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February 2020
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Second California Court Tells State AG To Stop Screwing Around And Release Police Misconduct Records

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A California appeals court has just handed Attorney General Xavier Becerra a second defeat in his quest to keep police misconduct records out of the public's hands.Becerra first stepped up to defend bad cops from transparency and accountability shortly after a new law went live, giving Californians access to police misconduct and use of force records for the first time ever. Becerra claimed (without legal support) the law was not retroactive, an assertion contradicted by the crafter of the bill.No courts agreed with this contention, even when it was made by police unions and department public records reps. The law applies to all misconduct records, not just those created after the law's enactment. Some departments saw this coming and purged older records prior to enactment. Others complied quietly. A few sued to block enforcement of the law.Xavier Becerra made the dubious legal assertion the state's Department of Justice didn't need to turn over records because it wasn't the original source. He made this assertion despite the DOJ being the agency that routinely investigates misconduct and use of force complaints, which means the DOJ should have plenty of responsive records on hand.The First Amendment Coalition and public media outlet KQED sued after Becerra refused to turn over records. Becerra asked the appeals court to tell him he was right to refuse to comply with the law. The appeals court says that's not the way the law works. The state DOJ holds records on police misconduct and the public can directly approach the DOJ for these records, rather than filing requests with numerous different agencies. (via Courthouse News)The ruling confirms the lower court's determination: if the DOJ has these records, the DOJ needs to turn them over. From the decision [PDF]:

In this case, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the California Department of Justice (collectively, the Department) have filed a petition for a writ of mandate seeking to overturn the trial court’s order in favor of First Amendment Coalition and KQED, Inc. (KQED) over two aspects of the Department’s disclosure obligations under section 832.7. We conclude, as a matter of statutory interpretation, that section 832.7 generally requires disclosure of all responsive records in the possession of the Department, regardless whether the records pertain to officers employed by the Department or by another public agency and regardless whether the Department or another public agency created the records.
The court says the law's wording makes it clear any agency holding records is obligated to release them -- not just the agency where the records may have originated.
[T]he Department’s construction is at odds with the CPRA, which provides in no uncertain terms that, barring an applicable exemption, a member of the public has the right to inspect any nonexempt “public records,” defined as “any writing” containing information relating to the public’s business that is “retained by” a state or local agency.
Clear, unambiguous language in the law. Clear, unambiguous language from the court. And yet…
The Attorney General’s press office said in an email that the Justice Department is reviewing the decision.
Come on, man. Being willfully ignorant of the law is no excuse. Appealing this decision further just wastes time and the public's tax dollars. Turn over the records, you coward.

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posted at: 12:00am on 06-Feb-2020
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Disney's Licensing Dogs Charge Underserved School District A Third Of Fundraiser Money For Playing 'Lion King' DVD

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When it comes to posts about copyright issues, I cannot say for certain that Disney is the most frequent commonality in those posts, but it just... feels like it's probably true. After all, Disney has played such a heavy role in making copyright the over-extended, profit-driven, legal-cudgel bastardization of what copyright law was originally meant to be. Mickey Mouse himself is cited as the reason for copyright extensions in the past, and the company has been notorious in its zealous jealousy in protecting its copyrights.But allowing your licensing partners to charge a school district for a third of the funds from a school fundraiser just because a parent brought a Lion King DVD to keep the kids happy during the event? That's a bit much, even for Disney.

When an elementary school in Berkeley, California, hosted a "parent's night out" fundraiser, they didn't think playing the 2019 remake of "The Lion King" would do anything besides keep the kids happy. That was until Emerson Elementary School received an email from a licensing company Thursday -- more than two months after the event -- saying they had to pay $250 for illegally screening the movie."One of the dads bought the movie at Best Buy," PTA president David Rose told CNN. "He owned it. We literally had no idea we were breaking any rules."
It's something we talk about all the time. Because of the twisted pretzel that copyright laws have become, it is quite possible for well-meaning folks to infringe upon copyright without having any idea that they're doing so. That cannot possibly be what the framers of copyright law had in mind when they created it. Movie Licensing USA, Disney's partner for managing licensing agreements, extracted $250 from the school's $800 fundraiser for showing the movie to kids, and informed the school that they would have to pay the same amount for any future showings.The parents and district paid, but weren't happy about it. Because the universe is not without a sense of irony, part of the need for the fundraiser is, according to the district, the sweetheart real estate deal Disney got from California for the property it owns.
Berkeley City Council member Lori Droste, who is also a parent at Emerson Elementary, believes Disney is being unfair."There was an initiative passed in 1979 called Proposition 13 which casts the property tax on all land, and so Disney's property tax rates are at 1978 values which translates into millions upon millions of dollars a year that Disney is not paying," Droste told CNN."Because of that, our schools are now extremely underfunded," she added. "We went from the '70s being among the top education systems in the US to one of the lowest."
So, to summarize, Disney benefits from a government deal and avoids paying taxes, which fund school districts, and then sent the licensing police to the doors of a fundraiser for one of those school districts to take $250 out of the coffers. At this point, it's almost like they're trying to be one of their movie villains.

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