Google is under attack for a new feature in its Toolbar.
The service adds hyperlinks to webpages without the author's knowledge or consent. A street address for instance, will be turned into a link to Google Maps and a book's ISBN number gets linked to Amazon.
The service raises two questions. Is this a copyright violation and does Google unfairly promote its services?
Microsoft for starters wouldn't get away with a service that links to its maps.msn site. The company last year abandoned Smart Tags, a service similar to Google's, because of trademark concerns.
And secondly Google (potentially) gets revenues from changing the content of a page of which it doesn't own the copyrights. That's a lawsuit waiting to happen.
In Google's defence however, the company could argue that users install the software voluntarily. That might not be a strong argument in the discussion around copyrights, but does take away the pressure from the anti competitive side.
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