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Google Is Shocked -- Shocked! -- by Hollywood Studios’ Lobbying

Google takes a jab at the MPAA over a lobbying scheme unveiled, thanks to the Sony hack.

Warner Bros.

Google took aim at Hollywood’s lobbying arm Thursday night, accusing the Motion Picture Association of America of leading a “secret, coordinated campaign” to revive controversial online piracy legislation with the help of sympathetic state officials.

Citing news reports over the past week or so about a state-based lobbying campaign dubbed “Project Goliath,” Google accused the MPAA of “conspiring to achieve [the online piracy legislation’s] goals through non-legislative means.”

Some details about the project were uncovered thanks to emails between an MPAA attorney and a Sony Pictures attorney whose emails were released by hackers.

The search giant quoted a Tuesday New York Times story about how the MPAA worked with several state attorney generals — most notably Mississippi’s — for help with its ongoing campaign to force Google to do more about preventing online piracy of movies and other content.

“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,’” Google lamented in its blog post. “Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?”

An MPAA spokeswoman offered a verbal eye-roll in response. “Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful,” MPAA spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said in a statement.

“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,” she continued.

Google’s complaints that the MPAA is lobbying officials to get what it wants are a bit hypocritical, considering what a lobbying behemoth the company has become globally.

The Motion Picture Association of America spent $2.16 million on Washington lobbyists last year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Google spent $15.8 million. (To be fair, several of MPAA’s individual members — Sony, Fox, Comcast’s Universal, Walt Disney Co. and Warner Brothers — also spend millions each year on their own lobbyists.)

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