Calacanis Wants Publishers To Blackmail Google

    June 3, 2005

Jason Calacanis wants twenty major publishers to blackmail Google into cutting off the ad dollars it gives to content-stealing websites. Funny, I thought Google had a spine. Oh, wait, it does.

Jason argues that since these sites are making their cash off ad networks like AdSense, the major content publishers should demand Google stop paying paying these guys or else they will drop their Google ads.

Imagine your the CEO of one of these ad networks and an email comes to your desk with 20 of your top publishers saying “We support X publisher in their effort to protect their content from the following website which is stealing content.” When you’re an ad network your main cost of doing business is signing up publishers, and your publisher relationships are all you’ve got.

I have so many reasons why this is a bad idea. First, this is a job for law enforcement. If Google started doing this, they would be required to do it in all cases where the law might be a question.

Its not their problem, unless a court says it is their problem. Second, it would be stupid of Google to roll over for these guys, since it would establish that Google could be blackmailed. Regardless of any complaints people have about Google, they don’t just roll over for threats. Which brings me to my third point: Google doesn’t need their money. Google prints money at this point, and if publishers are going to resort to petty blackmail, Google can say “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out”.

I’m not saying that content theft is a minor problem. It is both wide-spread and disgusting. Content thieves are no-talent criminals. As criminals, they should be prosecuted. However, the criminal justice system is ill-equipped for this sort of thing. With court cases taking forever, getting the government to do its damn job is impossible, what with the thousands of cases that would need to be added to the system. The courts have all the right to prosecute websites that steal content, as well as users who download music illegally, but the courts don’t have the resources to do so.

We need an overhaul of the court system where electronic crimes can be settled in a matter of days. The infringed upon part should be able to submit proof of ownership of the content, a computer should determine the penalty, and the infringing party should be notified that it has been fined. In these cases, if one party can point to content as originating in one place and duplicated in another, that should be enough to swing the burden of proof over to the infringing party. That is the only way ownership of content can be protected by the courts.

Now, I’ve got my own ideas for penalties (twice the standard market price, i.e. $1.98 a song, $60 a movie, or twice the value of a website) and checks in the system (if the claim is false, the claimant pays for all court costs), but my main point is that new ideas are needed. With the RIAA playing “moron cowboy” and Jason Calacanis suggesting blackmail (blackmail!) as a course of action, it is clear that new ideas are the only way to end the madness.

So, got any ideas?

Via The Blog Herald. On a side note, the Herald has some disheartening things to say about Google:

I think the notion is noble, but I have two concerns: the first is that Google won’t listen, my experience with Google and communications has been poor to say the least and I have no confidence in the company responding to complaints about content theft.


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Nathan Weinberg writes the popular InsideGoogle blog, offering the latest news and insights about Google and search engines.

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