back to article Google sues Mississippi Attorney General 'for doing MPAA's dirty work'

Google is taking legal action against the Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, alleging he exceeded his authority in suing the ad giant over piracy – and taking his cues from the Motion Picture Ass. of America. In October 2013, Hood filed a subpoena against Google, accusing the web ad giant of encouraging online piracy, …

  1. ratfox Silver badge
    WTF?

    Only in America

    How can you sue an Attorney General for asking you too many questions? I obviously have no idea how the law works, because I wouldn't have thought this possible. I assume that Google's lawyers are competent, but consider my mind boggled.

    1. Mad Chaz

      Re: Only in America

      Not for asking too many questions. For working for the studios. He's not supposed to be on special interest's payroll.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Only in America

        Exactly, Mad. Exactly.

        It doesn't get any more fascist than this.

        Now if we could just get lobbyists, corporations and anyone else with a billion dollars lying around to stop writing Congressional bills. (yes, they really do and yes, they have become law)

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          Re: Only in America

          Now if we could just get lobbyists, corporations and anyone else with a billion dollars lying around to stop writing Congressional bills.

          From my vantage point on this side of the pond, I thought America was run by the rich for the rich? The poor are just there to make the rich richer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Only in America

            @A Non e-mouse

            Don't worry, we have it this side of the pond as well. The Climate Change Act, that is responsible for nearly all of the extra cost of power bills, was written by a Greenpeace activist who was later given a seat in the House of Lords as a reward.

            1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

              Re: Only in America

              @Ivan : I think you'll find that seats in the house of Lords are usually given to 'promote people out of the way' - ie to shut them up.

          2. bob, mon!

            Re: Only in America

            From my vantage point on this side of the pond, I thought America was run by the rich for the rich? The poor are just there to make the rich richer.

            Got it in one.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Only in America

          It doesn't get any more fascist than this.

          What an astoundingly stupid thing to claim.

          Hood may be corrupt; he may simply be an ass. But I dare say more than a few people in Europe, East Asia, and elsewhere would argue quite strongly that if this sort of thing could be measured in a meaningful fashion, then in fact things have gotten "more fascist" by orders of magnitude in yet-living memory.

          In fact, this isn't even fascist at all under any reasonable interpretation, assuming the word is used in the technical, poli-sci sense. It's a government office suborned in a conflict between corporate interests, which is just good old bias and corruption. Straight up representative capitalist democracy at work.

    2. Tom Samplonius

      Re: Only in America

      "How can you sue an Attorney General for asking you too many questions?"

      Umm, except he wasn't asking too many questions. He sued Google. And now Google is suing him since the leaked Sony emails reveal that the MPAA encouraged his original lawsuit. He is disingenuous to characterize a lawsuit as "asking questions".

    3. S4qFBxkFFg

      Re: Only in America

      It's, AFAIK, possible to sue anyone for anything. Whether or not it gets thrown out within seconds of hitting the court is another matter.

    4. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Only in America

      @ratfox

      “In my 10 years as attorney general, I have dealt with a lot of large corporate wrongdoers. I must say that yours is the first I have encountered to have no corporate conscience for the safety of its customers, the viability of its fellow corporations or the negative economic impact on the nation which has allowed your company to flourish.”

      Hood's letter to Larry Page, Google CEO; 27 November 2013.

      Mississippi voters are entitled to vote who the hell they want as their prosecutor, and Hood is democratically elected.

      Do you remember voting for Larry Page?

      Do you see the problem here?

      A powerful multinational corporation doesn't like other people making the law. Hood is the most effective lawmaker it has encountered.

      So Google is prepared to use stolen documents to take him out.

      1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: Only in America

        A powerful multinational corporation doesn't like other people making the law. Hood is the most effective lawmaker it has encountered.

