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Week In Review

By Christine Coleman

Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Entertainment

Universal Submits Scathing Response to Allegations Made Against it in Diddy Lawsuit

Universal Music and its CEO Lucian Grainge responded to the allegations made against them in the Diddy lawsuit. Along with denying all of the allegations, UMG indicated that it will file a Rule 11 motion in against Rodney ‘Lil Rod Jones’ and his lawyer, Tyrone A Blackburn. UMG asserted that Blackburn did not have any evidence to show that the UMG defendants engaged in criminal behavior and he was misusing his legal license to self-promote while recklessly making these allegations.


A Look at Washington State’s ‘Strippers’ Bill of Rights’

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed into law legislation that provides wide-ranging workplace protections for adult dancers, including anti-discrimination provisions and mandatory club employee training. The ‘Strippers’ Bill of Rights’ is a step forward for adult dancers across the U.S. who have long fought for workplace protections in a highly dangerous industry.

 

Ye Praised Hitler and Spoke of ‘Going for the Gays,’ Lawsuit Claims

Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, is being sued by former employee Trevor Phillips, who is  accusing him of discrimination and creating a hostile work environment by calling Hitler “great,” disparaging Jews, and saying that “gay people are not true Christians.” Phillips was hired in November 2022, around the time Ye made a series of antisemitic remarks that lost him his record deal and his partnership with Adidas, as well as other corporate deals. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, claims that Ye made several antisemitic and homophobic comments in front of staff members at Donda Academy, and he treated Black employees at Donda Academy worse than white employees.


Georgia Election Official Responds to Critical ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ Plotline

Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, sent Larry David a letter regarding a story line on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ where Larry is facing criminal charges for violating one of Georgia’s new voting laws. On the show, Larry is charged for trying to offer water to a friend’s aunt who is waiting in line to vote, breaking a provision of a real voting law that bars anyone who is not an election worker from providing food and water to voters waiting in line within 150-feet of a polling place. In the letter, Raffensperger, a proponent of the voting law, imitated David’s sarcasm, apologizing for David not receiving “celebrity treatment” and being the only person arrested for breaking this law.


‘The People’s Joker’ and the Perils of Playing With a Studio’s Copyright

In ‘The People’s Joker’, filmmaker Vera Drew uses the Joker to tell a trans coming-of age story. After Drew received a letter conveying a disapproval from Warner Bros. Discovery and negotiations with the media conglomerate, the film was only screened once at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2022.


Arts

The Gang That Preyed on America’s Small Museums

For almost two decades a gang of thieves broke into 12 small, low-profile museums that lacked elaborate security systems, stealing cherished items, including significant paintings and historical  sports memorabilia. The 9 men involved had avoided arrest for 19 years and are now being charged in Pennsylvania. Five of the men pleaded guilty, while 4 will face trial for multiple offenses, including theft of major artwork. Upsettingly, these men showed little care for the objects they stole; torching paintings and melting jewelry and trophies to sell as raw materials. Authorities have yet to recover any items that have not been destroyed.


Author Who Defected From North Korea Wins Defamation Lawsuit

Jang Jin-sung, the author of the memoir ‘Dear Leader’ who defected from North Korea, won a defamation lawsuit he filed in South Korea against a fellow defector who accused him of rape and the broadcaster that first reported the allegation. The South Korean Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling in favor of the author, finding the allegations against him false and awarding him 47 million won (35,000 USD) in damages to be paid by the defendants.


Sports

Statement On NCAA Revenue Distribution and Gender Inequities

With NCAA Division I Women’s basketball tournament reaching record breaking viewership this year, it is time for the NCAA to fix its blatant gender inequity in revenue distribution. Currently, the NCAA only rewards schools and conferences for tournament wins and participation for men’s basketball teams. The NCAA will award $0 this year for the wins and participation of any women’s basketball team. The Knight Commission is reiterating its call for the Division I board to commit to gender equity in its financial incentives.

 

Trump Venues Bank on Golf, With Help From Saudi Arabia

Former president Trump’s golf resorts are seeing a surge in business, resulting from his deal to host tournaments for the LIV Golf league sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.


