Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google

from the holy-fuck dept

Okay, it’s no secret that the MPAA hates Google. It doesn’t take a psychology expert to figure that out. But in the last few days, some of the leaks from the Sony Pictures hack have revealed the depths of that hatred, raising serious questions about how the MPAA abuses the legal process in corrupt and dangerous ways. The most serious charge — unfortunately completely buried by this report at The Verge — is that it appears the MPAA and the major Hollywood studios directly funded various state Attorneys General in their efforts to attack and shame Google. Think about that for a second.

There’s a lot of background here that’s important (beyond just the MPAA really hates Google). First, as you know, the MPAA has certainly not given up on its SOPA desire to get certain websites completely blocked. The leaked emails reveal a lot more about that (which we’ll get to). Second, a year ago, the MPAA hired a pitbull of an anti-piracy lawyer in naming Steve Fabrizio its General Counsel. Fabrizio has spent the last decade and a half or so deeply involved in litigating a bunch of anti-piracy battles at both the RIAA and the MPAA/RIAA’s favorite big law firm, Jenner & Block. This is not a guy you hire if you’re looking to innovate. This is a guy you hire if you want to get into knock-down, dirty legal fights.

Third, there is the role of state Attorneys General. A recent NY Times article detailed how lobbyists have figured out ways to effectively “lobby” state Attorneys General to do their bidding. Frequently, this is around getting the state AGs to drop investigations (and potential lawsuits) against companies. The article is somewhat eye-opening, as it’s hard to distinguish much of what’s discussed from straight up bribery. There is talk of lavish events, travel and dinners all paid for by corporate lobbyists for state AGs, often followed soon after with dropped, or reduced investigations. In one case, an AG told staff not to start an investigation into a public company without first getting his approval. Campaign funding is a big part of it as well, as these lobbyists dump lots of money into AG campaigns. And it’s no secret that the state Attorney General position is often seen as a stepping stone to a Governorship or US Senate job.

We’ve discussed in the past that state Attorneys General are often the biggest grandstanders, as their main goal in certain investigations seems to be about generating headlines for themselves, rather than any real legal basis. More than four years ago, we wrote about Topix CEO Chris Tolles’ experience being hounded by state Attorneys’ General so they could get a bunch of headlines out of something in which everyone admitted Topix wasn’t actually doing anything illegal. Along those lines, we’ve noted that popular tech companies have increasingly been a target for state AGs — because they’re almost sure to generate headlines. We’ve also noted that state AGs have been pushing for changes to federal laws, like Section 230 of the CDA, to allow them to further go after big tech companies for things like actions of their users.

Not surprisingly, Google has been a popular target for some state AGs. In the past, we’ve written about state Attorneys General from Nebraska and Oklahoma blaming Google for videos made by users, and about Texas’ Attorney General going after Google for supposed antitrust violations (based on the same claims that the FTC later dropped entirely). But the state Attorney General with the biggest chip on his shoulder for Google has absolutely been Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who seemed to think that it was Google’s fault that he could find counterfeit goods via search. A few months later, he was back blaming Google for infringement online as well.

This was no accident. What’s come out of the Sony Pictures Leak is not just that the MPAA was buddying up to state Attorneys General, but that the MPAA was funding some of this activity and actively supporting the investigation. The leaked emails reveal that rather than seeing that NY Times article about corporate/AG corruption as a warning sign, the MPAA viewed it as a playbook. But not for preventing investigations but for encouraging and funding them. This appears to go way beyond that NY Times article. This isn’t campaign donations or inviting AGs to speak at lavish events and paying for the travel. This is flat out paying AGs to investigate Google (even on issues unrelated to copyright infringement) and then promising to get extra press attention to those articles.

Here’s the Verge’s summary of a key email (which the Verge doesn’t even seem to realize why it’s so damning):

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.”).

“Goliath” is the MPAA’s rather transparent “codename” for Google. CID stands for a “civil investigative demand” — which is a form of an administrative subpoena, demanding information from a company, related to an investigation.

What seems to come out from these emails is that the MPAA, in coordination with the major Hollywood studios, agreed to willfully pay tons of money indirectly to state AGs (and Hood in particular) to get them to investigate Google (using the time and labor of the MPAA’s favorite law firm — and the one that Fabrizio just left). That goes way beyond anything discussed in that NY Times articles, and certainly smacks of serious illegality. It’s difficult to see how this isn’t bribing a public official to attack a company they dislike.

Not only that, but it shows that the MPAA and the studios were aware of Hood’s plans well before they happened, suggesting that he or his office has been coordinating with Hollywood on their plans and that the specific CIDs are actually written by the MPAA’s lawyers themselves:

A report from the previous February suggests that the Goliath group drafted civil investigative demands (similar to a subpoena) to be issued by the attorneys general. “Some subset of AGs (3-5, but Hood alone if necessary) should move toward issuing CIDs before mid-May,” the email says.

