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
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2009 @ 5:24am

    Re: Does Google make more money out of TechCrunch than Mike Arrington does?

    Google still adds more value to Techdirt. Let's say that 50% of Techdirt users find it through google.

    If google looses Techdirt, another tech site comes up in the searches. If Techdirt loses google, 50% of their visitors disappear, and their revenue is cut in half. And google won't lose a dime.

    Techdirt can only afford to cut off google when a very small percentage of traffic comes from there. And if that were true, google wouldn't make that much money in the first place.

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