Google Hits Back, Sues Mississippi for ‘Unjustified Attack’

The Internet giant is fighting a campaign it believes is orchestrated by the movie industry.

A sign is posted on the exterior of Google headquarters on January 30, 2014 in Mountain View, California.  
National Journal
Brendan Sasso
Add to Briefcase
Brendan Sasso
Dec. 19, 2014, 8:34 a.m.

After months on the de­fens­ive over al­leg­a­tions that it fa­cil­it­ated ac­cess to il­leg­al products, Google is now go­ing on of­fense.

The In­ter­net gi­ant sued Mis­sis­sippi At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Jim Hood on Fri­day to block a sub­poena it claims would vi­ol­ate its con­sti­tu­tion­al rights. Kent Walk­er, Google’s gen­er­al coun­sel, said the sub­poena “con­sti­tutes an un­jus­ti­fied at­tack that vi­ol­ates well-es­tab­lished U.S. laws.”

Google also cre­ated a webpage to rally its mil­lions of users to com­bat a “secret cam­paign” by the movie in­dustry to “bring back web cen­sor­ship.”

The com­pany is launch­ing its at­tacks after emails leaked from the Sony hack re­vealed that movie-in­dustry lob­by­ists have been work­ing closely with state of­fi­cials to crack down on Google.

Hol­ly­wood’s goal, ac­cord­ing to re­ports from The New York Times and The Verge, is to force Google to cut off ac­cess to sites that of­fer pir­ated cop­ies of movies. The in­dustry has long ar­gued that rampant on­line pir­acy hurts film­makers and des­troys U.S. jobs.

In Oc­to­ber, the Mis­sis­sippi at­tor­ney gen­er­al is­sued a 79-page sub­poena de­mand­ing that Google turn over doc­u­ments re­lated to ad­vert­ise­ments and search res­ults for il­leg­al products, such as drugs and pir­ated movies. Hood’s in­vest­ig­a­tion has been closely co­ordin­ated with Hol­ly­wood lob­by­ists, ac­cord­ing to the leaked emails.

In re­sponse to Google’s leg­al ac­tion, Hood said he is call­ing a “time out” and will reach out to Google’s law­yers to “ne­go­ti­ate a peace­ful res­ol­u­tion.” But he also de­fen­ded his de­cision to tar­get Google, which he said is “rak­ing in ad­vert­ising dol­lars off of drug deal­ers.”

“Now, feel­ing em­boldened with its bil­lions of dol­lars, me­dia prowess and polit­ic­al power, some of its more ex­cit­able people have sued try­ing to stop the State of Mis­sis­sippi for dar­ing to ask some ques­tions,” he said. “We ex­pect more from one of the wealth­i­est cor­por­a­tions in the world.”

In its law­suit Fri­day, Google claimed Hood’s sub­poena would be “enorm­ously bur­den­some” and that fed­er­al law pro­tects its right to host third-party con­tent, even if the con­tent is il­leg­al.

“The At­tor­ney Gen­er­al may prefer a pre-filtered In­ter­net—but the Con­sti­tu­tion and Con­gress have denied him the au­thor­ity to man­date it,” the com­pany wrote.

Google also sent no­tices to the Mo­tion Pic­ture As­so­ci­ation of Amer­ica and its law firm, Jen­ner and Block, de­mand­ing that they pre­serve doc­u­ments re­lated to their lob­by­ing cam­paign.

The leg­al sal­vos fol­low a blog post from Google on Thursday, which ac­cused the MPAA of “try­ing to secretly cen­sor the In­ter­net.”

Kate Be­ding­field, a spokes­wo­man for the MPAA, called the blog post “shame­ful,” and ar­gued that the com­pany is just try­ing to de­flect at­ten­tion away from its role in “en­abling and fa­cil­it­at­ing il­leg­al con­duct.”

The movie in­dustry will con­tin­ue to “seek the as­sist­ance of any and all gov­ern­ment agen­cies, wheth­er fed­er­al, state or loc­al, to pro­tect the rights of all in­volved in cre­at­ive activ­it­ies,” she said.

—This art­icle has been up­dated with a re­sponse from the Mis­sis­sippi at­tor­ney gen­er­al. 

What We're Following See More »
WAS LEADING COMMUNICATIONS EFFORTS
Judiciary Committee Staffer Quits Amid Harassment Claims
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Garrett Ventry, a communications adviser for the Senate Judiciary Committee's GOP majority who was leading the committee's response to allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, has stepped down."

Source:
DETAILS STILL BEING NEGOTIATED
Ford Agrees to Testify on Thursday
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate Judiciary Committee tentatively agreed to a hearing on Thursday with Christine Blasey Ford regarding her allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while in high school, according to a person briefed on a call between the panel and her lawyers on Saturday night." Details are still being worked out, but "on Friday, the two parties agreed to limit the number of cameras in the hearing room, ensure Ford and Kavanaugh are not in the same room together, offer Ford breaks in her testimony and security from the U.S. Capitol Police."

Source:
WEDNESDAY?
Judiciary Committee Counteroffers on Ford Appearance
1 days ago
THE LATEST
THIS WILL NOT HELP
Trump Says Ford Should Have Filed Charges 36 Years Ago
1 days ago
THE LATEST
DOESN'T WANT TO BE NEAR KAVANAUGH
Ford Would Like to Testify on Thursday
2 days ago
THE LATEST

"Christine Blasey Ford, the woman accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault in the 1980s, is reportedly willing to publicly testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee next Thursday. Lawyers for Ford told committee staffers during a call Thursday evening to negotiate details of a potential hearing that she wanted Kavanaugh to testify before her and she does not want to be in the same room as him, according to multiple reports."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login