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1/9/2006
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Google Video DRM Raises Questions

In announcing its online video store, Google said it's developed its own digital rights management software to prevent people from distributing downloads in violation of partners' copyrights. But some bloggers are complaining that they don't want yet another incompatible DRM system.

Google Inc.'s decision to use its own copyright-protection technology in its online video store announced last week has some tech bloggers asking: Does the world need another DRM system?

Essentially, the Internet search giant's move is forcing people to ponder whether Google is joining Microsoft Corp. and Apple Computer Inc. in using security technology that limit consumers' ability to move content among devices.

A Google spokesman said Monday that the search engine was not releasing details of its digital rights management system, which was mentioned in its launch of the Google Video Store at the Consumer Electronics show.

"We do feel that DRM should be simple for consumers to move their video content between devices, and we intend to work with consumer electronics companies to help make that happen," the spokesman said.

Apple and Microsoft each have their own incompatible proprietary DRM systems. As a result, music bought on Apple's iTunes music store cannot be easily played on portable digital devices that support Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

In announcing its online video store and partners who would sell content, including CBS and the National Basketball Association, Google said it had developed its own DRM software to prevent people from distributing downloads in violation of copyrights. Such protection is needed in order to sign up major content providers.

The disclosure sparked questions among tech bloggers.

"Google obviously felt it needed to do so to convince the big content companies to take part -- but what it probably means is that we now have yet another incompatible copy protection system that is likely to lock people in (while also opening up new security holes)," TechDirt said.

Google last week also announced at CES that it's working with DivXNetworks Inc. to provide technology that would enable consumers to play the video they buy on multiple consumer electronic devices, either in the home or on a mobile device.

DivX, based in San Diego, has developed video compression technology that the company claims offers DVD-quality at 10 times greater compression than MPEG-2 files, enabling full-length films to fit on a CD or delivered over broadband connections.

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