As the fallout of the Sony Pictures Entertainment hack continues to hit, another tidbit of formerly secret information has been squirreled out of the data and correspondences that were leaked by the cyberterror group. Apparently Sony Pictures, a number of other movie studios, and the Motion Picture Association of America itself, were conspiring to somehow revive SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act legislation that would’ve enacted sweeping censorship powers to media companies.
Google yesterday published a lengthy post slamming the MPAA for its efforts to find a backdoor method of reintroducing SOPA to the Internet. Some of those efforts include the MPAA trying to “convince” state lawmakers to help block websites and Google itself if they’re found to possibly infringe on copyright, despite no legal basis to do so. The MPAA also motivated the Mississippi State Attorney General to send a subpoena to Google regarding its alleged role in promoting piracy, much of which covered “a variety of topics over which he lacks jurisdiction.”
Said Google to conclude the post:
“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 artsists’ right to free expression.’ Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?”
That the MPAA is colluding with studios and lawmakers to revive the long-dead SOPA is a sad but unsurprising revelation. In fact, we know for sure that movie makers aren’t interested in free expression as they are in the bottom line – hence the recent cancelation of The Interview’s release in movie theaters across the world in the wake of (very likely empty) threats from the cyber-terrorist group who claims responsibility for the recent attack on Sony Pictures.
The good news here, however, is that the MPAA’s machinations have been brought to light, and it seems relatively unlikely that no matter what they try, the Internet will prove to be too hard to tame. As much as media companies care most about money, lawmakers care most about votes. Pissing off the Internet isn’t usually a good way to maintain positions of power for too long.