        He's not a lawmaker, he's the enforcer. The people's attack dog if you will. I don't see how it matters if he was elected if it turns out he was acting at the behest of Sony or the MPAA as that makes him their attack dog not the people's. Yes, I certainly see a problem if that is the case. While Google's motivations may not be the purest of pure it is in the people's interest to know for whom the AG works.

        I don't see why it matters what the source of the documents was as long as they are genuine and being genuine is key. Don't think the law won't come after you if you get ratted out by a thief who happened along the meth lab in your basement. Hell, even if he was lying about the meth lab in your basement you'll be lucky to escape with your life as not everyone does.

      2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      3. Tom 13

        Re: Mississippi voters are entitled to vote

        Yes, they are. But Google is also supposed to be able to conduct business without the government being used as a tool by another big business.

        From where I stand this will be a difficult case to sort out. There's truth in the accusations from both sides and that's before you get to the issue that both sides have been bad actors in one respect or another.

        When El Reg posted the article about Google "tweaking their algorithms" to move pirate sites down the list of search results, I posted that having done that is a defacto admission that they can EASILY identify such sites and that ought to make the safe harbor provision under which they have operated null and void. I stand by that post.

        But we also need to rebalance our IP laws. It use to be that once you purchased an album/movie you had the right to make a backup in case the original was lost or damaged. DCMA undid that. That provision also needs to be made null and void.

        And once upon a time copyrights expired. That hasn't been the case in my lifetime. That needs to change too. The old way of copyright for the life of a person +25 years or 50 years for a corporation seems fair to me. We can tweak those numbers some, but certainly no more than 75 for a corporation. And once the copyright is expired, it can't be "un-expired" through some other sort of legal subterfuge.

        1. Oninoshiko

          Re: Mississippi voters are entitled to vote

          Except that you didn't bother to read from that article HOW they where identifying those sites. They didn't say "this is a pirate site" they said "this has had priacy complaints, so we'll move the whole site down." That makes the MPAA (et. al.) judge, jury, and executioner. This is the same MPAA that has be caught, multiple times, sending take down requests for things they didn't own the copyrights on!

          So, NO Google DIDN'T prove they can identify sites.

      4. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Re: Only in America

        "Do you remember voting for Larry Page?"

        Sure I do. Every single time I pay my Google Apps fee. Every single time I set another browser's homepage to Google.ca. Every single time I choose Hangouts over Skype.

        Every.

        Single.

        Time.

        Google is a choice, with just as narrow a set of shitty options as my vote.

        May Google's lawsuit against this corrupt A.G. be the first amongst many as the entire world take advantage of the treasure trove of Sony's hack to bring the MPAA down a few pegs. That's not to say Google don't deserve a swift kick in groin as well, but I hate them a hell of a lot less than I hate copyright maximalists.

        To be perfectly, crystal clear about how I feel: I really wish there was a god. Just so copyright maximalists could burn in hell for eternity. Very few things would benefit humanity more than legalizing the use of copyright maximalists for fuel.

        Maybe once they're out of the way we can work on workable solutions. Until then, go Google! May the least shitty option win.

  2. cyke1

    Hard to believe a politician to start with but when he goes after a company that MPAA has had years of difficulty getting them do what they they think is enough which even then won't be enough in their eye. That 1+million $ donation kinda says you aint doing this for the children, that is like how they claims SOPA was to shutdown child porn on the internet, its nothing more then blatant smoke screen for what its really intended.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      I suspect the "illegal drug sales" and "child pornography" were tossed in at that last moment to make seem like he's doing something for the folks in Mississippi instead of earning the campaign contribution. Grab some popcorn because this will be interesting to see how it plays out. Especially if the judge allows the purloined emails as evidence. The nice touch is that it will be a Federal judge instead of a Mississippi judge so the good old boy network down there may not be available to Mr. Hood.

      1. frank ly

        Good point about stolen documents being allowed as evidence. If the truth is illegally copied, is it still the truth?

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          While it may still be the truth, there's been a lot of rulings where purloined documents are dis-allowed.

