Wed, Sep 17th 2008 12:10pm
Recently, Google Docs unveiled a number of new features including a built-in way to use Google Image Search to find pictures to complement written documents. Many people already use Google Image Search to find suitable graphics, regardless of the owner or copyright status, but this streamlining has some people calling foul. Under a provocative title suggesting that Google is "encouraging schoolchildren to steal photos," Steve Rubel continues to propagate the confusion between theft and infringement. No matter how many times we explain it, people just don't seem to understand that copyright infringement is not theft. Theft involves the removal of a rival good whereas copyright infringement makes a copy, leaving others' use uninhibited. Although the suggestion of expanding Google's Creative Commons filter is a welcome one, I doubt users who want to only use properly licensed content will fail to do so because of Google Doc's new feature. And those who want to use copyrighted images will do so whether or not they have to simply right click or open a new tab and search. All Google is doing here is making its perfectly legal features work better together. That's about efficiency, not "stealing."
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