Google Called to Capitol Carpet for Enabling Web Piracy
Congress held an antipiracy hearing April 6, in which Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chairman of a U.S. House Judiciary subcommittee that is investigating Web sites accused of pirating intellectual property said:
"The question isn't what Google has done. But more about what Google has left to do."
CNET noted that he then accused Google of allowing alleged pirate sites to fund their activities by posting Google ads on their site, and failing to promptly remove infringing materials when notified.
What did you think the tenor of the talk would be? As TechDirt noted, the meeting was ominously titled: "Promoting Investment and Protecting Commerce Online: Legitimate Sites v. Parasites."
Seriously though, as TechDirt noted Goodlatte's accusations were paraphrased parrotting of what entertainment giants have lobbed at Google ever since it snapped up YouTube.
The same YouTube for which Google built a Content ID system to identify pirated, copyrighted content and rip it down in a day or so. And in case Goodlatte didn't notice, Google won it's last round in the Viacom copyright infringement case. Fair use indeed.
But putting the screws to Google over piracy is just a sliver of the overall trend...
It's fashionable to bash Google today, and to vilify the company the way Microsoft was ripped a decade ago. People get sick of companies when they become too powerful.
Microsoft was once upon a time a small startup and the darling of desktop software before being declared the Evil Empire. Google became the next startup to grow from cuddly, non-evil-doers to greedy fat pigs.
Google is to the Web what Microsoft became to the desktop. Ubiquitous, imperious and incredibly cash hungry.
So the event in question was another Google bash-fest. Why did Google bother sending Kent Walker to get skewered?
It's become a new game on Capitol Hill to hunt for Google, and you can expect that even if the Justice Department blesses Google's $700 million bid for ITA Software that the agency or its Federal Trade Commission counterparts will gun for Google.
As I noted yesterday, Google has gotten too big a target for regulators and politicians, who can't resist finding some reason to sue the company for a chunk of cash or 15 minutes of fame.
Yes, there are rules in place to prevent anticompetitive behaviors, the same rules that were written years and years ago before Google became the single most dominant cataloger and cash machine for the Web.
For every claim of anticompetitive behavior, Google has a fair defense, unless documents revealed by plaintiffs in court prove otherwise.
But that's not the point. Whether or not Google behaved badly, it will pay because it's gotten too big and politicians, companies and their lawyers want their pound of flesh.
At the end of the day, Google will pay these people to go away because it's become the cost of doing business, a tax for the rich and powerful corporations, just as it was for Microsoft.