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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

TikTok and Universal Music Group Settle Royalty Dispute With New Licensing Agreement

UMG and TikTok have settled their dispute, allowing UMG's music to be put back on the social media. The deal promises better payments for artists and safeguards against AI misuse.


NMPA License Expired With TikTok

The NMPA's TikTok license expired at the end of April, with no renewal talks underway. Negotiations for individual licenses are ongoing, but details are limited.


Prosecutors Say They Plan to Retry Harvey Weinstein as Soon as the Fall

Manhattan prosecutors plan to retry Harvey Weinstein on sex crimes charges after his 2020 conviction was overturned. Weinstein appeared in court, his defense team raised concerns about his health, and the next hearing is set for May 29th. One accuser attended, signaling a commitment to justice. Another accuser expressed her willingness to testify again. Weinstein's defense objected to calling certain witnesses. He awaits trial in California as well.


Dan Schneider Sues ‘Quiet on Set’ Creators, Saying Series Defamed Him

Dan Schneider filed a defamation lawsuit against creators of the documentary series "Quiet on Set," which showed accusations of sexual abuse during his tenure at Nickelodeon. Schneider denies being a child sexual abuser, although he acknowledges some past misconduct. The lawsuit alleges that the series wrongly linked him with convicted offenders and seeks damages. The documentary and Schneider’s exposure has since raised many questions about the danger posed to child actors and the inappropriateness of children TV contents.      


Players Sue Philharmonic, Saying They Were Wrongfully Suspended

Two New York Philharmonic musicians, Matthew Muckey and Liang Wang, sued the orchestra, claiming wrongful suspension after a magazine article brought up misconduct allegations against them. They also sued their union for inadequate representation. The Philharmonic declined to comment and the union never responded. The lawsuit follows a report detailing misconduct accusations from 2010, which led the orchestra to suspend the musicians indefinitely. The players deny wrongdoing, citing a lack of charges. The suits claim breach of employment terms and failure to respond to requests for assistance.


TikTok Star Is Killed in Third Death of Social Media Influencer in Iraq

Ghufran Mahdi Sawadi, also known as Um Fahad on social media, was a prominent TikTok’er in Iraq. Her death marked the third of similar killings this year, reflecting a broader trend of conservative laws and attitudes in the country. These influencer killings raise concerns about safety and impunity, while human rights groups criticize the government's inaction.


Arts

Supreme Court Allows, for Now, Texas Law Restricting Access to Porn

The Supreme Court declined to block a Texas law aimed at restricting minors' access to online pornography, requiring age verification through government-issued IDs. Challengers argued that it violated adults' First Amendment rights, fearing identity theft and privacy breaches. Despite a lower court's block, the Fifth Circuit upheld the law, citing a precedent from 1968. The plaintiffs, including Pornhub, argued against the court's interpretation, emphasizing the law's potential effect on free speech. The case remains pending.


Court Says Italy Is Rightful Owner of Bronze Held by Getty Museum

The European Court of Human Rights upheld Italy's right to reclaim an ancient Greek statue from the J. Paul Getty Museum, dismissing Getty's appeal. The Getty maintains that its possession is lawful and ethical. The statue, known as the "Athlete of Fano," was purchased by the Getty in 1977 for $4 million. Italy claims that it was illegally smuggled out and demands its return. The court's ruling supports Italy's efforts to protect cultural heritage and confiscate unlawfully acquired artifacts.


They Once Awarded Olympic Medals for Art?

The Olympics once honored both body and mind with arts competitions alongside athletics. In 1924, Costas Dimitriadis won gold for his sculpture "Discobole," displayed in Paris and later New York. These contests included painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and literature, aiming to blend academics with athletics. However, after Berlin's 1936 Olympics, where the competitions fell under Nazi control, the arts contests declined. By 1954, they ended altogether.

 

Rare Editions of Pushkin Are Vanishing From Libraries Around Europe

Rare 19th-century Russian books, including first editions of Pushkin's works, have been stolen from libraries across Europe in a coordinated theft operation. Valued at over $2.6 million, the stolen books were replaced with high-quality facsimiles. The motive appears to be financial gain, with a thriving market for such books in Russia. Despite arrests, the masterminds remain unidentified. The thefts have prompted increased security measures and vigilance among libraries and dealers.


Sports

Athletes Tied to Iowa Gambling Sting Seek Damages in Civil Lawsuit Against State and Investigators

A civil lawsuit has been filed by over two dozen Iowa and Iowa State athletes, seeking damages from state agencies for rights violations and reputational harm in gambling fraud. Allegations include use of tracking software and lack of proper training for investigators. The suit aims for compensatory and punitive damages, citing disruption of athletic careers. The investigation, triggered by open betting apps detected in athletic facilities, resulted in lost NCAA eligibility and criminal charges.