Former Spanish Football President Luis Rubiales Arrested on Arrival in Spain

Former Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) President Luis Rubiales was arrested when his flight from the Dominican Republic arrived in Spain by the Guarda Civil. The Guarda Civil is conducting an investigation into his alleged criminal acts related to business corruption, breach of trust, and money laundering. The suspected irregular contracts involved include the relocation of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia and the renovation of the La Cartuja stadium in Seville. Both of Rubiales’ homes in Granada and the Dominican Republic were searched.


Adidas Stops Customization of Germany Jersey for Fear of Nazi Symbolism

Adidas will be redesigning its new line of German soccer jerseys after customers found that the stylization of the number 44 resembled the Nazi SS symbol. The German Football Association (DFB) shared in a statement that the number designs had been submitted to and reviewed by the Union of European Football Associations, who did not see any proximity to Nazi symbolism in the development process of the jersey design. While no player on the men’s or women’s team wears the number 44, the Adidas website allows people to create custom jerseys, where they could choose the number 44. Adidas rejects any suggestion that this interpretation of the design was its intention and notes that it is opposed to antisemitism and other forms of hatred.

 

How Soccer Learned to Embrace Ramadan: From Faked Injuries to Bespoke Diets

Muslim professional soccer players used to face pressure to conceal that they were fasting during Ramadan, using stealthy hacks to break their fasts during gameplay. Now, major teams in Europe involved with wealthy competitions like the Premier League are embracing their Muslim players and finding ways to adapt to their needs. Some changes they are making include league-approved stoppages in play to let players break their fasts on the field during matches, and customized nutrition and practice plans to accommodate their energy levels throughout the day while they are fasting.


Technology/Media

Google to Delete Billions of Chrome Browser Records in Latest Settlement

Recently, Google has been trying to settle a series of lawsuits before it faces major antitrust showdowns with the Justice Department later this year. The company just resolved its fourth case in four months and agreed to delete billions of data records it compiled about millions of Google Chrome users. The suit indicated that Google misled Chrome users by tracking their online activity in the browser’s Incognito mode, which users believed was private. As part of the settlement, Google is rewriting its disclosures to inform users that it collects private browsing data and agreeing to maintain a change that limits how much users can be tracked by sites. Google will also stop using technology that detects when users enable private browsing in order to no longer track their use of Incognito Mode.


Sports Illustrated’s Owner Sues Energy Drink Mogul After Chaos at Magazine

Authentic Brands Group, which owns Sports Illustrated, is accusing Manoj Bhargava, the founder of 5-hour Energy Drink, of failing to pay millions of dollars for the rights to publish the magazine. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and says that Bhargava and Arena Group, the publisher he controls, owe $48.75 million in missed payments, along with damages for infringing on Sports Illustrated’s copyrights and trademarks. This is the latest public skirmish between Authentic Brands Group and Bhargava, whose effort to take control of Arena Group has resulted in a series of lawsuits and turmoil at Sports Illustrated.


Top Musicians Among Hundreds Warning Against Replacing Human Artists With AI

More than 200 musical artists through the Artist Rights Alliance have penned an open letter to AI developers, tech firms, and digital platforms to “cease the use of AI to infringe upon and devalue the rights of human artists.” Unlike previous advocacy efforts from artists regarding AI, this letter specifically addresses tech firms about the concerns of musical artists, including replicating their voices, using their work to train AI models without compensation, and diluting royalty pools that are paid out to artists.


AI is Creating Fake Legal Cases and Making Its Way Into Real Courtrooms, With Disastrous Results

Fake law created by AI is being used in legal disputes. This not only creates issues of legality and ethics, but threatens to undermine people’s faith and trust in the legal system.


OpenAI’s GPT Store Is Triggering Copyright Complaints

Morten Blichfeldt Andersen, the publishing director at the Danish textbook purveyor Praxis, has found bots built on Praxis’ copyright protected textbooks without permission on Open AI’s GPT store. This reflects an ongoing copyright problem that has been occurring in the GPT store, as Open AI is facing several high-profile lawsuits alleging copyright infringement. OpenAI’s terms for the GPT store prohibit using content from third parties without necessary permissions, but there is no way for these parties to check if their material is being used unless they try to find it themselves. Without a clear way for creators to see what data been uploaded to open AI, copyright owners cannot find if their work has been infringed upon without painstakingly searching through each bot until they find one that uses their work.


