30 June 2005

It's about Respect

The hypocrisy of big business never ceases to give me a chuckle. How does a company like Google just decide that it can record, index, and expose the collected creative works of the world? On one hand it says "Do no evil". Then it goes out and violates copyrights any way it feels like in the name of free access. At $300/share I hardly call that free. More importantly, at what point did we cross over into the dimension where anything you create can be recorded, indexed, and exposed to the world without your prior consent? They bash spam laws that require an opt-out approach and yet they are taking the exact same stance when it comes to copy protected works!

In the end, I'm all for access to creative works. Widely, publicly, easily, and most of all free. But I want to be clear that I believe in an opt-in strategy, which would require that content producers ask for their works to be made available. Anyone creating content for the wide distribution will certainly do so. In the world of advertising, of which content is crucial, this technique has proven time and again to be the best approach to delivering access.

At the heart of the issue, is that evil continues to be defined by a small cluster, namely Sergey Brin, which puts far to much power in the hands of far too few. When you review their actions and realize that their version of evil doesn't give one fig about infringing on the rights of others, it makes you step back.

It's a simple and obvious step to allow a chosen few to define what's in the interest of the greater good; take our Senate and Congress, or even our judicial system for that matter. I have no problem with the centralization of power. It is when there are no checks and balances in place to protect the not so greater that problems can arise. As long as the powerful truly are making choices in the interest of the majority, it is easy to look the other way while their power is amassed. When those choices become less about goodness and more about concentration and solidification of their power base, then it becomes easier to see how crucial it is to have a balanced system.

Make no mistake, I'm still a Google fan. But I think their choice to ignore the copyrights of others is just disrespectful. In my eyes that's downright evil.

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