Google, Copyright, and Future of Information

September 4, 2009Sparxoo


By Tara Lane, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, news broke of Google finally receiving a patent for their “graphical user interface.” The patent, five years in the making, puzzled just about everyone; how could something so simple require a patent? A day earlier, stories swirled of a popular Apple app developer who had his application rejected by the company because a feature in his product was too similar to their ubiquitous “chat bubbles,” which Apple claimed they have trademarked. The common thread between the stories is the topic of intellectual property rights, which has become increasingly popular in wake of the rise of social media.

With the help of Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook and more, information can spread across the world in a matter of minutes. We can access these programs from our phones, computers and iPods and know what’s going on before it even reaches the mainstream media. With all of these different methods, it’s easy for the true source to be lost in the shuffle. People can claim ownership of something, and the owner may never find out. The opportunity for someone to start a blog and essentially aggregate content from just about anywhere has troubled the news industry especially.

Recently, the Associated Press released a statement regarding copyright infringement, and has started charging anyone an upwards of $25 to redistribute single quotes, even if they attribute it properly. The AP, and many others, have tirelessly developed tools to scan the web for copyright infringement. Other times, it may be found but rarely reported. For instance, the work of a little known blogger won’t be recognizable on the New York Times, but the work of the New York Times will be recognized on a little known blog.

What is copyright worth? As stories of the decline in sales of newspapers continue to be reported, as well as the possible shift in newspapers going completely digital, is it really worth these companies to go after such seemingly insignificant details?

Readers look to mainstream media sources because of the reputation they’ve built over the years, and the influence that they have. With the shift towards digital, they lose some control over their content; news and information cannot be monetized in the same way anymore. If the New York Times didn’t allow someone to send a tweet about one of their stories, would their readership still be the same? There might not be a huge difference, but it would certainly make some impact.

Copyright and intellectual property will be more about the perspective someone can bring to a story. Always having that unique angle on something will draw readers into the digital fold. It’s not about information anymore; it’s about making sense of the information in a unique and compelling way. It’s all about finding the right blend of people with those ideas and angles–those with the sharpest minds.

In the past, information has been monetized. With the ubiquity of information in the digital space, value comes from intelligent commentary. It is the company that can harness a team of talented experts with a unique perspective that will find profitiability in tomorrow’s digital world.

Photo by Edwin PP from Stock.Xchng