Week In Review

By Ariana Sarfarazi Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Second Circuit Decision in Shull v. Sorkin

The Second Circuit has affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss copyright claims that had alleged that the show "Billions" infringed Plaintiff's book and character. The Plaintiff, well-known performance coach and psychological expert on human decision-making, Denise K. Shull, brought suit against Showtime, the network's corporate parent CBS, "Billions" creators Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Showtime executive David Neviens, alleging copyright infringement and claiming that the show is an unauthorized derivative work based on key elements of her 2012 book, Market Mind Games. Shull further alleged that the show's portrayal of the character Dr. Wendy Rhoades is substantially similar in manner as Shull portrays the fictional characterization of herself in her book. The Second Circuit found that the district court properly concluded that "Billions" and Market Mind Games are not substantially similar because the plot of the book is wholly dissimilar to that of "Billions", the total concept and feel of Market Mind Games are quite different from "Billions", and that other aspects of the character, namely the gender and occupation, are generalized and non-protectible. The Second Circuit further found that any copying between the two works is de minimis, and that any stock similarities between Dr. Rhoades and the fictional version of Shull cannot support a plausible infringement claim.

Shull v Sorkin.pdf

Weinstein Sent to California to Face Sex Crime Charges

Authorities transported Harvey Weinstein, disgraced movie producer, from prison in Erie County, New York to Los Angeles where he will stand trial again for several counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, and other sex crimes, in incidents involving five different women that took place between 2004 and 2013. Weinstein was previously sentenced to 23 years in prison in New York after more than 90 women have accused him of misconduct or assault. If convicted again in Los Angeles, he would serve the sentence in California after completing his prison term in New York.

California Sues Activision, Citing 'Frat Boy' Work Culture

The State of California has sued Activision Blizzard, a video game maker that produces the game "Call of Duty", over claims of sexual harassment and discrimination. After a two-year investigation, the State claims that Activision has fostered a "frat boy work culture" where executives sexually harass women, male employees openly joke about rape, and where male employees openly drink alcohol while engaging in inappropriate behavior toward women. The lawsuit alleges that, in addition to being subject to sexual harassment and needing to continually fend off unwanted sexual advances by male co-workers, women at the company were also routinely paid less than men for similar work and were less likely to be promoted.

Hollywood Studios Can Require Vaccines for Everyone on Set

Hollywood's major unions have agreed to a short-term plan that allows studios to require everyone a production set to be vaccinated. The agreement will be in effect through the end of September and will allow studios to relax pandemic protocols on production sets, even as the Delta variant climbs and Los Angeles increases safety measures, such as by decreasing the rate of regular coronavirus testing and loosening mask mandates in outdoor settings.

Testing Britney Spears: Restoring Rights Can Be Rare

After 13 years, Britney Spears has asked to be released from her California conservatorship without undergoing a psychological evaluation, which experts say is unlikely to be granted, because mental health assessments generally serve as the key piece of evidence that a judge considers in deciding whether to restore independence. As the evaluation process to determine whether an individual subject to the conservatorship has "restored to capacity" is often convoluted and sometimes subjective, exits from conservatorships are extremely rare. Key evaluation criteria, such as what constitutes "capacity", who performs the psychological assessment, who chooses the evaluator, impacts of a mental health diagnosis, whether a judge must accept the evaluator's findings, the legal standard a judge applies to reach a decision, and whether a less restrictive approach than a conservatorship will be considered all vary across states.

Judge Orders Leader of Cultlike Group to Pay $3.4 Million to His Victims

A federal judge has ordered Keith Raniere, the leader of the cultlike group Nxivm, to pay $3.4 million in compensation to 21 victims. This restitution includes payments to remove brandings of Raniere's initials that were seared into some women's skin and intended to serve as permanent pledges of loyalty to Nxivm and a secret sect within it called the Vow, or D.O.S. Raniere was convicted in 2019 of sex trafficking and racketeering after ordering D.O.S. members known as "slaves" to perform sexual acts on other members of the cult, and was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

One of China's Big Stars Faces #MeToo Trouble and Brands are Fleeing

At least 11 companies, including the luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and Porsche, have suspended or terminated contracts with Chinese-Canadian singer Kris Wu after an 18-year-old has accused him of targeting and pressuring her for sex. Wu, who rose to fame as a member of the K-pop band EXO and who has a huge following on social media, is accused of targeting young women by inviting them to his house to assist with their career aspirations, then pressuring them to drink cocktails until unconscious and having sex with him. Wu has denied all allegations and has threatened to sue the accuser, a University student in Beijing, for defamation.


