The White House raised concerns yesterday about controversial antipiracy bills being debated in Congress and one way to measure how furious some copyright owners are with President Obama is to read the Twitter posts of Rupert Murdoch.
"So Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery," wrote an obviously angry Murdoch, chairman of News Corp., one of the biggest media conglomerates in the world.
The Senate is debating the Protect IP Act (PIPA) while the House is doing the same with a similar bill, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Both are heavily backed by a large group of entertainment and media companies as well as a host of other copyright stakeholders.
Murdoch's Twitter tirade comes as the debate over the bills during the past several days has gone in favor of the opposition and you can read more about that here.
The pro-copyright interests say they're getting crushed by online piracy. They had generated wide bipartisan support in Congress for PIPA and SOPA coming into this year. Meanwhile, Obama promised numerous times to do more to defend American intellectual property. That's why the comments issued by the White House yesterday about the bills have some in the entertainment sector believing they were betrayed.
The White House said it would not support any bill that enabled censorship or did not protect due process, which echoed opponents' criticism of SOPA and PIPA. By making those comments at this late date, and when the legislative battle is at its fiercest, the White House handed the opposition plenty of ammunition.
Many supporters of the bills believe they know who has engineered and financed the opposition campaign.
"Piracy leader is Google," wrote Murdoch yesterday. Google "streams movies free, sells [advertising] around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying."
Later Murdoch, who joined Twitter earlier this month, tempered his comments a tad by saying Google is a "great company." But he also argued that content creators are hurt by piracy and suggested that if the bill isn't passed it will lead to less movies, music and other media.
"Film making risky as hell," Murdoch wrote. "This has to lead to less, hurting writers, actors, all concerned."
Updated at 12:10 p.m. with Google comment: "We fight pirates and counterfeiters every day. We believe, like many other tech companies, that the best way to stop them is through targeted legislation that would require ad networks and payment processors--like ours--to cut off sites dedicated to piracy or counterfeiting."