As a follow-up to my last post about Google churning the Sony hack into SOPA suds, I wanted to call attention to this detailed article by Andrew Orlowski in The Register. In that last piece, I refrained from enumerating Google’s conflicts with the laws of several countries, including our own. I am not an investigative journalist and don’t maintain a detailed diary of those accounts, though I certainly read about many of them. I also refrained from speculation as to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood’s rationale for “taking a break” in his investigation since Google has filed suit against his office; but as Orlowski points out, we should not overlook the fact that the search giant is worth more than Hood’s entire state or that the suit itself looks like a neatly-coordinated PR move.
“The innuendo this time was clear: state AGs were colluding to “break the internet” all over again. It ignited the same persecution fantasy that had fuelled [sic] the SOPA protests (“Let’s get rid of this legislation so we can start enjoying culture again,” wrote one Berkman scholar during the anti-SOPA campaign, somehow implying he couldn’t play music, go to the theatre or watch a movie).
Then, after the stories had circulated, quite coincidentally Google dug into its pockets and launched a highly unusual lawsuit against the attorney general of America’s poorest state.”
Most importantly, Orlowski emphasizes that Hood’s interest in Google hardly begins or ends with the company’s role in copyright infringement of properties belonging to Hollywood studios.
“What Hood wants to know is how Google is complying with a legally-binding settlement. And he’s curious to know whether advertisers are being skimmed – as whistleblowers have long alleged. This is certainly of interest to small businesses, typically “mom and pop” shops, that use Google’s Adsense. That’s the only area where one can argue Hood “opens up a new front” against Google – and he’s seeking more than compliance. And, given the economic interests of poor Missippians and the fact the USA is reluctant to apply fraud or consumer protection laws against Google, it’s hard to see why he shouldn’t.”
If anything, the copyright holders’ interests are among the lower priority concerns for authorities that have been investigating Google, appropriately taking a back seat to fraud, illegal drug trafficking, and human trafficking.
“Have a look how, and where, copyright figures in his 79-page Google subpoena. Just three press releases, none of which relate to copyright infringements, are on the Mississippi website. It’s the very last item on the list. It’s a sub point.”
And in case you don’t read the article, I have to quote Orlowski’s summation in which he makes the most important point:
“My puzzle is, why do intelligent progressives unthinkingly sign up to this agenda? The consequences of Google’s success in silencing Jim Hood are that corporate power cannot be restricted by one of democracy’s main mechanisms for reining it in. Google and Facebook are increasingly resembling “suprastates” to whom national – and perhaps international – law doesn’t apply. But if you think that replacing laws with a free-for-all leads to anything other than the strong crushing the weak, then I have a bridge to sell you.”