Week In Review

By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


America's First Concert Since Pandemic Takes Place in Arkansas

Travis McCready's concert was the first since the pandemic caused cancellations across the entertainment industry. Fans had their temperatures taken and wore masks during the show. Tickets were sold in clusters and empty seats were roped off to make sure that there was space between the "fan pods."

TikTok is Placing Restrictions on How Brands Can Use Music in Their Videos

"Verified businesses or organizations" will only be able to access royalty-free music when posting videos on the platform. Some brands will no longer be able to use mainstream music unless they've obtained appropriate license granting them commercial use (similar to what is required on YouTube).

Lori Loughlin Pleads Guilty in College Admissions Case

The actress is expected to receive a two-month prison sentence under an agreement reached with prosecutors. Loughlin and her husband were accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though they did not participate in the sport. Dozens of other wealthy parents were charged for similar conduct, including conspiring to cheat on admissions exams or bribing college colleges to secure admissions.

The Impact of the Virus on the "Experience Economy"

Restrictions on large-scale gatherings are taking a toll on the live events industry and these businesses will be among the last to return. The economic output associated with these events has reached an all-time high, and beyond that, event organizers and people studying the "experience economy" say that restrictions on mass gatherings have also taken a psychological toll on people.

Lockdown Halts Hudson Valley's Film Industry

With productions postponing their start dates for safety reasons, much of upstate New York's film industry faces big unknowns. Buoyed by the state's film tax credits, Hudson Valley's film industry accounted for over $46 million in regional spending last year and provided substantial income for hotels and other supporting businesses.

New York's Upriver Studios Expected to Open for Film Production in Summer

The Saugerties, New York studio will offer about 104,000 square feet of sound stages and other production space. It is based in a former manufacturing facility and final construction will be completed by August, offering producers a new option in an area of the state where non-essential activities are expected to resume perhaps earlier than in New York City.


Second Circuit Says That Unnamed Authors May Sue Based on Group Copyrights

The Second Circuit clarified that a valid group copyright registration must only list the author of the compilation as a whole to register every individual's copyright in the group. In this particular case, a photographer's copyrights were properly registered in a group registration that did not list him as the author of the compilation. His copyright infringement case against Scholastic Inc. is now headed back to Manhattan federal court.

Can Fan Fiction Tropes Be Protected by Copyright?

The U.S. Copyright Office recently released a report detailing how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has failed to keep pace with the "digital ecosystem" as online platforms get overwhelmed with takedown notices from authors alleging copyright infringement, some of whom have "anti-competitive purposes." The latest of these feuds is in the Omegaverse case, a fanfiction genre involving werewolves. Intellectual property experts are skeptical of the notion that Omegaverse or other fanfiction tropes or standard plot points generated by thousands of writers could be copyrighted.

Some U.S. Museums Are Reopening After Lockdown

Houston's Museum of Fine Arts is among the first to reopen, with safety protocols in place. Guests will have to submit to temperature checks and wear masks. Museums have struck regional working groups to strategize about and share reopening plans. Other safety precautions include keeping guests six feet apart, removing benches from the galleries, and keeping spaces under 50% capacity.

Coronavirus Shutdown Takes a Toll on Book Sales

Total U.S. sales were down 8.4% in March, showing that the publishing world was not immune to the economic fallout from the pandemic, despite the availability of online sales. The biggest drop in sales came in educational publishing, likely a result of mass school closures. Bookstore sales fell by about 33% in March and were down 11% in the first quarter, as compared to last year.

Bard College Music Student Sues School Over Instructor's Conduct

An earlier Title IX investigation determined that the instructor had sexually harassed a student. The student is now claiming in a lawsuit that the college should not have allowed the instructor to be on staff, given prior harassment complaints against him about which the school was aware.

Authorities Seek Forfeiture of Gilgamesh Tablet from Hobby Lobby

U.S. authorities seized the cuneiform tablet containing parts of the Epic of Gilgamesh from the Museum of the Bible in Washington in 2019. The museum was founded in part by the president of Hobby Lobby. The international auction house that sold the tablet to Hobby Lobby in 2014 withheld information about its provenance. Once authorities determine the origins of the tablet, it will be returned to its country. Court documents suggest that it was a bought from the family of a Jordanian antiquities dealer in London and then shipped to the U.S.

Globe Theater Asks U.K. Parliament for Aid

In a letter to Parliament, the Globe Theater warned that it was in danger of closing if it did not receive at least 5 million pounds in emergency government funding. Its income had declined by 25% before it closed in March as people were already avoiding public activities. Given the expected need for social distancing even once it opens, the theater said it might experience a "long-term erosion of income-generation channels."

