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Mucky-Mucks Yuk it Up


A few dozen Gulf Stream jets were parked on the airport runway in Hailey last week—not a completely unusual occurrence, but from these disembarked the likes of Google's Sergey Brin, Rupert Murdoch of Newscorp, Warren Buffett, Time Warner Inc. chief executive Dick Parsons, and Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger.

The power group was in town for the 25th annual conference of media moguls hosted by legendary investment banking firm Allen and Co.

While Allen and Co. regular Rupert Murdoch awaited news on his $5 billion bid to acquire Dow Jones and Company, which owns the Wall Street Journal newspaper, fellow media mogul Sumner Redstone of Viacom was waiting to hear about his own $1 billion lawsuit against Google for copyright infringement. Nothing like a little billion-dollar lawsuit between conference attendees to create some tension.

The current feud between Brin and Redstone began at last year's conference, when YouTube founder Chad Hurley made enough of an impression that Google CEO Eric Schmidt agreed to buy the company four months later for $1.65 billion. Earlier this year, Redstone and Viacom sued Google and YouTube after finding clips from hundreds of thousands of its shows on YouTube, including The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and South Park.

Early on Friday, Schmidt claimed that Viacom is "a company built from lawsuits." Before an afternoon meeting with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Redstone told BW that "Sharing is all well and good. But they are making money by selling Viacom products which have taken decades to develop. Proprietary rights are critical to our entire industry, not only to Viacom."