DRM In HTML5: What Is Tim Berners-Lee Thinking?

from the what-about-the-users? dept

Back in January, we reported on a truly stupid idea: making DRM an official aspect of HTML5. Things then went quiet, until a couple of weeks ago a post on a W3C mailing announced that the work was "in scope". An excellent post on the EFF's blog explains:

This means the controversial Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) proposal will continue to be part of that group's work product, and may be included in the W3C's HTML5.1 standard. If EME goes through to become part of a W3C recommendation, you can expect to hear DRM vendors, DRM-locked content providers like Netflix, and browser makers like Microsoft, Opera, and Google stating that they can now offer W3C standards compliant "content protection" for Web video.
The same post offers a chilling glimpse of where EME could take us:
A Web where you cannot cut and paste text; where your browser can't "Save As..." an image; where the "allowed" uses of saved files are monitored beyond the browser; where JavaScript is sealed away in opaque tombs; and maybe even where we can no longer effectively "View Source" on some sites, is a very different Web from the one we have today. It's a Web where user agents – browsers -- must navigate a nest of enforced duties every time they visit a page. It's a place where the next Tim Berners-Lee or Mozilla, if they were building a new browser from scratch, couldn't just look up the details of all the "Web" technologies. They'd have to negotiate and sign compliance agreements with a raft of DRM providers just to be fully standards-compliant and interoperable.
Rather ironically, given the fact that EME may well lead to the official closing-down of much of the open Web, Tim Berners-Lee has recently written an article entitled "The many meanings of Open", which included the following section:
The W3C community is currently exploring Web technology that will strike a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of consumers. In this space in particular, W3C seeks to lower the overall proprietary footprint and increase overall interoperability, currently lacking in this area.
Techdirt readers will immediately recognize the framing here: people who use the Web are either active "creators" or passive "consumers". Since the needs and desires of those groups are in opposition, somehow they have to be "balanced". It's exactly how the copyright industry tries to present the online world as it demands rights there that can be used against the public as part of that "balance". It's curious to see Berners-Lee adopt this formulation to justify putting DRM into HTML5. The same thinking came up in a W3C blog post that Berners-Lee wrote around the same time:
So we put the user first, but different users have different preferences. Putting the user first doesn't help us to satisfy users' possibly incompatible wants: some Web users like to watch big-budget movies at home, some Web users like to experiment with code. The best solution will be one that satisfies all of them, and we're still looking for that. If we can't find that, we're looking for the solutions that do least harm to these and other expressed wants from users, authors, implementers, and others in the ecosystem.
Again, there is the idea that the desires of people who want an open Web -- the ones that want to "experiment", by examining the underlying HTML code, say -- and those who want to watch "big-budget movies at home", are somehow in opposition, and have to be "balanced". That's nonsense. The standards currently underlying the Web are open, with no direct support for DRM -- although companies can and do add it in various non-standard ways. And people are already able to watch films at home, so there is no need to destroy the open Web in order to make the latter possible. Elsewhere in the same post we learn perhaps the real reason why the Berners-Lee and the W3C want to take this step:
if content protection of some kind has to be used for videos, it is better for it to be discussed in the open at W3C, better for everyone to use an interoperable open standard as much as possible, and better for it to be framed in a browser which can be open source, and available on a general purpose computer rather than a special purpose box. Those are key arguments for the decision that this topic is in scope.
Leaving aside the dubious initial premise -- there is no evidence that DRM is necessary, and Apple's decision to drop it for music indicates quite the contrary -- this suggests that going along with demands for adding DRM to HTML5 is about the W3C's fear of becoming marginalized by Hollywood studios as they make more of their films available online.

Perhaps the W3C should worry less about its own position and more about the users it claims to put first. After all, the net effect of creating an official standard for interoperable DRM will be to make it easier for copyright companies to adopt it -- there won't even be the present barriers and friction caused by incompatible ad-hoc systems that might make them think twice about adding it. Instead, it is likely to become the default on most online products, placing more obstacles in the way of fair-use rights of users, particularly those who are visually-impaired, who will find it harder to access these materials at all if such DRM becomes commonplace.