And, more recent emails (from just in October) show that they know that another CID is apparently coming and that the MPAA intends to use that CID for negotiating leverage against Google. This follows a claim that Google was pissed off at the MPAA for mocking its recent search algorithm changes to further push down sites that may link to infringing materials (it’s not like we didn’t warn everyone that the MPAA wouldn’t be satisfied with Google’s changes). Either way, the MPAA’s Fabrizio brushes off concerns that Google has, telling the studios not to worry, that Google should be more willing to talk after Hood sends out his next CID:

After a dispute over Google?s most recent anti-piracy measures in October, Fabrizio suggested further action may be yet to come. “We believe Google is overreacting ? and dramatically so. Their reaction seems tactical (or childish),” the email reads. “Following the issuance of the CID [civil investigative demand] by [Mississippi attorney general Jim] Hood (which may create yet another uproar by Google), we may be in a position for more serious discussions with Google.”

While the Verge report is focused on the “sexy” topic of the MPAA having an “anti-Google’ (er… “Goliath”) working group, the real story here is that it appears that this infatuation with taking down Google has extended to funding state politicians in their investigations and attacks on Google, even when it’s on totally unrelated issues (the initial CID was about counterfeit drugs — which is an issue that the MPAA likes to mock Google over by totally misrepresenting some actual, but historical, bad behavior).

And beyond that, the MPAA is showing that part of its plan is to fund “media stories based on” the Attorneys General investigations. Remember, so much AG activity these days is driven by what’s going to get them into the headlines. Setting aside nearly $100,000 from the MPAA to get a state AG some headlines for an investigation paid for by the MPAA, using administrative subpoenas written by the MPAA… all designed to attack a company they don’t like (which actually has done pretty much exactly what they’d been asking for in downranking sites that lead to infringing works), is really stunning.

I get that it’s natural to dislike a company or organization that has undermined your business model. It happens. But there are different ways to respond to it. One is to innovate and compete. Another is to use the legal process to throw hurdles in their path. This is the distinction between “market entrepreneurs” and “political entrepreneurs” that Andy Kessler has described. What the MPAA appears to have done in the last few months, however, certainly suggests that the organization, with the help of the major studios, went beyond just lobbying and political pressure, to actually funding elected officials to try to attack a company they didn’t like. And, at the very least, this also has to raise serious questions about Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and who he takes orders from. Is he really “protecting” the people of Mississippi? Or is he focused on gobbling up Hollywood’s money and promotion?

Filed Under: , , , , , ,
Companies: google, mpaa, sony

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The MPAA doesn’t care if it looks bad. In fact its job is to look bad and do all the nasty legal stuff so the actual studios don’t have to.

The general public might get upset about “Disney bribes politicians” but they don’t give a hoot about “MPAA bribes politicians,” even though it’s the same thing.

DigDug says:

Re: Re: MPAA Damned Well Better Care

This is ripe for a full fledged Rico Act investigation, which would tie ALL studios as one entity and nail all of the bastards to the wall with this kind of illegal antics.

I for one look forward to when all the Studios copyrights are transferred to Public Domain as the penalty for these heinous actions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“If anything done was illegal then you’d see an uproar.”

By whom and how much of an uproar must I see in order for me to conclude that something illegal has happened.

“I guarantee you the above post was carefully reviewed by Google’s, er, Masnick’s lawyer to steer him away from a libel lawsuit.”

You keep repeating this deluded lie with no evidence and Mike’s the one that’s committing libel?

“oh hey, the truth got censored on Techdirt again.”

You really are such a dishonest shill, given all the nonsense in your one comment alone you must really have something wrong with you if you expect posting such dishonest nonsense claiming that you are the bearer of truth is going to do anything for your position.

“”In the post-SOPA world, we need to consider the extent to which a strategy presents a risk of a public relations backlash,” Fabrizio continues”


Yeah, they think they should completely neglect the ethical ramifications of their actions and only focus on how it makes them look and what impact bad PR could have on their efforts to scam the public. Their very own words show what kinda low ethical standards IP defenders have yet they come here pretending to be moral authorities dishonestly using the artist as the poster child for their selfish cause. Despicable.

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Historically, there was something of a rock-paper-scissors dynamic on ancient battlefields. There were three fundamental classes of warriors: cavalry, infantry, and archers.

Cavalry beat archers, with their ability to close quickly and overrun them before they could get many shots off.

Infantry beat cavalry, because they could use long spears to disrupt the heck out of a cavalry charge and panic the horses, throwing the whole group into disarray.

Archers beat infantry, because, infantry being much slower to move than cavalry (especially if they wore heavy armor) they were left exposed to devastating projectile volleys for a long time.

In the ancient tale of David and Goliath, we see the biggest, toughest guy around challenging the opposing army to a traditional rite of combat by champion: a “proxy battle” that avoided the wasteful slaughter of an actual battle. The record goes into great detail about his size and the size and weight of his weapons and armor. There’s no doubt about it: Goliath was heavy infantry through and through.

