Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Charles v. Seinfeld

The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's application of the limitations period in 17 U.S.C. 507(b) to dismiss plaintiff Christian Charles's claims of copyright infringement and joint ownership of the pilot episode of the television series "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee." Within days of the Second Circuit's affirmation, the Sixth Circuit decided Everly v. Everly, 958 F.3d 442 (6th Cir. 2020), which held, in direct conflict with the Second Circuit, that only a repudiation of copyright authorship could cause accrual of an authorship claim, and that "[a] person's authorship of a work can be legally called into question only if it is challenged by another person who herself claims authorship of the work in question."

SAG-AFTRA and Actors' Equity Association Resolve Jurisdictional Dispute Over Taping of Live Theatre

A unanimous agreement has been reached in respect to the broadcast and streaming of live performances during the pandemic. The agreement preserves SAG-AFTRA's historic jurisdiction while creating an important accommodation that serves performers. Actors' Equity Association (AEA) has jurisdiction over live theatre actors and stage managers, but SAG-AFTRA has long held that the taping of live shows falls within its jurisdiction. SAG offered AEA a waiver to help out its fellow actors during the coronavirus shutdown of live theaters across the country, but AEA rejected it. SAG has agreed that AEA will cover recording and/or streaming productions to a remote audience during the pandemic period with a term concluding December 31, 2021, subject to certain limitations including distribution platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, etc.

Never Ever Letting Go Quietly

For the second time in a year and a half, the recording rights to Taylor Swift's first six albums - LPs that include megahits like "Love Story," "Shake It Off", and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - have traded hands, and in response Swift has dragged private equity investors into the rough-and-tumble public conflict of celebrity social media. Last summer, the music manager Scooter Braun made a deal, estimated at $300 million to $350 million, to buy the Big Machine Label Group, the Nashville label that signed Swift when she was a teenager. That led to a dramatic public clash, when Swift called the deal her "worst-case scenario."

Lil Wayne Charged in a Gun Possession Case

Rapper Lil Wayne was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charge, handed to him on Tuesday in Florida, relates to an incident in December 2019. The 38-year old was found to be carrying a gun and bullets when police searched a private plane in Miami. He is facing 10 years in prison for the offense, if convicted.

Universal and Cinemark to Speed Films to Homes

The third largest cinema chain in the U.S., Cinemark Theatres, and Universal Pictures have reached an agreement to allow early home video releases for the studio's movies, marking the latest crack in the traditional theatrical window during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Texas-based exhibitor and the Comcast-owned studio announced a multi-year deal that would give Universal significantly more flexibility in how it releases its films. The deal follows a similar agreement that Universal previously made with AMC Theatres, the world's biggest movie house circuit, in a move that drew criticism from other exhibitors. Under the deal, all of Universal's theatrical films will stay in theatres exclusively for at least 17 days after their premieres before they become available on video-on-demand services.

Jazz Ripples Through Hard Seasons

Musicians are playing al fresco all over New York City to earn money and boost morale. For many New Yorkers in late spring, hearing musicians performing outside again was a welcome sign of hope and resilience. Throughout the summer and into the fall, jazz in particular, has become a near-constant presence across parks, stoops and sidewalks. Virtually all of the city's 2,400 indoor performance venues have closed since the coronavirus outbreak, at the same time that concert tours have been canceled, putting countless musicians out of work.


Dance Studios Fear a Loss of Possibilities

Across New York City, dance studio owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on. Studios have found themselves in precarious positions, frustrated by a lack of clear reopening guidance from the city and state. It's an uphill battle, but they are pressing forward: raising money, joining forces to strategize and, in some cases, forging ahead with reopening as safely as they can. Dance studios are integral to the city's performing arts ecosystem: their survival has implications beyond the walls of any one business.

A Jacob's Pillow Theater Is Destroyed by Fire

A theater at Jacob's Pillow, a destination for dance performance in Becket, Massachusetts, was destroyed by fire. The theatre was lost, but the fire was contained to the one building at the performing arts campus. The cause is not yet known.

