MARKET MANIPULATION OR JUST DUMB MONEY? The GameStop Stock Spike and What Happens Next

A Note by Samuel Barder

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On December 9, 2019, GameStop Corp. revealed a troubling third quarter earnings report.[1] Net sales had dropped 30% compared to the same time in 2019, and the company was operating at a $63 million loss for the quarter.[2] The next day GameStop shares (“GME”) tumbled by 20% to close at $13.66 per share.[3] On January 27, 2021, the stock closed at $347.51 per share, a 1,735% increase from since the beginning of the year.[4] Two days before GME peaked at $483.00 per share during morning trading.[5] How did this happen?

The rapid rise in GME shares pitted pros against joes as institutional players, hedge funds, and investment professionals lined up on one side and retail investors, online traders and small brokerages, on the other.[6] One prominent investor said the retail investors, often labeled “dumb money” … Read the rest

DO NOT PASS GO, DO NOT COLLECT $200: Exploring the NCAA’s Monopoly on Athlete Compensation Behind the ‘Pay the Players’ Debate

A Note by SY Yaw

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On February 2, 2021, EA Sports made an announcement that excited college sports fans everywhere––the NCAA football game that many had grown to love before its discontinuation in 2014 would be returning in 2023.[1] Along with this excitement came a reignited debate about whether student-athletes should be paid for the use of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”); an issue that contributed to the game’s discontinuation.[2] Despite the profit made by the video game franchise, the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (“NCAA”) longstanding prohibition on student-athletes receiving any compensation beyond their athletic scholarships precluded featured players from receiving compensation.

This Note will explore the intricacies of the debate about whether college athletes should be compensated for their services, primarily using revenue generating sports as a point of examination. Part II will introduce the backdrop of the debate, discussing the “players” … Read the rest

REPLACING WHAT WORKS WITH WHAT SOUNDS GOOD: The Elusive Search for Workable Section 230 Reform

A Note by Kyler Baier

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Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was a tiny and overlooked fragment of a behemoth bill Congress passed to crack down on the pervasiveness of obscene and indecent communications online.[1] Yet, in the quarter-century since it was passed Section 230 has proven to be the only lasting piece of the Communications Decency Act and, indeed, the most important piece of legislation ever passed with respect to the internet.[2]

By emancipating interactive service providers (ISPs) from the whip hand of publisher’s liability, Section 230 became the liberating force that jolted the massive and sustained growth of the internet marketplace and the free and robust exchange of ideas online.[3] Since Section 230’s conception at law, critics of the legislation have been chipping away at its free market and free speech protections as slowly and surely as water … Read the rest

PROPOSITION 22 AND WORKERS’ RIGHT TO CHOOSE: Learning from California’s Efforts to Classify Independent Contractors

A Note by Kaelin Sanders

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In the 2020 general election, California voters approved Proposition 22, a statewide ballot initiative that classifies app-based drivers (Uber or Lyft drivers, for example) as independent contractors rather than as employees.[1] The culmination of over $200 million in political spending––largely by ride-share companies Uber, Lyft, Postmates, Doordash, and Instacart––the initiative was approved by 58% of voters.[2] Since its passage, the initiative has been met with regular criticism.[3] Many observers first say that classifying app-based drivers (“drivers”) as independent contractors was fundamentally wrong from a worker’s rights perspective, especially in light of state court decisions and legislation that preceded the initiative and established a new standard for making this very decision.[4] Further, there are reports that businesses are now firing their employee-status delivery drivers and hiring cheaper app-based drivers in their stead; that drivers are earning considerably less … Read the rest

RAGE AGAINST THE VOTING MACHINE: Dominion’s Defamation Lawsuit Against Sidney Powell

An Article by Dr. Michael Conklin

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On January 8, 2021, Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., filed a defamation lawsuit against Sidney Powell.[1] The 124-page complaint—drafted by the law firm of noted libel attorney Tom Clare—is based on Powell’s claims that Dominion rigged the 2020 presidential election.[2] This Article examines the relevant issues of false statement of fact, damages, causation, and actual malice. Additionally, a unique privilege that may be available to Powell is considered.

[1].               Complaint, US Dominion, Inc. v. Powell, No. 1:21-cv-00040 (D.D.C. Jan. 8, 2021).

[2].               Id.

