In the latest twist in the dispute between Google and Hollywood, Google has now sued Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood and is seeking a court order to prevent him from enforcing a wide-ranging subpoena.
The lawsuit has been filed in the US District Court for Southern Mississippi. Google claims that Mr. Hood has been threatening to prosecute the company for the last eighteen months if the company did not block certain content on its websites. Since Google refused to be bogged down by Mr. Hood’s threat, he filed a burdensome subpoena seeking information about Internet activity that is related to drugs, human trafficking and copyrighted content.
Google’s position is that this subpoena is unconstitutional as it seeks information that is protected by the First Amendment and other federal laws. However, Mr. Hood is of the opinion that Google is trying to stop the state of Mississippi from asking a few questions.
This lawsuit is the latest in the war between Hollywood and Google over online piracy. Previously, the Stop Online Piracy Act had also made a legislative move against Google but had failed.
Google claims that movie studios are working behind the scenes with law-enforcement officials to discredit Google. In fact, according to Kent Walker, the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Google, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is doing legal legwork for Mr. Hood.
Google has also launched evidentiary actions against the MPAA and its counsel Jenner & Block. Mr. Walker is of the opinion that the MPAA is doing nothing but attempting to censor the Internet. However, the MPAA is adamant in its views that Google is exploiting the freedom of speech and using it to shield unlawful activities and allowing the Internet to be used as a license to steal.
Google defends itself on the grounds that it has made significant effort to discourage piracy and had rolled out refinements to its search algorithm making it harder for people to find content that infringes copyrights.
With respect to the lawsuit, Google has said, “We regret having to take this matter to court,” Google said in a statement, “and we are doing so only after years of efforts to explain both the merits of our position and the extensive steps we’ve taken on our platforms.”
Google has fought legal actions before but this is the first time the search giant has gone on the offense and is striking back through the court.