After much consternation on the other side, a self-selected champion stepped up. When the king tried to outfit him as a heavy infantryman to match Goliath, though, he demurred; it wasn’t what he was trained for. No, David was an archer, and he intended to fight as an archer. He used a sling rather than a bow and arrow, but that’s still an incredibly lethal ranged weapon.

He stepped out onto the field, and Goliath’s fate was sealed at that moment. People who don’t understand the tactics involved call it a surprising victory on David’s part, but in reality the only surprise here is that at no point did Goliath seem to understand just how screwed he was, until it was suddenly too late.

There is one aspect of his description that doesn’t fit the heavy infantry profile: he had a shield bearer go before him. But a guy used to fighting in close quarters doesn’t need someone else to carry his shield; shield bearers were for archers! Between that, his physical description, and the fact that he claimed David was attacking him with “staves” (plural), when he was carrying a single staff, it’s likely that he had severe problems with his vision–which is a known side effect of gigantism–and the “shield bearer” was actually a guide.

Goliath died because he faced an opponent who was playing by different rules than what he was expecting, and he was too blind to notice until it was too late. Now who does that sound more like? Google, or the MPAA?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I guess they’ve never seen actual righteous indignation backed by intent to commit justifiable homicide.

I wonder what else is in that 14 TB smoking gun. Thanks guys!

Chris Dodd, tarred, feathered, and ridden out of town on a rail for Christmas! Yummy.

Have fun Google, but don’t play with them. Just kill ’em nice and quick. Thanks. Merry Xmas! πŸ™‚

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

The Supreme Court says...

…that corporations are people. Let’s think about that.

Can we get them into a solitary confinement cell?

Would they prefer a needle or an electric chair?

What if we go only house arrest, who’s gonna pay for all those GPS ankle bracelets (and does it include the janitor)?

If the corporation is a trade association (like the MPAA) are all members equally guilty (after all, if when robbing a bank one of the crew kills someone, then the whole crew is guilty of that murder because it was ‘during the commission of a crime’ (or something))?

Easily Amused (profile) says:

so… just to make sure i have the math correct here…

These emails are very close to a smoking gun that could get AG’s and the MPAA in serious legal shit.

These emails were pilfered in a hacking attack which is claimed (and some proof has been found) by a group funded by North Korea.

NK instigated this attack on Sony to try and pressure Sony Pictures to halt the release of The Interview, a comedy about journalists assassinating Kim Jong Un.

So if this pans out, fucking Seth Rogan and James Franco will be responsible for the downfall of the MPAA?!?!?!

I fucking love it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And where else and how much?

And where else and how much?

Europe or rather the EU. The 4 year long antitrust investigation of Google by the EU was instigated by “FairSearch” which has Microsoft and Oracle among its members. Two companies which have been severely “outcompeted” on their home turf by Google (in the right way by innovating better and cheaper products) and therefore are trying to hit Google by manipulating European politicians including Margrethe Vestager from my country Denmark sadly πŸ™

The irony is complete when you check their website (http://www.fairsearch.org) and see their attempts to demonize Google, claiming that Google’s strategy is: “Open, Dominate, Close”… A thinly veiled attempt at making Google appear as “evil” but also perhaps to make people forget that Microsoft’s own internal policy for years was: “Embrace, Extend, Extinguish” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Embrace,_extend_and_extinguish) and was one of the reasons that Microsoft itself was pulled through antitrust investigations. Furthermore, EEE was not an expression invented by competitors to make their “enemy” appear evil, but Microsoft’s own “official” internal policy… sigh πŸ™

Applesauce says:

Why Mississippi?

Why Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood? A reasonable person might wonder what the campaign finance disclosure laws are in Mississippi and in the other states suing Google. If these are lax, it sounds like a good reason to target AGs in those particular states.
A smart politician running against against these AGs might use this info to his advantage.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In our corpratocracy? Why…yes!

Speaking of which, when we get a bit further along this path, our corporate masters will go and ‘fund’ candidates based upon whatever their pet peeves are. The problems are that there are so many issues, many of them may have no corporate sponsors at all, and while the richest corporations will get their candidates in, no corporation has enough clout (yet) to buy, erm ‘fund’, all the candidates. So there will still be fighting, between rich consortium A and rich consortium B, and if we are lucky, rich consortium’s right on through the alphabet.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The MPAA paid state AGs to investigate Google. If that is legal, isn’t the exact opposite, Google paying state AGs to not be investigated, also legal?

While I’m sure that was (as least partially) sarcastic, this is oftentimes how politics works at the national level.

That’s part of why the copyright hearings are all about “Silicon Valley vs. Big Media” (and neither the public, nor actual artists, are involved at all). Both have skin in the game, and both are heavily funded.

So, the Senate announces some possible legal changes, and hold committee meetings and hearings. The “big money” guys are invited. Both sides dump lots of lobbying money into whichever Senators are part of the committee, and whichever side pays the most, is the one whose talking points are repeated verbatim by the Senator in the meetings.

