British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over Copyright Policy

February 9, 2012 -

Google's ears must be ringing because the House of Commons seems to be saying its name a lot this week. Ministers in the UK are arguing over Google's supposed influence in UK copyright policy.

Pete Wishart, a Scottish MP from Perth, took to the floor earlier in the week to give online rights groups and companies like Google a piece of his mind. Ars Technica has a great news story chronicling the exchange among lawmakers. First up is MP Wishart:

"Those who now have the Government’s ear are not particularly helpful," proclaimed Wishart. "Some have become self-serving protectionists and are telling the Government their views. Self-appointed digital rights champions seem to rule the roost when informing Government opinion, and everything that the Government do is predicated on the support for and desire to please massive multi-billion dollar west-coast United States companies such as Google."

"I do not know why Google has the Government’s ear, but I do not contend that it has a particular lobbying influence inside No. 10," he continued. "I do not even suggest that Steve Hilton, the special policy adviser, has a special relationship with Google. I do not suggest such things or contend them today. For some reason, however, Google has the ear of the Government, and it was no surprise that, when Ian Hargreaves initiated his review [of copyright policy], many people called it the Google review."

Eric Joyce, MP for Falkirk, took issue with Wishart's framing of the debate:

"There is a general trend in debates such as this to laud the importance of intellectual property, and, sometimes—as at the beginning of the speech of the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire—to see the counter-argument as a matter of big bad Google lobbying No. 10 in a somehow illegitimate way. I have no idea what the hon. Gentleman is referring to in saying that kind of stuff about special contacts inside Downing street...."

"It is a fact that the internet is a fantastic copying machine, and that is what happens," he continued. "If we want to criminalise everyone who does it, we are on a hiding to nothing. We are criminalising everyone’s children to start with."

Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West, agreed that charging children with crimes wasn't a good idea (thank goodness), but returned to the topic of Google's influence:

"Is not the issue that powerful business interests effectively direct those who are searching for something on the internet to illegal sites that do not just copy the odd thing, but are factories for ripping off people’s intellectual property rights; and that if companies such as Google were more responsible and had some corporate social responsibility they would not be directing people, effectively, to the illegal end of the market?..."

"I have just googled 'Empire State of Mind' by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, and the first five results offered a free download of that track on Google, Brennan added. "Why does a Google search not direct people to a legal site where they could purchase the track?"

While these back-and-forths are entertaining (British politics are always much more spirited than ours), you can probably tell that no one's mind is being changed with these discussions. And while some MPs enjoy throwing Google's name around there's no doubt that the influence of Hollywood and the music industry have stretched their tentacles eastward towards England's welcoming shores.

Source: Ars Technica


Comments

Re: British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over ...

Its impossible to tell from a machine standpoint whether a given web site or page has the "rights" to all the media on it. Just impossible. This requires very complex value judgements that even the RIAA/MPAA lawyers can't get right (how many lawsuits were filed "for" artists they had no right to represent?).

So unless there is an AI with near unlimited processing power, sophisticated image and audio recognition and a complete database of all copyrighted works (and unregistered works too!).

So I guess this can be the first thing done after the singularity. Well, first after harvesting all our atoms to make more processors.

Re: British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over ...

Sometimes people get the government's ear because they champion something many people support wholeheartedly already.  

I also doubt that you get really "free downloads" on the first five links, as people have already looked into it seems.


Re: British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over ...

"I have just googled 'Empire State of Mind' by Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, and the first five results offered a free download of that track on Google, Brennan added. "Why does a Google search not direct people to a legal site where they could purchase the track?"

Either he looks for illegal music sites alot, or his area is served with alot of illegal music downloads.  The same search came up with youtube videos (none offering to download the song) and the wikipedia entry...going further brings up lyric sites....politicians lying?...YOU DONT SAY

---------
There are only 10 types of people in this world, people who know binary and people who don't.

Re: British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over ...

I think he is referring to the YouTube videos as the illegal downloads, he's just making the standard political mistake of trying to sound up to speed and getting every single word of terminology wrong ;)

What he doesn't seem to realize is that the first two of those videos are official videos of the song released on YouTube by JayZ's publisher and by Universal.

It's kind of sad when someone is using stuff released for free by official sources as 'evidence' that those same official sources require stronger copyright protection.

Re: British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over ...

It's because 'lobbying' is a bad word in UK politics, so it's a great word to be throwing at interests that do not match your own whilst you are er...lobbying for your own cause. Truth is, both Google AND the Media Industries have the Governments ear, and probably several other interests also, because that is the way it's supposed to work.

It'd be like a prosecutor complaining about the defense bringing evidence to court because it might prove that the accused is innocent.

Re: British MPs Argue About Google's Influence Over ...

"Kevin Brennan, MP for Cardiff West, agreed that charging children with crimes wasn't a good idea (thank goodness)..."

Nah, man.  Ya gotta get 'em while they're young!

 

Andrew Eisen

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician