In the latest issue of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain‘s weekly e-bulletin, this interesting piece appears under the heading
A committee of MPs has issued a report strongly criticising changes in copyright law and warning, “There is an underlying agenda driven at least partly by technology companies (Google foremost among them) which, if pursued uncritically, could cause irreversible damage to the creative sector on which the UK’s future prosperity will significantly depend.”
The report, by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, quotes Viscount Younger of Leckie, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Intellectual Property, as saying: “Google is one of several search engines … and I am very aware of their power, put it that way. I am also very aware, I think, that they have access, for whatever reason, to higher levels than me in No. 10, I understand.”
Changes to copyright law follow a review by Professor Ian Hargreaves, a former newspaper editor, and include new exceptions (i.e. free use of copyright material) for educational purposes, private copying, parodies and pastiches, and “user-generated content” in which consumers can download material and incorporate it in their own creations without permission or payment. There is also a plan to introduce “extended collective licensing” which could enable copyright collecting societies to give permission and accept payment for works by people who are not even their members.
The Writers’ Guild keeps a close eye on such developments through its affiliations to two expert bodies – the Creators’ Rights Alliance and the British Copyright Council. Both organisations have made detailed submissions to the Government that have been endorsed by the Guild.
I, of course, am all for maintaining strong copyright laws – otherwise everything I write could be nicked and passed-off by others as their own creation. The irony is that, in re-printing that Writers’ Guild of Great Britain’s piece, I have broken their copyright.
In my heart, the importance of copyright and irony are nicely balanced.
Perhaps more interesting, though, is the sentence quoted above from a British government minister saying that Google “have access, for whatever reason, to higher levels than me in No. 10, I understand.”
The italics are mine.
What reason is being hinted at here?