Google Just Filed A Lawsuit Against Mississippi’s Attorney General

Larry page, google
Google CEO Larry Page. Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Google filed a lawsuit against Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood on Friday, the Washington Post reports.

Google has accused Hood of helping launch an illegal campaign against Google and acting as a pawn for Hollywood lobbyist group Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). 

Hood issued a subpoena for information about how Google hides ads promoting the sale of illegal and prescription drugs on its search engine and through YouTube. The lawsuit would block this subpoena, the Post reports.

Among the 32,000 emails leaked in a massive cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment were emails between Hood and the MPAA. Last week The Verge reported the MPAA was working with movie companies on a project to stop a company identified by the name “Goliath,” which is thought to be a code word for Google.

The MPAA has historically taken issue with Google because, from Hollywood’s perspective, Google enables illegal movie downloading and piracy. Google has tweaked its search engine algorithm to make it harder to find pirated movies, but for Hollywood, that’s not enough. The movie companies think Google should stop people from searching and finding pirated movies entirely.

Google alleges the MPAA and six other studios are trying to “secretly revive SOPA.” SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was a controversial piece of legislation that would let the federal government and private companies — like major movie companies — create a “blacklist bill” that would censor certain websites, like sites hosting pirated movies. 

“Google voluntarily strives to exclude content that violates either federal law or Google’s own policies, by blocking or removing hundreds of millions of videos, web pages, advertisements and links in the last year alone,” Google says in the suit. “These extensive efforts comply with and go well beyond Google’s legal obligations.”

The lawsuit says Hood’s subpoena is a violation of the First Amendment because it is “overbroad” and asks a private company to censor material.

In a blog post published yesterday, Google accused Hollywood — and by association, Hood — of trying to “censor the internet.”

Even though Google takes industry-leading measures in dealing with problematic content on our services, Attorney General Hood proceeded to send Google a sweeping 79-page subpoena, covering a variety of topics over which he lacks jurisdiction.The Verge reported that the MPAA and its members discussed such subpoenas and certainly knew about this subpoena’s existence before it was even sent to Google.

Attorney General Hood told the Huffington Post earlier this week that the MPAA “has no major influence on my decision-making,” and that he “has never asked [the] MPAA a legal question” and “isn’t sure which lawyers they employ.” And yet today the Huffington Post and the Verge revealed that Attorney General Hood had numerous conversations with both MPAA staff and Jenner & Block attorneys about this matter.

You can see the entire lawsuit filed by Google against Jim Hood here.