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Did Google’s Gaga Moment Obscure Court Settlement

28 March 2011 BY

In a rather bizarre yet brilliant piece of external communications last week, Google released a YouTube video of a visit to Mountain View from Lady Gaga.

The video itself is an absolute triumph of humanising search, technology and Google by juxtaposing the data-effect with Gaga’s spectacular rise to fame. Marissa Meyer (who interviews Gaga) appears warm, interested and immediately relaxed; plus Gaga herself gives one of her best, most open interviews. It’s also apparent from some of her opening comments that she is a big Google fan, and talks about how she personally uses Google regularly to research her fans and the content they produce.

If you haven’t seen the video do check it out below, if only just for some of the amazing search, download and social stats which start from a query demand of zero in early 2008 and take over the world by 2010.

On the same day the video was posted by AtGoogleTalks the proposed $125 million settlement proposed by Google in the lawsuit brought against them by the Association of American Publishers was rejected.

If you’re unfamiliar with the case, Google announced in 2004 the plans to digitise some 15 million works of print housed in various libraries and resource centres around the world and making this content searchable. Subsedquent lawsuits were brought against this action from the Authors Guild and AAP as mentioned on ground of “massive copyright infringement”. Google even purchased CAPTCHA company reCAPTCHA, and using saps like us to translate the words found in these old faded print works, have proceeded to digitise and organise the data from these 15 million works.

Despite plaintiff agreement on the $125 million proposed settlement, US Department of Justice concerns brought the case to a federal court review, which on Tuesday 22nd; on the decision of Judge Denny Chin was rejected. You can read the full 48 page ruling here, however in summary the judges concerns were that the plans “place the onus on copyright owners to come forward to protect their rights when Google copied their works without first seeking their permission.” In addition and perhaps more significant from a search perspective, is that the judge also supported the concerns of a group composed of competitors including Microsoft and Amazon that the agreement would hand Google an unfair competetive advange.

Now this represents a landmark case. As to whether the entire project is to be derailed remains to be seen, (though John Naughton in The Guardian suggests an interesting compromise), but what is most significant here is that for the first time Google have been blocked by the high court, despite a settlement agreement from the plaintiffs. I for one, hope this provides some type of grounding and precedent for any future considerations of anti-competition in all the cases sitting on all the desks in all the courts in all the markets.

On the other hand, who really cares about the implications of data control, market-dominance, predatory and paternalistic business activities. They’ve got Lady Gaga!

AUTHORED BY:
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Nichola Stott is owner and co-founder of theMediaFlow; online revenue optimisation and audience services (including SEO, SEM and SMM). Prior to founding theMediaFlow, Nichola spent four years at Yahoo! as head of UK commercial search partners.
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