Authors aghast at Google's plan to put them online

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The Independent Online

Now Pandora learns that the publishing industry in Britain is discussing similar action to protect the earnings of writers on this side of the Atlantic.

The Google Print and Google Library projects were announced last December, but last week's decision in the US has prompted strong words from the books world over here. The Society of Authors' chairman, the historian Anthony Beevor, above, accuses Google of being "highhanded" in its dealings with authors and publishers.

"This turns copyright law on its head," says the SA's director, Mark Lefanu. "They ought to be seeking permission, but the only gesture they have made is to approach publishers and tell them that they ought to get in touch if they wish to opt out. We are hoping that the issue will be resolved in America: we are two years behind them in terms of what Google has actually done, but the situation would be the same over here."

There are repercussions too for the relationship between authors and their own publishers. "We don't believe publishers have the right to give permission on behalf of authors," adds Lefanu. "The whole project is risky in terms of security and control."

The actress Helen McCrory, left, who starred opposite Sienna Miller in As You Like It, has become considerably better known thanks to the project. But she has told friends that all the attention on her co-star's high-profile split and reunion with her boyfriend, Jude Law, has been rather annoying.

"A big part of a stage actor's life is leaving quietly by the stage door and going to have an anonymous drink in a pub around the corner," I'm told at the Dom Perignon 1998 dinner party. "That was totally ruined by the fact that there were a hundred paparazzi waiting outside after every show."

McCrory's agent refused to comment on suggestions that the experience upset her, but the show's producer, Sonia Freedman, tells Pandora there were no hard feelings. "Helen is realistic: she knows in this industry we work with famous people," she says. "Maybe her friend caught her on a bad day. We were all very sorry for Sienna, of course, but we all recognised the benefits to the show of having her in it, too."

A final nail in the coffin of this season's London Fashion Week. The shoe designer Patrick Cox, whose party was a centrepiece of the festivities, tells me that his ultimate desire is to cobble for a woman widely believed to the least trendy in all the land.

"My greatest ambition is to make shoes for the Queen," he says. "I have met her twice and I went to pieces both times. I drank seven glasses of wine and was drenched in sweat.

"I don't get nervous around important people, as I've met pretty much everyone who's anyone in the world - but the Queen really did it for me. I'm a Canadian kid - and in the colonies I think we love royalty more than the British."

Buckingham Palace's response can best be described as polite.

"The Queen has quite specific suppliers," I am told. "So we can't just let him do that."

Pandora is a fan of Jools Holland and is proud to learn that the sentiment is returned.

After last week's story that the jazzman had requested organisers of the Ko Samui Music Festival in Thailand to procure him a case of Old Speckled Hen as part of his contract, Holland has been in touch to say he is "amused".

Although his friend, Prince Charles, quaffs the stuff in public, the musician insists the ale isn't for him.

"I do not drink Speckled Hen - it is for one of the 18 members of my large group," he says. "However, if anyone were thinking of giving me a drink, I would either have a nice bottle of Stella Artois or a delicious pint of Fuller's London Pride."

Reassuringly expensive.

Nowhere, it seems, is safe from repercussions of the "Cocaine Kate" revelations that a supermodel takes drugs. Last Thursday, the actor Ian Kelly appeared on Richard and Judy's tea-time chat show to promote his new book, Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Dandy, which is being made into a film by the BBC.

In keeping with the spirit of things, R&J and Mr Kelly were surrounded by models dressed in Regency gear, and planned to take snuff on air.

Unfortunately, the rest of the programme was given over to Max Clifford and Catherine Deneuve discussing Kate Moss's antics - and the idea of watching Judy putting anything up her nose suddenly became unwise.

"Channel 4 thought it would be impolitic for this to take place," confirms a spokesman for Kelly.

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