Google scores a win in SOPA-tinged Mississippi case

A federal judge has put the brakes on an investigation of Google in Mississippi, where the movie industry was accused of conspiring with the state’s attorney general to revive the failed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood filed a subpoena last October seeking information about Google’s search and advertising practices in areas related to banned substances, human trafficking and copyrighted material.

Google had sought to block the subpoena after documents exposed in the massive Sony hack suggested the Motion Picture Association of America was working with Hood as a way to revive the SOPA legislation through other means.

SOPA was defeated three years ago after thousands of websites and millions of consumers protested that it would lead to broad censorship of the web. Lawyers for the MPAA were said to have helped Mississippi craft legal arguments against Google as a way to revive the legislation’s principles.

On Monday, Judge Henry Wingate of the federal district court in Jackson, Mississippi, issued a preliminary injunction against the subpoena. He agreed with Google that Hood’s arguments go against federal law, including protections in the Communications Decency Act for online services that publish third-party content.

Google’s top lawyer said he was pleased with the ruling, which is expected to be made public within 10 days.

The Consumer Electronics Association, an industry trade group, echoed that sentiment. “Attorney General Hood’s case against Google is a dangerous crusade against free speech on behalf of the MPAA,” CEO Gary Shapiro said in a statement.

Hood has 30 days to appeal the ruling. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

Google argues that new laws aren’t needed to protect copyright holders.

“We’ll continue working to protect people using our services,” Google’s lawyer said Monday. Last year alone, he said, it removed 500 million “bad ads” and over 180 million YouTube videos for policy violations.

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