Taking Wagers on Sports Betting & Online Gambling

– Joe Rosenbaum

The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 prohibits most states from authorizing sports betting (the law grandfathered a few states, such as Nevada) and New Jersey has been fighting to convince the Federal government to allow the State to legalize and license sports betting.  The latest attempt to circumvent the Act was the repeal of New Jersey’s own sports betting prohibitions at racetracks and casinos.  That effort was derailed by a series of court decisions, culminating in a 9-3 en banc decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which then led to the State of New Jersey petitioning the Supreme Court of the United States.

Last month, the Supreme Court refused to deny New Jersey’s challenge to the Federal ban (see, Christopher J. Christie, Governor of New Jersey, et al, Petitioners v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al; and New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Inc., Petitioner v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, et al) and left the door open to grant certiorari in the case if the Office of the Solicitor General (which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice) argues the case raises serious issues and questions of Federal law. They could, if they so choose, seek to revisit the long-standing position of the DOJ holding sports betting illegal.  To some extent, with the new administration of President Trump in place, many see this as an opportunity to do just that, since many of you may remember that as owner of casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, then businessman Donald Trump was a proponent of the legalization of sports betting.

Clearly, as States look to generate other sources of tax revenue, many view this as an opportunity to increase revenues and regulate an activity that has long been associated with organized crime. Indeed, the American Gaming Association estimated well over $4 billion in bets were placed on the Super Bowl last Sunday, virtually all of it, illegally. President Trump has consistently said he is in favor of eliminating or reducing legislation and regulation that restricts what States may or may not do and that encumber businesses needlessly beyond necessary Federal oversight. This may well fit right into that category, although there have been no comments as yet from the Administration.

Former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, just confirmed last night as Attorney General of the United States, has voiced opposition to any expansion of online gambling in the past, although when questioned during Senate hearings, did indicate he was willing to take another look at how and to what extent online gaming is being enforced by the Federal government.  There is also the possibility that in deciding to allow sports betting and an expansion of online gaming generally, the Federal government may choose to adopt some form of federally regulated or licensed betting and gambling scheme. While the path ahead is far from certain and opposition remains, some things do seem clear: attitudes are changing, the present administration is not averse to controversial new ideas, is favorably disposed to the elimination of any unnecessary Federal regulation that stands in the way of creating jobs and stimulating the economy and, notably, is likely to welcome finding an opportunity to enable States to find ways to increase tax revenue – and taxing so-called ‘sin’ industries may not be such an objectionable idea.

Stay tuned and, of course, if you have any questions, want further information or need help, don’t hesitate to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or any of the attorneys you regularly work with at Rimon.

FCC Opens Radio and Television Broadcasting to Foreign Entities

by Stephen Díaz Gavin

For more than 80 years, Section 310(b) of the Communications Act of 1934 has been interpreted as prohibiting direct foreign ownership of more than 20% and indirect ownership of 25% or more of US radio and television broadcast stations.  Effective January 31, 2017, this will change as the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has removed longstanding prohibitions against these limitations on foreign ownership, although it has preserved the right, on a case-by-case basis, to block a foreign acquisition of a broadcast license in excess of 25% (e.g., for reasons of national security).

Foreign entities, for quite some time, have already been permitted to acquire control over non-broadcast licenses (e.g., nationwide cell carrier T-Mobile is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom). But the FCC has steadfastly enforced its longstanding foreign ownership control policies over broadcast station licenses.  Most famously, Rupert Murdoch had to become a U.S. citizen before being able to acquire control over what we know today as Fox Broadcasting.

Changes adopted to the rules of the FCC will enable approval of up to and including 100% aggregate foreign beneficial ownership (voting and/or equity) by foreign investors in the controlling U.S. parent of a broadcast licensee, subject to certain conditions.  The revised rules, which newly define and in certain respects create different rules for “named” and “un-named” investors, they will allow a named foreign investor that acquires less than 100% to increase its controlling interest to 100% at some time in the future.  If a named foreign investor acquires a “noncontrolling” interest, that investor will now be permitted to increase its voting and/or equity interest up to and including a “noncontrolling” interest of 49.99% in the future, if it chooses to do so.

