Wilburforce - 11:26 pm on Jan 8, 2013 (gmt 0)
The UK Government published the final part of its response to its copyright consultation ("Modernising Copyright: a modern, robust and flexible framework") on 20 December 2012.
The first of its three principles: "The copyright framework must continue to incentivise creators of content and support them in protecting their rights from unlawful use".
This follows implementation of the Hargreaves review (published in 2011), which introduced a number of measures (including the formation of a Small Claims Track as part of the Patents County Court) to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to pursue infringement claims without incurring prohibitive costs.
While these developments (which clearly indicate an intention on the part of the UK government, and similar moves are in progress in other parts of the EU) would make Google's widespread infringement unwise, I think it unlikely to happen anyway: my own text material is frequently plagiarised, and where this has involved Google (e.g. material has appeared on blogspot) they have responded promptly to DMCA removal requests, typically removing the material within 48 hours of notification.
I am less confident about images (where Google are less principled, to put it mildly). CSS sprites are useful in more ways than one.