Andrew Keen totally misses the point

I expect that a post like this is exactly what author, entrpreneur and “cultural critic” Andrew Keen is after, since he entitled his post on the Google-YouTube acquisition “Thieves unite in $1.6-billion deal.” But I felt compelled to write something anyway, if only because he clearly isn’t the only one who believes in what he calls the “essentially fraudulent nature of Google’s business model.”

Keen links admiringly to a piece in the Independent online by Jeremy Warner, who says that Google and YouTube are similar in that “neither seems to care a fig about the law of copyright.” For his part, Keen says the two are “tied together by their use of free content to establish value for their businesses and to drive revenue,” and mentions “their blatant disregard for intellectual property law.”

Warner doesn’t get too specific about whether he’s talking about Google Video or the Google book-scanning project, but Keen specifically mentions the claims from publishers that Google News is an infringement of copyright, describing his interview with Richard Landry, executive director of the Independent Press Association, who argues that the Google business model is

a form of theft. The search engine steals content from traditional content producers and then makes money by selling advertising off the back of the snippets of information that it displays on its website.

Could this get any stupider? It’s hard to imagine how. The Press Association and the World Association of Newspapers have both tried this argument, and just come out looking like morons, as does the entire country of Belgium for its recent decision to block Google News from displaying content from Belgian newspapers.

Let’s review: Google News posts snippets of text, which is permitted by fair use principles — just as it does for the Google Print project — and doesn’t display advertising on its pages. How is that “a form of theft” or “blatant disregard” for intellectual property? I would be tempted to describe Keen’s post as a troll, but unfortunately I think he actually believes what he wrote.

Bonus link:

For more unintentional hilarity, be sure to check out Keen’s magnum opus on how Web 2.0 is the new Communism.

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