Google and the MPAA Spar Over Anti-Piracy Campaign

By December 19, 2014
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While we at GeekNation have tried to stay out of the majority of information leaked out due to the cyber attack on Sony Pictures, one of the biggest tech companies in the world have recently spoken up about a supposed concerted effort to revive a years-old failed bill that, if codified into law, would effect the entirety of the entertainment industry, as well as cause ramifications into other elements of the way the internet is structured.

According to a blog post on Google  (via Deadline) published by Kent Walker, the company’s senior vice president and general counsel, Google is speaking out against a supposed focused effort by all the major movie studios in Hollywood to revive 2011’s “Stop Online Piracy Act,” otherwise known as SOPA.

If you were on Facebook any time in 2011, you likely saw at least a few friends change their profile picture to this in protest of SOPA.

If you were on Facebook any time in 2011, you likely saw at least a few friends change their profile picture to this in protest of SOPA.

Walker’s post cuts right to the chase, as the very beginning lays out the grievances the company has, while also reminding people about the effects of SOPA from 2011:

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.

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. No wonder that 115,000 websites—including Google—participated in a protest, and over the course of a single day, Congress received more than 8 million phone calls and 4 million emails, as well as getting 10 million petition signatures.

The campaign that Walker talks about was allegedly called “Project Goliath,” and involved pretty much every major movie studio: Sony, Universal, Warner Bros., Disney, Fox, and Paramount working in concert with the MPAA to revive SOPA in some fashion by using litigation in state courts to basically remake the way that data is served to customers of internet service providers, effectively circumventing representative government and potentially reshaping the currently open nature of the internet itself.

In their blog post, Google cites a report by The Verge from December 12th, where they effectively lay out what “Project Goliath” is/was, and how it would’ve assisted the major studios in cracking down on content sharing and piracy without having to go through either houses of the United States Congress.

It didn’t take too long for the MPAA to fire back at Google with their own statement on the matter, which reads in part,

Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. 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 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…

Whether or not this leads to more open legal action in a public courtroom remains to be seen, but this is one instance where, regardless of what is said by them about it, the MPAA and the studios could have a lot of new problems in the eyes of the law, to say nothing of the public, going forward. For more on this as it develops, keep an eye on GeekNation.

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.