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Week In Review

By Lorena Guzmán-Díaz

Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Alec Baldwin Seeks Dismissal of ‘Rust’ Manslaughter Indictment

Lawyers for actor Alec Baldwin filed court papers seeking the dismissal of the involuntary manslaughter indictment against him related to the fatal shooting on the “Rust” movie set. They argued that prosecutors did not properly present evidence to the grand jury that could have supported his case. Baldwin's defense team denounced the prosecution's handling of the case, claiming that it abused the system. The armorer on set, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for loading a live round into the gun that Baldwin fired. Baldwin denied responsibility for the incident and his lawyers raised objections regarding the handling of the case by the prosecution, including the lack of certain witnesses and evidence presented to the grand jury. The defense pushed for the dismissal of the indictment against him.

Audience Snapshot: Four Years After Shutdown, a Mixed Recovery

This analysis explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on various segments of live entertainment, including Broadway shows, pop music events, sports, movies, orchestras, and museums. There's a pronounced disparity in how different sectors are recovering. While fans of pop music and sports have returned in force, Broadway theaters and some museums are struggling to regain their pre-pandemic audiences. The entertainment industry's rebound is uneven: Broadway has experienced a 17% decrease in attendance, whereas popular pop concerts have seen ticket sales jump by 65%. Ticket sales for symphony orchestras have increased slightly by 2%, but opera houses are facing difficulties. Museum attendance is mixed, with some leading museums seeing a decline, yet attendance for major sports leagues has recovered, even outstripping levels seen before the pandemic hit.

TikTok’s Parent ByteDance Has Locked Down AI-Music Patents in the U.S. – As Its Researchers Develop A Model Trained on 257,000 Hours of Songs

ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has been making significant advancements in AI music creation. Starting with the acquisition of UK-based AI Music startup Jukedeck in 2019, ByteDance has since developed multiple AI music-making apps like Mawf and Ripple. Recently, TikTok has been testing an AI Song feature for lyric generation. ByteDance's SAMI team has published research papers on music generation models like StemGen and MeLoDy, showcasing their expertise in AI music creation. Additionally, ByteDance has obtained patents for methods of generating and structuring music data. This extensive work in AI music comes amidst Universal Music Group's licensing issues with TikTok concerning AI-generated audio. Discussions regarding the potential impact of AI-made music on the traditional music industry. JKBX, a platform allowing investment in music as an asset class, offers a unique approach to monetizing music.

From Warner’s Potential Bid for Believe to the Unveiling of Interscope Capitol Labels Group…It’s MBW’s Weekly Round-Up

The summary includes significant updates from the past week in the music industry:

1.      Warner Music Group is showing interest in acquiring Believe, a digital music firm based in France.

2.      The fusion of Interscope Geffen A&M and Capitol Music Group has resulted in the formation of Interscope Capitol Labels Group.

3.      JKBX, a platform for trading song royalties, has gained SEC qualification for its assets, opening up opportunities for investors to buy shares in music royalty streams.

4.      The asset valuation of Hipgnosis Songs Fund has seen a decline.

5.      During an earnings call, HYBE, the K-pop entertainment powerhouse, showcased its CEO's opening remarks using a vocal clone generated by AI technology.

‘Squid Game’ Actor Found Guilty of Sexual Misconduct

Oh Young-soo, known for his role in the Netflix hit series "Squid Game," has been convicted of indecent assault in South Korea. His conviction stems from a 2017 incident where he is accused of inappropriately embracing an actress, taking her hand, and kissing her on the cheek. At 79 years old, Oh Young-soo received a suspended prison term of 8 months and has been mandated to complete education on sexual violence. He disputes the allegations and intends to appeal, but the court upheld the credibility of the victim's claim. This legal outcome has affected Oh Young-soo's acting engagements, leading to his removal from the upcoming second season of "Squid Game," among other ventures, and his parts in a movie have been reshot with a replacement actor. This case is set against the backdrop of South Korea's #MeToo movement, which has brought forth a wave of sexual misconduct allegations and convictions involving high-profile figures.


