Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Katy Perry Back in Court For "Dark Horse" Dispute

A rapper who claims that Katy Perry copied his song to create her hit "Dark Horse" is headed to the Ninth Circuit, appealing a high-profile ruling last month that tossed out the jury's decision in the copyright infringement case. The plaintiffs claim that the song infringed their Christian rap song. The Court found that the plaintiffs couldn't satisfy the extrinsic test for assessing whether the works are substantially similar, and that the songs only shared common musical elements that cannot be protected. The decision relied on the Ninth Circuit's recent Led Zeppelin decision.

The case is: Gray, et. al. vs. Perry, et. al., case: 2:15-cv-05642, available at

Hollywood's Backstage Workers Try to Soldier On

As with much of life around the world, film and television production has ground to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic -- leaving stars, stylists, directors, studio chiefs, grips, writers, set builders, trailer cutters, agents, and scores of other specialized Hollywood workers at home and confronting the same question almost everyone has: Now what? Across the industry, shooting is not expected to resume until August, in part because of the time it will take to reassemble casts and crews once the coronavirus threat subsides. That leaves a vast number of people without work. Hollywood supports 2.5 million jobs, according to the Motion Picture Association of America; many workers are freelancers, getting paid project to project. "I keep telling myself, 'Panicking is not going to help,'" said Muffett Brinkman, an associate casting director who has been unemployed for more than a month. "Hopefully things restart before I'm completely financially ruined." She is a member of Teamsters Local 399, where the hourly minimum for her job category is $18.45.

Virus Freezes Festivals + Fashion

Festivals like Coachella have been postponed, leaving scores of online fashion retailers with a mass of unsold inventory and unpaid suppliers. Scores of other festivals have also fallen off the calendar, leaving musicians without stages to play on, millions of attendees set to stay home -- and fashion brands with mountains of unsold denim hot pants, fringed skirts, and sequin cropped tops. "For some brands, festivals aren't just a season like summer or fall, but the season of the year to build relationships with a certain kind of shopper, who buy fun new extra additions for their wardrobe that they wouldn't normally be tempted by," said Lucie Greene, a trend forecaster and the founder of the Light Years consultancy. "They define an entire aesthetic of collections and products for some labels." Given that some events, like Coachella, have been tentatively rescheduled for fall, it is possible that the lockdown measures will be only a short-term blip in the festival fashion business. Yet after months of social distancing, will festivalgoers want to rush back to crowded venues?

Ticketmaster's Policy Under Fire as Customers Demand Refunds

Live Nation Entertainment, the global concert giant that owns Ticketmaster, announced a program on Friday to offer refunds and coupons for canceled and postponed shows, after weeks of criticism online and growing pressure from lawmakers. According to Live Nation's plan, which starts May 1, people can obtain refunds for canceled or rescheduled shows. Like another plan instituted this week by AEG Presents, Live Nation's biggest corporate rival, refunds for postponed shows will be available for 30 days once new dates have been set. For events that already have new dates, the customers' 30-day refund window will start May 1. Live Nation has also offered incentives for its customers to hold on to their tickets -- and therefore let the company to hold on to revenue. For canceled shows, Live Nation is offering its customers credits worth 150% of their tickets' value to use on future events. Customers who decide to go to shows when they are rescheduled will also receive credits, but for lesser amounts that may vary for each event. Live Nation's program applies only to events in the United States.


Mashable Wins Motion to Dismiss Photographer's Infringement Claim

Photographer Stephanie Sinclair alleged copyright infringement against the website Mashable over use of "embedded" Instagram posts. The court granted Mashable's motion to dismiss, finding that the photographer gave Instagram broad power to relicense works she had posted. This decision was based on Instagram's terms of service.

The case is Sinclair v. Ziff Davis, LLC (S.D.N.Y.) Case 1:18-cv-00790-KMW

Broadway Fundraiser is On Again

A Broadway fund-raiser to benefit entertainment workers whose livelihoods have been imperiled by the coronavirus was rescheduled after a labor union retreated from a demand that musicians be paid for the streaming of the previously recorded event. "We believe all musicians should be fairly compensated for their work all of the time, but we also believe that we must do everything possible to support entertainment workers hurt by the coronavirus pandemic," Ray Hair, international president of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, said in a statement Monday. "We fully support the union musicians who have graciously offered to forgo all required payments to allow this charity event to move forward." The event's purpose is to raise money for the theater nonprofit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. It will feature a streamed benefit concert, recorded in November, in which 79 singers and dancers, and 15 musicians, performed songs from Disney musicals. The actor Ryan McCartan will host from home, weaving in live interviews.

