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Week In Review

By Seth Huy Nguyen

Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


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


Entertainment

Disney Ends Its Fight With DeSantis Over Resort Development

The Walt Disney Company ended its 2-year legal battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over control of a tax district encompassing Walt Disney World. Disney dropped its lawsuit after a federal judge dismissed it in January. As part of a settlement, Disney agreed to pause its appeal and negotiate a new growth plan with tax district officials, while also ceasing litigation in state court. The agreement aims to foster cooperation between Disney and the tax district. The resolution of this dispute marks a significant development in the relationship between Disney and the state of Florida.


NBCUniversal Settles 'Back to the Future' DeLorean Trademark Case

NBCUniversal (NBCU) settled a trademark lawsuit over its continued use of the classic DeLorean car from "Back to the Future" on merchandise and tie-ins for the blockbuster film series. In 1997, NBCU began paying royalties to a company owned by Stephen Wynne, which owns trademark rights to the DeLorean car. Wynne sued NBCU in 2022 for failure to pay his company the full amount of royalties. The settlement remains confidential; however, DeLorean’s attorney released a statement saying the public will continue to see the trademark being used in “Back to the Future” merchandise.

 

Publishers Secure Widespread Support in Landmark Copyright Battle With Internet Archive

The Internet Archive (IA) is a non-profit organization that aims to preserve digital history for generations to come. Major book publishers continue their legal crusade against IA's scan-and-lend library, hoping to shut it down for good. Earlier this year, a NY federal court ruled against IA for copyright infringement, which led to an appeal at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals where IA was hoping to have the judgment reversed. Both sides seem to have supporters from a variety of different entities within the copyright and entertainment world (such as RIAA, lawmakers, IP professors and researchers, and MPA).


Sean Combs Settled a Lawsuit, but His Troubles Were Just Beginning

Although Sean Combs, a/k/a Diddy, denied sexual allegations in a November lawsuit, his troubles don’t stop there. Since the lawsuit settlement between the rapper and his ex-girlfriend, a flood of other lawsuits accusing Combs of sexual crimes have emerged. Combs has since denied all the allegations and claimed victimhood from the downfall of his music empire and career due to these legal claims. Amidst the lawsuits, many companies, employees, and brands made the decision to drop the rapper from partnerships and deals. Combs has also become the focus of a longstanding campaign to hold powerful men in the music industry to account for sexual misconduct. The allegations against him include, but are not limited to, rape, sex trafficking, and abuse. Yet in several fronts of the music industry, the rapper is still receiving praise, awards, and recognition for his accomplishments as singer and producer. This raises the issue of powerful men within the music industry and Hollywood getting away with alleged or actual criminal behaviors.


Former Syracuse Guard Brendan Paul Arrested, Previously Accused of Being Mule for Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs

Former Syracuse basketball player Brendan Paul was arrested on two drug-related charges in Miami-Dade County. He was described as a "mule" for rapper Combs in a federal lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by Combs. Paul's attorney stated that they would address the issues in court. The arrest was not related to federal raids on Combs' properties. Paul posted bond and is set to appear in court on April 24th.


Could AI Replace All Music Ever Recorded with Taylor Swift Covers?

Music researchers are raising concerns and giving warnings of artificially-generated cover versions of songs after a myriad of AI-generated Taylor Swift covers of songs surfaced online. According to the researchers, the risk of AI-generated covers taking over the music industry is low. However, the concern is one worthy of raising because it encourages the protection of all sorts of data from AI corruption. This thought experiment is one that could possibly prompt lawmakers to issue a decisive action on AI before it becomes more problematic.


Streaming Fraud Leads to Prison Sentence for Danish Man in Case Called 'Historic' by Artists' Groups

A man in Denmark has been sentenced to 18 months in prison on charges of data fraud and copyright infringement, for using bots to artificially inflate streams counts for multiple songs he upload to Apple Music, Spotify, and YouSee Musik. According to the prosecutors, the songs were not only his own, but also other artists’ as well. He essentially raked in a proven amount of $290,000 through those fraudulent streams. This landmark case marks a victory for artists, right-holders, and streaming services in which the Denmark court reinforces the criminalization of streaming fraud, in an ever-evolving digital age when these crimes have a potential worldwide effect on the music business industry.