Heirs Awarded Nazi-Looted Art Are Still Waiting, 17 Years Later

A discussion centers around a 17th-century painting by a Dutch master, appropriated by Nazi collaborators in World War II, and later showcased in a museum in the Netherlands. The artwork was originally owned by a Jewish family and was flagged for restitution back in 2007. However, the process of returning the painting has been impeded by the absence of crucial documentation. The family, who were victims of wartime plundering, has encountered difficulties in regaining possession of the painting. Contributing to the delay is a civil notary responsible for the restitution, who demands complete records from each of the heirs, thus complicating the transfer. The complexities and postponements this case has experienced shed light on the bureaucratic obstacles that inheritors confront when trying to recover art confiscated by the Nazis and mirror the larger problems inherent in the art restitution landscape.

Seattle University to Receive $300 Million Art Collection

Hotel developer Richard Hedreen is donating over 200 artworks and $25 million in seed money to Seattle University in honor of his late wife, Betty. The donation, valued at $325 million, includes a collection ranging from the 15th century to contemporary works by artists such as Thomas Gainsborough, Lucian Freud, and Amy Sherald. Seattle University plans to establish a new art museum with this gift, which is the largest in the university's history. The university's president, Eduardo Peñalver, expressed excitement about the teaching opportunities the collection will provide to faculty and students across various disciplines. The museum will serve as a connection between the campus and the city. The project is expected to take three to five years to complete, with the seed money enabling immediate progress.

Google Is Getting Thousands of Deepfake Porn Complaints

The conversation centers on the surge of nonconsensual deepfake pornography and the steps taken to eradicate it by filing copyright complaints with Google. Reported cases have spiked, with complainants flagging thousands of URLs that distribute malicious deepfake videos. Twitch broadcasters, video game enthusiasts, and other content creators have voiced concerns regarding the unauthorized use of their likenesses. Based on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), these reports have led to the clearance of multiple unauthorized videos from the web. High-volume complaints target certain notorious deepfake sites, precipitating the erasure of their content from Google's search listings. The narrative also addresses the struggles that victims of deepfake abuse face and questions whether current laws like the DMCA adequately contend with such violations. Experts and advocacy groups increasingly urge tech giants like Google to take stronger action to halt the spread of deepfake content and to defend individual privacy and rights.


Athletes Sue NCAA For Allowing Transgender Women To Compete, Use Locker Rooms

Sixteen female athletes have filed a lawsuit against the NCAA for allowing transgender women to compete in college sports and use women's locker rooms, following the success of Lia Thomas, an openly transgender swimmer who won a NCAA Division I national championship. The lawsuit accuses the NCAA of discrimination, violating bodily privacy rights, Title IX, and the Fourteenth Amendment. The plaintiffs are seeking to declare any male competing in NCAA women's events as ineligible and to stop the participation of transgender female athletes in women's events. The lawsuit highlights the purported harm done to women by allowing transgender athletes to compete and argues for the importance of sex-separated sports teams and facilities. The lawsuit also discusses the specific case of Lia Thomas and her impact on women's swimming events. The NCAA has implemented a transgender athlete policy requiring hormone level documentation for competition. Critics and supporters have differing opinions on transgender participation in sports, with some arguing for fairness and inclusion and others questioning biological advantages. The lawsuit represents a larger national debate on transgender inclusion in sports and the balancing of fairness and opportunity.

In Paris, the Olympics Clean Up Their Act

The Paris Olympics this summer are being designed with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the impact of global warming. The organizers aim to generate no more than half the emissions of recent Olympics by implementing various eco-friendly measures such as using renewable energy sources, reusing historic buildings, adding bike lanes, and incorporating sustainable practices in construction and transportation. While some critics argue that more radical changes are needed to address the climate crisis, the Paris Olympics serve as a potential model for future events and cities worldwide. The effort includes repurposing existing infrastructure, introducing innovative cooling systems, and constructing sustainable buildings that will benefit the local community long after the games conclude. Despite challenges like managing transportation and extreme heat, the Paris Olympics are striving to balance sustainability with the demands of a global sporting event.


