and the university to meet with mediators; a trial is scheduled in January "to hear Meyer's arguments for keeping the work in France, and a second hearing is set for March on whether to prohibit transport abroad."


Dutch Court Rules Against Jewish Heirs on a Claim for a Kandinsky Work

In a case seen as a litmus test for Dutch restitutions policy, the court ruled that the Stedelijk Museum can retain "Painting with Houses", a 1909 Kandinsky painting that it acquired during World War II. In making the order, the court upheld a decision of the Restitutions Commission, which has recently been criticized for its approach to claims for restitution involving art looted by the Nazis.



Michigan Appeals Court Upholds Larry Nassar Sentence

In a 2-1 decision, the state's Court of Appeals upheld Larry Nassar's 175-year prison sentence for sexual assault. Nassar is the former team doctor for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State's athletic department. Nassar appealed the sentence on the basis that Judge Aquilina, who had handed down the sentence in January 2018, was biased against him during his sentencing hearing and in public comments she had made. Nassar's previous appeals of two other sentences were also unsuccessful. He is currently serving a 60-year prison sentence for child pornography


Former U.S. Attorney General Assisting National Football League Probe into Washington Football Team Owners' Dispute

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch has joined the National Football League (NFL's) investigation into allegations of misconduct among owners of the Washington Football Team. The NFL is "in the midst of an arbitration involving a feud" between majority owner Dan Snyder and the team's minority owners, who have been attempting to sell their stakes in the team and alleged that Snyder violated their shareholder agreement in various ways.


U.S. Olympic Officials Considering Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations

CEO Sarah Hirshland said the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee was "focused on building a vaccine plan" but would not comment on a firm policy yet. The L.A. Times reports that the availability of the vaccine could influence the board's decision on whether to make coronavirus vaccinations mandatory for American athletes headed to the Tokyo Games. The International Olympic Committee, for its part, said that it would not require the vaccination of athletes, but did encourage it where possible.


Baseball Hall of Fame Tries to Contextualize Baseball's Racist Past

In an effort to contextualize its past, the museum will be adding new signs and displays to explain the legacy of some of its problematic inductees, while enhancing and renaming its exhibit on Black players in baseball.


Swiss Federal Court Sets Aside Chinese Swimmer's Eight-Year Doping Ban

The Swiss federal court upheld a challenge questioning the neutrality of one of the Court of Arbitration for Sport panelists. Lawyers for Sun Yang argued that former Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini, the chairman of the panel who had issued Sun's ban in February, had made comments on social media that included anti-Chinese sentiments. News media reports showed Twitter posts by Frattini that expressed disdain over examples of animal cruelty in China. The World Anti-Doping Agency said that it would retry the case.



Google Denies Claims of Antitrust Behavior in Early Response to U.S. Lawsuit

In its filing, the company takes the position that users turn to its online search engine because they choose to, not because they lack alternatives and are therefore forced to. Google is responding to antitrust claims, specifically that it "used agreements with device makers like Apple, Samsung and LG to make sure it was the default search engine on their phones ... [thus] preventing rival search products ... from growing."


Defamation Lawsuits Could Sink Right-Wing Media

Voting machine companies are threatening legal action against conservative media as they find themselves at the center of conspiracy theories about electoral fraud. One of these companies is demanding that the Fox News Channel, Newsmax, and OAN immediately clear its name and
"that they retain documents for a planned defamation lawsuit." The lawsuits pose a serious threat to OAN and Newsmax, which are vying to build "a giant new media company in the president's image."


Pulitzer Board Rescinds New York Times's 'Caliphate' Citation

The board announced it has stripped The New York Times of its finalist status after the newspaper reported that its podcast "Caliphate" and the related report, "The ISIS Files", did not meet its editorial standards for accuracy. A review found that the audio documentary "gave too much credence to the false or exaggerated account of one of its main subjects, Shehroze Chaudhry, a Canadian who claimed to have taken part in atrocities."


The Village Voice Rises from the Dead

The Village Voice, a "mainstay of independent journalism," ended its 63-year run in 2018. Brian Calle, the owner of LA Weekly, will revive the publication next month. It will include a website, a "comeback" print edition, and quarterly print issues.


