Thursday, April 12, 2007

Google's decision to “man up”

When we tell someone to “man up,” we aren't being sexist. Instead we're telling them to take responsibility for their own actions, not to pass the buck to someone else.

It's rare for companies these days to openly man up. Google, on the other hand, is doing things old school.

It seems that even the Web 2.0 companies with the greatest vision and customer responsiveness can screw up. In Google's case, the screw-up involved intellectual propertythe company admitted this past Monday that they helped themselves to code created by Chinese IT firm For those keeping score at home, the stolen code is embedded in Google's Pinyin Input Method Editor.

Sohu sent a warning to Google last Friday asking them to stop distributing the pirated software. Once they got caught, the "do no evil" gang in Mountain View did the right thing: they emailed an apology to Sohu this past Monday morning, making sure to copy Reuters. "We are willing to face this issue of ours," Google bravely wrote. "While we apologize for the inconvenience this may have incurred to users and Sohu, we have also adopted immediate actions."

Google's apology is commendable, but this isn't the first time they've been caught “borrowing” code. For example, early releases of Google video player included unacknowledged source code from the VLC player. And a former engineer from social networking company Affinity Engines (now Affinity Circles) took that company's code to Google, where it was completely replicated—bugs and all—and turned into Orkut, Google's own social networking site.

Google did the right thing. Man up and all that. Good leadership from an industry leader.

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