Mississippi Attorney General Hits Google on Guarding Intellectual Property

By JEFF AMY | October 9, 2013

Attorney General Jim Hood says he’s trying to organize state attorneys general to push Google to better protect intellectual property such as music, movies and software.

Hood said Monday during a luncheon sponsored by the Capitol press corps and Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government that he’s circulating a letter to other states’ top lawyers, seeking a meeting with Google. He said he hopes to get signatures from more than 20 attorneys general.

“Maybe Google will come to the table,” he said. “That’s one I hope we can settle.”

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., says it responds to requests from copyright owners to remove illegally copied material. The company declined further comment Monday.

After Hood and other attorneys general raised concerns earlier this year that Google made it too easy to buy drugs online without a prescription, the online giant took some steps to make it harder. For example, the company disabled auto-complete functions that led people to illegal drug sites.

Google paid $500 million to the federal government in 2011 to settle claims over ads sold to pharmacies that were illegally shipping drugs into the United States. Hood said Monday he sent evidence to the U.S. Department of Justice that Google had breached the agreement, but federal officials have not acted.

However, Hood says the company hasn’t been fully responsive, and says it could do more to protect copyrighted material.

“They’re still not helping on music, movies, software,” Hood said, even citing a case where someone bought fake contact lenses that damaged an eye. While Hood has clearly articulated what he thinks illegal sales of online drugs contribute to addiction and overdoses in the state, he didn’t make clear Monday exactly what the harms of intellectual property theft could be to Mississippi’s relatively small music, movie and software industries.

Hood is the chair of the intellectual property committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, and is in line to lead the organization next year.

The company has said in the past that it doesn’t want to impose a blanket block on searches for online drugs or pirated music because that could harm legitimate uses such as research in addition to those pursuing illegal ends. Google says courts and lawmakers should determine what content is “censored,” not the company.

Hood portrays his work against Google as part of a broader portfolio of law enforcement on the Internet, including cracking down on child pornography, intrusion into people’s privacy and financial scams.

“As attorney general, you can help so many more people and what has made being AG so much fun has been the challenges brought to us by the Internet,” he said.

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