Kansas City Star Apologizes for Racism in Decades of Reporting

The Kansas City newspaper issued a front-page apology for having "disenfranchised, ignored and scorned" generations of Black residents. Across 10 pages, it reflected on the ways in which it "had disregarded the city's civil rights struggle and had helped support racial segregation in housing." An advisory group has also been struck to help inform the newspaper's future coverage of communities of color.


President Trump Appointee Seeks to Cut Off Funding for Global Internet Access Group

The head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media is moving to defund the Open Technology Fund (OTF) partly "because of a dispute over whether the fund should support work done by the Falun Gong," a pro-Trump, anti-China movement. OTF develops tools that support internet access in places that tightly control access. Michael Pack cited various reasons for seeking to defund OTF and will make his final decision by January 19th, one day before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in.


With Alibaba Investigation, China Gets Tougher on Tech

The dynamic between the government and major tech companies is shifting in China as online giants have grown in power in recent years. The country's regulators have now opened an antitrust investigation into Alibaba; under China's antimonopoly law, a company can be fined a maximum of 10% of its sales from the previous years, which in Alibaba's case could amount to billions of dollars.


Number of Journalists Killed for Their Reporting Doubled in 2020

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 30 journalists were killed this year, 21 of whom were killed as a direct result of their work (compared to 10 in 2019). Deaths related to conflict fell, however, given waning violence in the Middle East and also as a result of fewer journalists travelling because of the pandemic.


Wuhan Citizen Journalist Faces Trial for Pandemic-Related Posts

In the first known case against a citizen journalist, Zhang Zhan will face trial for her coverage of the pandemic during lockdown. The government accuses her of spreading lies and "provoking trouble", and are seeking a sentence of four to five years in prison. Zhang's reporting undermined government efforts to censor information and her prosecution is seen to be part of a "continuing campaign to recast China's handling of the outbreak."


Pakistani Court Orders Release of Men Convicted in 2002 Killing of American Journalist Daniel Pearl

Even though earlier convictions had been overturned in April 2020, the men were rearrested and were still being held under a detention order that allows the government to hold terrorism suspects for up to three months. The court said that the continued detention was now illegal.


General News

Answering Trump, Democrats Try and Fail to Jam $2,000 Stimulus Payments Through House

The House majority leader asked for "unanimous consent to accede to President Trump's request for larger checks" but failed to pass it. Lawmakers had previously agreed to $600 direct payment checks, but President Trump suggested he would reject that compromise unless lawmakers raised the amount, leaving many Republican lawmakers divided over the proposal. As President Trump continues to criticize the $900 billion aid package and resists signing it, millions of Americans lost unemployment coverage as two federal programs run out of money.






Climate Change Legislation Included in Coronavirus Relief Deal

Two climate change-related measured were attached to the government spending and coronavirus relief package that was recently passed by Congress: one was to curtail the use of planet-warming chemicals found in air-conditioners and refrigerators, and the other to authorize millions in spending on wind, solar, and other clear power sources.


Biden Introduces Climate Team

In choosing Gina McCarthy as the head of a new White House Office of Climate Policy, Biden said that his climate change team is one that "prioritizes making clean energy jobs and environmental protection a cornerstone of his economic plans." The group includes Rep. Deb Haaland, who will lead the Department of the Interior, and Jennifer Granhold as the Energy secretary.


Biden Cabinet Leans Centrist, Leaving Some Liberals Frustrated

The article discusses president-elect Biden's personnel choices and describes them as being "pragmatic and largely centrist."


Reversal of Trump Border Policies Will Not Be Immediate

The incoming Biden administration announced that it would not immediately reverse border restrictions imposed by Trump, cautioning that it will take time to build capacity to process claims by asylum-seekers. The president-elect said a new border policy will not be in place for at least six months.


