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In Mpls., Google boss reiterates free services and slams online piracy bills

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Google Chairman Eric Schmidt
Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, left, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, right foreground, tour CoCo Minneapolis before a roundtable discussion about Internet tools for business at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange building, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2011. CoCo Minneapolis is a shared workspace for entrepreneurs in the creative and tech fields.
MPR Photo/Jennifer Simonson

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, speaking in Minneapolis Wednesday, said the company will get the vast majority of its revenue from advertising for years to come. 

And he says that means Gmail, YouTube, and other online applications and services from Google will remain free.

"I'm sure it will," Schmidt said during a forum at the University of Minnesota. "You never say 'never' or 'always.' But our model of Google apps as a free service for universities and the average consumer is working really well for us."

Schmidt said advertising revenue makes everything click for Google.

"We love advertising," he said. "I think the reality is Google will be an advertising-based company for many, many years, decades, centuries, whatever, simply because it's such a good model for getting information out and making money at the same time."

Schmidt said the most important thing the government can do to encourage the growth of technology companies is to foster favorable conditions for the spread of faster and faster Internet connections.

"Whatever it takes to make sure you've got high connectivity," he said. "People do the work once you get them connected. The thing they can't do is wire their own Internet."

Schmidt blasted proposed federal legislation to tighten online copyright regulation. The bills, intended to combat the trade in pirated movies and music, would give copyright holders and law enforcement officials added powers to cut off websites and require search engines, and others to block access.

Schmidt said he doesn't want people breaking copyright laws. But he said this legislation before Congress won't stop that. 

"They are essentially censorship bills," Schmidt said. "They violate all sorts of free speech issues. They give people who are complainants the right to delete links from the Internet. And in one version, they actually criminalize the indexing of that content through the search engine. That's a very, very slippery slope."

Schmidt did not address Duluth's application to receive an ultra high-speed broadband network courtesy of Google.  The company selected Kansas City earlier this year.