Google and Youtube are evil, copyright infringing parasites

I read a blog entry at ZDNet about Google and YouTube basing their business models on the shaky ground of the fair use doctrine. This could be a very interesting issue to talk about. Even today, 10 years since the web became mainstream, the application of copyright law and the boundaries of fair use on the Internet are not exactly nailed down. For a good intro to intellectual property law, take a look at the video at the end of the article.

Judging by the tone and word choice of the author of the ZDNet article, I think this is an attack on Google and YouTube's practices and business models. The author constantly uses loaded words and accuses Google and YouTube of trying to

...garner public support for their self-aggrandizing business models based on obtaining, exploiting, controlling, owning and monetizing others’ content cost-free and on a calculated disregard for certain copyright owners’ rights over their own content.

That's pretty harsh. The word “exploiting,� in particular, strikes me as over the top – this is the same word used to describe sexual abuse of children. I guess Google is evil, and YouTube is the IP version of the southern slaveholder, sitting on the veranda with a mint julep in hand while poor, downtrodden multinational media corporations slave away in the fields.

But later, when the writer quotes Google and YouTube directly, their quotes seem pretty measured, intelligent, and reasonable. For example, Google CEO Eric Schmidt:

...I've learned that the law is not as crisply defined in this area as you might want. So in our case, we've analyzed this pretty carefully. We believe that the library work we're doing, given that we're not, in fact, reproducing the book but rather simply a snippet and then we have a pointer to the book, is absolutely permitted by fair use. Reasonable people can disagree with that, but that is our view and we spent a lot of time on it.

The truth of the matter is, Google is not an evil, insidious parasite raping the intellectual property of poor, defenseless media companies. Google is a search engine. I have run several web sites, and I can tell you, search engines almost always provide most of your traffic. For every content producer that thinks Google's links or excerpts are unauthorized use of content, there are 1000 begging Google to link and excerpt their content more. Google provides a valuable service connecting people looking for content with content providers.

The more I look at the ZDNet article, the less I'm really sure what the problem is supposed to be. A good number of publishers are mad about the book search project, but that is only mentioned once or twice. Is the Google cache the problem? As far as I can tell, Google doesn't make any money off the cache, and the article seems more worried about Google's ill-gotten gains. If Google's caching of web pages is illegal copyright infringement, the entire web is in big trouble. It would mean you, dear reader, just broke the law - web browsers are constantly caching pages and images as you surf. Caching is one of the basic techniques used on every scale to make the web more usable.

Is Google's indexing of pages and news articles the infringement here? If I search for "Crappy music with huge marketing budgets" and a link to Paris Hilton's new CD comes up, Paris doesn't make any money off the ads that also appear on the right hand side of the search results page. So what? She doesn't make any money if I pick up Rolling Stone or USA Today and read about how crappy the CD is there, either.

I agree that there are some legal and moral gray areas here, especially with YouTube, but the discussion keeps getting bogged down by ludicrous crap like this. If linking to something is copyright infringement, the only possible remedy is to shut off the Internet, entirely.

In fact, such a precedent would spell big trouble for magazines and newspapers, who write thousands of words "reviewing" (their word for infringing) copyrighted intellectual property - without permission - and then profit off of advertisements on the very same page. If you're a grad student, you might want to get your thesis turned in real quick-such a ruling would make academic research impossible as well.

What do you think? Throw out fair use? Throw out copyright law? Ask Congress to make clear, logical rules about the use of content on the mysterious series of tubes their staff sends them Internets over? Post a comment below.


  1. Well, we think that’s harsh. However, we think that Google has been somewhat of a good sport. Since, they bought YouTube, to settle the “U-Tube” matter,and now we expect to get a piece of the action. When the use of the phrase or words “Program Yourself” appeared. We found it flattering at first. However, we await Google’s #1 employee’s response to a buy out on our Executive Summary he received. Did the #1 employee put it “in the closet”? Or, is Google going to a sport about it? Face it. most of us could benefit from good and bad NEWS. Especially,when it is taged along with the Giant, Google. Though, they,too, have an Achele’s heel. We offered an educational platform, for Google to spear head. vis-a-via futuregenetics-program, et.el., a learning design and formula, which packaged a number of Registered trademark designs. Yet,we find it published, without sponsorship and reference or credit. More specifically,we’d like a $1.65 Billion deal. Though, remain awaiting Google’s #1 employee’s response. We were insulted by the manner in which Galaxo-Smith-Kline New Development po-po’d our Exective Summary about thier Genetics web site. So, is that any way to treat a fellow provider? It’s just the way of the jungle? Well, bottom line. Remember Bill Gates and I.B.M..

    December 17th, 2006 at 11:02 pm
  2. Okay, you got me. Is this some new, advanced form of comment spam meant to defeat rule-based and bayesian filters? Because I can’t figure out what you’re trying to say.

    December 18th, 2006 at 10:37 pm

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