- Google's Schmidt To Newspaper Publishers: Don't 'Piss Off' Consumers

Staci D. Kramer
Tuesday, April 7, 2009; 11:07 PM

Someone called the appearance of Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt as the closing keynote for the annual meeting of newspaper publishers "a twist of fate." Poppycock. It's as orchestrated as a routine on Dancing with the Stars. The Associated Press board and executives certainly knew when they announced a campaign to "protect" news content yesterday?with Google (NSDQ: GOOG) as lightening rod?that Schmidt would be the coda for the Newspaper Association of America conference concluding today in San Diego.

And what does Schmidt have to say about AP? Responding to a question after his speech: "We at Google have a multimillion-dollar deal with the Associated Press not only to distribute their content but also to host it on our servers." That's why, he added, "I was a little confused by all of the excitement in the news in the last 24 hours. I'm not sure what they were referring to. We have a very, very successful deal with AP and hope that will continue for many, many years."

But Schmidt came down harder on concerns about intellectual property and fair use: "From our perspective, we look at this pretty thoroughly and there is always a tension around fair use ? I would encourage everybody, think in terms of what your reader wants. These are ultimately consumer businesses and if you piss off enough of them, you will not have any more."

As for the legalities, "all of these partially thought-through legal systems are being challenged by the ubiquity of the internet."

Bull detector: Schmidt spoke in his keynote about computer-based BS detectors that might help reporters sniff out whether or not a politician is telling the truth. I'll apply my own non-computerized version to say that, yes, on the surface Schmidt and Google lawyer Alexander Macgillivray, who blogged about this issue today, are both right that the AP content protection campaign isn't about the licensed content Google has from the wire service. But, as AP execs and board members have said, this is about the way content from across the news industry is used, not about AP-licensed content. That would make Google part of it, no matter which side you fall on.

Update: Poynter has posted an unofficial transcript of the Q&A. The NAA audio is here.


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