Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

Summary: Google may be able to maneuver most tech corporations behind it, but Hollywood's tech veto is based in Washington, and I believe they have not yet begun to fight.

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TOPICS: Google
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Ever since the Web was spun there has been tension between Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

Generally, Hollywood has won.

The passage of laws like the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), and their strict enforcement not just by American cops but by foreign trade representatives, is well-known.

(The Veto Club and Bar is located on Hollywood Road in beautiful Hong Kong. I would love to be seen there one day. This is their logo.)

The content industries have also turned peer-to-peer technology into the "porn" of tech. While it's a more efficient way to distribute files, Hollywood has branded it a natural copyright thief, associated it with all the world's evils, and caused most corporate and school networks to shut it off.

When Hollywood felt threatened by new technology Washington has even, in the past, sought to criminalize "attempted" violations of the DMCA. The whole "net neutrality" debate is really about perceived peer-to-peer threats to copyright.

Over the years Apple and Microsoft made themselves allies of the content industries, enforcing Digital Rights Management (DRM) and accepting the Hollywood Veto over their technology in order to take over distribution channels. The alliance has sometimes been uneasy.

Google's WebM, launched at Google I/O yesterday, is the first direct challenge to the Veto launched by a tech company in a decade. The open source, royalty free codec formerly known as VP8 has been met by a full-on FUD attack, but rather than back down Google has pushed forward.

For Internet advocates this is a matter of principle. W3C standards have always been royalty free, patent rights waived, in order to assure maximum penetration of the global market.

The H.264 codec does not meet this test, but Apple, Microsoft, Adobe and the rest of the industry was prepared to make it part of the HTML5 standard, a proprietary technology controlled by MPEG LA, in the name of maintaining peace with the content industries.

Google has played its cards carefully within the industry. Could WebM lose out to Flash? Adobe supports it. Hasn't Microsoft rejected VP8 in favor of H.264 support in IE9? Microsoft says it's not opposed to WebM.

The problem is this is a political issue, not a corporate issue. Google may be able to maneuver most tech corporations behind it (Apple has been silent so far), but Hollywood's tech veto is based in Washington, and I believe they have not yet begun to fight.

What is at stake, in the end, is control of content. Must that control be embedded in base Web technology? Will the Hollywood Veto be maintained?

Stay tuned.

Topic: Google

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26 comments
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  • Shouldn't the owners control content?

    If I'm reading this right, (and I am [b]against[/b] DRM that stops me from using my purchased content the way I want) Google's stance is that [i]they[/i] want to control other people's content as opposed to those who's content it is?

    We [i]know[/i] what Google gets out of it ($$$), but what do the content owners get out of it?
    John Zern
    • It isn't content control, but distribution control

      @John Zern
      The problem with .264 isn't the ability to control content, but controlling the distribution channel. The licensing involved with .264 creates an artificial barrier to entry for some browser creators, and the like. An open standard for the web should be based on protocols that are freely available to all (not just end users, or those associated with MPEG LA).

      I've got no problem with the content providers wanting to publish their content with a royalty-laden protocol, but I believe W3C web standards should be based on totally open protocols. If certain browsers also want to support a proprietary codec that content distributors want to use, that's fine; but a web standard codec should be freely available.
      NetAdmin1178
      • Got it. I guess it was the way the article was worded

        that threw me off a bit.

        Thanks!
        John Zern
      • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

        @NetAdmin1178 Thanks for the explanation. I worked on this a long time but yours is really better than what I came up with.
        DanaBlankenhorn
      • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

        @NetAdmin1178 Good explanation! Thanks for the clarification.
        DataFerret
      • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

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      • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

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    • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

      Google wants to control other people's content, what kind of flawed logic is that? Google only provides a means of distribution of content, maybe you should make that distinction in your logic. What the content "owners?" want is for Google to provide a method for them to control the distribution as part of the "distribution method". Google's position is "net neutrality" (no restrictions on the distribution method) Let society at large determine the "internet" social norms, and not Hollywood or the ISPs. It's actually called "democracy", and not "socialism" as the Hollywood FUD spin would have you believe. But don't think for yourself, let the MSM spoon feed you the the special interests of their owners.
      nyyet
      • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

