Charles Cooper channels Andrew Keen

At the risk of overusing the “M” word (hint: it rhymes with “boron”), I feel compelled to take note of a recent column from Charles Cooper, who apparently is the executive editor of Cnet News. All I can say is that if he’s in charge of the Cnet News operation, then God help us all. Although he doesn’t mention Andrew Keen, Charles is definitely of the same mind as the “social critic” who believes Web 2.0 is ruining society as we know it (more about that here).

Mr. Cooper’s piece of “analysis” is entitled “Web 2.0 as a metaphor for ‘rip-off’,” which should give you a pretty good clue as to where he’s going. He refers to “the Web 2.0 assumption that it’s perfectly all right to profit from another company’s content without permission and without payment,” and says that it’s a good thing European courts (such as the one in Belgium that has blocked Google News) are standing up for the cause of truth and justice.


As Mike Masnick at Techdirt has pointed out, this is a load of bollocks. Cooper even trots out the old saw about how Napster and YouTube “flourished because of theft,” and how it’s just the same as walking into a store and walking out with an armload of books or CDs without paying. Memo to Charles: copyright infringement is not theft. Period. Look it up. The Supreme Court said so.

Cooper links to the U.S. Copyright Code, but obviously hasn’t thought about how it applies to Google News, or Google Print or any of the other things he lumps in with Napster. Fair use principles allow the use of snippets of text provided they are not for commercial use, and one consideration is how such use affects the market for the published work. So what if Google’s indexing actually makes a work more valuable, as appears to be the case? Does that still count as theft and immoral activity Charles?

What a maroon.

9 thoughts on “Charles Cooper channels Andrew Keen

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  2. Thanks, Ian. Just for fun, I added a picture that I hope conveys my feelings about Charles and Andrew in an even more graphical manner 🙂

  3. I wodner are we being over hasty dismissing these arguments – take a look today at Google taking 30,000 videos down. Like it or not ther are ownership issues tucked away in some of the cracks in Cooper’s argument and if we address them we’ll come to a better understanding of where the web will go.

  4. Pingback: What Will You See Next? » Blog Archive » It’s About Copyright Stupid

  5. Haydn, I don’t disagree that there are ownership issues, and that Google and YouTube will have to deal with them. But I don’t think stuff like Cooper and Keen are writing helps the discussion at all. And thanks for calling me “respected and careful” in your post 🙂

  6. Ok – so how do we go about undersanding the issue without taking the easy route that’s there at each extreme – all content re-use is great, no content re-use should be allowed.

  7. I guess we just need to think and talk about how to balance the conflicting desires of owners versus users, Haydn. Fortunately or unfortunately, copyright law is deliberately vague, and that means it is a constantly evolving trade-off between the rights of copyright holders and the good of the community as a whole. Saying everything should be free isn’t an answer, but nor is giving copyright holders unlimited power.

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  9. Pingback: Fair use « tumbleblog

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