There was much excitement about a “Netflix for vinyl” that would send music-minded subscribers a curated surprise selection of records they could listen to, then send back at their leisure for a new set of unexpected picks. No one seems to have reckoned with the part of federal law known as “section §109(b), popularly known as the Record Rental Amendment of 1984, which makes it illegal to rent records.” [Michael Nelson, Stereogum]
While musical copying, and copying lawsuits, are nothing new, Ray Lehmann finds “different” and “potentially problematic” a jury’s $7.4 million verdict “against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, asserting the pair’s 2013 smash ‘Blurred Lines’ borrowed inappropriately from the 1977 Marvin Gaye song ‘Got to Give It Up.'” [R Street Institute] More: Ann Althouse.
P.S. Tim Hulsey commenting on Overlawyered’s Facebook page (which you’ve liked, right?): “If this decision had been in force during the 1940s, nine-tenths of ‘be-bop jazz’ would never have occurred — no ‘Donna Lee,’ no Thelonious Monk, no 12-bar blues.” And @terryteachout on Twitter: “I now see that the judge instructed the jury to go by the sheet music only. If that’s the applicable standard, the verdict will definitely be reversed.” More: David Post.
- Radley Balko begins a four-part series on the flawed science of bite mark analysis [parts one, two with Jim Hood angle]
- Federal judge Jed Rakoff “quits commission to protest Justice Department forensic science policy” [Washington Post]
- Disturbing, but, to those familiar with the false-memory literature, not all that surprising: “People Can Be Convinced They Committed a Crime That Never Happened” [Psychological Science on new research]
- Exposure of faulty fire forensics leads to another release after long time served [WHP, Harrisburg; James Hugney Sr. “maintained his innocence throughout” nearly 36 years in prison following conviction in burning death of sleeping son]
- Courts struggle with evidentiary significance of emoji [Julia Greenberg, Wired] Rap music as gang-tie evidence: “The only value it has is to scare the hell out of white juries, and it’s effective” [ABA Journal]
- Supporters of Brian Peixoto say his Massachusetts conviction typifies problems of shaken baby forensics [Wrongful Conviction News]
- “Allegations that NYPD cops may have planted evidence, perjured themselves and engaged in cover-ups while investigating gun cases.” [New York Times via Balko; NYDN 2011 flashback]
“Manitoba’s, one of the last punk rock dive bars in New York’s East Village, owned by former Dictators frontman “Handsome Dick” Manitoba, could be headed for a premature end. Its would-be executioner is not rising rents or gentrification, but the hefty cash settlement of a lawsuit” over disabled access, one of many filed by a Rye, N.Y. man in connection with the law firm of attorney Bradley Weitz [Anthony Fisher, Reason] Overlawyered readers have met Weitz before, here (earlier client sued over Soho pedicure station although having no feet) and here.
The EU’s newly minted “right to be forgotten” may generate an Orwellian memory hole into which can be thrown the inconvenient past. “The [Washington] Post received a letter from Mr. Lazi? in September requesting that [classical music critic Anne] Midgette’s review be scrubbed from the Web. When she failed to reply, he upped the ante by claiming that it was ‘defamatory, offensive and mean-spirited’ and thus violates his legal right to be forgotten.” [Terry Teachout, WSJ via Arts Journal]
Under a potentially far-reaching ruling by a federal judge interpreting California state law, satellite and streaming music services like SiriusXM and Pandora — and maybe bars and restaurants too — could be liable for vast sums for having broadcast pre-1972 recordings without obtaining “public performance” permission under California state law. [Hollywood Reporter’s THR Esq; plus a very informative take from Jesse Walker]
Further reading on the federal regulations forcing destruction of ivory keys when old pianos are sold across state lines [Sally Phillips, Piano World, Piano Buyer (Sen. Alexander, Rep. Daines introduce relief bills), Doug Bandow, Cato, earlier here (violin bows), here, etc.] Miscellaneous on ivory and antiques: John Leydon/WSJ (“Grandma’s Cameo Becomes Yard Sale Contraband,” related here (raid on auction by “heavily-armed” California agents) and here.
Selected as an international music ambassador for her outstanding playing, 13-year-old Avery Gagliano charmed audiences in Munich, Hong Kong and elsewhere with her renditions of Chopin, Mozart and other classical repertoire. Her parents could not charm the District of Columbia Public Schools, however, into treating ten days of travel by the straight-A student as excused absences, although they “drafted an independent study plan for the days she’d miss while touring the world” in performance. They’re homeschooling her now. [Petula Dvorak, Washington Post]
- “Coming to Your Workplace Soon? Union Organizing Efforts Via the Company’s Email System” [Daniel Kaplan, Foley & Lardner]
- “Pennsylvania Unions Still Exempt from Harassment [Law], Continue Harassing with Impunity” [Trey Kovacs, Workplace Choice, earlier here, here, here]
- Music production gravitates to right to work states attract in part because union musicians less afraid of discipline for taking gigs there [Variety on union’s dispute with videogame-composer member]
- New definition of “nationwide strike”: protesters show up at a few Wal-Marts, few workers pay attention [On Labor]
- Presently constituted NLRB and U.S. Department of Labor are zealous union partisans, not impartial arbiters [Alex Bolt]
- “Workers filing wage-and-hour lawsuits under Labor Act at record pace” [Crain’s Detroit Business]
- “Despite repeated failures, Card Check still top Big Labor priority” [Sean Higgins, Washington Examiner]