Google buys anti-piracy firm Widevine


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Anti-piracy firm Widevine announced Friday that it has been acquired by Google, providing another sign that Google is trying to burnish its image in Hollywood and among its allies in Washington. Widevine’s technology can protect both downloaded content and streams from unauthorized copying — the sort of capability that could make YouTube more appealing to studios as a distributor of high-value programming. It’s also well-suited to Google’s strategy for extending the Android platform to more devices.

The announcement came a day after Google’s general counsel, Kent Walker, revealed plans (on Google’s Public Policy Blog) to implement four changes long sought by copyright holders, including moving faster to take down allegedly infringing material and doing a better job deterring pirate sites from selling ads through Google.


Terms of the Widevine deal weren’t disclosed, and Widevine Chief Executive Brian Baker declined to elaborate. A Google spokesman didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment. Here’s the prepared statement he released Friday:

Widevine is excited to announce that we have agreed to be acquired by Google.

For many years, Widevine has enabled consumers to access digital entertainment content. Through a combination of content protection and video optimization technologies, we’ve provided consumers with the highest quality Internet video experience while giving them freedom to watch on a variety of devices. With the recent growth of Internet video and network connected devices, it is increasingly important for technology to provide consumers with the capability to watch what they want, when they want, where they want.

By working with Google, we are even further committed to the consumer Internet video experience and to the needs of content owners. Widevine will continue to supply the industry with leading video optimization and content protection solutions. We are excited to have access to Google’s vast resources as we continue to improve our products, support our customers, and meet the future needs of consumers, content owners, service providers and device manufacturers everywhere.

Updated, 5:42 p.m.: I overlooked a post on a different Google blog (‘The Official Google Blog’) that provides a bit more insight from Google about the thinking behind the deal. As suspected, it’s about streaming content to multiple devices, on demand. Wrote Mario Queiroz, vice president of product management:

Content creators and distributors are making huge strides in bringing us content in this way, but to do so, many require high-quality video and audio, secure delivery, and other content protection and video optimization technologies. With these tools in place they can easily and effectively give you access to the rich library of content you want to watch, with the immediacy you’ve come to expect.

— Jon Healey

Healey writes editorials for The Times’ Opinion Manufacturing Division.