If not for the American pharmaceutical industry, I wouldn’t be alive today and my husband would have died a year sooner than he did. So I am deeply appreciative of their many benefits and grateful to all the people who make up the industry. But that doesn’t mean I have to like everything that “Big Pharmaceutical” does.
And so it is with the tech industry. I hold the tech world in high esteem; I appreciate the many products and services that have come out of it, and on a personal level, I really enjoy geeks. I love their enthusiasm, a trait inherent to the very word “geek.” And I admire their many capabilities. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like everything “Big Tech” does.
No, I’m not a big fan of Google. Their lust for hegemony rivals that of the Romans. And they don’t seem to care at all who is hurt along their conquering path. In fact, there are less destructive, more successful ways for them to earn money than by destroying media via their black-hole-suck-up-of-all-ad-dollars to themselves. But they enjoy being “disruptive.” It’s a badge of honor in the tech world to create something that can be destructive. It means you’ve made something important, something that can earn money by taking it from somebody else who was too fat and complacent to seek a new and better way themselves. As an entrepreneur myself, not to mention a longtime ambition-nurturing mom, I say when this happens: Good for you! Go for it.
But when you get to be the size and power of Google, that “aww, look how cute” quality of a growling puppy has long past. The founders of Google themselves knew how dangerous they could become. Very early on, they created the motto “Don’t be evil.”
Destroying the livelihood capacity of large chunks of artist segments like illustration, photography and cartooning… no, I wouldn’t call that evil. That’s unintended collateral damage from doing business. But a deliberate multimillion dollar lobbying effort?; a purposeful money grab against “starving artists” who don’t have the financial means to successfully fend off this cowardly indirect and publicly silent attack?; stealthily using the current greedy give-us-money-and-we’ll-strip-anybody-of-their-rights Congress as the weapon of choice?
Yeah, that’s evil.
The Orphan Works Bill that Big Tech is lobbying hard for is nothing short of a mobster-like protection racket: “If you don’t pay me to protect you from thieves, I’ll take all your work myself, wrap ads around it, and get my money from you that way.”
Mark my words, Google: when you look back in ten years and wonder where it all went wrong, you can point to the Orphan Works Bill of 2008. Because you’ve awoken a sleeping giant. The artist world is going to resurrect itself hand-in-hand with those tech-geeks who have artistic hearts. And there are plenty of them, believe me. We’re going to start fighting back. Hard. And we’ll hit you where you live: advertising. Ultimately, we’re going to be victorious, because we humans can produce the content all ads need to be successful. Your massive machine, as impressive as it is, can only steal it.
Want to learn more? Watch my video on saving digital artists of all kinds: