Even if you discount the moral hazard involved with funding a study of yourself, the Google survey of Google’s involvement with piracy is a breathtaking document. I would suggest that the self-study rests on a number of core principles for Google’s business:
1. Nothing to See Here, Move Along: First and foremost is Google’s deep and abiding desire to deflect criticism in the press, avoid civil lawsuits and settle criminal investigations. It has both succeeded and failed at all three. The fact that a company tries to avoid these things is not special; the degree to which Google tries to manage them is quite special.
The self-study is itself an exercise in all three and supports the most important public perception that Google draws on daily to succeed in its consumer facing business: Sympathetic trust. To paraphrase an old California pol, you know all the bad they’ve done, but you like them anyway.
This magical thinking only lasts for so long. Whether its Eric Schmidt’s New York soundproof man-cave from which no scream can emerge, doing a favor for journalist Tom Brokaw by providing a private jet for a Silicon Valley speaking engagement with jet fuel subsidized by the American taxpayer, siphoning piles of data to the National Security Agency under circumstances the average citizen will probably never learn the details of, or paying a $500,000,000 fine for violating the Controlled Substances Act for indiscriminately promoting the sale of prescription drugs (e.g., to addicts and kids), the press and the public is starting to wake up to the game.
And not just the game, but the magnitude of the game. As a senior chief once said, sorry pal, the BS filter is full.
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