Category: Blog Posts

Author who inspired Mean Girls threatens legal action nearly two decades after its premiere

By: Shelby Harding, Senior Editor

Many people know the 2004 teen comedy, Mean Girls, for its star-studded cast and continued cult following. However, many people don’t know the movie was inspired by Rosalind Wiseman’s book Queen Bees and Wannabes. Wiseman’s book offers parents a guide to navigating “Girl World” and “Planet Parent” by helping parents understand adolescent friendships, the power of cliques, and the challenges young females face in today’s society.

In 2002, Wiseman signed a $400,000 deal with Paramount for all film rights and derivative works. This deal included all rights to original motion pictures, musicals, and TV shows. Shortly after, Wiseman met Saturday Night Live’s first female head writer, Tina Fey. Fey saw Wiseman’s New York Times Magazine cover story about the deal with Paramount and asked to buy the film rights to Queen Bees and Wannabes. Wiseman stated that she chose Fey’s offer with producer Lorne Michaels over others because “it was very much a ‘we’re doing this together’ kind of experience.” So, why is Wiseman now threatening legal action against both Fey and Paramount?

Wiseman’s film contract included net profits, which are profits payable after recouping the cost of production, interest, overhead, advertising, and the like. Mean Girls grossed over $130 million worldwide at the box office, according to IMDb. Yet, Paramount insists that the film did not make any net profits, meaning Wiseman has not received any compensation in addition to the original $400,000 contract. Wiseman’s attorney, Ryan Keech, is now asking for an audit of Paramount’s books from the film.

Additionally, a musical adaptation of the film was in the works by 2013 and later premiered in Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2017. Wiseman approached Fey about an opportunity to create an educational program about bullying for high school students putting on their own productions, but Wiseman was never compensated for training the cast and crew. The musical used Wiseman’s name in its Playbill despite Wiseman receiving no payment. Although legal documents have yet to be filed by Wiseman, it is likely not a coincidence that Wiseman’s claims surfaced shortly after news dropped of the Broadway musical being turned into a film set to premiere on Paramount+.

Wiseman publicly criticized Fey for speaking openly about women supporting other women but says she has not had that experience with Fey over the years. Wiseman stated, “It’s really what my work has been about, especially Mean Girls. Women don’t have to be best friends—we can get mad at each other, but when it comes down to it, we need to actually support each other.” Representatives for Fey and Paramount have yet to comment on the matter.




Works Cited,fairly%20compensated%20for%20the%20film&text=The%20author%20whose%20book%20was,is%20a%20lack%20of%20compensation.,costs%20incurred%20by%20the%20studio.

Legal rumors: can Liam Hemsworth successfully sue Miley Cyrus for defamation over “Flowers”?

By: Camille Vulcano, Associate Editor

On January 12, 2023, pop superstar Miley Cyrus released her self-love anthem “Flowers.” The smash hit skyrocketed to the top of the charts, shattering streaming records on the way. However, it was not just the song’s monumental commercial success that got fans talking. The star’s sampling of Bruno Mars’s 2013 hit “When I Was Your Man” in the song sent fans a clear message that Cyrus referred to her public and tumultuous breakup with ex-husband Liam Hemsworth. Hemsworth is rumored to have dedicated the Mars song to Cyrus in 2015. Fans circulated other theories, including widespread speculation that the filming location for the “Flowers” music video was a house Hemsworth frequently rented to carry out his alleged extra-marital affairs.

Fans waited for Hemsworth to respond to theories about Cyrus’s messages, but unsurprisingly, the actor stayed silent. Soon after the song’s release, some Twitter users falsely claimed Hemsworth was about to lose a television show contract with Netflix as a result of the negative press. One account shared “leaked documents,” purportedly from Hemsworth’s legal team, that “proved” a defamation suit was in the works. All of these suit rumors were wholly debunked, as the “leaked” documents were actually photoshopped fakes. But as defamation gossip was put to rest, the controversy got some entertainment scholars thinking: Hemsworth may not be suing Cyrus for defamation over “Flowers,” but could he?

The general elements for defamation are as follows: (1) the publication of a false statement of fact to a third party; (2) that was defamatory concerning the plaintiff; and (3) with the requisite degree of fault. Since Hemsworth is a public figure, he would have to show that Cyrus acted with actual malice, which is defined as knowledge that the defamatory statement was false or made with reckless disregard for the truth. A Plaintiff may not recover under a defamation claim when his or her reputation is affected by generalized negative press, absent specific false statements of fact. Further, a plaintiff whose injury stems from some sort of insult, even specific name-calling, generally cannot recover. Public figures, such as Hemsworth, have an expectation for media exposure that will likely involve negative reporting For these reasons, a defamation claim in response to being painted as a bad ex-husband would likely be unsuccessful.

