More Evidence Revealed Of Hollywood's Chummy Relationship With State Attorney General... Even As He Plays Dumb

from the sometimes-it's-not-that-hard-to-play dept

The saga of the MPAA and it's uncomfortably close relationship with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, continues to unfold. If you don't recall, the Sony Hack revealed that the MPAA had such a close relationship with Hood that it was allotting between $585k and $1.175 million to fund Hood's (misguided and based on faulty premises) investigation into Google, even promising $100k in media support. Hood responded by first denying any serious relationship with the MPAA, only to have it come out that not only had the letter that Hood had sent to Google demanding answers been almost entirely written by the MPAA's lawyer (gotta clear the metadata, guys), but that the MPAA had hired Hood's close friend, political mentor, and predecessor in office Mike Moore to push its agenda to Hood via the Hollywood front group "Digital Citizens Alliance."

Hood, apparently, is not backing down -- though his claims are looking increasingly ridiculous. The Huffington Post discovered that not only had the MPAA's Tom Perrelli written the initial letter, but also that Perrelli prepped Hood for his meeting with Google, telling him what to say to Google. Not only that, but Hood directly called the MPAA, asking for help in going after Google. And, yet, Hood still wants to claim there's nothing there, insisting that he had no idea who Perrelli even worked for.

Really.

First, the damning evidence:
Emails obtained by The Huffington Post show that in January, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D), president of the National Association of Attorneys General, called a lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Hood was looking for evidence of Google search results leading people to websites with pirated content -- evidence that he hoped to have on hand for an upcoming meeting with the search giant. Besides speaking with the lobbyist, Hood also worked with an outside counsel for the MPAA, a lawyer named Tom Perrelli, who prepped him and other state AGs on what to say during their meeting with Google.
Then the hard-to-believe denial:
Hood said he wan't aware that he was consulting with a lawyer who works with the MPAA on intellectual property issues. He added that he wouldn't find that problematic, if that was indeed the case.

Hood told The Huffington Post that Perrelli has offered to assist his office in its efforts to get search engines to "detect and delist" websites with illegal content and products. He said he did not know that Perrelli is a partner at Jenner & Block, a law firm retained by the MPAA.

"I could not tell you which law firm he works for now," Hood said, adding that he is "not aware" of the relationship between Jenner & Block and the MPAA.
So, Jim Hood would have you believe that he has no idea that Tom Perrelli works for Jenner & Block, or that he's outside counsel for the MPAA, and he expects people to just believe that?

Oh, and some more evidence that Hood absolutely knew he was working with the MPAA and reached out to them for "help":
According to other leaked documents, on January 16 of this year, Vans Stevenson, senior vice president for state government affairs at the MPAA, sent an email titled "STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL PROJECT: Update on AG Denver Meeting With Google Executives" to representatives from the Recording Industry Association of America and others. The email listed 14 AGs and deputy or assistant AGs who were scheduled to attend that meeting.

In that email, Stevenson wrote: "General Hood called me last night and asked that we provide fresh examples for his planned live 'search' demonstration of illegal site activity, including the availability of motion pictures only in theatrical release, which we are working on with our outside counsel Tom Perrelli’s team."
Note, that earlier this week, Hood had clearly said that he "has never asked MPAA a legal question." Okay, so he insists he's never asked the MPAA a legal question, but called up its government affairs guy and spent hours with the MPAA's top lawyer. And people are expected to believe this?

Watch the spin:
Hood, who told HuffPost he had received assistance from the MPAA but never asked the group any legal questions, noted that Stevenson "is not an attorney, so I would not have sought legal advice from him." He added, "As I said several times, we frequently ask the companies who report intellectual property theft to assist our office in identifying counterfeit items and evidence of how their property is being stolen."
So he called the MPAA "for assistance." Yet, that's not actually what the leaked MPAA emails reveal. Instead, it shows that he called them asking for "search examples" for his staged outrage party directed at Google.

Google has finally spoken out about this and, not surprisingly, the company is not amused, pointing out that this seems like a really nasty way for the MPAA to revive SOPA via Jim Hood. Further, it calls into question the thinking behind the MPAA's campaign:
While we of course have serious legal concerns about all of this, one disappointing part of this story is what this all means for the MPAA itself, an organization 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?
As we noted last time, Hood has a bit of a reputation down in Mississippi for questionable activities, so we can just throw this on the pile. The WSJ once called him a "so-called Attorney General" after a federal judge called Hood out as "so-called law enforcement" for "colluding with [a] trial kingpin to evade a court order." Furthermore, Judge William Acker called out Hood for being "a co-conspirator... and an aider and abetter" You can read all the sketchy details about it here.

Perhaps it's true that Jim Hood meets with high powered lawyers when he doesn't know who they work for. Perhaps it's true that -- without knowing who's paying their bills -- he takes documents from them and sends them off with almost no changes to companies demanding "answers." But if his excuse is, honestly, that he cares so little about the details that he's willing to be a patsy for big corporate lawyers without even knowing who he's now really working for that doesn't make him look good. The choice here seems to be either that Hood is lying about being deeply connected to the MPAA, and the MPAA is practically running his investigation (including the funding and writing the threat letters and subpoenas) or that Hood is so clueless that he doesn't bother finding out who high powered lawyers are working for before accepting their 4,000 word threat letters, signing his name to them and shipping them off.

I'm not sure which scenario makes him look worse.

Filed Under: attorney general, jim hood, mississippi, sony hack, tom perrelli, vans stevenson
Companies: jenner & block, mpaa


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:41am

    The point that he's an Attorney General is what scares me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dave blevins (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:44am

    Google strikes back

    Goliath files suit !!
    http://goo.gl/pn6zHY

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:45am

    Considering he has yet to be punished for the rest of the pile of wrongdoings mounted against him I await faithfully that he will be punished along with Sony and the MAFIAA. I also await a full investigation to be launched on this.

