Google Turns Tables On Mississippi A.G., Demands Info About 'Project Goliath'

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has spent the last two years trying to obtain “millions” of documents from Google.

Now, Google is turning the tables. Today, the search company said in court papers that it has served Hood with subpoenas for documents from the Motion Picture Association of America, Viacom, Fox, NBC Universal, the law firm Jenner & Block, and the organization Digital Citizens Alliance.

Much of the information that Google is seeking relates to “Project Goliath” -- a Hollywood-backed initiative that reportedly involves enlisting state law enforcement officials in the entertainment industry's fight against online copyright infringement.

The project's goal appears similar to that of the failed Stop Online Piracy Act -- a bill that would have enabled entertainment companies to more easily obtain court orders requiring Google (and other search engines) to stop displaying links to “rogue sites” in the search results.

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Project Goliath itself came to light as a result of last year's Sony hack. For the enterprise, the MPAA budgeted $500,000 a year toward hiring the law firm Jenner & Block, which offered legal assistance to state attorneys general who targeted Google, according to the Verge.

Mississippi's top law enforcement official was among those attorneys general.

Late last year, days after news about Project Goliath was revealed, Google went to court to seek an injunction prohibiting Hood from following through on his threats.

Google alleged in its court papers that Hood spent many months pressuring it to “remove third-party content he disfavors” from both the search results and YouTube. As part of that campaign, he allegedly subpoenaed “millions” of documents from Google and threatened to sue the company if it didn't comply.

On March 2, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate in Mississippi temporarily granted Google's request by prohibiting Hood from attempting to enforce his subpoena for at least four months. In the meantime, Wingate allowed both sides to obtain evidence from each other relevant to the Google's request for an injunction.

Evidently, Google believes that more details about Project Goliath will be relevant to its efforts to fight Hood's subpoena. Whether that proves true or not, the information could reveal a great deal about Hollywood's most recent strategy to fight online piracy.

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