Google speak on copyright: content owners beware

Google’s blog manifesto today “Our approach to content” (see “Google: Web friend or Web foe”) aims to portray Google as a champion of content owners’ rights. In typical Google fashion, Google took the blog route to indignantly put forth the Google “approach” and pre-released the blog post to chosen blogger few.

Google’s blog manifesto today “Our approach to content” (see “Google: Web friend or Web foe”) aims to portray Google as a champion of content owners’ rights. In typical Google fashion, Google took the blog route to indignantly put forth the Google “approach” and pre-released the blog post to chosen blogger few.

What Google apparently fails to realize, however, is that irregardless of its determined efforts to control and manipulate public opinion, Google statements, whether in print or in person, consistently reflect blatant Google-centric interpretations of the topic at hand. Today’s post on content is no exception.

 

Google begins with an uplifting ode; The Internet effectively democratizes “access to human knowledge” and continues with its ace in the hole, we aim to “help organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”

 

Google acknowledges it needs content (information) to organize and also acknowledges that it does not own any content. From that point on, however, Google speak takes over:

  • we respect copyright
  • we let owners choose whether we index their content in our products

While Google declares “we respect copyright,” it does not put forth a single way that it respects copyright. Google’s “Respecting copyright” paragraph simply states the ways in which Google uses content protected by copyright through an aggressive “fair use” legal strategy (also see “Google, YouTube: multi-billion dollar ‘fair-use’ bets”): 

those laws also encourage others to make use of content in limited ways. That's why newspapers are allowed to include short quotations from in-copyright books in their reviews. That's also why search engines can show snippets (small excerpts) of text in their results. Copyright owners benefit from these types of usage because they help to publicize their works.

Google cites Google News and Google Book Search as examples of how “Google protects copyright in practice.”

 

In both applications, Google dangles promises of bountiful search traffic eagerly clicking on news “headlines” and book “snippets.” Google’s promises of link love, however, are merely ephemeral IOUs, without any tangible, guaranteed return on copyright exploitation.

 

What is certain, however, is that Google gains no-cost access to content, which it can sell ads against.

 

Google also declares that it lets “content owners choose” and respects the “wishes of content owners.” Google says no need for “opt-in” to Google index, content owners can always “opt-out.” Google’s cavalier disregard for the constraints of the real world of small business third-party Web hosting makes one question if Google will ever understand the coveted local and SME market.

 

The most troublesome aspect of Google’s content pleading today, however, is what it doesn’t discuss: Google caching of the entire Web. In “Google: Web friend or Web foe,” I present the dangers of Google caching to content owners:

Google makes a duplicate copy of the entire content of each Web page it crawls for indexing and then keeps the copy it created, and subsequently controls, within its own storage facilities. Google’s caching of third-party Web content, and display of the copied, cached content in Google’s core search results without content owners’ explicit permission, usurps management, control and ownership of the content from the actual creators and owners of the content.

If a Web site owner removes an expired Web page from its own site, the expired content will remain alive and well within Google and will be indefinitely available to be presented as a Google search query result. Google’s copying, caching and displaying of third-party Web page content makes Google the must-go-to destination for the world’s expired content, while also stripping content owners of full interest in, and control of, the content they created.

The “Official Google Blog” post today may be short, but it is backed up by $122 billion in market capitalization. Content owners can take heart, however, that Google is not immune to the world’s copyright laws, as I put forth in “Google not above law, publishes Belgian copyright infringement ruling