          It's very similar to an illegal search in the court's eyes.

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            Equally there have been (US) cases where they have been allowed. Since Google presumably have clean hands in the matter I'd say there chances are good.

        2. Mikel

          If Google happens to request discovery of copies of emails from so-and-so to other-such on a certain date, or all emails containing a specific text, that is fair game. Normally these will be returned as printouts scanned to PDF to make searching more difficult, so starting with reliable machine readable copies is helpful. The hard part of winning a fight like this is knowing who did what to whom, how did they get paid? The hacked emails provide a treasure map to where the bodies are buried.

          1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

            " The hacked emails provide a treasure map to where the bodies are buried."

            Tinfoil in place. The emails *must* contain a treasture map because there *must* be bodies buried, because it's the MPAA, and they're mafia and they're always trying to break the internet, right? So all other facts, and all other ethical considerations become supernumerary.

            We have a name for this paranoid psychosis: www.theregister.co.uk/2012/02/10/pseudo_masochism_explained/

            The NYT trawled through Hood's correspondence and found nothing. Google went through stolen documents and gave The Verge a conspiracy theory on a plate, and it doesn't stand up.

            But a $60n a year corporation sues the democratically-elected Attorney of the USA's and "progressives" cheer?

            1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

              "The emails *must* contain a treasture map because there *must* be bodies buried, because it's the MPAA, and they're mafia and they're always trying to break the internet, right?"

              You're learning!

              "But a $60n a year corporation sues the democratically-elected Attorney of the USA's and "progressives" cheer?"

              Damn rights. Because - surprise, surprise - Google is actually a far less horrible option than the MPAA. You're a brand tribalist for the dark side Andrew: a standard bearer for asshats so shitty that in comparison Google look like the good guys.

              Before you break out your patent penting trademarked "freetard" and attempt to label me an abolitionist, think again. Balance is the key between the opposites here. But if there is to be only one side, if an extreme must win because neither side will compromise, then I will stand with the freetards.

              Copyright maximalists are the enemy. They are to be fought, no mater who that makes me allies with in the meantime. Once you have identified the enemy, you fight them without compassion, sympathy or mercy. War is hell: it's best over with quickly.

              And make no mistake: this is war. And the copyright maximalists will lose.

      2. Ben Trabetere

        I live in Mississippi, and Jim Hood is far outside the Good 'Ol Boy network - he is a progressive (or what passes for progressive in Mississippi) Democrat in a state that is filled with Bible-Business-and-Guns First, half-wit Republicans who compete to out-conservative one another. Jim Hood is one of the Good Guys in a sea of wretchedness.

        From what I can gather, the Hood v. Google kerfuffle started over illicit drugs and expanded to cover kiddie porn. They were making progress, but it wasn't fast enough or throrough enough for Hood, and he tried to increase pressure on Google.

        Then the MPAssA extended its slimey appendages into the fray as another pressure point, and the scope of the effort expanded to cover intellectual property. They became a tool in a bigger fight. But, in a fit of laziness, the AG allowed the MPAssA to control this facet of the effort.

        He didn't consider that the MPAssA had its own agenda or that they would turn things around to the point where he became a tool for them.

        1. BradskyB

          The Good Ol' Boy network has been and always will be filled with Democrats. I have no love for Republicans, but let's be honest here.

          1. John Gamble

            So. Living in the 1950s ... how's that working out for you?

          2. wayward4now

            Maybe that would have been better worded "both Democrats and Republicans".

      3. Mikel

        Purloined letters

        In the US stolen secrets that come to light are evidence - unless it is the government that stole them in the first place. The protection against warrantless search and seizure is a protection of the citizen against the government. Losing control of your secrets to the public at large making them no longer secret is a whole other thing no different than Sony accidentally publishing them themselves. In fact in this case Sony's own servers were doing exactly that.

