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MPAA decries Google's 'shameful' attack on its anti-piracy program

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The Motion Picture Association of America has responded to Google's condemnation of Project Goliath, a secret and ambitious anti-piracy program revealed in leaked Sony documents. Yesterday, the search company said it was "deeply concerned" by the MPAA's efforts to push new content-blocking methods and help attorneys general build legal cases against Google, accusing the organization of attempting to "secretly censor the internet." But a spokesperson for the MPAA says these claims are disingenuous.

"Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful."

"Google's effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful," said the 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."

Google has been a primary target of the MPAA, which argues that it hasn't done enough to prevent users from turning its search tool into a copyright infringement platform. For the past two years, Google has attempted to counter these assertions with a report on its anti-piracy efforts, including YouTube's Content ID matching system and showcasing of legal alternatives. Two years ago, it began downranking sites that received a large number of piracy complaints, a system it extended in the fall of 2014. The MPAA has remained critical; in some cases, going through Google also hasn't wiped out site traffic.

Here, it's accusing Google of taking the focus off current state investigations of seedier issues. Last year, attorneys general went after the company for a variety of alleged offenses, including making it too easy to find illegal pharmaceuticals or carry out human trafficking with Search. Google has previously paid settlement money to states over privacy violations. Leaked documents showed that the MPAA was active in supporting investigations against Google, offering legal support, research assistance, and help seeding news about the investigations. The MPAA didn't get into the specifics of these documents, but it defended the strategy at a very broad level. "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," the spokesperson said.