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Google's Step Backwards

May 19, 2011

For those who care about a civilized online ecosystem where creators’ rights are protected, it was a confusing step backwards by one of the most influential Internet companies.  In a discussion with reporters in London, U.K. publication the Guardian recently reported that Google Executive Chairman Schmidt commented: "If there is a law that requires DNS [domain name systems, the protocol that allows users to connect to Web sites], to do x, and it's passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president of the United States, and we disagree with it, then we would still fight it...If it's a request, the answer is we wouldn't do it; if it's a discussion, we wouldn't do it."

The head of a multi-billion dollar leading American company openly suggesting they would defy the will of Congress AND the President? This on the heels of Google’s General Counsel’s testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives where he pledged his company’s commitment to fighting online theft.  It’s no surprise creators’ rights groups have expressed outrage in response to his comments (see here and here).  We’ve expressed our own bewilderment as well: 

"This is baffling. As a legitimate company, Google has a responsibility to not benefit from criminal activity.  In substance and spirit, this contradicts the recent testimony of Google's General Counsel that the company takes copyright theft seriously and was willing to step up to the plate in a cooperative and serious way."