For years, Google has been in a bitter fight against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. The reason? Hood claims that Google is aiding in online piracy because sites which have pirated content show up in the search engine results, as well as the fact that the autocomplete function suggests illegal activities. To the surprise of no one, a connection was discovered between Hood and the MPAA, suggesting the investigation of Google was being done at the behest of major media corporations. However, documents recently obtained by Google through subpoena show another twist in the story: an organized conspiracy between the Attorney General and media giants, to destroy Google’s reputation with negative news coverage.
A federal judge has already ruled that Hood acted in bad faith by issuing a subpoena against Google, and issued a temporary injunction on the subpoena. In the court’s view, the subpoena appeared to be retaliation for expressing protected speech. After it was discovered that a subpoena sent to Google by the Attorney General was actually written by MPAA lawyers, Google set out prove the improper connection between Hood and the MPAA by filing numerous subpoenas both against Hood and the studios that make up the MPAA. Hood and the MPAA have fought the subpoenas and for the most part refused to share the requested documents. However, the MPAA did eventually relent, and handed over some of the requested documents.
A recent filing by Google with a federal court indicates that although some of the requested documents have been handed over, the MPAA is still withholding many documents that are relevant to their improper relationship with Hood. However, the documents which were turned over reveal a conspiracy between Hood and the MPAA to pressure Google into altering its service, even though Google was not breaking any law. Emails from Hood’s lawyers to the MPAA detail the following plan:
- A recommendation that NewsCorp would develop and place an editorial in the Wall Street Journal emphasizing that Google’s stock would lose value due to the sustained attack by the Attorney General.
- A suggestion that NBC could run an anti-Google segment on the Today Show.
- A proposal that Hood work with the MPAA, Comcast, and NewsCorp to create a PR firm to attack Google.
- After the media blitz, the PR firm should hire a lawyer with the appropriate expertise to make regulatory filings against Google.
- As a last resort the MPAA would write subpoenas against Google, to be signed by Hood and any other willing state Attorneys General.
Based on this evidence, Google claims that the subpoena issued by the Attorney General was not part of any legitimate investigation, but was merely the final step in a plan to put pressure on Google. This further discredits Hood’s longstanding campaign against Google, which was already on shaky legal ground after a federal court ruled that Hood was acting in bad faith.
Do you think Hood is a puppet of the MPAA? Or is there some legitimate investigation going on here? Leave your comments below.