People all think in their own ways, and sometimes the logic we hear from others sounds like utter nonsense. The case that has me writing this is just such a connection made by the French government. They’ve financed a report recommending that Google, MSN, Yahoo, Internet service providers and big advertising companies be taxed, with the proceeds going to the music and publishing industries.
The report was written by a former minister of culture, a former music executive, and an executive at Sotheby’s France. Experts one and all, and certainly of the calibre to give advice to the people running the country, right? Maybe in France.
According to a CNet News article, the report says,
Google is “profiting without any consideration” for music artists and book publishers
Reading this reasoning as carefully as I can, I don’t see why Google should have any consideration for artists and book publishers. They’re a search engine, remember? And yes, I’m aware of Google’s book digitization plans, but let’s concentrate on Internet searching here. MSN, Yahoo, ISPs, and ad companies don’t do book digitization, yet they’re named with Google. The report is leading the reader to draw a connection that I simply cannot see.
The only sense I can make of it ties into the cultural issue. France’s cultural marketplace is suffering. This is true elsewhere in the world, but that is not a factor in their recommendation. They see foreign high-tech companies coming in to their country and making money while their own home-grown cultural market place is having a difficult time. These interlopers are breaking no laws, but it’s clearly not right. Time to tax these rich foreign bastards so our home-grown culture doesn’t suffer. Given that these cultural elites obviously know what’s best, logic and fairness need not be part of the solution. Getting it done is all that matters, despite the fact that these companies are not the root of the problem. Never mind that you can’t decide what people should watch, read, and hear, and expect them to do as you say, simply because you say.
You can’t stop change. You can certainly delay it, but the monumental resources required to hold it back for a time will leave you further behind when change is unavoidable.
I saw a comment suggesting that Google should simply close google.fr entirely. The French who want to continue to use Google could just take advantage of google.com, instead. As appealing as this is, I’d be more amused if Google simply removed all the ads from google.fr.
“Tax? Tax what? We’re not making any money in France.”