Dear Rupert: Google slams News Corp for copyright claims

A week ago, in a letter to the European Commission, News Corps complained that Google is a 'platform for piracy' with 'cynical management'. Today, having gathered together its ammunition, Google responds with a letter of its own. Although News Corp's letter was signed by CEO Robert Thomson, Google's reply starts with the salutation "Dear Rupert" -- addressing CEO Rupert Murdoch -- and the search giant picks apart the complaints levelled at it. One of New Corp's key complaints centred around the idea that Google is riddled with pirated material, and "unlawful and unsavoury content", and this is one of the first ideas that Google shoots down.

Countering accusations of being a platform for piracy, SVP Global Communications, Rachel Whetstone, points to the 222 million copyright infringing websites that were delisted last year. The existence of copyright protecting ContentID technology to help detect infringing footage on YouTube is also cited, as is efficiency in weeding out inappropriate contents such as sexual images of children.

News Corp had also complained that Google used its dominant market position to stifle competition, but Google has a response to this as well. "We are not the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim," says Whetstone, going on to point out that Google has lots of competition itself. While Google is somewhat of a Swiss army knife for the web, there are plenty of specialist services and Google's letter rightly points out that many web users jump directly to websites without using the search engine as a middleman.

The letter also addresses some of News Corp's more bizarre accusations, including the notion that Google's certification process for Android apps gives the company "the freedom to develop competing products". Google says that certifying apps is a necessary process to help ensure security and compatibility, and points out that there are competing app stores available for the platform that users are free to turn to.

After refuting suggestions that preference is given to YouTube videos in search results, Google takes a swipe at News Corp's complaint that it is leading to a "less informed, more vexatious level of dialogue in our society" -- which is a pretty rich coming from a dangerously rightwing media beast responsible for Fox News.

So now blows have been traded in both directions; the ball is now in News Corp's court. It'll be interesting to see whether there is another letter from the Murdoch empire in a week's time and if this descends into a tit for tat exchange that drags on indefinitely.

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