Filmmaker Draws Censors’ Wrath: ‘A Price I Have to Accept’

Wang Xiaoshuai, a prominent Chinese filmmaker, has faced censorship and restrictions throughout his career due to his refusal to conform to state limitations on artistic expression. Despite early success, including international acclaim for his debut film "The Days," Wang has repeatedly clashed with Chinese authorities over his work. His latest film, "Above the Dust," was ordered to be withdrawn from the Berlin International Film Festival by Chinese censors, reflecting the tightening grip of censorship in China's film industry. Wang's defiance of censorship highlights the challenges faced by artists striving for creative freedom in an increasingly restrictive environment.


Arts

Warhol Foundation to Pay $21,000 to Settle Landmark ‘Fair Use’ Copyright Case

The Warhol Foundation, represented by Latham & Watkins, just settled a year-long lawsuit between the Foundation and photographer Lynn Goldsmith, which made it all the way to the Supreme Court. Warhol’s estate agreed to pay more than $21,000, including $11,000 in legal fees.  


A New Law Would Remove Many Architectural Protections in Miami Beach

A new Florida law challenges the balance between development and historical preservation in Miami Beach, particularly affecting iconic structures like the Eden Roc Hotel. This legislation weakens the Miami Beach Historic Preservation Board's authority to control the demolition of historic buildings and mandates for preserving or replicating their design. Proponents argue that it is necessary for addressing safety and environmental concerns highlighted by the Champlain Towers South collapse in 2021. However, critics see it as a move to replace distinctive Miami Modernist and Art Deco architecture with luxury high-rises, potentially erasing the city's unique heritage.


A Second Act for Ballet in Iran?

"The White Feather" is a new ballet inspired by the history of the Iranian National Ballet, which ceased during the Islamic Revolution. Bahareh Sardari, a former member of the ballet, shared her experience of the company's demise. Tara Ghassemieh, a ballerina and choreographer, created the ballet after discovering her Iranian roots. The performance incorporates stories of the Ballet's members and Iran's political upheaval. It aims to bring awareness to the cultural significance of ballet and inspire change, including hope for the revival of ballet in Iran.


British Museum Sues Former Curator for Return of Stolen Items

In a decision favoring the British Museum against its former curator Peter Higgs, the Judge ordered Higgs to return any stolen items or artifacts. The Museum accused Higgs of taking advantage of his employer’s trusts and stealing hundreds of items and selling them on eBay. Judge Williams also ordered PayPal, the online payments company, to disclose data relating to Higgs’s eBay accounts, including his transaction history.


Sports

Sex Offender, Ex-Jaguars Employee Who Hacked Jumbotron Sentenced to 220 Years in Prison

A U.S. District judge in Florida sentenced a convicted sex offender to 220 years in federal prison for producing, receiving, and possessing child sex abuse material, and for hacking the jumbotron in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ stadium. Thompson was previously convicted of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Alabama in 1998 and was required to register as a sex offender. The reasoning behind Thompson’s hacking of the Jaguars’ stadium is suspected to be retaliation for the team not renewing his contract for a job because of his sex offender status, which he deliberately had kept hidden.


Bill Seeks Reparations for Families Displaced From Site of Dodger Stadium

A bill introduced in the California Legislature will seek reparations for families of people who were uprooted and displaced from their homes where the Dodger Stadium now stands. The bill was introduced by Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, Democrat of Los Angeles, who contends that what happened to the families were unjust and that “[t]he promise of housing was never fulfilled, and those families were also robbed of homeownership and generational wealth because their homes were taken away.” This isn’t the only bill which seeks reparations for marginalized families of late. If passed, compensation would be given to those families as well as construction of a permanent memorial in honor of the displaced.


NCAA President Charlie Baker Wants Ban on Prop Bets in College Sports

NCAA president Charlie Baker wants prop bets in college sports to be banned. His reasoning is to protect student athletes and the integrity of the sport games. As of now, bets in sports are legal in 38 states, but prop bets are not allowed in college sports. Baker wants to extend that number to to all. Baker said that the NCAA will be reaching out to many state officials in order to convince them to join states that have already banned prop betting in college sports. Moreover, gambling violation issues have already been flagged in several colleges.