In the end, little if anything is done, and nothing changes. Nothing, that is, except the Senators’ pocketbooks.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

We already know what they did with Mega. They are making up laws that would cripple the very studios that are running it in the first place were these same allegations to be lobbied in the other direction. Imagine if any grandma in Africa can sue Universal over alleged civil offenses that somehow transform into a criminal and even more improbable an international legal offense that somehow deserves no adversarial hearing and all of their alleged “profits from illegal activity” are seized and all servers are encouraged to be wiped in spite of their obvious pertinence to the “case”. When you hit any snags along the kangaroo court way, just endlessly request extensions. It isn’t as if the money and business being held is yours after all.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re:

Granny would be tarred and feathered in the press, portayed as greedy and shiftless, trying to profit off the backs of starving artists. After being thoroughly villified, she’d have an uphill struggle and a mountain of legal fees, etc.

She couldn’t afford it in any sense of the word. Lawsuits are a rich man’s game, that’s why most people settle.

Socrates says:

Re: Re: Appeasing the *AA's

Giving the dog a boon for each bite, to be good.

It is slowly dawning on Google that this might not be wise. Sadly they have not learn anything. Cooperating directly with the studios because the MPAA is ungrateful, it is like drinking poison directly from the vial to avoid the poisoned cup.


That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Appeasing the *AA's

From that article:

While the MPAA and Google will probably patch things up in future, the emails also suggest reasons why the MPAA might have given Google a frosty reception.

First up, the MPAA had no time to assess the changes Google had put in place, so had no idea whether they would work. Welcoming changes that fail to perform in future is clearly something the MPAA would want to avoid.

But intriguingly the emails suggest that the MPAA were trying not to affect another external matter from progressing.

β€œWe were also sensitive to the fact that Mississippi [Attorney General] Hood is expected to issue a [Civil Investigative Demand] to Google sometime this week; we did not want an unduly favorable statement by us to discourage AG Hood from moving forward,” the MPAA email reads.

So they knew that AG Hood, who they had been and are working with to attack Google was planning on issuing a legal demand of Google, and rather than admit that ‘hey, Google is trying to work with us, maybe you don’t need to be so gung-ho against them’, they intentionally downplayed Google’s efforts in order to avoid interfering with Hood’s actions.

Google has been bending over backwards in a vain attempt to appease those parasites, and all it’s gotten is more daggers in the back, and more complaints that they ‘aren’t doing enough’, oftentimes with the barely vieled insinuation that Google is intentionally ignoring piracy for nefarious purposes.

It’s beyond time Google grew a spine, told the *AA’s to take a hike, and stopped trying to appease groups that will never be satisfied as long as Google exists.

Socrates says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Appeasing the *AA's

It’s beyond time Google grew a spine, told the *AA’s to take a hike, and stopped trying to appease groups that will never be satisfied as long as Google exists.

And that’s it really!

It have been evident for years. To the extent that i wonder if Google is infected the way Sony were. Instead of pushing for PromoBay to make “pirates” “audience” at their home turf, they let the monopolists pretend they are the only legal offering. Instead of giving a few tens of percent extra for ad money that were channeled to flattr, by noticing that the money would stay within Googles sphere where Google probably would earn most of the money back, they help their enemy. And flattr would be a good deed at the same time! Flattrs creator were jailed just for talking about one of the monopolists targets.

And the list goes on. The list of good deeds not done. “Don’t do evil” is a joke now, and trigger derisive laughter. Many citizens have good reason to prefer Googles offerings, be it search, fiber, software or projects. But their trust is squandered, and if they become replaced by something better it would put a smile on many faces. I doubt they understand it might do them in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You mean giving them more money won’t stop them? What if people boycotted their business’?

Cut the cord. If you need to cure insomnia, just insert that previously purchased, extremely valuable, piece of plastic into the dvd player.

My SO wants a new camera. Came home the other day telling me about a great sale on a sony camera. I don’t care if they are giving them away, I refuse to put another piece of shit with their name on it out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

i’ll bet then that there is even more going on here. Dotcom has maintained that he did nothing wrong and that the government as well as law enforcement were in the pay of the entertainment industries. i wonder what will be found about that topic?
what this shows more than anything, more than the disgraceful ways elected officials are acting and who with, it shows the lengths an industry will go to get what it wants. and done forget the relationship now between the members of Congress and the MPAA boss Dodd! anyone who still thinks he isn’t up to the armpits it shit with collusion from his former colleagues, must be stupid, blind or both!! and remember the way out of nothing suddenly came cooperation from governments almost everywhere, the UK and now Australia being two key countries! it would be interesting to find out if Brandis in Aus was part of the bribery trail!
now we sit and wait for what happens next. if there is nothing done, we know the MPAA has ‘encouraged’ certain people to try to cover this up. if there is something done, and i hope there is, because how can the MPAA and the various AGs deny their parts, it needs to be serious. one reason being that the MPAA is making Obama look a complete pussy! it has basically taken over the operating of legal industries in a multitude of states and that dont look good for him!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Megaupload took down infringing content as required by the DMCA. Their money was made off of user generated content. They got illegally raided and only because the MPAA et al bought our legal system through back door dealings.