Trump's Failed Crusade Debunks GOP's Case for Voting Restrictions

Despite courts finding no evidence of widespread election fraud, efforts to roll back voting rights persist and are fueled by the myth of stolen elections. For example, allegations that people "double voted" have been used to justify stricter voter identification laws and the claim that non-citizens cast illegal votes is being used to argue for new "proof of citizenship" requirements for voter registration. The defeats in the courts will likely not change "the trajectory of the ongoing efforts to restrict voting that have been core to conservative politics since the disputed 2020 election."


Trump Grants Mining and Energy Firms Access to Public Lands

The Trump administration is quickly approving a number of corporate projects on federal lands in what is an intense push by the Interior Department to increase domestic energy and mining production.


Trump Contradicts Pompeo Over Russia's Role in Hack

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo characterized the latest hack of the federal government as a cybersecurity attack by Russia, while the president downplayed the severity of the attack and suggested it might have been China.


Trump Pardons Two Russia Inquiry Figures and Four Blackwater Guards

Among those pardoned by the president are two people who pleaded guilty in the special counsel's Russia Inquiry (George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan), as well as "four former U.S. service members who were convicted on charges related to the killing of Iraqi civilians while working as contractors for Blackwater in 2007." Trump has already pardoned Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser, Jared Kushner's father, former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and commuted Roger Stone's sentence.



Court Extends Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Term

In a rarely used power, the Federal District Court in Manhattan formally appointed Audrey Strauss as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Strauss was the acting head of the Southern District after Trump removed Geoffrey Berman from the post. Her term was set to expire a few days before the Trump administration ends, and her appointment is seen to be a "stabilizing force when the chief judge and the unanimous court" endorsed her appointment.


New York Judges File Age Discrimination Lawsuits in Response to Forced Retirements

New York City judges are being forced to retire to close a pandemic budget gap. The State's retirement age for judges is 70, but judges can apply to continue serving in two-year increments until they are 76, although many are being denied. These developments have prompted 10 New York judges to launch lawsuits against the state's chief judge and an administrative board that voted unanimously to let older judges go. They cite age discrimination and argue that the state violated a requirement to consider applications individually.

Critics say that the decision will mean New York City will lose a high number of experienced judges "at a time when the system is already struggling with backlogs created by the pandemic," with certain boroughs being affected more than others.


Alex Padilla Will Replace Kamala Harris in the Senate

California Governor Gavin Newsom selected Padilla to serve the final two years of Kamala Harris's term. Padilla will be the first Latino senator to represent the state.


Misinformation Amplifiers Target Georgie Senate Races

Conservative media personalities spreading baseless rumors of election fraud are focusing their efforts on Georgia's two special elections next month. The messaging is aimed at discrediting the outcome of the November election and convincing Georgia voters that voting fraud is being perpetrated in the state.


Push Underway to Rename Jefferson Davis Avenue in Alabama

An effort is underway to rename Jeff Davis Avenue after Fred Gray, long-time civil rights lawyer who defended Rosa Parks and who grew up on the street that continues to "serve as a reminder that the quest for racial equality is far from over."


William Barr Sees No Reason for Special Counsels for Hunter Biden and Election

Attorney General Barr broke with the president in saying that he saw no reason to appoint special counsels to oversee the Justice Department's criminal investigation into Biden's son, or to investigate claims of widespread voter fraud. It remains to be seen whether Barr's replacement, who will lead the department on an acting basis for a few weeks, will take a different approach.


MacKenzie Scott Upends Philanthropy, Giving Away $6 Billion This Year

Following her divorce from Jeff Bezos, Mackenzie Scott has donated approximately $10 billion from her fortune of Amazon shares. Her practices are non-traditional - she disburses money quickly, without much fanfare and without reporting requirements, the latter of which many underfunded non-profits find burdensome.


Britain and the European Union Reach Landmark Deal on Brexit

After months of negotiations, Britain and the European Union (EU) have reached a trade deal that still needs to be ratified by the British and European Parliaments. Britain had previously agreed to continue abiding by EU rules and regulations until the end of the year, to avoid disruption to business and cross-Channel trade.


