Wednesday, December 2, 2009

If I Ran the Google

(with apologies to Dr Seuss)

It's a pretty cool place, said young Kenny McDougal1,
This place that they've given the wacky name Google.

They search and they scan, pulling info together,
You find what you wanted, no matter the weather.

They copied some books, then they copied some more,
But permission is first what they should have asked for.

They didn't, you know, ask permission from writers,
Who made so much noise that they sounded like fighters.

Then lawsuits went flying, from publishers too,
Shocked, Shocked were the Googlers, "oh what did we do?"

First, Settlement One2, it raised quite a ruckus,
Alarming the judge and Department of Justice.

Then, Settlement Two3, even longer, appeared,
But it didn't do much, as we certainly feared.

Can Settlement Three4 be much further behind?
We'll see what the Copyright Register finds.

If McDougal ran Google, now what would he do?
Well first he'd admit that we made a boo-boo.

Not asking permission, now that wasn't right.
Lest doing real evil5 be the Googler's plight.

A selfish monopoly isn't for me,
We need competition, which we can all see.

With Google Books fixed, I could say, "This is groovy,"
Then move on the way to start scanning a movie?

The studios would squawk, as all Googlers should know,
This time ask permission ere you enter the show.

But lots of films out there are orphans you know,
Abandoned by owners whom nobody knows.

They're sitting in archives, these stories on reels,
Preserved for the future, but making no deals.

Jon Stewart made fun, on his show, of the archives6,
Dissing good folks making sure film survives.

Then work with the Congress to pass legislation,
To make films like these, maybe, wards of the nation.

The Google McDougal would thus make amends,
By being more open and acting like friends.

1 The Dr. Seuss book "If I Ran the Circus" features young Morris McGurk who starts the Circus McGurkus, and "If I Ran the Zoo" features young Gerald McGrew who starts the McGrew Zoo. So I needed a last name to rhyme with Google and a first name...a variation on mine

2 The initial Settlement was tabled by the judge, after complaints from many parties including the Department of Justice, the Register of Copyrights, and yours truly.

3 The Amended Settlement, which made its midnight appearance this past Friday the 13th, made some adjustments; but still leaves Google with an insurmountable monopoly in orphan books.

4 Don't be surprised to see a Revised Amended Settlement in the future.

5 Google's motto (as you probably know) is "Don't be evil."

6 On the November 11, 2009 edition of "The Daily Show," Jon Stewart did an extended riff belittling professional archivists. If he hopes for any sort of legacy, he’d best be sure some professionals are taking care of his footage.

[first published in slightly different form at digiday:DAILY]