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Angered by Google's attempts to copy their works, publishers have decided to strike back against the ad broker by stealing its technology.

Late last week, at New York City’s BookExpo America, the CEO of Macmillan Publishers pilfered two laptops from a booth where Google was promoting its Book Search service, part of an effort to convert the world’s books into digital format.

"There [was] no sign saying 'please do not steal the computers,'" Richard Charkin wrote on his blog. "I confess that a colleague and I simply picked [them] up."

After the heist, Charkin and his accomplice waited patiently beside the Google booth. More than an hour later, when booth workers noticed that the laptops were missing, Charkin explained that he was merely giving Google a taste of its own medicine. The booth workers were speechless.

With Book Search and its accompanying Library Project, Google is attempting to digitize the book collections held by many of the world’s leading libraries and serve them up to Web users. But in the fall of 2005—after the company began scanning collections at the University of Michigan, Harvard University, the New York Public Library, and others—the Association of American Publishers and The Author’s Guild filed suit against the company, claiming that the project infringed on the copyrights of publishers and authors. In many cases, Google won’t refrain from scanning a copyrighted book unless it receives a specific request from the copyright owner.

"If you don't want Google to digitize your books, you must tell them not to do it," Charkin told The Register. "With our heist, we were merely doing to Google what they're doing to us." ®

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