Microsoft takes up the banner of copyright today against Google. It’s lead warrior is none other than one of its in-house lawyers, Associate General Counsel Thomas Rubin.
The New York Times reports that Mr. Rubin will give a speech today to the Association of American Publishers, and draw a bead on arch-nemesis Google:
â€œCompanies that create no content of their own, and make money solely on the backs of other peopleâ€™s content, are raking in billions through advertising revenue and I.P.O.s,â€ said Mr. Rubin, who oversees copyright and trade-secret law.
Google responded last night, before Mr. Rubin uttered a word:
David Drummond, Googleâ€™s senior vice president for corporate development and its chief legal officer, said in response that Google worked with more than 10,000 publishing partners to make books searchable online and had recently added the BBC and N.B.A. as YouTube video partners.
â€œWe do this by complying with international copyright laws,â€ Mr. Drummond said, â€œand the result has been more exposure and in many cases more revenue for authors, publishers and producers of content.â€
This copyright-fight by Microsoft against Google was carefully choreographed. The Financial Times seems to have broke the story, since it just happened to have an article by Mr. Rubin dated today on its web site last night (that link only works for FT subscribers). One excerpt:
Google, for example, says its book search technology will one day make available a copy of every book ever published in a vast online database of indexed content. A worthy goal, to be sure. But in pursuit of that goal, Google has taken a unilateralist approach by contending that it is entitled to grab books off library shelves and copy them wholesale without obtaining the permission of the publishers and authors who own the copyrights in those works.
It’s certainly a sign of the pressure that Microsoft feels from Google that it takes a public-service position before a publishers association. While one focus of Mr. Rubin is Google’s book indexing project, certainly YouTube is on its mind and in its cross-hairs.
In fact, this appears to me to be a sign that Microsoft has decided to use copyright as a legal weapon in this one battle as part of its larger war against Google. It’s almost as if Microsoft is taking on the entire business model of Google.
I bet Google already has a war room (or war-wiki?) going on this, as evidenced by the quick response from its CLO, Mr. Drummond. Perhaps ace Google copyright counsel William Patry will take this up on his copyright blog.
Game on! Maybe Microsoft will release “Halo 4 — Copyright Wars” for the XBox 360.