Hemsworth lovers may lament, but the limited application of defamation stemming from a potential defendant’s song lyrics is deeply rooted in the First Amendment. Without such limited application, artists around the world would be chilled in their efforts to create raw, emotional tracks that are relatable, enjoyable, and uplifting, like Cyrus’s hit. Since artists have a right to write break-up songs, and fans will always crave them, Hemsworth’s team would be right to recognize that sometimes, rumors should remain just that.


Works Cited

Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Rincones, 520 S.W.3d 572, 577.

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 256.

@ethanscyrus, Twitter (Feb. 28, 2023, 2:58 PM), 1630673901742071811

@Pauly041, Twitter (Mar. 2, 2023, 10:14 PM), 1631508210493411329

Ye West’s legal issues amid anti-semitism controversy

Jake Rast, Associate Editor 

Kanye (“Ye”) West, described by some as a musical genius and undoubtedly one of the most influential forces in hip hop in recent decades, has struggled with his public image significantly due to his antisemitic remarks during late 2022 and early 2023. Controversy emerged surrounding his comments made during various news interviews, including claims such as “I see good things about Hitler” and “I’m going death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE”.  His behavior purportedly resulted in large financial losses. Although his net worth supposedly sits at around $400 million, its drop from the formerly-reported 1.8 billion shows how damaging his recent public engagements are to both his brand and his bank account. These events have also resulted in various legal issues, spurred by outside backlash to his comments as well as his seeming distrust of the legal profession (for example, Ye is notorious for being combative and disagreeable during depositions).  

Although Ye is not a stranger to lawsuits, the increased severity of both his public antics and his desire to lash out at the “system” have created a very serious risk for the artist. Before he began disrespecting Jewish people, he was already under fire for copyright infringement due to the chaotic rollout of his most recent album, Donda 2. For this album he chose to eschew going through a record label, choosing to do it essentially independently. This has resulted in multiple lawsuits against him due to his alleged use of music samples without permission. These cases are notable because of Ye’s apparent desire to separate himself from the bloated corporate systems that dominate the music industry. However,  without the safeguards put in place by said systems, the independent artist faces greater risk of legal troubles.  

Despite these mounting legal pressures, Ye made his antisemitic comments, which resulted in the resignation of his legal counsel responsible for defending him against the copyright infringement claims. Additionally, the artist was dropped from his agency. As of January 11, 2023, Business Insider reported that Ye had not yet replaced those lawyers, and there had been a complete “breakdown in communications” between Ye and his legal team. Lawyers representing another one of his  cases found it difficult to locate the star at all.  

Recently Ye made a social media post apologizing for his actions, citing Jonah Hill’s performance in 21 Jump Street as helpful in him realizing “no one should take anger against one or two individuals and transform that into hatred towards millions of innocent people.” It is a possibility that the worst of the artist’s conspiratorial streak is over, he will hire competent lawyers, and he will engage with the legal system in good faith. However, the damage inflicted by his actions is staggering. Whether it’s the apparent plummet of his net worth, his engagement with conspiratorial/antisemitic rhetoric, or his refusal of legal and financial help from others, Ye’s recent behavior has taken its toll.  


Works Cited 

Netflix is done being chill: streaming site cracks down on password sharing

By: Rosie Townsley, Associate Editor

In 2017, Netflix tweeted “Love is sharing a password.” Flash-forward six years, it seems that the company’s view on password sharing is no longer shaded with optimism, as the streaming site announced its decision to more strictly enforce keeping accounts contained within households. In February 2023, Netflix reported that of its 231 million worldwide subscriptions, over 100 million accounts are shared outside of the intended household. Netflix’s Help Center defines a “household” as the “people who live in the same location with the account owner.” This policy shift has put a significant number of Netflix users on edge, ranging from college students using their parent’s account, habitual travelers accessing their subscription in a number of locations, and co-parenting families with members splitting time between two places. The question now posed is what exactly would this new policy entail?

