Sony Hack Fallout: MPAA, Google Spar Over Specter of SOPA - Broadcasting & Cable

Sony Hack Fallout: MPAA, Google Spar Over Specter of SOPA

Search engine points to stealth campaign to revive; MPAA says it is just trying to protect content
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The Sony Hack is the news story that just keeps on giving.

Among the leaked e-mails says The Verge (http://www.theverge.com/2014/12/12/7382287/project-goliath), and now Google as well, appear to be ones in which lawyers from the Motion Picture Association of America (Sony is a member), talk about and six major studios talk about "Goliath" (purportedly a code name for Google) and how they can prevent piracy by blocking Web sites, among other means

In response to that story, Google SVP and general counsel Kent Walker blogged that the company was worried that the studios, with the help of a state attorney general, were reviving the campaign for tough anti-piracy legislation that ran Into a Silicon Valley-driven buzz saw two years ago. In an update to that blog, he said that after receiving a subpoena from the attorney general, the company had filed a brief

asking the subpoena to be set aside the subpoena) (http://services.google.com/fh/files/blogs/google_jimhood_dec2014.pdf).

"We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means, and helped manufacture legal arguments in connection with an investigation by Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood," he said.

"Almost three years ago, millions of Americans helped stop a piece of congressional legislation—supported by the MPAA—called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). If passed, SOPA would have led to censorship across the web..."

"Even though Google takes industry-leading measures in dealing with problematic content on our services, Attorney General Hood proceeded to send Google a sweeping 79-page subpoena, covering a variety of topics over which he lacks jurisdiction," said Walker. "The Verge reported that the MPAA and its members discussed such subpoenas and certainly knew about this subpoena’s existence before it was even sent to Google..."While we of course have serious legal concerns about all of this, one disappointing part of this story is what this all means for the MPAA itself, an organization founded in part “to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists' right to free expression,” Walker blogged. "why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?"

"Preposterous nonsense," said Media Institute President Patrick Maines. "This, from a company that has done more than any to encourage government oversight of the Internet. Nobody at Google would recognize the First Amendment if it walked in the door and tipped its hat."

MPAA spokesperson Kate Bedingfield was hardly on the defensive, and minced no words in firing back and saying MPAA would continue to reach to anyone who can help protect legal content.

"Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful," she told B&C /Multi in a statement. "Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal.

"Google’s blog post today [Dec. 18, updated Dec. 19] is a transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google Search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct - including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property. We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities."

MPAA and Google have long been at odds over the role of search engines in facilitating piracy, including squaring off over SOPA.

In September 2013, for example, MPAA released a study showing that search engines are a critical link between would-be infringers and pirate TV and movies sites. The study found that search engines--Google predominately--"influenced 20% of the sessions in which consumers accessed infringing TV or film content online between 2010 and 2012." Search engines begged to differ. (http://www.broadcastingcable.com/news/washington/mpaa-study-search-engin...).

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