The old guard in Hollywood, so frightened of an internet they don't understand, tends to be rather transparently buffoonish in its strategies to try to break the internet. For a few years, the MPAA was totally focused on a "three strikes" strategy -- believing that if people were getting kicked off the internet, that it would lead them to stop file sharing and go back to paying large sums of money for bad movies. That plan failed miserably
. The followup idea was even worse: known as full site blocking, the idea was to convince countries to pass laws that would force ISPs, search engines, domain registrars and others to completely block access not just to infringing content
, but to entire sites
that the legacy copyright industries deemed "bad."
This was always problematic on a few different levels. First, the entertainment industry has a rather horrible
track record of declaring some new innovation "bad" and "illegal" when it shows up on the scene, only much later realizing that the "bad" or "illegal" thing is actually exactly what consumers are looking for. In the past, the industry has attacked radio, television, the VCR, the photocopier, the DVR, the MP3 player and YouTube (among many other things). Giving Hollywood a full on veto for any new technology, before it's had a chance to grow, thrive and show how useful it can be, seems like a great way to kill off innovation. Yet, that's what Hollywood wants. Second, the concept of site blocking itself is incompatible with some of the very fundamentals of the internet. It breaks DNS, it creates big security problems, and it has tremendous collateral damage (not that Hollywood gives a shit about that).
The original site blocking plan was to pass SOPA in the US, which had site blocking provisions. It was seen as a slam dunk easy win by Hollywood, until suddenly, it wasn't (thanks to the internet speaking up loudly
). But, similar strategies have worked better in other countries, as courts have often ordered ISPs to block certain sites, often with little review and almost no due process. Yet, as we discovered thanks to the Sony Hack last year, the MPAA is still 100% focused on figuring out ways to implement full site blocking
, even as its internal discussion admits it has no idea about the technological feasibility of it. Instead, it's pushing on a few different fronts, from trying to get states Attorneys General involved to abusing
the process at the International Trade Commission to "block" sites "at the border."
However, it appears that the latest strategy is just to file a bunch of bogus DMCA takedown notices to Google
on the top level domain, rather than on specific content. It's no secret that the MPAA has been asking Google to implement full site blocking for quite some time -- even though doing so wouldn't actually help
(because instead of the sites, you'd just get people telling you how to get to those sites or
you'd get even sketchier sites). TorrentFreak noticed that the MPAA issued a bunch of questionable DMCA notices on top level domains recently, nearly all of which Google rightly rejected
. The law is pretty clear that you have to be identifying the specific work
to be taken down, rather than just generally pointing to a site.
The MPAA knows this, which makes the sending of a bunch of top level domains... bizarre. (TorrentFreak also points out that the MPAA may have even sent its own mpaa.org domain
in a DMCA notice, but there's a decent chance that that's just someone playing a prank). The decision to file such clearly bogus DMCA notices, from an organization that is so totally focused on site blocking and which has large groups of lawyers looking for every angle to bring in full site blocking... suggests that this isn't just the MPAA getting lazy. Instead, it may be part of a plan to try to set up a test case, in which the MPAA sues over getting Google to remove an entire domain, based solely on a takedown (or series of takedowns) on that top level domain. If so, that would be an astoundingly stupid ploy -- one that the MPAA would have a high likelihood of losing. But perhaps desperate times at the MPAA call for desperate measures. Of course, we're still wondering when the folks over at the MPAA will get desperate enough to focus on giving people what they want, rather than treating them all as criminals.