'We're Right; Media Companies Are Wrong': Google Boss

12 March 2007

MOUNTAIN VIEW, California: "Human beings are never more frightening than when convinced beyond doubt that they are right," wrote South African writer and explorer Laurens van der Post. So far as is known, he had never met Google's doughty chief executive Eric Schmidt.

Speaking at a press conference at Google headquarters last week, Schmidt told the attendant acolytes that Viacom and other media companies will eventually realise the error of their ways and permit their content to be aired on websites for free.

He was referring to YouTube - the company's recently acquired $1.65 billion (€1.26bn; £854.1m) bargain buy that is currently on the receiving end of litigation by Viacom, News Corporation and others.

All of which believe Google/YouTube should pay for the privilege of using their copyrighted content. Viacom's suit demands the removal of 100,000 unauthorized clips.

Schmidt disagrees, although he could hardly do otherwise given that his company's fortunes rest 100% on the exploitation of other people's content.

"Eventually all of the copyrighted content will be available on virtually all of the sites," ballyhooed Schmidt. "The growth of YouTube, the growth of online, is so fundamental that these companies are going to be forced to work with and in the internet."

Gartner analyst Allen Weiner agreed with the Google honcho: "Any smart-thinking media company is going to need to work with them."

Even some media companies see it Schmidt's way. Last week CBS hailed YouTube as a "huge promotional vehicle".

Currently the brand is a blazing supernova, having attracted over 133 million visits in January - a fourteen-fold increase on the same month in 2006.

Industry observers, however, point out that supernovas increase greatly in brightness as the result of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass.

Data sourced from Bloomberg.com; additional content by WARC staff