I know it can’t have been easy being stuck in the glass elevator in Apple’s cool new store in New York, but since no one died in this tragic accident, I feel safe in making what I consider to be the obvious comparison with Apple “locking” people into iTunes via its use of DRM and a proprietary music format. I know, I know — I should grow up.
Do regular users care about DRM — digital rights management — or is it just open-source fans, libertarians and other geeks? It will be interesting to see what kind of reaction Google gets to the super-duper, Google-rific DRM built into the search company’s new video store.
As more than one person has pointed out, the last thing we really need is another form of DRM, what with Sony installing rootkits and Apple handcuffing you three different ways when you shop at iTunes.com. Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin are famous for their mantra “Don’t be evil” — and yet, for many, DRM is synonymous with evil (some interesting comments on this Digg post).
If it is evil, is it a necessary evil? Can Google manage to convince everyone that its DRM is somehow the lesser of several evils? Sure, many of us — like Fred Wilson — are crying a little on the inside. But do most people just care about having the ability to download NBA games or that great Star Trek episode with the green dancing alien girl, at the right price, without giving a rat’s behind about the DRM?
With all the attention Google has gotten for its new music search, you would think the company was going to compete with iTunes.com, or Napster.com — or that Larry and Sergey had set up their own music label. It isn’t the Google Music Store that some have been talking about, and you can’t even click on a link and listen to a streaming web clip of a song. So Google searches for things and then links to them — what’s the big deal about that?
Maybe at some point Google will be able to index audio files and link to them — although that would no doubt become a legal quagmire. Mike over at TechDirt is already speculating about the existing music search getting the company in trouble because it links to lyrics, and
the RIAA a music publisher just finished shutting down PearLyrics.com (although there is some reason for hope there, apparently — more details here). In any case, Google Music seems a little thin to be getting so excited about.
Apparently I’m in good company. Fred Wilson of A VC doesn’t think much of it either (Fred, I tried to link to your post directly but the link didn’t work).