To come here and lie doesn’t give your position credibility it only makes you and your position look bad.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Even though what you say is a lie even if it were true when IP laws are intended to serve the public interest (ie: by expanding the public domain) then I’ll care.

Until then the government has no legitimacy in enforcing bad, undemocratically bought and paid for, laws intended to serve the interests of a few and the enforcement of such laws should rightfully be viewed as a bad thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

and anyone who supports the enforcement of these undemocratically passed laws is morally bankrupt and I see no reason to take the moral opinion of someone with no moral convictions beyond those that are self serving seriously.

In fact I’ll take that one step further. Until IP laws are fixed to serve the public interest if you don’t openly oppose the enforcement of our current IP laws I see no reason to take your moral opinion seriously on the matter.

Voters should work together to oppose any candidate that doesn’t openly advocate for reducing IP lengths and changing them to better serve the public interests and not just the interests of those that bought and paid for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Welcome to the banana republic that doesn’t have bananas. On and off we’ve had so many examples of corruption that it is now the normal practice rather than the exception.

You look at this and compare it with the government attitudes and wonder why the citizenry here believes the government is headed in the wrong direction?

All this shows just how far along we are in becoming fascists. Only we have arrived and the pot is near at boil for the frog.

It’s a sad commentary that the foundations this country has been built on have crumbled leaving ruin in its wake.

cjstg (profile) says:


if the mpaa can do this the ag’s who else is doing it? big oil, car manufacturers, retail groups. mpaa is small fish (albeit with a big mouth) compared these other guys. who cares about mpaa, that’s just entertainment (ok, there’s a little free speech element thrown in there too), but these other groups have much more at stake and much deeper pockets (bp anyone?).

NoahVail (profile) says:

MPAA won't suffer a thing over this

I say this with respect – it’s really cute how folks here think bad press over MPAA bribery will hurt them or the AGs.

It’s cute because there won’t be in the news. The US Legacy Press isn’t about to hold their content buddies accountable for anything.

Same goes for their partners in Gov.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Shame there is no political will to reform this.
After Dodd basically said pass the laws we want or we won’t pay you anymore and no one bothered to investigate, it should be really clear that corporations get their own system.

Our leaders are bought and paid for.
They will abuse their office & their oath to serve the people they represent to serve those who gave them a check.

While the country spirals down the shitter, look at how much money is being funneled into pet projects that help the few at the expense of the many. And they do this for what appear to be really small checks when one considers the benefits being reaped.

With Liberty and Justice for those with the biggest checkbook.

Anonymous Coward says:

It's hate

“I get that it’s natural to dislike a company or organization that has undermined your business…”

The word you’re looking for is not “dislike”, it is “hatred”. Only the latter brings the Captain Ahab style pursuit that the MPAA is undertaking against Google.

Worse, hate is unreasoning. This is why nothing Google does will ever satisfy MPAA. Only Google’s utter destruction will appease them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Jim Hood is the biggest piece of shit DA ever to hit the United States.

Its pretty much open knowledge that he tried to shake down Google for cash (for himself) and said he’d “go after them” if they didn’t pony up.

Now he’s getting what in his tiny racist piggy-eyed mind is ‘revenge’ for Google basically telling him to go fuck himself.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Its pretty much open knowledge that he tried to shake down Google for cash (for himself) and said he’d “go after them” if they didn’t pony up.

Now he’s getting what in his tiny racist piggy-eyed mind is ‘revenge’ for Google basically telling him to go fuck himself.

Now that righteous indignation has been repeated ad nauseum, perhaps someone would be so kind as to point out with clarity and specificity what illegal activity was advocated and/or pursued?

What about what AC1 wrote is unclear to you? I assume AGs have an oath of office where they swear to uphold the Constitution, so breaking his oath of office. I know bribery of an elected official and extortion is illegal, but perhaps campaign finance law is so fscked these days, this is just how it’s done. Barratry perhaps, as in abuse of the judicial system, or malicious prosecution?

I’m sure any DA can easily come up with a hundred more. They did for Aaron Swartz.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I am at a total loss trying to decipher this comment. It does nothing to address the question it seems to believe it is addressing. The headline states that the emails contain evidence of illegal activity, but refrains from declaring with specificity just what laws were supposedly broken. This site generally seems to have no problem citing specific laws it believes have been broken, so the lack of such specificity here is surprising. FWIW, these emails have been the subject of discussions among lawyers, but as yet declarations of illegality have not been made. Again, and it does seem to be a fair question, can anyone identify with specificity the uprooted illegal conduct?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If they are trying to pay government to convince it to go after someone, which seems to be the case here (though they may try to claim they have plausible deniability), that should be (and is most likely) illegal. Certainly more illegal than anything Megaupload did.

