Mississippi Law Enforcement Officials Plotted 'Media Blitz' Against Google

An official from the Mississippi Attorney General's office proposed that the Motion Picture Association of America help coordinate a "media blitz" against Google -- which would include arranging for bad press on NBC's "Today Show" and in News Corp's The Wall Street Journal -- according to new court documents.

The documents, submitted by Google, include an email exchange in which a Mississippi Assistant Attorney General discussed a "confidential plan" with an MPAA lobbyist. That plan included engaging a PR firm "to create an attack on Google" and other companies that "are resisting" the Attorney General's efforts to address copyright infringement.

The strategy outlined in the Attorney General's email involved arranging for the "Today Show" to run a piece; following this, a "large investor of Google" would "come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior," according to documents submitted on Thursday to a federal court in Manhattan.

Next, NewsCorp would "develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that "Google's stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs."

It wasn't immediately clear whether any part of that planned campaign happened.

The email outlining the plan says that the "final step," if necessary, will involve issuing a subpoena to Google.

Google argues that the documents shows that Hood's attempt to subpoena documents relating to online piracy "was not the foundation of a legitimate investigation."

The emergence of the email correspondence marks the latest development in Google's ongoing fight with Hood.

Late last year, Google sought a court order prohibiting Hood from enforcing a subpoena demanding information related to outside companies -- including operators of sites that Google indexes in its search engine -- that allegedly play a role in copyright infringement.

Google alleged that Hood had threatened to bring a civil suit, or even a criminal prosecution, unless the company blocks “objectionable” content created by consumers or outside companies. Google said that when it didn't comply with Hood's requests, he served the company with a 79-page subpoena demanding millions of documents.

Google argued that Hood didn't have the authority to target Google for linking to sites that allegedly infringe copyright, because state attorneys general don't have jurisdiction over copyright infringement. The company also said that it was immune from liability for alleged crimes by third parties.

The company went to court just days after emails that surfaced in the Sony hack revealed “Project Goliath” -- a secret Hollywood-backed initiative to convince state attorneys general to target Google for allegedly enabling piracy.

The entertainment industry apparently launched Project Goliath not long after Congress failed to pass the Stop Online Piracy Act -- which 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.

In March, U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate in Jacksonville, Miss. sided with Google. He issued a preliminary order blocking Hood from continuing with the investigation. Hood is appealing that order to the 5th Circuit.

Wingate also said that Google could obtain documents and other information from Hood that would be relevant to the company's request for a final order in the case.

Last month, Google took the MPAA and three studios -- Fox, NBC Universal and Viacom -- to court, in an effort to force them to provide potentially relevant information. The email exchange discussing the media blitz were submitted as part of Google's effort to get more information from the MPAA and studios.

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