With 4 Words, Apple’s Response to Its $2 Billion Fine Highlights Its Most Glaring Weakness

Apple's rebuttal to the $2 billion penalty tied to App Store practices underscores the strained relations it maintains with developers and users. Central to Apple's defense is the claim, iterated repeatedly, that Spotify does not contribute financially to Apple. This insistence on collecting commissions from transactions in close proximity to the iPhone comes across as presumptuous and has tarnished Apple's image among regulators, developers, and users. Furthermore, criticisms mount regarding Apple's prioritization of its own revenue over enhancing user experience. It is suggested that such a stance may be harming Apple's brand and overall business health.

AI Video Tool SORA Raises Big Legal Questions – Expert Comment

Dr. Dominic Lees, an expert in Generative AI and Filmmaking, raises concerns about the legal and ethical implications of using AI technology like SORA for generating video content. He questions whether the creators whose work trained SORA have given consent for their material to be used in this manner, highlighting potential copyright issues. Lees emphasizes the need to address these legal and ethical challenges associated with AI advancements in cultural production. While SORA offers accessibility to advanced video technology and enhances creativity, concerns remain about accuracy, bias, and ethical implications in the content it creates. Lees underscores the importance of policymakers balancing innovation with protecting rights, access, and ethics in the evolving landscape of AI technology usage. He is currently involved in advising UK MPs on a film industry inquiry, further showcasing his expertise in this field.

For Bitcoin Mines in Texas, the Honeymoon is Over

Discussions about bitcoin mining in Texas have brought to light several pressing concerns, including high energy consumption, detrimental environmental impacts, rising prices, and effects on local quality of life. Bitcoin mining once prospered in Texas, backed by economic power sources and favorable regulatory conditions. However, the tide is changing as residents and authorities increasingly scrutinize the downsides of mining activities. The Texas Blockchain Council took legal action to demand clarity on energy use from the government. The risk of power outages and heightened emissions worries some, while others argue that mining actually contributes to the stability of the electrical grid. A shortage of information on the full impact of mining hinders the development of informed regulatory policies. As the bitcoin mining sector's presence in Texas continues to grow, involved parties face the challenge of addressing these complex issues.

House Passes Bill to Force TikTok Sale From Chinese Owner or Ban the App

The House passed a bipartisan bill to force TikTok's Chinese owner to sell the app or face a ban in the U.S. The legislation aimed to address national security concerns and the influence of Chinese ownership on the platform. Despite efforts by TikTok and Beijing to oppose the bill, it received strong bipartisan support in the House. The bill faces challenges in the Senate and potential legal issues if passed. The bipartisan support for the bill reflected a division within parties on the matter, with some lawmakers expressing concerns about free speech and TikTok's popularity. The bill, if signed into law, could deepen tensions between the U.S. and China over technology control. President Biden has shown support for the bill, while former President Trump has shifted his stance on TikTok. The White House has actively backed the bill through technical assistance and warnings of national security risks posed by TikTok's ownership.

Why a Sale of TikTok Would Not Be Easy

Legislation is moving forward that could mandate a sale of TikTok by its Chinese parent company ByteDance. This bill aims to ban TikTok unless ByteDance sells the app to a buyer approved by the government within 6 months. Potential hurdles include finding buyers willing to meet the stringent conditions of the sale, which would require ByteDance to fully divest from TikTok. Selling the app, even just the U.S. portion, could be challenging due to its estimated high value, potential antitrust concerns, and opposition from the Chinese government. Senator Mark Warner suggests a possible partnership between American and European companies for the sale. ByteDance may contest the legality of the bill in U.S. courts, and China could also try to block the sale. This potential forced sale of TikTok is reminiscent of the past situation with Chinese-owned Grindr app, but on a much larger scale given TikTok's extensive user base.

Investor Groups Express Interest Ahead of Possible TikTok Sale

Multiple investor groups, including former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and businessman Kevin O'Leary, have expressed interest in purchasing TikTok following reports of a potential forced sale due to legislation passed in the House. The Senate's path for the bill seems less straightforward, with lawmakers taking time to review the measure before deciding on a vote.