Initiatives for Disabled Artists Is Expanded

The Ford and Mellon Foundations are expanding the Disability Futures Initiative, a fellowship established last fall to support disabled artists, and the foundations will now commit an additional $5 million to support the initiative through 2025, which will support two additional cohorts of 20 fellows. The fellowship is an 18-month initiative that will provide 20 disabled artists, filmmakers, and journalists selected from the across the United States with $50,000 grants.

Rules for Audiences Can Spin Heads

In New York City, different venues have taken different approaches to balancing lingering coronavirus concerns with business plans for reopening, leading to a confusing and frustrating summer for consumers where vaccination and mask requirements all vary by venue. Although the State of New York does not mandate that a venue check a person's vaccination status, both large and intimate venues, such as Madison Square Garden, Radio City, Little Island, and Feinstein's/54 Below have taken this approach. Other venues, such as The Public Theater, have arranged for both full capacity/vaccinated and socially distanced sections. For other venues where proof of vaccination is not required, unvaccinated patrons must show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test and must wear masks. Rules are subject to change as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Klan Bust at Tennessee Capitol Removed

The bust of a Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader, Confederate general, and early Ku Klux Klan leader, and two U.S. Navy admirals were moved from the Tennessee Capitol and installed at the Tennessee State Museum. The move comes after the Tennessee State Building Commission voted in favor of relocating the busts after years of protests, and the removal of the two admirals was intended to avoid singling out the Confederate general.

The Complex Reality of Virtual Art

British artist Damien Hirst's use of NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, which rely on blockchain technology to designate an official copy of a piece of digital media that would otherwise be cheap or free, raises questions about the risks and rewards of investing in digital art forms. For Damien's works, after a certain period of time, collectors of the NFTs will be required to decide whether to keep the NFT or the physical painting and whichever they don't choose will be destroyed. This new practice raises the question of whether it is better to keep the NFT or the physical artwork and which will be a more valuable investment. Investors of NFTs therefore need to understand the substantial risks of investing in the new art form.

Asians in Music: Heard, but Not Seen?

Despite the fact that artists of Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and other Asian descent are well represented in classical music (with Asian musicians making up the majority of many orchestras and conservatories in the world), and despite the world-wide success of many Asian star musicians, such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Midori, and pianist Lang Lang, many Asian musicians face routine racism and discrimination in the industry. Stereotypes of Asian musicians as foreign, soulless, and mechanical are deep-rooted in classical music, many musicians are targets of harassment and racial tropes and slurs, and several describe losing career opportunities because they are not "white enough". While some Asian musicians say that they have rarely experienced overt racism, they nevertheless express feeling like an outsider in their own industry and have begun speaking out for change by speaking with leaders of cultural institutions, forming their own alliances of Asian artists, and taking to social media to challenge continued stereotypes.

Actors' Equity Expands Eligibility for Membership in Diversity and Inclusion Effort

Actors' Equity Association, the labor union for actors and stage managers, is expanding its membership to include any actor or stage manager who can demonstrate they have worked professionally in the United States. Under this new "Open Access" policy, union membership will no longer be limited to working for an Equity employer or to members of a sibling union. By expanding membership, this new policy is considered by the Union to be a pillar of its diversity and inclusion efforts. According to Equity, because the entertainment industry is disproportionately white, previously requirements for Equity membership contributed to the systemic inclusion exclusion of BIPOC artists by maintaining a system whereby mostly-white theatrical employers were effectively the gatekeepers of Equity membership.

