Week In Review
By Ariana Sarfarazi Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Technology/Media, and General News:
GRAY V. HUDSON No. 20-55401, 2022 WL 711246 (9th Cir. Mar. 10, 2022)
Singer Katy Perry has again prevailed in a copyright infringement lawsuit against her regarding her song "Dark Horse" with the Ninth Circuit affirming the lower court's decision to set aside a jury verdict. At issue in the case was whether plaintiff Marcus Gray could show that Perry copied a repeating instrumental figure called an ostinato. In affirming the lower court's judgment in favor of Perry, the Ninth Circuit found that the allegedly copied ostinato "consist entirely of common place musical elements" and didn't meet the threshold for originality needed for copyright protection.
Amazon Can Buy MGM, European Regulators Say
The European Commission has unconditionally approved Amazon's $8.45 billion purchase of the movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The Federal Trade Commission is currently vetting the deal, but approval from Brussels is notable because Europe has been particularly aggressive in scrutinizing American tech companies it believes have grown too powerful.
College Professor Found Answers to His Exam Online, So He Took His Students to Court
David Berkovitz, a professor of business law at Chapman University in California, has sued an unnamed group of his students in federal court after he discovered that his midterms and final exams were uploaded to Course Hero, a popular website that students use to share lecture notes, sample quizzes, and other documents. In filing the suit, which accuses the students of copyright infringement, Berkovitz hopes to force Course Hero to identify those who uploaded the materials and if successful, turn over the names to the university's honor board.
Museums Review Safety Protocols
Though violent acts at museums are rare, after the recent stabbings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, museums across the country are re-assessing their safety protocols in an effort to protect employees and visitors. Given the rarity of violence within museums, most are protected by security guards who are typically unarmed and capable of detecting and responding to events -- but they are not equipped to do more than report an intruder with a weapon. Some cultural institutions have panic buttons at their ticketing locations that alert management and perhaps a few security officers with guns posted near main entrances, but few guards are armed. Acts of violence are so rare at museums that the industry standard for New York museums --- and office buildings in the city -- is that security personnel are typically unarmed.
An Arrest in Philadelphia After Attack at the Museum of Modern Art
Gary Cabana, the man who jumped over a reception desk at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City and stabbed two workers, was arrested in Philadelphia. Police found him after they responded to reports of a fire that had broken out in a nearby hotel room, believed to be the result of arson, and a person matching Cabana's description was found shortly afterward. Cabana is expected to face assault charges for the stabbing after an extradition hearing and his return to New York
The Power of Racial Slights and Errant Quips
In her acceptance speech at The Critic's Choice Awards for her movie "The Power of the Dog", New Zealand director Jane Campion appeared to have dismissed tennis starts Venus and Serena Williams for not playing "against the guys", like Campion claims she has to. Campion's comments have instigated public backlash for invoking racist microaggressions by diminishing the accomplishments of two successful Black women while highlighting her own.
Survivors Found in Theater Rubble, but Suffering Widens
Survivors, adults and children, are emerging from the rubble alive after a Russian strike reduced to rubble a theater in southern Ukraine where hundreds of people had been huddling for shelter. The rescue efforts at the theater come against a fearsome backdrop of thousands of civilian casualties across much of Ukraine. Taking heavy losses on the battlefield, Russian forces have increasingly been aiming bombs and missiles at towns and cities. Unable to capture urban centers, they are leveling them instead, and the toll on civilians and cultural institutions is worsening.
How a 38-Second Video Became a Catalyst for Changee
In March 2021, college basketball player Sedona Price posted a 38-second video on TikTok that captured the grave differences in men's and women's weight room facilities. This video caught the attention of the NCAA, which commissioned a gender-equity review in college basketball. The video and review led to a vast array of changes in the women's tournament, such as branding it with the "March Madness" moniker, a move that the NCAA had previously resisted.
Milestone Victory as Transgender Woman Captures an NCAA Title
Lia Thomas, who competes for the University of Pennsylvania, has won an NCAA swimming title and has now become the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming championship. Thomas's victory has come nearly three years after the hurdler CeCe Telfer became the first openly transgender person to capture an NCAA championship.
Russian Court Extends Detention of WNBA Star Over Drug Charges
A Russian court has extended the detention of the WNBA star Brittney Griner by two months and has denied an appeal from her legal team, who had hoped to have her transferred to house arrest. Griner has been held in Russia since mid-February on drug charges that could carry a sentence of up to 10 years if she is convicted. Russian customs officials have accused Griner of having vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow.
