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Microsoft calls Google thief

Pot and kettle debate cleanliness

Microsoft executive Tom Rubin will use a speech to the American Association of Publishers, which is suing Google, to slag off the search engine's attitude to copyright.

The comments might sound a little rich coming from a company which just last month was ordered to pay $1.52bn for infringing patents belonging to Alcatel-Lucent.

Rubin is speaking to the American Association of Publishers later today in New York, but summarised his comments in the Financial Times and on this page of microsoft.com.

Rubin accuses Google of taking a unilateralist approach to copyright in regard to its Google Books project, which is digitising books from several sources. Microsoft's rival product MSN Books Search is doing the same thing for the British Library.

There is nothing very specific about how to solve the problems of consumer desire for online access to just about everything and making sure copyright holders are compensated.

Heading for the moral high ground, Rubin claims Microsoft "seeks to collaborate with copyright holders in developing technologies and business models that not only build a competitive and varied marketplace of online book content, but at the same time nurture the incentives for creativity reflected in copyright law without which no artist or writer – and no society that aspires to a living culture – can thrive".

On Google's YouTube, Rubin claims nearly every major movie and TV company is deeply concerned about copyright infringements on the site. Rubin claims: "Google simply denies liability and appears to be trying wherever possible to skirt copyright law's boundaries."

In fact, several copyright owners are working with YouTube.

Microsoft's version of YouTube, called Soapbox, went into public beta last month. If it gets enough of an audience it is likely to have similar copyright problems as YouTube.

At time of writing there were 43 clips of South Park footage on the site - something copyright owner Viacom may have an issue with. Viacom has spent some time and effort getting its content removed from YouTube. ®

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