On this day in legal history, July 31, 1919 the Constitution of the German Reich was signed in Weimar, Germany.
The Constitution of the German Reich, commonly referred to as the Weimar Constitution, was the governing document for Germany during the Weimar Republic era from 1919 to 1933. It was drafted following the end of World War I by the lawyer and liberal politician Hugo Preuss, who played a crucial role in the shaping of the new democratic federal republic. The constitution was deliberated and framed by the German National Assembly, which gathered in the town of Weimar, Thuringia, after the Federal elections held on January 19, 1919. However, the process was not without its disagreements among delegates on issues such as the national flag, religious education for youth, and the rights of the states (Länder) within the Reich. These disagreements were eventually resolved by August 1919, but 65 delegates abstained from voting to adopt the constitution.
The Weimar Constitution declared Germany to be a democratic parliamentary republic, introducing universal suffrage with a minimum voting age of 20, and employing proportional representation in the election of the legislature. Despite remaining technically in effect from 1933 to 1945 during the Nazi era, it was practically repealed by the Enabling Act of 1933, leading to its provisions and protections going unenforced throughout Nazi rule. The constitution's title echoed that of the Constitution of the German Empire that preceded it, and the official name for the German state remained "Deutsches Reich" until the adoption of the 1949 Basic Law. The first President of the Republic, Friedrich Ebert, formally signed the parliament-approved Weimar Constitution into law on August 11, 1919, in Schwarzburg, where he was on holiday, despite the parliament working out the constitution in Weimar. Subsequent federal elections were conducted in line with the Weimar Constitution, including those held on June 6, 1920.
CoComelon, a popular kids YouTube channel owned by Moonbug Entertainment Ltd., won a significant copyright lawsuit against Chinese competitor BabyBus Co. Ltd. for copying its videos, receiving $23.4 million from the jury. Moonbug accused BabyBus of creating Super JoJo songs that were in some cases nearly identical to CoComelon songs, leading to a lawsuit in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
BabyBus admitted to infringing seven CoComelon works before the trial but contested the alleged infringement of 35 other works. The jury determined that BabyBus willfully infringed dozens of Moonbug's copyrights, and the award included $17.6 million in actual damages and profits, plus $5.8 million in statutory damages. UK-based Moonbug, which also owns other YouTube kids' programs, acquired CoComelon in 2020; it was subsequently purchased by two former Disney executives for $3 billion.
BabyBus began its Super JoJo channel in 2019 and was sued by Moonbug and CoComelon creator Treasure Studio Inc. in August 2021, months before a significant acquisition. Moonbug's complaint accused Super JoJo of blatantly copying CoComelon's elements, including characters, settings, and animations, and pointed out examples of identical or nearly identical content; BabyBus countered that many of these elements were unoriginal or inherent in the genre. Tyz Law Group and Horvitz & Levy LLP represented Moonbug, while Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP represented BabyBus in the case. The verdict in the case of Moonbug Entm't Ltd. v. Babybus Network Tech. Co. was reached on July 27, 2023, marking a significant decision in the field of copyright infringement.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is redistributing legal work to various law firms after parting ways with Marc Elias, a well-known elections lawyer who had been a lead adviser to Democratic committees for more than a decade. The firms receiving work include WilmerHale and Covington & Burling, both of which have large practices in Washington, and Perkins Coie, which continues to provide legal services for the DNC despite reducing much of its consulting for Democrats. The separation from Elias represents a shift in the DNC's legal approach leading up to the 2024 election, though the reasons for the split remain undisclosed. No law firm has clearly assumed the role of the DNC’s primary outside firm, and the committee now works with multiple firms on various legal matters. The DNC has also appointed in-house counsel Andrea Levien, who previously worked with Elias. During the 2020 election, Perkins Coie earned $11.2 million from the DNC, almost 65% of the DNC’s expenditures for legal services. FEC records also reveal that the DNC is working with several other law firms, including Dentons and Boston-based Hemenway & Barnes, in this election cycle.
Sam Bankman-Fried, the indicted founder of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, is facing calls by prosecutors to be jailed pending his October fraud trial. Prosecutors argue that he has attempted to intimidate witnesses and influence their testimony, specifically pointing to an incident where Bankman-Fried shared excerpts from his former romantic partner's personal documents with a New York Times reporter. He has been under house arrest in Palo Alto, California since his December 2022 extradition from the Bahamas, with bail including a $250 million bond. Bankman-Fried, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of stealing billions of dollars in FTX customer funds to cover losses at his hedge fund, Alameda Research. His former partner, Caroline Ellison, has pleaded guilty to fraud charges and is expected to testify against him, as are two other former FTX executives. The defense has until August 1 to respond to the government's letter seeking his detention. The court has also barred Bankman-Fried from discussing the case publicly.
A federal judge has dismissed former U.S. President Donald Trump's $475 million defamation lawsuit against CNN. Trump's lawsuit, filed in October 2022, claimed that CNN's characterization of his election fraud allegations as the "big lie" linked him with Adolf Hitler. U.S. Judge Raag Singhal, who was nominated by Trump in 2019, ruled on Friday night that CNN's words were an opinion and not a factual statement, and therefore could not be the subject of a defamation claim. Singhal stated that "CNN's statements while repugnant, were not, as a matter of law, defamatory." The lawsuit cited five instances where CNN referred to Trump's assertions about the 2020 election as his "big lie," a phrase associated with Nazi propaganda. Trump's spokesperson responded to the ruling but did not indicate whether there would be an appeal. The dismissal comes as Trump remains a front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, despite facing both state and federal indictments.