Google ‘Deeply Concerned’ About Hollywood’s Anti-Piracy Campaign Revealed in Sony Attack

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MPAA response: Search giant's position is 'shameful,' free speech is not a 'license to steal'

A top Google executive said the search giant is “deeply concerned” about a coordinated campaign by the MPAA and Hollywood studios to try to “censor” the Internet by blocking piracy websites through non-legislative tactics, citing emails stolen in the massive hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The MPAA struck back late Thursday, saying Google’s “effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful” and that “freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities.”

In a blog post Thursday, Kent Walker, Google’s senior VP and general counsel, wrote, “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.”

SOPA is the Stop Online Piracy Act legislation, which, among other things, would have required search engines to strip out links to piracy sites. The bill, introduced in 2011, failed to pass muster in Congress after a major grassroots effort opposing it led by Google and others.

“At the beginning of this year, the MPAA and six studios… joined together to begin a new campaign” to determine how it could “secretly revive SOPA,” by lobbying state attorneys general on the issue, Walker alleged.

The MPAA conspired to achieve SOPA’s goals through non-legislative means, Walker asserted, citing reports by the Verge and other outlets based on emails divulged by the hackers who stole thousands of emails and other data from Sony in a cyber-attack that has debilitated the studio over the last three weeks.

In response, MPAA said in a statement: “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 — 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.”

The monumental hack on Sony Pictures has led to the studio pulling distribution of “The Interview” from theatrical and digital release, along with disclosures of SPE salaries, personal employee info and internal studio financial documents as well as the release of at least five Sony films on piracy sites.

The MPAA, according to reports cited by Google, “joined together to begin a new campaign” to achieve wholesale site-blocking by convincing state prosecutors “to take up the fight against [Google],” Walker wrote. The movie studios “budgeted $500,000 a year towards providing legal support,” and the MPAA later sought up to $1.175 million for this campaign, according to Walker, pointing to the hacked email messages.

“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 wrote. “Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?”

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  1. flimflaminy says:

    In that case hollywood should pay native americans for stealing their identities, pay black people for making slave dramas, pay shakespeare for stealing his writing, pay moses for corrupting the bible …etc

  2. Sauce says:

    Is this the same Sony hack that included pirated episodes of “Adventure Time”? Did the MPAA go after Sony for having those illegally download files in their possession?

  3. Get Real Little Babies says:

    Why does anybody think entertainment should be free? You can’t walk away from a gas station and not pay for the gas. You can’t walk out of a grocery store and not pay for your food. You can’t drive away from a new car lot with wheels without paying for it. You can’t hire a plumber to come to your house to unclog your toilet for free. Why would entertainment be free? We need to get paid too and yes, most of us are not millionaires. Most content owners and below-the-line film industry workers struggle just to make ends meet all so some snotty-nose brats who live at home with their parents and don’t know what it’s like to pay bills can post idiotic things (see above in defense of bootlegging) and steal what we have worked so hard for, posting it all over the internet. Grow up and carry your weight you sniveling little babies. Pay to play, that’s what I say. When you buy the right to watch a movie you DO NOT HAVE the right to post it all over the internet or to give it to free for your friends. No more than when you buy a car do you have the right to give away another car to your friends just because you have one set of keys in your hands. Google is wrong. They are aiding and abetting thieves and they need to be stopped. It’s no conspiracy that SOPA needs to be in effect. It’s obvious. The conspiracy was what shut it down in the first place and it’s name is GOOGLE and a bunch of thirteen-year-old crybabies who need to grow up.

    • coaag says:

      Absolutely correct. Taking something that’s not yours is theft. Google clearly facilitates theft of news, music, and movies for millions of people. There is no debate, unless you’re in junior high school.

      • Tony Dockery says:

        Spoken like a true troll of the industry…..To bad more emails don’t get hacked like those of our famed leaders who sell us out to these same industry moguls…It would be nice to see some of these emails from media companies to senators and congressman wouldn’t that be some heavy duty scandal….People getting to see how government and corporations lick their chops when they sell us all out to big money and cloak it in some kind of national security.. The movie industry makes millions and billions of dollars and yet that is never enough ..they insist that they should have the authority of controlling the internet to save us from some kind of unseen enemy..Yes their talk about people getting something for nothing is double talk…..we are the ones in danger of our internet rights being took over and defined by these greedy corrupt corporations of the movie industry…Propaganda is all we get just like the dribble I have read from some of these industry oriented comments.

      • Bug Menot says:

        Burn the Witch, you should quit commenting on intellectual property issues as you’re clearly no intellectual.The fact you can hit “record” and “send” doesn’t make you a tech wizard either.

      • Burn the Witch says:

        Google is a search engine, it is NOT the Internet. I bet you’re one of those rocket scientist who refers to internet as the Microsoft Explorer icon on your desktop.

        People in Hollywood should stop commenting on tech related issues. Most of you lack even the most basic level of technical comprehension to participate in the debate.

  4. Bob Smith says:

    MPAA: “freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities.”

    So Hollywood likes when government employees use “freedom of speech” to release classified documents, but then acts the hypocrite when it comes to their own information. Funny how that works.

