Google calls for the UK to adopt American-style copyright laws

Google calls for the UK to adopt American-style copyright laws

As we reported recently, the UK is in the midst of a review of Intellectual Property laws as part of the government’s plans to boost technological innovation in the country. As part of the review, interested groups were invited to submit formal responses and amongst those that did is Google.

The company writes in its submission [PDF link]: “Google supports copyright policy that protects artists and fosters innovation in ways that help people create, distribute and engage information… our mission is to help people find information online, so encouraging the creation of information is essential and complementary to our business.”

The US company calls for the UK to take a similar approach to copyright as America, which offers flexible ‘Fair Use’ allowances for reusing existing content without permission in certain situations, and ‘Safe Harbor’ rules that protect service operators from prosecution for the user-generated content they handle. Google argues that this approach is more flexible than the UK’s existing, limited ‘exceptions’ taken from EU law that allow a certain amount of protection, but only in specific situations.

“Given the rapid evolution of technology, the numbers of occasions when innovators might want to use copryrighted material to generate new products in ways the closed list of EU exceptions did not anticipate is only likely to increase,” Google writes. It notes that the US system has opened the door to image thumbnails being used in search engines and interestingly, given its rivalry with Apple, it lists Steve Jobs’ company as a good example of one that has benefitted from American laws, arguing that the iPod was allowed to flourish thanks to Fair Use rules that allowed MP3 players to carry technically unauthorised copies of music without liability.

Google’s submission is one of a number that have been added to the IP Review website. Meanwhile, UK broadcaster Channel 4 opposes the introduction of a US-style Fair Use system [PDF link], arguing that the existing UK system of ‘Fair dealing’ to reach agreements as required already works well here.

While Google is the only major Internet company to have a submission published as yet. Other submissions include one from UK startup Mixcloud [PDF link], calling for simpler music licensing laws. Further submission are expected to be added to the site in the near future and the review’s findings are scheduled to be published next month.

Read next: Nokia CEO: Work on Windows Phone 7 handsets "already under way"