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In a rather bold move, Thomas Rubin, associate general counsel at
Microsoft, released a copy of the speech he is giving to the
Association of American Publishers (AAP) before actually giving it. Is
releasing your speech early in fashion? Apparently so, if you’re
representing Microsoft and have a few choice thoughts to say about your
main competitor: Google.
Rubin explains the difference between Microsoft’s and Google’s approaches to scanning books and making them available online (more on that later). Rubin is preaching to the choir, of course, as the AAP is suing Google over its approach. But then Rubin gets a bit off topic to loosely tie this situation to other Google problems as of late, namely its copyright issues with YouTube and the generating-revenue-from-piracy Google scandal (both of which have little or nothing to do with the Association of American Publishers).
While I actually agree with much of what Rubin points out, his speech comes across a bit too much as a series of low blows aimed at Google, which practically eliminated any memory I had of whatever positive thing he may have said about his own company. Oh right, Microsoft is better because Google sucks. Why can’t Microsoft be better on its own without referring to the pitfalls of its competition so blatantly?
So here’s the situation: Google and Microsoft are both scanning tons of books and then making them searchable online. But Microsoft is scanning books that no longer are covered by copyright law or newer titles that publishers give Microsoft explicit permission to use. In contrast, Google isn’t excluding copyrighted works from its scanning project, and provides “snippets” of the books’ content online, considering that “fair use.” Meaning, the company doesn’t necessarily contact publishers before using their content as such.
Well, the Association of American Publishers has issues with Google’s actions and has made it known via a lawsuit. I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other as to what constitutes “fair use” in this case (i.e., I see both sides equally). I’m fine with the courts figuring out, Microsoft becoming an AAP ally, and so forth. I guess I was just hoping for a more classy approach from Microsoft in trying to take advantage of the situation. As it stands, I’m not sure how this speech is really going to help the image of the company.
In (un)related news, Google’s major announcement for today has nothing to do with bashing Microsoft: Samsung and Google announced that certain Samsung phones will be bundled/optimized with some of the more popular Google products and services such as one-click access to Google search, Google Maps for mobile, and Gmail for mobile.
I haven’t gotten into using such web services on my phone due to a certain feel of clunkiness. But if a particular phone comes with my favorite Google products of search, maps, and email setup and configured properly, I may actually move into the my-phone-is-more-than-a-phone crowd. We’ll see…