Netflix reasons that cracking down on password sharing will help bump profits. After experiencing a surge in streaming subscriptions in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Netflix suffered a shock in 2022 when it surprisingly lost subscribers for the first time in over a decade. In response, the streaming giant notified shareholders of its decision to crack down on password sharing in 2023, with plans set to go into effect by the end of March. These plans range from giving viewers who are using another person’s account the chance to transfer their existing profile to their own account; allowing subscribers to elect to continue sharing their account with an additional charge for “sub-accounts” of extra members; and sending a verification code to the primary contact on the account, which would need to be acted on within 15-minutes to grant account access. With the information provided by IP addresses, device IDs, and individual account activity, Netflix has enough data to discern whether accounts are following the rules.

Netflix grounds its decision pursuant to the language contained within its Terms of Use. The Terms state that the service and content Netflix provides “may not be shared with individuals beyond your household, unless otherwise allowed by your subscription plan.” Based on the streaming site’s definition, it appears that sharing a password with people outside of one’s household amounts to a breach of contract, which could technically be pursued by Netflix in a court of law or by terminating account access for violators. However, at this time Netflix has never pursued such a claim, nor has the company made any threats to do so in the future.

Viewed on the international scale, the U.S. does not clearly state that password sharing is against the law, but the U.K. takes a firmer stance on the issue. According to the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”), password-sharers that intend to “allow a user access to copyright-protected works without payment” could face both civil and criminal liability. The Crown Prosecution Service (“CPS”) spoke on the idea of criminal prosecution, stating that any potential charges for password sharing would be analyzed on a “case-by-case basis.” Although this punishment sounds daunting, there is no evidence that U.K. police forces would initiate an investigation into someone for sharing their password to Netflix, which is a necessary step to bring criminal charges before the CPS.

Whether Netflix actually implements the suggested changes will only be proven with time. However, in trying to boost its bottom line, Netflix runs the risk of costing the company its most valuable asset of all: subscribers. The streaming site cannot afford to forget how much leverage customers have by simply walking away in response to rising costs. Considering how much of an uproar the mere mention of Netflix’s potential crackdown caused, the company has made itself the test subject for stricter password sharing on streaming sites. How Netflix fares with this experiment could change the company’s overall dynamic and influence whether other streaming platforms intend to follow suit.


Works Cited:

The criminal trial of Young Thug and the use of rap lyrics at trial

By: Melissa Bergmann, Senior Editor 

The criminal trial of 31-year-old Atlanta rapper, Jeffrey Lamar Williams (“Young Thug”), as well as over two dozen of his co-defendants, began in February 2023 and is currently still in the jury selection phase. Young Thug was arrested in May 2022 and charged with conspiracy to violate Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO Act”), as well as additional gun and drug charges. Prosecutors accuse Young Thug of founding Young Slime Life (“YSL”), a street gang affiliated with the national Bloods gang. YSL allegedly committed multiple murders, shootings, and carjackings over the past decade. 

The indictments of Young Thug and one of his co-defendants, Sergio Kitchens (“Gunna”), included the artists’ rap lyrics. Prosecutors allege these rap lyrics are overt acts “in furtherance of the conspiracy.” For example, Young Thug’s indictment quotes the lyrics: “I’m the VIP and I got that pistol on my hip, you prayin’ that you live I’m prayin’ that I hit” and “I never killed anybody but I got something to do with the body.” 

Researchers report that over the past 30 years prosecutors used rap lyrics in more than 500 cases as evidence against criminal defendants such as Snoop Dogg, NBA YoungBoy, Bobby Shmurda, and Tekashi 6ix9ine. Prosecutors often introduce an artist’s rap lyrics as evidence of the criminal defendant’s “confession to the crime or circumstantial evidence that the defendant committed the crime,” presented as “proof of intent, knowledge, ability, [or] motive.” Prosecutors also use rap lyrics during the sentencing phase to “portray rappers as dangers to their communities.” Furthermore, like in Young Thug’s case, prosecutors used rap lyrics and music videos to show membership in a gang or connections between gang members. 

The multitude of cases sparked a debate as to whether a rap artist’s lyrics should be admissible at trial. The prosecutor in Young Thug’s case, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, defends the use of lyrics as evidence, stating: “I think if you decide to admit your crimes over a beat, I’m going to use it…[y]ou do not get to commit crimes in my county, and then get to decide to brag on it, which you do that for a form of intimidation and to further the gain and to not be held responsible.” A 2004 manual of the American Prosecutors Research Institute even encouraged the use of lyrics in search warrants and trials to “invade and exploit the defendant’s true personality”. It also encouraged presenting the defendant to the court as a “criminal wearing a do-rag and throwing up a gang sign.” 