College Sports Leaders in Deep Talks to Settle Name, Image, and Likeness Antitrust Case vs. NCAA

College sports leaders are engaged in settlement talks for the "House v. NCAA" antitrust lawsuit, which challenges NCAA restrictions on athletes profiting from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Facing potential damages exceeding $4 billion if they lose in court, the NCAA and its conferences are considering a new revenue-sharing model for athletes. A settlement could involve large payments for past restrictions and establish a framework for future athlete compensation, potentially capped at $20 million per school annually. These discussions are part of broader efforts to reshape NCAA policies and address related legal and legislative issues.


Keebaugh v. Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., No. 22-55982 (9th Cir. 2024)

A class action lawsuit was filed against Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. (WB) over alleged deceptive advertising in the mobile app “Game of Thrones: Conquest”. WB sought to compel arbitration based on the app's Terms of Service, but the district court denied this, reasoning inadequate notice of the terms. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision, ruling that the notice was sufficiently conspicuous. The court also rejected claims of unconscionability regarding the arbitration agreement. The case was sent back to the lower court for further proceedings.


U.S. Rowing Rescinds Ted Nash’s Honors After Abuse Investigation

An investigation by the law firm Shearman & Sterling found credible evidence supporting Jennifer Fox's claims of sexual abuse by Ted Nash, a prominent Olympic coach, when she was 13 and he was her 40-year-old running coach. The report, released by U.S. Rowing, corroborated many of Fox's allegations against Nash, who passed away in 2021. Another accuser, identified as Anna, described a sexual advance by Nash nearly two decades ago. The report highlights concerns about power dynamics in sports and the need for accountability in addressing sexual abuse allegations. 


At Kentucky Derby, Last Year’s Deaths Cast a Long Shadow

The Kentucky Derby, an event steeped in history, is facing severe scrutiny due to a series of horse deaths. In the past year, a troubling number of racehorses, supposedly in prime condition, have suffered fatal injuries. This includes 12 breakdowns around last year's Derby and additional deaths at other major races and tracks, raising critical questions about the sport's safety and ethics. Investigations have revealed issues like reckless breeding, doping, and inadequate veterinary practices. In response, there is a push for reform, including stricter regulations and oversight by the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority (HISA), aiming to address these systemic problems and restore public trust in the sport.


What Happened When the Skating Coaches Wanted a Union

A labor dispute escalated at Sky Rink in Manhattan after two figure skating coaches who became involved with a union were fired. The coaches allege that the terminations were to undermine the union. Chelsea Piers denies the accusations, stating that the firings were routine. The coaches seek collective bargaining rights, claiming they earn modest incomes despite charging high lesson fees. Legal experts suggest that the terminations may violate labor laws.


Computers Stolen From the French Olympics’ Organizer

Two computers and a badge were stolen from a manager overseeing planning for the Lille Olympic site. Access to the computers' files were blocked by Paris 2024 IT. Investigations are ongoing to identify the suspect and determine what was the data on the stolen computers, possibly including security plans for the Olympic village.


Media/Technology

Ex-Amazon Executive Claims That She Was Asked to Ignore Copyright Law in Race to AI

Dr. Viviane Ghaderim, an AI researcher who previously worked for Amazon, has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and wrongful termination after being demoted and dismissed following her pregnancy. She claims that Amazon breached its own copyright rules in AI research and discriminated against her for raising concerns about it. The lawsuit also includes allegations of sexist comments and impossible performance targets leading to her termination.


Judge Grills U.S. and Google on Antitrust Claims

Judge Amit P. Mehta critically analyzed both the U.S. Justice Department's and Google's arguments in a significant antitrust trial. The government claims Google has illegally maintained a monopoly in online search, which Google denies, arguing its dominance is due to being a superior product and noting that other platforms like Amazon and TikTok serve as competition for certain types of searches. Judge Mehta questioned the government's claims about Google's impact on search quality and privacy and challenged the idea that other companies could realistically compete with Google's search engine. His upcoming decision could significantly influence the regulatory landscape for major tech companies.


Daily Newspapers Sue OpenAI and Microsoft Over Artificial Intelligence

Eight newspapers owned by Alden Global Capital have filed a lawsuit against OpenAI and Microsoft, alleging copyright infringement. The complaint accuses the tech companies of using millions of copyrighted articles without permission to train their artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots, including ChatGPT and Microsoft Copilot. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, seeks compensation for the unauthorized use of content, claiming that it reduces the need for readers to pay for subscriptions and deprives publishers of revenue. The legal action adds to the ongoing debate over the use of data to power generative AI, highlighting concerns among publishers about protecting their content and revenue streams.


Truth Social Co-Founder Says Trump Nearly Derailed Deal That Led to Market Windfall

Andy Litinsky, a co-founder of Donald Trump's social media company, testified that Trump nearly derailed the deal that made the company worth over $6 billion. Litinsky revealed Trump's doubts about taking the company public, although he ultimately signed the merger agreement. Trump's stake in the company, now worth billions, is subject to trading restrictions until mid-September. Litinsky's testimony came in an insider trading trial related to the company's merger announcement. Litinsky and another former contestant on Trump's "The Apprentice" are suing Trump Media and Trump, alleging wrongful deprivation of their stake in the company, now valued at over $500 million.


Right-Wing Network Retracts False Story About Key Witness in Trump Trial

One America News (OAN) retracted a false report claiming that Michael D. Cohen, former fixer for Donald J. Trump, had an affair with Stormy Daniels. Cohen hired a defamation lawyer who quickly secured the retraction. The report, posted on March 27th, was based on a Twitter post alleging Cohen's involvement, which Cohen and Daniels denied. The settlement does not involve monetary damages but includes a public apology and removal of the story from OAN's website and social media. This retraction comes amid a wave of defamation suits against right-wing news outlets, including OAN, after the 2020 election, prompting warnings against publishing false claims.


As Use of AI Soars, So Does the Energy and Water It Requires

Legislators and regulators in the U.S. and the EU are demanding accountability for the environmental footprint of generative AI. The surge in AI usage, particularly in large data centers, has raised concerns about its significant energy consumption and water usage. Proposals for sustainable AI seek to address these issues by establishing standards for reporting environmental impacts and promoting energy efficiency. However, the lack of transparency from tech companies about the technology’s environmental effects remains a challenge. Despite potential benefits in reducing carbon emissions and water use, the growing demand for AI services underscores the need for greater awareness and regulation to mitigate its environmental impact.


Even as He Faces Prison Time, Binance’s Founder Plans a Comeback

After pleading guilty to money laundering charges, Changpeng Zhao, former CEO of Binance, has actively networked across the U.S., engaging with key figures in various sectors to lay the groundwork for his future endeavors. Despite a court denying his return to Dubai and his subsequent four-month prison sentence, Zhao has been meeting with entrepreneurs, like Sam Altman, and investing in new fields, like AI and biotechnology. He has also announced a new initiative, Giggle Academy, aimed at creating an online educational platform using AI. Zhao's proactive approach contrasts sharply with other troubled crypto executives, highlighting his ongoing influence and aspirations beyond his legal challenges.


Meta Faces E.U. Investigation Over Election Disinformation

European Union regulators are investigating Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, for its handling of disinformation and deceptive ads ahead of the European Parliament elections in June. The probe aims to ensure that Meta improves its moderation efforts, as concerns about foreign interference, particularly from Russia, loom large. Under the Digital Services Act, regulators have broad authority to enforce compliance, with potential fines of up to 6% of global revenue. Meta has defended its practices but faces pressure to enhance transparency and content moderation. This inquiry reflects a stricter regulatory approach in Europe compared to the U.S. and highlights the growing challenges social media platforms face in combating misinformation during elections.


Record Number of Writers Were Jailed Globally in 2023, PEN America Says

This article discusses the increasing number of incarcerated writers worldwide, highlighting China's milestone of having over 100 for the first time. It also mentions how Israel and Russia are in the list of the top 10 countries with the most imprisoned writers. The report outlines the growing threats against writers and includes statistics on the number of incarcerated writers, gender distribution, and countries with significant numbers of imprisoned writers. Additionally, it addresses the challenges faced by journalists, including the impact on freedom of expression.


General News

Amid Cases on Abortion and Trump, Roberts Reflects on Supreme Court’s Work

Chief Justice John Roberts discussed the significance of oral arguments at the Supreme Court during a talk at Georgetown University. He emphasized that oral arguments are crucial for shaping the Court's deliberations and decisions, revealing the dynamics among the justices themselves. Roberts noted changes in oral argument procedures, including their length, partly due to pandemic adaptations. He also reflected on his own experience with the Supreme Court Institute at Georgetown, recalling a moot court where he received no support from justices, highlighting the rigorous process.


