Kara Swisher

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Ari’s New Message to Googlers: Let’s Hug It Out, Geeks!

Here’s an unusual new role for the legendarily pugnacious Hollywood super-agent Ari Emanuel: Digital peacemaker.

After he challenged Google to do a lot better with stopping content piracy in an onstage interview at the D: All Things Digital conference on Wednesday night, the search giant’s top advertising exec called the co-CEO of the William Morris Endeavor “very misinformed.”

So, the never-shy-or-retiring Emanuel has now penned an open response to all Googlers inviting the company to come to the table and talk about improving copyright filtering on the giant search engine.

And here it is in its entirety:

I am misinformed about a lot — just ask my wife — but I’m not misinformed about this: One of our last remaining dominant American exports is our creativity, no matter how you define it, either as a story or as an algorithm. There is equal genius behind companies like Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Google as there is behind artists who create stories that resonate around the world. We need to protect America’s intellectual property and Hollywood can’t do it on its own. I understand that the onus is not entirely Google’s, but let’s stop talking at each other and get in a room with all parties to figure this out. To be clear, I don’t want to rehash SOPA as we can all agree that was a reflection of Southern California’s arrogance, and let’s also not pretend that we’re working together on this issue because we have Youtube channels together. This is a larger conversation. It’s time for Hollywood, our government and Silicon Valley to step up and collectively resolve this problem. Let me know where and when and I’ll be there.


Possible guests for this potentially awkward sitdown: Google and tech giants like Microsoft and Facebook; all the major media companies, including News Corp., and Time Warner; Justice Department head Eric Holder and California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Such making nice is in stark contrast to the allegations and counterclaims between Emanuel and Google at the D10 conference earlier this week, where we managed to engineer a public face-off between the pair on a very hot button issue.

It began Wednesday night when Emanuel repeatedly called on Google to do better filtering of copyrighted material.

“We need Northern California to figure out how to keep our intellectual property from being stolen,” he said. “If Google was in China, and their stuff was being stolen, they would leave China, right?”

And: “I promise you that Larry David and Aaron Sorkin spend a lot of time on their stuff, and the guys up north need to figure out their pipes, and help us protect that stuff.”

Using the example of filtering for child pornography, he said Google — and the rest of Silicon Valley — are unwilling to come to the table to negotiate a better alternative to the highly controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which failed to pass in Congress earlier this year.

But, in an onstage interview the next day, a top Google top advertising exec took issue with Emanuel’s characterization of the company’s effort.

“I think he was misinformed, very misinformed,” Google’s Susan Wojcicki. “We do not want to be building a business based on piracy.”

Wojcicki said the problem was a difficult one to solve compared to dealing with child pornography since, “when I see content, I don’t know if you own the copyright.”

She noted that the company has spent $30 million building its Content ID system, which checks YouTube content for copyright claims, and that Google also takes down more than one million suspect URLs per month.

Wojcicki also said that the sides were already talking about a number of other issues, such as channels on YouTube, but was willing to talk more.

“This is not a technical problem, this is much more of a business issue,” concluded Wojcicki.

Thus, Emanuel took up the gauntlet, after Wojcicki said that Google was willing to “come to the table.”

A table that would — by the way — make a terrific reality show, Ari.

To get caught up on the fracas, here’s a compilation video of Emanuel on the subject and more at D10, and also one of Wojcicki with Google Chrome leader Sundar Pichai:

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald