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tales from the woods

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Google censoring

Wired hosted this article a few days ago about google getting sucked into RIAA's fight. It was a very inocuous little article and the content just mentions that following a court ruling in favour of RIAA, Sharman networks (the owner of Kazaa has asked google to "delist" 15 sites that are in violation of the DMCA).

For those who don't follow internet wars, DMCA is this new law passed in the USofA that gives a stupidly wide range of copy protection to companies or individuals with intellectual property. The RIAA, or the recording industry has succesfully used the DMCA to put file-swapping networks such as Napster out of business.. blah blah. What's interesting though is the ease with which Google has succumbed to these delistings. Remember, we're no longer talking about a search engine but virtually the face of the internet. It's fast, it's accurate, and most importantly, it's become the de-facto way to access information on the internet. The question to be asked here is, do they now wield enough power to effectively control (or screen, if you will) the internet?

Conversely, do they now have a *moral* obligation to list all search results in an unbiased manner? No matter how offending or illegal the content?? Historically speaking, google has been sterling in it's unbiasedness. It seems to give one hope that the trellis of modern day infociety is beyond reproach in it's fairness and accuracy. However, this requires that it be supported by the law in it's effort. Would google risk a lawsuit by questioning the delist list of sites that another site has submitted. Maybe not. If so, then what prevents a site from screwing up their competitors this way? How different are we then from the Medieval ages when the common man would not be give access to books or libraries. I only hope that these flash-in-the-pan incidents do not become a future trend.

Addendum:
Jivha just pointed out that he had posted an article on exactly the same topic earlier. Since i didn't gain inspiration from his previous work: Bappi Lahiri style, it's quite a remarkable co-incidence! It's also deliciously ironic as my post on copyright violation might actually be a copyright violation of Jivha's article, according to the DMCA ;-)
To add, his article is very well written too, and can be found here.

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