Saturday, January 21, 2012

Google monetizes traffic

“They want to change the way the internet works forever!” was the battle cry last week as the internet rose up in defiance of the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect IP Act. For now these bills are shelved.
But yes, that’s quite true. In fact they DO want to curtail counterfeit goods, credit card fraud and chiefly, copyright infringement on the internet. And they will, but not with these two bills. For now the internet remains comparatively lawless but new legislation will evolve from this.

Several sites went dark in protest with Google leading the way. “Don’t let them censor the internet!” demanded Google. 

Then again, Google monetizes traffic---pure traffic--- and they want to keep monetizing unlawful goods and behaviors online as they currently do. So they lied. They said this was about “censorship” and “free speech”, as if free movies, music and books was the constitutional equivalent of our precious freedom of speech. It’s not hard to spread a lie when you also control the platform.
So why does Google NOT want to be held accountable to the illegal behaviors they monetize? Because illegal behavior is big bucks online and they don’t care if your business is being ransacked as long as they can make a few ad bucks against the ransacking. So here’s two things to consider.

1) Back in August Google was forced to pay a half a billion dollar fine for running ads against an illegal Canadian pharma website. They could have chosen not to cash in on this, but they’d made so much money against the traffic in advance of the takedown they paid a fine to make it all go away.
2) Just in the United States alone “Domestic production and consumption of counterfeit and pirated products costs our economy $215 billion annually. (Frontier Economics, Estimating the Global Economic and Social Impacts of Counterfeiting and Piracy, February 2011.)”
Anyone who thinks that the American government will shrug and walk away from $215 billion a year must be getting a lot of free music and movies and books online, and they don’t want that to change. But it inevitably will. 
The US Constitution has been amended 27 times, including 10 in our Bill of Rights. Any network regulated by government and brought to us by the corporations like TIMEWarner being ransacked aren’t going to put up with this forever.


  1. The irony here is that you routinely use copyrighted material in your blog without permission of the owner - so you too would be affected by SOPA/PIPA.

  2. The economic contribution of entertainment and media pales in comparison to the economic contribution of technology. Don't forget that.

  3. Thanks Anon, but only one of your observations is actually true. Old media’s economic contribution is falling, no question. Witness the NYTimes, (winner of more Pulitzer prizes than any other newspaper and the most visited newspaper site with more than twice the number of unique visitors as the next most popular site, Wikipedia) Yet they can boast only a couple hundred thousand paying digital subscribers after building hundreds of news bureaus around the world on the revenue of 43 million unique readers back in their “paper” days. We still don’t know how they will keep their news bureaus open. Google advertises against linking to their stories making ad money, but with none of the content costs. And that’s the lawful model, but you see where this digital revolution is going.

    It’s the unlawful use of digital products and merchandise SOPA and PIPA are trying to address. Almost half of America’s GDP is in for-sale digital merchandise. Blogs like CTT have enormous protections (as they should) and Fair Use isn’t dismantled by either of these bills, nor are the DMCA protections if I am notified and I take it down. So in that regard you aren’t correct. CTT won’t be affected, no blogs of this kind will, although online opponents have tried to allege all sorts of horrors.

    The larger point is this; using your example, until we make clear distinctions between a no-income blog using an image with credit given, and a copyrighted movie uploaded to a torrent site with 40 million unlawful copies distributed free over the weekend, the debate will justifiably go on. Landlords have no liability if they are not aware of unlawful activity in the apartments they rent, but with knowledge and especially with increased cashflow from that activity, they gain liability. And I believe they should. Think of Google as the landlord of their websites. They know, they advertise against everything indiscriminately, lawful or not, and they paid a huge fine for it. Digital merchandise with value needs price protection and inevitably will get it. All that’s left is sorting out how. Google launched on the motto “Don’t Be Evil” but alas, money changes everything.