Brooklyn Academy of Music Executives Take Steep Pay Cuts

The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) announced that it has canceled its programming and events through June because of the coronavirus pandemic. To help offset the lost ticket revenue, which BAM estimates will total $7.4 million, the organization's president and executives have agreed to pay reductions of up to 40%. BAM has been largely shut down since March 13, when Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced a ban on gatherings of more than 500 people. Discussions are ongoing about what the revenue shortfall caused by almost 4 months of cancellations will ultimately mean for Bam's employees.

Comic Creators Unite to Benefit Stores

A large group of comic book creators are banding together to help support comic book retailers whose business have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Using the Twitter hashtag #Creators4Comics, more than 120 creators will be auctioning comic books, artwork, and one-of-a-kind experiences. The auctions will benefit the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, which is accepting applications from comic book shops and bookstores for emergency relief.

Louis Vuitton Reopens U.S. Plants to Make Masks

Louis Vuitton company officials announced that their manufacturing workshops in the United States -- specifically in Texas, New Jersey, and California -- will start making protective masks. Artisans at the workshops will work to create cotton, nonsurgical masks that can be washed, reused, and adjusted, according to the company.


National Football League Relaxes Marijuana Restrictions

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, players who test positive for marijuana will no longer be suspended. Testing will be limited to the first 2 weeks of training camp instead of from April to August, and the threshold for the amount of 9-delta tetrahydrocannabinol -- or THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana -- needed to trigger a positive test will be raised fourfold. In adopting the changes, the league, which is not known for its liberal views, caught up to and in some ways leapfrogged Major League Baseball (MLB), the National Basketball Associatiom, and other leagues that had already eased their rules as acceptance of marijuana became more common in many parts of the country.

Doping Tests Go Virtual

Since no one knows when it will be safe to start testing athletes in person again, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) started an experiment 2 weeks ago, to see if sample collections could be done virtually. Instead of overseeing the process in person, the doping control officers are doing their jobs by phone and video conferencing. The agency did not have to search hard for volunteer subjects, including athletes who are favored to medal at the Olympics next year in Tokyo. Katie Ledecky, one of the world's most dominant swimmers, signed on, as did the runners Noah Lyles, Allyson Felix, Emma Coburn, and Aliphine Tuliamuk. About a dozen others are participating, said Travis Tygart, the chief executive of USADA. Though the main short-term benefit would be minimizing doubts about whether athletes are adhering to the rules in the absence of traditional sample collectors, the long-term goal of the virtual program is more ease and less intrusiveness in drug testing.

U.S. Tennis Association Plans a $15 Million Bailout for Various Tennis Groups

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) will cut its top executives' salaries by 20% for the remainder of 2020 as part of an effort to provide emergency assistance totaling about $15 million to American tennis facilities, teaching professionals, and grassroots tennis organizations. The relief program comes with professional and most recreational tennis shut down in the country and with this year's United States Open in doubt. The Open, one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, is the primary source of funding for the USTA, which oversees tennis in the United States. The tournament generates revenue approaching $400 million each year and, for now, is still scheduled for Aug. 31-Sept. 13 in New York. Unlike Wimbledon, the oldest of the Grand Slam tournaments, which was canceled for the first time since 1945, the U.S. Open does not have pandemic insurance to cover some of its losses.

Conferences Petition NCAA, Seeking to Cut Sports

The commissioners of 5 college athletic conferences have asked the NCAA to relax some of its requirements because of financial problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In a joint letter to the president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert, the commissioners of the American Athletic, Mountain West, Mid-American, and Sun Belt conferences and Conference USA asked for temporary relief for up to 4 years, calling this the "direst financial crisis for higher education since at least the Great Depression." Among their requests was for the NCAA to ease the requirement that they sponsor a minimum of 16 sports to be in the Football Bowl Subdivision. They also asked to waive the football attendance requirement, which requires colleges to average at least 15,000 people at all home football games, and to change scheduling requirements.

