Monday, April 23, 2012

Hypocritical Use of Piracy As a Corporate Weapon

The Hypocritical Use of Piracy As a Corporate Weapon
Myles Peterson
March 31, 2012

Rupert Murdoch, media tycoon, founder and Chairman and CEO of News Corporation, has been a fanatical supporter of tougher anti-piracy legislation including PIPA and SOPA in the US. But this week it was claimed that Murdoch’s piracy crusade is a rather hypocritical one, with his News Corporation now at the center of a major piracy scandal in which it’s accused of encouraging piracy to cripple competitors.

Troubled international media giant News Corporation felt the ice crack beneath its feet this week after years of enduring ill winds blowing from phone hacking scandals in the United Kingdom and United States.

The Australian Financial Review and the BBC’s Panorama programme combined to publish a four-year investigation into the operations of News Corporation subsidiaries, unveiling damaging claims of a plot to facilitate and encourage piracy with the aim of crippling pay-television rivals.

The allegations cast shadows across the main-stream media landscape, with implications for the conduct of news outlets and the arguments of anti-piracy lobby groups through to the structure of the pay-television landscape itself.

The reaction of News Corporation’s 81-year-old Australian founder and CEO was swift. Rupert Murdoch used his new love of micro-blogging platform Twitter to rubbish the claims, the publishers and make implied threats of legal action against those raising the allegations.

Murdoch’s sensitivity is understandable. The negative publicity generated by earlier phone hacking scandals could be alleviated in part by suggesting that if immoral – even illegal – activity had taken place, it occurred during the pursuit of journalism, however tawdry or overzealous.

Using piracy as a corporate weapon to damage competitors contains no such narrow mountain trail to the moral high ground. Worse, it undermines a global campaign against piracy led by Hollywood lobby groups such as the MPAA, of whom News Corporation is a major member via its entertainment subsidiary, FOX...

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