Why Did Homophobic Chants Happen at the U.S.-Mexico Match?

During Mexico's recent loss to the United States in the Nations League, the homophobic chant from fans towards the opposing goalkeeper resurfaced, prompting intervention under FIFA's three-step protocol. Despite efforts to eradicate the chant, it persists due to the unpredictability of fan behavior. Concerns arise regarding potential sanctions during the 2026 World Cup, which Mexico will co-host, if the chant persists.


Media/Technology

Russia Extends American Journalist’s Detention for a Fifth Time

American journalist Evan Gershkovich of The Wall Street Journal has had his pretrial detention extended by three months in Moscow, marking nearly a year since his arrest on espionage charges. The U.S. government has denounced the accusations as politically motivated. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in a Russian penal colony. The court has yet to present evidence supporting the charges. Despite international solidarity and calls for his release, including suggestions of a prisoner swap, Gershkovich remains in custody. This case reflects strained U.S.-Russia relations amid geopolitical tensions, with Gershkovich being the first American journalist arrested on spying charges since the Cold War.


When it Rains, it Pours — TikTok Now Faces an FTC Investigation Amid Senators Debating a Ban
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in collaboration with the Justice Department, is investigating TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, for misleading data privacy practices and violating a children's privacy law. This probe comes amidst Congressional debates over potentially banning TikTok in the U.S. due to national security concerns linked to its Chinese ownership. The investigation could lead to a lawsuit or a settlement, though no agreement has been reached. The scrutiny is part of broader concerns, with TikTok also facing investigations in the EU and by state attorneys general in the U.S. and privacy regulators in Canada over similar issues. This situation escalates ongoing tensions around TikTok's data handling and its ties to China. There has been immense public outcry because of this potential ban due more than 100 million users of TikTok are in the U.S. alone.

X’s Lawsuit Against Anti-Hate Research Group Is Dismissed

Elon Musk's social media company, referred to as "X," filed a lawsuit against the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), accusing it of harming Musk’s business with articles highlighting a rise in hate speech on the platform. The lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge in California, who ruled that it was an attempt to punish the organization for freely expressing negative opinions about the platform, rather than a legitimate legal claim. The judge emphasized that the CCDH's research and speech were protected by law. This ruling represents a setback for Musk, who has employed legal threats against critics of his social media platform in the past. The CCDH hailed the decision as a victory for fundamental rights and accountability of social media companies. X intends to appeal the ruling and continues to pursue legal action against the organization.


Inside a High-Stakes Fight to Limit Social Media’s Hold on Children

Leading Democrats in New York have proposed legislation to restrict social media companies' use of algorithms to shape content for children, but face a high-stakes lobbying effort from tech giants and other online service providers. The bills, championed by Governor Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James, aim to protect children's privacy and mental health. However, opponents argue that the legislation could have unintended consequences and hinder free speech rights. The battle over these bills has prompted a tug of war over the support of L.G.B.T.Q. advocacy groups and other liberal organizations in New York, highlighting the complexities of regulating social media in the digital age.


LSU Coach Kim Mulkey Threatens Legal Action Against the Washington Post in 4-Minute Tirade

LSU basketball coach Kim Mulkey threatened legal action against The Washington Post in a four-minute tirade about a story that she said the newspaper was reporting about her. It is unclear which story and when it was published. Mulkey, in a statement to the press, claimed that she has hired the best law firm in the country and would sue the Post if it published a false story about her. Mulkey had been under fire in the press several times in the past for her alleged negative treatment towards her team’s players, including allegations of being homophobic.


Tech Update: Apple Chip Flaw Leaks Secret Encryption Keys

The Biden administration has issued warnings about potential nationwide attacks on U.S. water systems, alongside emerging threats from new Russian wiper malware and global cyberattacks linked to China. Meanwhile, security researchers have uncovered vulnerabilities affecting 3 million hotel room locks worldwide, highlighting ongoing concerns about cybersecurity. Apple faces challenges with revelations of major vulnerabilities in its hardware and an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice and 16 attorneys general. Additionally, changes to cookie pop-up notifications reveal extensive data sharing by websites, while Glassdoor shifts towards real-name usage for user comments. Among the security vulnerabilities, a flaw in Apple's M-series chips poses a significant challenge as it could potentially expose encryption keys, with no straightforward fix available.


