Extortion by another name?
Here's the crux of the problem
Google's service agreement states plainly that users still own whatever they store, transmit, etc. However as worded it also states that by such use they give Google--and those they WORK WITH--unrestricted world wide rights to use of the content.
All neat, clean and legal. And your Copyright means nothing. because you agreed to it when you sent the image to your friends on your Gmail (or for that matter theirs) of stored your manuscript in Google Docs.
This is not a Google-specific problem. Comparable terms and conditions are dictated by the Industry on a take it or leave it basis, subject to unilateral change without notice by the company and with littke or no consideration of possible unintended impact on the user. (We in the US are in a particular pickle because of the convoluted and arcane framework of enabling laws and regulations that created for the benefit of special interests. The EU appears to be doing a bit better. As for the UK . . .enough said in the article.)
I have been told by a friend knowledgeable of the art business that in the first decade of the 20th century, the number of art galleries showing original art in the US declined from 45,000 to around 5000. They were put out of business by a glut of hand-painted reproductions from China, done in assembly-line fashion in factories of artists. They could sold for pennies on the dollar compared to the artist's original work.
As a practical matter, under this ruling Copyrights on images, writings, music composition -- any intellectual property content--become virtually impossible to defend. The economic and social/cultural costs of this are incalculable.
While we may not be able to pin down in a court of law who is accountable, that Google and the IT sector at large benefit is blatantly obvious.