Friday, March 09, 2007

Dissecting Microsoft Slams At Google As Copyright Infringer

Danny Sullivan has dissected Microsoft's attack on Google as a monster copyright leech.

"Rubin talked a lot about Microsoft's publisher program, the way it gets copyrighted content into its system:

The second source is our Publisher program, under which we receive books still under copyright from publishers with their express permission, either in digital form directly from the publisher, or scanned from hard copy. Participating publishers have access to an online site – or dashboard – that enables them to manage their publications on Live Search Books. They can choose the amount of text that a reader may preview, create click-to-buy links next to their books, edit metadata, and so on. Several major publishers have signed on to the Publisher Program.

Google has a long-standing similar program, and that's downplayed. Agreements with "several" publishers for "certain" copyrighted books as Rubin describes is a far cry from hundreds (I think perhaps thousands) of publishers that voluntarily have contributed thousands of books to the Google program. But I think a picture is worth a thousands words:

Google Booth At Frankfurth Book Fair

That's the Google both at the Frankfurt Book Fair that I attended last September. I believe the fair is the largest gathering of book publishers in the world. There was massive building after massive building filled with publishers.

Notice the picket signs? Notice the angry publishers storming the Google booth? Publishers are upset with Google, yes. But some of those same publishers ironically are also partners in the program. And plenty are partners in the program without being angry at Google. Google is actively involved in the publishing community and has far more contributions than Rubin's speech suggests...


Overall, I have to say it's disappointing seeing Microsoft come out on an attack stance rather than be positive about what it is doing. Google deserves slams, and I wish they'd change to an opt-in policy for copyrighted books. But for me, with perspective, Microsoft comes across as someone trying to play catch-up and willing to be negative to do it. I don't like that in political campaigns, and I guess I don't like it any more in the search wars. But most important, it's a dangerous game to play. The more Microsoft paints itself as some type of pure protector of copyright, the harder it will fall as people find examples where it fails to meet expectations."

The piece is nicely forensic and worth a read.

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