By Chris Daly
What is Google?
Of course, it’s a search engine. But is it also a “common carrier” type of utility like the phone company or a bus company?
Or, is it a publisher like the old Yellow Pages or Consumer Reports? Does it organize, rank, and highlight certain information?
That’s a question that many folks are wrestling with. One, highlighted in today’s Times (as a result of an editorial decision, to be sure), is Eugene Volokh, the UCLA law professor behind the popular blog, the Volokh Conspiracy. According to the Times, Volokh took money from Google to write an “article” that argued — surprise! — just what Google wanted him to argue, which is that Google deserves just as much First Amendment protection as it wants.
BTW, if you blog, you are definitely considered a “publisher” in the eyes of the law, and you are just as responsible for the contents of your blog as a traditional publisher or broadcaster.