Macmillan CEO Lifts Google Laptops

    June 6, 2007

Richard Charkin is the CEO of Macmillan Publishers, and he recently got into a bit of a tiff with Google.  This didn’t involve angry letters or frivolous lawsuits (entertaining as those are); instead, Charkin stole a pair of Google laptops.  And blogged about it.

Charkin is not, in case you’re wondering, a lunatic.  He’s also not a cat burglar who managed to breach the Googleplex – the CEO just picked the laptops off some pedestals at BookExpo America.  Charkin was, in his mind, making a point about Google’s attitude towards copyright law.

“The owner of the computer had not specifically told us not to steal it,” Charkin wrote on the Chark Blog.  “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.”

Charkin later continued, “I felt rather shabby playing this trick on Google.  They should feel the same playing the same trick on authors and publishers.”

Readers of The Register might agree; most of the comments following an article by Cade Metz suggest that Charkin’s actions were appropriate (and possibly hilarious, as well).  Yet the Techdirt crowd is more supportive of Google’s side, with Mike Masnick calling the whole thing “a cheap stunt” on Charkin’s part.

Right or wrong, Macmillan’s CEO did succeed in drawing some attention to his cause.  Charkin may want to watch out, however; Eric Schmidt could decide that a few of his possessions would add just the right touch to the Googleplex.