Although the FCC’s expansive “public interest standard” in approving sales and investments in broadcast licenses, coupled with input from other Executive government agencies, could significantly delay or block investments from some countries, the strong support of this initiative by the remaining Republican members of the FCC would tend to indicate the FCC will be disposed to allow most transactions to proceed to closing.  Indeed, the FCC has already signaled its willingness to do so, by approving just such a foreign ownership acquisition in a recent declaratory ruling issued even before the new rules take effect, ending a decades long back-and-forth haggling over Mexican ownership of Univision.

For more information regarding the new FCC rules or assistance in handling the regulatory and transactional aspects of such an investment, contact the author, Stephen Díaz Gavin, or Phil Quatrini or Sandy Sterrett, all partners at Rimon, P.C.

Of course, you can always contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, the Editor!

Thought Leadership

Thought leadership is a state of being in which one or more individuals articulate innovative ideas – ideas that stimulate thought and are futuristic or leading-edge.

Thought leadership requires confidence and a willingness to share ideas in the form of insights and principles that inform and guide future considerations.

Thought leadership is often controversial. New or different ideas, like innovative technology, can cause evolutionary change, but can also create disruptive or revolutionary change.

Although not all thought leadership must be actionable, it is often the basis for a re-evaluation of existing pathways, and a guidepost for new roads ahead.

…and the Oscar Selfie Goes To or (the Unexpected Virtue of Being a Fish)

Everyone knows there is competition, hype and controversy over nominations and awards at each year’s contest run by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. The competition culminates in an annual show broadcast around the globe and endearingly referred to as the “Academy Awards,” or simply the “Oscars” – referring to the golden statuette given out during the broadcast and evidencing the winners. In recent years, the hosts of the Oscar broadcasts – some controversial and others not – have changed almost as often as the tidy-whities displayed by Michael Keaton  in this year’s Best Picture winner Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). But do you know the legal controversy surrounding the Oscars?

Here are the facts:

Ellen DeGeneres wanted to take a “selfie” together with some of the most famous people in Hollywood, and by “tweeting” the photo, it become the most re-tweeted Twitter post ever. The camera used for the selfie was a Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Samsung is one of the advertisers with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and Samsung gave it to Ellen for promotional purposes at the event. We don’t know of any agreement between Samsung and either the Academy or Ellen DeGeneres regarding the device or any photos or messages using the Galaxy Note 3. We do know Ellen did not actually take the picture. To get everyone she wanted to fit into the picture, Ellen passed the camera to Bradley Cooper, who had longer arms. He got everyone in the frame and pressed the shutter.

Here is the photo and tweet that resulted, and which immediately went viral when posted on Twitter.

which she then ‘Tweeted’

Continue reading “…and the Oscar Selfie Goes To or (the Unexpected Virtue of Being a Fish)”

Thank You for 2014 – Best Wishes for 2015

This is the time of year when many of you are celebrating holidays; spending time with family, friends and loved ones; bidding farewell to 2014; and looking forward to the New Year – 2015. A time when many of us pause to reflect on the past year and wonder what the new year will bring. There are people who have touched us and some with whom we’ve gotten closer; some we have missed and many with whom we resolve to try and be better in the new year; and perhaps a few we might like to forget. We remember those who are no longer with us and appreciate that by remembering them, we keep their spirit – all we have learned from them and all they have meant to us – alive. As 2014 comes to an end, we reflect on friendships and experiences, and use the opportunity to thank those who have helped us in tough times, and those with whom we cherish sharing the good times.

For me, it’s a time to resolve to keep doing the good things I’ve done this past year and to be better about trying to do those things I should have done. This time of year gives me an excuse to say thank you and express appreciation to all those who have enriched my life. If you are reading this, you are part of my audience – part of the fabric of my professional life and, like the threads of that fabric, you have helped me weave the patterns and textures you read in these digital pages. I am grateful for your readership and, in some cases, your friendship. I am always appreciative when you take a moment to read and maybe gain some insight, while being a little entertained.

Thank You

Continue reading “Thank You for 2014 – Best Wishes for 2015”

What One Lawyer Has Learned About Social Media (But There Are Still 5 Days Left)

Last week I received a novel invitation – call it a ‘dare’ from a long-time colleague and friend in a faraway land. He and I have never actually met, but we have interacted so often professionally and we keep trying to figure out how and when we can end up at the same conference, perhaps even sharing a speaking opportunity or panel so we can finally say ‘Hello’ in person – even split a bottle of wine. The invitation was a novel twist on attracting speakers to a professional conference – specifically the 2014 Webit Global Conference to be held in Istanbul.