A Gender Revolution is Brewing Inside a Bastion of Male Identity
For decades, rugby has occupied an almost religious position in New Zealand. That is particularly true for men, who are raised to play, watch, and obsess over the game. However, a gender revolution is brewing. For years, the number of New Zealand men playing rugby has been declining, with women fast replacing them. Now, one in five rugby players in the country are women. In 2022, for the first time, there will be a professional domestic tournament for women's fifteens rugby. In October, the country will host the women's World Cup.
Weighing News Against Safety in Whether to Report from Russia
After Russia passed a new censorship law that effectively criminalized accurate reporting on the war in Ukraine, CNN executives scrambled to meet to figure out what happens next. The 24-hour news network had employed numerous correspondents in Russia since the latter years of the Soviet Union. Now their future in the country, and perhaps their safety, are up in the air. Russia's new law raises the prospect of 15-year prison terms for journalists who call the war in Ukraine a "war." Within hours of the announcement of Russia's new law, CNN ceased broadcasting in Russia, joining other Western news outlets -- including the BBC, Bloomberg News and ABC News -- that temporarily or partly suspended their Moscow-based operations.
Scholars Side with Media, Just Not in this Case
While First Amendment and other legal scholars don't typically root for the media to lose in court, when it comes to a series of recent defamation lawsuits against right-wing outlets, experts say that it is time to draw the line between protected speech and harmful disinformation. Several lawsuits, which are being argued in several state and federal courts, accuse Project Veritas, Fox News, The Gateway Pundit, One America News, and others of intentionally promoting and profiting from false claims of voter fraud during the 2020 election, and of smearing innocent civil servants and businesses in the process. If the outlets prevail, these experts say, the results will call into question more than a half-century of precedent that created a clear legal framework for establishing when news organizations can be held liable for publishing something that's not true.
Google Is Accused of Bias Against Black Workers in Lawsuit
A former employee at Google has sued the company, claiming that it systematically discriminated against Black workers by placing them in lower-level jobs, underpaying them, and denying them opportunities to advance. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Jose, seeks class-action status. The plaintiff is April Curley, who worked at Google from 2014 until she was dismissed in 2020. While there, Curley helped bring in Black employees to the company by designing programs to recruit from historically Black colleges and universities. The lawsuit echoes many of the complaints that Black employees have expressed over the years about working at Google.
Buzzfeed Employees Charge that I.P.O. Cheated Them of Millions
Nearly 80 former and current employees of BuzzFeed have filed a lawsuit accusing the company in complaints of bungling its stock market debut and denying the workers the chance to sell their shares at a higher price. In two claims made to the American Arbitration Association, the employees said the company had failed to properly instruct them on how to trade their shares immediately after the initial public offering in December. The groups are asking for compensatory damages estimated at more than $8.7 million.
In California, Bid to Police Privacy Law
The California Privacy Protection Agency, California's new state agency will be a more than 30-person group with a $10 million budget to help regulate Google, Facebook, and others for violations of privacy law. Led by Ashkan Soltani, the head of California's new online privacy regulator, the agency will be the first governing body in the United States with the sole job of regulating how Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other companies collect and use data from millions of people. The agency will be the first of its kind and will help enforce the state's privacy law, which is among the most stringent in the country.
Claiming Wrongful Firing, Cuomo Is Seeking $125 Million from CNN
Former news anchor Chris Cuomo is seeking $125 million from CNN for what his lawyers claim was wrongful termination when the cable news network fired him in December. Cuomo is seeking the $15 million that he claims he was owed under his contract as well as "future wages lost as a result of CNN's efforts to destroy his reputation." Cuomo was fired by CNN President Jeff Zucker days after the New York attorney general released a trove of emails and text messages that indicated he had been intimately involved with providing strategic advice to his brother, Andrew M. Cuomo, who was confronting a mounting sexual harassment scandal while serving as governor of New York.
Judge Tosses Out Motion to Add Zuckerberg to Suit
A judge for the Superior Court of the District of Columbia has thrown out motions by the attorney general of the District of Columbia to name Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, as a defendant in a privacy lawsuit, ruling that it had waited too long (3 years) to try to amend the lawsuit to name Zuckerberg as a defendant to hold him personally accountable. The lawsuit accuses Meta (once Facebook) of misleading consumers about privacy on the platform by allowing Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm, to obtain sensitive data from more than 87 million users, including more than half of Washington D.C.'s residents.
