EFJ to Ireland: don’t bow down to Google

THE EUROPEAN Federation of Journalists has responded to the Irish government's consultation on changing copyright law - which is disturbingly closely aligned with the interests of Google. As the Federation says:

We are concerned about the proposals to change Ireland's copyright system because journalists (including photojournalists) throughout Europe licence works to publishers and broadcasters based in Ireland; because the proposals may affect - indeed, in some instances seem to be designed to affect - the evolution of EU regulations; and because in any case changes to Ireland's copyright system will inevitably affect the market or markets for licensing journalists' work throughout Europe.

On the question of whose interests are served, the EFJ says of the proposed "exception" to allow "marshalling" of authors' and performers' works without permisison, the Federation says:

What is this "marshalling", other than an invitation to a certain Californian company (currently enjoying a dominant position) to organise the world's information and make money selling advertisements alongside it, without any recompense either to the original creators of that information or even the intermediaries that originally distributed our work?

Interestingly, Microsoft uses rather similar language in its submission:

Restructuring the framework of specific exceptions in Ireland or the EU, for example to introduce a general-purpose "fair use", "data mining", "marshalling" or "innovation" exception, is not necessary. Allowing commercial scale copying under the guise of such exceptions would only serve the commercial interests of particular companies; it is not relevant to nor impeding the health of innovation in Ireland. Any changes that would require or instigate a general re-opening of EU copyright or e-commerce directives should be avoided.

Both regard it as obvious what the "particular company" is - though Google has not, yet, entered a submisison in its own name. It rarely does: it prefers to have others speak for its interests - such as the CCIA, the Computer & Communications Industry Association (submission here - PDF).

Like the UK government's proposals, the Irish government is considering an "exception" to copyright to allow "data mining". This has been presented as a route to a cure for cancer, as software combs medical research papers for cross-overs and gaps and generates 14,000 PhD proposals a minute, or something. But as publisher Reed Elsevier notes in its submission:

The Consultation paper does not try to define text and data mining. The UK consultation describes text and data mining as an automated text and data analysis for patterns, trends and "other useful information". That seems to describe a search engine query. What is a search if not an "automated analytical technique" (i.e. an algorithm) that is used for picking out "useful information" or "patterns" from digitised data and text?

Reed Elsevier is, in the restrained way of these things, considerably annoyed: "The risk of damage to the core business of journal publishing posed by the exception, as outlined above, could make publishers consider whether it is worthwhile continuing to offer their publications in Ireland."

After another extension, the window for submissions closed on 29 June.

Last modified: 17 Jun 2012 - © 2012 contributors
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