A Declaration of War

May 20, 2011

Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt effectively declared war on publishers and authors earlier this week, declaring that Google would resist any governmental efforts to keep its search engines from pointing web browsers to sites selling pirated material.  As literary agent Richard Curtis points out, this policy, if it stands, signals the end of publishing as we know it, and will make it nearly impossible for authors to make a living off of their work.  Even Amazon, which offers inexpensive ebooks to it customers, can’t hope to compete with sites that steal material from authors and then sell it at cut rate prices.  Authors depend on legitimate sales of our books for royalties.  That’s how we get paid.  It’s bad enough that readers find pirated copies of our books and buy them, often unwittingly.  But if the largest search engine company in the world refuses to block access to these illegal sites . . . well, as Richard Curtis says, game over.  We can’t possibly survive.

If you use Google, please find another search engine.  There are tons of them out there.  If you can buy products by linking to them through Yahoo, or Bing, or any other engine, please do.  Switch from Google Chrome to Firefox or some other browser.  This is serious.  If you care about books, if you know anyone who writes for a living, this should matter to you.  And the only way to get through to a mercenary like Eric Schmidt is to hit him in the wallet.  The future of publishing, of writing, of books in any format, is at stake.

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