Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has used his new Twitter account to unleash a stream of abuse against Google, describing the search giant as a “piracy leader” and labelling parts of its business model as “plain stealing”.
Although he described Google as a “great company doing many exciting things” Murdoch tweeted that he had “only one complaint, and it’s important.” This is in reference to Google not blocking piracy sites from its search results, allowing people to illegally download content from those sites and “hurting writers, actors, all concerned”.
Murdoch, whose company News Corporation owns film studio 20th Century Fox and many other media outlets, then apparently did a Google search for Tom Cruise blockbuster Mission Impossible, and found “several sites” promising free downloads. “I rest my case,” he tweeted.
His comments were part of a wider tirade against the Obama administration in Washington, which he accused of bending to the will of “Silicon Valley paymasters” over plans to water down online piracy legislation. On Saturday, the White House indicated that it would not proceed with the SOPA and PIPA anti-piracy bills, which proposed to give the state power to interfere with the architecture of the web.
Google, Yahoo, Facebook and several other large web companies have previously written to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, warning that the proposed laws mostly serve the interests of Hollywood and the music industry, and could result in internet censorship. While the companies agree that new enforcement tools are needed to combat copyright infringement and counterfeiting, they say proposed bills go too far.
One of the biggest concerns is that SOPA would allow copyright and IP owners to get court orders, which they can use to force payment services companies and online advertising networks to cut off services to foreign sites that are deemed to be infringing copyright.
Murdoch suggested Google’s role as a “piracy leader” explained why the company was “pouring millions into lobbying” against SOPA.
“This is just nonsense,” said a Google spokesperson in a statement. “Last year we took down five million infringing web pages from our search results and invested more than [US]$60 million in the fight against bad ads.
“Like many other tech companies, we believe that there are smart, targeted ways to shut down foreign rogue websites without asking US companies to censor the Internet,” the company added.