Week In Review - Week Ending 3/29/20

By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below,for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News, including coronavirus information:


Jury Hands Win to Publishers in Class Rock Archive Intellectual Property Suit

Several music publishers sued Wolfgang's Vault (Bill Graham Archives LLC) for copyright infringement. A jury has now found the Vault liable for damages for its streaming of archival concert footage without having obtained necessary licenses covering the reproduction and distribution of the musical works. It awarded ABKCO Music Inc. and other publishers &189,500.

Recent Decisions in Copyright Cases Alleviate Concerns for Songwriters and Producers

Recent cases involving Led Zeppelin and Katy Perry address important aspects of how copyright applies to music and suggest that the "'Blurred Lines' curse has been lifted." Lawyers are primarily focusing on the Ninth Circuit decision that heard the appeal in the Led Zeppelin case. The en banc decision explained that in works that involve generic or commonplace elements, only a minimal, or "thin," level of copyright applies. In those cases, the plaintiff must show that a work is "virtually identical" to the defendant's.

Talent Agent Accused of Emotional Abuse and Breach of Contract

Brooklyn-based talent agent Brhonson Lexier St. Surin has been sued by several models who describe abusive behaviour, including offering them screen tests that involved sex on camera, in exchange for professional development and opportunities.

Video-Sharing Subscription Service Helps Performers in Need

Launched this week, The Trickle Up is a subscription-based service that offers performance videos by participating artists. All proceeds benefit New York artists who are impacted by the coronavirus shutdown. More than 50 artists have signed on. Each performer can designate an artist in need as a beneficiary.

Partying During a Pandemic

Parties are moving to online streams, as popular D.J.s host sets on Instagram Live and other social media platforms to curb the spread of coronavirus.


Supreme Court Issues 9-0 Decision in Copyright Infringement Case

In the third decision issued this week (Allen v Cooper), the court held that states are immune from claims of copyright infringement. In an opinion by Justice Kagan, the court held that Congress lacked authority to abrogate the states' sovereign immunity from copyright infringement suits in the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act of 1990. As such, North Carolina could not be sued by a videographer for copyright infringement of images/video related to a shipwreck off the North Carolina coast.

Children's Publishers See Spike in Sales Following School Closures

As schools across America closed, parents turned to homeschooling, and sales of reading and writing workbooks have skyrocketed, as have sales of juvenile nonfiction (by nearly 40%). Physical book sales across all categories predictably fell by 10% during the week ending March 14.

New York Philharmonic Cancels Season Due to Coronavirus

The orchestra anticipates losing $10 million, with its endowment already at 14%. It says its musicians will have health benefits through September, but pay will be reduced in stages.

Theaters Across the Country Cancelling Performances, with Huge Impact on Workers

Theaters across the U.S. are cancelling their spring productions, with some moving their spring and summer shows to next season. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, for instance, will not offer performances until after Labor Day and will lay off 80% of its 500-person workforce.

Losing the Arts in a Pandemic

The article poses important questions about how to maintain connectivity (and sanity) during this time, when much of what we rely on for the purpose of social cohesion has been suspended.

University of Michigan Fires Voice Professor David Daniels

The school announced its decision a year after Daniels and his husband were charged with sexually assaulting another singer. It was the first time that the university's Board of Regents voted to dismiss a tenured professor. It did so without severance pay.

Tony-Winning Playwright Terrence McNally Dies at 81

With some three dozen plays to his credit, McNally is best known for theater work that "dramatized and domesticated gay life". He died of coronavirus complications in Florida.

Swiss Museum Settles Claim Over Art Acquired During Nazi Regime

Basel's Kunstmuseum agreed to pay the heirs of a Jewish museum director for 200 works that he sold before fleeing persecution. The museum maintains the position that it acquired the works in good faith at a 1933 Berlin auction, and so there is no basis for restitution.

Royal Ballet Parts Ways with British Choreographer Liam Scarlett

Scarlett left his position as the Royal Ballet's artist-in-residence after an investigation into accusations of sexual misconduct with dance students. He was suspended when the company first learned of the allegations. The inquiry did ultimately find there were "no matters to pursue" against him.


International Olympic Committee Postpones Tokyo Games Until July 2021

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan agreed to postpone the Summer Olympics in Tokyo to 2021. There was great resistance to the move in the weeks (and days) before the announcement, which became all but inevitable after Canada's Olympic committee withdrew from the Games, and other countries took public positions urging the IOC to postpone. As the IOC deliberated on the future of the 2020 Games, a survey by the Athletics Association found broad support for a delay among track and field athletes. Organizers are considering July 23, 2021 as the new opening date.

