Some of you may have seen the “best practices” circulated yesterday by the White House–also known as Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s B&B on the Potomac. (See the hysterical satire on “Father Knows Best” by Harry Shearer on Le Show: “Mr. Eric Knows Best” based on an imaginary dinner at the White House foreshadowing the dismissal of the FTC antitrust investigation of Google led by an outside lawyer with Google connections–Beth Wilkinson.)
We wanted to post a few thoughts about this latest debacle before a more detailed analysis.
1. The best practices were released by the White House around the time of the Joint Strategic Plan. This could give the impression that somehow the IAB’s best practices are part of the Joint Strategic Plan. Not true. The plan is subject to interagency review. The best practices are simply a project and process that has been convened in part through the White House. It is a one-sided agreement among businesses that profit from making the “best practices” not too difficult and as porous as possible. A private agreement with no force of law. Aside from market power–but we forgot, Google is not a monopolist according to the Federal Trade Commission.
2. There were no creators involved in developing the “best practices.” Not one. This is another unilateral attempt by the advertising networks to continue profiting from theft at the expense of artists.
3. The big companies involved in the announcement are AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo and…Google. Which of these is not like the others? Which of these paid a $500,000,000 fine for drug profiteering? Which of these has a nonprosecution agreement preventing it from being criminally prosecuted for aiding and abetting the sale of drugs to children? Only one–Google.
4. The “best practices” concerns itself solely with trademark and copyright infringement–not drugs, human trafficking, terror propaganda. It appears that Google–clearly the leader of the pack on this issue–is trying to deflect attention away from its bad behavior, particularly with the timing of the release of the statement. That timing is odd–after Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood called out Google for continued drug profiteering and right before Google’s nonprosecution agreement with the Department of Justice is about to expire.
5. This isn’t the first time that Google used the White House to dupe Americans–the company did the same thing with the drug issue, convening an industry-wide meeting at the White House to develop best practices for drug advertising while at the same time negotiating their way out of a Rhode Island grand jury prosecution by paying a $500,000,000 fine. Despite the Attorney General’s active participation in that White House meeting, the subject of Google’s prosecution and subsequent fine never came up, Google was praised by one and all for being proactive and left the impression in quotable press reports that Google was doing the right thing on drugs. Press reports they rely on to this day–except for the CNET story, of course.
6. The best practices only apply to third party websites, not to web properties controlled by affiliates of the ad networks. Like, oh say, YouTube advertising Google Chrome on jihadi propaganda.
Or Duped Advertiser Numero Uno on YouTube searches for “thai teen girls” that return search results for sex tourist videos. No, the “best practices” don’t require any action against Google properties. Presumably this will also protect Google from Dr. Strangelove type actions against itself when it launches the new Moto X cell phone (or the “motox” as we call it around MTP–rhymes with “botox”…sort of).
7. The most ludicrous part of the best practices is that it requires yet more notices be sent to ad networks–when Google already receives 20 million notices a month for search alone and publishes them in the Google Transparency Report. Google says it finds 99% of its piracy problems on its own–if you think you find things on your own after people tell you about your problems 20,000,000 times a month or 240,000,000 times a year for search alone. The total number of DMCA notices Google receives has got to be much higher than that. But even so, if you miss 1% of those notices that still leaves 2,400,000 infringements.