Google's Copy Protection: Supplying The Tools For Others To Be Evil

from the yay!-less-choice! dept

When we called attention yesterday to the news that Google was apparently launching its own proprietary copy protection, we dinged AP and Reuters for completely ignoring it in their reports. At least for the AP, the reason they didn't mention it was because it was under embargo, and that embargo is now over, since Larry Page is on stage in Las Vegas talking about it. Unfortunately, Google's copy protection scheme sounds just as bad as we feared. It is their very own, and it will limit what you can do with the video significantly. You can't transfer the video to mobile devices. It doesn't work on a Mac. And, you can only view the video when you're online, as the copy protection obviously is calling home first (which, of course, opens up the potential of security holes).

On the flip side, Google will (I'm sure) quickly point out that their DRM offers more "flexibility" than others, in that you don't have to use it, and if you do, you have choices about how restrictive it is. In other words, Google is basically going to say that they built the locks, but it's up to the content provider to be evil with those locks. As part of this whole offering of letting anyone sell videos through their system, they're also offering more payment options so that (unlike iTunes) content providers can choose how much things cost, and even allows some variability (for example, Charlie Rose will offer free streaming for a day after his shows air, and then unencumbered downloads for $0.99 after that). Google takes a 30% cut of any sale. It's nice that they're giving content providers some choice, but it's still quite worrisome that there's now yet another incompatible copy protection scheme that will be making the rounds. This isn't good for anyone and shrinks the overall market. Google may think that it was "necessary" to simply give content providers the option to hang themselves with bad copy protection, but it's a cop out position. Google, at this point, should have a strong enough market position to let content providers know that there's a better way to offer content without copy protection -- and if content providers are too scared, that's their problem. Eventually they would come around when they saw success stories without copy protection.

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  1. icon
    Mike (profile), 6 Jan 2006 @ 6:29pm

    Re: but why?

    Because big content providers have money and power. Google's number 1 job is to make money. As much as possible as fast as possible for their shareholders. That's how it works.

    Right, but what we're saying is that this will make them *less* money. They're shrinking the market by fragmenting it and cutting off all sorts of opportunities to really make money by trying to prop up an obsolete system.

    If anyone could see that, it should be Google.

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