Why Viacom and others justified in blocking Google TV
Many in the blogosphere and advocacy groups are up in arms about Viacom and other television networks blocking Google from accessing their content on Google TV. But there are many good justifications for this because content needs to be supported by commercial entities and because Google is getting a taste of its own medicine.
Many people can’t understand how a content owner could refuse Google TV free access to their content if they already give that free access directly to consumers, but I would ask them this. Since there are plenty of free software applications on the market that permit free consumer usage but restrict free commercial usage intended to generate money, is that wrong? Should those software makers let other companies take their free software and make money from it without sharing some of that revenue? I think most people would agree that commercial entities shouldn’t be allowed to profit from free-to-consumer software or content without having to share some of that revenue with the makers of the content and software.
The other reason these practices are justified is because they are a balancing force between business entities. Google is hypocritical and arrogant when they criticize others for blocking their content because they’ve done the exact same thing to other hardware makers trying to get free access to YouTube. The other noteworthy fact is that Google deliberately threatened Viacom with the possibility of overlooking piracy of Viacom content on YouTube despite having the hardware in place to detect that piracy unless Viacom gave more favorable content licensing terms to Google. Viacom protecting its content is the only way it can have any leverage in negotiations with Google.
Now that other companies are giving Google a taste of its own medicine, Google has no right to cry about it. At some point in the future if and when Google TV becomes significant and Google stops threatening to overlook piracy and comes to a mutual agreement with the content owners, Google TV will be able to access all that content. Until then, there’s no reason to take the side of either Google or the content owners and they should work it out among themselves and in the courts.