Schmidt to Creative Community: Prove Your Worth

Google’s Grand Poobah Eric Schmidt was recently quoted in the Wall Street Journal as telling the creative community to “prove it” when he was told in negotiations that content has “intrinsic value”.

Now I have to remind myself that Eric Schmidt was supposedly brought to Google for the famous “adult supervision”, because he certainly had an infantile reaction to a legitimate and widely held view, namely that art and culture have intrinsic value. Which leads one to ask what planet was Eric Schmidt brought up on?

This reminds me of a situation where the owner of several fine horses left them with a stable who employed a negligent veterinarian. The vet’s neglect essentially killed the horses. During the damages phase of his trial for negligence, the stable owner attempted to console the disconsolate horse owner by saying that it was impossible to put a value on something as intrinsically valuable as a horse—so let’s not.

Nice try. Didn’t work, although the stable owner almost got himself a serious shiner.

In any event, it appears that Viacom for one have taken up Mr. Schmidt’s challenge. Of course, Mr. Schmidt apparently—and incredibly—was unaware that we have statutory damages for the very reason that we don’t want to have to prove the intrinsic value of each work, and that all copyrights are essentially valued alike.

Sorry, Mr. Schmidt—you have to prove it. And good luck.

But we shouldn’t be too surprised that Schmidt got it wrong, he was the one who agreed a $200 million liability escrow fund was good enough to cover potential copyright infringement claims against YouTube. That’s billion with a “B” Mr. Schmidt.