However, I guess what constitutes illegal activity is based on what the government chooses to prosecute (and what courts choose to convict). If you break the law and there is no one to prosecute you then did you really break the law?

Certainly what is happening here should be illegal. Copy protection laws themselves are a result of corruption that should be (and probably is) illegal via back door dealings, secretive meetings, and revolving door favors. These laws, the way they stand now, certainly aren’t democratically passed and so it stands to reason that in all likelihood illegal activity (or activity that should be illegal) was behind copy protection extensions and the current state of IP laws.

“The series details many tactics involved in Project Goliath, including hiring former attorneys general as counsel”

Sounds like a conflict of interest.

“and targeting officials at the state level where lobbying dollars may stretch farther.”

Trying to use lobbying dollars to get AG’s to go after Google. Sounds illegal. At the very least it should be. Do you support this type of activity?


Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Now that righteous indignation has been repeated ad nauseum, perhaps someone would be so kind as to point out with clarity and specificity what illegal activity was advocated and/or pursued?

It seems fairly telling of your own ethical perspective that you don’t seem to think there’s anything at all wrong or illegal about an industry group agreeing to FUND and COORDINATE (including writing the subpoenas) an investigation by various state Attorneys General of a company they dislike.

Lobbying for it is one thing. Funding it and being involved in it, is another. But if you think that’s fine, well, that says a hell of a lot about you.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I see you have been following Lemley’s FB post, and not exactly meeting with a welcoming embrace by others who are attorneys and law professors for your belief and that of another individual that illegal activities are revealed. Certainly Lemley has not said so, though he does not warmly embrace coordination between the complainants and the state AGs in this instance. Others like me await the disclosure of relevant facts before jumping on a “hang em high” bandwagon.

BTW, private persons, including juridicial persons, participate to varying degrees in terms of funds/labor/in-kind/etc. in all manner of governmental investigations by all branches of state, federal and local governments. Your singling out this instance leads me to believe that this is an area of law, politics and practice in which you have not had much exposure.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

BTW, private persons, including juridicial persons, participate to varying degrees in terms of funds/labor/in-kind/etc. in all manner of governmental investigations by all branches of state, federal and local governments. Your singling out this instance leads me to believe that this is an area of law, politics and practice in which you have not had much exposure.

I’ve spoken to multiple people about this — including in the offices of two AGs, a variety of lawyers and lobbyists — and NONE have heard of coordination and funding to the levels described by the MPAA.

That you seem to think it’s no big deal, again, appears to reveal a lot more about you. Care to ‘fess up to anything?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The irony here is had it been Google conducting this kind of activity the shills around here would be screaming of illegality left and right.

Just like they falsely accuse you of working for Google and wrongfully claim that MU was an illegal operation (despite the fact that what the MPAA is doing here is much more illegal or at least ought to be), their main definition of illegal is whether or not something furthers their agenda. They don’t care about the law. The hypocrites.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

But the shills here don’t seem to look for facts that show Google is working with Techdirt. No, who needs facts when imagination will suffice. But when there are facts showing that the shills are wrong they simply close their ears and ingore them.

Simply ignoring the facts you don’t like doesn’t just make them go away.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I fess up. I look for facts relevant to charges of illegal conduct, and until they are presented I (like most lawyers) refrain from waxing poetic on legal conclusions that are unsupported by the factual record in hand.

Bullshit. On stories about folks like Kim Dotcom, or on ICE takedowns of sites (with no due process) you’re usually the first one on here slamming us for even suggesting that these sites might not have actually broken the law.

And, just a few days ago you were the one suggesting that WE had done something wrong in a fully disclosed sponsored post.

So in your demented and twisted world, posting a fully disclosed sponsored post is morally questionable, but PAYING FOR an Attorney General to investigate a company you dislike, including WRITING the subpoenas is perfectly fine.

All your comments do is show how morally bankrupt you and your cronies are.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

So in your demented and twisted world …

I think that pretty much sums them up. They are intellectually incapable of believing that no, not everyone is out to rob them. Google has finally realized they’ve been bending themselves into a pretzel attempting to appease a tyrant which will never listen to reason.

Either that, or this is the bunch who’ve sold their enforcement services to clueless rights holders who mistakenly believe these jerks can fix this for them. They’re making big bucks as long as they can keep the MafiAA believing that line. There’s no way these jerks want that gravy train stopped.

I suspect these guys are scraping the bottom of their barrel, and the rights holders are starting to clue in, wondering why they’re spending so much for these guys, yet they never seem to produce any results, other than making more people hate them for their efforts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

A “crony” took the time to respond to your comment on FB and ask if perhaps you and he were reading the document(s) differently. His question appears to have been presented without any ulterior motive other than attempting to understand how you are interpreting what has been disclosed. Perhaps you might consider responding to it before declaring all of us who express reservations about the conclusions you have drawn as being morally bankrupt.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Once again for emphasis, your comment attacking the motivations and character of people is defenseless in its totality and completely over the line. Having just noted you have not deigned to respond to a question that was put forward in good faith at FB, all I can conclude at this juncture is that you have no interest in responding to anything you perceive as criticism of your opinions in any manner other than by acting boorish and rude. For one who professes a dedication to engendering spirited discussions and accurate reporting of facts, you seem to be one of the very first to depart from traditional notions of journalism (who, what, when, where, why) and blaze a path befitting that of an unprofessional journeyman writing for the National Enquirer.

