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January 16, 2012

Murdoch Blasts Obama, Calls Google a 'Piracy Leader'

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

Rupert Murdoch opened his Twitter account only a month ago, but that hasn’t stopped him from doing what all other tweeters do: ranting, raving and angering his followers.

The News Corp (News - Alert). chairman spent his Saturday evening attacking the likes of Google (News - Alert) – which he called a “piracy leader” – and President Obama, who he suggested is in bed with Silicon Valley behemoths like Google.

At the heart of Murdoch’s venom is the debate over highly-controversial antipiracy legislation that is making its way through Congress. If enacted, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) would enable intellectual property owners to take near-immediate steps to block websites that are accused of copyright infringement.

Supporters of the bill believe that it will prevent the spreading of pirated material. Detractors, like Google and Facebook (News - Alert), argue that the legislation would be the first step toward widespread Internet censorship.

The White House recently raised concerns over certain elements of the legislation, leading to Murdoch’s rant about Obama.

“So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy,” he tweeted. “Plain thievery.”

Murdoch then went after Google in particular, noting how the company profits from advertising that is draped around pirated material.

“Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them,” he tweeted. “No wonder pouring millions into lobbying.”

After receiving some responses from his followers, Murdoch pointed to an example. “Just been to google search for mission impossible. Wow, several sites offering free links. I rest my case.”

Murdoch’s thoughts received immediate backlash from Silicon Valley’s finest, including Cheezburger CEO Ben Huh who compared accusing Google of piracy to accusing a library of copyright infringement. “Access to knowledge is a human right,” he tweeted.

Google didn’t take Murdoch’s comments sitting down, telling CNET that they are pure “nonsense.”

“Last year we took down 5 million infringing Web pages from our search results and invested more than $60 million in the fight against bad ads... We fight pirates and counterfeiters every day,” the statement read.

Google says that the best way to stop online piracy is to require ad and payment companies to cut off sites that provide counterfeited content.

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Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

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