Monday, February 15, 2010

Fortune: 'Obama & Google (a love story)'

Imagine, for a minute, an alternate universe. This is not the real world, in which a handful of attorneys at big law firms who happened to represent major record labels in copyright litigation (among other clients) moved into jobs at the Department of Justice, where there is no evidence they have any responsibility for copyright matters -- a situation which still sent copyright critics into inaccurate and hysterical conniptions.

No, imagine a different, fantasy world. In this world, one record label dominates the market. And President Obama visits the headquarters of that label during his campaign, heaping lavish praise on the company and their "shared...belief in changing the world from the bottom up, not from the top down." That label's "managers and employees were some of the strongest supporters of candidate Obama, donating around $803,000 to his presidential campaign." The label's CEO "actively stumped for the candidate and served as an informal economic adviser during the campaign, and after Obama was elected," the CEO and other label "executives forked over $25,000 apiece to help pay for the inaugural celebration."

And then, once Obama assumed office, "[b]ecause the company and administration are so like-minded, it should come as no surprise that [label] executives soon found themselves assuming roles in the Obama administration." The CEO "sits on Obama's Council of Science and Technology Advisers." And label "employees acted as advisers to the Obama transition team -- in one case" a label exec "actually led a meeting, to the surprise of at least one attendee -- and a handful of ex-[label employees] have joined the administration in various roles." Among those ex-employees is the label's former head of global public policy, now the Administration's deputy chief technology officer. "[I]n his previous role [the deputy CTO] championed [the label's] policy goals. Now he'll be in a position to shape policy that affects [the label's] rivals."

Imagine the outrage from the usual suspects if this scenario were reality. Well, it is reality -- only it's not a dominant record label with whom "Obama appears to have found a corporate kindred spirit." Rather, as laid out in this article in Fortune, it's Google -- whose position on copyright and related issues often stands in stark contrast to those of copyright owners. As Bob Dole might ask, "Where's the outrage?"


  1. Why Ben, I'll tell you where the outrage is for this action. Nowhere.

    Why? Because we're outraged with the people that oppose google in this matter.

    Some business models people will support you know... kind of like some people have been telling you for quite some time now.

  2. @Anonymous 8:20: so your position is that it's fine if a "good" corporation/industry has lots of influence on the Administration, but outrageous if a "bad" one does? Thanks for clearing that up.

  3. "Thanks for clearing that up."

    You're welcome Ben. Glad to have cleared that up for you.

    To be sure though Ben, understand that nobody amongst those usually outraged about the industry having influence is especially glad to have google having such influence either. But, when it is obvious that we can't excorsize the evil within the gov then it is nice to have a little good get in there and go toe to toe. That is to say, if there's going to be evil, and good has to be a little evil to fight the real evil, well, that's the way of things. For instance, my grandfather killed people in WWII. That's evil. No question about it. Killing is evil. He knew it, everyone knows it. But then again, look at why he killed people in WWII. To fight a greater evil. That's the way the world works sometimes.

    Oh, and here, I'll toss you a bone. *Token outrage at google having infuence in the gov to oppose worse interests*. There. Right there is the outrage.

  4. I find the blind enthusiasm of Google supporters simply fascinating. Google is not your friend. Google is not fighting your fight. Google does not care about you beyond the ad revenue that you represent. Google is a corporation whose only loyalty is to the almighty dollar, and it will do whatever it takes to get it, even if it means steamrolling over you or your rights. Why anybody would continue to support this company, who wants nothing more than total control over all of your information, is beyond me. In my opinion, Google represents one of the greatest threats to autonomy today. But you go ahead and sign up to be tracked so you can use a perpetually beta-level free product to reinforce your belief that Google is some great and benevolent ambassador of the people, even though, in light of recent events, it has proven anything but. See recent continuation of censorship in China, and cozying up to the National Security Agency.

    If Orson Wells was alive today, he wouldn't be writing about the government, he'd be writing about Google.

  5. Ben, can you clarify your position on Net Neutrality? I think that would help in evaluating your post.

  6. @Anon 8:16: While it's not an issue I've focused on, you can put me down as a skeptic of net neutrality legislation.


Comments here are moderated. I appreciate substantive comments, whether or not they agree with what I've written. Stay on topic, and be civil. Comments that contain name-calling, personal attacks, or the like will be rejected. If you want to rant about how evil the RIAA and MPAA are, and how entertainment companies' employees and attorneys are bad people, there are plenty of other places for you to go.