Google Ends Fight With Mississippi Attorney General, Touts Anti-Piracy Efforts

Google has called off its battle with Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, the company said today in court papers.

The company filed a stipulation agreeing to dismiss its 18-month-old lawsuit against Hood. Google and Hood now "endeavor to collaborate in addressing the harmful consequences of unlawful and/or dangerous online content," the court document says.

Google's move in court officially ends the high-profile legal battle that erupted in late 2014, when the company asked a federal judge in Mississippi to prohibit Hood from following through on a threat to sue the company over “illegal” content. Google also sought a restraining order barring Hood from attempting to enforce a subpoena seeking "millions" of documents relating to piracy in the search results and on YouTube, among other material.

Google's original complaint incorporated revelations that came to light as a result of the Sony hack, including “Project Goliath” -- the code name for a Hollywood campaign to persuade state law enforcement authorities to target Google for allegedly enabling piracy via its search results.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate in the Southern District of Mississippi sided with Google, ruling that the company had a constitutional right to decide what search results to display. Wingate also wrote that Hood lacks authority to target Google for linking to sites that allegedly infringe copyright; state attorneys general don't have jurisdiction over copyright infringement.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated that order earlier this year, ruling that the injunction was premature because Hood hadn't taken steps to force Google to comply with the subpoena.

After that decision came out, Hood withdrew the subpoena. The case remained active, though, because the appellate judges didn't decide whether Google was entitled to a declaratory judgment regarding future enforcement actions.

Google's withdrawal of its complaint comes the same day the company released a report touting its efforts to combat online piracy. "Thanks to the efforts of Google’s engineers, the vast majority of media-related queries that users submit every day return results that include only links to legitimate sites," senior policy counsel Katie Oyama writes on the company blog. "For any problematic links that may appear for rarer 'long-tail' queries, our systems for processing copyright removal notices handle millions of URLs each day, in less than 6 hours on average. And when we get a large number of valid notices for a site, our search ranking algorithms demote that site in future search results."

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