    Excuse-me as I go put some cookies and milk for Santa under the tree.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:46am

    Trademark Pending

    "I shilled for the MPAA and all I got was a crummy $1.175 million."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 8:58am

    Only a mother could love...

    Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood: "Look Ma, I'm spinning, I'm spinning!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:00am

    Hood still wants to claim there's nothing there, insisting that he had no idea who Perrelli even worked for.

    What should have been a follow up question to this answer is WHO did you think he worked for. never leave a open ended answer floating ,is it to much to ask reporters for some follow through.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radix (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:02am

    What did Google do?

    Has the MPAA started a war with the Yellow Pages for publishing the addresses of pawn shops that might sell counterfeit movies?

    It's no wonder the entertainment industry is decades behind in terms of innovation. They're still viewing the web through the paradigm of the 80's and 90's when CompuServe or AOL was the gateway, directory, ISP and one-stop shop of connected computing for the majority of people online. Only now, they've put Google in that role.

    Cuba, stuck in the past, may actually be more up-to-date than Hollywood, AND have a better chance now of building on that lead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jay (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 10:58am

      Re: What did Google do?

      They view Google as competition.

      No matter what else happens, because Google exists, the MPAA will work to decimate the company.

      That's what they use the law for. To bully and badger that which could replace them. The ratings system keeps indies in check, the ContentID system stagnates new video content, and their fight against torrents goes against their ability to utilize the technology.

      They are the Edisons of this Era, working for monopoly rentsover actual innovative progress. That's been their mission with their lobbying power damn near since their inception.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:26am

    There are, of course, other possible scenarios than just the two served up here.

    BTW, it is commonplace for parties to cooperate (time, testimony, fact gathering, meetings, etc.) with state AGs in investigating alleged wrongdoing, and this is done across a very broad spectrum of laws. Of course, I can see how this is problematic to someone if that someone is of the mindset that groups like the MPAA and RIAA are corrupt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:38am

      Re:

      Cooperating with an investigation is one thing, but funding one that otherwise didn't exist against a company you don't like is something else entirely.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 10:07am

      Re:

      There are, of course, other possible scenarios than just the two served up here.


      Feel free to describe them.

      BTW, it is commonplace for parties to cooperate (time, testimony, fact gathering, meetings, etc.) with state AGs in investigating alleged wrongdoing, and this is done across a very broad spectrum of laws.

      Cooperating, yes. Funding it, writing up the letters and subpoenas FOR THE AG to send, instructing him on what questions to ask, promising to PAY FOR MEDIA coverage? No. That is not "commonplace" nor is it even remotely acceptable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 1:49pm

        Re: Re:

        Correction: It may or may not be 'commonplace'(the public only learned about Hood's involvement with the MPAA due to a massive hack, how many similar 'agreements' have slipped through without being noticed?), but even if it is, it's still not acceptable.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 4:32pm

      Re:

      Nobody believes you, Slonecker.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    AnonCow, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:30am

    I have to admit that I am amazed that the State AG that is most owned by the MPAA is not Kamala Harris right here in California. If you are willing to get in bed with Willie Brown, the MPAA can't look much worse...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Colin, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:44am

    1) It's upsetting to me that the MPAA has a "senior vice president for state government affairs."

    2) His alternative to "I flat out lied about who I talked to, and about what" is "Yeah, I'll fucking work with anyone who says they're a lawyer. I don't have to have any clue about what firm they're with or what they do." That's...not a great look.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 9:46am

    'Note, that earlier this week, Hood had clearly said that he "has never asked MPAA a legal question."'

    Only the illegal questions...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Cat Mara (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 10:19am

    Nominative determinism at work

    His name is "hood"!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Dec 2014 @ 10:24am

    "gotta clear the metadata"

    What's the comment about metadata referring to? The linked article doesn't mention anything, and the article it links to is behind a paywall. I thought it was non-meta data that gave this away, i.e. that it was almost identical to something in an email from the MPAA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 10:44am

    I'm not sure which scenario makes him look worse.

    Seems Mr. Hood is pretty sure. One scenario makes him out to be clueless, which is no worse than 90% of politicians. The other makes him out to be a felon, so look at which one he's doing his level best to paint himself as!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anon E. Mous (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 11:06am

    Just another fine example of how special interest groups with the cash can buy a politician and why reforms are needed

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zonker, 19 Dec 2014 @ 2:58pm

    I expect Hood will be appearing before the court soon dressed as Thomas Jefferson.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), 19 Dec 2014 @ 5:26pm

    And so, the big lie goes on

    Note, that earlier this week, Hood had clearly said that he "has never asked MPAA a legal question."

    Yes, but how many illegal ones did he ask?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 20 Dec 2014 @ 11:38am

    Doing it for the Money of course.

    How I wish one could summon up a list of all of Hood's recent off-shore account deposits.

    That would completely explain his intent and purpose.

    Now that's the sort of thing hackers should be going after.

    In fact, it would be extremely educational if we could see a printout of all the deposits made recently into the off-shore accounts of ALL Attorneys General, both those on that Sony list and all the others not listed.

    I wonder if there are any members of the USG who are NOT on the Mob's payroll these days. I truly doubt it. One good apple could easily ruin it for all the bad apples in the basket.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Richard Bennett (profile), 24 Dec 2014 @ 12:48pm

    ...and on the other hand...

    How chummy is Google with the DoJ and the White House? I believe they've all met.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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