 … Read the rest

SMART PLAYERS NEED SMART CONTRACTS: How Blockchain and Smart Contracts Can Revolutionize the Sports Industry

A Note by Cody Von Rueden

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Smart Contracts” are a critical component of many platforms and applications being built using blockchain or distributed ledger technology.[1]  Simply put, smart contracts are lines of code that are stored on a blockchain and automatically execute when predetermined conditions are met.[2]  The benefits of smart contracts are most apparent in business collaborations, in which they are typically used to enforce some type of agreement so that all participants can be certain of the outcome through speed, accuracy, security, and savings.[3]  Many multinational companies have already jumped onto the blockchain bandwagon and are working on their own projects to stay ahead of the competition.[4]  For instance, major technology providers like IBM and Microsoft are offering block chain solutions to enterprise clients.[5]  Tech start-ups too are aggressively capitalizing on the boom by building new products and services … Read the rest

KNOW WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM, KNOW WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM: How Professional Sports Leagues Should Monetize Data in the Era of Legalized Sports Gambling

A Note by Ben Kovach

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“You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.”[1]  When Kenny Rogers first sung those words in his 1978 hit song, The Gambler, he immortalized the struggle of gamblers everywhere.[2]  Incidentally, he also described the conundrum that professional sports leagues find themselves in today.  Following the invalidation of the federal ban on sports wagering, professional sports leagues in the United States, particularly the National Basketball Association (“NBA”), are eager to obtain a portion of the sports wagers themselves.[3]  This note will argue that the NBA should shift its focus from lobbying legislatures, a largely unsuccessful initiative, to strengthening its data licensing efforts, where the league has already seen success.

          [1].                        Kenny Rogers, The Gambler (United Artists Group 1978).

          [2].                                Id.

          [3].                        Matt Bonesteel, If sports gambling is legalized, the NBA wants in on Read the rest

Is Opportunity Zone Investing Attractive to Wealthy Investors?

An Article by Daniel Pessar

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In the media, in state capitals, and even in Congress, the super-rich are frequently cited as the biggest economic winners from the opportunity zone laws passed as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Although high net worth investors can access the tax benefits more easily than others can, a closer look at the law and regulations reveal that the wealthiest taxpayers are usually less incentivized than other wealthy investors to participate in Qualified Opportunity Zone (QOZ) investing. The QOZ tax benefits are significant, promising capital gains tax exclusion on new QOZ investments. But high net worth investors have more access than others to indefinite deferral mechanisms, making capital gains exclusion less valuable. QOZ investments requires capital gains realization and, by tax year 2026, capital gains recognition, presenting current costs in exchange for future tax benefits mostly available ten … Read the rest

DIAMONDS IN THE DUST: Why Lawyers Make the Ideal Candidate for CEO

A Note by Soha Abdurrahman

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One might expect that after completing three years of law school the next step would be to enter into a law firm and practice law until retirement.  Yet that idea is changing.  Lawyers are no longer just becoming lawyers.[1]  In reality, lawyers are using their degree for so much more—and one destination for them is all the way at the top: Chief Executive Officer (CEO).  This paper acknowledges that lawyers that become CEO make a difference.  But it is not due to external factors, but rather the skill sets innate to lawyers that allow them to get to the top.

          [1].                        Leanne Fuith, Creating the Lawyer as Business Leader, 43 Mitchell Hamline L. Rev. 1095, 1096 (2017), https://open.mitchellhamline.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1106&context=mhlr.… Read the rest

COPPA KILLED THE VIDEO STAR: How the Youtube Settlement Shows that COPPA Does More Harm Than Good

An Article by Stephen Beemsterboer

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The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998[1] (“COPPA”) purportedly protects children on the internet,[2] but the reality is that the law is woefully ineffective at this goal and yet terribly burdensome for website operators (and now, people who upload silly videos to YouTube).  The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the agency tasked with enforcing COPPA,[3] announced a whopping $170 million settlement with YouTube in September 2019,[4] with a message that focused more on bragging about the unprecedented size of the financial sum than any tangible benefit the settlement would provide for the well-being of children on the internet.[5]  The settlement marks a shift in COPPA enforcement in which the FTC will begin targeting website users rather than the website itself.[6]

          [1].                        15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–05 (2018).

          [2].                        Anita L. Allen, Minor Distractions: Children, Privacy and Read the rest