Skip to Content
Uncategorized

The Delicious Irony of Microsoft Aggregating Google’s Search Results

There’s nothing illegal about Microsoft copying Google’s search results. After all, the Web is built on aggregation.
February 2, 2011

Microsoft’s Bing search engine is apparently relying on data gathered from users of its Internet Explorer browser to copy some of the search results offered by Google and then offer them up on Bing. Google would officially like the practice to stop, and the fight between the two usually buttoned-down companies has already turned nasty on Twitter.

It’s not clear that Microsoft is doing anything illegal, however, which leads to possibly the most monumentally irony ever to fall out of the sky and land in the midst of an ongoing communications and intellectual property revolution:

The company that built its entire business model on the principles of U.S. copyright law that 1) facts cannot be copyrighted and 2) it’s perfectly alright to display snippets of others’ work – i.e. to engage in aggregation – has just been aggregated by a competitor.

Let the games begin.

Just as its impossible to copyright a list of information, even a gigantic one such as the contents of a phonebook, it’s probably not possible for Google to stop Bing or, and this is the important part, any other potential upstart, from aggregating its search results. It’s just a meta-aggregation, after all, like when Rex Sorgatz writes his end of the year roundup of all the end of the year roundups.

If the internet is a food chain comprised of information, Google has long been its apex predator – the megalodon in a sea of small fry foolish enough to try to eke out a living by actually creating content rather than just pointing people to it. Now, for the first time ever, Google not only has competition, but competition savvy enough to deploy the same perfectly legal tactics upon which Google’s vast fortunes rest.

Whatever happens next, Bing’s move points out a business opportunity others could potentially exploit: if Google’s results are the kind of information that “wants to be free,” how can others make a buck by delivering it to users on their own sites?

Follow Mims on Twitter or contact him via email.

Deep Dive

Uncategorized

Embracing CX in the metaverse

More than just meeting customers where they are, the metaverse offers opportunities to transform customer experience.

Identity protection is key to metaverse innovation

As immersive experiences in the metaverse become more sophisticated, so does the threat landscape.

The modern enterprise imaging and data value chain

For both patients and providers, intelligent, interoperable, and open workflow solutions will make all the difference.

Scientists have created synthetic mouse embryos with developed brains

The stem-cell-derived embryos could shed new light on the earliest stages of human pregnancy.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.