Google shows why DRM is evil

Google shows why DRM is evilWith Google’s decision to abandon paid-for video downloads — announced last Friday — the company also inadvertently delivered a “Sesame Street-style” lesson in why DRM is evil (notice the irony?). In an email sent out to Google Video customers, the company revealed that, as of August 15th, purchased videos will no longer playback, and instead users are being a given refund in the form of a Google Checkout “bonus”.

One of the inherit problems with DRM is that if a company goes bust or, presumably in Google’s case, decides to shut down the servers it uses to verify a legitimate purchase, then any DRM’d media is rendered useless.

You might be wondering how Google can get away with it, and I’ve been asking myself the same question. Two answers spring to mind. Firstly, the customer-base of Google Video paid-for downloads must be so small that the company doesn’t expect much of a backlash, which in-turn it hopes to have tempered through its offer of Google Checkout vouchers. Secondly, and more worryingly, it’s likely that the terms and conditions of Google Video already protected the company against such a scenario — where customers don’t actually “own” the media they pay for but instead license it in some way that allows for any future changes in service — including a DRM server blackout.

Whether or not this is legal — and I’m no lawyer — it’s a blatant abuse of trust, for which Google deserves to be held account.

(Also see Cory Doctorow’s take).

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

6 Responses to “Google shows why DRM is evil”

  1. Chanio says:

    As the previous author mentioned, ‘vasalls’ it trully reminds me of the medieval lifestyle.

    I am glad that air is not yet a paid service. Imagine some future company cutting off the air provision because it doesn’t pay much…

    Besides, some old words don’t seem to exist today: do you remember the word ‘rent’ ?

    I guess that when a company starts playing with the big leagues it starts behaving as the rest of the players. The same as we, normal folks, they also want complete freedom. In this case, such freedom refers to doing with their customers anything that they want. This is like sudenly becoming something very different from the common companies. And it surely reflects to the ammount of profit that these companies are getting. They should classify themselves as the rich and the rest of the people should classify as the poor. Employees earning 100 times a standard wage. Does all these make any sense? Shouldn’t salaries be distributed in a different way before all these become something worse?

    Alberto

  2. Decklane says:

    This does go completely against Google’s stated “Don’t be evil policy”. Their approach is, since there are so few people that are using the service then the PR disaster won’t be too bad. They’re doing something blatantly wrong, simply because they know they can get away with it. If that is not to be put in the ‘evil’ category, I don’t know what is.

    They are hardly short of cash and it surprises me that they don’t allow this media to play for another 1-3 years to show good will. Surely the cost would be insignificant compared to the value of avoiding going against what is supposed to be one of their guiding principles.

  3. Uncle X says:

    DRM is defenitely evil.
    I never had problems with DRM, I did not know it existed. Using codecs from the K-Lite codec pack, all even DRM protected files played with no problems. So I never even noted DRM existed.
    Until, that is:
    -companies started sneaking DRM in hardware (newer video cards), I bought this hardware and returned it to the shop. They forgot to mention, it included DRM. For me a reason not to buy this product.

    -And Microsoft sneaks in updates in Vista, so even with the K-Lite codec pack; files lose video quality now.

    DRM is against: “Isaac Azimovs Laws of Robotica”

    I can live with software, that violates Isaac Azimovs laws, eventually I can modify the software, so I stay in controll no matter what.

    I, the user (human) must be able to control the hardware, hardware controlling my actions is unacceptable.

    This means the hardware does not trust me (the human/user), especially in a big network like the internet….. Reminds me of the Terminator, computers in a network, that decide humans can’t be trusted.

    DRM research eventually will lead to disaster. It is immoral research by evil scientists. And must be stopped.

    Anyway, I will never allow my PC to controll my actions, so I returned my DRM infected videocard. Just to make a point. Just put my old card back in.

    Companies know DRM is evil, it is not in the consumers intrest, so they sneak it in not mentioning it to the consumer.

    This kind of conduct is immoral.
    This kind of technology is immoral.

    I think it is time to protect humans by including:
    Isaac Azimovs laws of robotica, in the law.

    Computers need to be slaves, working for, not against the user.
    Computers have no rights, it needs to stay that way. Since a computer is an inanimate/not living object. We don’t give stones right too.

    The other reason is, I want a slave, I do not want my computer controlling me. I like my computer to do as I tell him. A computer not doing as told is defective, and should be returned to the shop for being defective.