Although the agenda was pretty full already, the organizers decided to create some ‘buzz’ by allowing people to vote for a few speaking slots as “Audience Choice” selections. Imagine that, a professional conference with a ‘power to the people’ format. While obviously hoping to increase attendance and excitement for the conference, the balloting is online and you don’t have to be registered to vote.

Now I’m wise enough, with enough experience, to appreciate that a practicing lawyer will NEVER win a popularity contest. I mean seriously – who normally says “I love my lawyer and really want to hear him talk!” I believe this to be true, even if we aren’t charging by the hour!

But I do love a good challenge and I thought it would be a good opportunity to conduct an informal, completely unofficial and invalid experiment. So I sent requests to people I’m connected to on LinkedIn, tweeted on Twitter and provided a link, with ‘Please vote for my presentation’ on my email signature block. Here is what I know and what I learned so far:

1. On this Legal Bytes blog, there have been more than 120,000 visitors, with 76,000 of them unique. So far just this month, there have been more than 2,500 visits. My own contacts – friends, family, professional colleagues, adversaries and people I have met over the years – number well over 6,000. As of this morning, I had 3,677 direct connections on LinkedIn. That means, according to the platform, there are 18,240,386 professionals in my network. That’s more than 18 million people! Eat your heart out Ellen and Ashton! Who’s ‘trending’ now?

2. Although Legal Bytes gets posted on Facebook, I don’t use Facebook otherwise and I only have a little over 480 ‘followers’ on Twitter (most of whom I don’t know), but that may simply be because my tweets, like my Facebook posts, are simply feeds from my blog. Perhaps those other 76,000 people are getting their information here and don’t need to duplicate it on Facebook or Twitter. Further study may be required (not really).

3. If you don’t have a Facebook profile, the organizers won’t let you vote – an interesting condition for a professional conference. Not sure why they didn’t pick a different platform or not require any pre-condition of membership in a network.

4. The organizers apparently won’t let you vote even if you are registered with Facebook, if you don’t have enough ‘friends’ on your profile (a few of my lawyer friends tried to vote and they are just as unpopular as I am). I’m guessing the conference organizers only want people who can spread the word to lots of others.

5. As of this morning I had 92 (yes, 92) votes.  Although I can’t really tell how many total potential speakers entered the contest, I am number 234 and some people have almost 1,000 votes already.

So far, my little experiment has led me to the following observations:

(a) My connections don’t vote, don’t want to vote or are out of the office and will get back to me as soon as they return;
(b) My connections really don’t like lawyers;
(c) My connections either don’t like this lawyer; prefer not to vote for this lawyer; prefer not to vote at all; didn’t qualify to vote (I may ask for a recount); or didn’t like the description.
(d) My thousands, hundreds of thousands and even millions of linked and networked connections don’t mean that much – it’s the people who know me that really count.

Perhaps there are or will be other lessons. After all, there are still 5 days left and if I ultimately end up with more than 18 million votes, I will be forced to admit I was totally wrong about the real power of social networks.

Entertainment Media Crowd Funding Oscar (No, Not That One)

In 1918 there were no Academy Awards. But there was another Oscar! Oscar Micheaux, who taught us something about financing media and entertainment projects – perhaps the first crowd funding entrepreneur in the publishing and motion picture industry.

If you would like to know more about crowd funding and what’s new and what’s next (and about Oscar), you can read about it in Volume 25, Issue 3 of the Entertainment Law Review, where an article about crowd funding, authored by Joseph I. Rosenbaum, was first published by Sweet and Maxwell in London (a Thomson Reuters (Professional) UK Limited company.

You can read Joe’s entire article or download the PDF for your own personal use (i.e., not for redistribution) right here: Crowd Funding – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Investment Bank. [PDF]

As always, if you want to know more about Crowd Funding (or any other matter requiring legal representation, counsel or guidance, please contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Rimon attorney with whom you regularly work.

Looking Forward to 2014

As we say goodbye to 2013 . . . .

