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Google and hypocrisy

1 August 2018

Google and copyright... don't get me started!

Apparently, Google is lobbying the NZ government to make some changes to our copyright laws, urging a "more flexible and forward-looking approach".

The search-engine giant claims that such changes are an important element of its advanced AI research and innovation.

Now I strongly believe that everyone, including multinational corporations which pay their fair share of tax to our government, has a right to lobby and plead their case for legislative change.

The question is however: does Google really qualify, given its profit-shifting and ability to dodge tax liabilities?

I also find it hugely hypocritical that Google is pitching for "fair use type provisions" within our copyright laws -- when it effectively denies the same to all those who create content for its YouTube service.

Let's face it, Google has built its fortunes on leveraging other people's content for profit. Without other people's content to make "fair use" of, there would be no Google Search, Google News, Google Books or a raft of their other services.

To be honest, I'm in favour of fair-use, so long as it is *fair*.

Sadly, Google's interpretation of "fair" and that of those who produce content are not always congruent, something which suggests that Google's understanding of "fair" translates to something more like "in our favour".

As a result of this mismatch of interpretations, Paula Browning CEO of Copyright Licensing NZ has been quoted in Stuff story as expressing a belief that copyright laws are not holding back innovation and she roundly criticises Google's assertions.

I would suggest that if our politicians have any backbone, they will close the door to Google's lobbyists until such time as they accept their responsibility to pay a fair share of tax by ditching the profit-shifting that is currently being used as a tax avoidance mechanism. Let them see that although they may be able to legally avoid paying their way, there are downsides to doing so.

Sadly however, I fear that we'll see yet another bunch of politicians who fawn all over the utterances of lobbyists from yet another huge multinational and sway to the breeze of their demands.

Personally, I expect we can smell the uranium on their breaths.

Google can no longer claim that it isn't evil (they removed that mantra some time ago) so we should therefore assume they are.

If Google wants to change copyright law for the better then I suggest that they start at home and lobby the US government to ditch its propensity to just keep on extending the term of protection offered by its copyright laws (every time the copyright on a piece of Disney's intellectual property is due to fall into the public domain).

Here in New Zealand, our copyright laws may be far from perfect -- but they're still a snot-load better than the ones in Google's home-country so get your own damned house in order first before you start telling us how to run ours.

And stop being so hypocritical. If "fair use" is essential then allow your YouTube content creators to take advantage of it without risking a copyright strike.

What do readers think? Will our politicians ask "how high" when Google asks them to jump? Should we deny them lobbying rights until they agree to stop profit-shifting and thereby avoiding their fair share of corporate tax in this country?

Oh, and my apologies for skipping yesterday's daily dose... I had to travel to Auckland for a funeral which meant a *very* long day.

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