Late last year leaked documents from the Sony hack revealed that the MPAA helped Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood to revive SOPA-like censorship efforts in the United States.
In a retaliatory move Google sued the Attorney General, hoping to find out more about the secret plan. The company also demanded internal communication from the MPAA and its lawfirm Jenner & Block, as well as several movie studios.
More recently Google requested a deposition of MPAA lead counsel Steve Fabrizio, who could possible provide additional details on the case. These type of interrogations are part of the discovery process, but according to the MPAA Google’s recent request goes too far.
The MPAA believes that the deposition should be quashed, as it would put its anti-piracy strategies at risk and violate its First Amendment rights.
In a motion to refuse the deposition, the MPAA notes that their lead counsel only sent two emails to the Attorney General. The group therefore suspects that Google has an alternative motive to hear its counsel.
More specifically, the MPAA fears that Google may use the discovery process to uncover its legal anti-piracy strategies.
“…the conclusion is inescapable that Google seeks his deposition not to advance any legitimate discovery goal, but rather to satisfy Google’s curiosity about, and potentially undermine, the MPAA’s anti-piracy legal strategies..,” they write.
In recent months Google has already requested numerous documents and deposed several people who are or were connected to the group, with a particular interest in its anti-piracy efforts.
“Google has shown a keen interest in learning more about the MPAA’s content protection activities, and is using discovery in this case to that end,” the MPAA’s filing reads.
“Even before its latest salvo, Google had served six subpoenas on the MPAA, its law firm, three of its member companies, and two of its employees or former employees.”
In addition to breaching its anti-piracy strategies, the MPAA doesn’t want to reveal any details on their strategy to ask government law enforcement officials for help in copyright infringement cases.
Having to reveal these internal strategies would violate their First Amendment right to free exercise of political speech and association, the MPAA argues.
“…inquiry by Google into the MPAA’s decisions to petition government law enforcement officials for assistance regarding Google’s conduct threatens to chill the First Amendment associational rights of the MPAA, its employees (including Mr. Fabrizio), and its members,” they write.
It’s now up to the judge to decide whether Google should be allowed to interrogate the MPAA’s lead counsel. Deposition or not, based on the stakes at hand this case isn’t going to blow over anytime soon.