However, those against the use of rap lyrics argue that the use presents Constitutional and evidentiary issues. The Constitutional arguments rest in the First Amendment’s protection against government action that may chill constitutionally protected speech. Essentially, an individual may choose not to engage in constitutionally protected expressive activity for fear of punishment. This fear of unconstitutional chilling is not just theoretical— There exists contemporary instances of the chilling effect as artists such as 50 Cent and Bobby Shmurda have publicly warned artists to censor their raps in fear of their later use at trial. 

Furthermore, Federal Rule of Evidence 403 allows courts to exclude evidence whose “probative value is substantially outweighed by a danger of … unfair prejudice.” Accordingly, individuals against the use of rap lyrics as evidence argue that rap lyrics should be excluded from evidence because their probative value is minimal. This is due to the idea that rap lyrics are meant to be creative expression and works of fiction. This is proven by the fact that artists often write under fictional personas and use lyrical hyperbole—The lyrics are not meant to be perceived as an autobiographical account of the artist’s life. Lyrics hold a high prejudicial value because there exists pervasive bias against rap music and a high likelihood that juries could be led to believe that the events in the rap lyrics are true. The chance of prejudice is bolstered by the fact that the use of lyrics as evidence has a history of racism, as rap artists are most commonly Black individuals and rap lyrics are used as evidence disproportionately more than any other type of art.  

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania adopted this line of reasoning in Bey-Cousin v. Powell, where the court denied the use of hip-hop artist Muadhdhin Bey-Cousins’ lyrics against him at trial. The court stated that the First Amendment requires courts to start with a presumption that “art is art, not a statement of fact,” which may be rebutted by the prosecution presenting that the “art is the artist’s attempt to tell a factual story.” In support of this stance, the court stated, “Freddy Mercury did not confess to having ‘just killed a man’ by putting ‘a gun against his head’ and ‘pull[ing] the trigger.’ Bob Marley did not confess to having shot a sheriff. And Johnny Cash did not confess to shooting ‘a man in Reno just to watch him die.’” Some states have also taken action against the admission of an artist’s art as evidence at trial. New York and California both passed legislation limiting prosecutors’ ability to cite lyrics in cases. At a federal level, in 2022, Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Hank Johnson introduced the Restoring Artist Protection Act, that would ban the use of lyrics from being used as evidence in legal claims. 


Disclaimer: Since this trial is still ongoing at the time of publication, some details may no longer be accurate.

Works Cited ·  

Bey-Cousin v. Powell, 570 F. Supp. 3d 251 (E.D. Penn. 2021). 

Strikes, forced play under “protest,” and the battle for equal pay

By: Janaye Godfrey, Associate Editor 

If you google: “Which player has the most international soccer goals?” the results produce many links about Cristiano Ronaldo, a male Portuguese professional soccer player who has 118 goals in international play. However, it is not until you go back to the search box and add the word “female” to the terms that you become surprised to find out it is actually Christine Sinclair, a female Canadian professional soccer player who has 189 goals in international play. 

The Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team stands as a powerhouse team amongst all current soccer teams. The Canadian Women’s Olympic Team, which many of the National Team players are also a part of, won gold at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Currently, these Olympians are fighting for equal pay in Canada. The Canadian Soccer Association oversees the team and is the governing body for soccer in Canada. The players released a statement describing their outrage with the National Federation significantly cutting their funding. Many of the women are feeling frustrated and disrespected by Canada Soccer after coming off of a gold medal win at the Tokyo Olympics. These women demanded immediate change and are currently being backed by their male counterpart. 

On February 10, 2023, the Women’s Team believed the only way to achieve this change in equality was by striking at the SheBelieves Cup, set to be played in the United States. Unfortunately, Canada Soccer threatened the players with legal action, thereby cancelling the strike. The action could have resulted in millions of dollars in damages if Canada Soccer proved it to be an unlawful strike. On February 15, the players stated that they would be participating in the SheBelieves Cup under “protest” after its equity dispute with the National Federation remained unresolved. The players decided to wear purple ahead of their first match of the tournament which has historically been linked with efforts to achieve gender equality. Additionally, the players showed up to practice wearing unbranded gear and inside-out shirts to hide the Canada Soccer logo on their practice uniforms. 

These female Canadian soccer players desire something akin to the historic equal-pay deal won by the United States Women’s National Team from their federation just last year. The United States Women’s National Team filed a federal gender discrimination suit against United States Soccer in 2019. The lawsuit drew international attention, prompting fans to chant “Equal Pay!” when the United States won the Women’s World Cup in France. The lawsuit settled in February 2019 with United States Soccer agreeing to pay the women $24 million. Additionally, the unions agreed to pool FIFA’s payments for the next Men’s and Women’s World Cups, as well as for the 2026 and 2027 tournaments. 