An A.I. Researcher Takes On Election Deepfakes

Dr. Oren Etzioni was once one of the most optimistic researchers of artificial intelligence. However, in 2019, hebecame one of the first researchers to warn the public that a new breed of AI would accelerate the spread of disinformation and deepfakes during a major election. Since then, he founded the non-profit TrueMedia.org, which released free tools for identifying digital disinformation and is trying to make these tools available to everyone. Dr. Etzioni sees these tools as an improvement, but detecting disinformation is extremely difficult when the technology generating the deepfakes develops at a faster rate than the technology to counteract it.


Did One Guy Just Stop a Huge Cyberattack?

Microsoft engineer Andres Freund was doing routine maintenance when he found a backdoor hidden in a piece of software part of the Linux operating system that could have led to a major cyberattack. Now, Freund is being seen as a hero in the tech and cybersecurity world. He found that someone had planted malicious code in the latest versions of the set of data compression tools known as “xz Utils.” The code would allow its creator to hijack a user’s SSH connection and secretly run their own code on that users machine. If it had gone undetected, it would have given creators a master key to any computer that runs SSH and allow them to steal private information, plant crippling malware, or cause major disruptions to infrastructure.


General News

Judge Won’t Delay Trump’s Criminal Trial to Wait for Immunity Ruling

Judge Juan M. Merchan, who is overseeing Trump’s criminal case in Manhattan, has rejected Trump’s last-ditch effort to delay his trial to after April 15th. The former president wanted to delay his trial to a date after the Supreme Court decides whether or not he is immune from prosecution over official acts he took while he was in Office. The Court is expected to hear the arguments on this issue this month, but might not rule until June. Judge Merchan ruled that this trial did not need to wait for the Supreme Court and Trump’s effort was untimely because he failed to request the delay by a legal deadline. The ruling in this case removes one of the final obstacles to the first prosecution of a former president.


Georgia Judge Rejects Effort to Dismiss Trump Case on Free Speech Grounds

Georgia Judge Scott McAfee, of the Fulton County Superior Court, rejected an effort by Trump and his co-defendants to have the criminal case against them dismissed on the ground that it was based on comments protected by the First Amendment. The defendants were charged with taking part in a conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. The defense lawyers argued that some of the charges were based on statements made in a political context, which they say is constitutionally protected free speech. The judge noted that “free speech – including political speech – is not without restriction.”


An Effort to End ‘Judge-Shopping’ Turns Into a ‘Political Firestorm’

The Judicial Conference policy is meant to prevent “judge shopping,” where plaintiffs choose to file their cases at courthouses with sympathetic judges, and has drawn widespread attention, with both Republicans and Democrats accusing each other of politicizing the judiciary. Conservatives are encouraging judges to reject the policy, while Democrats are pushing to make the policy mandatory. Meanwhile, judges across the country, primarily in conservative states, are deciding on their own whether or not they will adopt the new policy.


Florida Court Allows 6-Week Abortion Ban, but Voters Will Get to Weigh In

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that the State Constitution’s privacy protections do not extend to abortion, allowing Florida to ban the procedure after 6 weeks of pregnancy. However, in a separate decision released at the same time, the court allowed Florida voters to decide this fall whether to expand abortion access. It ruled 4 - 3 that a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the right to abortion “before viability,” around 24 weeks, could go on the November ballot.


From Pizzagate to the 2020 Election: Forcing Liars to Pay or Apologize

Michael J. Gottlieb represented Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, who were falsely accused by Rudy Giuliani of aiding an imagined plot to steal the 2020 election, in their defamation lawsuit against him. Gottlieb has also represented the owner of the pizzeria at the center of the “Pizzagate” conspiracy. He is part of a small but growing cadre of lawyers deploying defamation as a weapon against political disinformation. In navigating a “Post-Truth” world, Gottlieb takes on these defamation cases free of charge because he is tired of bullies that pick on defenseless people and endangering their lives in order to get their political point across.

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