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A little name-calling between giants

Google sign

KAI RYSSDAL: You'd like to think the leading public companies in this country would be above simple name-calling. That they'd be focused on better product for consumers and higher profits for their shareholders.

Alas, it's not always so. We bring you now the latest installment of Microsoft versus Google. Marketplace's Alisa Roth has more from New York.


ALISA ROTH: Microsoft's corporate counsel for copyright, trademark and trade secrets gave a speech in New York today. The venue: a meeting of the Association of American Publishers. Thomas Rubin's theme: what he called Google's cavalier attitude toward copyright.

Rubin compared the two company's approaches to scanning millions of books and making them available online. Should we nourish creativity, he asked, or choose the way that encourages companies simply to take the works of others?

Guess who he thinks is nourishing creativity?

Consultant Laura Didio follows Microsoft.

LAURA DIDIO: Many people would argue that Microsoft in fact doesn't just have a glass house, it's cellophane. So it's even flimsier.

Of course, that probably didn't bother Rubin's audience much. The AAP filed one of several copyright infringement suits against Google.

Max Levchin founded several Silicon Valley ventures. He says forget the squabbling.

MAX LEVCHIN: As time goes by, the lawyers will sort out who needs to pay whom how much.

But really, says the Yankee Group's Didio, today's public casting of aspersions isn't about digital media anyway.

DIDIO: This is the high-tech version of American Gladiators. Both of these companies are locked in a struggle for the hearts, minds and pocketbooks of not only their existing customer bases, but also potential customer bases.

Among other things, she says, Google's recent foray into the world of office software has its rival on edge.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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