With the Women’s World Cup approaching this summer, many players argue that they must prepare to perform at a world-class level with significant cuts to their program and without the same level of support received by the Men’s National Team in 2022. Although women’s sports across the discipline have shown they can compete and bring in the same caliber of fans as their male counterparts, the disparity in payment persists. These Canadian women continue their labor disputes over equal pay and heroically pave the way for future female players, who will hopefully not have to fight this up-hill battle. 



Works Cited: 

Ameé Ruszkai, More international goals than Ronaldo & Messi: Meet Christine Sinclair, Canada’s record-breaking star, Goal (Feb. 22, 2023), 

Zayn Nabbi, Canada women’s soccer team play tournament under ‘protest’ as dispute over pay equity rumbles on, CNN (Feb. 16, 2023, 9:25 AM), 

Isabel Gonzalez, Canada women’s soccer labor dispute, explained: Why the national team went on strike over budget cuts, (Feb. 19, 2023, 8:48 PM), 

Anne M. Peterson, U.S. men’s and women’s soccer teams formally sign equal pay agreements, PBS (Sep. 6, 2022 10:05 PM),,World%20Cup%20final%20in%20France.&text=In%20February%2C%20the%20two%20sides,pay%20the%20women%20%2424%20million.

Jesse Campigotto, What’s next for the Canadian women’s soccer and hockey teams?, CBC Sports (Feb. 23, 2023, 3:56 PM),  

Nintendo Breaks the Silence: The Uncertain Legal Future of Competitive Smash

Written by: Jefferson Deery, Associate Editor

Most kids who grew up with a Nintendo console have played some iteration of Super Smash Bros. (“Smash”), Nintendo’s premier fighting game. For some players, Smash is more than a game: it’s a spectator sport. The competitive Smash scene started in 2002 with the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee. While most of the world viewed Smash as a casual party game, some players saw greater potential in the game and started competing in tournaments held in garages, basements, and video game stores. Players competed for prize money and fans of Smash gathered to watch high-level gameplay. Competitive Smash has come a long way since its grassroot beginnings. Instead of being played on CRT TVs in basements, the game is now being broadcast on jumbotrons in Las Vegas and streamed to hundreds of thousands of viewers on Twitch, the world’s preeminent livestream website.

For twenty years, fans of competitive Smash have relied not only on “DIY” spirit, but tacit approval from Nintendo to run tournaments. Even throughout the competitive lifespan of the most recent installment in the series, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo largely ignored all competitive Smash events. Even the major tournaments such as EVO and Genesis, which garnered hundreds of thousands of livestream viewers, occurred without comment from Nintendo. Recently, however, Nintendo broke its silence on unlicensed Smash tournaments, and its new stance threatens to send competitive Smash back to garages and school auditoriums. In a statement regarding the Smash World Tour, a worldwide Smash league modeled after the PGA Tour, Nintendo announced that it would no longer allow any unlicensed tournaments to be held.

The Copyright Act gives “exclusive rights” to the owner of a copyright to control the use of the protected work. Video games like Smash are categorized as “audiovisual works” under the Act. As the owner of the copyright for the Smash games, Nintendo has the power to shut down any “public performance” of the game pursuant to Section 106 of the Act. The steady rise in the popularity of competitive Smash was made possible by Nintendo’s decision to not exercise its right to shut down unlicensed “public performances” of the game via tournaments.

In the past, tournament organizers took Nintendo’s refusal to recognize competitive Smash as tacit approval, but given Nintendo’s decision to shut down the Smash World Tour, it seems the company revoked its unspoken assent. Since the announcement, the financial viability of Smash as an e-sport (i.e competitive video game that is a spectator event) has been called into question. E-sport teams are dropping top players like MK Leo and Tweek. The longstanding Smash broadcast organization, Beyond the Summit, is closing down. Although fans and players alike are waiting to see how far Nintendo will push its crackdown on unlicensed tournaments, its new stance is more than just a slap in the face, but a Falcon Punch to the gut for competitive Smash players, tournament organizers, and fans.


Works Cited:


Diamond Sports Group might be going Bankrupt – should baseball fans be hoping they do?

