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February 17, 2005


Alan Hearnshaw

The most important thing here is the precedent. This is the thin end of the wedge.
The only person that should ever have control of the content of a web page is the author. That needs to be sacrosanct. If you take that control away from the author, then they will just as likely not bother. I personally will not spend my time writing content for other people to make money from by hijacking it in manners such as this. End result? Even less quality content on the Internet.

Today, it's just adding links to books. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see where this is heading. Of course they are not going to "wade in" with the full extent of their intentions, but of course the end result will be wholesale alteration of other people's web sites to make profits for advertisers of their choice - or the highest bidder. Any way you slice it, this can only be copyright infringement and theft - not to mention being ethically and morally reprehensible.

Arguments such as "well, it's OK because you have to actually enable it etc..." don't hold water because - I say again - it's the thin end of the wedge. After the noise has settled from the initial infringement, it's but a little step to make it automatically enabled. It's but a little step to increase the links from addresses and books to CDs, computer software etc... Before you know it, the original author will be hard pressed to recognise his/her own work.

Like most authors, I wouldn't care less if you alter the content of my web site for your own viewing. Where all authors draw the line is when a THIRD PARTY alters content before it is re-published to the audience. That is plainly what is happening here. In this case, google is the third party. YOU are not deciding on the content displayed to you, GOOGLE is deciding and (by the way) the original author plainly isn't. The original author already decided on the content, but those decisions are being summarily dismissed.

No, this needs to be stopped now while the first step is being taken. That first step is the denial of the fundamental right of the author to control the content of their own copy.


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