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Ben Trovato

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

I would like to take this opportunity to join President Hu Jintao in condemning Google

China has given the world some fabulous things. Gunpowder, folding money, shrimp balls in oyster sauce … er, that’s it.

The Chinese have also taken human rights, capital punishment and birth control to exciting new levels. And yet, not everyone is pleased.

Google, the world’s biggest electronic repository of filth and lies, is being lauded for taking a stance against censorship by relocating its operation from mainland China to that seething hotbed of liberal profligacy, Hong Kong.

So why would any business voluntarily cut itself off from the world’s third-largest economy? Apparently it’s all about principles and it goes something like this: if one of China’s 384 million computer users had to search for “Tiananmen Square” while sucking on an opium pipe in a Shanghai internet den, Google would prefer that the person was directed to sites containing words like “brutal massacre” and “pro-democracy uprising” and not, as Beijing would have it, “Gate of Heavenly Peace plaza with great cultural significance”.

The Chinese government was quick to condemn Google for violating commitments it made to abide by China’s censorship rules when it entered the market in 2006.

I would like to take this opportunity to join President Hu Jintao in condemning Google, but for different reasons. I am, you see, one of many authors around the world whose copyright has been brutally violated by this unwavering bastion of ethics.

Some time ago, the megalomaniacs who run this cute little money-spinner saw fit to begin scanning the contents of pretty much every book on the planet.

Hundreds of pages from at least five of my books are available for anyone to read for free on the Internet. They did this without my permission.

I am among several hundred writers involved in a class action lawsuit against Google. At least, I think I am. A Harvard law professor would have trouble making sense of this snarled-up Gordian knot.


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