Tumblr and WordPress to Sell Users’ Data to Train AI Tools

Tumblr and WordPress are reported to be selling user data to companies Midjourney and OpenAI. Internal documents reveal that the data compilation process was messy, including private posts and content from premium partner blogs. Automattic, the parent company, plans to introduce an opt-out setting to stop data sharing with third parties. There are concerns about the sharing of data with AI companies, and efforts to ensure user control and deletion of data. News about the deal has caused speculation and discussions among employees and on various platforms. Similar data deals have been made by other platforms, and companies like OpenAI and Midjourney did not respond to requests for comments.

Sam Bankman-Fried Should Get 40 to 50 Years in Prison, Prosecutors Say

Sam Bankman-Fried, a cryptocurrency mogul, has been convicted of a multibillion-dollar fraud and faces a maximum penalty of 110 years in prison. Federal prosecutors have recommended a sentence of 40 to 50 years for Bankman-Fried, emphasizing the severity of his crimes. The prosecution highlighted the impact of his actions on people worldwide, including those who invested their savings in his exchange, FTX. Bankman-Fried's defense argues for a lighter sentence of no more than 6 ½ years. The probation department suggested a 100-year sentence, while the defense likened this to the case of Bernard Madoff and deemed it excessive. Bankman-Fried's lawyer highlighted the difference in the restitution process between the 2 cases. The prosecutors have also requested that Bankman-Fried forfeit over $10 billion in losses and stolen funds. The final decision on his sentencing lies with Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who will consider various factors, including Bankman-Fried's testimony during the trial. Former Judge John S. Martin criticized excessively long sentences for white-collar crimes, suggesting that they do not effectively deter further criminal activities.

Russian Hackers Stole Microsoft Source Code—and the Attack Isn’t Over

Discussing various security breaches, the report notes that a Russian hacking group, Nobelium, has infiltrated Microsoft’s systems and stolen source code by breaking into email accounts and continuing to penetrate additional internal networks. In another incident, authorities have charged Linwei Ding, a former Google engineer, with appropriating trade secrets linked to artificial intelligence, allegedly to benefit Chinese companies. Additionally, using flaws in IT management software, intruders compromised the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). In parallel, a social networking platform introduced an X's calling feature, which inadvertently leaks users' IP addresses. These episodes underscore growing alarm over the privacy and security risks inherent in such breaches.

Russia Strengthens Its Internet Controls in Critical Year for Putin

Russia intensified its online censorship ahead of the elections, using techniques inspired by China. The government cracked down on digital tools, throttling access to communication apps during protests, and expanding programs to block websites and online services. This move signified a shift towards a more authoritarian model of internet regulation. The increased control over the internet comes at a critical time for President Vladimir Putin, who faces challenges like Aleksei Navalny's death and the war in Ukraine. Russia has been learning from China, especially in terms of blocking VPNs, shutting down communication apps during protests, and censoring online content. Russia is intensifying efforts to censor online content and improve its ability to monitor and restrict internet traffic. The government's actions aim to prevent dissent and maintain control over the flow of information, particularly during times of political unrest.

EU Approves Landmark AI Law, Leapfrogging U.S. to Regulate Critical but Worrying New Technology

The European Union has approved a groundbreaking AI law, surpassing the U.S. in regulating the technology. The law prohibits certain uses of artificial intelligence, such as social scoring systems and biometric tools for sensitive identifications. It also introduces regulations for high-risk AI applications in areas like education and hiring. Companies producing powerful AI models are required to adhere to new disclosure rules. The law aims to prevent misuse of AI, including deepfakes, and will come into effect in about 2 years. This development shows the EU's quick response to the growing AI industry, contrasting with the slower progress in the U.S. on federal AI legislation.

