Friday, June 08, 2007

Google: Evil is in the Eye of the Publisher

A rather amusing tale of someone who finds Google's "Do no Evil" mantra a bit disingenuous. For some time, Google has been introducing Book Search, digitizing libraries to try to create a digital books market. Sounds fine, but when your entire book can be slurped up by Google and read by anyone, for free, copyright owners get a bit piqued. Google responds that won't refrain from stealing the content unless they get a specific notice from the copyright owner: in essence, putting the onus on the "victim."

Well, Richard Charkin decided to let Google see what it was like for them to experience the same. At the recent BookExpo, he calmly walked up to Google's booth, and helped himself to two laptops, something Google employees working the booth did not notice for more than an hour. As he put it:
"Our justification for this appalling piece of criminal behaviour? The owner of the computer had not specifically told us not to steal it. If s/he had, we would not have done so. When s/he asked for its return, we did so. It is exactly what Google expects publishers to expect and accept in respect to intellectual property."

Of course, as soon as the employees noticed, he cheerfully returned their laptops, with a bit of lecturing at the befuddled booth workers. Hey, I'm all in favor of digitizing books, but this guy makes his point with a flourish, using the same tactics. A well planned heist always leads to a good story.

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