This seems like an absurdly high standard if obeying the law and pushing for updated laws isn't enough.
However understandable Google's position may be, fighting the law is not an "absurdly high standard". Sometimes it's simply the right thing to do.
This "obey the law, obey the government" attitude is a post-9/11 thing we really need to get over.
I'm reluctant to see that as parallel to refusing to turn over evidence of a crime. For example, if a journalist had documents that are potentially incriminating of a third party, and a judge asked for them, I don't know the journalist would refuse.
At some point there's always people making decisions. The abstract soulless entity "Google" may not have any moral responsibilities, but Google's owners do.
Even if this is entirely true, it is quite possible that fighting the law more aggressively may be in their share holders best long-term interest. An excessive focus on the extremely short term has caused many businesses quite a lot of trouble over the last century. For a really interesting analysis of the decline of a machine-tool manufacturing company (the most thorough discussion of the issues I know of) see Max Holland's When the Machine Stopped, about the decline and collapse of Burgmaster, a mid-century "start-up" by an inventor.
I was talking about the prospect of them breaking the law.
This is true, but you're assuming that the shareholder's only interest is financial. I daresay that at least some of them bought those shares because they believe in the "do no evil" motto, and believe that Google can make the world better.
To this extent, doing the right thing despite monetary costs may be what the shareholders want.
I'm a shareholder. It's not much, but it does imply a tiny bit of ownership. And so, as a shareholder, I want Google to be totally righteous even at the risk of going bankrupt.
No, they just ran out of choices that didn't actually demand anything of themselves.
The law, in case of disputes, doesn't work that you just obey one rule. Different people interpret them differently and often multiple rules apply. Also, laws and their interpretations change over time.
Just because one branch of the government claims the law says you have to do X doesn't mean that's the only interpretation of the law or the only law that applies.
That's why a different branch of the government interprets laws than enforces them, at least in the U.S. When the executive branch tries to circumvent the judicial, you can bet they don't think the judicial branch would agree on their interpretation.
[Edit: For anyone confused, the title of the article (RWW, and HN) was originally "Google Denies Requests To Remove Videos of Police Brutality (This time)". It's been updated sometime since yesterday evening without explanation.]
I was disappointed when Google quickly complied with last year's request by the Japanese government to take down the sengoku38 videos (leaked video evidence of a Chinese fishing vessel trespassing into Japanese waters and ramming a Japanese Coast Guard vessel twice).
After that DVDs of the original video were anonymously left in a box for anyone to pick up and watch at home.
I suppose even if Google is eventually forced to comply, the original poster has some options to get the truth out.
The Senkaku Islands are a disputed territory and from the video, you could easily say the Japanese coast guard boat cut in front of the Chinese boat, thus causing the collision.
Let's lets not forget the 2008 incident where a Japanese coast guard rammed a Taiwanese fishing ship and Japan had to pay compensation as a result.
I don't see why you must take sides when the matter is murkier than it is, probably due to your own political bias but I digress.
In summary: a title of 2010 "Senkaku boat collision incident" should be appropriate. There is no need to simplify it if you can't keep a neutral point of view because it detracts from your main point.
I only highlight the sengoku38 event as one where Google didn't stand its ground, and how impressed I am that at least this time they are refusing to take down the police brutality video.
"If you make a bullshit takedown request, we'll promote the video you're trying to suppress."
You can't knock Google for complying with the law and not devoting resources to fruitlessly fight every court order and removal request when the goal of their transparency effort is to highlight the problems with that law and try and change it. They're doing something unique and are trying to fix the larger problem yet some people still give them shit for it.