General News

Why a Native American Nation Is Challenging the U.S. Over a 1794 Treaty

The Onondaga Nation is seeking international recognition for the violation of a treaty by the United States that guaranteed them 2.5 million acres of land. This land was gradually taken away by the State of New York, leaving the Onondaga with only 11 square miles of territory south of Syracuse. The case, filed in 2014, is being heard by an international human rights commission, but even if successful, any outcome would be primarily symbolic, as the commission lacks enforceable power. The Onondaga seek acknowledgment of the historical injustices and aim for a seat at the table in environmental decisions pertaining to their original territory. They are not seeking monetary reparations, but rather the return of land for preservation and development. The legal battle for the Onondaga dates back to the 18th century, with numerous efforts to reclaim their land, culminating in the current international petition challenging the U.S.’s treatment of Indigenous peoples.

Supreme Court Narrowly Interprets Landmark Reduced Sentencing Law

The Supreme Court made a decision regarding the eligibility for reduced prison sentences under the First Step Act, a criminal justice law passed in 2018. The Court ruled that a defendant must meet specific criminal history conditions to qualify for relief under the law. The case, Pulsifer v. United States, focused on the interpretation of the law's criteria for eligibility. The majority opinion, written by Justice Elena Kagan, emphasized the importance of meeting all criteria in the law for eligibility for reduced sentences. The dissent, written by Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, highlighted the purpose of the First Step Act in providing tailored sentences based on individual circumstances and crimes. The case has significant implications for federal prisoners seeking reduced sentences.

Supreme Court Sets Rules for Blocking Citizens From Officials’ Accounts

The Supreme Court issued 2 unanimous rulings focused on the distinction between private conduct and state action in relation to the First Amendment. The cases involved instances where elected officials blocked individuals from their social media accounts, leading to discussions on whether this constituted state action. Justice Amy Coney Barrett outlined the criteria for determining when officials could be sued for such actions. The Court's decisions aimed to address the complexity of applying traditional legal doctrines to new technologies like social media. The rulings were part of a broader consideration by the Supreme Court on how the First Amendment applies to social media platforms.

Supreme Court Stays Out of Dispute Over Drag Show at Texas University 

The Supreme Court rejected a request from an L.G.B.T.Q. student group at a public university in Texas to hold a drag show on campus. The students argued that the president's refusal violated the First Amendment. The president had cited religious reasons for canceling the event, but the students sued, claiming prior restraint and government discrimination based on viewpoint. The Federal District Court denied their request for a preliminary injunction, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit scheduled arguments after the scheduled performance. The Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case.

Trump’s Court Delays Pile Up While the Presidential Race Gathers Speed

There are delays in all 4 criminal cases against Donald Trump, with potential postponements in the hush money case because of fresh evidence surfacing. Simultaneously, ongoing issues are causing holdups in the additional cases spread across Florida, Georgia, and Washington, D.C., adding complexity to the legal proceedings. The timing of these trials is critical, as Trump is running for president and might leverage his role to influence the judicial process if he wins the election. This conversation brings to the fore the legal system's struggle to maintain both fairness and expediency in light of the upcoming presidential campaign. It also touches on the multitude of cases Trump faces and the prevailing uncertainties about when these trials will start.

Judge Denies One of Trump’s Efforts to Derail Documents Case

Judge Aileen Cannon presided over a hearing in federal court in Florida involving Trump's prosecution for mishandling classified documents. The judge rejected one of his motions seeking dismissal of the case, specifically regarding the Espionage Act. Trump's lawyers argued that the Act was vague and unenforceable, but the judge disagreed. She also dismissed claims made under the Presidential Records Act. The judge's decision suggested that the case may proceed to trial, although a date hasn't yet been set. Trump's legal team has made various attacks on the indictment, including questioning the appointment of the special counsel and alleging selective prosecution. The judge expressed skepticism about these arguments and did not address the timing of the trial during the hearing. Trump's lawyers also accused the special counsel of selective and vindictive prosecution, but the prosecution has refuted these claims, citing differences in the handling of the cases involving Trump and President Biden.

