Google is A Predator, and It’s Going for the Kill Against Intellectual Property
Think of the first time you heard someone say, “Google.”
It was only a little over 20 years ago. Then remember what you thought. You learned it was a search engine. You had to learn what makes a search engine. Then you learned to use Google. But you never thought it would become that important. You never thought it would become the linchpin in a trillion-dollar company. You never thought it would be considered by many as the most powerful company in existence. More powerful than countries and their governments. And you certainly never thought it would use that tremendous power for its own predatory ends. But that’s precisely what’s happening.
All that being said, the question then becomes: Why would Google be in a fight with another company for the right to use its computer code without paying? The answer, unfortunately, is that Google is out for blood, and intellectual property is the prey.
Eight years ago, Forbes published a detailed list of instances that Google had thought they had the right to use other parties’ intellectual property, including reprinting books and reshowing video clips on YouTube. Now, Google is at it again.
The Supreme Court has agreed to review the ruling on Google v. Oracle after years of progressing through our court system. The bottom line is that Google used code developed, paid for, and copyrighted by Oracle. Google didn’t even attempt to hide its copyright violation, making no alterations to the code.
The facts would not seem to be in Google’s favor, especially after a federal judge read this to his courtroom from an email drafted by a Google engineer: “What we’ve actually been asked to do by Larry [Page] and Sergey [Brin] is to investigate what technical alternatives exist to Java for Android and Chrome. We’ve been over a bunch of these and think they all suck. We conclude that we need to negotiate a license for Java under the terms we need.”
That would seem to bring the entire matter to a conclusion. Google’s own engineers stated they were incapable of developing a quality product to counter what was available from Oracle, so they should pay for the right to use it.
That apparently did not settle well with the top people at Google, so they decided to turn copyright law on its head and tie up the assets of our court system because they can. They decided to pay expensive attorneys rather than just paying Oracle – a far better alternative for the company than having to ensure its Android operating system remained compatible with Java, a requirement in order to receive the license.
What is Google arguing on their side? First, they tried to suppress the email by saying their attorneys screwed up by handing it over. That did not go over well with the judge. The hub of the Google argument is that they are invoking the “fair use” doctrine. This states that “copying the code was for the betterment of mankind by unifying systems instead of creating a competing system that would confuse people and cause them to choose between the competing systems.”
Unfortunately for Google, the judge did not buy that and limited his ruling to the facts of the case involved and not making it a huge issue, which would be transcendental for all tech companies. It appears that Google believes it is on a messianic mission to improve the world with its technology. It does not like competition, and it is willing to separate other companies from their hard-earned assets to complete their mission.
Common sense will hopefully rule at the Supreme Court and Google will realize they are just like everyone else. They must abide by the copyright and patent laws and not just take things to further feather their already fat wallets.
Bruce Bialosky is a political columnist who founded the Republican Jewish Coalition of California and was appointed by President George W. Bush to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.