For those of you who are loyal readers and followers of Legal Bytes, you know this is the time of year when I break tradition and write a non-legal, more personal and philosophical post for Legal Bytes. I am figuring that if the ancient Babylonians, who celebrated the New Year upon seeing the first new moon after the vernal equinox, could start a tradition that lasted for about 4,000 years – the least I could do was to try to keep up. Although my tradition doesn’t date back nearly that far, this posting will contain no hypertext links to distract you; it will not have citations to provide you with reference or background information; nor will it dazzle you with factoids or intrigue you with today’s news – legal or otherwise. This is my one chance each year to philosophize and dispense my thoughts and opinions – with absolutely no credentials, qualifications or expertise to do so.

There are, however, two traditions I will continue to perpetuate even though I did not originate either one. First, let me take this the opportunity to wish each of you, your families, friends, loved ones and yes, even an enemy or two, an enchanting and joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy new year, filled with enchantment and magic, health and joy, and prosperity and success. Second, as many of you know, for numerous years I have avoided a tradition of sending out mass mailings of cards and gifts – which are often lost in the flurry of the season, and delayed by the strain on the mail and package delivery services; and while we delude ourselves into believing it "personalizes" the warmth of the season – whether displayed for a few weeks and then put in a drawer, tossed in the trash bin immediately, or relegated to a closet filled with decades of Lucite, there was nothing really personal about that process. So as many of you may already know, I decided years ago to borrow a tradition an old friend told me about and I started making a contribution to a charitable organization for all the family, friends, loved ones, colleagues and acquaintances I want to honor, in memory of those we have lost this past year, near and far, and in recognition of those who have given me a reason to celebrate – clearly far too many to list. In that spirit, as I have done for a number of years, I have made a donation to the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. My way – perhaps naively – of trying to help some children in need, benefit from the kindness of a stranger.

So now, won’t you please pull up a chair, put your other distractions away for just a moment, pour a glass of your favorite beverage, sit back and enjoy . . . and as always, thank you.

When I thought about this year’s "philosophical" posting, my first inclination was to offer my humble opinions about the woeful state of intellectual property law and the challenges faced with the onslaught of digital technology. I thought about data breaches and wondered if what people really care about is privacy or data protection, or rather the inability to control information about us so that we can actually get a benefit from sharing information about ourselves. After all, I don’t really care if anyone knows I like popcorn, but at least give me a discount coupon for sharing that information with someone I don’t know! So many legal challenges – but then I thought, wait, this isn’t supposed to be a "legal" posting . . .

So I remembered just recently someone told me that everyone should listen to the Michael Jackson song "Man in the Mirror" at least once every month. I thought about what that meant – really listen to the words. Coincidentally, I keep hearing the John Lennon song "Imagine" playing at surprisingly frequent intervals this time of year. It occurred to me the entire season has a genre of music dedicated to the holiday spirit and the new year. Since I promised no hypertext links, I will resist – but did you ever wonder about the universal power of music that transcends culture, ethnic background, race, religion and all the things we believe separate and segregate us. Why is it that music can have such a powerful and magical effect on us – no matter what age or part of the world we are from.

Although no one asserts that music arose or was derived from the study of mathematics, mathematics is ultimately the basis of sound, being rooted in the frequency of vibration that is audible to the human auditory senses. Tone and pitch all can be expressed as mathematical frequencies. This is hardly new – ancient Chinese and Egyptians studied the mathematical properties of sound, and one of the earliest Greek mathematicians and philosophers, Pythagoras, actually correlated the length of the string to the vibrational frequency, and even expressed musical scales in terms of numerical ratios. In Plato’s time, one of the key branches of physics was "harmony," and early studies in India and China sought to show that mathematical laws of harmonics and rhythms were fundamental to our understanding of the world, as well as to our well-being. This time of the year, my interest in music is not in its mathematical properties, but rather in its ability to bring harmony to the world – one musical composition at a time.

Every culture on the planet has folk songs, musical instruments and rhythms, whether or not they include song or dance. Indeed, we launch music into space with explanatory mathematical symbols and algorithms in the belief that if there is life out there, they will view us as friendly and harmonious because of our music, rather than because of our unmanned space craft smashing into their planet!

