Monthly Archives: January 2015

Online Copyright Showdown: The Google MPAA Feud

Google MPAA feud explained
The Google v. MPAA feud is like Hatfields v. McCoys, 21st Century.

The fit-filled Google MPAA feud mirrors that of the Hatfields and McCoys. And thanks to the now infamous “Sony hack,” stakes have been raised in the Online Copyright War.

Concerned about information revealed in the leaked Sony emails, Google decided to sue the already beleaguered state of Mississippi. Huh? What does Mississippi have to do with the MPAA-Google beef? Keep reading.

Round 734 of the Google MPAA Feud: The “Get Tough On Online Copyright” Email

A pesky little email, from of the inbox of MPAA general counsel Steven Fabrizio, sparked Google’s lawsuit against Mississippi. In the email, Fabrizio mentions the studio’s “get tough” plan to strong arm Google on the issue of online piracy – or as the MPAA calls the search company, “Goliath.”

An excerpt, from the email, for your gawking pleasure:

“Creating an environment to potentially increase the impact of the AG effort requires additional resources devoted to investigation and analysis of Goliath. This investigation and analysis would give the AGs a greater understanding of the problems created by Goliath (ammunition/evidence against Goliath), and the technical solutions for those problems.”

Google MPAA Feud: The Kernel of Animosity

What is the kernel of animosity between Google and the MPAA?

The discord boils down to this: the movie studios and their lobbyists want tech companies to do everything in their power to curtail online copyright infringement (i.e., piracy).

Google executives, on the other hand, don’t think it’s the company’s responsibility to thwart piracy. Plus, there’s a sentiment in the tech community that the MPAA’s requests amount to censorship. In fact, a Google attorney mentioned the big “C”:

“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. Why, then, is it trying to secretly censor the Internet?”

MPAA Spin Masters

Skilled in the ways of Hollywood public relations, an MPAA spokesperson dodged Google’s “censorship” slight with a tried-and-tested, deflect-then-blame maneuver, countering:

“Google’s effort to position itself as a defender of free speech is shameful. Freedom of speech should never be used as a shield for unlawful activities and the Internet is not a licence to steal. We will seek the assistance of any and all government agencies, whether federal, state or local, to protect the rights of all involved in creative activities.”

The Google MPAA feud won’t end until studio staffers cipher a new revenue model. Until then, the online piracy tug-of-war will continue.

Contact an Online Copyright Lawyer

Do you have an online copyright legal issue? Are you ready to speak with an Internet lawyer? If yes, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. A pioneer in the field of Internet law, we’ve successfully managed hundreds of copyright challenges for businesses and entrepreneurs. To learn more about our firm, start here.

Sure, your online copyright issues may not be as dramatic as the Google MPAA feud, but wouldn’t it be nice to get it resolved? Let’s start fixing today.

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Ashkan Soltani: The FTC’s New Online Privacy Guru and CTO

Ashkan Soltani FTC CTO
There is a new chief technology officer at the Federal Trade Commission.

It’s a new year, and the FTC’s sporting a new chief technology officer. Ashkan Soltani is his name, and online privacy programming is his game. A bona fide tech-head, over the past 15 years Soltani has worked on several high-profile, large-scale, Internet-related projects.

  • In 2012, Soltani consulted on the FTC’s mobile forensics lab.
  • He served as lead researcher for the Wall Street Journal’s ground-breaking “What Do They Know” series.
  • Soltani helped develop and sell “Mobilescope,” a privacy app intended to improve “transparency” in the smartphone marketplace.
  • As a grad student, Ashkan Soltani helped bring the issue of “Flash Cookie Respawning” to the fore.

Soltani’s Goals: “More Geeks and Better Tools”

A direct report to Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, Soltani says he plans “to work on expanding the agency’s tech capacity, or in other words, bringing on more geeks and better tools.”

When introducing himself to the press and public, the FTC’s new CTO also verbally felled an oft-argued criticism regarding the commission’s technological prowess, commenting:

“They’ve always addressed new markets even from the history of regulating emissions and cigarettes. While the agency may have enhanced those capabilities recently, it’s mistaken to say the FTC is just getting into tech.”

So, what issues does Soltani want to tackle during his tenure at the Federal Trade Commission? In his words:

“Algorithmic transparency. The idea is for the FTC to have better insight into how companies such as e-commerce, travel and financial services firms feed web behavior, location, demographic and other data into algorithms that determine variable prices.”

He also wants to explore issues related to “big data personalization” and:

“Create tools that would let a researcher or anyone identify how different people might see a website or service.”

In interviews, Soltani has made it clear that he’s not “setting policy.” Instead, he wants to help “the Commission…understand the way that privacy issues come into play as technology moves forward.”

Is Ashkan Soltani good for the FTC or bad?

Par for any political appointee, a schtikle of controversy surrounds Soltani’s employment. Skeptics consider his past projects and worry he may be a radical online privacy wolf in a politically neutral sheep’s clothing. But Soltani promised:

“My role at the FTC is not to set policy — the Chairwoman and the bipartisan members of the Commission do that — but I do play a role in helping I think a person with a strong track record of researching and investigating consumer privacy issues is, frankly, exactly who would be most effective in this role.”

Got an Internet law legal question related to the FTC? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law today.

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