Whilst Google is not my favourite search engine at the moment, having applied an arbitrary penalty to my business web sites this summer, I’ll forgive the folks there for today at least. I do enjoy it when summary justice is delivered to people who just want to punch a gift horse in the face. I get very irritated by people who consider it a right to be given masses of traffic or masses of AdSense revenue by Google, completely free of charge. If that free gift then gets withdrawn, they start talking about legal action, or “fighting back” against Google (ha ha). Get over it. Almost by definition, free gifts are privileges, not rights.
Whilst I’m at it, anyone who gets straight on the phone to lawyers in business, rather than trying to resolve their differences the human way, should also get all the misfortune which the gods of a more civilised society can muster. Few things in my working life have given me more pleasure than exploiting my own position to cause what little hurt I can – for years after the event – to the handful of companies who’ve ever waved their lawyers’ names in my direction.
Anyway, what this is all leading towards is the extremely amusing news this morning concerning Belgium taking on the modern world, and losing. A newspaper association in Belgium objected to Google featuring its publications in Google News results and storing the pages; never mind the free traffic which the search engine consequently sent the newspapers’ web sites. Do I detect the hand of management which doesn’t quite “get it” here? They actually got a court order requiring Google to stop featuring the newspapers or be fined large amounts of money. So Google has – brilliantly – done just that. Not only has it removed the newspapers from Google News (which is what this was all about), but it’s taken them out of the index completely. This will presumably decimate their web site traffic, and I can only imagine the reaction from the people who really matter in newspapers: the commercial department and the advertisers.