Back in July the Sunday Times’s FOIs revealed that senior Downing Street officials have had over twenty meetings with Google since the election. Accusations of preferential treatment were thrown around when Hilton, whose wife is a Google VP, did not declare all of his meetings with the group. This is especially murky given that Google are lobbying hard for changes to UK copyright law. Now they have poached a key cog in Cameroon machine. It’s all rather too cosy for Guido’s liking.
The political gossip is of no importance to us — but if Google has really decided to lobby against the UK’s oppressive and publisher-greed-driven copyright laws, then this is excellent news. Prime Minister David Cameron has already acknowledged that Google could never have come into existence in the UK. You don’t get much more business-unfriendly than that!
Here’s hoping that the blocking of Google Books to British people — a block which exists because of publishing industry threats, purely in case some squitty publisher somewhere is deprived of the chance to make a dishonest and tiny buck on a book published before 1923 — will get deep-sixed, and that our copyright law will be reformed in a sensible direction.
None of us object to the creators of original work being able to profit from their labours. But with copyright of life-plus-70 years, we are in the absurd situation where material that was printed in the Austro-Hungarian empire in Latin in 1893 by a publisher that no longer exists in a country that no longer exists by someone dead 60 years cannot legitimately go online in the UK because of quite spurious copyright. The dog in the manger is not a figure who should be protected by law.
(My apologies to anyone expecting emails from me today. I have an appalling cold and will not be doing anything much.)