Google: bring it on

IP law and Google just do not seem to mix. The company’s stated mission is to “organise the world’s information”. But where that objective clashes with copyright law the company will have to ride a wave of criticism and litigation.

Media company Viacom has instructed Google-owned YouTube to take down 100,000 copyrighted clips and a number of book publishers have sued the company for uploading digital versions of copyrighted books withoutpermission.

But Microsoft has thrown the biggest and most public stone. Microsoft associate general counsel Tom Rubin attacked the company last week, saying its video-sharing site YouTube showed “a cavalier approach to copyright”.

Microsoft’s attacks were strong, but Google’s response was stronger, despite being less widely publicised. Google CEO Eric Schmidt said: “People say, ‘my product’s worth X’, and Google says, ‘prove it’.”

That’s a challenge not just to Microsoft, but to the very principles on which IP law is based.