Museums on Financial Edge from Pandemic Fallout

An industry group says that the financial state of the country's museums "is moving from bad to worse." At institutions across the country, exhibition halls remain dark, atriums are empty, and frontline employees are furloughed. A survey by the American Alliance of Museums makes clear that nearly one in three museums in the U.S. remains closed because of the pandemic, and most of those have never reopened since the initial shutdown in March. Of the 850 museum directors who responded to the survey, just over half said that their institutions had six months or less of their financial operating reserve remaining. 82% said that they had 12 months or less.

Virus Surge Shutters Smithsonian Again

As coronavirus cases increase across the country, the Smithsonian will once again temporarily close eight of its Washington area institutions. "[T]he Institution's top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff," the Smithsonian said in a statement.

A Second Epstein Inquiry at Victoria's Secret

It has been more than a year since L Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, said it was hiring a law firm to investigate its billionaire founder Leslie H. Wexner's close ties to the convicted sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. There is now a new law firm on the case. A second inquiry has begun at the company after a shareholder lawsuit filed in May suggested that previous firm, David Polk, was too close to L Brands to be truly independent.

Egypt Unearths Over 100 New Coffins and Mummies Dating Back 2,500 Years

In the largest discovery there this year, more than 100 painted wooden coffins, many with bodies, were found in the necropolis of Saqqara. There have been several recent finds at the site. The sealed, wooden coffins, some containing mummies, dates as far back as 2,500 years and are "in perfect condition of preservation." The fine quality of the coffins meant that they were probably the final resting places for the wealthiest citizens.


Ex-Harvard Fencing Coach Accused of Taking $1.5 Million in Bribes

A former Harvard fencing coach was arrested and charged with bribery last week for allegedly accepting $1.5 million from a businessman in exchange for recruiting the latter's two sons to the fencing team. The U.S. Attorney's Office said that Peter Brand and the father, Jie "Jack" Zhao, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, which is punishable for up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

FIFA Proposes Mandatory Maternity Leave For Women Players

FIFA is introducing new regulations to protect the rights of women players, including mandatory maternity leave. The proposed rules include a mandatory maternity leave of 14 weeks, at a minimum of two thirds of the player's contracted salary, and a guarantee that "no female player should suffer a disadvantage as a result of becoming a pregnant." The reforms have been put forward by FIFA's Football Stakeholders Committee and will go to FIFA's Council next month for approval.

As Major League Soccer Playoffs Open, Black Players Press for Progress

What began as solemn group gestures have in some locations transitioned into simply one other field to tick on the listing of pregame rituals. For a more and more activist cohort of Black athletes, what comes subsequent is paramount. Behind the scenes, players have been pushing to transform their protest into tangible, lasting change. The playoffs now provide an even bigger stage and a brand new alternative.

A Walk-On Opted Out. Then Came a $24,000 Bill.

According to a New York Times story, Cal offensive lineman Henry Bazakas, who arrived at Cal as a walk-on but was granted a one-year scholarship for last season, opted out of the 2020 season this past June, starting a contentious episode regarding scholarship payments. Cal claims the confusion about scholarship payments resulted from its reliance on a campus class calendar that stated summer classes started in July, which would have been after the decision was made not to give Bazakas a scholarship for 2020-21. However, Bazakas had begun classes in May, which means that he should still have been on scholarship through the summer. When Cal realized the error, the scholarship money was provided.

Lawyers Step Back and Athletes Step Up to Fight Russia's Ban

Russia's attempt to overturn its four-year ban from international sports this month turned to a familiar courtroom weapon: Emotion. At a private hearing held over four days, Russian sports officals set aside their denials and their phalanx of laywers pushed back from their papers, allowing six Russian athletes to take a starring role. The athletes spoke not of what Russia had done in pursuit of victory, but about what they stood to lose, and they all had the same message: Please do not punish us for something in which we had no part. The emotional pleas to the panel of three arbitrators at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, appeared to be an effort to humanize the consequences of a worldwide ban on Russian sports that the World Anti-Doping Agency imposed last year.

FIFA Lifts Suspension of Trinidad and Tobago football Association After Legal Action Halted

FIFA has lifted its suspension of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), giving the national governing body full membership rights and allowing its teams to return to international competition. It comes after the TTFA last month voted to stop court action being taken against FIFA and recognize a normalization committee appointed by football's world governing body in March to run the TTFA's affairs.

