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Google condemns Hollywood's secret anti-piracy program

Google condemns Hollywood's secret anti-piracy program

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After hacked documents revealed that Sony and other media companies were attempting to pass harsh anti-piracy measures, Google has condemned its actions. "We are deeply concerned about recent reports that the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) led a secret, coordinated campaign to revive the failed SOPA legislation through other means," the company said in a blog post today. It went on to point out details that The Verge and other sites found while combing through the terabytes of information leaked by the hacker group Guardians of Peace.

Among other things, Sony and other members of the MPAA joined a campaign known as "Project Goliath," a heavy-handed attempt to block pirate sites from appearing online. The project appeared after the conspicuous failure of SOPA, an anti-infringement bill that was widely protested and finally shelved in early 2012. Since then, the film industry has supposedly stepped back and tried a friendlier approach, but it's continued to go after Google, which it sees as enabling piracy. The leaked documents show that it aggressively pushed state attorneys general to go after Google, allocating funds and building potential legal cases against the search giant.

"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,'" wrote Google. "Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?"

The MPAA countered with a harsh response. "Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful," said a spokesperson. "Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the internet is not a license to steal. Google's blog post today is a transparent attempt to deflect focus from its own conduct and to shift attention from legitimate and important ongoing investigations by state attorneys general into the role of Google Search in enabling and facilitating illegal conduct — including illicit drug purchases, human trafficking and fraudulent documents as well as theft of intellectual property. We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities."

Update December 19th, 8:20am ET: Added MPAA statement.