D.R.M. – Google style

While I fully support those copyright holders who want to protect their material, I’ve never been a fan of DRM (digital rights management) systems. As in empowering the copyright holder they appear to run a coach and horses through whatever rights the customer might have. This is particularly relevant in respect of rights managed digital media where the system has the ability to revoke those rights in the future, should circumstances change. The idea that you might buy something that could revoked isn’t a new idea, it’s called a ‘loan’. But if people thought they where paying to loan a movie or music, and not keep it, why would they choose these services over those like a DVD where it’s yours once you’ve bought it? Those support DRM argue that these types of comments are ‘scaremongering’. Are they?

This story in the Washington Post tells exactly that sorry tale. Nineteen months ago Google created an online video rental service, which they’ve now decided was an ‘experiment’ and not a business commitment. Sadly once the plug is pulled on it, anyone who bought videos using this facility won’t be able to watch those productions ever again, because this DRM insists on phoning home each time, and expects someone to be home. Obviously their are ‘legal’ implication to selling things that disappear, so Google has decided to reimburse those who bought videos. But, and this is the sneaky bit, they’ll be crediting them on Google Checkout. So not only won’t you be able to replace those products with other movie downloads, yet, but when you do spend your own money some of it will be making it back to Google. I’m not sure how that fits with the consumer regulations in various locations, but I’d be surprised if it was acceptable in all. Never mind what the customers think.
This is perfect example as to why I won’t be buying any DRM product where your consumer rights can be remotely circumvented. The sooner customers say ‘no’ to DRM music and movies the sooner those peddling this trash will get the message it’s not acceptable. But until they do, we’re going to see more of this sort of rubbish.


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