Thursday, 19 January 2012

Rupert doesn’t get the internet, but it doesn’t stop him hating it!

Good to see Rupert Murdoch in the news again, tweeting away with a careless abandon that must be giving News Corporation’s communications people a nervous tic every time another little missive pops up.

Rupert’s latest 140 character musing involves his current bête noir, namely Google, who have previously been described by Rupert and his lieutenants as "leeches", "pirates", “bloodsuckers”, you get the drift!

A few days ago Rupert tweeted the following, “Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying.”

Now Rupert is a little bit confused here as Google obviously does not pirate or serve pirated content and certainly doesn't sell advertising on it. All Google does is help you find the content, pirated or not.

However, never one to let facts get in the way of a good story (a little Leveson allusion there readers!) Rupert ploughs on. “Just been to Google search for mission impossible. Wow, several sites offering free links. I rest my case.”

Oh dear, memo to Wendi: You really do need to wrestle that keyboard off him!

Now I’m not in the habit of making fun of octogenarians but there is a wider point here. Currently going through the US Congress is a Piracy Bill which is going to attempt to put all sorts of restrictions on the web and filesharing (you may have noticed Wikipedia and other sites blacked out yesterday in protest). The main drivers of this bill are big business, namely News Corporation, the music industry etal who are being hammered by “free” information on the web.

The suspicion is that these corporations however are trying to protect increasingly bankrupt business models, such as buying a CD or reading a newspaper, when new models are being called for. In the same way that the flying shuttle tore up the rules and ushered in the Industrial Revolution, the internet is creating a new era of information sharing.

Rupert however, clings to the past and a world where the only source of information is News Corporation. His ideal customer is someone who reads The Times, watches Sky News and 20th Century Fox movies, listens to a Murdoch radio station and reads a book published by Harper Collins - possibly not even aware that these media are all owned by the same company. And, crucially, Rupert uses all these different media to cross-reference and link to each other.

The internet is breaking up this cosy little world and one suspects there is no going back unless Congress cannot see through the motives of big business.


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