Fresh & New(er)

discussion of issues around digital media and museums by Seb Chan

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More on Googlezon

May 30th, 2005 by Seb Chan

Some of you might remember that great 8 minute Flash thing I sent around about Googlezon and a projection to 2015.

Here’s an interesting commentary on it.

And, more importantly, Googlezon doesn’t even have to run afoul of journalistic ethics here: Its fact-stripping robots could easily (and automatically) provide citations to all their sources – each accessible by a link. Thus, rather than being an engine of plagiarism, Googlezon’s fact-stripping bots might be better seen as an engine of compilation.

Making compilations like this illegal, as copyright infringement, would challenge the status of a lot of traditional research – such as virtually any doctoral thesis, nonfiction book, academic paper, and on and on. For this reason, I agree with Sloan and Taylor that the Supreme Court would likely rule for Googlezon – not “old media” – in its Supreme Court case.

But it’s also possible the Court – or, ultimately Congress, in the wake of the Court’s decision – would rework copyright in a way that better fits the Internet.

Copyright is meant, in large part, to protect the market for a given work, and thus to protect incentives to create new works. Yet allowing people to read (for free) a fact-stripping bot’s compilation of news might undermine the market for newspapers and their online outposts. And that may lead newspapers to fight back in Congress for a broader version of copyright that would end, or limit, the reign of fact-stripping bots.

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