NEW YORK: Following this week's criticism by Microsoft that Google "systematically violates copyright" [WARC News: 07-Mar-07], Google ceo Eric Schmidt was insouciance personified when taking the podium Tuesday at a Bear Stearns investment conference in New York.

Nodding momentarily toward the drubbing delivered by Microsoft associate general counsel Thomas C Rubin, Schmidt shrugged: "I have learned that as part of being a player in the media industry, the way one negotiates is everything is leaked and you're sued to death. So the lawsuits ... appear to be in the course of doing normal business."

He annotated his argument with the observation that while the 'sue 'em syndrome' might equate to the preponderance of lawyers in the media industry, "it is not normal in the technology industry, I can assure you".

Google, and its recently acquired YouTube unit, are currently facing a breach of copyright lawsuit from the Association of American Publishers.

In addition, the duo face aggressive negotiations with media giants such as Viacom, CBS and NBC Universal - all eager to part the search colossus from mucho millions in exchange for use of their content.

Schmidt argues that it is all a matter of assessing that content's value, claiming that there is a "genuine disagreement" between Google and the media companies as to the quantifiable worth of copyrighted video material.

"The value is determined by whether people view it, and in our world value is measurable. People say: 'my product is worth X', and Google says: 'prove it'. In that context there is a genuine disagreement."

As the 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes observed: "Words are wise men's counters, they do but reckon with them, but they are the money of fools."

Perhaps his wraith should be invited to arbitrate.

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff