Google has used economic pressure to get a review of UK copyright law. This unexpected deal was announced by the Prime Minister, David Cameron, last week.
In an announcement on Thursday, where he outlined government support for a new centre of high technology and innovation in East London, the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, slipped in a surprise for copyright and intellectual property. He gave a pledge that the UK government ‘will change laws where necessary so we break down the barriers to innovation.' Specifically, he said that the UK government will review IP laws to makethem ‘fit for the Internet age':
Mr Cameron's announcement appears to follow a deal with Google, where Google will set up an ‘innovation hub' in East London, bringing much needed investment to a part of London that has suffered from the exodus of industries from the metropolis, and until relatively recently, has lagged behind in terms of new development. It will also help to fill the new Olympic Park which otherwise risks becoming empty after the 2012 Olympic Games.
The announcement included commitments from other high-tech companies such as Vodafone and Qualcomm in mobile comms, and Cisco in network infrastructure equipment.
Reading Mr Cameron's words carefullly, it does seem as though Google has brought pressure to bear on the government before committing to the innovation hub. He has apparently been told by Google that the founders could never have started Google in the UK, because of our IP law.
It is not clear however, exactly which aspects of copyright and IP law will be included in the review. David Cameron implies that Google is asking for US-style ‘fair use‘provisions, which do not exist in UK law. Any change to UK law might imply changes at EU level too, which was also not addressed in the speech.
Nor is it clear how the review will relate to the graduated response measures for copyright enforcement in the Digital Economy Act - widely perceived as anti-innovation. Surely, Google must have also demanded a repeal of the DE Act?
Google lobbyists, feel free to give us an answer!
David Cameron's actual words (taken from David Cameron's East end Tech City speech, given on 4 November 2010.
The second new announcement I can make today is to do with intellectual property.
The founders of Google have said they could never have started their company in Britain.
The service they provide depends on taking a snapshot of all the content on the internet at any one time and
they feel our copyright system is not as friendly to this sort of innovation as it is in the United States.
Over there, they have what are called ‘fair-use' provisions, which some people believe gives companies more
breathing space to create new products and services.
So I can announce today that we are reviewing our IP laws, to see if we can make them fit for the internet
I want to encourage the sort of creative innovation that exists in America.
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK:England and Wales License. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/ It may be used for non-commercial purposes only, and the author's name should be attributed. The correct attribution for this article is: Monica Horten (2010) Google pressures UK into copyright review, http://www.iptegrity.com 7 November 2010.