  5. John Miller says:

    The MPAA has been draconian in its actions more in more over the past decade. Their going after everyone and their sister like Google is simply taking away time they could be using to make more than a couple handfuls of decent films each year.

  6. When I was a kid we used to trade baseball cards. Under current copyright law that would be a CRIME punishable by hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and years in prison.

    Talk about spoiling a kids fun.

    Thanks to the RIAA and MPAA !!!

  7. Once Congress represented We The People and copyright law was fair and the term was 14 years.

    No crime was committed if you gave a copy your CD to a friend. A crime was committed only if you sold a copy.

    Congress now represents big business and the term as you say is 120 years. You now commit a crime even if you give away your original of a bought and paid for CD. How crazy is that ?

    How does this benefit the PUBLIC interest ?

    Congress no longer serves the people. They have become Hollywood whores.

    What we have to do take the money out of politics and OUTLAW organizations like the MPAA who advocate and lobby against the public welfare.

    People vote ! Corporations don’t !

    • coaag says:

      Let me understand what you’re saying Dave. You really really like music. You like it so much that if a friend buys a CD you would want a copy of that CD instead of buying your own. You’d rather keep the $14 in your pocket rather than paying the businesses (the band, the label, the management, etc.) for their work in creating the CD you really really like. Dang, your right Dave. Those sleaze bags. How dare they make something you like and not just give it to you for free!

  8. Tom says:

    Google sucks. First they copy all your email, then your payload data, as they take pics of your house (like the creepiest of stalkers) then they link to every piece of trash, defamation, and stolen content on the net, and they call it “freedom of speech.” Google, you are evil.

    • Steve says:

      Disagree. 1) Your claim against that they’re “copying” email displays you have no working knowledge of how the Internet works in 1999 or 2014. 2a) If they took a picture of your house, which is obviously on a public road, and you’ve ever used an online map, you’re the dumbest of hypocrites. 2b) The government is illegally surveiling you with audio/video constantly – get righteous about that. 3) If you’re for censoring any search results, you support fascism. You are DUMB.

  9. Kelly says:

    To Mel Gibson, it is the gift that keeps on giving.

  10. NHBill says:

    When Google sneezes they spend $1.175 million to wipe their nose.
    This whole thing was a crass MPAA money grab.

  11. Dave Hazelwood says:

    The MPAA is a terrorist organization. They will stifle any innovation, promote any legislation, sue any granny, crush any 12 year old, if it will enhance their ability to charge whatever they like for the garbage they produce so that the fat cats behind it can get even fatter while they shaft both their artists and customers.

    They actually think people want to watch this crap and are willing to go to great lengths to pirate it, I got news for them, if they could ever stop piracy in its tracks 100% it would not change anything, None of these so called pirates would ever buy it anyway. So what then ?

    Their next move will be to force us to watch it ? Make us media slaves so that the Moguls can continue to live high on the hog? You don’t believe they would go there? Oh YES they would. Cases have already gone to court where they have said it is a viewers obligation to watch commercials ! They want the law to force you to watch their crap at any price they decide you must pay!

    The MPAA makes me sick. I already stopped watching movies because of them. The day I am forced to watch TV commercials is also the day I’ll stop watching TV.

    They need to get with the program and embrace technology and figure out how to make even more money with lower prices and clever marketing. Like Amazon, who are burying the bricks and mortar retail model of the past.

    Otherwise the MPAA is going to become irrelevant when a new Google or Amazon come along and picks up their fumble and scores with it.

    • Diff says:

      They not only tried to ban TiVo, but even Youtube, and the iPod, and the VCR. Surprised they haven’t banned libraries with some sob story about “free everything open to everybody”. So much money is funneled into the entertainment and financial industry it’s a joke. The laws are completely broken thanks to the lobbyists and oligarchs. There should be a progressive tax on royalties, up to 90%.

      And advertising should be restricted to the marketplace only. Enough with the mindcontrol! 30% of primetime TV is commercials. How many houses do cable and network executives need?

      • Bug Menot says:

        If you copied TiVo, Youtube, and the iPod using the exact same code and design those makers used in their creations they would sue you for violating their intellectual property rights (see Apple versus Samsung).

        This is no different save you have devices that make it easier to do and distribute.

      • Paul Wertz says:

        True – the whole regime is a state sponsored monopoly. It’s like the MPAA runs the country. I think Google’s evil, but the MPAA is Lucifer himself.

  12. Bob Ho says:

    but Google is happy to help their leftists friends in China censor content….

    • Johnny Walker says:

      Stop spouting false information. China banned Google years ago opening the path for Ali Baba (Chinese Search Engine company) to become even bigger and eventually more powerful than Google ever hoped to be.

  13. Drake L.A. says:

    the tech industries have no reason to help people like Amy Pascal. I figure in 10 years, the tech companies will own the movie studios.

  14. Dan says:

    I found it odd that a country that can’t manage to keep electricity running and developed a tablet computer that didn’t connect to the internet was capable of pulling off a cyber attack of that scale.

