Google/MPAA spat intensifies
December 19, 2014
By Colin Mann
A ‘difference of opinion’ between Google and movie industry trade body the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) over copyright policy has been raised a notch with the MPAA describing Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech as “shameful”.
The MPAA was responding to a Google Public Policy blog posted by Kent Walker, SVP and General Counsel, in which he said that Google was deeply concerned about recent reports that the MPAA had led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed [anti-piracy] 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,” wrote Walker, who cited a number of press reports as supporting evidence of the MPAA’s renewed efforts.
Walker said that while Google had serious legal concerns about such developments, one disappointing part of this story was what this all meant for the MPAA itself, an organisation founded in part ‘to promote and defend the First Amendment and artists’ right to free expression’.
“Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet,” he asked.
The MPAA’s response, as released in a statement to deadline.com, said: “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 licence 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.”