By: Caleb Long, Associate Editor

On Wednesday, February 15, 2023, Diamond Sports Group, the parent company to all the Bally Sports local networks, announced it would forgo the payment due on its $140 million debt. The lack of payment triggered a 30-day grace period for Diamond Sports Group, which the organization will use to figure out its financial state moving forward. While Diamond has not articulated as much, many speculate that this indicates it will be filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy very shortly. Since Bally Sports contracts with the NBA, NHL, WNBA, and MLB for licenses to locally broadcast 47 different professional sports teams across the country, this situation raises concerns for how these sports organizations will reach their fans with game broadcasts. The most immediate concern lies with the MLB, whose season is set to begin on March 30, 2023.

Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, frequently referred to as “reorganization” bankruptcy, does not mean that the entity filing is going out of business. According to the United States Courts’ online explanation of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, “Usually, the debtor remains ‘in possession,’ has the powers and duties of a trustee, may continue to operate its business, and may, with court approval, borrow new money. A plan of reorganization is proposed, creditors whose rights are affected may vote on the plan, and the plan may be confirmed by the court if it gets the required votes and satisfies certain legal requirements.”

This means that if Diamond files Chapter 11, the reorganization may or may not affect its contracts with the MLB in a way that consumers will notice. Because contracting with sports organizations to provide local broadcasting is Diamond’s only business, it will most likely do everything it can to avoid losing its license contracts with the MLB and other professional sports leagues. If Diamond can manage to pay all the license payments due, nothing will change for consumers. For instance, The Athletic suggests that perhaps Diamond’s creditor could convert Diamond’s loans into equity, gobble Diamond up, and continue paying the license fees. It is well within the realm of possibilities, however, that it will have to cease license payments for at least some of the teams. Since the MLB season is beginning in the midst of Diamond’s financial struggles, the highest likelihood of non-payment of licensing fees will be to the MLB.

A stop of payment would constitute a material breach of the contract with the MLB for each MLB team’s contract for which payment was missed. In this scenario, the MLB may void the breached licensing contracts with Bally Sports networks. While that would likely be a financial hit to the MLB, the Commissioner of Baseball, Rob Manfred, said that the MLB will be prepared to provide the games themselves through the MLB Network and MLB.TV. Manfred did not say that he would be glad if Diamond Sports Group breached their contract, however, he did voice a potential silver lining—“This could mean no more blackouts!”

When professional sports leagues contract with local sports networks to broadcast the games locally, the contract includes a promise from the league that it will not digitally broadcast the games of the team that is within the territory of the applicable local network. For instance, if a Yankees fan in Los Angeles pays to watch the Yankees via MLB.TV, that fan can

enjoy every game, except the games in which the Yankees play against the Dodgers and likely the Angels, regardless of whether the game is home or away. Or, in my unfortunate case, the Cincinnati Reds’ network territory has an astonishingly far reach that extends to Nashville, TN. So, I cannot watch my team by any means.

While this blackout practice makes perfect sense and is necessary to keep MLB’s digital streaming offering from hurting local cable sports viewership, it is quite a headache for those who rely on digital streaming to watch their team. With cable subscriptions on the major decline and streaming settling in as the new normal for sports viewing, the MLB has been looking for a way to end blackouts for quite some time.

Therefore, if Diamond Sports Group materially breaches its contracts with the MLB, Rob Manfred has made it quite clear that the MLB will take the opportunity to make local games available to fans of the actual local area they are in via MLB.TV; effectively doing away with blackouts for the first time ever. The Athletic quoted Manfred expressing his feelings on the subject: “I hope we get to the point where on the digital side, when you go to MLB.TV, you can buy whatever the heck you want . . . You can buy the out-of-market package. You can buy the local games; you can buy two sets of local games — whatever you want. I mean, that is, to me, the definition of what is going to be a valuable digital offering going forward,”

It is too soon to say for sure if this is on the horizon for baseball fans. If the organization files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Diamond Sports Group may very well be able to reorganize, in a way that allows the licensing payments to continue, keeping the MLB bound to its agreements with Diamond. However, baseball fans everywhere ought to be crossing their fingers that that does not happen, because this could be the most beneficial breach of contract they could ever hope for.