Consider how important music is in almost every aspect of our lives. Although there are obvious examples of music put to nefarious uses – remember the 1971 Stanley Kubrick film, "A Clockwork Orange" – in most cases, music sets the mood, captivates us, and engages us in ways both explicit and implicit. If memory serves, the only television programming since the beginning of time that doesn’t have a theme song is the news program "60 Minutes" – announced only with a ticking clock (unless you consider that music). When the theme song to our favorite program announces the beginning of the program, everyone comes running to the screen (for years I thought the words "Hi Ho Silver" were actually part of the "William Tell Overture"). Who does not remember a wide variety of jingles and catchy tunes advertising products in advertisements of all kinds – from being stuck on Band Aids, to "loving it" at McDonald’s (which replaced "you deserve a break today").

Certainly in motion pictures, music has introduced us to aliens ("Close Encounters of the Third Kind"), has been the background for our investigation of the cycle of life and birth and the mysteries of the universe (witness Strauss and Wagner in "2001: A Space Odyssey"). Who doesn’t remember the stirring music from "The Magnificent Seven" or instantly recognize the introduction to every James Bond movie. Think about all the different types of music from around the world. Type "musical genres" into Wikipedia and you will get a listing of literally hundreds of types and styles of music. Every major (and some minor) city, town and village has a musical group – marching bands, barbershop quartets, street minstrels, symphony orchestras, rock groups and school recitals. Ever wonder why?

I’m happy to send you the link (not here) but one day, take a look at the clip on YouTube of a homeless young man making the audience (and the judges) cry on "Korea’s Got Talent," or 6-year-old Connie singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" on "Britain’s Got Talent," and making even Simon Cowell melt. Take a peek at the clip from the Andre Rieu concert at Parkstad Stadium in the Netherlands as he introduces 3-year-old violinist Akim, or a YouTube video of Ryan, only 11 years old, playing Chopin like a master.

These are obvious musical "tear jerkers" – sympathetic or extraordinarily young people with amazing talent. But my belief is that music and its universal appeal are deeply rooted in our human DNA and that music – a universal language that has transcended and often defied borders for centuries – has the unique ability to cross artificial boundaries and barriers that far too often seem to separate us and perhaps, bring us together. We humans, all of us, love music. I have no scientific evidence, but music is important. The power of music is too ubiquitous, has been around far too long and is simply too amazing to ignore. We associate life events with music that was playing at the moment. We love concerts, and while musical groups and styles may wax and wane, the one constant is that music in one form or another continues to fill stadia, concert halls and our lives. Music can make us calm or can call us to action; it can stir us and make us smile or melancholy. Its rich contours and seemingly endless complexity can make us feel happy when we are blue, and smile, even when we are walking in the rain.

In recent days, smart mobs around the world (sometimes referred to as "flash mobs" when they gather for seemingly random and pointless activities, only to disperse as quickly as they appear), have grown increasingly popular as expressive outlets for music of all kinds – from symphonic pieces to hip hop and recreation of theatrical production numbers. While the first modern-day, non-musical "flash mob" was the invention of Bill Wasik, a senior editor at Harper’s Magazine who, in June 2003, surreptitiously arranged for more than 100 people to gather on the 9th floor of Macy’s surrounding an expensive rug – everyone was told to tell the advances sales help that they were a group shopping for a "love rug," that they made purchases as a group and that they all lived together in a warehouse just outside New York City. Imitators soon popped up, but the most recent trend has been around music – sometimes accompanied by dance, marriage proposals, reunions and celebrations – but always celebrations of life.

I admit to being mesmerized by the coordination and harmonious talent of these seemingly unconnected people, even though I realize someone has coordinated (and often rehearsed) the effort. While I am happy to send you links (not here) if you don’t believe it, I have vicariously collected musical memories of a crowd in a food court singing Handel’s "Hallelujah Chorus," to a crowd singing Michael Jackson songs in Bucharest, Romania; from a flash mob in Central Station, Sydney, performing Riverdance on St. Patrick’s Day, to the a flash mob in Springfield, Illinois, performing Les Misérables; from a Bollywood performance on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, to a Greek festival flash mob in Ottawa, Canada; and yes, a medley of ABBA songs from "Mama Mia" performed on an Israeli beach, to Norwegian Soldiers dancing to Michael Jackson’s "Thriller."

I want to take this opportunity to wish family and friends, colleagues and acquaintances, clients and adversaries, those who know me far too well and even those who don’t have a clue how they got on this email list, health, peace, comfort and joy this holiday season and in the year ahead. May those who love you come closer and those who dislike you forget why. Most of all, I wish all of you the extraordinary feelings of joy and harmony that come with music, whether sitting alone with your headphones or next to someone on a park bench, perhaps through music we can change the world . . . one noisy note at a time.

