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
    John S, 6 Apr 2009 @ 11:44am

    The Bottom Line

    Whatever the analogies, the bottom line is that the Internet, at its essence, is a collection of content. Google is a service that helps users navigate that content in a direct manner, and in doing so, collect revenue through their process which they share with the content publisher.

    The implication is that if the content providers start going broke, who will supply GOOD, well-produced content? No one really wants to watch/process/read tons of poorly curated, ill conceived video and text - that's why we have media brands and media outlets which are known for their ability to sift through the garbage and give us what we want. If these brands/outlets go away, with what are we left?

    What's interesting to note is that the "service providers" - which are effectively intermediaries, and nothing more - are worth orders of magnitude more than the content suppliers who the service - b/c the service provider economics are so much better. Perhaps the content providers, en masse, should push back and demand a greater economic share from Google...Google is nothing without the content for which it provides navigation. Look at Technorati - why is it irrelevant? B/c it indexes and makes searchable content which is so niche that no real money is available for their model.

    As for Scrib'd, it's irresponsible for them to let people post content and have the posters be responsible for 'self policing' - we all know where that gets us - can you say 'free market economy?' - look at our 'self policing' investment banking sector. Sure, there's the SEC, about as effective as the enforcement of the DMCA legislation. Somehow, copyrights must be respected - if not, then the content creators suffers and slowly disappear, as does the overall quality of online-available content...

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