Advertisers and TV Outlets Scramble After Tokyo Olympics Postponed

The article discusses the logistical and financial challenges that result from postponing the Games, including losses to NBCUniversal, which has the rights to broadcast the Olympics in the U.S. It is clear that advertisers will not be able to take that money and spend it on anything else that affords them the same kind of reach, brand, and sales impact that the Olympics would deliver to them.

USA Gymnastics' Settlement Hearing Postponed Due to Coronavirus

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Southern District Indiana Judge Robyn Moberly issued an indefinite continuance for the hearing scheduled for next week. The hearing was on the disclosure statement that USA Gymnastics filed with the court last month. The disclosure statement outlined the organization's proposed $217 million settlement with survivors of sexual abuse. The judge gave the NGB until June 2, 2020 to file its Chapter 11 reorganization plan.

Ravens Quarterback Lamar Jackson Files Lawsuit Against

Jackson claims that the online retail giant is unfairly profiting from apparel based on his public image and catch phrases. He claims that Amazon is damaging his own apparel company, which sells similar products online, and is seeking compensation and damages.

National Football League Draft Will Proceed as Planned on April 23-25

Commissioner Goodell announced in a leaguewide memo that the National Football League (NFL) draft will go on as scheduled. He told teams to prepare to conduct the draft outside team facilities, which were ordered closed. Draft prospects will remain off-site. The event will be closed to the public.

New Pension Deal for Former NFL Players

Former NFL players are questioning the logic of some trade-offs in the new 10-year collective bargaining agreement. Under the deal, former players will get bumps in their pensions. However, another provision stipulates that about 400 former players will see their disability payments decline by the value of their Social Security disability benefits. The Executive Director of the players' association said the union agreed to the cuts because the pension benefits would help more players.

Baseball Closed on Opening Day

The baseball season has been postponed indefinitely and along with it have gone all opening day traditions across America's ballparks. Meanwhile, the National Baseball League (NBL) and the players' union laid out a framework to navigate labor issues in a suspended season. Ratified by players on Friday, the agreement preserves service time if the season is cancelled. In addition, management will advance $170 million in salary payments over what would have been the first 60 days of the regular season.

U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee Unsuccessful in Obtaining Relief from Congress

The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) unsuccessfully lobbied Congress for $200 million in funding (as part of the federal relief package) to be paid to athletes and national governing bodies (NGBs). Its estimated losses during the pandemic could be between $600-$800 million; the anticipated cancellation of at least 8,029 events by June would cost Olympic sport NGBs $150 million in lost revenue, and Team USA athletes $25 million.

USA Cycling First National Governing Body to Announce Layoffs, Furloughs Due to Coronavirus

USA Cycling has laid off or furloughed more than 30% of its workforce. The CEO said that the furloughs were set to last between two and six months, depending on the duration of the pandemic. Workers will maintain health insurance coverage for 90 days.

FIFA Considering New Regulations for Player Contracts and Transactions Between Clubs

Soccer's governing body wants to issue central guidance to clubs to mitigate the effects of the stoppage that resulted from the coronavirus pandemic. Its main focus is on player contracts and transfer windows. Its most direct initiative at this time is "a suggestion that it could dip into its own cash reserves to help pay salaries for players."

IOC Held Boxing Qualifier in the EU Despite Virus Warning

Seven people have now tested positive following the European qualifying tournament, including three Turkish boxers and a coach. Competitors questioned the IOC's decision to go ahead with the tournament, despite other major sporting even cancellations and evidence that the virus was already spreading in Britain, the host country. The Olympic Games had not yet been postponed when the event took place.


U.S. Officials Consider Expelling Chinese Media Outlets

Trump administration officials are considering taking action against suspected spies at Chinese media organizations, after China said that it would expel almost all American journalists from three major American newspapers operating in mainland China. American counterintelligence officials are scrutinizing the work of Chinese journalists and suspect that state-run outlets are providing cover for intelligence operatives. Meanwhile, the three newspapers released a statement asking China to reverse its decision and criticizing the government for its crackdown on independent news organizations.

Epidemic Revives Facebook as a News Powerhouse

According to an internal report obtained by The New York Times, more than half of news articles that Americans were reading on Facebook were related to the coronavirus. More significantly, last week, U.S. traffic from Facebook to other websites increased by more than 50%. This skyrocketing traffic and a surge in new users is now stressing Facebook's systems, while it is trying to keep users' data secure, moderating content, and having 45,000 employees working from home.

Local News Outlets Hit Hard by Coronavirus

Layoffs and cancelled print editions of weekly or daily newspapers has shaken the already weakened publications that relied on ad revenue to support their staffs. Larger publications have also made adjustments by way of furloughing a percentage of their work forces, primarily journalists covering sports and social events.

