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September 27, 2006

Google, Only a Content Mediator

After losing the famous lawsuit in Belgium, Google thought it's a good idea to summarize its relationship with content and content owners.

"Our aim to help organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful means working with a lot of information – newspaper articles (many written over a century ago), books (of which there are millions), images, videos (including all of the new footage users are creating), websites, important financial information and much, much more.

Because we don't own this content, over the years we've come up with three primary principles to ensure that we respect content owners and protect their rights:

* we respect copyright;
* we let owners choose whether we index their content in our products;
* we try to bring benefit back to content owners by partnering with them.

The general approach is that the indexing process is opt-out, so content owners can choose to remove their content from the index or prevent indexing in the first place. Google shows small pieces of information and links back to the original content. Everybody benefits from that: Google has a successful business, users find information, and publishers are found and get traffic.

If Google needs to show more than snippets of information, then they buy the right to use it, like they did for Google Maps imagery and Google Finance information, or buy the information, like did with UseNet archives.

Reuters reports that "Google is unlikely to make any major investments in original content, choosing instead to keep its focus on Internet search. Tim Armstrong, vice president of advertising sales, said Google viewed itself as an operator of the Web rather than a company that would produce original text, films or images."

That means Google continues to be a mediator between information and consumers. They collect information, convert it and process it, and then deliver the results in an order dictated by relevance.


  1. If Marshall McLuhan was around today he wouldn't be able to wipe the smile of his face.

  2. The medium is the message? Maybe not. The medium influences the message, but it doesn't substitute it.

  3. The medium is the message goes down several more layers than that.

    But it was more in the light of the larger thrust of his work that I made the comment