MLB Employees Become the Subjects of a Huge Coronavirus Study

MLB employees, from players to stadium workers to executives, are participating in a 10,000-person study aimed at understanding how many people in various parts of the United States have been infected with the coronavirus. Each participant will have a finger pricked to produce blood that will be tested for the presence of antibodies, which indicates a past infection even in people who have never displayed symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. The test for the virus itself can reveal only a current infection.

One of the biggest hurdles in determining when to reopen parts of the United States is the uncertainty about the number of people who have been infected over all and who, as a result, may now have some sort of immunity.

Here's What Has To Happen First Before Sports Comes Back

During a news conference, President Trump made a personal plea that probably resonated with at least some sports fans around the country. "We have to get our sports back," Trump said. "I'm tired of watching baseball games that are 14 years old." Trump said he was assembling a panel of experts -- including the commissioners of every major league in the country -- to figure out a way for games to return to stadiums around the country. Both Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government's leading expert on infectious diseases, expressed support for the idea of staging games without spectators in the stands. In the big picture, it comes down to priorities. Medical experts focused solely on eliminating the spread of the virus would say that sports should not played at this time at all. However, not everyone thinks that way. For some, restoring a bit of normalcy to American economic and social life outweighs some of the dangers of the virus. Experts agree that even if sports leagues return in some diminished capacity in the near term, there will not be a true return to "normal" -- like, say, the sight of 50,000 people packed into Yankee Stadium -- until there is a vaccine available to everyone in the country. That could take until 2021, or beyond, to happen.

Some Fans Aren't Surprised by Racial Abuse Allegations Against National Hockey League

New York Rangers prospect K'Andre Miller was repeatedly harassed in a videoconference organized by the Rangers. Abusive comments popped up on fans' screens during his online video chat with them this month. Some fans say the incident, as well as the team's handling of it, is indicative of a larger problem. The language on the chat was the first public act of racism connected to the National Hockey League (NHL) since its December announcement of a "zero tolerance" policy for abusive behavior and of required diversity and inclusion training for all coaches and general managers. Yet the NHL's handling of the chat incident has come under fire from fans who say that the league and the Rangers should have been better prepared, given longstanding problems with racist language in hockey arenas, which is often directed at players and diverse groups of fans.

XFL Files for Bankruptcy

Alpha Entertainment, the company that owns the XFL, filed for bankruptcy 3 days after the league suspended operations and laid off its staff. "The XFL quickly captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people who love football," the league said in a statement. "Unfortunately, as a new enterprise, we were not insulated from the harsh economic impacts and uncertainties caused by the Covid-19 crisis." The XFL returned in February, 19 years after its first and only other season. The revived version, originally slated for 10 games, lasted only 5 weeks before the season was shut down last month because of the pandemic. The XFL had also scheduled a 4-team postseason, with a championship game in Houston for late April, that were also canceled. At the time of the shutdown last month, league leaders vowed that it would return in 2021. Now that seems unlikely.

Saudi Cup Puts Hold on Prize Money

The organizers of the inaugural Saudi Cup, the world's richest horse race, are withholding the $20 million in prize money while they investigate whether the winner, Maximum Security, was aided by performance-enhancing drugs. Last month, the trainer of the colt, Jason Servis, was among more than two dozen trainers, veterinarians, and drug distributors accused, by federal prosecutors in the United States in a series of indictments, of secretly doping horses and cheating the betting public. Servis has pleaded not guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit drug adulteration and misbranding.

Swiss Authorities Drop FIFA Prosecution

Days after the U.S. Department of Justice unveiled more details in a case that has shined a light on decades-long corruption at the heart of soccer, the Swiss authorities have confirmed that they plan to drop one of 2 cases against Sepp Blatter, a former president of FIFA, the global governing body of soccer. Blatter had been suspected of improper business conduct and, possibly, embezzlement, according to the Swiss authorities, and he and FIFA were being scrutinized for the awarding of World Cup broadcast rights in the Caribbean in 2005. The setback was another blow to the credibility of the Swiss prosecution of officials in the world's most popular sport. The inquiry in Switzerland began in September 2015, 4 months after a Justice Department indictment outlined corruption schemes that implicated some of soccer's most senior leaders, businessmen, and companies at the time. While the United States has since successfully prosecuted many of them, the Swiss have failed in its attempts to match its American counterparts in the pursuit of convictions and indictments. Switzerland's attorney general's office confirmed that the case had been dropped 6 days after the latest U.S. charges were made public on April 6.


