You are hereBloomberg: Google Rallies Opposition to Murdoch-Backed Anti-Piracy Bill

Bloomberg: Google Rallies Opposition to Murdoch-Backed Anti-Piracy Bill

-By Eric Engleman

January 18, 2012- Internet companies led by Google Inc. are using their online clout to stoke opposition to Hollywood-backed anti-piracy measures in the U.S. Congress that they say will encourage censorship and chill innovation.

Google, owner of the world’s most popular search engine, placed a link on its home page today opposing the House and Senate bills, joining protests by Wikipedia and other websites. Google had about 400 million daily U.S. searches in December, according to Internet measurement firm comScore Inc., dwarfing the 111 million viewers of last year’s Super Bowl game.

Public criticism led by Google, Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. slowed an initial “smooth glide to passage” for the anti- piracy measures supported by the entertainment industry, Rogan Kersh, an associate dean at New York University’s Wagner School who conducts research on lobbying, said in an interview.

“Google and Facebook and Twitter are part of our daily lives in a way that most of us find very appealing,” Kersh said. “These are sexy brands. If you’re a member of Congress, you don’t want to be on the wrong side of the social media and new media darlings of America.”

Google typically devotes its home page to displaying its own services, not taking stands on legislation, and the “Google” icon is often used to commemorate historical events. Today, the icon is covered by a black rectangle, and the home page links to a website that asks visitors to sign an online petition urging Congress to reject the legislation.

Wikipedia Shutdown

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia run by a nonprofit organization where users contribute entries, is shutting the English version of its website for 24 hours to protest the measures. Today, that page is blacked out and carries a message saying that the bills “could fatally damage the free and open Internet.”

Microsoft Corp., the world’s largest software maker, said in a statement yesterday that it opposes the House measure as currently drafted. The company said it doesn’t plan to shut down its online services in protest.

The Stop Online Piracy Act in the House and the Protect IP Act in the Senate are backed by the movie and music industries as a means to crack down on the sale of counterfeit goods by non-U.S. websites. Hollywood studios want lawmakers to ensure that Internet companies such as Google share responsibility for curbing the distribution of pirated material.

The so-called blackout day to protest anti-piracy legislation is “abuse of power given the freedoms these companies enjoy in the marketplace today,” Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.