Trump’s Social Media Company Opens New Avenue for Conflicts of Interest

Former President Donald Trump's social media company, now publicly traded, has sparked concerns among ethics experts regarding potential influence on Trump if he were to be elected president again. The company, Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, could provide a platform for foreign actors or special interests to sway Trump's decisions. Trump's control of a media company while in office raises ethical questions similar to those surrounding his previous business interests.    


Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison

Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX cryptocurrency exchange, was sentenced to 25 years in prison for defrauding customers of billions of dollars. Despite facing a maximum sentence of 110 years, his punishment exceeded the defense's request but fell short of the prosecution's. Bankman-Fried, 32, expressed remorse and apologized in court. He was also ordered to forfeit about $11 billion in assets. The case exposed the risks in the cryptocurrency industry and ended Bankman-Fried's reign as a corporate titan.


U.S.-Funded Broadcaster Leaves Hong Kong, Citing Security Law

Radio Free Asia announced the closure of its office in Hong Kong due to concerns over the city's national security law targeting foreign interference. The law's broad definition of "external interference" raised safety concerns for the staff. Critics argue that the law significantly increases risks for journalists operating in Hong Kong and undermines press freedom in the city. Despite the closure, Radio Free Asia will maintain its media license in Hong Kong and continue covering the region remotely.


What Happened When India Pulled the Plug on TikTok

India's ban on TikTok, along with 58 other Chinese apps in June 2020, had significant repercussions, providing a preview of potential outcomes as the U.S. debates a similar ban. TikTok, with its wide Indian user base of 200 million, faced an abrupt end to its biggest market. The ban prompted quick adjustments from Indians, who found alternatives in platforms like Instagram and YouTube, though some of TikTok's charm was lost. India's decision, motivated by border tensions with China, reflected broader concerns about sovereignty and data security.


U.K. Accuses China of Cyberattacks Targeting Voter Data and Lawmakers

The British government has publicly accused China of orchestrating cyberattacks that accessed the personal data of 40 million UK voters, signaling a significant hardening in the UK's stance towards China. This accusation comes alongside sanctions against individuals and entities associated with the cyberattacks, which targeted the UK's Electoral Commission and attempted to hack the email accounts of several MPs critical of China.


E.U. Takes Aim at Alphabet, Apple, and Meta in Wide-Ranging Investigations

The European Union has launched investigations into Alphabet, Apple, and Meta for potential violations of its new competition law, the Digital Markets Act, which took effect on March 7th. This act aims to ensure that tech giants allow smaller competitors access to their platforms, impacting various digital services. These investigations mark a concerted effort by the EU to regulate the dominance of big tech companies, with the potential for significant fines. The inquiries come amidst broader international scrutiny over tech giants' business practices, including a recent antitrust lawsuit against Apple in the United States. The EU's actions indicate a stronger alignment with the U.S. on regulating the tech sector and a serious commitment to enforcing the new competition rules, challenging the companies to make substantial changes to comply.


General News

Appeals Court Keeps Block on Texas Migrant Arrest Law

A federal appeals court ruled against Texas in its attempt to implement a law allowing the state to arrest and deport migrants. The court upheld a trial court injunction, which stated that the law likely violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, particularly regarding immigration control, which is a federal power. The decision was made by a 2-to-1 majority of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, with Chief Judge Priscilla Richman writing the majority opinion. The law's provision to deport migrants, even if they are seeking asylum, was a major point of contention. The decision clarifies the legal landscape but leaves room for further challenges, reflecting the ongoing tension between state and federal powers in immigration policy.


4 Takeaways From the Abortion Pill Arguments

The Supreme Court seemed skeptical about limiting access to the abortion pill, mifepristone, questioning the standing of anti-abortion doctors and organizations challenging the FDA's approval. Justices raised concerns over the unprecedented nature of overriding the FDA's expertise and the specific harm claimed by plaintiffs. The Court's questioning indicated a cautious stance towards interfering with the FDA's judgments, highlighting the complex interplay between legal, moral, and scientific considerations in regulating drug access.


