March 9-16, 2006 Edition

Bloomsbury Chief

Calls for Boycott

On Google Search

LONDON/3/4/06—Nigel Newton, chief executive of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc., is openly calling for a boycott of Google, the search engine company, for what he calls a “land grab.” He writes in an article on the UK-based online news site, The Guardian, in which he calls Google’s practices a “literary land-grab.”

He explains that there are two aspects to the land-grab. One involves the scanning of out-of-copyright works for libraries and surrounding the works with advertising and the other is the company’s scanning of in-copyright American works for the purpose of publication without direct permission of the copyright holder. Google is currently being sued by a consortium of American publishers for the in-copyright scanning.

“It is authors who will suffer most, “ says Newton. “. . . So I call upon internet users worldwide to boycott the Google search engine until it ceases to scan books in America without prior permission, and desists from its mission to place ambient advertising on the great literary works. Switch your search engine from Google to MSN or Yahoo today, until you hear Google has withdrawn from the type of activities that have been described in another context as acts of ‘kleptomania’.

“Publishers also have the responsibility to make sure that when it comes to hosting electronic content in future, it is their own websites that host the downloads and the scans of text and audio. There is no reason to hand this content to third-party websites. That would only make publishers and authors subject to the commercial imperatives of other organizations – companies such as Google, with no long-term stake in authorship or publishing and no natural parallel interests. Search engines can find the same content on publishers’ websites in a nanosecond. That’s what search engines are for: searching. And publishers should then, as iTunes does with music tracks, charge a fair rate for their authors’ content – not give it away like Google.”

He calls what Google is doing to books “positively indecent.”

Read his full comments on THE GUARDIAN . Or listen to a podcast of hi8s full speech at Culture Vulture.