Google Video Store illustrates the problems with DRM.

Around about 19 months ago Google launched their Google Video Store where you could rent or purchase commercial videos of mainly TV shows which you could watch in your browser. On this past Friday the folks at Google announced they were shutting that service down:

The decision, confirmed late Friday, underscores Google’s intention to concentrate its financial muscle and brainpower on developing an advertising format to capitalize on the immense popularity of online video.

Google has been selling the right to watch a wide range of video, including sports, music and news, since January 2006. Most of the video sold for anywhere from a couple dollars to $20. Customers could pay less to “rent” the right to watch a selected video for a day or buy the show so it would be available to watch indefinitely.

In all fairness people weren’t exactly buying up videos from Google Video Store in record numbers so it’s not unreasonable that Google should decide to shut the service down, but what if you were one of the few people who actually “bought” videos from GVS? Because the files are protected by DRM it means you won’t be able to watch those videos you “bought” through GVS:

The video section on Google’s Web site will remain open, but will stop showing paid programming Aug. 15.

To compensate customers who will no longer be able to see the videos that they purchased, Google is providing refunds in the form of credits that can be used on its online payment service, Checkout. Hundreds of merchants accept Checkout.

Well, that’s something I suppose though it means you have to spend more money in order to get your “refund” as it’s a credit on purchases made through Google Checkout which means it’s only good at retailers that offer Google Checkout. That’s like someone selling you a car and then after you’ve driven it for almost two years he shows up and tells you your car isn’t going to work any longer and then hands you a coupon good for credit at a handful of random retailers you may or may not ever want to buy something from. Meanwhile those same videos are available for free via BitTorrent and even perhaps on YouTube.

It bears repeating that DRM only punishes people who play by the rules and does nothing to stop the pirates. If you downloaded a copy of Kobe Bryant’s 81-point basketball game from BitTorrent you’ll still be able to burn it to DVD and watch it all you want after August 15th, but if you “bought” it through Google Video Store… well, perhaps there’s something at you’d like to spend your “coupon” on.


4 thoughts on “Google Video Store illustrates the problems with DRM.

  1. DRM is proof the music and movies corps would rather keep their profits high by fucking the middle men, than actually working with people and develop a sustainable model.

  2. Plenty of folks have been labeling Google as “evil” in this—whereas they’re not using a model any different from anyone else, and in fact are at least providing credit back.

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