August 07, 2007 |
Looks like a lawsuit against Google concerning the alleged encouragement of copyright infringement just became a group effort.
In addition to the two original plaintiffs in the case – England’s Premier League football organization and a music publisher by the name of Bourne & Co. – eight parties jumped onto the anti-GOOG bandwagon, stating that they too would like to sue the pants of Sergey, Larry and everyone else in Mountain View for failing to crack down on illicit activity on YouTube.
The parties include: the National Music Publishers’ Association (largest music publishing trade association in the US), the Rugby Football League, the Finnish Football League Association, and author Daniel Quinn.
Yes, we’re quite well aware of the fact that those listed above total only four of the eight parties said to join the suit. You can fault Reuters for failing to divulge all names. Of course, one can look at the “incomplete” reporting done by the Reuters team and conclude that the remaining names carry little, if any, substantial weight. If that is indeed the case, one should find no reason to think the suit, whether a two-party effort or a tenner, will cause Google much, if any, harm.
Nor should it, principally speaking. Like the Viacom vs Google fight, this lower-profile, multi-pronged effort doesn’t have very strong legs. I say that primarily because Google has technically done no wrong, having continually removed copyrighted content as per content owners’ requests. That’s what the law requires of Big G, so that’s what Big G does. Google willing does no harm, and, subsequently, has made no foul.
Now, now, I know, it’s kind of a copout for a company as big and strong and “all-powerful” as Google to simply do the bare minimum of what it is truly capable in these select circumstances. But the parties on the other side of the divide are also spinning their arguments in ways that best suit their interests. Copyright owners want restitution for any “damage” done during the “misuse” of their content; Google wants to keep its money to spend on stuff to do with Google, so it’s doing what it has been tasked to do. When looked at in this elemental fashion, one can clearly see that the defendant has a stronger case.
Google has even said that it has begun (begrudgingly, though they certainly wouldn’t say so in the midst of these court battles) assembling a copyright filter to place before YouTube uploads in order to do away with the current system of manually addressing copyright claims one by one.
So Google’s case is solid, no doubt. And its opponents know it. They’re only hoping to prolong the irritation in the press enough that Google gives in to a financial settlement. They figure that the defense will eventually reach a point at which it feels several hundred million to a billion dollars given away will be a less costly solution than if it were to brandish its sword to the bitter end.
But Google might not be considering even so much as the thought of backing down to the various attacks by media groups. It knows that in the long term, maintaining the right line will likely ensure it a future less any troubles with copyright. Perhaps it even feels a sort of responsibility to remain steadfast.
With the changes being made in both the old media and new media spaces, I dare say Google may well claim victory if it does manage to “stay the course.” It won’t be easy to do so, however.