U.S. Moves to Return Relic Said to Be Stolen From Cambodia

U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan are planning to return to Cambodia a 10th-century Khmer sacred sandstone statue known as "Skanda on a Peacock", said to have been plundered and sold by a collector who was accused of trafficking in stolen artifacts. The statute was taken in 1997 from an ancient Khmer temple and later sold to collector Douglas A.J. Latchford, who in 2019 was indicted on charges that included smuggling and conspiracy related to a scheme to sell looted Cambodian antiquities. Latchford has since died and his daughter has turned over her father's holdings of Khmer antiquities, valued by some at more than $50 million, to Cambodia. An unnamed person who inherited the statue has also voluntarily relinquished any claim to it.

Hitting Some Sour Notes with Brexit

With the U.K.'s exit from the European Union last year, touring Europe is now extremely complicated for U.K. bands and musicians, who now not only have to apply for visas, but must now also learn complicated new rules around trucking and exporting merchandise. For example, new rules mean that a British tour van carrying audio and lighting equipment or merchandise can only make three stops in Mainland Europe before it must return home. The new rules, which stem from a trade deal between the European Union and the British Government, are frustrating U.K. musicians and a new campaign know as Let the Music Move has been launched for the British government to compensate artists for the new extra costs and to renegotiate the tour rules.

Webber Delays 'Cinderella' Musical

Andrew Lloyd Webber has delayed the opening for his much-anticipated "Cinderella" musical, which was slated to open in London's West End this month, after a cast member tested positive for the coronavirus. Webber has been actively campaigning against Britain's coronavirus restrictions, such as only permitting theaters to seat audiences at 50% capacity, and requiring shows to cancel performances if one member of the cast came into contact with someone who tested positive. Webber subsequently announced that the production will not resume performances on August 18th.

Hong Kong Police Arrest Five Over Children's Books

Hong Kong police have arrested five members of a speech therapists' union for publishing a children's book, which police claim instills the hatred of the government in children. The book tells the story of fluffy white sheep who were constantly harassed by wolves, who tore down their houses, ate their food, and even spread poison gas, which led 12 sheep trying to defend their village to flee by boat before being captured and sent to prison. Hong Kong authorities say the sheep represent 12 activists who were arrested at sea while trying to escape to Taiwan and the wolves are the Hong Kong police. The move comes as Hong Kong authorities continue to crack down on political speech and stamp out dissent expressed during 2019 mass protests.


Michigan Football Players Are First to Monetize from Jersey Sales

Football players for the University of Michigan are now able to profit for their names, images, and likenesses when jerseys bearing their names are sold by The M Den, an officially licensed University of Michigan retailer with a big collection of merchandise. Michigan football players are the first in the nation to monetize off jersey sales pursuant to a direct agreement between The M Den and the players themselves (not the University of Michigan).

Federal Judge Dismisses Relevant Sports' Antitrust Claim vs. U.S. Soccer

A federal judge in Miami has dismissed an antitrust claim by Relevant Sports, a soccer match promoter, against the U.S. Soccer Federation for failing to sanction a proposed Spanish league match between Barcelona and Girona in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Court ordered Relevant to submit the dispute to the FIFA players' status committee for arbitration to resolve the matter, add FIFA to the lawsuit, or show that the court has jurisdiction over FIFA when the soccer's governing body is not a party to the suit.

National Football League Puts Stiff Penalties in Place for Unvaccinated, Jolting Teams

Although the National Football League (NFL) has stopped short of requiring that its players and other team personnel receive Covid-19 vaccinations, a new memo from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell details drastic penalties for team with unvaccinated personnel, stating that outbreaks traced to an unvaccinated player or staff member could warrant a game forfeiture for their team if a game cannot be rescheduled, which could result in players' not being paid. Additionally, if an unvaccinated player or staff member is shown to have caused an outbreak that forces a schedule change, the team experiencing the outbreak will be held financially responsible for the other team's expenses. If an outbreak occurs among vaccinated individuals in a "breakthrough" infection, the NFL will minimize and competitive and fiscal disruption for both teams. While the memo does not mandate vaccination, the NFL,for all intents and purposes, is requiring vaccinations for teams or risk significant penalty, and notable NFL players have publicly expressed their opposition to vaccination mandates. Additionally, unvaccinated players still face several restrictions, including daily testing, capacity limitations in weight rooms, and a requirement to travel on a separate plane.

