The German news publishing industry is asking for an antitrust investigation into Google’s search advertising practices, which mirrors concerns about what news publishers all over the world have raised for years over what they call “free riding.”
This story wouldn’t have gotten that much attention on this side of the Atlantic Ocean — other than the New York Times story referenced above — but for a post about it by Mike Masnick on Techdirt this past Tuesday. (No, I won’t help Techdirt’s search engine rankings by including a link.) In the post, Masnick accuses German news publishers of being “Apparently Very Confused [a]bout How [t]he Internet Works.”
If there’s anyone here who’s confused about how the Internet works, it’s Mike Masnick. Techdirt is not alone among the dressed-up blogs that attract lots of traffic with their stories about the tech industry that often betray smugness and ignorance, but this one — as they might say on the other side of the pond — takes the biscuit. It scales new heights of wrongheadedness and irresponsibility among widely-read publications.
Masnick should use his favorite search engine and look up “free riding” or “contextual advertising” to find out what he’s missing. He should also look up “Google book settlement” to find that what the German news industry is doing is far from original — although the antitrust approach is somewhat novel. Finally, he should understand the difference between Google News and plain old Google search results (a difference that the Times article admittedly glosses over).
Masnick adds insult to injury by suggesting that the blinkered, hopelessly out-of-it German news publishers have no right to launch a legal action against Google because they have failed to monetize the Internet thus far. Uh, says who? Oh, right… says Mike Masnick.
(And by the way, this isn’t the first time. Mike Masnick has a history of writings about copyright-related issues that betray less knowledge of the subject matter than he believes himself to possess. This is why I don’t normally read Techdirt.)
Normally I’d post a comment to the Techdirt story itself. But after the 50 or so comments posted over the past two days, my comment would be utterly lost after all the other comments about Hitler, World War II, Iraq, and other issues highly relevant to the long-running, unsettled disputes between search engines and publishers over contextual advertising and the right to display copyrighted works in search results.