UK Paper Insists Google Is Out To Destroy British Culture

from the troll-bait dept

Matthew A. Sawtell was the first of a whole bunch of you (seriously, stop submitting this!) to send in the hilariously myopic rant by Daily Mail editor Alex Brummer in which he claims that Google is out to destroy British culture. Brummer takes a criticism that has been levied by a few folks within the entertainment industry in the last few months -- that the government of David Cameron has somehow been "suckered in" by Google because one of Cameron's top advisors is married to someone who works at Google -- and then layers onto it some hysterically clueless claims about Google's desire to destroy culture.

This all comes in response, of course, to the UK review on copyright, which David Cameron announced with a nod towards Google, and how its execs pointed out the lack of fair use rules in the UK would have made it difficult for a company like Google to start in that country. The results of the review are expected relatively soon, and this article seems to be part of the media campaign to stop the government from actually implementing anything sensible. I mean, we've already seen the preposterous claim from UK publishers that fair use would stifle innovation.

In this piece, however, Brummer simply goes into paranoid fantasy land with a bunch of his claims against Google. I can't even bother to go through them all because there's not that much time in the day. But here are a few howlers.
The reason is very simple. The company wants to plunder intellectual property -- songs by Adele and other British singers -- so that it can disseminate it free to anyone who logs on to Google anywhere in the world.
That must be why Google's current music search points everyone to places where they can buy the music. It also must explain why Google has been negotiating with the record labels for big licenses to allow for music streaming in a music locker system. It also must explain why Google has become a huge source of revenue for the record labels via YouTube and its content ID system.
The irony is that Google is alien to much that Britain holds dear. It has no respect for private property.

Our Englishman's Castle has been turned into public property by Google Earth -- which offers aerial views -- and Street View, created when an army of Google cars travelled the length and breadth of the country taking pictures of our streets and our homes to put on the internet.
I certainly can't speak for Google, but I've seen no indication whatsoever that it has no respect for private property. But taking photographs from public roads is not a violation of private property. And, I'm sorry, but it's simply impossible to take the Daily Mail seriously on a claim that taking photos in public is a violation of private property, when it has front page stories that show a woman's see-through top with a headline screaming about how you can see her breasts. Or this article, highlighting some rich young woman with photographs of her in a bikini while vacationing at a private hotel. I would suggest that those are a lot more about violating someone's privacy than a photo of a castle.
So dominant has it become that it has helped to destroy great swathes of other media in its wake, from regional newspapers in Britain and the United States to business directory companies.
Say what now? Seriously, how has Google destroyed any newspaper? Brummer is simply making stuff up. Google drives traffic to newspapers. How has it destroyed a single newspaper?
In its determination to boost the Google model and to encourage other internet search sites to follow it, the Government seems to believe the internet should be free and open to everyone.
And that's a bad thing how exactly? Don't we want more people to have access to the open internet?
Google may have won over the hearts and minds of the Prime Minister and his aides, but all over the world it is increasingly recognised that the search engine is like a giant vacuum cleaner parasitically sucking up content from media companies, publishers, film makers and musicians without paying anything back into the creative process that produces such high cost entertainment.
Google doesn't "suck up" any content. It points people to content on other sites. It's a useful service. I would imagine that Brummer probably uses it quite frequently in his role as a journalist. Now, some of Google's users may upload content to YouTube, but as already discussed, YouTube has been writing big checks to various media properties thanks to its ContentID system.

There's a lot more like that in the article. I recognize that it's pretty much pure troll bait on the part of Brummer and the Daily Mail, but it troubles me that so many people are setting up discussions about copyright as "internet companies" vs. "media companies." It's not about that at all. It's about what's best for innovation and progress as a whole. That means what's best for everyone? Is it true that companies like Google are doing well by embracing openness on the internet? Yes. At the same time, it's also true that traditional media companies have struggled due to their inability to embrace these new models and technologies. But that doesn't mean that one side is "killing" the other. It just means that the old media companies need to adapt and get with the times. They can learn quite a bit from looking at why Google was successful. It wasn't in trying to lock up everything and relying on government-granted monopolies. It was all about enabling more things to happen and putting in place business models to capitalize on that...

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  1. identicon
    Tom Davenport, 12 Apr 2011 @ 2:05am

    No one takes the Daily Mail seriously in the UK. This article is funny because it DID take them seriously.

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