Is it OK to shoot the messenger?

And if so, should Google be taking some bullets?

I’ve just been reading this interesting news story. It seems that hundreds of thousands of copyright owners every week are spotting websites reproducing their content without permission, then complaining to Google about it.

Should a notice like this be posted at the entrance to the Library?

It’s not surprising that website owners are taking umbrage at this. What maybe is noteworthy is that it’s Google they complain to and not the owners of the offending sites. Is it because people now use “Google” and  “the internet” as interchangeable terms? As in: “I found it on Google”? Do they think that Google actually hosts all this material in the same way as YouTube does with video clips, whereas in fact all they are doing is indexing it? Isn’t it a bit like someone finding sexist or racist material in a library book and complaining to staff about it?

Or do they see Google as some kind of internet policeman? It’s unlikely that historically Google has solicited complaints of this sort, although it seems that they’re now prepared to acknowledge that copyright infringements are an issue with material posted on the web: they’ve added a copyright section to their Transparency Report, detailing the take-down requests they’ve received along with a list naming and shaming repeat offenders. What I can’t find on any of these pages though is an assurance that offending material will be removed…

(Image: Creative Commons licence from ALA – The American Library Association)

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  • cityopenaccess  On June 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    See also big media content going after Google for indexing links to filesharing sites. I think, perhaps, people go to Google because they believe (and are to a certain extent correct to believe) that if it isn’t indexed by Google, it’s not on the web- slightly different to believing that Google actually hosts content.

  • libreryblogger  On June 15, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Yes I don’t think anyone’s going to feel *too* sorry for Google getting the flak for copyright/filesharing violations given the way they’ve gone about monopolising the internet…

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