Condé Nast is The Latest Media Casualty of COVID-19

Roger J. Lynch, the chief executive of the company behind Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, sent a memo to 6,000 employees around the world to inform them of an austerity plan that includes pay cuts, furloughs, and possible layoffs. "It's very likely our advertising clients, consumers and therefore our company will be operating under significant financial pressure for some time," Lynch said in the note. "As a result, we'll need to go beyond the initial cost-savings measures we put in place to protect our business for the long term." The salaries of those earning $100,000 or more -- just under half the company -- will be reduced by 10 to 20% for 5 months, starting in May. The pay of executives in the senior management team, including Anna Wintour, the artistic director and Condé Nast's best-known figurehead, will be cut 20%. In addition, Lynch said that he would forgo half of his salary, and that board members who were not employees of Advance Publications (the holding company that owns Condé Nast), like Domenico De Sole, former chief executive of Gucci Group, would take a 50% reduction in their compensation.

Furloughs and Pay Cuts Hit the The Los Angeles Times

The parent company of The Los Angeles Times is furloughing 40 employees and cutting the pay of senior managers in an effort to make up for losses brought on by a pandemic-related decline in advertising revenue. "Due to the unexpected effects of Covid-19, our advertising revenue has nearly been eliminated," said a memo to the staff from Chris Argentieri, the president of California Times, the publishing company that includes The LA Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune. The furloughed employees do not work in the newsroom. They could be out for as long as 16 weeks, and it is possible that they will be laid off at the end of the furlough period. As part of the austerity plan, pay for senior editorial and business managers at The LA Times and The Union-Tribune will be reduced by as much as 15% for 3 months, and 401(k) matches will be suspended. The cuts do not apply to union employees who belong to the NewsGuild. Argentieri said that company leaders would meet with union representatives to address "cost-saving initiatives."

Facebook to Notify Users Who Have Engaged with Harmful COVID-19 Posts

Facebook Inc. has announced that it would start notifying users who had engaged with false posts about COVID-19, which could cause physical harm, such as drinking bleach to cure the virus, and connect them to accurate information. The social media giant, which also owns photo-sharing network Instagram and messaging app WhatsApp, said it has been battling to control large volumes of misinformation, such as posts that say physical distancing will not curb the disease. Facebook has taken an uncharacteristically aggressive stance on false coronavirus posts, with Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg saying hoaxes about the virus pose more of a threat to users than political falsehoods, which it generally permits.

Influencers Think Twice About Posts

As the coronavirus pandemic moved across the United States, the stock market plunged and many of the country's businesses closed, a major platform for social media influencers had a rosier message: "Good news in consumer shopping trends!" With online business now crucial for many brands whose futures are threatened by store closings, the sell itself has become a delicate dance. Some companies have barred any mention of the coronavirus or Covid-19 in influencer posts, even if the ads are about staying at home or taking care of family. Some agencies have recommended that influencers working at home should portray products in everyday clothing and that images should feel "bright and cheerful."

Trump Wanted a Radio Show, but He Didn't Want to Compete with Limbaugh

In March, Trump strode into the Situation Room for a meeting with the coronavirus task force. He didn't stop by the group's daily meetings often, but had an idea he was eager to share: He wanted to start a White House talk radio show. At the time, the virus was rapidly spreading across the country, and Trump would soon announce a ban on European travel. A talk radio show, Trump excitedly explained, would allow him to quell Americans' fears and answer their questions about the pandemic directly, according to 3 White House officials who heard the pitch. There would be no screening, he said, just an open line for people to call and engage one-on-one with the president. However, almost as suddenly as he proposed it, he outlined one reason why he would not be moving forward with it: He did not want to compete with Rush Limbaugh. No one in the room was sure how to respond, 2 of the officials said. Someone suggested hosting the show in the mornings or on weekends, to steer clear of the conservative radio host's schedule. Yet Trump said that he envisioned his show as 2 hours a day, every day, and were it not for Limbaugh, and the risk of encroaching on his territory, Trump reiterated, he would do it.

