Magnolia subpoenas Google

By Andrew Wallenstein and Gregg Goldstein
Google has been served another subpoena requesting the identities of users who uploaded copyright-infringing content, this time from Magnolia Pictures.

Magnolia, the indie film company owned by Mark Cuban, filed the subpoena Monday in Texas federal district court, citing both YouTube and Google Video. Similar legal action was taken last month by News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox, which demanded names of individuals who uploaded episodes of "24" and "The Simpsons" (HR 1/25). YouTube complied with the subpoena soon after.

"We've had a real problem with it," Magnolia president Eamonn Bowles said. "Our films 'The Host' and 'Jesus Camp' have been up there many times. There's software that can find pornography -- that they seem to be able to take down."

A YouTube spokesman issued a statement in response to an inquiry concerning the subpoena, saying, "We cannot confirm that we have received a subpoena at this time, however YouTube complies with valid U.S. legal process, such as a valid court order or subpoena."

Reached via e-mail, Cuban, who has been an outspoken critic of YouTube, explained that Magnolia is not preparing legal action against offending users.

"We aren't out to sue end users," he said. "We are trying to learn more about what encouraged them to use this platform as opposed to others and where and how they sourced the content."

The subpoena references Magnolia titles "Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room" and "Host," both of which appear to have been taken down from the site shortly after the filing, according to a company executive. "Camp" was not referenced in the subpoena.

Magnolia filed a subpoena naming Google in October.

Andrew Wallenstein reported from Los Angeles; Gregg Goldstein reported from New York.