Space Ramblings

Richard Charkin: Book Thief

By now everybody knows about Macmillan’s Richard Charkin’s little stunt swiping two Google computers and then returning them to prove a point about how Google Book Search is also a form of theft.

Of course as in these usual copyright violation arguments, Richard Charkin demonstrated an inability to distinguish misuse of data with actual theft of physical property. Duplicating the blueprints for a computer is not the same thing as stealing a computer for example since it does not deny the use of the original computer. This is a point that’s been made by many of the usual Hack the Planet EFF types.

Lawrence Lessig
has argued that physical theft isn’t at all like google book search using a variety of analogies. Of course it’s beating up a strawman because at the end of the day, Richard Charkin’s entire argument was wrong.

Misuse of intellectual property is not theft of property in the conventional sense, it’s theft of rights which can be much more damaging. A far more fitting act for Richard Charkin would have been to take an item of Google intellectual property and exploit it for their own commercial gain, as Google is doing.

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