A legal risk is the one event companies and enterprises cannot afford to miss. Legal risk is risk from uncertainty due to legal actions or uncertainty in the applicability or interpretation of contracts, laws or regulations (RiskGlossary.com 2010). Depending on an institution’s circumstance, legal risks may include confidential information, trademark infringement, copyright infringement and so on. Google is a multinational public cloud computing, Internet search, and advertising technologies corporation (Wikipedia 2010). Google hosts and develops a number of Internet-based services and products, and generates profit primarily from advertising through its AdWords program. Apparently, Google also has some legal risks from its web services and products.
Google established its book searching project in 2004. The Google Book Search project has two aspects: the Partner Program and the Library Project. Under the Partner Program, a publisher controlling the rights in a book can authorize Google to scan the full text of the book into Google’s search database. Under the Library Project, Google plans to scan into its search database materials from the libraries of Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford Universities, the University of Michigan, and the New York Public Library. In response to search queries, users will be able to browse the full text of public domain materials, but only a few sentences of text around the search term in books still covered by copyright (Jonathan Band 2006). However, On September 20, 2005, the Authors Guild and several individual authors sued Google for copyright infringement. A month later, five publishers – McGraw-Hill, Pearson, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley & Sons – sued Google. The Library Project involves two actions that raise copyright risks. First, Google copies the full text of books into its search database. Second, in response to users’ queries, Google presents users with a few sentences from the stored text. That may be the argumentative point, Google made electronic searching infinitely easier. However, Google is not in the business of preserving scholarship (Dana Neacsu 2007).
An interesting video from BBC Click about the Google Books Copyright Argument
When Google’s technology strategies conflict with certain cultural or political issues, Google has another legal risk of jurisdiction. It can be still remembered the battle between Google and China about self-censorship at the beginning of this year. Finally, Google has shut down its censored Chinese version and is now giving mainlanders an uncensored search engine in Simplified Chinese, delivered from its server in Hong Kong (Harry McCracken 2010). At the same time, the Chinese Government, of course, decide to block this new version of Google, as it does many other uncensored sources of information. At the moment, Web search, image search, news, ads, and Gmail are up; YouTube, Sites, and Blogger are down; Docs and Groups are partially blocked.
Both of these two legal risks still potentially exist in Google. In the previous action, it seems that Google did not settle them well. To achieve better profits for the organization, further social media policies and regulations should be developed by Google.
- Wikipedia. 2010. Google.
- Jonathan Band. 2006. The Google Library Project: Both Side of the Story.
- Harry McCracken. 2010. Google’s China Move.
- Dana Neacsu. 2007. Google, Legal Citation, and Electronic Fickleness: Legal Scholarship in the Digital Environment.
- RiskGlossary.com. 2010. Legal Risk.