Emboldened Head of African Soccer Faces a New Ethics Inquiry

FIFA ethics investigators have asked the top soccer official in Africa to explain why he agreed to revise a television contract in a way that appeared to benefit a commercial partner over his own organization -- the latest ethical concern for a governing body that was subject to direct FIFA oversight as recently as February. The new investigation is just the latest problem for Ahmad Ahmad, who was briefly detained last year by French authorities investigating allegations of embezzlement and who faces a separate FIFA ethics probe involving complaints of sexual harassment by several female employees and consultants. It also comes at a pivotal time for African soccer, which has lurched from crisis to crisis under his leadership: Ahmad is seeking a new four-year term early next year, and sanctions related to any of the open cases could disqualify him from running.

Bill Expands U.S. Power to Charge Cheats. International Groups Hate It.

The Rodchenkov Act, awaiting President Trump's signature, would allow American law enforcement authorties to go after the people who facilitate doping. The World Anti-Doping Agency says that it will cause confusion.


On YouTube, Fox News Loses Conservative Viewers Flocking to the Fringe

Disinformation about election fraud is thriving on YouTube, and right-wing outlets that most aggressively push false information are gaining new, conservative viewers on the video service, according to new research. Data from an independent research project called Transparency Tube found that fringe, right-wing news channels aggressively pushing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud are gaining a larger share of views among conservative YouTube channels than before the election. Fox News, which has been more reserved in promoting unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election, has seen its share among a conservative audience decline on YouTube even though it is one of YouTube's promoted, authoritative sources.

A Popular Political Site Made a Sharp Right Turn. What Steered It?

Real Clear Politics pitches itself as a "trusted, go-to source" for unbiased polling. It is well known as a clearinghouse of elections data and analysis with a large following among the political and media establishment, regularly cited by national publications and cable news networks. Less well known, however, is how Real Clear Politics and its affiliated websites have taken a rightward, aggressively pro-Trump turn over the last four years, as donations to its affiliated nonprofit have soared. Large quantities of those funds came through two entities that wealthy conservatives use to give money without revealing their identities. Its evolution traces a similar path as other right-leaning political news outlets that have adapted to the upheaval of the Trump era by aligning themselves with the president and his large following, its writers taking on his battles and raging against the left.

Why Did Facebook Mute Philanthropic Businesses?

Small enterprises that support homeless people, orphans, and refugees are seeing their ads pulled as part of the social media platform's ban on political advertising. Their ads fell into a category of "social issues, elections or politics" that were being blocked by the site. The social media giant announced last week that it was extending a ban imposed on certain ads during the election to prevent the dissemination of false information. The prohibition has ensnared a number of socially driven businesses with no direct connection to partisan politics. Companies connected to issues like hunger, the environment, and immigration, many of which rely heavily on social media to draw customers to their websites, have seen their access abruptly cut off.

Ringer Writer Says They Were Second String

The head coach of the Golden State Warriors. C.C. Sabathia and Rachel Lindsay, were among the roughly 25 outside contributors to host or co-host new podcasts this year at The Ringer, the digital media company founded and run by the former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. The influx of star podcasters being brought on as contractors looms over a dispute between the union and managers at the Spotify-owned digital media company. It has raised concerns among many full-time employees, who say it may close off their opportunities for advancement and weaken the company union.

Apple Halves Some App Store Fees

Apples has announced that it will cut the amount of commission it charges app developers as part of a new Small Business Program. Developers earning less than $1 million a year will now pay 15% on all transactions, half the current rate of 30%.

General News

Plea to Americans: Stay Home on Thanksgiving

With coronavirus surging out of control, the nation's top public health agency pleaded with Americans last week not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people outside their households. It was some of the firmest guidance yet from the government on curtailing traditional gatherings to fight the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited more than 1 million new cases in the U.S. over the past week as the reason for the new guidance.

Tension Rise As Trump Denies Election Result

The president's refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor's transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information, and access to the government. This continues as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system. Some former top advisers to Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise.