Former Seton Hall Hoops Star Myles Powell Sues School, Says Staff Misled Him About Injury

Myles Powell, a former Seton Hall men's basketball star, is suing the university, claiming that his coach and the team's medical expert allowed him to play on a serious injury, a torn meniscus in his right knee, therefore worsening his condition and dashing his hopes of a National Basketball Association (NBA) career. Powell claims that he was told his injury is minor, but argues that such an injury should have kept him out for the remainder of the season to avoid exacerbating the injury.

New Law Allows Sports Uniform Modifications for Religious and Cultural Reasons

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill into law that allows high school-level student athletes to make their athletic uniforms more modest for religious and cultural reasons. The new law allows student athletes to consult with their school boards rather than having to file a complaint with the Illinois High School Association, which governs sports in the state.

Suffering After Delay of Olympics, Dentsu Faces Another Test

Dentsu, an advertising giant in Japan and the Games' exclusive advertising partner, stood to be Japan's biggest winner of the Games but expectations have fallen short as numerous advertising campaigns and promotional events have been cancelled or pared down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of Dentsu's clients, including top-sponsor Toyota, have pulled ads in Japan for fear of backlash against them as 80% of the Japanese public opposes holding the Olympics amid a state of emergency in Tokyo.

Norwegian Handball Players Reject Bikini Bottoms, and Are Fined for It

Norway's women's beach handball team was fined by the European Handball Federation, with each player fined 150 euros, for wearing shorts rather than the mandatory bikini bottoms. The Norwegian Handball Federation, which has repeatedly complained about the bikini bottom requirement since 2006, will pay the fines. The International Handball Federation requires women to wear bikini bottoms, while men can wear shorts. Norway's team had been planning for weeks to wear shorts citing an unfair double standard, and according to the International Handball Foundation, the Norwegian team is the only team that has complained about the uniforms.

Olympians Take a Knee Against Racism, Under New Policy Allowing Protests

Players on the British women's soccer team took a knee on the first day of competition at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in protest against discrimination and racism, and their opponents from Chile joined them. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) previously eased its rules on "athlete expression", and under the new guidelines, athletes in Tokyo can take a knew or perform similar gestures as long as their actions do not target specific people or countries and are not disruptive.

Brisbane Wins Right to Host 2032 Olympic Games

Bristbane, Australia has been chosen to host the Olympic Games in 2032. Brisbane previously bid to host the 1992 Olympics, but lost to Barcelona. Australia has previously hosted the Olympics twice before - in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000 --- and will become the first country after the United States to have hosted the Games in three different cities. Hosting the games in Brisbane is expected to cost $5 billion.

Tokyo Games Boasts Gender Participation for First Time

The IOC has added 18 new events to the Tokyo Games in a push towards gender equality for the first time in the history of the Games. There are now an equal number of men and women for every sport, excluding baseball and softball, because of differing roster sizes.

Games Strive for Gender Equity, But Equality Still Seems Far Off

As the Olympic Games nears gender parity for the first time ever in its history, a series of gaffes by IOC officials and persistent gaps in the makeup of the IOC reveal that the Games are not yet so gender equal. While almost 49% of the nearly 11,000 athletes competing in Tokyo are women, only 33.3% of the IOC's executive board and only 37.5% of the IOC's committee members are women. Additionally, IOC executives have wrestled with gender-related blunders, such as when the IOC vice president essentially ordered the premier of Queensland, Australia to attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games after she said she would not attend; the president of the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee was replaced after he publicly suggested that women speak too much in meetings; and the creative director for the opening ceremony stepped down after he called a plus-size fashion designer a "pig". Further, Olympic athletes who are new mothers have also complained about Covid-related restrictions in Tokyo that have prohibited them from bringing their young nursing babies to the Games, but the IOC reversed its decision in June, thereby allowing mothers to bring their infants.