    If hardware includeas DRM (not complies with user that is), it must be considered defective hardware. (Isaac Asimov)

    I wil not buy, willing and knowing DRM (defective) hardware, the only way I will buy is when it is sneaked in. Then I will find out my hardware is defective and return it to the shop for a refund.

    I will never accept hardware, that violates Isaac Azimovs laws of Robotica.

    If hardware does violate these laws I consider it a hardware bug, and so return the product.

    I suggest we all do the same before it is to late.

    Microsoft, it is not nice to give me, on purpose defective software/hardware. DRM makes my computer not do as told. This makes my computer defective.

    It would be nicer if Microsoft would be the first company to adopt: “Isaac Azimovs laws of robotica”

    This will lead to higer quality hardware/software for the user. The computer will become a better slave, I like that. Computer doing my work becouse I tell him to. It is no fun doing the computers work, why would I buy that???

    Uncle X(NL)

  4. Uncle X says:

    LAWS OF ROBOTICA:
    1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
    2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
    3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    (By: Isaac Azimov From I, Robot)

    Indeed his most important work, and these laws should also apply to computers, since computers are robots. (A CD is a moving, part so is a HD. Computers are Robot brains)

  5. Uncle X says:

    DRM is defective.

    DRM conflicts with LAW 2.
    By violating copyrights my computer/robot does not cause injury, harm or death. (In a physical sense)

    So if I tell my Robot/computer, to violate copyright it must do so. By doing so, the computer helps me completing my task. Not causing injury to anyone.

    Maybe I might even need to violate a copyright to save a life, maybe my own.

    This is fair. Since computers/robots are for everyone.

    If my computer does not do as told, it is defective.

    DRM hardware is defective hardware. (So should be returned to the shop for being defective)

  6. Uncle X says:

    DRM is defenitely evil.
    I never had problems with DRM, I did not know it existed. Using codecs from the K-Lite codec pack, all even DRM protected files played with no problems. So I never even noted DRM existed.
    Until, that is:
    -companies started sneaking DRM in hardware (newer video cards), I bought this hardware and returned it to the shop. They forgot to mention, it included DRM. For me a reason not to buy this product.

    -And Microsoft sneaks in updates in Vista, so even with the K-Lite codec pack; files lose video quality now.

    DRM is against: “Isaac Azimovs Laws of Robotica”

    I can live with software, that violates Isaac Azimovs laws, eventually I can modify the software, so I stay in controll no matter what.

    I, the user (human) must be able to control the hardware, hardware controlling my actions is unacceptable.

    This means the hardware does not trust me (the human/user), especially in a big network like the internet….. Reminds me of the Terminator, computers in a network, that decide humans can't be trusted.

    DRM research eventually will lead to disaster. It is immoral research by evil scientists. And must be stopped.

    Anyway, I will never allow my PC to controll my actions, so I returned my DRM infected videocard. Just to make a point. Just put my old card back in.

    Companies know DRM is evil, it is not in the consumers intrest, so they sneak it in not mentioning it to the consumer.

    This kind of conduct is immoral.
    This kind of technology is immoral.

    I think it is time to protect humans by including:
    Isaac Azimovs laws of robotica, in the law.

    Computers need to be slaves, working for, not against the user.
    Computers have no rights, it needs to stay that way. Since a computer is an inanimate/not living object. We don't give stones right too.

    The other reason is, I want a slave, I do not want my computer controlling me. I like my computer to do as I tell him. A computer not doing as told is defective, and should be returned to the shop for being defective.

    If hardware includeas DRM (not complies with user that is), it must be considered defective hardware. (Isaac Asimov)

    I wil not buy, willing and knowing DRM (defective) hardware, the only way I will buy is when it is sneaked in. Then I will find out my hardware is defective and return it to the shop for a refund.

    I will never accept hardware, that violates Isaac Azimovs laws of Robotica.

    If hardware does violate these laws I consider it a hardware bug, and so return the product.

    I suggest we all do the same before it is to late.

    Microsoft, it is not nice to give me, on purpose defective software/hardware. DRM makes my computer not do as told. This makes my computer defective.

    It would be nicer if Microsoft would be the first company to adopt: “Isaac Azimovs laws of robotica”

    This will lead to higer quality hardware/software for the user. The computer will become a better slave, I like that. Computer doing my work becouse I tell him to. It is no fun doing the computers work, why would I buy that???

    Uncle X(NL)

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