Trade secrets and industry insider information reached the public after the Sony hack released terabytes of company information. Buried in the mass of data was apparently a plan among media companies to fight against “Goliath” in an attempt to stamp out piracy and quash efforts to protect net neutrality. According to analysis by The Verge, Goliath is Google.
“Project Goliath” was a multi-year plan forged by the MPAA, Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros and Disney, according to Verge contributor Russel Brandom. Tactics reportedly included “amplifying negative Goliath news,” and “respond to/rebut Goliath’s public advocacy.” The public advocacy in question is most likely open Internet policies like net neutrality which are the focus of many online businesses, since SOPA was defeated.
Other tactics included working with state attorney generals and ISPs to expand court power over the way data is served. To that end, the group budgeted around $500,000 for legal costs. In essence, the plan was to further expand the power of the studios in question, while working to undercut Google’s efforts toward a free and open Internet.
The other main thread of discussion in the leaked emails was piracy, according to Brandom. The studios described Google as “their most powerful and politically relevant adversary in the fight against online piracy.” Largely this was because of copyright-infringing results appearing in Google searches, to which Brandom says “the persistence of file-sharing links in Google search rankings has been a sore point in Hollywood for years.”
The problem with attempting to stamp out piracy online is that it is near impossible. It doesn’t matter why The Pirate Bay went down this time, because there are more sites ready to take its place immediately. Another problem for studios attempting to combat piracy may be their own marketing material: SocialTimes has reported on how social media can act as a shopping list for media pirates.
The two most worrying things contained in the emails are the incitement toward anti-competition lobbying, and the bent against an open Internet. Lobbyists are already able to stifle investigations, and from the sound of the Goliath emails, lobbyists wanted attorney generals to begin investigations into Google. That’s about as anti-competition as it gets.
In regard to net neutrality; who owns the Internet? These emails suggest that studios and lobbyists want to — and not to the benefit of consumers.