But Google is more than just a search engine. The company, which numbered just fewer than 10,000 employees two months ago, operates several other Web services, including Google News, Google Earth, Google Finance and Froogle. Plus, the company has been notorious for snapping up promising new companies.

For example, a few years ago Google saw potential in a company called Pyra Labs. Seven years ago, Pyra created software that would make it easier for people to publish personal journals on the Internet. Pyra even had a name for Web logs – Blogs. Google acquired Pyra in 2003.

The latest rumblings have Google getting into the radio advertising biz, and the company is hiring “scores of radio sales people,” according to Reuters.

Google’s interest in radio advertising isn’t new. Last January the company agreed to pay more than $1 billion for dMarc Broadcasting Inc., which runs an automated service matching advertisers with radio stations.

But if you believe the scuttlebutt, Google’s interest in radio advertising isn’t limited to hiring salespeople and purchasing automated systems. There’s talk that the company might purchase a large block of Clear Channel’s radio advertising inventory. That is, when there isn’t talk of Google purchasing Clear Channel’s radio stations, or at least a chunk of the broadcasting mega-monster.

So far, Google hasn’t commented on the various rumors about its planned radio endeavors other than saying it’s about to begin public testing of Google Audio Ads, a service designed to give advertisers the same ability to target radio ads as they now do with Web ads. However, Google is not known for sitting on its logarithms while counting its money.

Right now the company is hiring radio salespeople, and reportedly paying them up to 50 percent more than the profession’s average. Common sense dictates that the company will eventually acquire enough radio inventory to make those hirings worthwhile. Or acquire a radio company. Guess it all boils down to just how badly Google wants to sell radio time. And who is willing to sell to Google.

Googling Google (Part II)

Unless you’ve been locked up in Gitmo for the past month, you probably already know about Google’s YouTube acquisition, in which the company handed out $1.65 billion in stock to become proprietors of the popular video Web site.

But the latest rumor making the rounds isn’t about what Google might do with YouTube, but rather what the company might be doing to protect itself from copyright infringement lawsuits.

Before Google stepped in, YouTube enjoyed a kind of quasi-protection from infringement lawsuits, something along the lines of “you can’t get blood from a stone.” In its 18 or so months as a stand-alone company, YouTube never turned a profit, which made any expensive legal action against it seem, well, expensive. After all, you can’t get blood…

But now that YouTube has joined Google’s happy family, there’s plenty of reasons for content owners to file copyright infringement suits, and all those reasons begin with dollar signs. Which makes the latest rumor about the company setting aside a legal war chest seem almost believable.

But Google says it isn’t so. Recently, company CEO Eric Schmidt denied a rumor that the company had set aside $500 million to settle copyright claims as part of Google’s YouTube deal, according to Reuters.

As it turns out, this was a classic rumor. Classic in the sense that no one knows who actually started it.

It apparently all began with a blog posting by a self-described digital media industry veteran that was quickly picked up and spread by Mark Cuban, Internet gazillionaire and owner of the Dallas Mavericks. Cuban posted the rumor on his own Blog Maverick site, saying that the gossip “rings true” and that he trusted the source.

But Schmidt said there’s nothing to the rumor, and that Google has been busy making deals with content owners.

“We have visited as many media companies as we can.” Schmidt said.

However, Schmidt’s denial that Google is stashing away money for warding off copyright lawsuits doesn’t mean the company isn’t facing legal action due to the YouTube purchase.

In a quarterly filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Google disclosed it is facing a video copyright lawsuit. While the company did not disclose details on the suit, it did admit that the company might face more legal action in the future.