Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Google vs Publishing 2.0

Publishers are slowly waking up to the fact that Google is not exactly their friend, and has laid the strategic groundwork to enjoy a nice long period of appropriating the lion''s share of value from the content they own. The minor property rights revolution Google is sparking continues to be a theme to pay attention to.

Most interesting to me about this is that Zittrain and Lessing are both quoted as backing Google. Why? Both are big influences on my thinking, and I think they're mistaken in their positions, which essentially amounts to a huge subsidy for Google.

I think it's a huge flaw in the Free Culturites thinking to always back Google, and I'm kind of mystified as to why they do it. It's fairly straightforward to understand that if it's fair use for Google to essentially redisitribute publishers' content, then because search is a winner-take-all market, Google extends it's monopoly to a new market essentially by tying print search to it's current dominance in web search, and the publishers go out of business (eventually).

Of course, in this scenario, culture becomes less free than it was before - instead of rights being held by a competitive market of publishers, all rights are essentially held by a monopolist. See my post from a few days for more if you're interested.

I could be wrong - since I appear to be the only guy dumb enough to talk about this at the moment - but I think Google's long-standing appropriation of property rights is about to reach a tipping point, and the Free Culture guys will eventually get called out for their support of a position that contradicts the essence of the ideas that have led them to prominence.

Note, I'm not arguing that property rights are a dominant strategy - in fact, I think the opposite. I'm pointing out that in it's current guise, the Free Culture movement amounts to a subsidy, which helps sustain a monopolist.

-- umair // 2:58 PM // 3 comments


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