SEO as Enclosure – Another Real World Example

Wikipedia Device, aimed at the elderly

I know in the past people have given Stephen and others lots of grief about their stance on the Non-Commercial clause. And I admit that, while I understood the theoretical possibilities Stephen was concerned about, that commercial entities often seek to obscure or enclose free resources so that even if the original is still literally “open” it becomes effectively lost, I initially wrote that off as edge-case fear mongering.

But over the last few years I have come to see this not as an edge case at all but is actually a real practice that we see emerging over and over, whether it be in various threats to “net neutrality” or SEO practices that effectively bury the free versions of content. This post is just a brief note about yet another example that came up in conversation with a potential partner in government who wants to share openly some training resources aimed at helping immigrants to Canada have their foreign credentials accepted and become members of professional organizations in Canada.

I raised the question of “flavours” of Creative Commons license simply because the current configuration of SOL*R supports the 2.0 Attribution Share-Alike license and wanted them to realize they had a choice. This gave them some pause, and then mentioned that actually, one of the challenges faced when communicating with new immigrant populations in general is that there are certain groups (e.g. immigration lawyers and others who “facilitate” the process) who have a strong motive to short circuit official channels so that they can communicate “on behalf” of new immigrant clients (read – “charge them lots of money for things the government actually provides for free.”) Fair play to Google, the top unsponsored hits for “Immigrate to Canada” are indeed government websites, but the first one is a sponsored commercial link, and on that same first page of results are a number of commercial “immigration consulting” services pretty much masquerading as government sites.

All of which is simply to add yet another to what seems to me to be the long and ever-expanding list of examples of ways in which commercial entities, usually through legal if not totally ethical means, obscure what should be free and public resources. This is not make believe or edge case. This is in fact the modus operandi of capital. – SWL