Friday, May 29

Bending copyright boundaries: and New Google

I've just taken a look at the preview video for (Microsoft) and Google's new approach to reviews. I can't help wondering where this leaves the rest of the world's internet companies!

Google's stated mission was always to help people find info fast and push them onto to the content owners for relevant info as quickly as possible. The latest iteration of search from the giants is to aggregate customer reviews for hotels, gadgets, computers, restaurants, etc from all the 'trusted' sources and present the info on the search site... hmmm

As far as I can see, most of the 'trusted' sites business models IS the reviews and results, so this new approach to search is breaking that foundation. It's breaking the give-take relationship with search engines and publishers, and it begins to push search vertically up the value-chain, into niche areas. Most of the big media owners have made Google very aware of the boundaries in aggregating news content into Google News. I wonder if the review sites will have the same power.

CNET, Tripadvisor, TopTable and the millions of smaller review sites don't have open API's to these reviews. So, in effect, the search engines are flagrantly breaking copyright - unless, of course, it is for 'non-commercial purposes'.

You could argue that it's good for the consumer, as they get a quicker snapshot of results. The search engines may argue that it is good for the review sites (which would be hard to believe). The negative impact and fallout in the internet industry could be enormous if this approach to search is accepted. For instead of investing in the content and communities in these millions of niche areas, the search engines are creaming the best, for free, for themselves. And that only leads to less revenue for the smaller guy's, less competition and less quality in content.

Search is at a cross-roads. It's not smart-enough. But delving so far into vertical communities, and not just providing results but taking reviews may be a step too far.

There surely has to be a revenue share paid to the content owners, else this is simply copyright theft. If I want to make an action movie, I can't splice the best bits of Terminator 4, Die Hard, Independence Day and release a blockbuster movie worldwide, without some kind of deal with the creators of those films.

WolframAlpha is smart, and it fits well into the eco-system of the internet. Bing and Google are going head-to-head with their own industry :(

I'd love to see what other people make of this.


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