Is there anyone in the content business who won't eventually shoot themselves in the foot by misunderstanding the internet? While the debate over Google Print has been going on for a while, a few perceptive folks have mentioned that it was only a matter of time before the idea jumped to the internet as a whole. If what Google is doing with Google Print is considered copyright infringement, how is it any different than what they're doing online already? They're scanning and indexing all kinds of online content, and making it available with ads. It's really the same thing. Of course, for most of this, would seem like an argument in favor of Google Print. However, for others, it's an argument against the whole concept of search engines like Google. The head of the European Publishers Council is complaining that online publishers can't put their content online for free any more, letting Google profit off of the ads. He also claimed that, rather than publishers recognizing that their business model had to change, it's all the content consumers who have to change: "The value of content must be understood by consumers so that new business models can evolve. Industry must have legal certainty and the confidence that their intellectual property will be protected." Right, see, the problem is that new business models are evolving -- it's the publishers who have been slow to embrace them. We hinted at this coming confrontation earlier this year when we noted many publishers (including bloggers) were complaining when anyone else made their content more accessible and more desirable. Making life better for users always opens up plenty of new business opportunities. Demanding that all users change their behavior (or calling them all criminals) tends to do the reverse and only hasten the destruction of increasingly obsolete business models.
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