Given recent dust-ups over content and copyright at home and abroad, Google apparently felt the need to state its policy more clearly. In a blog posting, the company says it respects copyright--but search comes first.
While most of us learned in kindergarten that it's always nice to ask first before borrowing something, Google says that approach simply wouldn't work.
"Of course, some people argue that we should be asking content owners to opt in, not requiring them to opt out. Google aims to provide comprehensive search results. This would be impossible in a world where permission simply to index (which is entirely legal) was necessary," the blog states.
Blog community response:
"I sense that Google is starting to truly declare its position relative to content creation companies, and it's this: we're not in your business, and won't be. We might impact your business, and in significant ways, but you can't sue us for that, brother. Now, let's go make tons of money, together....and if our margins are higher than yours, well, that's not our fault...."
--John Battelle's Searchblog
"Trying to get permission from each web site to index it would be an impossible task, and one that's not necessarily even legally required. Opt-out through things like robots.txt is an effective way to protect rights holders plus benefit the public as a whole. I do hope they'll change cached pages to opt-in, however."
"The general approach is that the indexing process is opt-out, so content owners can choose to remove their content from the index or prevent indexing in the first place. Google shows small pieces of information and links back to the original content. Everybody benefits from that: Google has a successful business, users find information, and publishers are found and get traffic."
--Google Operating System