Trump Jurors Hear How Seamy Hush-Money Deals Were Made

Keith Davidson, a lawyer known for handling celebrity scandals, is testifying in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial. Davidson represented Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who were allegedly paid hush money to keep their affairs with Trump secret. Davidson's testimony implicates Trump in orchestrating the payments. The trial has seen tension between Trump and the judge, who fined him twice for violating a gag order. Prosecutors introduced evidence, including text messages and testimony, to support their case against Trump. Michael Cohen, Trump's former fixer, is also a key witness.


The Defense Turns Up the Heat

In Trump's trial, his defense has taken an offensive stance, especially in cross-examining Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels's lawyer. Davidson described deals candidly, including one with Karen McDougal. Trump's team attacked Davidson's credibility, suggesting he bordered on extortion in dealings with celebrities. Meanwhile, Trump's contempt for the gag order was questioned anew, with his lead attorney arguing for his right to speak out against what he called "political attacks."


Hope Hicks Reluctantly Confronts the Man She ‘Totally Understands’ in Court

Hope Hicks, a key figure in Trump's political career, testified in his Manhattan trial, evoking emotion and tension. Despite past differences, she praised Trump during her testimony. Hicks' appearance drew attention after years of staying out of the limelight.


Florida Abortion Ban to Take Effect, Cutting Off Major Access Point

Florida, a key player in abortion access, is set to see a significant shift with the enforcement of a six-week abortion ban. The law, replacing a 15-week ban, will compel most women seeking abortions to travel out of state, primarily to Virginia. This change aligns with the broader trend in the Southeast, where many states have restricted abortion post-Roe v. Wade. The new law permits abortions up to 15 weeks in certain cases, but tightens restrictions on telehealth medication abortions, and imposes penalties for violations. Clinics and funds are bracing for reduced services and increased patient travel expenses. Despite a ballot measure in November to amend the constitution and allow abortions up to 24 weeks, Florida may soon join other Southern states with limited abortion access.


Arizona Lawmakers Repeal 1864 Abortion Ban, Creating Rift on the Right

The Arizona State Legislature, with the support of two Republican senators, repealed a century-old abortion ban, marking a significant shift in the state's abortion policy. Governor Katie Hobbs is expected to sign the repeal bill, which follows a recent state Supreme Court decision allowing enforcement of the ban. The repeal has sparked fierce debate, reflecting broader national tensions over abortion rights.


Law Firm Defending Trump Seeks to Withdraw From a Long-Running Case

The law firm LaRocca Hornik, which has represented Donald Trump's political operations, requested to withdraw from a case involving a former campaign adviser, A.J. Delgado, who alleges pregnancy discrimination. The request came after a court ordered the campaign to turn over complaints of harassment and discrimination. The lead lawyer did not provide details about the dispute. It is unclear if the firm plans to sever all ties with Trump. Delgado's suit claims discrimination after becoming pregnant by her supervisor, Jason Miller, and being sidelined following the 2016 election.


Menendez Lawyers Cite ‘Traumatic’ History to Explain His Cash Stockpile

Senator Robert Menendez's defense team wants a psychiatrist to testify at his corruption trial about the psychological impact of his father's suicide and family history, linking it to his habit of storing large sums of cash at home. Prosecutors object by calling it an attempt to sway the jury. The trial, focusing on bribery charges, begins soon.


Henry Cuellar Indicted Over Bribery Scheme

Representative Henry Cuellar and his wife were charged with participating in a $600,000 bribery scheme involving Azerbaijan and a Mexican bank. The accusations include bribery, money laundering, and acting as agents of a foreign entity while in U.S. government positions. The charges cast doubt on Cuellar's political future and have raised concerns about corruption and foreign influence in American politics. Cuellar maintains his innocence and vows to continue his re-election campaign despite the allegations.


Court Allows Case Challenging Segregation in N.Y.C. Schools to Advance

A lawsuit targeting racial segregation in New York City's public schools has been allowed to proceed, potentially leading to significant changes in admissions at selective schools. The suit argues that Black and Latino students are systematically excluded from gifted and selective programs, denying them educational opportunities. If successful, it could force reforms to admissions policies at hundreds of schools, igniting a debate on racial and economic segregation. Despite opposition, the court's decision signals a shift towards addressing long-standing disparities in the education system.


The Aggressive and Expensive Legal Team Defending Mayor Adams

New York City Mayor Eric Adams is tapping high-powered lawyers, paid by donors and taxpayers, to address several investigations. These include WilmerHale, representing him in a Southern District of New York probe, and Randy Mastro, set to become corporation counsel. Another lawyer, Alex Spiro, is handling a lawsuit alleging sexual assault against Adams. Despite concerns about taxpayer funds, some argue for the mayor's right to legal representation. Adams' legal defense fund, fueled by donors like Michael Bloomberg and Elie Tahari, has raised over $1 million.

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