Election Security Experts Push Back Against Trump's Voter Fraud Claims

Trump fired Chris Krebs, a top U.S. election official who pushed back against the President's claims of voter fraud. Krebs, the head of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said last week he expected to be fired. A committee within CISA, which worked on protecting U.S. voting systems in 2020 election, released a statement calling the November 3rd elections "the most secure in American history" and contradicting any claims of widespread voter fraud.

Parties Hunting for a Message After a Split-Decision Election

Voters delivered a convincing victory for Joe Biden, but a split decision for the two parties. Now Democrats and Republicans face perhaps the most up-for-grabs electoral landscape in a generation. America's two major parties had hoped the presidential election would render a decisive judgment on the country's political trajectory. Yet after a race that broke record voter turnout and campaign spending, neither Democrats nor Republicans have achieved a dominant upper hand. The election has narrowed the Democratic majority in the House and perhaps preserved the Republican majority in the Senate.

The Trump Campaign Has Filed 16 Lawsuits Contesting the Election

The Trump campaign has sued to contest vote counts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia in the days after the presidential election. Trump and Republicans have filed lawsuits in five battleground states to contest the race Trump lost to Democratic challenger and former VP Joe Biden. Judges have dismissed some of the suits but others remain, and more are possible in the coming days, including challenges to the legality of ballots or requests for recounts. Voters in a few states independently filed their own lawsuits in support of Trump. Some of those suits have been dropped.

Graham Goes All In on Reversing Election

With unsubstantiated claims of vote-counting errors and calls to officials in several states, the South Carolina senator seems bent on reversing Joe Biden's clear victory over President Trump. In 2016, Senator Graham praised the integrity of the nation's elections system, criticizing claims by Trump that the vote was "rigged". Graham has transformed during that time to become of Trump's most loyal allies, he now seems determined to reverse the election's outcome on the president's behalf.

Biden Takes a "Whole-Government Approach" to Fight Climate Change

President-elect Joe Biden, eager to elevate climate changes issues throughout his administration, is already drafting orders to reduce planet-warming pollution and seeking nominees who will embed climate policy not only in environmental agencies, but also in departments from Defense to Treasury to Transportation. Top candidates for senior cabinet posts, such as Michéle Flournoy for defense secretary and Lael Brainard for Treasury, have long supported aggressive policies to curb climate change. Biden's inner circle routinely asks, "is the person climate-ambitious?" of candidates even for lower profile positions, like the White House budget and regulatory offices, according to a person advising the transition.

Climate Change is Making Winter Ice More Dangerous, Study Says

A new study has found that cold-weather drownings are increasing sharply in warmer parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Trump Administration Plans to Sell Artic Oil Leases Despite Legal Hurdles

If lease sales happen in the final days of the Trump administration, they may face disputes in court or could be reversed by the Biden administration. Under new leadership, several federal agencies could reject the leases, which even if purchased at an auction a few days before Inauguration Day would be subject to review, a process that usually takes several months. Biden vowed during the campaign to oppose oil and gas development in the refuge, a vast expanse of virtually untouched land in northeast Alaska that is home to polar bears, caribou, and other wildlife.

Hand Recount Reaffirms Biden Won Georgia, Defeating Trump by 12,284 Votes

A hand tally of the presidential race in Georgia is complete, and the results affirm Biden's lead. Biden went into the recount with a margin of 13,558 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count reduced the margin to 12,284 votes. The hand recount of nearly five million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law, not from any suspected problems with the state's results or an official recount request.

Census Bureau Can't Meet Trump's Deadline for Count

In a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to strip unauthorized immigrants from the census totals used for reapportionment, Census Bureau officials concluded that they could not produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after Trump leaves office in January.

'Public Health' Expulsions of Children Halted

A federal judge ruled last week that a public health emergency decree did not give the Trump administration authority to expel unaccompanied children before they could request asylum. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, said that while the emergency rule allows the authorities to prevent the "introduction" of foreigners into the U.S., it did not give border authorities the ability to turn away children who would normally be placed in shelters and provided an opportunity to have a claim for refuge heard. The order applies across the country.