Oh boy, here we go. Microsoft attacks Google on copyright regarding their book scanning project, and then takes a swipe at YouTube as well. Really dumb move! What are these Microsoft lawyers thinking? Even if they are right, which is debatable, what reaction do they expect from the public at large? This strikes me as pandering to the Association of American Publishers where the Microsoft lawyer is speaking today. Here is a transcript of his speech. The speech is actually pretty good until he drives over the cliff and starts slamming Google.
The AAP filed suit against Google for copyright infringement 16 months ago, and it is still in the courts. What is to be gained by making these inflammatory comments? Be quiet and let the courts sort this out.
Microsoft is also scanning books in libraries, but only those where the copyright has expired or newer books where the owner has given permission to copy. Google does the same thing except they copy all books, even those with copyrights. Later, if a copyright owner demands that Google "take down" the content they will do so. It should be noted that Google only exposes "snippets" or short excerpts of books under copyright. Google believes, and many legal experts agree, that "excerpts" are considered "fair use" under copyright law. Here is a link to the US Copyright Office with more details about "fair use".
This is about PR not legal issues. Public Relations and perceptions are affected by everything Microsoft says or does. It comes with the territory. Making inflammatory comments about a competitor is never a good idea. Right or wrong on the facts...the statements are bound to have unintended consequences.
There are always at least two sides to every legal argument. There are lots of scenarios where the law is not clear and that is why these things are argued in court. Case law clarifies the details and codifies the rules. Great, let the courts involved sort that out. Microsoft should stay focused on business and satisfying customers.
Just a reminder, this is my personal blog and these are my personal thoughts and opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of my employer.