So as 2013 comes to an end, I will break my own rule and share a link in this column – or perhaps not a link, but a gift. The gift of music. I leave you with the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Instantly recognizable, incorporating the words of the poet Friedrich Schiller: Alle Menschen werden Brüder, Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt (All men shall become brothers, wherever your gentle wings hover). Take five minutes out of your busy day because, just as the lyrics of "Man in the Mirror" suggest, "no message could have been any clearer. If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that Change!"

Warm regards for the holidays and best wishes for the new year. Sincerely – Joe Rosenbaum


Thank You For 2013 – Best Wishes for 2014

At this time of year, many of us are celebrating holidays and spending time with family, friends and loved ones. Getting ready to bid farewell to 2013 and looking forward to the coming of 2014 – a new year. Some of us even hope we can keep those new year resolutions that might last longer than a week or two.

Although we shouldn’t take it for granted at any time of year, this is one of those seasons we seem to use to pause and reflect on where we have been and where we are going. We think of those who have touched us; those we missed and some we would prefer to forget. We remember those no longer with us and marvel at the miracle of each life born into the world this year. We reflect on friendships through which we have grown, and appreciate those who have helped us on our journey through 2013. This time of year also gives me an excuse to say thank you and to express appreciation to those who have enriched my life. If you are reading this, you are part of my audience – part of the fabric of my professional life; and like the threads of that fabric, I am grateful for your readership and, in some cases, your friendship. I am always appreciative when you take a moment to read, hopefully gain some insight, and perhaps be a little entertained.

I especially want to thank the people at Rimon who support my efforts – people like Erin Bailey, Lois Thomson and Rebecca Blaw who make this blog happen. You don’t see them; but I do. They help make Legal Bytes come alive. They are amazing professionals and awesome people. Thank you so much. You make it look easy and I could not do this without you!

I would also like to thank Carolyn Boyle at the International Law Office (ILO) – the force behind motivating me to push content into the U.S. Media and Entertainment Newsletter; and while I can take credit for the substance and for nagging my colleagues to contribute, without her, thousands of readers who enjoy the links and insights would be waiting far too long for Legal Bytes content. Thank you.

So as 2013 comes to a close, please accept my appreciation and gratitude to each of you – staff, support, contributors and, most of all, the readers of Legal Bytes. My best wishes to each of you, your families, friends and loved ones, for a wonderful holiday season and a terrific new year, filled with health, happiness and success.

Mississippi Ratifies the 13th Amendment – Thanks ‘Lincoln’

To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether to post this directly on the Legal Bytes blog as a news item or list it under Useless But Compelling Facts. But the news won out.

So now it is official and perhaps an illustration of how life can imitate art – in this case the motion picture “Lincoln”, directed by Steven Spielberg. You can now add to the list of things for which the film, a brilliant characterization of Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to formally abolish involuntary servitude for all time, can take credit: the correction of an oversight for 18 years and perhaps the confirmation of an act that was 130 years in the making in the state of Mississippi.

As our story begins, Dr. Ranjan Batra, an associate professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, decided to do some fact-checking after viewing the movie. Curiously, it seems, he discovered that Mississippi had not legally effected the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States – the Amendment that abolished slavery in the United States.

Now in case you are wondering how this could be, a little legal procedural history is in order. In December 1865, three-fourths of the U.S. states ratified the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution – a number sufficient to make the Amendment officially part of the Constitution. At the time, a number of states did oppose the Amendment – Mississippi among them. In the ensuing years after the Civil War ended, all of the remaining states eventually did vote to ratify the Amendment. Indeed, the Mississippi legislature voted to ratify the Amendment in 1995! But in order to make it official, the state was required to notify the U.S. Archivist of the passage of the resolution – and through some oversight, Mississippi never did so.

Well, Dr. Batra spoke to a colleague, Ken Sullivan, who in turn contacted Delbert Hosemann, the Mississippi Secretary of State. Secretary of State Hosemann, recognizing the oversight, sent a copy of the 1995 Mississippi resolution to the Office of the Federal Register January 30, 2013. According to published reports, on February 7, 2013, just more than a month ago, the Federal Register wrote to the state of Mississippi confirming that “with this action, the State of Mississippi has ratified the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

Now isn’t that better than an Academy Award?