3 Count: Rare Agreements

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1: Facebook to Lift Australia News Ban After Striking Deal with Government to Pay Media Companies

First off today, the AFP reports that Facebook has announced it will lift its ban on Australian news organizations after Australia and the social media giant reached a deal on new legislation.

Facebook instituted the ban ahead of anticipated legislation in Australia that would require them, as well as search engines like Google, to pay to include Australian news publishers on their sites. However, the Australian government has agreed to back down on some of the toughest parts of the laws, most importantly the removal of mandatory payments and the removal of mandatory arbitration save as a “last resort.”

Facebook also announced its first proposed deal with an Australian media company, Seven West, and is working on deals with other local publishers. Google, for its part, has already struck deals with many Australian news agencies, including both Seven West and New Corp.

2: Kim Dotcom, United States & NZ Supreme Court All Agree to Court of Appeal Referral

Next up today, Andy Maxwell at Torrentfreak writes that, in a rare agreement, lawyers for Kim Dotcom, the United States and the New Zealand Supreme Court all agree to send Dotcom’s extradition case back to the Court of Appeals.

Dotcom was arrested in January 2012 in New Zealand over his role in operating the file sharing site Megaupload. Since then, the United States government has been seeking his extradition and, though the case has overall gone well for the U.S., it’s been bouncing around various New Zealand courts.

At issue specifically is whether the case requires a judicial review. Lower courts had determined that Dotcom’s request for one was an abuse of process but the Supreme Court previously ruled that that it needed to happen before extradition could take place. Rather than sending the case back to the lowest court, both sides asked it to go straight to the Appeals Court so that, when it returns to the Supreme Court, it has appellate weight. The New Zealand Supreme Court has agreed to that plan.

3: Lawyer Who Pleaded Guilty in Porn Lawsuit Scheme Must Pay $1.5M Restitution, 8th Circuit Says

Finally today, Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal reports that the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a lower court judgment against disbarred Minnesota lawyer Paul Hansmeier and ordered him to pay $1.5 million in restitution to victims of his copyright troll scheme.

Hansmeier was one of the attorneys behind Prenda Law, a law form that rose to notoriety for filing massive amounts of lawsuits against suspected file sharers. However, it was later revealed that the scheme was fraudulent and that the “clients” the company was representing was their own shell companies.

John Steele, Hansmeier’s partner, was previously sentenced to five years in prison in July 2019. However, with this ruling, Hansmeier will have to pay back his portion of the estimated $3 million he collected in fraudulent proceeds.

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