Works Cited:

Shea, Billy & Kaplan, Daniel. “What the Bally Sports saga means for NBA, NHL, MLB broadcasts: All you need to know.” The Athletic, 17 Feb. 2023,

Trister, Noah. “MLB: Bally network troubles could lead to end of blackouts.” AP, 16 Feb. 2023,

“Diamond Sports Group.” Sinclair, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., Accessed 19 Feb. 2023,

“Blackout Restrictions.” MLB.TV, Accessed 19 Feb. 2023,

Bruce, Harring. “Major League Baseball Seeks End To Local Markets Blackouts.” Deadline, 14 Jan. 2023,

Von Hoffman, Constantine. “Cable TV subscriptions set to drop below 50% of all US households.” Martech, 17 Mar. 2022,

“Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Basics.” United States Courts, Accessed 19 Feb. 2023,

California Continues to Pioneer Change in Collegiate Athletics with Renewed Fight against the NCAA

By: Gavin Dwyer, Senior Editor

In the last half decade, California positioned itself as the frontrunner of student-athlete advocacy. In September 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 106: “Fair Pay to Play Act,” which created a legal right for student-athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness, also known as NIL rights. This bill preceded the decision in NCAA v. Alston and the NCAA decision to end the NIL restrictions nationwide, by almost two full years. 

In the meantime, California continues to push forward on the cutting edge of protecting student athletes. In December 2022, the Los Angeles regional head of the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) sided with University of Southern California (“USC”) student-athletes concluding they have been unlawfully classified as mere student athletes and denied employee rights and benefits. This ruling echoed a 2021 memo sent out by the NLRB’s general counsel that stated the NLRB would support claims brought by student athlete’s challenging their status as non-employees. 

This monumental step toward further student-athlete compensation remains in its infancy stage. The parties have two options from here: they can either settle with the student athletes or the NLRB regional director will prosecute the student-athletes’ claim before an administrative law judge. USC appears ready to take the latter approach. The school released a statement alluding to this and said, “We look forward to presenting those facts, along with 75 years of favorable legal precedent”. As seen in the Alston opinion, the 75 years of precedent may be favorable, but the Court does not believe that precedent is entitled to deferential treatment any longer. 

California has not rested on their laurels. Instead, the state introduced a bill in its State Assembly titled the “College Athlete Protection Act” (“AB252”). This bill may potentially prove to be the biggest shift in the collegiate athletics landscape yet. AB252 requires universities to share profits with student athletes in football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball. At least a portion of this payment is related to graduation requirements from the university. However, the optimism around this bill needs to be tempered, as a similar bill died after being introduced in the California State Senate last year. 

California’s current onslaught against the NCAA monopolistic practices has the potential to dwarf the impact that NIL had on the college athletic landscape. At this stage, profit sharing amongst student athletes remains a pipe dream. However, the battle over employee status will occur soon. The outcome of such battle has the potential to drastically change the NCAA as currently constructed.   

California continues to push the envelope to alter over a century worth of NCAA practices and afford their student-athletes with more protections and compensation. A ruling recognizing student-athletes as employees of the NCAA and PAC-12 affects every student-athlete, unlike NIL that most student-athletes will not meaningfully profit from. A favorable ruling will dramatically alter the entire NCAA model in a way that will dwarf the NIL ruling. 



ABC news anchors’ exit and the scariest Disney villain: the morals clause

By Olivia Floyd, Associate Editor 

 ABC newscasters Amy Robach and TJ Holmes will not be returning to their anchor chairs.  ABC took the pair off the air in December of 2022 after The Daily Mail published a story chronicling their romantic relationship.  Up until the story broke, neither the public nor the ABC network officials were aware that the two hosts of GMA3, a midday news program broadcast by ABC, were involved in such a relationship.  ABC’s decision to cut ties with Robach and Holmes comes after the president of the network reported that the pair’s relationship did not violate company policy.  Even so, on January 27, 2023, the company released a statement which “recogniz[ed] their talent and commitment over the years,” but ultimately concluded that it was “best for everyone that [the couple] move on from ABC News.”  While this decision presents itself as somewhat tabloid fodder, the anchors’ exit from ABC, a Disney subsidiary, brings up several legal concepts, such as non-disclosure agreements, protected class employees (since Robach is a woman and Holmes is Black), and employment at will.  However, the most important legal issue at the center of Robach and Holmes’ relationship is the morals clause. 

A morals clause is a contractual provision that essentially allows a party to terminate an agreement, such as an employment contract, if the other party engages in any sort of scandalous or offensive behavior.  Companies often use this clause to fire employees who have acted in a way that puts the company in a negative light.  If that seems like a broad-ranging power, it’s because it is. These clauses use especially vague language such as “public disrepute, humiliation, contempt, scandal or ridicule” which in effect, gives the company carte blanche to terminate a contract if the other party does anything to make them look bad.  Peter Nelson, a film and television lawyer, commented that the first draft of many entertainment contracts features a morals clause that is “completely subjective and leaves to the studio any interpretation they choose.” The responsibility then falls upon attorneys to negotiate the deal in a way that provides their client some protection. 