Coronavirus Update

U.S. Employers Can Require Workers to Get COVID-19 Vaccine

Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces workplace laws, says that "employers can require workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine and bar them from the workplace if they refuse." The EEOC said that the administration of a vaccine does not fit the definition of medical examinations that an employer can be prohibited from administering under the Americans With Disabilities Act.


Disadvantaged Students More Likely to Be Learning Online

Research from Columbia University found that "closed classrooms were disproportionately composed of nonwhite students" and students with lower testing scores, and suggested that remote learning will widen the achievement gap as disadvantaged students lack the support that remote learning requires.


Mexico is First Latin American Country with Vaccination Program

The country started administering the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to health care workers this week and will continue to do so over the next two months, before moving on to other at-risk populations.


Concerns About Coronavirus Mutation Push Europe to Isolate U.K.


Poorer Nations at Back of the Line for the Vaccine


How China Censored Bad News About COVID-19

Internal directives and reports show how government officials controlled digital media content in the early days of the pandemic, including censoring information about Dr. Li, the ophthalmologist who first warned of the viral outbreak. Directives also required news sites to avoid sharing negative news about the virus and to downplay reports of donations or purchases of medical supplies from abroad, which would risk disrupting China's procurement efforts in bringing in vast amounts of PPE.


December 29, 2020

New York Enacts New Post-Mortem Publicity Rights Law with Significant Implications for Commercial Advertising and Marketing Uses

By Barry Werbin

This and other blogs by Barry can be found at Herrick, Feinstein LLP's website at https://www.herrick.com/publications/new-york-enacts-new-post-mortem-publicity-rights-law-with-significant-implications-for-commercial-advertising-and-marketing-uses/

A sea-change in NY's privacy/publicity rights law went into effect on November 30, 2020, when Gov. Cuomo signed legislation establishing a new Civil Rights Law Section 50-f (S5959D /A.5605-C), which for the first time grants a 40-year post-mortem right of publicity for deceased "performers" and "personalities" (as defined below) to protect against unauthorized commercial exploitation of specific attributes of their persona. NY's pre-existing limited right of publicity (Civil Rights Law Sections 50 and 51), which remains in place, applies only to use of a living individual's name, portrait, picture or voice for purposes of advertising or trade (such unauthorized uses of a person's name, portrait or picture is also a misdemeanor under Section 50).

As with the current law, there is a private right of action for damages and injunctive relief arising from acts occurring directly in NY that are related to the unauthorized use of the protected persona of a deceased performer or personality "on or in products, merchandise, goods, or services, or the advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods, or services" that are prohibited by the statute.

The new law further places restrictions on using technology to create digital reproductions of persons. This expanded right of publicity protects a deceased performer's digital replica in expressive works to prevent third parties from misappropriating such professional performances without consent.

Under the new law, successors in interest to deceased individuals can enforce such post-mortem rights, provided they first give notice of such interest through a public registration database, which will be maintained by the NY Secretary of State. The law includes usage exceptions consistent with constitutionally protected freedom of speech.

The law becomes effective on or about May 28, 2021 (180 days after it became law on November 30, 2020), and applies to all living and deceased individuals who die on or after that date. Remedies include the greater of compensatory damages or statutory damages of $2,000 per violation of the post-mortem and digital replica sections of the statute, plus any profits from the unauthorized use that are not taken into account in awarding compensatory damages. Punitive damages are also available.

There are a wide variety of exempt uses, consistent with First Amendment rights, depending on whether the deceased person is defined as a "deceased performer" or a "deceased personality," as further explained below. Exempt uses generally include plays; books and other literary works; magazines and newspapers; musical works; works of art and other visual works; works of political, public interest, educational or newsworthy value, including comment, criticism, parody or satire; documentaries, docudramas, or historical or biographical works, regardless of the degree of fictionalization; audio and audiovisual works, radio and television programs, if they are fictional or nonfictional entertainment; news, public affairs and sports programming; and advertisements for any of the foregoing types of works.

Owners and employees of any medium used for advertising are also exempt, provided they do not have actual knowledge by prior notice of an unauthorized use of a deceased performer's digital replica or deceased personality's name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness. Protections afforded interactive computer service providers under Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, however, expressly remain unaffected.

