The Google Video service is apparently offering scenes of a sexual and violent nature that violate its own policies, alongside high-profile programmes from broadcasters such as CBS.
Although the Google Video Store is still presented as a trial release, it seems it is still not ready for prime time. One critic, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue, went so far as to say that it is “appallingly half-baked”.
Google representative Marissa Mayer admitted in an interview that “we made a big mistake” in launching the Google Video Store with programmes like CSI and Survivor without promoting them on the home page. They are now prominently promoted amid an apparently arbitrary selection of shows, including vintage episodes of the Brady Bunch and I Love Lucy.
Meanwhile, among the disparate selection of user-contributed clips, specialist web site StreamingMedia.com has found examples of material on Google Video that is says most viewers and content providers would consider contravene the policies of the company. Google policies state that the company can exclude content including pornography or obscenity, hate or incitement of violence, or graphic violence or other acts resulting in serious injury or death.
StreamingMedia also suggests that the service offers copyright material, including episodes of television programmes and music videos, uploaded by consumers rather than rights holders, in clear contravention of copyright policies and laws.
“There has to be a better scrutiny both in terms of copyright issues and in terms of taste and decency, if only to make sure that no one is breaking any criminal law,” Ashley Highfield, the BBC director of new media and technology, told the Guardian.
Some experts have also been critical of the digital rights management mechanism developed by Google to protect content, which requires that users are connected to the internet to view material.
The criticism of Google Video demonstrates the inherent problems of offering a platform that allows users to publish material at no cost with minimal editorial intervention.
While Google may have the motto “do no evil,” it is not necessarily the case that the company can “do no wrong”.