Normally our headline would read something along the lines of "Google Loses Another Executive." However, it seems the departure of a top exec is a regular occurrence at Google nowadays–especially among those that cashed-in with Google’s IPO.
So instead, we’re focusing on why in the world would Google’s Chief Information Officer Douglas Merrill leave and be rumored to join EMI Music Group as the president of its digital unit? Is Merrill about to drag EMI into the age of sharing and openness? Or, is EMI hiring Merrill so he can use his knowledge of internet technology to better protect EMI’s assets from music piracy?
Is Merrill joining the dark side, or will he help the evil empire seek the light? CNET speculates…
…for Merrill the move will require either huge mental exercise or a near religious conversion. At Google, products and strategy focus on opening up content for the world to see and making it searchable by anyone with an Internet connection. This world view has repeatedly put Google at loggerheads with copyright holders and their ilk. For instance, Google has been sued over its book scanning project, its news aggregation site and its YouTube video site, where you could easily find pirated music videos and TV clips.
It will be interesting to see what an executive from a company known for pushing the envelope on fair use can bring to an industry that has rabidly protected its copyrights. Maybe he can help them use the Web to make money instead of trying to keep others from using it at EMI’s expense.
There’s no official word from EMI, so we’ll just have to speculate for ourselves. What do you think? Will Merrill’s role be to help set free EMI’s music, or will he turn to the dark side and help EMI battle the technology that’s ripping it open?