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Oh No, There Goes Google Video!

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Google’s nineteen-month experiment in selling online video ends in a few days, as the company shuts down Google Video and all of the videos purchased from it by consumers.

Oh No, There Goes Google Video!
Oh No, There Goes Google Video!

"They are more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with."
-- Bill Gates on Google, from a 2005 Fortune Magazine interview.

Digital rights management (DRM) will bite trusting buyers in a few days as Google revokes the playback ability for clips bought on its Google Video service. Customers will be compensated for their loss with credits toward purchases made on websites using Google Checkout.

The abrupt change as noted in an AP report should prove illuminating to people who are not familiar with how remote management of DRM works. Content they thought they owned, but didn’t under Google Video’s terms of service, will simply go away this week.

Author and blogger Cory Doctorow posted a copy of the email being sent to Google Video buyers. His Boing Boing post suggested Google’s action would be a “golden opportunity” for class-action lawyers:

Notice that Google called these videos “purchased” and “download to own” — as though by buying them, they became your property. Funny kind of property, that. Imagine if these were DVDs: one day, a man from Virgin Megastore shows up at your door and says, “We’re taking away all your videos. Sorry! But we’ll give you a credit to spend at a different store. Not a credit for videos, though. Also: it expires in 60 days.”

This is a giant, flaming middle finger, sent by Google and the studios to the customers who were dumb trusting enough to buy DRM videos. How many of these people will trust the next DRM play from Google (no doubt coming soon from YouTube) or the studios?

Google’s decision on Video now gets lumped in with an ill-advised company post on healthcare advertising. Revoking Google Video rights is as much anti-consumer as suggesting ads as a way to counter negative perceptions, deserved or not, of major healthcare interests.

Google looks more like a company that reached a place, by accident or design, where it chooses to emulate the most aloof and capricious ways of Microsoft in its pre-Department of Justice fight days. Bill Gates was more right about Google than he realized.

Oh No, There Goes Google Video!
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