Mississippi Attorney General Says Its Google's Fault He Can Find Infringing & Counterfeit Items
from the really-now? dept
We’ve discussed in detail in the past how different states’ attorneys generally work: they pick a company they want to shame, for their own political benefit and just start making accusations against them and demanding they “answer” for them, even when they have no legal basis to their arguments whatsoever. Usually, one AG will start this, and then dozens of the others pile on as well, and they just keep putting on more and more pressure — again, without any legal basis whatsoever — until companies feel the need to “settle” to shut the AGs up, and then the AGs celebrate with lots of press coverage about how they brought down some big, bad company. It’s kind of amazing how often we see this same pattern.
It appears the latest target of a bogus attack from Attorneys General, starting with Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood, is Google. Hood, apparently, has found some infringing and counterfeit goods online (shock! horror!) and has decided that Google is responsible for this:
“On every check we have made, Google’s search engine gave us easy access to illegal goods including websites which offer dangerous drugs without a prescription, counterfeit goods of every description, and infringing copies of movies, music, software and games,” Hood said. “This behavior means that Google is putting consumers at risk and facilitating wrongdoing, all while profiting handsomely from illegal behavior.”
Hood didn’t buy Google’s explanations that it only removes content from search results in a narrow set of circumstances, pointing out that Google blocks child pornography and has removed content that glorifies the Nazi party. “Why will Google not remove websites or de-index known websites that purport to sell prescription drugs without a prescription or provide pirated content?” Hood asked.
Of course, Hood has no legal mandate over copyright. At all. But, what the AGs normally do — and Hood is doing here — is use their broad, vague mandates towards “consumer safety” to pretend they have a mandate.
What Hood is really doing, however, is not protecting consumers, but showing off his own technological ignorance of how search works. Yes, you can find infringing works via Google. But finding that content isn’t Google’s fault, but the fault of those who put that stuff up on the internet. A good Attorney General would use that information to go after the people actually breaking the law by putting such works up. But, you know, that takes work and actually proving someone broke the law. By blaming Google instead, it takes away all of the actual work and having to prove that someone actually was guilty of counterfeiting/infringement. And, of course, it can only lead to censorship. If Google is somehow ordered to magically know how to stop such content from being found, the only way to do that is to vastly overblock, removing tons of legal content.