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October 19, 2005
Google vs. intellectual property.
The lawsuit against Google filed by the Association of American publishers, that includes Pearson, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and McGraw-Hill for copywright infringement on scanning books is a very big deal. The creation of intellectual property is absolutely critical as we move into toward a creativity-based economy. The publishers are saying that when Google digitizes and scans entire books that are already protected under copywrite into its new Google Print online library, it's breaking the law. And should be stopped. Authors of books, by and large, support their publishers' position against Google.
So we have yet again a classic struggle of two ideals: making information available to as many people as possible vs. compensating the creators of that information who wouldn't do it for free. Music. File-sharing. We've been here before. Except that Google stands to make lots of money from taking authors' books and sending them out to everyone around the world. Kids didn't profit from their file-sharing.
I've spoken to Chinese designers who have left China to work in the US because all they are asked to do is copy US, European and Japanese products. They hate the idea of not being original. They want to create the new. They come to America to do that. We need to make sure that those who create can benefit from their work and not be exploited. Is Google behaving like an Asian knock-off firm that takes the innovation of others for free and sells them for its own profit? Should Google be considered for this year's Plagarius award?
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Of greater interest to me is that the design community in general (and by that I mean the Industrial Design community) is effectively ignorant of the implications of these sorts of issues on their own future. One should be able to reasonably expect that people engaged in creative pursuits would be both cognizant and understanding of both the current debates and those which undoubtedly lurk around the corner. Yet all too often I find designers don't comprehend concepts of copyright, trademark,or patent; that they often don't have the imagination and foresight to see what's coming... and which is aimed squarely at their vocation.
If they can't see the writing on the wall when it's in their own home, how on earth do they sell themselves as trend setters and product futurists?
Posted by: csven at October 21, 2005 02:12 PM