Lawsuit Alleging Racial Bias in Home Appraisals Is Settled

Nathan Connolly and the estate of Shani Mott have settled their lawsuit against mortgage lender loanDepot over allegations of racially biased home appraisals. As part of the settlement, they will receive an undisclosed payment and loanDepot has agreed to implement several policy changes aimed at preventing discrimination in appraisals. These changes include offering a second appraisal in cases of suspected bias, clearly communicating the right to request a review of an appraisal, and providing training on fair housing laws for staff. The settlement, accepted in U.S. District Court in Maryland, does not resolve their claims against the appraisal company and the appraiser, who have denied the allegations and counter-sued for defamation, but it is seen as a significant step toward addressing appraisal bias in the mortgage industry and may serve as a blueprint for other companies to follow.


Trump’s Bond in Civil Fraud Case Is Reduced to $175 Million

Former President Donald Trump received a lifeline from a New York appeals court, which lowered the bond required in his civil fraud case to $175 million from nearly half a billion dollars. This decision spares Trump from immediate financial consequences and allows him to appeal the $454 million judgment against him without losing control over his assets. While the appeals court did not directly address the case's merits, its ruling suggests some sympathy toward Trump's arguments. Despite this victory, Trump faces ongoing legal challenges, including a criminal case in Manhattan. The appeals court's decision to ease most restrictions imposed by the trial judge signals potential scrutiny of the lower court's ruling.


Judge Keeps April 15th as Start of Trump Hush-Money Trial

The former president had wanted a Manhattan judge to further delay his trial on charges related to a porn star’s affair claim, which the judge denied. Trump and his lawyers contended that the judge was being unfair. However, the recent disclosure of more than 100,000 pages of records from federal prosecutors who previously investigated some of the same conduct prompted the judge overseeing the trial to delay it until the middle of April.


Judge Imposes Gag Order on Trump in Manhattan Criminal Trial

Justice Juan Merchan has imposed a gag order on former President Donald Trump, warning him and his lawyers to refrain from disruptive behavior during the upcoming hush-money trial in Manhattan. Merchan cited Trump's past inflammatory statements and ordered him not to attack witnesses, jurors, or prosecutors involved in the case. The judge also warned Trump's defense attorney, Todd Blanche, against filing frivolous motions and indicated consequences for disobeying court orders. Despite Trump's disruptive behavior in previous court proceedings, Merchan has taken a firm stance to maintain courtroom decorum.


Trump Spreads Apparent Hoax in Attacking Judge’s Daughter

Donald Trump claimed on Truth Social that a photo of him behind bars on Loren Merchan's X account biased his trial. However, a court official stated that the account was not owned by Merchan but had been appropriated by someone else. Trump's assertion came after a gag order was imposed on him by Justice Juan M. Merchan, who is presiding over Trump's criminal trial in Manhattan. This incident underscores the potential impact of social media on legal proceedings and the manipulation of online information.


Taxpayers Were Overcharged for Patient Meds. Then Came the Lawyers.

A coalition of politically connected lawyers facilitated settlements totaling nearly $1 billion with Centene, an insurance company accused of overcharging for prescription drugs. This action, initiated by Ohio and followed by other states, raised ethical and transparency concerns due to the involvement of private lawyers in public litigation, leveraging political connections for legal gain. The use of private lawyers, while effective in recouping funds, sparked debate over potential conflicts of interest, the influence of political contributions, and the overall integrity of using private entities to pursue public justice. The settlements, while financially beneficial to the states, underscore the need for greater transparency and ethical standards in the intersection of private legal practice and public litigation efforts.


How Justice Thomas’s ‘Nearly Adopted Daughter’ Became His Law Clerk

Justice Clarence Thomas selected Crystal Clanton, a former conservative youth organizer, for a prestigious Supreme Court clerkship, despite past controversies over her racist text messages. Clanton had lived with the Thomases and worked for Mrs. Thomas's consulting business. Despite criticism of favoritism, Thomas's decision aligned with his preference for clerks who have overcome adversity.


John Eastman Should Lose Law License, Judge Finds

A judge in California recommended disbarment for lawyer John Eastman, accusing him of persistently lying in his efforts to help former Trump maintain power after the 2020 election. Eastman promoted false claims and a plan to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election results. The decision is part of wider efforts by bar officials to hold lawyers accountable for pushing false claims of election fraud.



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