Tag Archives: DRM

Why Google Acquires Widevine?

W3C’s HTML5 FAQ page might give some clues (see screenshot) about why Google buys Widevine, a DRM vendor that powers Netflix among others. What if Google adds DRM to HTML5 video?

Google did something similar when they bought On2 and open-sourced VP8 as part of WebM. This move pushed MPEGLA to make h.264 royalty-free for Web video. The iPad did the rest to accelerate adoption of HTML5/h.264 video in the web.

HTML5 video with DRM is what Youtube needs to convince content owners, movie studios in particular, that their content will be protected. Furthermore, HTML5 video with DRM, combined with cool HTML5 UIs, makes the Web Browser an ideal front-end for video on any screen. Where there is a browser, Google will make money with ads.

Adding open source DRM to HTML5 is consistent with Google’s web centric vision. Chrome OS is a perfect example of that vision, illustrated in this recent post on Google’s blog (with Eric Schmidt’s talk on the Chrome event this week).

I tend to think Google sees this acquisition more strategic than just adding DRM to GoogleTV.

Music DRM is dead

log sony bmg
At last, the Music industry seems to start accepting that Internet and mp3 have changed the way people consume songs.

The announcement that Sony BMG will launch a DRM-free music download service, confirms the death of Music DRM. Last month Warner Music announced that they would sell DRM-free music through Amazon. Some months earlier, EMI and Vivendi Universal did similar announcements. The four biggest labels finally abandon DRM, the technology that users renamed as Digital Restrictions Management, instead of the original Digital Rights Management.

The push to kill DRM came from Apple itself in early 2007. When pressed to license iTunes DRM to other mp3 players, Steve Jobs refused, as licensing would mean leaking vital info that keeps DRM unbroken. Furthermore, he advised labels to remove protection instead. Steve Jobs reminded labels that they were already providing unprotected music whenever they sold a CD. 

A few months later, DRM’s death it is a reality.  Music labels are in a better position now than previously with Apple’s near-monopoly on music download. Amazon and the labels going direct will be a strong competition to Apple.

Both the consumers and the Music industry will win.