Numlock News: August 29, 2022 • Sake, Ponzi, Comedy
By Walt Hickey
Comedians In Courts Getting Litigious
George Lopez has launched a lawsuit against Pandora, seeking $5.5 million and alleging that the music streaming service has been streaming his work and not paying him a dime in royalties. He alleges that Pandora has been streaming 37 of his tracks from two albums, and is seeking $150,000 per clip. Lopez has the exclusive copyright to his material and is the sole entity that should be paid, and alleges he has not been paid. His suit is being rolled up along with several other comedians’ suits against Pandora — including Lewis Black, Andrew Dice Clay and the estates of George Carlin and Robin Williams — that may also get the comedians the compensation not just for their rights to the recording, but also the written material, just like music is paid out.
Last week the Biden administration announced a suite of student loan forgiveness for individuals making less than $125,000 per year. The forgiveness won’t be taxed as income at the federal level, but 13 states including Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Virginia tax forgiven debt as income. That’s going to mean those who get debt forgiven have to pay a few hundred dollars in tax, the highest likely being Hawaii where $10,000 in loan forgiveness could set borrowers back $1,100. If states want to change that, they’ll have to act quick.
Japan’s market for sake has been shrinking steadily, with the industry shipping just 400,000 kiloliters of sake domestically in 2021, which is down substantially from the peak of 1.7 million kiloliters shipped in 1973. The industry is now attempting to woo young people away from Western liquors that have since become popular as well as attempting to attract some of the international business. Doi Brewery, which has been in business for a century and a half and does about 370 million yen in sales ($2.7 million) of sake per year, has begun aging some of its sake in wooden casks, not unlike wine and whiskey, in an attempt to get a pale gold color with notes of caramel and vanilla that will appeal to fans of whiskey.
The top 20 most-viewed posts on Facebook last quarter were pretty universally garbage. The top post was a 69 joke ripped from a Family Feud episode that was originally an Instagram Reel, but did 52 million views when it was put on Facebook. The others in the top 20 are spammy memes, freebooted content and ripped intellectual property. Literally, two of them could not be listed in the report because they were removed for violating policies about intellectual property theft and inauthentic behavior. Seems like a super healthy place.
A month ago, the feds busted an alleged $85 million Ponzi scheme and seized a warehouse full of sneakers. There are now thousands of people who are seeking reimbursement, and those sneakers are going to be a solid chunk of the restitution. All told, 59,780 pairs of shoes — including 48,339 pairs of Nikes, 4,746 pairs of Yeezys, 4,626 Adidas, 110 Vans, 66 New Balance, 59 Converse, 23 Puma and hilariously merely 16 Reebok — are fated for the federal auction block. First up is 1,100 pairs of shoes from the man’s personal stash. All told, experts think the haul is worth $12 million to $20 million, an impressive number but nevertheless not as impressive as the financial crater left behind by the Ponzi.
A new study checking up on 881 tree species that are found in the continental United States found that as a result of invasive insects, a changing climate and deforestation, anywhere from 11 percent to 16 percent of those species are at risk of extinction. That means as many as 135 species are facing down extinction, which is above expectations, as just eight species of trees are considered threatened or endangered in the United States.
A Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $12.6 million on Sunday, smashing the previous record for the sale of a piece of sports memorabilia, which stood at $9.3 million for the jersey worn by Diego Maradona during the “Hand of God” goal. In general, the market for sports collectibles has exploded, and is projected to grow even further. In 2018, the market was estimated to be $5.4 billion, which during the pandemic popped to $26 billion. According to the market research firm Market Decipher, this has just been the beginning, and the market will grow to $227 billion within a decade.
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