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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    What I don't understand is...

    if content protection of some kind has to be used for videos, it is better for it to be discussed in the open at W3C, better for everyone to use an interoperable open standard as much as possible, and better for it to be framed in a browser which can be open source, and available on a general purpose computer rather than a special purpose box.


    Ummm... why is all that better? He's simply asserting that it is, but I don't think that's an obvious conclusion at all.

    The more the HTML5 spec progresses, the worse it gets.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:24pm

      Re: What I don't understand is...

      Even if it were better, the argument is full of lies: DRM under HTML5 will still depend on proprietary plugins, meaning the DRM itself will be as much an "interoperable open standard" as existing proprietary solutions, won't be part of "a browser [that is] open source" (DRM is incompatible with open source), and it won't necessarily be available on "a general purpose computer rather than a special purpose box".

      Basically, it's all bullshit.

       

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      Andrew F, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:34pm

      Re: What I don't understand is...

      Not that I agree with including DRM in the spec, but the rationale for having an open standard for DRM boils down to this:

      (1) Certain content providers will DRM their stuff no matter what.

      (2) Absent an open standard, they'll use their own proprietary closed source software.

      (3) This forces web users to download plugins and other whatnot, which can break compatability with various devices and introduce security vulnerabilities (think of all the issues with Flash).

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

        Re: Re: What I don't understand is...

        The standard does not dictate encoding, meaning that plugins (or their equivalent) will still be required!

         

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        Greevar (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:33pm

        Re: Re: What I don't understand is...

        You know what? That's not the web's problem! That's the content industry's problem. They should fix their own problems internally instead of meddling in our infrastructure to make it align with their desires. Anybody who thinks that any of this is going to solve existing problems is blind. This will only add to the problem and it won't lead to one more dime of profit for anybody.

         

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        John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 3:46pm

        Re: Re: What I don't understand is...

        But, as other commenters have pointed out, the DRM provisions being considered for HTML 5 do not actually change #2 and #3 -- proprietary plugins will still have to be downloaded, and will still present compatibility risks.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    I find it insulting when someone calls me a consumer. I produce just as much as I consume. It's insulting and anyone calling me that deserves to be punched in the mouth.

     

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      Baldaur Regis (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:50pm

      Re:

      Indeed. One can consume a potato; how can one consume an mp3? It's a lazy mental shorthand so freighted with negative connotations that people who use the term must know how insulting it is. But to punch them in the mouth? They deserve to be educated - by 'consuming' say, War & Peace...page by page.

       

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    jameshogg (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:56am

    There is nothing about DRM that cannot be ridiculed. And even if DRM DID somehow achieve the utopian claims put forward by its advocates and restrict the ability to copy, that means these same advocates do not need copyright law to protect their work. It is transparent as that.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:58am

    Three points:
    1) This could result in Linux machines being locked out of using most content, as DRM modules will not be available due to the ease of getting round them when access is available to the browser and operating system code.
    2) For anyone with an unreliable connection, the only way to watch a video is to download it first, this option could disappear.
    3) Would you trust a DRM module from any site associated with any government?

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:40pm

      Re:

      If this was in play from the beginning, NeXT boxes--which is what he developed the web on--would likely have been frozen out as being too small a market segment.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:05pm

    At no time would I let some binary closed source DRM module enter my browser courtesy of the MPAA.

    W3C just has one problem we have to agree as users to use this. Just like their XHTML standard that was never adopted I don't expect this will be either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:06pm

    Just saying

    Seems like a very good way to infect people without people being able to find the origin of the infection.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:07pm

    One of the lessons the entertainment groups fail to recognize is that limiting your market limits your sales. Personally it will be a cold day in hell before I will adopt this new browser. I don't care about the movies, don't care about the music. Both have reached a point that they are not worth the bandwidth it takes to download them as a pirate.

    What I am concerned with is the fragmentation of the internet which this will go a long ways towards accomplishing. For most websites that want to display some part of a work for critique, for parody, or for any other legal use, they will not be able to do so without adopting the same standards. This means that many which do occasionally do such works, such as Techdirt does will not be able to continue without the same adoptions. Those that aren't involved with the same topics will often see no need to change their format. When such time comes, if it does I'll bid you farewell. When the net becomes unusable I'll drop the crap as not worth paying for.

    That's what this will accomplish for my part.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

    What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

    Seriously, little known story, but web browsers don't actually obey the HTML4 standards.