German Audience Comes Out of Lockdown for Schubert

A German theater in Wiesbaden restarted live concerts with a socially distanced audience of 200 in a space capable of holding 1,000. The move could serve as a model (three empty seats separated every occupied one), or as a warning, if any attendees end up getting infected.

Venice Biennale Postpones Events

The Venice Biennale announced that it was postponing two international exhibitions - the architecture biennale will not open until May 2021 and the next biennale of contemporary art has been pushed to April 22, each delayed by a year.


New York Teams Permitted to Open Training Facilities

Effective Sunday, May 24, the state's professional sports team are allowed to open their training camps, following appropriate health protocols. Voluntary, individual training had already been in place.

New York, California, and Texas Governors Express Support for Return of Pro Sports

The governors say that the return of major professional sports can be made possible if leagues tailor their plans to television audiences and games are played without spectators. In California, the governor said that sports could resume in early June under "very prescriptive conditions" and Texas included sporting events in broader plans for reopening, alongside bars, restaurants, and summer school.

National Basketball Association in Talks with Disney About Resuming Season

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is exploring a single-site solution if it resumes play in late July. The conversations are "exploratory." Under this return-to-play scenario, games would be held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on the Disney property near Orlando.

Athletes Weigh Health Risks of Participating in Their Sports

Many athletes, coaches, and employees working in the industry have underlying conditions of their own that make them susceptible to the coronavirus. As sports gradually reopen, that personal risk figures dominantly in their plans to return to training and games. Some leagues, like Major League Baseball (MLB), are putting out policies encouraging teams to identify high-risk players, coaches, and essential staff before play resumes. To protect them, MLB can offer separate space or modify their travel options and work hours. It is possible that some players may choose to sit out the season.

National Football League Team Owners Approve Enhanced Rooney Rule, But No Incentives for Teams Committed to Diversity Hiring

The owners approved a change to the National Football League's (NFL) anti-tampering policy, in that teams will no longer be allowed to block assistant coaches from interviewing for head coaching or coordinator jobs with other teams. Teams must interview at least one minority or woman for club president and senior executive positions. Teams must also interview two external minority candidates to fill head coach vacancies. They are also expected to submit diversity and inclusion plans to the NFL. The owners tabled a more controversial expansion of the Rooney Rule that would have rewarded teams with better draft picks in the third round for hiring minority head coaches that kept their position for more than one season.

Akim Aliu's Account of Racism Pushes Hockey to Reckon With its Culture

The former National Hockey League (NHL) player wrote an article for The Players' Tribune about his experience with racism in hockey. It included an account of how he was subjected to a hazing ritual early in his career and to racist slurs from one of his coaches. The article has ignited strong response from the hockey community on how to deal with a problem as pervasive as racism beyond just the professional level.

Gymnastics Coach Maggie Haney Barred from Sport for Eight Years

Haney was suspended for eight years after findings of emotional and verbal abuse. Now, sensing a movement to hold USA Gymnastics accountable for disciplining coaches for abusive behaviour, another group of athletes is preparing to go public with accusations against Haney and others.

Belmont Stakes Will Open the Triple Crown This Year

The horse race will run close to its usual date but at a shorter distance and without spectators. The Derby and the Preakness Stakes have been moved to the fall. Developing horses have not been racing for months and the shorter distance of a mile and an eighth is meant to account for that.

Kentucky Cheer Team Coaches Fired Following Investigation

The three-month investigation into the University of Kentucky's cheer team led to the firing of the entire coaching staff. The review was prompted by a complaint made by a student's parent and found that students had engaged in hazing rituals, alcohol use, and public nudity on the coaches' watch.

Another Case of Sexual Abuse Allegations in Global Soccer - This Time in Haiti

The president of the Haitian Football Federation is being accused of abusing female athletes at the country's national training center. The alleged misconduct included coercing players into having sex or risk being thrown out of the national soccer program. Some say they have been threatened and told to withdraw their allegations. The case has put FIFA, the sport's governing body, under scrutiny yet again for its commitment to protect athletes. Its ethics committee is now investigating the claims.


CBS Courts Advertisers Virtually

CBS has often put its stars and executives before advertisers using the Carnegie Hall stage. This year, instead of in-person dinners and power breakfasts, the network prepared a series videos with appearances by TV personalities like Stephen Colbert to persuade advertisers to buy commercial time.

Facebook Plans for Permanent Remote Work

As part of the announcement, the company also said that a worker's change of resident from the Bay Area or Seattle to a lower cost of living city would justify a salary reduction. In the long term, similar moves by tech giants might mean that tech employment starts to shift away from expensive hubs like Silicon Valley.

