Friday, February 04, 2011

Bing is "copying" Google's search results?

Earlier this week, Google revealed the results of a sting operation that appeared to catch Bing red-handed. Microsoft has apparently been using Internet Explorer to determine which queries and search results their users were clicking on when using Google, and they incorporated that information into Bing's search results. Although Google says this is unfair copying of search results, Microsoft is claiming that the information is just a small part of their overall formula for ranking search results.

The debate has received a lot of attention. Even Colbert had something to say about it: "Evidently, hiybbprqag is a word meaning 'You got serverd!'"

This debate has been good fodder for my Web Science course, and it was even relevant to my Seminar class which discussed ethics and intellectual property this morning. Search engine results are intellectual property, so is Microsoft's use of clickstream data fair use, or did they cross the line?

Update:

This post generated some interest on my Facebook account. One of the comments included this link to Danny Sullivan's article that gives more analysis of the situation.