    Microsoft made changes to the standard on it's own basically, in how IE views webpages, in order to break other competing web browsers that people used to buy. It gave them a competitive advantage, not only is IE free, but it actually views web pages properly.

    So what's to stop a web browser company, or even an open source web browser built to combat DRM in HTML5, from popping up and reading HTML5 pages in such a way that it breaks all the built in DRM?

    The answer is absolutely nothing, sure they can threaten lawsuits against whoever does it, but once it's published online it's too late to stop it and the DRM in HTML5 will be meaningless from that point on.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:21pm

      Re: What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

      So what's to stop a web browser company, or even an open source web browser built to combat DRM in HTML5, from popping up and reading HTML5 pages in such a way that it breaks all the built in DRM?


      Encryption. The HTML5 DRM relies on a proprietary plug-in to decrypt the media.

       

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        Rikuo (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:08pm

        Re: Re: What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

        Decrypt it, crack it, whatever. Once that's done, someone anonymous will write a web browser in the same vein as whoever it was who created BitCoin, then release it. Once that's done, there's no stopping the browser.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

          No, because the decryption isn't done by the browser at all. It's done by the plugin. When the plugin is cracked, they'll just require a different plugin.

           

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            TheLastCzarnian (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

            I've seen this arms race. I've never seen the establishment win. I have seen them chase the hackers until they give up.
            And we don't need a full-on browser. All it takes is a browser plugin to hijack the the datastream from the plugin and save it elsewhere. If they want security, they should write their own damn browser! Of course, HTML 5.1 has all the hallmarks of XHTML: complicated and limiting with no discernable value to coders or end-users.

             

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            Rikuo (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

            So...if I understand it correctly, this will end up with people having to constantly update the plugins in their browser/install new ones. What will this mean for organisations and businesses, what with their IT managers being paranoid about new software/updates. This would mean that if popular websites switched to HTML5 only and required a DRM plugin to view, those organisations will need to constantly vet the DRM plugins.

             

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        Bengie, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:29pm

        Re: Re: What's to stop a new web browser that doesn't obey HTML5 then?

        Not only decrypt the media, but to decompress and display via a protected channel.

        The DRM is a blackbox that will require OS calls.

        With this new NSA era, I'm not sure how many people really want random executables from the web running on their systems.

         

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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:08pm

    Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

    DRM can be cracked, and in this situation, easily cracked. So if the W3C is making the DRM part of the standard, I hope they're prepared to change that standard every week. The day this gets implemented, it'll be cracked and then the W3C is going to get flooded with requests to change the standard.

     

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      John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

      Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

      That's not how it works. HTML 5 is not specifying what the encryption scheme itself is. It's only specifying the API that the DRM plugins must adhere to. If a scheme is broken, then the people who care will just change their plugins. No standards change is required.

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:36pm

        Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

        If that's truly the case then this is nothing to worry about, it's not an HTML5 standard. It's exactly what we have now with Flash and Silverlight.

        No fear, everybody, this is going to fail just like Flash and Silverlight did.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:55pm

          Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

          Not to mention that it'd be pretty easy to pirate things in the same way you can pirate flash & silverlight drm'd content: by pulling the data directly out of the video buffer post-deecryption.

          The whole thing is stupid. The dangerous part is not that it can't be bypassed, it's that it is being enshrined in the standard, and is being sold to us using extremely dubious arguments.

          Also, this will be used to lock down the web (even outside of video) in pretty awful ways. As an example, if javascript can be DRM'd, it would mean that tools like NoScript wouldn't be able to block it, which means that you can't protect your computer from nefarious scripts.

           

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            Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:15pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

            "As an example, if javascript can be DRM'd, it would mean that tools like NoScript wouldn't be able to block it"

            No, it'd still be able to be blocked. It doesn't have to be decrypted to 1) know it's javascript and 2) stop it from being decrypted. Also, and this is the same reason that DRM in HTML will never work, once it's decrypted, you're at the exact same point as we would be without the standard. If the code is to be used it has to be decrypted at some point, then it's open to anything. It's the digital version of the analog loophole.

