CEA, CCIA Slam Studios in Google Brief

MPAA Counters That Google Is Not Above the Law

The Consumer Electronics Association and the Computer & Communications Industry Association have taken aim at the Motion Picture Association of America and its studio members in a court filing.

That came in an amicus brief supporting Google in its lawsuit against Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood over his investigation into the company and subpoenas for company info he had issued.

"The district court correctly enjoined this investigation when it recognized that the investigation was nothing more than a naked attempt to subvert the federal policy of limited Internet service provider liability," the organizations wrote. "Allowing this subversion jeopardizes the success of the Internet by subjecting service providers [in this case "online service providers" or OSPs, rather than ISPs] to the whims of 50 state attorneys general."

The CEA and CCIA (Google is a member of both) said state AGs can't demand that websites -- what they call "online service providers" -- police third-party speech. They also pointed to a Google filing in suggesting that the MPAA had drafted Hood's pleadings in the suit; the MPAA had no comment but it would not be unheard since the association supports the Hood investigation.

The CEA and CCIA also said it appeared the MPAA and Hood had collaborated in trying to plant unflattering stories about Google in media outlets "controlled" by the MPAA.

Attorneys general in 40 states have already weighed in, via their own amicus brief, on Hood's side -- or at least on the side of his ability to investigate.

A spokesperson for the MPAA, which supports Hood's investigation, declined to "dignify" the "dirty tricks" accusation with a response, but said: "As 40 Attorneys General from all across the country just told the Fifth Circuit Court in an amicus filing, it is AG Hood’s right to investigate whether Google is violating the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act. Google is not above the law, and it is important that this investigation move forward.”

Back in June 2013, Hood called on Google to address what he said was the sites allowing consumers to obtain counterfeit goods including drugs, videos, music and software. “This behavior means that Google is putting consumers at risk and facilitating wrongdoing, all while profiting handsomely from illegal behavior,” Hood said at the time.

He then launched an investigation into whether Google's conduct violated state laws.

On March 27 Google secured secured a district court injunction against the subpoenas pending resolution of Google's underlying challenge. Mississippi appealed the injunction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and amicus briefs are being filed on both sides.