Apple Rolls Out Cheaper iPhone in Midst of Pandemic Spending Curbs

Apple is releasing a new iPhone that will be vastly cheaper than the models it rolled out last fall when the economy was booming and the pandemic had yet to force people to rethink their spending. The second-generation iPhone SE introduced Wednesday will sell for as little as $399, a 40% markdown from the most affordable iPhone 11 unveiled last year. Higher-end versions of the iPhone 11 sell for more than $1,000. Online orders for the iPhone SE will begin Friday, with the first deliveries expected April 24.

Fake Theories Make Bill Gates a Target

In a 2015 speech, Bill Gates warned that the greatest risk to humanity was not nuclear war, but an infectious virus that could threaten the lives of millions of people. That speech has resurfaced in recent weeks with 25 million new views on YouTube -- but not in the way that Gates likely intended. Anti-vaccinators, members of the conspiracy group QAnon, and right-wing pundits have instead seized on the video as evidence that one of the world's richest men planned to use a pandemic to wrest control of the global health system. Gates, the Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist, has now become the star of an explosion of conspiracy theories about the coronavirus outbreak. In posts on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, he is being falsely portrayed as the creator of Covid-19, as a profiteer from a virus vaccine, and as part of a dastardly plot to use the illness to cull or surveil the global population.

Trump Retweets #FireFauci

Trump publicly signaled his frustration with Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government's top infectious disease expert, after the doctor said that more lives could have been saved from the coronavirus if the country had been shut down earlier. Trump reposted a Twitter message that said "Time to #FireFauci" as he rejected criticism of his slow initial response to the pandemic that has now killed more than 22,000 people in the United States. Trump has been privately irritated with Dr. Fauci, but the Twitter post was the most explicit he has been in letting that show publicly.

U.S. Accuses North Korea of Cyberattacks

The United States has accused North Korea of employing an array of old and new forms of cyberattacks to steal and launder money, extort companies, and use digital currencies to gain cash for its nuclear weapons program. The report -- issued jointly by the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security, the Treasury Department, and the F.B.I. -- says the purpose of the accelerated program is for North Korea "to generate revenue for its weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs." Yet the decision to publicly focus on North Korea's actions is quiet acknowledgment that Trump's 2-year diplomatic effort, backed by continued economic sanctions, has failed to slow the North's nuclear production or prevent it from using new avenues of attack.


Coronavirus Class Divide

With the pandemic exposing and compounding inequality in matters large and small, access to private, controllable space has emerged as a new class divide -- more valuable than ever to those who have it and potentially fatal to those who do not. "The pandemic is a reminder that privacy is at a premium among the poor -- hard to find and extremely valuable," said Stefanie DeLuca, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University. "Living in crowded conditions not only increases the risk of infection but can also impose serious emotional and mental health costs. The ability to retreat into one's own space is a way to cope with conflict, tension and anxiety."

Census Announces Delays in 2020 Count

Conceding that its effort to count the nation's population has been hamstrung by the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau said that it would extend the deadlines for collecting census data and ask Congress for a delay in providing final counts used for Congressional redistricting.

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments by Phone

For the first time, the Supreme Court announced that it will hear arguments by telephone over 6 days in May. It will also open live remote access to audio of the arguments. "In keeping with public health guidance in response to Covid-19," a news release from the Court said, "the justices and counsel will all participate remotely. The Court anticipates providing a live audio feed of these arguments to news media. Details will be shared as they become available." Although the release referred only to access by the news media, a Court spokeswoman said that the audio feed would also be available to the public.

States Ask Supreme Court to Reconsider Wealth Test

Three states, New York, Connecticut, and Vermont, asked the Supreme Court to revisit a January ruling that allowed the Trump administration to move forward with plans to deny green cards to immigrants who make even occasional and minor use of public benefits like Medicaid. The states, along with New York City itself, asked the justices to temporarily suspend the program in light of the coronavirus pandemic. "Every person who doesn't get the health coverage they need today risks infecting another person with the coronavirus tomorrow," said Letitia James, New York's attorney general. "Immigrants provide us with health care, care for our elderly, prepare and deliver our food, clean our hospita