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First off today, Al Jazeera reports that a Saudi Arabia-backed takeover of the Newcastle United English Premier League team has fallen through in large part due to concerns for the country’s alleged support for piracy of sports-related content.
The piracy aspect of this story deals with Saudi Arabia’s ongoing embargo of Qatar. However, Qatar is home to BeIN, the sports channel that serves much of the Middle East. This led to the rise of BeoutQ, a Saudi Arabia-based pirate station that streamed BeIN content to Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. This included Premiere League content. Though it has not been proven, it is widely suspected that BeoutQ has dies to the Saudi government or is at least officially sanctioned.
This was one of the many factors that added complexity when a group of Saudi investors came forward in a bid to buy the Newcastle United team. According to those investors, those delays coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic have made the deal no longer viable and they have pulled out of negotiations.
Next up today, Darren Heitner at Above the Law reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has been having a wide variety of unexpected consequences. Add to that list the drastic reduction of damages awarded in a copyright infringement case.
The case pits Zuffa, LLC, which puts on the Ultimate Fighting Championship events, against a bar and restaurant that they claim illegally showed one of their events. According to Zuffa, the bar showed the event to patrons but only paid for a residential version of the pay-per-view, which is intended for private viewing.
Zuffa quickly received a default judgment but asked for some $60,000 in enhanced damages. Though the judge acknowledged that the infringement was willful, opening up such damages, the court only ordered $1,000 in that category of damages. The reason, according to the judge, was that the COVID-19 pandemic and the limitations placed on restaurants would have made a larger judgment “catastrophic” and that restaurants remain in “significant economic distress.”
Finally today, Andy Malt at Complete Music Update reports that, in Japan, the nation’s Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has announced that Hello Kitty will serve as an official ambassador for the nation’s new copyright laws.
As part of the new role, the fictional character will help educate the public about the new laws, which were enacted in June and institutes new penalties for sharing and downloading unlicensed content such as comic books, magazines, academic texts and more.
The hiring represents an ongoing trend in Japan of using costumed characters to promote government interests. However, this is the first time that Hello Kitty, one of the nation’s most popular characters, has been used to promote copyright in the country.