The spat between Google and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp escalated yesterday as the search giant responded to scathing claims made by the publisher last Thursday that it was a “platform for piracy”.
In a blog post sarcastically titled “Dear Rupert”, referring to the billionaire chairman, Google’s Global Communication chief Rachel Whetstone hit back at claims made by News Corp chief executive Robert Thomson last week in a letter to EU commissioner Joaquin Almunia.
Responding to Thompson’s assertion that results from YouTube were favoured in search over the original source of content, Whetstone said: “A simple Google search for ‘videos of Robert Thomson News Corp’ shows content from the BBC, the Wall Street Journal, and Nasdaq ranked above anything from YouTube. We only show YouTube results when they’re relevant to a search query.”
Answering the claim that it supported piracy, Whetstone said Google had done more than any other company to tackle piracy online, removing 222m websites in 2013 due to copyright infringement and investing in technology to tackle it.
Google has been the focus of a Competition Commission investigation into its search practices since 2010, when complainants, including Microsoft, accused it of promoting its own services.
EU commissioner Joaquin Almunia put Google back in the hot-seat on Tuesday by reversing his position from February that the search giant would avoid fines, after it agreed to make some concessions on how it displayed competitors’ links.
Almunia said in a speech that complaints from Google’s competitors had “given us fresh evidence and solid arguments against several aspects of the latest proposals put forward by Google”.