Tokyo Olympics Open at Last, with Somber Air and No Fans

The Opening Ceremony of the 32nd Summer Olympics took place with no fans and virtually no cheering audience, with fewer than 1,000 dignitaries and invited guests attending in a stadium built to seat 68,000. The Ceremony marked the official start of the Olympics, with more than 11,000 athletes from 205 countries expected to participate in 33 sports over the next two weeks in Tokyo, an event that is widely opposed by the Japanese public.

Top Director of Ceremony Fired for Skit on Holocaust

The day before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, organizers of the Games dismissed the creative director of the ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, after video footage emerged of him making fun of the Holocaust in a comedic act in the 1990s where he joked about "massacring Jews". Kobayashi, who has since apologized for the routine, is the fourth major creative to be dismissed or forced to resign from the Games because of offensive remarks. Keigo Oyamada, a composer who wrote music for the opening ceremony, resigned this week after footage of him confessing to severe bullying and abuse of disabled classmates from the 1990s surfaced on social media. In March, Hiroshi Sasaki, the previous creative director of the opening ceremony, stepped down from his role after a magazine revealed that he called a popular comedian and plus-size fashion designer a "pig". Additionally, Yoshiro Mori, the former president of the Tokyo organizing committee, resigned earlier this year after making sexist comments about women.

A Trump-Like Quandary Over Racism and Sports Roils Johnson in Britain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under fire for failing to condemn crowds who booed England's national soccer team for kneeling to protest racial injustice during the European Championship. Political experts say there are alarming parallels between Britain and the United States, including both countries seeing the rise of a conservative populist leader refusing to defend the free speech rights of national sports teams (with former President Donald Trump speaking out against NFL players taking a knee in the United States).


Justice Department Outlines New Limits on Seizures of Reporters' Records

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has issued a broad ban on federal prosecutors using subpoenas, warrants, or court orders to seize reporters' records from their employers or from communications firms in an effort to uncover their confidential sources in leak investigations. By issuing this new practice, "the Department of Justice will no longer use compulsory legal process for the purpose of obtaining information from or records of members of the news media acting within the scope of news-gathering activities." However, certain exceptions apply, such as if a reporter is under investigation for an unrelated crime; if a reporter is suspected of committing a crime like "breaking and entering" to gather information; if the department is seeking to authenticate already published information -- a situation that arises sometimes in television news broadcasts of footage that can be evidence of a crime; or if reporters themselves have been deemed to be agents of foreign power or members of foreign terrorist groups.

U.S. and Key Allies Accuse China in String of Global Cyberattacks

The Biden Administration has accused the Chinese government of breaching Microsoft email systems used around the world, in the process detailing the relationship between Chinese intelligence and criminal hacking groups that operate from Chinese territory, and has organized a broad coalition of nations, including the European Union and all NATO members, to condemn the cyberattacks. However, the U.S.-led coalition has stopped short of taking concrete steps to punish China. The U.S. has criminally charged individual Chinese hackers for the attacks but has not yet issued sanctions or taken diplomatic action against China because of China's ability to retaliate.

How China Turned Into Cyber Threat To America

China, which has long been one of the biggest digital threats to the United States, was once condemned by the United States for online espionage, the bulk of which was conducted by the People's Liberation Army using low-level phishing emails against American companies to steal intellectual property. China has since, however, transformed into a mature digital adversary, with attacks now carried out by an elite satellite network of contractors at front companies and universities that work at the direction of China's Ministry of State Security. Now, in addition to phishing attacks, the espionage attacks employ sophisticated techniques like exploiting security holes in Microsoft's Exchange email servers and VPN security devices, which are harder to defend against, and that allow Chinese hackers to remain undetected for longer periods of time.

U.S. Details China's Role in Hacking of Pipelines

The United States claims that China has issued numerous state-sponsored cyberattacks that have breached dozens of oil and gas pipeline companies in the past decade and is warning pipeline owners to increase the security of their systems to protect against future attacks on U.S. pipeline infrastructure. This warning comes as the federal government tries to revitalize the pipeline industry after a Russian-based ransomware group attacked the business operations and forced the shutdown of a pipeline network that provides nearly half of the oil and gas supply to the East Coast thereby causing long gas lines and shortages.