Don't Blame Google And Scribd For Your Own Business Model Problems

from the try-this-on-for-size dept

Another weekend goes by and another old school newspaper guy writes a long screed condemning Google as a menace hellbent on destroying all that is good and right in the news business. This one, by Henry Porter in The Guardian is particularly amusing due to the logical inconsistencies within. It starts out, first, with a rehashing of the misguided attack on Scribd, where Porter seems to blame Scribd for actions of its users (who knew it was so difficult to separate out the drivers from the automakers). To him, Scribd is pure evil:
it still allows individuals to advertise services for delivering pirated books by email, which must make it the enemy of every writer and publisher in the world. In effect it has turned copyright law on its head: instead of asking publishers for permission, it requires them to object if and when they become aware of a breach.
Yes, that's why many authors and publishers are using Scribd to help promote their books. Apparently the fact that Scribd might be useful never occurred to Porter. It's the same complaint by plenty of folks who refuse to even think about new business model possibilities, to immediately condemn any useful new service as killing off any hope of a business model even as those willing to embrace the technology are finding it enhances rather than diminishes their opportunities.

Then, right after he complains that Scribd isn't doing enough to prevent books from getting online, he complains about Google for the exact opposite thing:
Google presents a far greater threat to the livelihood of individuals and the future of commercial institutions important to the community.... When the Performing Rights Society demanded more money for music videos streamed from the website, Google reacted by refusing to pay the requested 0.22p per play and took down the videos of the artists concerned.
This is the very next paragraph. So, let me get the logic straight: Scribd is a problem because it allows books to be posted online without permission and doesn't do enough to take them down. Google, on the other hand, is a problem because it has taken down music videos rather than leaving them up and simply paying.

So, apparently, the lesson of the day is that content creators should be able to demand a specific amount of money from any service provider for actions done by their users (not the service provider itself), and if that service provider can't pay up, too bad. Oh, and then, of course, there's the popular claim of the content creator that Google adds no value:
Google is in the final analysis a parasite that creates nothing, merely offering little aggregation, lists and the ordering of information generated by people who have invested their capital, skill and time.
Fair enough. If it adds no real value, then remove your works from Google, Mr. Porter. But, the truth is Mr. Porter is wrong and he knows it deep down inside. If Google "created nothing" and offered no value, no one would use it. But the fact is that it creates tremendous value, hence all of the usage, including some that drives traffic to Mr. Porter's weakly argued, poorly reasoned rant. The fact that Mr. Porter or his bosses are somehow unable to capitalize on that traffic is their fault alone, not Google's.

Filed Under: blame, business models, henry porter, problems
Companies: google, scribd


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  1. identicon
    George Riddick, 6 Apr 2009 @ 7:47am

    Goggle and the "safe harbor" - strip shows are next

    The question is not "do clowns have value?" The question is "should clowns be required to follow the law like the rest of us?

    Will strip shows be next to claim "safe harbors"?

    They are like the Stanford brainiacs dressed in clown costumes at the local state fair. They take a piece of all parking paid for prime spots on front and back lawns, and in allies and side streets. Pay up or your windows are smashed.

    They move those bright orange cones around to drive the flow of traffic directly to their "site", claiming everything inside is "FREE"!

    They allow advertisers to hawk their t-shirts, balloons, elephant ears, stuffed animals, and waffle cones to all of the foot traffic, with, of course, a decent piece of change coming back to the "clowns". Port-a-potties are even made available ... and for only $4.95 a minute.

    Inside the main tent, they then allow vendors to set up tables selling mink and beaver skins and fur coats, snake skin wallets, elephant ivory, child pornography magazines and videos, casino tokens, and stolen books, music, movies, and artwork, but only in digital form.

    When someone complains, or the "man" passes by, they ask that the tables be folded up for awhile.

    They claim they are too damn busy, and overrun with traffic, and left over furs, to monitor what's put on their tables for re-sale.

    They tell "willful blindness" jokes to each other while taking routine smoke breaks and sitting on small metal chairs just outside the back of the tent.

    They bring in catered gourmet meals and give each other full body massages on the hour. "Clowns" are people, too, you know.

    "Ain't life as a pirate dressed up like a clown in these safe harbors of the DMCA grand?"

    These companies are no more exempt "service providers" than the fat lady in the strip show next door.

    Get real folks.

    Didn't any of you notice that was Eric over there in the corner with that huge red nose on his face? You know, the guy making all of the honking sounds!

    GRiddick
    Imageline, Inc.

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