    I found it even odder that, after years of North Korea hurling threats our way, we’d decide to take a threat seriously from an organization purported to be affiliated with them and pull a film from release that cost $42 million to make.

    Then I read this article.

    Not all that odd.

  15. Hee Hee says:

    My heart is breaking over the downfall of a major Hollywood Studio. Hee hee hee. The fact that Hollywood Liberals have been exposed to be lying racist hypocrites also breaks my heart. Hee hee. Naughty, naughty Koreans.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      You are a fool. Its not just the studio heads and big stars, but the hundreds of “minor” people who work on movies and could now lose their jobs.

      Something is always funny if it doesn’t affect you. I assume if the hackers wiped out your personal assets and planted lies about you, you’d be jumping up and down for justice. Like I said, you’re a fool.

      • UP says:

        Oh they’re planting lies now?! Is that what they’re calling Sony’s new rootkit? Or the name of next year’s blockbuster cultural sewage? Maybe you’re the fool. You’re definitely an asswipe.

      • Julienne says:

        I didn’t see anybody on the left standing-up for Sarah Palin, when her personal emails were stolen. Hmmmm, what do they call that, oh-yeah, karma.

  16. Black Eagle says:

    Google is god, don’t you know? BUT if somone posted THEIR prized secrets in public on a website, they’d be censored into another dimension.

    Stolen material is stolen. I hope the courts send Google execs to prison for “trafficing stolen goods”.

    Meanwhile, Google cooperates with tyrants to help snoop out dissenters, send them to prison, etc. “Don’t Do Evil”? Orwell would have something to say about Google…

  17. peterkuck says:

    Why you ask when it’s goal is ‘to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists’ right to free expression,’” [Walker wrote.] “Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?”
    The answer is easy, they have become corrupted, and made politically correct.”

  18. John Doe says:

    And why is the MPAA not backing the release of the movie if they were founded in part ‘to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists’ right to free expression,’. Seems like a bunch of cowards.

  19. tyler1861 says:

    Google has no credibility to speak on this. They willingly sold their soul to China like Hollywood continually does to have access to that foreign market even if it meant assisting on the spying of Citizenry and censoring content! Its like a larger point I keep making, Sony and the rest of these studios had no right to pick on N Korea while completely ignoring oppressive, dictatorial Communist China as villains for their films! China is a far greater threat to the world, and why should N Korea quietly take it so Americans can have a good laugh at their expense? Any why not make a film where a black US President or the Queen of England is to be targeted? Why is it only “funny” if N Korea’s leader is to be a target to be killed in the film? Hollywood did wrong, they got their knuckles whacked.. Good.. Now move on and start making films making Chinese the villains and evil doers

  20. Ron Paulyes says:

    blame the minions, never the execs

  21. Yes. This is reminiscent of the over-reaching Patriot Act after 9/11. Sony was irresponsible not to have had adequate IT security in place when they decided to green light The Interview, which I think everyone will agree was an intentional provocation to North Korea. We have learned that Sony’s IT security was negligent even without considering this act of provocation. Let’s not craft new legislation. Just encourage corporations with digital assets to take sensible measures to protect those assets. I mean seriously, storing passwords to material assets on the same server with those assets, and in a folder named “passwords”? I’m sorry to say, but Sony invited the North Koreans to attack and left the door open. You can’t legislate common sense.

  22. Brian Berdan says:

    Perhaps because, just like Variety publishing the stolen documents from Sony, Google is abetting the people who pirate our films. Hmm… nahhhh, couldn’t be.

    • Tony Dockery says:

      If North Korea had anyone who was smart enough to hack anything but a bathroom door lock would be a miracle in the making …If they did any hacking it was from some chinese guy or girl who was hired from neighboring China to do the hacking…North Korea is a country of dumb asses…they dont know shit from a shinny red apple….all of their technology comes from China…

  23. Eric B says:

    Stealing copyrighted material is free speech?

    • UP says:

      Duplicating isn’t stealing. I steal your bread, you don’t have it anymore. Copyright is a bull social construction that Shakespeare, Mozart, and Michaelangelo didn’t need to create the greatest works of art in history. When Beyonce is richer than the guy who cured polio ever was, you know your society is fuucked up.

    • Phillip Hill says:

      You said it Eric B. Google consistently tries to act as if there is not a huge difference between user generated content and straight-up piracy.

    • Xybernauts says:

      No, but legal definition of “copyright infringement” as defined by the SOPA law the MPAA want to pass is too broad, so it could affect anything the MPAA perceives infringes on their intellectual property. The laws definition of infringement was so broad it could open up libraries to criminal prosecution.

      “Mike Masnick of Techdirt wrote that “one could argue that the entire Internet enables or facilitates infringement”, and saying that a list of sites compiled by the entertainment industry included the personal site of one of their own artists, 50 Cent, and legitimate internet companies.”

    • circadia says:

      No, but including links to websites that may contain stolen copyrighted material is.

  24. John Ulitz says:

    You had me until you blamed the Jews. It’s like the last acceptable form of racism. Well blaming white people is apparently ok too, so perhaps the second to last. Sigh.

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