Unless covered by an exempt category, entertainment, sports, media, marketing and advertising enterprises, and online platforms, will now need to undertake specific due diligence before using any of the delineated persona of deceased performers and personalities for specified commercial advertising and marketing purposes.

For over 100 years, NY's publicity rights law only applied to living persons. Originally enacted in 1903, the long-existing law covers use of a living person's name, portrait, picture or voice for advertising or purposes of trade, which remains unchanged under the new law, thus leaving in place decades of established court precedent interpreting that legacy statute. Before the new law, anyone was free to use a deceased New Yorker's persona for commercial purposes without restriction. Various other states grant post-mortem publicity rights, such as California (70 years after death) and Elvis' home state of Tennessee (where such rights can extend indefinitely as long as the deceased person's persona continues to be exploited).

The new law expands the categories of a deceased individual's persona to include "name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness, in any manner." It also defines two distinct protected groups: "Deceased Performer" and "Deceased Personality." "A deceased performer" is a person who dies while domiciled in New York and who, for livelihood, was "regularly engaged in acting, singing, dancing, or playing a musical instrument." "A deceased personality" is a person who dies while domiciled in New York and whose "name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness" had commercial value "at the time of his or her death, or because of his or her death," regardless of whether that person during their lifetime "used his or her name, voice, signature, photograph, or likeness on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or solicitation of purchase of, products, merchandise, goods, or services."

The law also provides a new definition of a "digital replica," covering any newly-created computer-generated, electronic performance by an individual that is then used in a new audiovisual work or sound recording "in which the individual did not actually perform," such that "a reasonable observer would believe it is a performance by the individual being portrayed and no other individual."

Any use of a deceased personality's defined persona "on or in products, merchandise, or goods, or for purposes of advertising or selling, or soliciting purchases of, products, merchandise, goods, or services" without consent from that person or their authorized representatives, is a violation of the statute that gives rise to a claim for damages. The use of a deceased performer's digital replica in an audiovisual work as a fictional character, or for the live performance of a musical work, without permission, also gives rise to a claim for damages if the use is likely to deceive the public into thinking such use was authorized by the deceased person. However, liability can be avoided if the user posts a "conspicuous disclaimer" in the credits of the audiovisual work and in any related advertisements where the digital replica appears, stating that use of the replica has not been authorized by the depicted deceased person.

These publicity rights are now deemed property rights, which are made freely transferable and descendible, in whole or in part, by contract, license, gift, trust, or other testamentary instrument. These rights can also be exercised by subsequent owners of such rights. It will be important for estate planning purposes for celebrities and performers to carefully plan for succession rights. Such rights can also be transferred prior to death to a separate entity that can be managed by those trusted by the individual personality. Persons dying intestate will have their publicity rights inherited by one or more persons who own 51% or more of the deceased individual's rights under the law. Successors must register in the new database in order to enforce these rights.

The law also adds a new Civil Rights Law Section 52-c, which imposes penalties for publishing sexually explicit depictions of individuals, to protect against "revenge porn" and "deep fakes." "Depicted individuals" include persons who appear, through digitization, to give a performance they did not actually perform or to be performing in a performance that is digitally modified. "Digitization" means realistically depicting nude body parts of another person as the body parts of the subject person, using computer-generated nude body parts as the parts of the subject person, or depicting an individual engaging in sexual acts in which that person did not actually engage. An offended person has a private right of action to enforce his or her rights against any other person who discloses, disseminates or publishes sexually explicit material related to the depicted individual and who knows or reasonably should have known that the depicted individual did not consent to such use. Remedies include compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive relief, attorneys' fees and court costs. A defense of consent is only valid if there is a written agreement in plain language that includes a general description of the sexually explicit content. While First Amendment protections are included for matters of legitimate public interest and news reporting, sexually explicit material shall not be considered "newsworthy" merely because the depicted individual is a public figure.

About December 2020

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in December 2020. They are listed from oldest to newest.

November 2020 is the previous archive.

January 2021 is the next archive.

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