Google had a big day: they testified in front of Congress regarding all their steps to combat piracy. Apparently, as Techdirt put it, it turned into a “why can’t google fix everything” hearing. I’m sympathetic with Google there, and generally side with Youtube regarding third party liability for infringement. But that wasn’t all Google did today.
Google also took Grooveshark off of the Android network for terms of service violations, and its unbelievable that nobody seems to care. Google is launching their own streaming service in Fall, and is currently talking about licensing with the music industry (as is Apple). And then today they take down a streaming music service for nebulous terms of service violations after the app has been on the network for over a year.
I’m sure Google’s lawyers have a great idea of at what point their actions turn into anti-trust violations, but this has to be getting pretty close. If every time you plan to release a new product, you BAN every competitor from your closed network for violations of rules YOU write… that just seems rude. I’m surprised they did it: Grooveshark is miles from a serious competitor, especially since iOS kicked it off back in 2010 (raising even more questions about Google’s decision to do it now), and with new competitors Amazon, Google, and Apple either in or about to enter the market, there’s little chance Grooveshark will ever gain a critical mass of users. Yet now they are blatantly drawing the attention of anybody who hopes the app market stays open for developers. Even if such behavior is far from an antitrust violation, it just seems like bad press for little gain.