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No.1 - Does Google Steal?

New Tribune Owner Sam Zell Says Google Steals Content, Ad Dollars From Newspapers; Will Zell Lead Old Media To Victory Or Will Google Prove Too Powerful?

Sam Zell, the billionaire investor, is speaking out against Google (GOOG), saying the search engine giant is stealing content and advertising dollars from newspapers across the country. He wants the new media players to start paying more for the old world content they rely on. Can Zell and other men of old media like Sumner Redstone win - boosting newspaper and content stocks in the process? Or will Google flex its muscle and prove too powerful?

CNBC's Media and Entertainment Reporter Julia Boorstin joins the guys from Los Angeles to give some background on Zell’s comments. Certainly he is not the first media mogul to try and sue Google, Julia says - just look at Viacom’s (VIA) suit over YouTube content. Zell wants to be compensated by Google in the same way the Associated Press is paid for its content. He is not trying to effectively shut down Google’s news operations, she says, he just wants a piece of the pie.



Eric Bolling doesn’t understand what Zell wants. Google isn’t plagairizng Tribune (TRB) content, it is simply redirecting users to it. Julia notes that Google News is one of the most useful tools for newspapers as they struggle to define themselves on the web. It simply drives traffic toward newspapers’ online content, and many newspapers rely heavily on it.

When it comes to trading the dispute, do you avoid Google in the event it has to pay up – or do you get long the newspaper companies and hope they follow Zell’s lead? Guy Adami says all this does is prove, once again, that content is king, and another lawsuit of this kind won’t be a big deal for Google whether they have to pay it or not.

Eric points out that Google stock was unchanged today, showing that the smart money is betting they won’t lose.

Both Jeff Macke and Eric Bolling say this won’t change anything for the newspaper companies. The Internet survives fine without Tribune and the only way Zell could come out on top is if he got the owner of every newspaper in the country to side with him.

But even if the newspapers all consolidated – an unlikely, and risky move – could they still face off against Google?

Content may be king, Julia says, but the fact is that most news organizations are dependant on Google to drive traffic to their web sites, and wouldn’t want to waste that resource by starting a legal dispute.

Questions? Comments? fastmoney@cnbc.com

Trader disclosure:
On APR 10, 2007, the following stocks and commodities mentioned or intended to be mentioned on CNBC’s Fast Money were owned by the Fast Money traders:
Bolling Owns (XOM) (EP), Gold, Silver
Strazzini Owns (CBS), (T), (VZ), (YHOO), (MER)
NBC Universal Is The Parent Company of CNBC
LaVorgna Is Deutsche Bank's Chief U.S. Economist

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