Fresh evidence of Big Media tactics to push its IP agenda in private and through back  channels, including both lobbying and far more questionable practices, has been pushed into the spotlight by Google, which has taken Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to court to forestall what it sees as improper attacks on it that far exceed his mandate. This follows the revelation via the Sony hack of Project Goliath, a coordinated move by Motion Picture Association of America members and their attorneys to put pressure on Google at the state level. Sony itself, as well as Universal, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney, apparently joined in the initiative using the code name “Goliath” in internal correspondence to designate Google.

Posted on Google’s public policy blog, the statement by Google General Counsel Kent Walker reads:

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.

Having failed with SOPA, Google points out, MPAA is now trying to push the same tactics through the back door – whose hinges have reportedly been well oiled by contributions and the prospect of handsome court settlements. As the Mississippi Natchez Democrat points out, “Hood’s office has sued a number of large firms over the past several years, bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in settlement money into state coffers.” Furthermore, “published reports have linked Hood to a non-profit group supported by several major Hollywood film studios,” while his predecessor in office Mike Moore “was hired by the non-profit Digital Citizens Alliance.”

Google continues:

Attorney General Hood sent Google a letter making numerous accusations about the company. The letter was signed by General Hood but was actually drafted by an attorney at Jenner & Block—the MPAA’s law firm. As the New York Times has reported, the letter was only minimally edited by the state Attorney General before he signed it. 

Mississippi is objectively reported to be the most corrupt state in the Union. Big Media obviously recognizes a sympathetic and like-minded audience when it sees one. Google’s blog concludes:

Because Attorney General Hood’s 79-page subpoena constitutes an unjustified attack that violates well-established U.S. laws governing Internet platforms and online intermediaries, we are today asking a federal court to set that subpoena aside (our brief is here). We are also asking those with a hand in this campaign to preserve all relevant documents.

And of course, none of this is about books or publishing per se. But all issues of Big Media tactics in enforcing IP and copyright ought to be of interest to writers and publishers everywhere, from whatever perspective. After all, the Big Five publishing companies could decide to try the same approaches in their disputes.


  1. Google is the biggest crook on the web; a giant juggernaut whose business model rests squarely on a base of copyright infringement and benefitting from other parties’ infringement. It happily serves up ads on known pirate sites; happily steals billions of photos and billions of pages of text to entice browsers to which it serves up ads. YouTube in particular was always based on stolen material. Even now, Google drags its feet in implementing technology like video fingerprinting that would prevent repeated uploading of the same pirated material. Google is the biggest pirate on earth and is no moral, legal, or ethical position to criticize attempts to stop piracy.

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