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UK PM David Cameron “too close to Google”

by on14 March 2011

Copyright law changes, suits the search engine fine
Critics have been slamming UK PM, David “One is an Ordinary Bloke” Cameron for sucking up to Google over the copyright issue. The PM hit the headlines recently saying he would like Blighty to adopt US style laws that would create a "fair use" exemption.

He thinks that this will allow startups to copy and create innovative products, sourced from material which might be copyright-protected. According to the Guardian this change was on Google's legislative list to Santa because it would give it the freedom to do what it likes.

Now obviously Cameron does not have time to thing through mini-strategies like copyright law. He has people who do his thinking for him. Who better than his director of strategy Steve Hilton. The fact that Hilton is married to Rachel Whetstone, Google's European head of communications means he knows first hand how important all this is... to Google and at least he does not have to ring up to get a quote.

The only problem with Google's, er Cameron's vision of copyright is that it means that anyone can do what ever they like with content and not have to pay anyone anything. Mike Batt, who once penned the deep lyric, “Remember you're a Womble” said that while he used to be a Cameron supporter, the Eaton school boy has grown up to be deceived by the people whispering in his ear. They have told Cameron a myth that Google could not have started up in Blighty because of copyright laws, when in fact it was because the US have banks that understand the entrepreneurial thinking behind startups.

While it would be foreign for Cameron to tinker with the banking system, fiddling around with the copyright system is doable. Batt said that Google wants to "eat the lunch" of the people who actually create popular works. Did we mention that Batt is the deputy chairman of the BPI, which is the record industry trade body?

The problem with Batt and co is that the content industry has lost a lot of support because of its demands that P2P pirates are crucified every kilometre along the M1 and that they are responsible for the Industry having a bad economic fate. But problems like copyright are never solved by listening to the extremes of any argument – Google's or Big Content.

However whatever Cameron's links to Google the Hargreaves inquiry which is expected to come up with some fair use laws does look like it is about to come out with some fair and balanced ideas. According to people in the know the government could create a fair use review panel to rule over test cases, without the requirement for expensive lawyers."Format shifting" will make it legal to "rip" purchased CDs through computers and on to MP3 players.

Hargreaves looks certain to disappoint Cameron, who is demanding something that will "encourage the sort of creative innovation that exists in America", and of course his chums in Google. Hargreaves is worried that the US has created a system where IP lawyers almost outnumber the software engineers.

Last modified on 14 March 2011
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