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Google to shut down online renting & selling video service

Google Inc. is shutting down a service that sold and rented online video, ending a 19-month experiment doomed by the proliferation of free clips on other Web sites such as the Internet search leader’s YouTube subsidiary.

New York Times reports that “Universal Music Group will sell a significant portion of its catalog without the customary copy protection software” in the most important digital music retail services, with the significant exception of Apple’s iTunes. EMI started to sell DRM-free music on iTunes in April.

The decision, confirmed late Friday, underscores Google’s intention to concentrate its financial muscle and brainpower on developing an advertising format to capitalize on the immense popularity of online video.

Here are some excerpts from an email sent to Google Video customers a couple of hours ago:

“In an effort to improve all Google services, we will no longer offer the ability to buy or rent videos for download from Google Video, ending the DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program. This change will be effective August 15, 2007. To fully account for the video purchases you made before July 18, 2007, we are providing you with a Google Checkout bonus.”

To play copy-protected videos, Google Video required to use a special media player and to log in to your Google account. “Copy-protected videos are encrypted files. To decrypt these files and allow you to view the video’s content, the Google Video Player needs to communicate with Google over an active Internet connection.” Google Video Player is no longer available, but you can still upload videos.

It’s interesting to watch Larry Page’s CES keynote from 2006 and see how many things have changed since Google Video’s launch:

YouTube, which Google bought last year for $1.76 billion, is expected to be the focal point of the company’s expansion into video advertising. The video section on Google’s Web site will remain open, but will stop showing paid programming Wednesday.

Google has been selling the right to watch a wide range of video, including sports, music and news, since January 2006. Most of the video sold for anywhere from a couple dollars to $20. Customers could pay less to “rent” the right to watch a selected video for a day or buy the show so it would be available to watch indefinitely.

To compensate customers, Google is providing refunds in the form of credits that can be used on its online payment service, Checkout.

Google, Online Video, Video Service

Source:→ The Providence Journal

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