Friday, October 08, 2004

Breaking Google's DRM in Safari

(Jan 2006): This post is about the pseudo-DRM implemented by Google Book Search, if you're looking for more information about the DRM used by the new Google Video Marketplace the Register has a good article on the issues surrounding its introduction, and of course there is always Slashdot.

Well for Mac OS X users at least Google's DRM doesn't look to be that hard to work around. For instance Google give an example book on the Print Service page, so working from there...

"Mastering Digital Photography" from Google Print

Selecting the image which contains the scan of the book page

Using Safari all you need to do is open the Activity window, and select the image component representing the scanned page, then just double click on it to open it in a new window free of DRM. It's hardly rocket science...

Of course anyone wanting to find out how to bypass the Google DRM will probably have used Google to find this post to tell them how to do it, bit ironic really.

I'm in two minds about the entire Google and DRM thing. The DRM we're all used to hating is normally applied to content we ourselves have bought, and that should we by right have total control over. In that case we are being stopped from using our own possessions in the manner we desire. On the other hand, here we haven't paid for anything. Google is giving access to this content for free. So as they own the content, they should have the right to determine how and when we can access it. But on the gripping hand we must also consider fair use (and fair dealing).

If you go to a library you could photocopy several pages from a book, take them away with you, and indeed republish the content so long as it was properly attributed. The Google DRM denies us those rights of fair use. I'm still undecided whether I think this is an "evil" thing from the corporation whose philosophy is to "do no evil".