Not that it will register, but pushback on this over at FB came from well-respected professionals in the field of law. We do have relatively thick skins when it comes to personal attacks, especially when such attacks are made in response to noting significant logical inconsistencies in a published article while offering nothing of substance to address the inconsistencies. Even so, it would be nice to just once hear you express a contrary opinion without resort to childish behavior.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Copyright fanatics like you regularly resort to childish behavior, including spamming every other discussion on this site.

I can easily find garbage based on countless variations of the above quote, regularly used for mudslinging. Yet you will never point it out and sing the praises of the MPAA constantly.

The point of that response is so blatant, a toddler can figure it out. Goes to show how obtuse copyright fanboys are.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Hey look. A Vogon!

Having just noted you have not deigned to respond to a question that was put forward in good faith at FB …

“The plans for the hyperspatial bypass have been available for review by all in the planning office on Alpha Centuri, and since you’ve not bothered to avail yourselves of that we must conclude …”

Not everyone cares to be on Facebook (myself included). Why fragment the discussion? Post it here (as an AC if preferred). Failing that I must conclude this is merely an attempt to dilute criticism of certain recent events.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

A discussion on FB is among “friends”, and as such will not be carried over to this site. The author here would do well by his readership to note that there are others who are skilled in the law and who do not share his opinion. This is because at this juncture no many facts have been developed logically leading to the conclusion that illegal activity has been pursued or proposed. Just because the author here may not like what the emails say does not mean that those behind the emails have engaged in illegal activity. Present some more relevant facts and identify what laws are supposedly being broken and I am certain all who have pushed back will thoughtfully consider the situation, even to the point of agreeing with him if the facts and law tend in the direction of illegal activity. Until then, one commenter said it best with his perceptive “Yawn.” He was not saying this to look the other way. He was saying it because proclamations of illegal activity based upon the facts in hand was downright silly.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

“The author here would do well by his readership to note that there are others who are skilled in the law and who do not share his opinion.”

Meh. Regardless of the issue or the stance taken on the issue, there are always others who are skilled in the law who will not share that opinion. That such counteropinions exist is not even worth mentioning (it would be worth mentioning if they did not!).

If this were a journalism piece rather than opinion and commentary, then perhaps you would have a good point if you said that the article should at least mention what the counteropinions are — but it is not.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

Until then, one commenter said it best with his perceptive “Yawn.” He was not saying this to look the other way. He was saying it because proclamations of illegal activity based upon the facts in hand was downright silly.

Actually, I find it amusing that you fail to note that the same commenter who initially said “yawn” has since admitted (1) that he is taking back the “yawn” comment (2) that he was unaware of the full details when he made that comment and (3) now admits that the issue “is more worthy of scrutiny than my initial reaction indicated.”

Many of the initial commenters only read part of the report and did not look at the details.

Either way, I see no chance of you not continuing your kneejerk defense of the MPAA as you have done for years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:8 Re:

The individual who yawned provided a more nuanced comment that in large measure highlights just how much factual information is missing. Of course there may be undisclosed facts that if known could implicate illegal conduct. Nobody is arguing otherwise. What we are saying is that those like you who appear to have already made up their minds are doing so with an insufficient data set in hand.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

I’ll respond just to remind everyone that you are STILL refusing to respond to the fact that you are among the first to jump into conversations on sites being taken down or lawsuits filed by the MPAA to support its position — and yet, here, suddenly you seem to think it’s “too early to call.”

Similarly, I note that you refuse to admit that just last week you appeared to be accusing us of unethical dealings in running a (fully disclosed) sponsored post, but appear to have no qualms assuming that the MPAA’s ADMITTED plan to PAY for an AG investigation must be fine.

Watch out, sparky, your hypocrisy is showing.

Alien Rebel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:9 Re:

“The individual who yawned provided a more nuanced comment that in large measure highlights just how much factual information is missing. Of course there may be undisclosed facts that if known could implicate illegal conduct. Nobody is arguing otherwise. What we are saying is that those like you who appear to have already made up their minds are doing so with an insufficient data set in hand.”

That there’s some quality cut + paste for a mobster’s defense attorney. Jurors, pay no attention to the blood stains in the MPAA’s trunk, you just don’t have all the facts.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

A discussion on FB is among “friends”, and as such will not be carried over to this site.

As I will not be carried over to FB, that tends to engender an impasse. We appear able to communicate here, even anonymously on your part, yet that’s insufficient for your purposes?

