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TheStreet Open House

The Digital Skeptic: Why This Sci-Fi Writer Hates Google

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- If anybody is unimpressed that investors now find Google (GOOG) more valuable than Microsoft (MSFT), it has to be Ursula Le Guin. This sci-fi legend -- beloved not only by me, but by zillions of geeks who memorized her Earthsea fantasy novels -- clearly has little patience for such digital media wizards.

"The more piracies, abridgments, mash-ups, etc., are tolerated," she wrote in her blog, "the less people will understand that textual integrity matters."

Now keep in mind that Le Guin, who will turn 83 in late October, is no tech grandma. She's a sophisticated online player who blogs regularly and sells on Amazon (AMZN). Kickstarter even crowdfunded an approved stage version of her work, The Lathe of Heaven.

But her sense that all is not right in the digital domain has gained Le Guin newfound fame. Time.com labled her one of 5 Famous Writers Who Loathe E-Books. This moniker spun out of her high-profile criticism of a long-standing suit between the Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers and Google -- a stance that royally ticked off digital hipsters.

"Google is doing nothing wrong legally or morally in scanning books without the permission of the authors or publishers of those books," wrote GigaOM's Mathew Ingram back May 2011.

But with Google finally settling at least part of its ebooks legal hassles -- publishers accepted a deal in the first week of October, while authors did not -- danged if this digital contrarian has never been more relevant. Le Guin continues to define the contradictions lurking inside digital media giants such as Google.

And for investors struggling for a worldview of the wraiths this operations faces, she is a powerful wizard of skepticism.

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