Copyright According to Google

  • Joanne Gray


It is unsurprising that the world’s largest internet company, one built upon organising and providing access to information, finds itself centre-stage in digital copyright debates. Google has developed technologies and services that have transformed modern societies and economies by exploiting, harnessing and advancing digital information and communication networks. When doing so, Google has, perhaps by necessity, taken a view of copyright that differs from the one proffered by content industries. Media and entertainment industries pursue a private property-based model of copyright, seeking more rights and stronger enforcement measures, to control and monetise the digital environment. Conversely, Google argues for the importance of limiting the scope of copyright. Google sees exceptions and limitations to copyright as appropriately permitting some access and use of information—without requiring permission from and remuneration to copyright owners—in order to foster creativity and innovation. In copyright politics, Google has provided a countervailing voice, widening the terms of the debate. Yet, like the economic incentive reasoning employed by the content industries, Google’s innovation justification has neoliberal underpinnings. In copyright politics, the call for legal room for innovation is a call for ‘freer’ markets or less government intervention. Like other socially valuable features of contemporary society—such as the natural environment, health care and education—cultural and creative sectors are particularly ill suited to free markets. Policy-makers should be mindful of the inherent limitations of neoliberal policy proposals that call for a reduced role for governments in favour of ‘free markets’. Such proposals conceive of issues in narrow, economic terms and limit possible policy responses.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joanne Gray
    • 1
  1. 1.Queensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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