Trial update, settlements and running in parks

Trial: Shooting A Gun Through Sunroof

Today, we start with some updates regarding Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial. Here, you’ll find a detailed version of Monday’s recap. In short, pathologist Gert Saayman testified on how Reeva Steenkamp died. The testimony proved too graphic for Pistorius, because he vomited during his testimony. The trial was delayed for a short time because of it. After Pistorius was given a bucket to vomit in, the trial resumed at the request of his defense lawyer, Barry Roux. The other testimony came from the security guard shift leader, Pieter Baba. Originally, Baba testified that Pistorius called security first, and that Pistorius said everything was okay. Roux produced cell phone records which indicated that Pistorius called first. If Roux’ evidence and support holds, it will show that Pistorius tried to seek help as soon as possible.

Yesterday’s phase of the trial began with testimony from Darren Fresco, who is a friend of Pistorius. Fresco, testifying for the prosecution, was present on two occasions where Pistorius had fired a gun in public. Fresco then asked Pistorius if he was “f***ing mad.” Pistorius allegedly told the police officer that he was not permitted “to touch another man’s gun.” On cross-examination, Roux diminished Fresco’s credibility in his line of questioning regarding the shot out of the sunroof. Roux asked Fresco if he remembered whether he and Pistorius claimed that they “wanted to shoot a robot,” while laughing. Fresco stated he could not remember. His uncertainty regarding the comment may cast doubt on his overall version of the events. In addition, Fresco admitted that he “had been following the proceedings on Twitter.” Interestingly enough, this was the only comment on the matter. I would have thought this would spark a more scrutinizing interrogation from Roux. Lastly, according to Fresco’s testimony, Pistorius asked Fresco to take the blame for a different incident when Pistorius’ gun went off in a restaurant in early 2013.

A Picture is Worth A Thousand Headaches

For those of you who don’t know what The Color Run is, here’s a quick description: The Color Run holds itself out as a 5k race with an unusual twist – the runners are blasted with various colors of paint during the race. Unofficially known as the “Happiest 5k on the Planet,” its organization was much less than that when it finally settled its lawsuit against college student Max Jackson last month. The debacle dates back to October 2012. At that time, Jackson attended the Color Run events with some friends so that he could take pictures of the race. After Jackson posted his pictures on Facebook, Scott Winn, an independent contractor of photography for The Color Run, expressed interest in Jackson’s pictures for The Color Run’s Facebook page. While compensation was not discussed, Winn promised Jackson that he could link the pictures back to Jackson’s page. Later, Winn asked Jackson to “take his watermark off the images” which would allow The Color Run to add its own logo. Winn promised that Jackson could still receive photo credit. All of this discussion took place via Facebook messenger.

Everything was okay until August. In August, Jackson was working for a company called Silverback Enterprises, a production company that sets up and tears down event equipment for The Color Run races” (unrelated to Jackson’s photography work). Jackson was in Pennsylvania helping out at one of the races in Pennsylvania. When Jackson walked into a Sports Authority store, he recognized his picture on a marketing flyer for The Color Run. However, Jackson’s name was not mentioned. Upset, Jackson wrote to founder Travis Snyder, stating that The Color Run’s use of Jackson’s photos (8 in total – some were online) constituted a breach of contract, and requested $100,000 in compensation.

Runner’s World discovered that email exchanges between The Color Run and Jackson further explained the discussions between them. Based on the emails and the Facebook messages, there is evidence that an agreement between the two parties existed. The existence of an agreement and the facts surrounding it likely promoted The Color Run to offer to settle for $30,000 and Jackson would forfeit his photo credit rights. Jackson declined the offer, then raised his asking price to $300,000 after Silverback Enterprise let him go. While this exchange occurred, The Color Run went to court, and sued Jackson for trademark infringement. The Color Run based its lawsuit on Jackson’s failure to obtain permission from The Color Run to use its logo on Jackson’s Facebook page, Jackson’s false misrepresentation in saying that he worked for The Color Run, and that Jackson failed to obtain permission to use photos of the participants in The Color Run. The article notes that within The Color Run’s allegations, it admitted that it “inadvertently” used Jackson’s photos without obtaining his permission.

Rick Sanders, an attorney from Nashville who practices technology and intellectual property law, analyzed the issues and found that The Color Run had no meritorious claims against Jackson. Sanders found that there was likely an enforceable contract between the feuding parties. As long as the wording of the contract (which can be formed by Facebook messages / e-mail exchanges) expresses a “give-and-take” nature, it’s likely a contract. Sanders mentioned that Jackson would have had access to statutory damages had he “registered his photos with the U.S. Copyright Office”; without that, Jackson may sue only for actual damages.

Sanders discussed how The Color Run has no legal right to sue on the “taking pictures without the participants’ permission” claim. The people depicted in the photos have a legal claim if they felt offended or slighted by any of the displayed pictures. While the pictures did display The Color Run logo, the court usually recognizes that the person the photo depicts has legal standing to sue in court; another individual or entity cannot sue on behalf of someone’s else’s photo, with some exceptions (none of which are applicable here). Jackson’s misrepresentation lacks merit, as The Color Run did mention that he was working for them. And, the trademark infringement claim also lacks merit because Jackson created no false affiliation. In fact, The Color Run used the same pictures Jackson took; all Jackson did was take pictures of people wearing The Color Run t-shirts.

Fortunately, the case settled out of court, but its contents remain undisclosed, pursuant to the settlement agreement.

If you don’t remember the article regarding Peter Shankman, you might recall what happened to him in how he was cited by the police for “breaking curfew” in running in Central Park at a time when the law says stay out. His citation raised some questions regarding some other urban parks in the area and when its curfews begin. Runner’s World put out a list of ten parks. all with varying hours of operation. Note: some are open 24/7.

USATF  and the Track & Field Athletes Association were scheduled to meet last week, but due to a communication error, were unable to meet. Now that the World Indoor Championships have concluded, perhaps USATF can arrange something in the near future.

Finally, the final article discusses how Track and Field is falling behind in generating revenue in comparison to swimming, and how a major change must occur to the “circus” of track and field to keep up with the rest of the world. If you’re a track and field fan, you know how crazy it is to go and watch a meet – everything happens at the same time, and it is difficult to pay attention if you are not used to the type of organized chaos. However, if a sport like track and field is trying to garner more interest in fans, there must be a change in the way things are done. I’m skeptical of the article, though. While I understand that having five events go off at the same time is unfortunate for some athletes, there’s no possible way to have each event “specialized” so that all are watching. If you did that, Championships could last much longer than they need to – which leads to more money spent on housing athletes, renting out the facility, airtime, etc. I’m all for figuring out ways to increase viewers, engage fans who may not understand the chaos of a track meet, and promote track and field events that tend to fall out of the public light, but there has to be some sort of balance.

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