France Mulls Taxing Google, Search Engines

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In an ideal world, information would be free. All one would need is a machine that could easily access humanity’s abyss of knowledge. Oh. Wait. That’s our world.

Without brands such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN, we wouldn’t be remotely as smart as we are when given 90 seconds and a search engine.

Then why is France’s President Sarkozy so angry, and what’s with this “Google Tax” idea? Put simply, in order to inspire people to create something, you need to pay them. Sarkozy purports that Google unfairly benefits from profits generated from advertising that accompanies information the brand provides but doesn’t necessarily pay for. And he suggests that, somewhere in this argument, French culture hangs in the balance. So Sarkozy wants to tax the situation into being fair.

Every day people pay for eye exams, coffee, shoelaces, and car tires without complaining. But the world wants knowledge — which can’t be poked, poured, boxed, or unscrewed — for free. Ask them to pay for it, and watch adults start floundering on the kitchen floor like an eight-year-old without an Xbox.

At brandchannel, we know this all too well. [more]

Brandchannel operates on both sides of this conundrum, providing free content for our readers, while also benefitting — for lack of a better word — from the hard work of others, which we compensate for by sending them traffic (the Internet version of karma) via links. Thank you, wired.com.

Many brandchannel readers arrive here via Google. The search engine is simply a branding juggernaut. Not only does Google claim to “Do No Evil,” but the brand rarely does anything wrong. In fact, Google only experiences problems when acclimating to other countries — cultures, really — where the Internet is regarded like a zoo animal, both admired and feared. First China, now France.

Google’s rise to dominance, however, engenders a Shakespearean quality in that such success seems fated for some type of tempestuous upheaval, whether from a vengeful relative, scorned lover, or brash venture into the smartphone business. Perhaps the only force preventing Google from the doomed intoxication of unchecked power are countries like France, which is threatening to stop the brand at its border, and ask it a question at the heart of capitalism:

“Hey, what’s in it for me?”

Anyone care to speculate on Google’s reply?

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