Due to the hack of Sony, it doesn’t look like the public will get to see the move “The Interview” anytime soon. However, the hack has yielded thousands of documents and some of them strike at the very heart of the Mississippi political and legal establishment.
Revelations first documented by the Verge about a week ago and as of yesterday by the New York Times outline a process whereby the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been coordinating a legal assault (using the threat of criminal and civil prosecution) using Attorneys General nationwide against Google. Google, who owns YouTube, has been a major target for the entertainment industry over intellectual property/copyright issues. They even have a kitschy name for them internal to the Sony hack documents . . . Project Goliath.
Project Goliath started out of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). As reported by the verge, the Sony hacked emails show efforts around 6 major film studios Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney banding together to press efforts to failed efforts to enforce SOPA on a federal level through state Attorneys General.
In other emails, Google comes up as a specific target. After a dispute over Google’s most recent anti-piracy measures in October, Fabrizio suggested further action may be yet to come. “We believe Google is overreacting — and dramatically so. Their reaction seems tactical (or childish),” the email reads. “Following the issuance of the CID [civil investigative demand] by [Mississippi attorney general Jim] Hood (which may create yet another uproar by Google), we may be in a position for more serious discussions with Google.” A report from the previous February suggests that the Goliath group drafted civil investigative demands (similar to a subpoena) to be issued by the attorneys general. “Some subset of AGs (3-5, but Hood alone if necessary) should move toward issuing CIDs before mid-May,” the email says.
How coordinated was it? The Times dug out this letter that was 99% crafted by MPAA counsel but sent by Attorney General Jim Hood to Google to essentially promote MPAA’s interest (who backs the Democratic Attorney General’s Association to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars). The New York Times is just starting to catch on to what YallPolitics has been documenting for over a decade. Here are some examples they dug up of coordination between outside counsel and the Attorney General’s office essentially conducting government mandated discovery for claims that will benefit private attorneys.
Hood has been after Google for a while. In fact, here is a Google search of Attorney General Jim Hood’s own website (I crack myself up) outlining the actions where Hood has prosecuted Google on everything from Google software on smartphones to Google Map privacy to not policing links involving counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The financial rewards of these prosecutions has been minimal. But when held up against the context of those prosecutions being used as leverage in a war between corporations, it certainly brings the veracity of Hood’s efforts against Google into question.
Of course, the New York Times outs Jim Hood’s bestest buddy and beneficiary of largesse, Mike Moore, as never far behind the scenes as documented by the New York Times.
From the YallPolitics Memory Division, this is straight out of the playbook and nowhere was that better on display than in the Scruggs Scandal. Those of you who remember know that Hood was locked in a battle threatening criminal charges against State Farm concurrently with the civil prosecution against State Farm by Dickie Scruggs. Mike Moore played a role in Grand Jury proceedings on dealing on behalf of Hood). There came a point at which the civil case was being impeded by the criminal prosecution. Scruggs paid Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson $500,000 to convince Jim Hood to “call off the dogs” on the State Farm prosecution to ease the way to a civil settlement. Meanwhile, Scruggs partner and plaintiff lawyer Don Barrett was pushing the buttons on State Farm attorneys saying
If Hood lacks the wisdom to go through with this deal, it would be in State Farm’s best interest to proceed just with us, and we offer to do that.” He notes a settlement without Hood “vastly reduces the chance Hood will go forward with an indictment.” “It may well be that Hood has become wary of ethics issues and has decided he has to put some distance between the civil litigation and the criminal investigation. Going forward with us now solves that problem.” “That Hood may fail his state is not our fault or ours.”
Translation? Pay up and your criminal issues will go away.
There are two things we know from that saga. Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson got paid by Scruggs to influence Jim Hood and Hood ultimately relented even though he ultimately admitted after the fact in light of the payment from Scruggs to Patterson/Balducci “it didn’t smell right” .
Just so you can do your own research, here are the articles that have been published in the last week about this scandal.
Now, I’ve been doing this for 10 years. Let me tell you what’s about to happen in the Mississippi media. Nothing. For the most part, the media establishment here both likes Jim Hood and feels sorry for him. In a million years they’re not going to investigate this or put any resources toward connecting the dots or even reporting it. Put simply, they won’t touch it.
Just like in the Dickie Scruggs case, there is at least the appearance of impropriety and that is something lawyers usually like to avoid. We’ll see what happens here, but for now, Jim Hood should hope that North Korea doesn’t get pissed off at Sony any further.
UPDATED – 11:15 a.m. 12/19/14
Google has filed suit against Attorney General Jim Hood to block his efforts of prosecution.