Top MPAA Lawyer, Mastermind Behind Its Plan To Attack The Internet, Arrested On Blackmail And Sexual Assault Charges
from the how-very-ethical dept
A while back, an MPAA whistleblower sent me a big file of internal MPAA documents. I spent many months going through them and trying to track down any actual story in them, but there really wasn’t much there. Most of the documents were quite old and not all that revealing beyond what was already known (or widely assumed) about how the MPAA acted. The only thing that struck me as interesting, was a very old memo, written by lawyer Steven Fabrizio, before he became the MPAA’s General Counsel, when he was still at the MPAA’s favorite law firm, Jenner & Block. The memo outlined a very long list of potential anti-piracy strategies, and whether or not they were legal. Some of them were… quite surprising in what they were even considering (it included things like taking over a pirate site and using it as a honeypot). Many were what I would personally classify as somewhere between sleazy, dishonest and unethical. I never wrote up any details, because there was no evidence that the MPAA ever actually did any of the proposed programs, and a few people I ran questions by pointed out that, as as corporate lawyer, reviewing crazy ideas by clients and giving a legal opinion on them is standard practice.
The Fabrizio connection struck me as interesting on a few levels, though. Beyond being the MPAA’s top legal attack dog for nearly a decade, the Sony Pictures email leak showed that Fabrizio was the mastermind behind Hollywood’s Project Goliath to use MPAA/Hollywood Studio funds to pay for having state Attorney’s General and news media owned by those studios, to attack Google to try to pressure it into some sort of “deal” with the studios. Fabrizio was also formerly the top litigator at the RIAA, and led its charge against Napster. Fabrizio was deeply involved in key copyright lawsuits, including the fights against Grokster, Hotfile, and Aereo. Basically, much of the history of “anti-piracy” litigation and “anti-piracy” efforts regarding the internet, was somehow touched by Steve Fabrizio.
And, of course, the usual line that people would give in supporting these positions is that it was necessary is because “piracy is illegal” and so on.
Anyway, that’s why it’s a bit shocking to discover that Fabrizio has now been arrested in DC (and fired by the MPAA) for alleged sexual assault and blackmail. Variety’s story on the charges is really quite incredible:
According to a police affidavit, Fabrizio is accused of threatening a woman he met on a ?sugar daddy? dating site. The police allege that Fabrizio and the woman had consensual sex once on Aug. 19, after which he paid her $400. After that, she did not want to see him again. According to the affidavit, Fabrizio sent numerous texts insisting on a second meeting, and threatening to expose her if she did not comply.
?I know where you live,? he allegedly wrote. ?I know where you work. Don?t think ? Hospital would be happy to know that it?s young nurses are having sexual for money / Same for your landlord.?
Fabrizio allegedly used those threats to coerce her into having sex again, according to the affidavit. The police allege that he then sent additional texts threatening to tell her parents if she did not continue to have sex with him a couple times a month. The woman called the police. After arranging for another meeting, Fabrizio was arrested outside the woman?s apartment on Friday morning, according to the document.
That is beyond horrifying — especially given that part of Project Goliath was to try to get various state Attorneys General to argue that Google helped enable sex trafficking and other such things. Apparently, Fabrizio decided to “investigate” things a bit more directly.