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Google Has A "Cavalier Approach To Copyright" Says Microsoft. Oh Really? RRS feed

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  • Microsoft”s chief attorney Thomas Rubin had a speech prepared to hit Google, and hit it hard. However, his ideas, unveiled to the Association of American Publishers were far from being the blow expected. Although accusing Google of having a “cavalier approach to copyright” in the business world, Mr. Rubin doesn't seem to have many arguments to back his case.

    On short, Microsoft was supposed to be the good guy, always careful about copyrights when it does business, while Google has only been concerned about making money using other's copyrighted content: Google sold AdWords for pirated content, Google scanned books without the consent of the copyrights owner, YouTube (which is owned by the same Google) features copyrighted content and accusations could go on. Here are a couple of examples:

    “The stated goal of Google's Book Search project is to make a copy of every book ever published and bring it within Google's vast database of indexed content. While Google says that it doesn't currently intend to place ads next to book search results, Google's broader business model is straightforward - attract as many users as possible to its site by providing what it considers to be free content, then monetize that content by selling ads.”

    “Another example is equally disturbing. Microsoft was surprised to learn recently that Google employees have actively encouraged advertisers to build advertising programs around key words referring to pirated software, including pirated Microsoft software. And we weren't the only victims - Google also encouraged the use of keywords and advertising text referring to illegal copies of music and movies. These actions bolstered websites dedicated to piracy and reportedly netted Google around $800,000 in advertising revenues from just four such pirate sites. These are not the actions of a company that has the interests of copyright owners as one of its priorities.”

    Sounds bad right? Well, they may, but such accusations hold little water when examined closely. First of all, should Google indeed encourage advertisers to build advertising programs around key words referring to pirated content, then Microsoft would do anything in its power to get hard evidence and the outcome of a trial would not suit Google too well, to say the least.

    Furthermore, Google's plan to scan as many of the world's books without the consent of publishing houses was put off some time ago, due to the heavy criticism it was met with. Currently, Google says that its policy is to ask explicit permission from the copyrights owner before scanning the book.

    On the other hand, one should wonder if this is not a case of sour grapes for Microsoft. Let's look at the facts: Google has beaten Microsoft in the battle for the “best search engine”, Google Earth is superior to the Microsoft equivalent, Google Apps will certainly improve over time and may make people wonder “why should I buy Microsoft Office when I can use this for free?”. On short, Google is number one on several markets and Microsoft hates to be left behind.
    Thursday, March 8, 2007 6:02 PM