Last Friday, District Dispatch readers were no doubt given the heebie-jeebies by Carrie Russell who told an eerily familiar and terrifying tale. For the past week or so in the wake of the Sony email hack, mainstream and online media have exposed a veritable cauldron of connivance by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) with several of the nation’s state Attorneys General.
Apparently, MPAA wasn’t satisfied with rousing more than 14 million Americans to grab their keyboards, pitchforks and torches in 2012 to storm Congress’ castle and kill the monster called SOPA (the “Stop Online Piracy Act”). Instead, they immediately embarked upon a secret, potentially million dollar campaign to convince state AGs to reanimate SOPA’s corpse by (ab?)using their investigative and litigation powers. Specifically, MPAA has been trying to force Google and potentially other internet search companies to prevent the public from being able to find, and thus access, websites that the MPAA and friends unilaterally find (no judge involved) to infringe federal copyright law. (Ars Technica laid out the whole sordid campaign brilliantly this past week.)
Faced with that legitimately horrifying prospect, Google fought back late Friday by counter-suing Attorney General Jim Hood of Mississippi, MPAA’s lead laboratory assistant, who announced just hours later that he was calling a “time out” on (but not permanently abandoning) further suspect experiments in breaking the Internet.
Today, ALA’s name leads the list of signers of a letter to Attorney General Hood (pdf) (copied to all attorneys general) by a veritable Who’s Who of the nation’s other leading technology policy and public interest organizations reminding him of SOPA’s fate “and of the principled opposition to curtailing free speech that it first provoked.”
Time will tell if the nation’s Attorneys General will leave federal copyright law enforcement to Congress and reserve state taxpayers’ money for public safety issues and other matters closer to home. Meantime, do you know where your pitchfork and torch are?
Between the holidays just might be a good time to sharpen and prime them just in case we have to help make “Son of SOPA” the least profitable, shortest running movie in policy horror film history.