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 Is the end close for Google?

28.10.20. It’s doubtful that anybody who has a computer and the internet does not use Google. Like all the search engines, it is an essential part of modern life. Its search algorithms, the process that finds information fast, are as amazing as they are useful. Information is updated almost immediately, all our articles can be found with an appropriate search often within minutes of the publish button being pushed. But it does give Google the option to do the wrong thing especially by modifying search results to promote specific views. Though this is mainly done to promote a product or service that pays the most to be first up in a search, which is how they earn their hundreds of billions of dollars, it can be used to twist political understanding. How we trust a company like Google is based on what they do and as Townhall’s Nicholas Waddy reports, maybe we shouldn’t be so trusting:
Most people know that Google’s original motto was: “Don’t be evil.”
Cute, right?
Perhaps a more fitting summary of the company’s philosophy, however, would have been: “Don’t get caught.”
Recent events suggest that Google may be about to fall spectacularly short, by that narrow ethical standard. Why and how? Oral arguments before the Supreme Court last week in Google v. Oracle have exposed what was one of the biggest and most brazen heists of intellectual property in American history, and Google was the culprit. It indeed got caught — with its hand in the digital cookie jar. Very soon, though, justice may be served.
The facts are by now well-established. More than a decade ago, when Google was still just a fashionable search engine rather than a multi-headed corporate behemoth, the decision was made to cut and paste thousands of lines of computer code from Oracle’s Java operating system. The code would be repurposed in Google’s fancy new Android operating system for smart phones. And — voilà! — Google became a telecommunications powerhouse overnight, without the bother of having to come up with its own code to solve the myriad technical problems involved. Google thought of it as a shortcut. You and I, with our antiquated notions of “private property”, might more properly regard it as theft.
One of Google’s main arguments, articulated by legions of the best lawyers money can buy, is that its appropriation of Oracle’s code constitutes “fair use”, a doctrine that allows portions of someone else’s intellectual property to be reproduced and reused if it was done for a “transformative” purpose. Google, though, altered nothing about the code, which operates in Android exactly the same way it does in Java.
What did the esteemed Justices of the Supreme Court make of Google’s chicanery?
Justice Alito expressed concerns that, “under [Google’s] argument, all computer code is at risk of losing protection…” Justice Gorsuch observed that other big tech companies have “been able to come up with phones that work just fine without engaging in this kind of copying”. So what makes Google so special? But it was Chief Justice John Roberts who said it best: “Cracking the safe [stealing, in layman’s terms] may be the only way to get the money that you want, but that doesn’t mean you can do it. I mean, if it’s the only way, the way for you to get it is to get a license.”
Needless to say, it’s commonsensical observations like these that make Google’s high-priced lawyers sweat through their bespoke Savile Row suits!
But SCOTUS is not alone in rolling its eyes at Google’s presumption. Many other voices, across the corporate and ideological spectrum, have come together to condemn Google’s perversion of the fair use doctrine, and its pilfering of Oracle’s intellectual property. Industry associations in fields as diverse as music and book publishing, journalism, health care, and telecommunications have condemned Google’s actions as inimical to the preservation of intellectual property rights — and thus as potentially harmful to their business interests, which support millions of American jobs.
Heck, even the Obama and Trump DOJs both supported Oracle’s position and criticized Google — and when do Obama lawyers and Trump lawyers agree on anything???
With all these voices uniting in opposition to Google’s high-tech marauding, we might ask: is a comeuppance for the shadowy Alphabet empire finally on the horizon? At times it has seemed as though Google’s rise to digital supremacy was inevitable and unstoppable. Maybe, just maybe, though, with a little help from the highest court in the land, the company’s ballistic trajectory, which has always been aimed squarely at online hegemony, can be deflected at long last. Maybe, just maybe, Google could rejoin the ranks of us mere mortals, who pay our taxes, play by the rules, and, when we use someone else’s intellectual property, negotiate in good faith and pay them for the privilege
Wouldn’t that be nice?
This day has been a long time in coming. Thanks to the Supreme Court, it sure looks as though we’re very nearly there.
{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Penguinite 28/10/2020, 8:47 am

    Yes! Google reached it’s apogee several years ago (2015). That why they change the corporate name. Now Alphabet Inc.

  • Sir Peter 28/10/2020, 11:20 am

    Future generations will look back in wonder and ask how stupid were we to digitise everything. Like the Romans using lead water pipes.

    • Neville 28/10/2020, 5:24 pm

      Although … maybe it’s not the digitising per se, just the lack of oversight, the absence of proper laws, and the greed of the company …?

  • Soroako 28/10/2020, 11:41 am

    Last week I posted an example of how Google manipulate the masses.

    Do an image search for these 3:

    Happy black women
    Happy white women
    Famous American inventors

    The pictures of the white women are all taken against a dull white-ish background and the women with minimal make up and conservative dress style.

    The pictures of the black women are the opposite – vibrant colours everywhere – and the women are made up & dressed to kill.

    The result of the search for “Famous American inventors” is like something out of a Monty Python script.

    Today I added two more searches:

    30 year old white women
    30 year old black women

    Same result when comparing 30 year old women – dull and boring for the whites and bright and full of vitality for the black sheilas.

    Big Tech employs a lot of bitter and twisted millennial programmers who are hell bent on trying to force their misbegotten and warped sense of values on to those of us who were fortunate not to have been subjected to the mind destroying messages being pushed out by academia and school teachers for the past 30 years.

    I use DuckDuck Go as my search engine and it brings up exactly the same response as Google does.

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