Microsoft Attacks Google Over Disregard for Copyrights

Posted on March 5, 2007

Microsoft is now attacking Google for its cavalier disregard for copyright laws. Microsoft's associate General Counsel is set to accuse Google of exploiting books, music, films and tv without compensating the authors of those works and without first getting permission to use the work of the artists.

Tom Rubin, associate general counsel for Microsoft, will say in a speech in New York that while authors and publishers find it hard to cover costs, "companies that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the back of other people�s content, are raking in billions through advertising and initial public offerings."

Mr Rubin's remarks, presaged in an article in Tuesday's Financial Times, come as Google faces criticism and legal pressure from media companies over services allowing users to search online for books, films, television programmes and news. Viacom, the US media group, instructed YouTube, which Google owns, to remove 100,000 clips of copyright material.

The Authors Guild and a group of publishers backed by the Association of American Publishers have separately sued Google for making digital copies of copyrighted books from libraries without permission. Mr Rubin will tell the AAP's annual meeting that Google's decision to take digital copies of all books in various library collections, unless publishers tell it not to, "systematically violates copyright, deprives authors and publishers of an important avenue for monetising their works and, in doing so, undermines incentives to create."

He will say Google is breaching copyright law because it has "bestowed upon itself the unilateral right to make entire copies of copyrighted books." Google thinks it is acting legally because it publishes only "snippets" of copyrighted works unless it has the publisher's permission. But Mr Rubin will say in Tuesday's speech: "Google is saying to you and other copyright owners: 'Trust us, you're protected. We'll keep the digital copies secure. We'll only show snippets. We won't harm you, we'll promote you.' "But . . . anyone who visits YouTube . . . will immediately recognise that it follows a similar cavalier approach to copyright."

That's how you know some kind of Apocalypse is coming: Microsoft is now on the correct side of a copyright question and is loudly supporting the rights of authors and writers. It's gratifying -- and yet disturbing -- at the same time.

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