        So yes, Attorneys General across the US may be considered notified of any untoward activity that might be revealed in this evidence, compel Sony to cough up their own copies directly, and prosecute to fulfill their duty to protect the public. But they won't.

      4. David 164

        Nice touch is that Google has already informed Sony and it lawyers to keep copies of call documents, which suggests that Google will go and get original directly from source. An now it already seen everything from Sony has, they know exactly what to ask for.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well at least the children are safe now

    In other news, Obama says you're either with him or the North Koreans...so you decide Google ;)

    Where have I heard that before?

  4. Mephistro Silver badge
    Devil

    I wonder...

    ...how long an Attorney general would survive in a Federal prison.

    With a little bit of luck, we may soon learn the answer to this question. ;-)

    And Mr. Hood, don't worry, 'cause "if you have nothing to hide..."

    1. Mephistro Silver badge
      Flame

      On a more serious note...

      ... I hope Sony's management and legal counsel get the book thrown at them also. You need at least two parties involved to perpetrate political corruption.

    2. kainp121

      Re: I wonder...

      Um he would not be in general population, but segregation. Not to mention he would be housed in prison that houses with non violent and low violent criminals.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge

        Re: I wonder... (@ kainp121)

        he would not be in general population, but segregation.

        True that. Anyway, I think that sending this kind of criminals to 'normal' prisons would work miracles fixing the awful conditions in said normal prisons.

        "he would be housed in prison that houses with non violent and low violent criminals."

        You mean, like cannabis consumers?

        1. kainp121

          Re: I wonder... (@ kainp121)

          White collar collar crimes. Weed smokers not included.

      2. wayward4now

        Re: I wonder...

        Certainly he would be in minimum Federal prison where they have nice pool tables and weight piles. He could continue his education through the new "distance learning" facilities. If you get really bored, you can read the Bible cover to cover. I did, twice. :)

  5. Breen Whitman

    Its simple: bent public servants, especially officers of the court should face the death penalty by hanging for accepting bribes from private corporations.

    China has that part right.

    1. Preston Munchensonton
      Facepalm

      It's astounding to me how freely everyone seems to wish the death penalty on other people. Debating the merits of the death penalty aside, try to separate accusations from legal facts before you act as judge and jury to kill someone else.

      Thankfully, you aren't judge and jury. The rest of us can sleep safer tonight.

      1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

        I didn't read anyone saying that someone was guilty.

        What I read was someone offering a potential sentence for someone found guilty that might prevent the criminal type migrating to politics to take advantage of the power the position gives them. Criminals will always try to increase their power/wealth, and if they end up changing laws that affect millions, they do significant damage to society. The possibility of dropping on the end of a rope may make them consider something else.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "The possibility of dropping on the end of a rope may make them consider something else."

          Cybercrime, or perhaps good 'ol bank robbery?

        2. Roo

          "Criminals will always try to increase their power/wealth, and if they end up changing laws that affect millions, they do significant damage to society. The possibility of dropping on the end of a rope may make them consider something else."

          - Like framing someone else for example.

  6. Alistair Silver badge

    I'm oddly inclined to agree with Mr Whitman. I suspect that it *just* might make a difference globally. Sadly however, you have Citizens United in the excited snakes, which makes the term "bribe" hard to define in that context. And it would have to be phrased as accepting financial acceleration from a private corporation, for life. Since we all know how many ex-politico's now have comfortable positions outside the public service.

    1. Cipher

      Citizens United also covers labor unions, they are afforded the same rights as the "evil corporations."

      1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

        Really? Seems to me that governments have institutionalized breaking labour unions but pour hundreds of billions into business freebies.

        What's next, a claim that racism is over?

  7. Nemesis02

    This just goes to show that there's a conflict of interest with the Attorney General. The Attorney General is supposed to be in-partial when it comes to these things, but with the leaked emails showing his affiliation with the MPAA, he cannot be in-partial. Just goes to show how the these special interest groups such as the MPAA and the RIAA don't care about justice, they only care about results, and putting money in their pockets, and will resort to any means necessary to move their agenda forward.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    Mississippi State Attorney General Jim Hood in the pay of the MPAA?