Brazil Blocks Messaging App Over Disinformation Concerns Months Before Election
Brazil's Supreme Court has banned Telegram, the fast-growing messaging app in the country, taking a drastic measure, which shows that the court plans to aggressively fight disinformation ahead of this year's presidential elections. Alexandre de Moraes, a Supreme Court judge, said he was blocking Telegram because the app had not fully responded to previous orders to remove the accounts of a prominent supporter of President Jair Bolsonaro who is being investigated for spreading disinformation and threatening Supreme Court judges.
A Great Firewall for Russia?
With Russia's recent decision to block online platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, China's information Dark Age could be a signal of Russia's future. By blocking online platforms, shutting down Russia's independent media and making it a crime to refer to the fighting in Ukraine as a war, the Kremlin has made it nearly impossible for the Russian people to get independent or international news after its invasion. Russia's recent moves are what the Chinese government has been doing to its 1.4 billion people for years. In China, nearly all major Western websites are blocked and a generation of Chinese have grown up isolated from the rest of the world and left to believe whatever Beijing tells them.
Fox News Cameraman and Ukrainian Journalist Are Killed
A Fox News cameraman and a Ukrainian journalist traveling with him were killed in Ukraine when their vehicle came under fire outside Kyiv. The cameraman, Pierre Zakrzewski, 55, and the Ukrainian journalist, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, 24, were traveling in the same vehicle as the Fox News correspondent Benjamin Hall, who was also injured in the attack and remains hospitalized in Ukraine. Zakrzewski was a veteran reporter at Fox News who reported from many war zones and had been with the network in Ukraine since February. Kuvshynova was a local journalist working with the Fox News reporting team.
Zelensky Presses Congress to Help as Russian Pounds Citizens
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine has pleaded to the U.S. for more aid to combat Russia's "inhuman destruction" of his country; called for a no-fly zone and more weapons to combat Russia's assault; and implored President Biden to be "the leader of peace." Zelensky likened Russia's three-week onslaught in Ukraine to Japan's World War II air assault on Pearl Harbor, when "your sky was black from the planes attacking you," and to Sept. 11th, when "innocent people were attacked, attacked from the air."
U.S. Casts a Global Net to Stop Shipments to Russia
The United States, in partnership with its allies including European Union, Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Britain, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, has hit Russia with some of the most sweeping export restrictions ever imposed, barring companies across the world from sending advanced technology in order to penalize President Vladimir V. Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. The restrictions are aimed at cutting off the flow of semiconductors, aircraft components, and other technologies that are crucial to Russia's defense, maritime, and aerospace industries, in a bid to cripple Putin's ability to wage war. However, the extent to which the measures hinder Russia's abilities will depend on whether companies around the globe follow the rules when governments struggle to police thousands of companies in order to enforce such rules.
Critics Call It the 'Don't Say Gay' Bill. What Does the Text Actually Say?
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is expected to sign House Bill 1557, which supporters call the "Parental Rights in Education" bill, but that opponents refer to as the "Don't Say Gay" bill. The text of the bill itself is complex and vague and although the bill is more than about gay rights, it can have far reaching implications for all of Florida's children, LGBTQ+ or not. Key provisions of the bill include: (1) instructions on gender and sexuality will be constrained in all grades; (2) schools would be required to notify parents if their children receive mental, emotional or physical health services, unless educators believe there is a risk of "abuse, abandonment or neglect"; (3) parents would have the right to opt their children out of counseling and health services; (4) parents could sue schools for violating the bill, and districts would have to cover the costs; and (5) Florida would rewrite school counseling standards.
In Conjuring 'Nazis' in Ukraine, Putin Stokes Russian Memories
The language of Russia's invasion of Ukraine has been dominated by the word "Nazi" -- a puzzling assertion about a country whose president, Zelensky, is Jewish and who last fall signed a law combating anti-Semitism. Putin only began to apply the word regularly to the country's present-day government in recent months, calling Ukraine's government "openly neo-Nazi", "pro-Nazi," and controlled by "little Nazis." The "Nazi" slur's sudden emergence shows how Putin is trying to use stereotypes, distorted reality and his country's lingering World War II trauma to justify his invasion of Ukraine. The Kremlin is casting the war as a continuation of Russia's fight against evil in what is known in the country as the Great Patriotic War, apparently counting on lingering Russian pride in the victory over Nazi Germany to carry over into support for Putin's attack.