Open source software security

Copyright Infringement (a.k.a. Google Sucks)

30 November -0001

Today I ran across a case of someone blatantly republishing my content without consent or approval. They're publishing the content on Google's blogger.com. I figured it would be a simple matter of notifying Google and getting the content removed. Unfortunately, in their infinite wisdom, Google makes reporting copyright violation a royal pain in the ass! You have to actually print out a letter, include very specific language, and mail or fax the letter to them. The whole process reminds me of the hassle you used to have to go through to register a domain name.

I understand that Google doesn't want to get flooded with requests, or spend time policing the internet, but that's the job you sign up for when you agree to host user content. When a user violates copyright, steals content, and profits from that activity you would expect Google to stand in the best position to prevent and/or stop the abuse. Instead, when I found out that someone was ripping off my site, I had to print out a letter and fax it to Google.

The procedures for filing a complaint aren't especially onerous but they aren't very succinct either. Following the instructions on Google's site at http://www.google.com/blogger_dmca.html#notification is tedious and given the stock format it seems silly not to have a web based method to submit these complaints. I imagine many of the cases of DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) violation that Google investigates are fairly straightforward and shouldn't involve the extra hassle and overhead of trading faxes and postal mail.

While Google became known for its "do no evil" approach, increasingly I'm finding that Google "does nothing." They don't take particular steps to protect user privacy, or in this case, to respond to legitimate complaint. Google has grown from being a search engine to a content provider, and there are a lot more responsibilities that come with that role. It doesn't look as though Google has matured into a company that can handle these responsibilities.

In this case, I've noted a clear copyright violation. Now I have to wait for Google to respond. In the meantime, Google's procedures give additional time for the copyright violator to extend their abuse of my material. The copy they chose to steal happened to be one of my highest traffic posts ever, and the people who stole it are, no doubt, enjoying quite a bit of extra traffic themselves by hosting the copy. Not only that, the offender is serving ads on the same page. I assume I have some rights to claim damages for any revenue they received, but rather than get lawyers involved I would prefer to take the old school, self policing internet approach. There used to be a time when if you had a problem with somebody's content you called up their hosting provider. You usually spoke to a sysadmin, not a lawyer, and in cases like this one, where the violation was clear the content was simply pulled - end of story. Now it seems Google is formalizing the process in a somewhat Byzantine way that enables violators, hassles victims, and overall seems at odds with being a good content provider.