        The problem is this is a political issue, not a corporate issue. Google may be able to maneuver most tech corporations behind it (Apple has been silent so far), but Hollywoods tech veto is based in Washington, and I believe they have not yet begun to fight.<a href="http://www.edra41.org/"><font color="LightGrey"> a</font></a><a href="http://www.actioniseloquence.net/"><font color="LightGrey"> b</font></a><a href="http://www.funds-china.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> c</font></a><a href="http://www.isupportbridgewater.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> d</font></a><a href="http://www.cca64.org/"><font color="LightGrey"> e</font></a><a href="http://www.nexumbogazici.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> f</font></a><a href="http://www.h4nholdings.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> g</font></a><a href="http://www.dataseek.info/"><font color="LightGrey"> h</font></a><a href="http://www.pcloshwdb.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> i</font></a><a href="http://www.santaibisnes.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> j</font></a><a href="http://ipadbagblog.com/"><font color="LightGrey"> k</font></a>
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    • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

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  • No, we don't know what google will get out of the Open Web

    But we do know what we can get out of the Open Web, if we get a chance to have one.

    Edit: This was meant to have been posted as a reply to John Zern, above.
    OS Reload
  • W3c forces no one to use Web Standards. Hollywood is free to opt out.

    WebM should adopted by the W3c as a HTML 5 standard. If Hollywood or Apple feel H.264 is a better option for them then they are free to opt out of the Open Web.
    OS Reload
    • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

      @OS Reload AMEN!!
      catcreekjim
  • Hollywood wants to control ALL content ...

    Consumer created content posted to YouTube is currently posted with proprietary codecs. Legally speaking, Hollywood in the form of MPEG-LA could swoop down on that at any time. If you look at the licensing that comes with almost ANY video cam on the market these days, it PROHIBITS "commercial use" outright. What is "commercial use"? The consumer is not going to define that. The licensor, MPEG-LA, might well attempt to. And they might see something "commercial" about posting videos on the Internet. IF WebM becomes standardized to HTML-5, you will likely see the appearance of WebM format video cams. That is going to REALLY slap MPEG-LA in the face. This is all about control, and Hollywood is not likely to relinquish that control that extends right into living rooms without a huge fight. I think the good news is that they are going to lose and it is going to change not only the face of the net, but also impact the whole digital video production environment in a very positive way.
    George Mitchell
    • Agreed!

      @George Mitchell - The notion that RIAA/MPAA wants to "control" (and therefore "own") ALL content is not far off the mark.

      "What's mine is mine, and what's thine is mine if I can figure out how to control access to it."

      One thing that has NEVER been discussed is that ALL web users, including individuals, have "digital rights" to the content they create. Imagine if the people who accumulate your data had to pay you royalities for its use!
      DataFerret
      • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

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        Arabalar
    • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

      @George Mitchell
      Trust me when I say, I want to see this brawl...
      IssacS
  • RE: Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

    Down with the anti-competitive Hollywood veto.

    It's corporate quasi-citizens like this that have taken over our government and we, the real citizens, want it back from them.

    Go Google!
    Tholian_53
  • patents controlling h.264 use

    There are virtually no limits to what a patent owner can ask as a requirement for allowing you to implement "their" ideas. By forcing people to use h.264, the patent owner gain control over what other people's video software can do and by extension over what users can use h.264 software for.
    If the patent license states that you can only use it if you do not use it to promote peace, then you violate the patent license. So a patent that covers all possible implementations of a video format essentially restricts your freedom of expression, as long as you use that format.
    michiel cornou
  • Wishing doesn't make it so

    Google can shout patent free as long as it likes, but the real test will be when enough people start using it. That's when the patent challenges will appear as the probability of VP8 not conflicting with one of the myriad H264 patents approaches zero.

    So be prepared for some long legal cases.

    Besides, as far as I know, H264 hardware support exists now, whereas VP8 is a long way behind.
    tonymcs@...