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DRM Renders Google Movies Unplayable

by August 14, 2007
Google Video Strands Users

Google Video Strands Users

DRM to Render Legally Purchased Movie Downloads Useless as Google Video Closes its Doors.

As consumers are forcibly ushered into the Digital Rights Management (DRM) controlled digital era by content providers bent on enforcing their rights above the rights of consumers who have legally purchased content, users of Google Video among the first casualties of DRM.

As of last Friday, Google announced to consumers via email that it would discontinue Google Video as of August 15, 2007. The purchase arrangement made with the service when videos were downloaded means that the DRM protected videos will not be playable without the service.

Here follows the text of Google’s kind notice, quoted from Boing Boing:


As a valued Google user, we're contacting you with some important information about the videos you've purchased or rented from Google Video. 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.

To fully account for the video purchases you made before July 18, 2007, we are providing you with a Google Checkout bonus for $5.00. Your bonus expires in 60 days, and you can use it at the stores listed here: http://www.google.com/checkout/signupwelcome.html. The minimum purchase amount must be equal to or greater than your bonus amount, before shipping and tax.

After August 15, 2007, you will no longer be able to view your purchased or rented videos.

If you have further questions or requests, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you for your continued support.


The Google Video Team
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View
, CA 94043

As pointed out in the Boing Boing editorial, words like ‘purchase’ and ‘own’ are used liberally throughout Google’s email as they are telling users that they can no longer use items they supposedly ‘own’.

As to why the ‘purchased’ videos will not work without Google, here is some more fun reading on Boing Boing:

If the reader believes that they own anything after spending their hard earned money, they are mistaken, at least according to the content producers.

Content producers, such as movie studios and software companies, have long maintained that a purchase of content is simply a contract for licensed use of the content, and at most ownership is only the physical media that the content is recorded on. This view is contrary to US Copywrite Law, Durration of Copywrite, and the Doctrine of First Sale, but the abstractions of the intangible digital trasfer of data is allowing these ideas to be usurped. Before the internet and the digital revolution, there was no practical way for companies to enforce termination of licensure. Now the content, decoding software, and even the playback hardware are all rigged to allow the plug to be pulled at any time. Digital media with DRM offers content producers a way to breach the license contracts at will, with little to no consumer recourse.

For readers who are not aware of the DRM issue: it is the s**t stick that large entertainment companies plan to beat you with. Repeatedly. And this is only the start.

That's the lesson for DRM: only the big motion picture companies, search giants and other corporate overlords get to own property. We vassals are mere tenant-farmers, with a precarious claim on our little patch of dirt.

- Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

The Google Video service was originally launched at CES 2006, but failed to gain market share following increased competition from the likes of Amazon, Wal-Mart, Apple, and most recently, the Blockbuster acquisition of movie download service, Movielink.

Google is said to be offering reparations, reports vary, to the tune of anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00 in the form of a coupon for each movie purchase. The coupon can be used through retailers who use Google Checkout. Not the cold hard cash that the movies were purchased with.

That way, Google can make back some of the credited money. Nice.

Oh, and the refunded ‘money’ evaporates after 60 days.

About the author:
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Professionally, David engineers building structures. He is also a musician and audio enthusiast. David gives his perspective about loudspeakers and complex audio topics from his mechanical engineering and HAA Certified Level I training.

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