There was an article on Ars Technica this weekend entitled Google selleth then taketh away, proving the need for DRM circumvention which is yet another example of how users can be screwed when they bet on a platform that utilizes DRM. The article states

It's not often that Google kills off one of its services, especially one which was announced with much fanfare at a big mainstream event like CES 2006. Yet Google Video's commercial aspirations have indeed been terminated: the company has announced that it will no longer be selling video content on the site. The news isn't all that surprising, given that Google's commercial video efforts were launched in rather poor shape and never managed to take off. The service seemed to only make the news when embarrassing things happened.

Yet now Google Video has given us a gift—a "proof of concept" in the form of yet another argument against DRM—and an argument for more reasonable laws governing copyright controls.

Google contacted customers late last week to tell them that the video store was closing. The e-mail declared, "In an effort to improve all Google services, we will no longer offer the ability to buy or rent videos for download from Google Video, ending the DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program. This change will be effective August 15, 2007."

The message also announced that Google Checkout would issue credits in an amount equal to what those customers had spent at the Google Video store. Why the quasi-refunds? The kicker: "After August 15, 2007, you will no longer be able to view your purchased or rented videos."

See, after Google takes its video store down, its Internet-based DRM system will no longer function. This means that customers who have built video collections with Google Video offerings will find that their purchases no longer work. This is one of the major flaws in any DRM system based on secrets and centralized authorities: when these DRM data warehouses shut down, the DRM stops working, and consumers are left with useless junk.

Furthermore, Google is not refunding the total cost of the videos. To take advantage of the credit Google is offering, you have to spend more money, and furthermore, you have to spend it with a merchant that supports Google Checkout. Meanwhile, the purchases you made are now worthless.

This isn't the first time nor will it be the last time that some big company gives up on a product strategy tied to DRM, thus destroying thousands of dollars in end user investments. I wonder how many more fiascos it will take before consumers wholeheartedly reject DRM* or government regulators are forced to step in.

 Now playing: Panjabi MC - Beware (feat. Jay-Z)


Thursday, August 16, 2007 9:12:47 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hi Dare,

I have a lot of respect for Google but this is bizarre. Google should have set-up a service that will sit in the cloud and wait for DRM-check connections from everyone who has bought the DRM'd products in question, then permanentlt un-DRM the products. In its place, a watermark will be placed so that the original content owners can check any piracy instances (wholesale piracy) that pop up elsewhere in the cluod or via torrents. That wsy everyone is super happy, except maybe the original content owners who will now have the job of policing for compliance.

My suspicion however is that water-tight contracts with content owners would have prevented any other outcome from the path Google has taken so far wrt this issue. This is only a suspicion.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007 2:08:53 PM (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)
Hi Dare, All,

It seems Google has "repented". (Not on the revocation but on the compensation).

Please see this link:

If you are affected, please contact Google directly and they'll give you a full refund, and you still get to keep the earlier Google Checkout credit(s) you were given.

Good on you Google!

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