In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, morals clauses became very prevalent. These clauses allowed major companies such as Netflix and NBC to cut ties with the likes of Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer.  In the entertainment industry, the morals clause first became widespread practice during the Red Scare. According to entertainment attorney Linda Lichter, “Companies [began to] put them in contracts so they could fire people if they were accused of being a [communist].”  In the post #MeToo era, entertainment companies reinforced the language in morals clauses.  Long gone are the days of companies needing proof that scandalous or disreputable conduct actually occurred.  Rather these days, morals clauses often use language that allows termination so long as the conduct is alleged to have happened or believed to have happened. 

Entertainment attorneys note that the Walt Disney Corporation notoriously draws a hard line when it comes to morals clauses.  This is not surprising, given that historically Disney takes extra precaution to avoid any sort of scandal.  CNN reporter Oliver Darcy wrote that Disney’s brand is “family-friendly, fun-for-everyone, [and] intentionally inoffensive.” Put another way, Disney prides itself on steering clear of impropriety.  To its credit, an inoffensive brand is one which, in theory, should be more profitable than brands who take a stand on political or social issues.  By not taking a stance on political and societal issues, inoffensive brands do not risk deterring potential customers who do not share the same political or societal views.  Perhaps that is why Disney has long been one of the most profitable corporations in the world.  As one of the most successful producers of family friendly entertainment content, it makes sense for Disney to vigorously protect their ability to terminate talent whose conduct compromises the brand’s mission to remain inoffensive.  

Recently, 20th Television and ABC Signature, which are both Disney subsidiaries, bolstered their morals clauses in ways that gave Disney a vast amount of discretion when choosing to terminate an employee.  The amended morals clauses allow the company to terminate for any act or omission that could cause Disney to incur public disrepute or may cause offense to the “community or any substantial group thereof.”  This presents a massive problem for individuals who are politically active.  Any sort of liberal-leaning public act could “offend” someone with conservative political views, and vice versa.  As Republicans and Democrats are both “substantial groups” in America, per the terms of their contract, Disney could use any political activism as grounds for termination.  Beyond politics, morals clauses present major issues for individuals whose personal lives stray from the narrow path of traditional family values. 

This brings us back to Amy Robach and TJ Holmes, the terminated hosts of GMA3, a news program produced by ABC News, a Disney subsidiary.  In December, ABC suspended Robach and Holmes after an article detailing the pair’s private romantic relationship was published.  An off-screen relationship between two co-anchors of a news program might, on its own, make headlines.  But what takes this relationship from headline news to what some–including Disney–would call a scandal, is the fact that both Robach and Holmes are married.  Robach is married to Andrew Schue, a TV actor known for his role in Melrose Place.  Holmes’ wife is Marilee Fiebig, a successful immigration attorney.  Both Robach and Holmes publicly commented they are separated from their spouses and planning on finalizing a divorce.  Even so, nearly every pop-culture news organization, gossip column, and tabloid ran stories chronicling the relationship which Gawker dubbed a “torrid love affair.”  The specific reasons for termination are likely to remain unknown due to non-disclosure agreements.  However, given its history with morals clauses, it is safe to assume that Disney found the Robach-Holmes relationship to be too offensive.  It is not every day that the people who report the news are also the subject of it.  Unfortunately, for Robach and Holmes, their time in the limelight cost them their seats at the GMA3 desk. 

Works Cited: 

“Breaking down the Many Businesses of Disney (DIS): The Most Magical Stock on Earth.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 8 Nov. 2022, 

Cullins, Ashley. “Moral Clauses: Why a Red Scare Tactic Revived in the #Metoo Era Could Lead to a Fight with the Guilds.” The Hollywood Reporter, The Hollywood Reporter, 3 Oct. 2022, 

Darcy, Oliver. “Demonizing Disney: Fox and Right-Wing Media Attack the Entertainment Giant as ‘Woke’ Company Indoctrinating Kids | CNN Business.” CNN, Cable News Network, 31 Mar. 2022, 

“Disney Ranks High on Fortune’s 2022 List of ‘World’s Most Admired Companies.’” The Walt Disney Company, 2 Feb. 2022, 

Grynbaum, Michael M., and John Koblin. “ABC Co-Anchors to Leave Network after Tabloid Scandal.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Jan. 2023, 

Maglio, Tony. “’GMA3′ Can Definitely Fire T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, Lawyers Say.” IndieWire, IndieWire, 9 Dec. 2022,