In retaliation for the Motion Picture Association of America’s secret campaign to undermine it, Google has taken legal action against both the MPAA and one of the Attorneys General the MPAA paid to do its dirty work. The campaign, codenamed Goliath, was revealed by leaked documents from the recent Sony hack.
On Friday morning, Google filed a lawsuit in Mississippi District Court against State Attorney General Jim Hood, accusing Hood of targeting the company with a “burdensome, retaliatory” subpoena that accused Google of violating Mississippi consumer protection law without valid grounds. As the lawsuit puts it, “The Attorney General may prefer a pre-filtered Internet, but the Constitution and Congress have denied him the authority to mandate it.”
Google has also launched evidentiary actions against the MPAA and its retained legal counsel at Jenner & Block, requiring the two parties to retain documents pertaining to the Goliath campaign, suggesting another lawsuit could be en route.
Leaked e-mails have revealed that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) paid multiple state Attorneys General to attack Google. The leaked e-mails are the latest scandal to break from the massive Sony online hack. The MPAA and Google have a tempestuous history together; Hollywood accuses Google of facilitating copyright infringement by indexing illegal torrent sites, and Google regularly resists the MPAA’s attempts to censor its search results.
The Verge summarises one of the key incriminating e-mails from the MPAA below:
May 8, 2014: Fabrizio to group. “We’ve had success to date in motivating the AGs; however as they approach the CID phase, the AGs will need greater levels of legal support.” He outlines two options, ranging from $585,000 to $1.175 million, which includes legal support for AGs (through Jenner) and optional investigation and analysis of (“ammunition / evidence against”) Goliath. Both options include at least $85,000 for communication (e.g. “Respond to / rebut Goliath’s public advocacy, amplify negative Goliath news, [and] seed media stories based on investigation and AG actions.”).
The e-mail needs a little deciphering: ‘Goliath’ refers, of course, to Google, whereas CID stands for ‘Civil Investigative Demand’, a form of administrative subpoena to force information from a company. In summary: powerful Hollywood studio collective pays US public servants to bully a company it doesn’t like. It will be interesting to see how the MPAA tries to spin this.