    Please tell me it isn't so!

  9. Stretch

    "the AG insists his legal case is all about protecting children"

    Oh well you know its all bullshit then.

  10. Graham Marsden
    Facepalm

    "the AG insists his legal case is...

    "...all about protecting children and stopping drug trafficking"

    What, not preventing Terrerism as well...?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its like someone starts shooting

    And Hood grabs a kid to hold in front of him.

  12. mIRCat
    Childcatcher

    In completely unrelated news...

    Mr Hood has left the Attorney General's office and accepted a new position in D.C. as an external consultant/lobbyist for the M.P.A.A.

    Tune in at 5, 7, and 10 for other facts that won't surprise you.

  13. Mikel

    Oops

    It would be unfortunate if the other studios - and the private email accounts of their executives - were stolen as well. The network of copyright cartel political corruption might be laid bare. The Hollywood economy would be crushed, and campaign contributions would fall. Thousands of the idiot cousins of the politically powerful or bureaucratically leveraged would have to find honest work where you actually have to go somewhere and do something useful to get your pay.

    Oh please, dire hackers, be satisfied with hacking Sony. Don't visit us with that horrible fate.

    1. Haro

      Re: Oops

      Oh my gosh! Please don't expose Disney, and copyright extension. My childhood dreams would be shattered. :)

  14. DarrDarr

    Most U.S. public libraries offer free loans of DVDs, which pirates use to make copies of... I wonder if that AG has tried to punish his local libraries for loaning out DVDs?

    Google doesn't want to censor its search results at all, because if they do, then they become liable for anything they miss.

  15. eAbyss

    A US government employee doing big business' dirty work? No way.

  16. earl grey Silver badge
    Trollface

    He said, "I'm not a douche working for the MPAA".

    I'm just a douche.

  17. OmgTheyLetMePostInTheUK

    Attorney General acting on behalf of the Music Industry to file suit against Google?

    When the an elected Attorney General for a State in the USA starts doing the bidding of a media company by using the States name to file the lawsuits, that is wrong. Google found from the Sony files that were leaked, that the attorneys for one of the legal firms that the MPAA retains, wrote almost the entire complaint the Attorney General used in his suit against Google, It sure sounds to me like there should be lots and lots of questions asked of the State, the AG, the legal firm that typed up the documents, the MPAA and all of the media (Music and Film) companies that knew about this, and let it happen. It sure sounds like a conspiracy to me. And that is illegal in and of itself.

    Over the years, the MPAA has attempted to pull so many dirty little stunts that it now appears that they will do anything, even illegal things like this to get their way. In this case, it was to attempt to force Google to change the way their ranking algorithm ranks certain sites, or sites with specific types of info and/or materials available to the public. Despite the fact that there is no law anywhere that would require this.\

    Now that Google has the facts on who did what, this should get interesting. You never know how a lawsuit is going to proceed, but the possibility of a former state AG going to prison is one possibility that I see as an option in the long run. And who knows, since Google now has the proof both the MPAA and that legal firm were directly involved, maybe Google can add a few billion dollars to that $62 Billion they already have sitting in the bank.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Attorney General acting on behalf of the Music Industry to file suit against Google?

      I for one want to see how it plays out, would make the IBM-SCO affair or Apple - Samsung one seem a short lived case.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Attorney General acting on behalf of the Music Industry to file suit against Google?

      You can take a good guess at the type doing the down-voting, eh?

  18. SolidSquid

    "Hood said that he was "calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail," and will be seeking a conference with Google's legal team to resolve the situation."

    "Don't be silly, of course that isn't evidence of wrong doing on our part. Now lets just sit down and talk about this without any ridiculous legal action... like the kind we took out against you"

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