Robert Murdoch's Prudent Private Conduct at Odds with Fox News' Coronavirus Reports

While Fox News coverage of the pandemic was downplaying its risks, Murdoch, the chairman of Fox News, cancelled a planned birthday celebration out of concern for his health. People with knowledge of the company say Murdoch's successor, his son, played little role in the recent coverage of the public health crisis.

Fox Business Host Who Called the Pandemic an Attempt to Impeach the President, Leaves News Network

Trish Regan's departure comes after her prime-time program was abruptly pulled from the schedule this month. Two weeks ago, Regan dismissed concerns about the coronavirus and called it a scam fueled by the president's enemies.

Turkey Ends Inquiry into Jamal Khashoggi's Killing

Turkey announced indictments against 20 suspects in the killing of dissident journalist. However, human rights advocates doubt anyone will ever be held accountable, given that none of the suspects are in Turkey and the country does not normally try defendants in absentia.

General News

Congress Passes $2.2 Trillion Aid Package

The U.S. Congress passed a record $2.2 trillion stimulus package, which the president signed into law on March 27, 2020. It is the most significant piece of federal disaster and economic relief ever passed in the U.S. Under the plan, individual Americans will receive rebate checks ($1,200, with an additional $500 per child; those making up to $75,000 are eligible) and expanded unemployment insurance benefits (an additional 13 weeks and a four-month enhancement of benefits). These benefits are also extended to freelancers and "gig workers."

Key Provisions of the CARES Act: • Hospitals and health care: $100 billion set aside for hospitals managing the pandemic. Another $40 billion to support the rest of the health system, including providing PPE for health care workers; testing supplies; increased workforce and training; support to the CDC. Coronavirus testing and potential vaccines will be covered.

• States and local governments: $30 billion set aside for states and educational institutions. $45 billion for disaster relief, and $25 billion for transit programs.

• Small business relief: $350 billion dedicated to preventing layoffs and business closures. Companies with 500 employees or fewer that maintain their payroll during the pandemic can receive up to 8 weeks of cash-flow assistance.

• Large corporations: $500 billion is earmarked for a lending program for distressed businesses. The funding will provide loans, loan guarantees, and be overseen by a Treasury Department inspector general. Loans will not exceed 5 years and cannot be forgiven.

Who is Eligible for Federally Mandated Paid Leave?

The emergency relief package "gives qualified workers two weeks of paid sick leave if they are ill, quarantined or seeking diagnosis or preventive care for coronavirus, or if they are caring for sick family members. It gives 12 weeks of paid leave to people caring for children whose schools are closed or whose childcare provider is unavailable because of coronavirus." To qualify, workers must have been with their employers for at least 30 days. Government employees and most workers at small and midsize companies and non-profits can benefit.

Pandemic Ravages New York State Budget

The statewide economic shutdown and consequent economic slowdown is estimated to cost New York State between $9 to $15 billion in lost tax revenue. Governor Andrew Cuomo called the federal stimulus package "terrible" for New York, saying that only $3.1 billion was earmarked to help the state with its budget gap. His office says that amount is "disproportionately low compared to the funds allotted to states with fewer coronavirus cases and smaller budgets." New York City's mayor shared similar concerns since the city would receive $1 billion in direct aid despite having a third of the country's cases.

Supreme Court Issues Three Major Opinions

The Court released a series of decisions this week, but in a sharp break with their practice, Justices did not take the bench to announce the decisions. Some of them also participated by phone in a private conference where they discuss which appeals to hear next. Those who attended in person did away with the custom of shaking hands with each other every time they convene. Oral arguments before the Court have been postponed.

In Comcast Corp v National Association of African American-Owned Media, the Court held that an entrepreneur suing Comcast for race discrimination must meet a demanding standard.

In Kahler v Kansas, the Court said that states may abolish a common form of the insanity defense.

President Trump Issues Order to Force General Motors to Produce Ventilators Under Defense Production Act

According to the president, Friday's order will help ensure the quick production of ventilators. He added that the issue is much too urgent to "allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course." GM was already working with a Seattle-area ventilator maker and trying to repurpose its factories for the job.

Weekly Unemployment Claims Soar to Record 3.28 Million

More than 3 million Americans filed claims for unemployment benefits last week. Strict measures to lessen the spread of the virus led to a sudden stop in economic activity and to a wave of layoffs - nearly half of the country's population is under some form of lockdown. Layoffs were concentrated in food service, health care, social assistance, arts, entertainment, and manufacturing.