Judge Quashes Six Charges in Georgia Election Case Against Trump

A judge in Atlanta quashed 6 charges against Trump and his allies in a Georgia election interference case, including one related to a call Trump made to pressure Georgia's secretary of state. However, the rest of the racketeering indictment remained intact. The ruling was seen as a setback for prosecutors, but legal observers stated that it did not weaken the core of the case, which is the state racketeering charge. The judge's decision specifically targeted charges alleging that Trump and others solicited public officials to break the law but were not specific enough. While the prosecutors could potentially refile the quashed charges, the ruling was viewed as a victory by defense lawyers. The case against Trump and his allies, especially on racketeering charges, was considered to be moving forward despite this setback.

Powerful Realtor Group Agrees to Slash Commissions to Settle Lawsuits

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has agreed to pay $418 million in damages and make significant rule changes regarding commissions, which experts believe will drive down housing costs for American homeowners. The settlement will eliminate the standard 6% sales commission, potentially reducing commissions by 30% and leading to a more competitive market for real estate agents. The deal comes after a series of lawsuits alleging antitrust violations by NAR and brokerages, with the potential to reshape the housing market fundamentally. The settlement will also impact the structure of Realtor compensation and compel agents to lower their commissions. The agreement includes changes to rules regarding buyer and seller agent compensation, aiming to eliminate practices that critics say inflate costs for home sellers. The settlement signifies a historical shift in the real estate industry and could prompt a recovery in the housing market akin to past transformative events.

Appeals Court Denies Peter Navarro’s Motion to Remain Out of Prison

Peter Navarro, a former trade adviser to Donald J. Trump, has been denied his appeal to remain free while appealing his conviction for contempt of Congress. He is on track to begin serving  4-month prison sentence after the federal appeals court ruling. Navarro was sentenced for refusing to cooperate with the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. His lawyers had pledged to seek intervention from the Supreme Court, but the appeals court upheld the ruling that he must report to prison. Navarro argued that he was following directions from Trump not to testify and to invoke executive privilege. The court did not find his appeal to present substantial legal questions and denied his motion to stay out of prison.

‘Devastated’ Widow Says Metropolitan Transportation Authority Workers Shared Photos of Slain Husband

Jakeba Dockery is reeling from the distress caused by the online circulation of graphic photos of her deceased husband, Richard Henderson, who died after being shot on a New York subway. The pictures, showing Henderson in a pool of blood after he attempted to intervene in a fight, spread across social media platforms. Allegations have surfaced implicating Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) workers in capturing and disseminating these photos, prompting legal steps against the MTA, which has launched an enquiry to ascertain if its employees were involved in the incident. Drawing parallels to a case involving Kobe Bryant's widow, there is talk of a possible lawsuit demanding compensation for the breach of Henderson's privacy. Amidst their grief, the family contends with the trauma brought on by Henderson's untimely passing and seeks clarity on why immediate help and accountability were seemingly absent during the incident.

James Crumbley Found Guilty in Michigan School Shooting Trial

James Crumbley has been found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for his failure to prevent his teenage son from carrying out a deadly school shooting in Michigan. His wife, Jennifer Crumbley, was also found guilty on similar charges. They are the first parents in the country to be directly charged for the deaths caused by their child in a mass shooting. The prosecution argued that the Crumbleys ignored warning signs and failed to secure the gun used in the shooting. Their son, Ethan, pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to life in prison. While the trials highlighted issues of parental responsibility, the case may not set a broad precedent due to its unique circumstances.

New U.K. Extremism Policy Raises Concerns Over Free Speech

The British government has announced a new definition of extremism, aiming to cut ties and funding to groups deemed to have crossed the line. Critics argue that this move could restrict campaigners' rights and curb free speech. The definition targets ideologies based on violence, hatred, or intolerance that aim to undermine democratic values. Critics are concerned that this definition is broad and could threaten civil liberties. The government plans to assess groups against this definition, potentially affecting their engagement with the government and access to funding. Various organizations and experts have voiced concerns about the potential impact on free speech and civil liberties. The new policy has sparked a wider debate on how to address rising tensions following recent events, including attacks and demonstrations.

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