Privacy Groups Upbraid MPAA For Trying To Bring SOPA Back At The State Level

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The ongoing struggle between Google and the Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has new players this week, as a number of privacy groups waded into the mix, dinging the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for, in their words, a “coordinated campaign to shut down and block access to individual websites through backdoor methods resoundingly rejected by the public and federal lawmakers.”

They are talking about SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, which lost in Congress. Undeterred, the MPAA, one of the original bill’s advocates, is trying to exert its influence on smaller stages. (For more on the Google v. Hood struggle, a rough history is here. For Hood’s response to Google suing him, this is for you.)

The letter — signed by the EFF, Freedom Works and Demand Progress among others — is worth reading in its entirety. Here are the key excerpts [Bolding: TechCrunch. Letter via Politico.]:

Publications including the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and The Verge are reporting that the MPAA responded to the failure of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in 2012 by quietly searching for alternate means to accomplish key provisions of the bill, such as website blocking and search filtering. It is our understanding that those efforts include developing legal theories and even drafting civil investigation demand letters for state attorneys general to facilitate actions against websites and search engines. The goal of these efforts mirrors the goal of SOPA: to create new legal tools that will compel online service providers to remove content from the Internet with little, if any, meaningful due process.

Despite these risks, you told the Huffington Post you agreed with the methods of the ill­fated SOPA legislation. We beg to differ, as do the engineers who created the Internet, the organizations and businesses that depend upon a secure and robust Internet infrastructure, and the legions of Internet users who spoke out against SOPA in 2011 and 2012. […] SOPA was a bad idea at the federal level, and any SOPA revival on a state level is an equally bad idea.

So here we are again.

Happily, Google, by making its displeasure public, has taken a private effort by the MPAA and made it part of the larger discussion about copyright law. We should expect the next Congress to take up that issue.