I direct your attention to this editorial by my boss at WNET, in which he goes after the federal government for letting Google off the hook when it comes to rigging their search results to favor companies that they own. That’s right, when you do a search on Google for a product, the results you get are not sorted by relevance alone, but also by whether the providers of that product provide revenue to Google. When you see news content in search results near ads, you are seeing Google profiting from content they did not pay to create.
Google, how hard a concept is it to understand? When you use content that a writer sat down and spent hours of his life to create, you, um, PAY for that content. What is it about creative work that makes people feel it is worth enjoying but not paying for? Are administrative assistants, doctors, mechanics, financiers, janitors, etc. asked to work for free? No. Are, you, dear reader, expected to show up and do work for nothing? I certainly hope not. So why should journalists and writers be expected to do the same? As a copywriter, I am often asked to do work for free, to which I often respond, “Sorry, but I don’t have the luxury to work for free.”
So why does Google think that the idea of paying content creators (musicians, writers, graphic designers) for the work they do is somehow opposed to the way the Internet works? The Internet is a distribution system, and if Google decided it should be redesigned to pay content creators, it would change overnight. Not paying creators is a decision, not an inevitable consequence of technology.
Google is so persistent in not paying people for the work they do, that they are willing to spend tens of millions of dollars (chickenfeed to them, but still) to establish a “news innovation” fund in France, rather than agreeing to the French President’s request that they start paying French news agencies for their content. The purpose of said news fund, by the way, seems to be to teach French news companies how to make more money through Google ads.
What is the simpler version of all this? How about Google just pays the writer? How about that?