Redfin posted an essay on TechFlash late last night discussing the implications of what TechCrunch called “Danny Sullivan’s beautiful rant.” Sullivan argues that newspapers should just opt out of Google’s index if they don’t want their home pages to be replaced by Google News.
But, as is usually the case with posts like this, we disagree. Simply saying that we have to love all Google’s policies and products or leave its index ignores the dominant position Google has in shaping how people consume just about everything on the Internet.
The great responsibility that comes with that falls not just on Google but on all of us in technology who make it easier to distribute for free content that others depend on selling to make a living.
This is not to say that Google is to blame for having a business that profits from having as much content as possible be free on the Internet; most other technologies do the same, and the consumer benefits too, at least for now.
The problem is bigger than Google. The problem is the “beautiful rant” itself — a pervasive belief that the newspapers, musicians, film-makers and story-tellers who create all this wonderful stuff on the Internet can only do so on our terms, which is to say zero, nada, free.
I guess the writers and artists could go build their own search engine, their own music-sharing and video-sharing technologies, but wouldn’t we rather they keep writing “30 Rock,” reporting from Darfur and recording sappy love songs?
If we all become distributors because nobody pays creators, won’t the whole Internet become a pirate’s junkyard of free stuff?