W3C green-lights adding DRM to the Web's standards

Everything is terrible.

Here's the bad news: the World Wide Web Consortium is going ahead with its plan to add DRM to HTML5, setting the stage for browsers that are designed to disobey their owners and to keep secrets from them so they can't be forced to do as they're told. Here's the (much) worse news: the decision to go forward with the project of standardizing DRM for the Web came from Tim Berners-Lee himself, who seems to have bought into the lie that Hollywood will abandon the Web and move somewhere else (AOL?) if they don't get to redesign the open Internet to suit their latest profit-maximization scheme.

Danny O'Brien from the Electronic Frontier Foundation explains the wrangle at the W3C and predicts that, now that it's kosher to contemplate locking up browsers against their owners, we'll see every kind of control-freakery come out of the woodwork, from flags that prevent "View Source" to restricting embedded fonts to preventing image downloading to Javascript that you can't save and run offline. Indeed, some of this stuff is already underway at W3C, spurred into existence by a huge shift in the Web from open platform to a place where DRM-hobbled browsers are "in-scope" for the WC3.

Previously, previously.

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16 Responses:

  1. gths says:

    Well that's going to be irritating.

  2. Skye EX says:

    Fucking hell.

  3. nixar says:

    You forgot the most annoying part: even if you capitulate and install the app, it will be completely useless anyway because it won't handle links. Oh and you probably will still be prompted to install it even if it already is.

  4. nixar says:

    Shit, wrong article.

  5. So much for AdBlock Plus...

  6. "Like" not that I LIKE the news of course but just like that you shared it

  7. porneL says:

    I'd like to clarify that EME spec does not standardize any DRM. Only "ClearKey" strawman is part of the spec.

    W3C EME is a JavaScript API for launching DRM plug-ins (like <object> element launching ActiveX).

    First such plug-in (for Netflix) has been shipped in ChromeOS. The whole W3C process is just rubber-stamping for this, very much like ISO OOXML process.

    Google/Netflix/Comcast oppose standardizing interface between EME DRM plug-ins and the browser (analogous to NPAPI). Presumably because that gives them ability to sue under DMCA anti-circumvention clauses if somebody creates too-user-friendly browser with their DRM plug-in (e.g. if Netflix can't buy license to show content on TVs, then they need to force browser vendors to shut video down if you use your computer's HDMI port).

    • jwz says:

      e.g. if Netflix can't buy license to show content on TVs, then they need to force browser vendors to shut video down if you use your computer's HDMI port

      Your phrasing of this shows that you are the enemy, or have been mentally co-opted by them.

      By analogy:

      "If I can't figure out how to photosynthesize, then I need to force all of you to buy me lunch."

      • gryazi says:

        I'm treading into comic-book-guy territory again, but even the way he phrased it, that read "[Netflix's lawyers are telling them] they need to force all of you to buy them lunch ... [to avoid being sued into oblivion]".

        So the economic incentive to maintain suck pretty much resides in the DMCA.

        Meanwhile, did you know that the application form for the government HAMP mortgage assistance crap comes with the 'you cannot save this and removing this string violates the DMCA' magic embedded? You know, the one that needs to be edited and resubmitted at least 30 times before anyone gets an answer. That's just what I heard from some cough-syrup junkie on the street who pretends to shove those around for a living.

        But that chick also said that after 2 or 3 years they at least finally fixed the thing where the SSN field got duplicated over the phone numbers and stuff.

  8. Frank Miller says:

    Sounds like an opportunity for some enterprising folks to build a DRM free browser. Somebody will likely do that and we'll see what the market wants eh?

    • Pavel Lishin says:

      The market will want to browse Facebook, reddit, and maybe Spotify.

      • Phil says:

        Yes, and no doubt there will be a cryptographic handshake with rotating keys to lock out non-conforming devices, just like satellite dish receivers. Think Secureboot.

    • hattifattener says:

      Well, there's Mozilla bug 923590.

      (Oddly it's not possible to vote for bugs in the "public policy" project; the bug was originally filed against the Mozilla project.)

  9. Shasta McNasty says:

    Looks like you're equating the "users" of software with the "owners" of software. That's your problem right there...

  10. James says:

    Well I'm sure glad I let my membership lapse. It took me way too long to realize that "invited expert" was code for "the person who thinks up reasons to ignore your advice is making $130,000 per year."

  11. We had a really depressing session about this at the Mozilla Summit this past weekend. The short form is that we don't have enough influence to do anything about this (c.f. the h.264 debacle). Netflix wants this, and Google and Microsoft are willing to ship it, so it's going to happen regardless of what standards body they get to openwash it. We're going to be backed into a corner when Microsoft stops supporting Silverlight and we're the only browser that can't play Netflix.

    I do wish at least the W3C would grow some balls and tell them to fuck off. I know it exists to serve the interests of its members, but this is pretty clearly counter to its charter.

    Also I'm not sure there's anything anyone could really do to change this--short of buying the movie studios and changing their policies. You could boycott Netflix, but their orders are presumably coming from the studios providing the content.

    Everything is terrible, indeed.