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Noah Feldman

Court Tells States to Leave Google Alone

How to lose a case and win (on copyright) anyway.

Google just scored a win by losing a Mississippi case. On the surface, a Friday ruling by a federal appeals court appears to support a campaign by that state’s attorney general to hold the Internet titan accountable for copyright infringement.

Look again. On a close reading, the court’s opinion is promising for Google and doesn’t bode well for Attorney General James Hood III’s aggressive enforcement actions. The company had initially lucked into a very sympathetic federal district court judge who issued an injunction to block the attorney general. Now, by ruling against Google and reversing the injunction, the more cautiously sympathetic U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has set the lower court right.