New Tech and the Old Media

Microsoft’s Chief Counsel for Intellectual Property Strategy, Tom Rubin, recently gave a speech to the UK Association of Online Publishers that has made some waves.

At its most basic, Rubin’s speech was a call for greater copyright protection of “quality content,” and an appeal to content providers for new approaches to the dissemination of their content online.

“The evidence is in,” he says, “and I think we can safely say that the ‘information wants to be free’ approach not only does not work, actually it has been a disaster for almost all newspapers.”

Even if, as a columnist for CNET suggested, Rubin’s speech was meant to position Microsoft, at Google’s expense, as the “safe” technology partner for content companies, many of the specific observations, and the very language employed, provide a welcome contrast to the carelessness and condescension that mark so much of the digerati’s take on the subject.

Speaking of the Evil One, turns out that Google and Yahoo! called off their joint advertising deal just in the nick of time.

A story in the December 2 issue of Am Law Daily quotes Sanford Litvack as saying that the Department of Justice was just three hours away from filing antitrust charges to block the deal when the two companies abandoned their pact.

Litvack says that had the deal not been withdrawn the DOJ would have challenged it under sections of the Sherman Act that “ban agreements that restrain trade unreasonably,” and “make it unlawful for a company to monopolize or attempt to monopolize trade.”

As noted here in September, because of its opacity and potential harm to online publishers and advertisers, the deal alarmed many people, including us. Glad to see it go away, unwept.