Harvey Weinstein unleashed a biting attack on Google on Friday, telling a Washington audience that Google’s failure to compensate performers and content providers for YouTube videos amounts to stealing and is making technologists billions while threatening to turn the creative community into "starving artists."
Making clear he is as concerned about websites failure’ to pay newspapers and magazines for their content as studios, Weinstein told a creative forum co-sponsored by MPAA, Time, and Microsoft, that the biggest problem facing creativity these days is "stealing" and he pointed specifically to YouTube owner Google.
"Look at 'Chicago.'" If you go to YouTube, you can download nine songs. There are 13 songs in the entire movie, pretty much 70 or 80 minutes of it. Nobody is getting paid for that. Neither Rob Marshall who directed, me, nor the studio. Nothing," said Weinstein.
"It’s a very creative business plan: Use somebody else’s content for free. Deliver it. Don’t pay them for anything. And build a $500 billion Silicon Valley company and be very, very rich. And then have these slogans like, 'We just want to help the world,'" added Weinstein.
Google's informal slogan is "Do no evil."
"As we see magazines erode, as we see journalism destroyed as we see newspapers destroyed, we see their houses get bigger, their planes get bigger and bigger and bigger."
Weinstein said the time has come for Congress to enact royalty law that would ensure provide artists and content providers received the kind of payments for Internet content music publishers receive when their works are aired on TV and radio.
He predicted the push for changes would come quickly in Congress.
"That battle is coming now because they are stealing. That is what they are doing," said Weinstein. "My artists … they can’t be artists. If you are starving it is hard to be creative."
While pointing to Google, Weinstein said he has the same issue with other Internet sites.
"They are all like this. They are all not paying for content," said Weinstein. "They are all stealing it under the guise of, 'We are all hippies,' but hippies don’t have $22 billion valuations."
He said paying royalties "won’t break them."
In Washington to attend the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, Weinstein made his comments at a Creativity Conference that also featured President Bill Clinton, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" filmmaker Benh Zeitlin, Aspen Institute President-CEO Walter Isaacson and HBO CEO Richard Plepler and PBS President-CEO Paula Kerger.
Weinstein also defended his role in the creative process.
"When I came to Hollywood, everyone was afraid of directors and their shadow," said Weinstein. "Many are still afraid of their shadow."