An Infectious Mindset

From Fortune/CNN Money: Google nudes [pdf]

The most successful Internet companies have grown rich by exploiting other people’s content — without paying for it.

AOL prospered as its members filled chat rooms. EBay thrives by selling other people’s stuff. Teens create the pages on News Corp.’s MySpace. Yahoo! and Google index all this content, and much more.

The creators of content have not fared nearly as well as the Internet has grown. Think about the music industry, or big-city newspapers or even Penthouse magazine, which went bankrupt in part because so much “adult” content can be found for free online.

An unfolding legal battle between Perfect 10, an “adult” magazine, and Google is all about who gets to profit from content on the Web. […]

[…] Some lawyers argue that merely posting material online gives search engines like Google an “implied license” to use it. Schwimmer, the independent legal expert, asks: “If you put up content on your Web site, and you don’t password protect it, what do you expect is going to happen?”

It’s hard to know what to think about all this. As an Internet user, I love Google. I’ve done dozens of Google searches to research this story. I’m a fan of Gmail and Google Earth, and I’m even a small advertiser on Google — I’ve bought keywords (like my name) to attract traffic to my own Web site.

But I make a living by writing, and it’s plain to see what the Internet is doing to print media. Google News is a computer program. Real news gathering requires reporters and editors. The guys behind the Perfect 10 lawsuit may be doing the other media companies a favor.

“No One Ever Got Fired For Picking Microsoft”

We’ll see: Napster rues Microsoft, player glitches [pdf]

Technical glitches by Microsoft and the digital music device makers have hampered Napster Inc.’s ability to close the gap with Apple’s iTunes, the dominant online music service, Napster’s chief executive said on Tuesday.

“There is no question that their execution has been less than brilliant over the last 12 months,” Napster Chairman and Chief Executive Chris Gorog said at the Reuters Global Technology, Media and Telecoms Summit in New York.

“Our business does rely on Microsoft’s digital rights management software and our business model also relies on Microsoft’s ecosystem of device manufacturers,” he added.

A Matter of Degree?

Talk about cognitive dissonance: TV May Be Free but Not That Free [pdf]

Amanda Palmer hardly fits the profile of an Internet outlaw, but her obsession with the ABC show “Lost” makes this self-described “bubbly, nutty mum” the television industry’s worst nightmare.

Like thousands of other British fans, the 30-year-old personal assistant can’t bear to wait the nine months it can take for new “Lost” shows to air in England. So, soon after the closing credits roll in America, she downloads each episode off file-sharing networks.

And most alarming to TV industry executives, Palmer admits not a twinge of guilt.

“It’s TV, isn’t it?” she said. “It would probably be different if it was a movie. If it is free on everybody’s TV, why worry about it?”

The $60-billion TV industry has a simple answer to Palmer’s question: because the future of free TV may depend on it.

[…] In some ways, the industry’s dilemma boils down to this: how to convince consumers that you can steal something that is perceived to be widely available free of charge. The half-century-old business model of subsidizing TV production by selling commercial time to advertisers is invisible to the audience.

“Unlike downloading a Hollywood film, which I think everyone intuitively knows is a clear violation of the copyright, people do not have that sharp line, that distinction, in their minds when they download free TV,” said Garland of BigChampagne.