The author here would do well by his readership to note that there are others who are skilled in the law and who do not share his opinion.

The author here would do well by his readership to note that there are others who are skilled in technology and who do not share his opinion. I tend to concern myself more with ethics and morality, and since law appears to have little if anything to do with those, it tends not to concern me much.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

I will note, with amusement, that while you keep pointing to some random FB conversation, you have not responded to the direct claims I made here. Because you cannot.

You are usually among the first on this site to condemn those you dislike as obviously having done illegal things and, as mentioned, just last week implied that we were doing something wrong in running a fully disclosed sponsored post. Yet you seem to have no problem with a secretive attempt by a private party to both fund and coordinate (including writing the subpoenas) investigation by a state AG.

This says a lot about you. None of it good.

edinjapan (profile) says:

Enlighten me

Being that I come from a country where the people who fill the same role as the AG in the USA are appointed by the crown and am now living in a country where similar rules apply.

Seriously, what’s the big deal? All Americans are corrupt.

Every non American knows that for a fact. That US politicians are corrupt is so well known has led the Chinese to publish a list of rates covering how much it costs to bribe each level of American snivel serpent.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Enlighten me

Yes of course, because the Chinese wouldn’t possibly have any reason to lie about something like that to make their competition look worse. And clearly such bribery would never happen in China, perish the thought! /s

Seriously, there’s scum everywhere, it’s in the US, it’s in China, and I can guarantee that, wherever you happen to live, it’s in your country too, whether you realize it or not.

edinjapan (profile) says:

Re: The MPAA should be banned


Who’s going to arrest them?

The police are too busy killing Americans of colour, beating up pregnant women and children, harrassing and intimidating the people taking video of them beating up pregnant women and children and killing Americans of colour.

The FBI are too busy hatching plans for false acts of terrorism, covering up CIA and NSA fuckups and cvolluding with the idiots from TSA and Homeland Security.

The CIA and NSA are too busy waterboarding terrorists, conducting ineffective torture campaigns, listening in on the millions of recorded phone calls they collect every day,watching sites like Techdirt and collecting enough information on Mike Masnick to enable their corporate masters to send him to Gitmo.

Who’s going to file the documentation to arrest the MPAA and the RIAA perps?

Not the various state and federal AG’s and judges-they’re too busy taking handouts from the AA’s.

Not the many Senators and Congress people who have been bought off by the lobbyists.

In short, it’s not going to happen.

TruthHurts (profile) says:

More Rico Act violations for the MPAA Rico Gang

Add to that that any congress critter that speaks out against Google has just signed their campaign death warrant as it will prove they were bought and paid for.

Now, no congress critter can speak out against Google, ever, or they will be accused of criminally accepting bribes, slander, perjury, corruption, etc…

Looks like Google just received at a minimum, 2 years worth of free protection from Government accusation about anything.

Matt says:

This is not really a scandal in that this is business as usual at the state and federal level. All the interest groups (corporations, unions, trades [like the MPAA], enviro groups, identity groups, and on and on have established elaborate and legal (ethical? of course not) ways to work with “their” particular government agency to advance their interests. The whole federal/state apparatus is a machine with a million levers and people/groups spend millions of dollars to pull the lever they want. All the levers ultimately do the same thing…they dispense money (directly or indirectly). The MPAA does it. Google does it (if only you could see their internal emails). I was an elected official at one time. There’s nothing new here.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: About all of this

[What] are you talking about nerds?

Man, the education system truly is failing, I see. Can you at least read? Go back up to the top and start over. The story’s all there, though you may need to click on a few links to get more than the top view of it.

TL;DR: Hollywood is bribing politicians (Attorneys General) to attack people (specifically Google) who Hollywood believes is helping other people (you?) “steal” (infringe copyright) from them. Have fun.

edinjapan (profile) says:

Re: Re: About all of this

@tqk TL;DR: Hollywood is bribing politicians (Attorneys General) to attack people

Here’s where the US judicial system has gone very wrong. Your chief means of oversight of the lawyers in a state is a politician. We all know what politicians are like. They’ll feed off stuff no self respecting zombie would and do things that would shame a sewer rat. It’s no wonder the USA is so fucked up!

khl (user link) says:

Must stop IP theft - barracade Hollywood

Hollywood is losing Intellectual Property, and we must keep that IP from leaving Hollywood by any means available. I propose cutting all communication into the area, then surrounding it by 16 foot barbed wire fences, guard towers with spotlights and machine guns, and packs of dogs trained to kill. If anyone tries to leave Hollywood (possibly with intellectual property in their pockets or between their ears) they must be gunned down and their corpse incinerated by remote controlled robots.

We must not let any trace of these incredibly valuable ideas escape this powerhouse of creativity into the outside world of ordinary, kind, generous people, who might commit the heinous crime of sharing it with each other. As Hollywood descends into cannibalism, we should provide on-site assistance by the state attorney generals who have been so helpful to date, who can offer this protected community both contractual advice and calories.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop Β»

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...