A satirical piece by me from 2009 proposing the nationalization of Google. Will the backlash from l’affaire New America be sufficient to make it happen? Doubtful, though I can see a wave of nationalizations following on the heels of a successful fight for Single Payer-now looking increasingly possible with the Kamala Harris’s endorsement. The fossil fuel industries should be next, and then the digital information monopolies after that.
Google to Sell Digital Archive for One Dollar
Montainview, CA: Google Inc. reported today that it would abandon its attempt to acquire rights allowing it to disseminate out-of-print materials through its “Google Books” online resource.
The announcement concerns primarily Google’s decade long initiative to digitize the entire contents of several major academic libraries. In a surprise move, this archive will, according to company sources, be sold for one dollar to the U.S. Department of Education with those works under public domain made available at the newly established website www.allinfo.gov.
A staff of former Google employees will administer the database as federal employees, in consultation with a staff librarians drawn from a consortium of the nation’s major research universities.
The decision shocked investors who had been anticipating the finalization of negotiations with the U.S. Copyright Office, Justice Department and major publishing houses. The agreement would have guaranteed Google a new source of annual revenue estimated by experts in the billions of dollars, according to some experts.
The news triggered a massive sell off of Google shares, which bottomed out at $35, less than a quarter of their value at the beginning of the trading day.
Bewildered investment professionals complained of being “blind sided” by management’s unilateral action, but company insiders were unsurprised noting an anti-authoritarian corporate culture at Google uncomfortable with charging for access to public domain materials, either on a fee per service basis or in the form of increasingly obtrusive on line advertisements.
“Wall Street cynics evidently assumed that our our company motto ‘Don’t be evil’ was nothing more than P.R. boilerplate. It should be clear now that we meant business” an unidentified senior project manager commented, alluding to the role which company employees played in forcing management’s hand.
The news comes on the heels of widely circulated rumors of the unveiling of a new free search engine designed to compete with to the core Google product. Dubbed “Froogle” by beta testers, it is said to be the product of current and former Google employees concerned about the increasing degradation of digital information resulting from the purchasing of high priority search rankings by commercial interests.
An anonymous statement from the developers referred to access to high-quality information as a basic civil right and calls for existing information retrieval systems to be consolidated and operated as a public utility.
Free information advocates are hopeful that anti-trust proceedings currently under consideration by the administration and Congress will result in a government takeover similar to that imposed on the oil and banking industries in late 2010.