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If Google was serious they'd put something on their front page. The readership of the New York Times is nothing compared to Google's traffic.



With great power comes great responsibility. If Google uses their core product for every political battle they need to engage in, it cheapens the brand. SOPA is evil, but it's not going to severely injure Google. So it's not worth cheapening their product for.


While I agree with you that they need to be careful not to cheapen their brand, I'd argue that they have a history of displaying custom doodles for far less significant things. A simple "stop censorship" doodle, akin to those being displayed by a number of other websites, would go a long way without cheapening Google's brand.


"Merry Christmas" is a very different message from "Get rid of a law that will cause us to make less money".


More like "stop a bill from being passed into law which may shut down us and the rest of the internet as you know it" - do you have any idea how much labor it would take to be a search engine, video site or social networking site if you were liable for the legal status of all user-created content? Practically every site you use would go under, including the one we're on right now.


Well, that's not how it would happen of course. It's actually worse than you think. If the law were used like you propose, there would be a massive outcry to the point that it would have to be invalidated. Instead, it will be selectively enforced, like everything else these days, in the interest of maintaining power and control for the parties that have purchased this law from their government.

Of course, in ten years time it could have an industry-wide chilling effect much like the DMCA, however in the meantime that will not happen. That's not how you introduce creeping, malicious legislation, and the folks responsible for this know that, of course.


The difference is that the doodles are not coercing people into action. If you remember, there was a significant backlash when Google added the seemingly sweet "call your father" reminder on Fathers' Day. I can't imagine that this would be much different/better.


"Do no evil." - Google.

Seriously, though, I agree. A company should not make politics corollary to their brand name. If Google takes a stand on things by taking advantage of its vast user base, it will be disingenuous. A blog post is one thing. Plastering a message across their header on the home page is far different. Most Google messages are fairly innocuous, holiday themed graphics. There is a time and a place for political infrastructure, and it is not the same as for the corporate infrastructure. This is why SOPA is a problem in the first place - corporations and politics becoming intertwined in unproductive and abusive ways. You make a stand outside your brand, and you do it with integrity by not forcing it upon your user base. I agree with the theme that SOPA is bad, but I don't think it'd be good for Google to fight by putting it on their webpage.

Mozilla, I can see. Yahoo! I can't. Reddit, I can see. Google, again, I can't. Different kinds of traffic, different amounts, and different audiences.


> SOPA is evil, but it's not going to severely injure Google.

Am I reading the bill in an overly alarmist way? It sounded to me like SOPA would make YouTube basically impossible to run.


No, that's about right. It would make YouTube legally responsible for all user-created content. According to YouTube's press statistics, 48 hours of video are uploaded every minute. If you were to hire a team of people to watch all the videos and make sure they aren't copyrighted, you'd need 2,880 people working around the clock - and that's just to keep up with the NEW videos, letalone the backlog of stuff that's already there. At my state's minimum wage (~$10/hr) that's $691,200 per day in additional operating costs, or $252.5 million per year... Of course they could off-shore that to cut costs, but it'd still be ridiculous.


The most chilling part is that even if they could swallow the cost, determining what a court would find infringing is hard. Of course they can filter out the obvious cases.

I have a two year old son. He loves Thomas The Tank Engine. And he loves Youtube and will frequently ask for "Thomas on the laptop". Most of the Thomas related videos on Youtube are actually re-enactments using the toy trains rather than copies of the TV show. There's apparently a whole community around this - with movies ranging from shaky clips of a kid playing to elaborate productions trying (though usually failing badly) to get close to the production values of the original series.

Some of them use snippets of the music from the TV show - how much is too much? Some use music I can't place - copyrighted or not? I can't tell. Some of them re-use dialogue. Some use text from the books. Others have invented their entirely own stories (but might still run afoul of copyright because they use the characters). Some has as their only similarly that they use the train sets as props.

The question is, how many of these would a court find infringing? (how many should they find infringing in a reasonable world?).

The end result is that to protect themselves legally, they'll need to reject everything that even has the appearance of being infringing.

This will likely throw out a massive amount of non-infringing content as well as a lot of stuff that is in a grey area legally but that the public will find ridiculous that they have to block. Vetting it will be far too hard

Of course, this latter part is perhaps the biggest light at the end of the tunnel: The chilling effect on speech are so strong and so far overreaching due to the lack of legal safeguards, that I can't imagine SCOTUS not throwing out substantial parts of this law.


Why would they bother trying to vet YouTube? It seems like it would be more practical to move the servers outside the US and stop providing YouTube access to US IPs. Maybe throw in "CrippledTube" for US visitors (only registered media companies allowed to upload) if they think the cross-company infringement danger is small enough.


Considering that US is an important market in terms of ad revenues, that might be as good as shutting down youtube.


Google is already legally responsible for all the content on YouTube. The DMCA does not remove liability, it just sets out a process for managing liability--the takedown notice. If Google ignores conforming legitimate takedown notices, under the DMCA, they are fully liable for the infringing content. And as we see with Viacom, the DMCA does not actually prevent private lawsuits.


True, but the DMCA requires a takedown notice and then failure to comply before anything can be done. SOPA allows pulling of DNS entries as a first action, meaning sites are down while they handle the complaint. There's also a huge difference between "liable" as the DMCA defines it (must remove when notified) and "liable" as SOPA defines it (must remove immediately, notification == site death)


The private right of action in SOPA is actually modeled on the DMCA notice. Let's say a record label asks PayPal to stop payments to an allegedly "infringing site". PayPal must notify the allegedly infringing site of that request within 5 days. If that site provides a counter-notification, PayPal leaves the site alone and checks out of the whole process. From that point, the record label has to go to a judge to try to get an injunction against the site (with all the associated burden of proof, etc).

The DNS blocking is only available to federal law enforcement; a private complaint can't pull DNS under any circumstance.


1. a private complaint can't pull DNS

2. It is available to federal law enforcement.

May be I'm just being cynical, but there seems to be an obvious way around fact 1. using fact 2.

money == power; gov officials seem to be willing to go to ANY length, given enough Shift+444


Hey, if we're going to have a fascist government anyway, I'd rather Google be the corporation pulling the strings... Too bad it's just not in their DNA.


They probably will... better to escalate the response than to go apeshit prematurely.


Yeah or censor google search results from any .gov clients!


I am very sure the implied threat of we are considering moving our data centers out of the US has probably already been thrown behind the scenes




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