The Atlantic Lays Off 68 Employees, Citing a Decline in Advertising

The publication announced it would lay off 17% of its staff. Similar announcement came from Vice (155 jobs lost), Conde Nast (100), and The Economist (90). The Atlantic is also cutting executive pay and freezing salaries.

Dutch Court Rules That Grandmother Violated Privacy Law for Refusing to Remove Grandchildren's Photos from Social Media

In the Netherlands, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Europe's internet privacy law, requires anyone posting photos of minors to have permission from their legal guardians. In this case, the family dispute turned into a privacy case as the judge decided that the grandmother was prohibited from posting her grandchildren's photos without their mother's permission. The GDPR was intended to govern the data collection practices of large companies, but it also "gives individuals new ways to limit how their personal data is collected, shared and stored online."

German Court Rules That Right to Privacy Extends to Foreign Internet Users

The decision means that intelligence services cannot randomly search the digital data of non-German citizens living abroad. Privacy rights under Germany's Constitution, it said, extend to foreigners living abroad and cover their online data.

Volkswagen Apologizes for Racist Online Ad

The company pulled the 10-second ad depicting a dark-skinned man being pushed off a street by a giant white hand, and then "flicking" the man past a doorway. In a public statement, a member of its board said that the company was "horrified" and "ashamed." German television said the hand could be interpreted as a "white power" gesture.

General News

An Incalculable Loss: America's Coronavirus Death Toll Approaches 100,000

The New York Times compiled information from dozens of publications and obituaries across the U.S. and presents a chilling picture of the virus' toll on the U.S. - 100,000 lives lost.

Were the Supreme Court's Phone Arguments a Success?

The Court has now heard 10 arguments by conference call, with the justices asking questions one at a time in order of seniority. However, one of the foremost legal reporters, Lyle Denniston, has been critical of the Chief Justice's role in trying to keep the proceedings to the allotted time, which diminished cross-bench exchanges, something he says are the start of judicial deliberations.

Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Release of Full Mueller Report

The Court's order gave no reasons for blocking an appeals court ruling ordering the release of the full report. The Court ordered the Justice Department to file a petition seeking review by June 1. This occurred after the House Judiciary Committee had requested grand jury materials that were blacked out from the report provided to Congress. The House said that it needs to see what was redacted, as it may bear on whether the president committed impeachable offenses by obstructing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Supreme Court Allows Surgery for Transgender Inmate

The inmate, a transgender woman in an Idaho prison, had sued after a prison psychiatrist denied her request for surgery. She argued that failure to provide the surgery violated the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Prison officials challenged an earlier court order (for sex reassignment surgery), which considered the views of an advocacy group and found that the "ongoing psychological distress and the high risk of self-castration and suicide [the inmate] faces absent surgery constitute irreparable harm." The Supreme Court let that ruling stand, with no reasons.

Supreme Court Rules That Sudan Must Pay Billions to Terrorism Victims

In a unanimous ruling, the Court reinstated an earlier award of $10.2 in damages against Sudan. It was awarded to victims and family members of bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. A 1996 law allows plaintiffs to seek compensation by nations designated as state sponsors of terrorism; a 2008 amendment to the law allows them to seek punitive damages (which accounted for $4.3 billion of the total damages awarded in this case).

Epidemiologists Baffled by How the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Counts Tests

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been lumping together tests for active coronavirus (diagnostic tests) with tests for recovered patients (serology tests). The CDC said that it would work to separate them going forward. Epidemiologists were critical of the practice, saying the two tests should never be mixed because the diagnostic test seeks to quantify the amount of active cases in the population.

Doctors Focused on Identifying Virus Syndrome Affecting Children

The multi-system inflammatory syndrome is believed to be caused by a reaction to the coronavirus. There are at least 160 cases in New York and hundreds of others globally. It involves severe inflammation of the heart, blood vessels, and the gastrointestinal tract. The condition resembles Kawasaki disease and doctors have been administering similar treatments for it.

President Trump Says That Virus Death Count is Inflated

White House officials suspect the data compiled by state health departments and the CDC includes people who have died not with the coronavirus but of other conditions. They also say there were presumed cases of COVID-19 but individuals were never tested. Most statisticians and public health experts say it is unlikely the death toll is inflated, since many people were died in their homes or in nursing homes without being tested or with what doctors thought were influenza or pneumonia, and that those numbers have not been included in the death toll, which has now surpassed 100,000 people.

Delays in Locking Down Parts of the U.S. Cost At Least 36,000 Lives

Researchers found that even small differences in timing would have prevented exponential growth as the disease was spreading. If the U.S. had imposed social distancing measures a week earlier than it did, Columbia University disease modelers say that 36,000 fewer people would have died.

Coronavirus Outcomes in the U.S. Split Along Racial Lines