             

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              John Fenderson (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:21pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

              It would have to be decrypted in order to know it's javascript (prior to decryption, it's just a blob of unidentified data). However, on further thought, the rest of your comment is solid. An extension certainly could sit between the decryption module and the javascript interpreter.

               

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                Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:27pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

                This, in and of itself, is not something to fear. We've seen it all before. People will just chose not to use it, it will never get accepted, and it will die.

                But you are right, the stupidity that thing brings is something to fear.

                 

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            Rekrul, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

            Not to mention that it'd be pretty easy to pirate things in the same way you can pirate flash & silverlight drm'd content: by pulling the data directly out of the video buffer post-deecryption.

            Can you point me toward a tutorial for saving content off Hulu? All the guides I've found rely on outdated tools that no longer work. As far as I can see, you can't save anything from Hulu to a local copy.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 3:04pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

              Because it's easier to get the same content via other means. If the easiest method (or only method) is via DRMed data via HTML 5, it'll be cracked no matter what.

               

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                Rekrul, Oct 18th, 2013 @ 11:15am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

                Because it's easier to get the same content via other means.

                There's a bunch of stuff on HULU that can't be found anywhere else. Like the uncut episodes of the 1995 show The Outer Limits. Although all seven seasons are available on DVD, only the first season is uncensored. For whatever reason, the syndicated versions of seasons 2-7 were used, which edit out any nudity and swearing that was originally present in the Showtime broadcasts.

                 

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              marak (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 4:14pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

              *note i dont have hulu*

              step 1. play video in full screen.

              step 2. record screen using fraps.

              If it can be played on the machine, it can be recorded.

              Note 2: even if they put in some sort of detection for recording software(which would break frequently) you could setup a second monitor - which is actually recording software thus having the video stream sent directly to the recording software.

               

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                Rekrul, Oct 18th, 2013 @ 11:34am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

                step 1. play video in full screen.

                step 2. record screen using fraps.

                If it can be played on the machine, it can be recorded.


                Unfortunately, using screen recording software is a far from ideal solution.

                Hulu uses Flash and Flash videos ALWAYS stutter at some point. It has nothing to do with my connection speed, buffering or the size of the video. I can be watching low-res videos on YouTube with nothing else running and even though the video is completely buffered it will still stutter occasionally. If the screen is being recorded, it will record the stutter.

                Recording the screen rather than the actual stream will also record the ads.

                The video will be scaled to fit my screen, which results in a loss of quality. Even if I use a high resolution setting and select an HD copy, it will either be scaled to play in a window in the browser (and I assume the browser window would be recorded as well), or if I use full-screen, it will be scaled to fit the screen.

                If the image is widescreen, it will be shown letterboxed (I have a 4:3 monitor) and the black bars will become part of the image. It would then need to be cropped, which means re-encoding it, resulting in more quality loss.

                 

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              John Fenderson (profile), Oct 17th, 2013 @ 11:54am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

              Can you point me toward a tutorial for saving content off Hulu?


              No, sorry. I don't want to encourage or enable piracy. However, you do have all the tools you need to figure this out for yourself.

               

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                Rekrul, Oct 18th, 2013 @ 11:36am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

                No, sorry. I don't want to encourage or enable piracy. However, you do have all the tools you need to figure this out for yourself.

                In other words, you don't know. You just assumed that it was possible. And technically it should be, but so far nobody seems to be able to figure out how to actually do it. Believe, people have tried.

                Sure, you can record the screen, but as far as saving the actual streams, that's a different story.

                 

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            Liam, Oct 23rd, 2013 @ 5:38am

            Trusted Computing, Anyone?

            They already know that, there is an idea out there to encrypt content from the hard disk/SSD all the way to the display (ex. HDMI)
            Its called "trusted computing". Change the hardware or software too much and the thing won't even boot. While billed as a way to prevent hacking and viruses, (it in fact provides a method to create a very hard to spot, and even harder to remove virus), the main aim is to placate the likes of hollywood by providing restrictions below the user-accessable level. This concept has support from the two major proprietary desktop operating system vendors, and can be seen in the move toward 'app stores', 'signed'/'approved' applications and the abstraction of the file-system and other low-level components from users.

            In the next 5 years or so we can expect desktop operating systems to become further crippled, to the point where it is no longer possible to write and run your own application without requiring the approval of the OS vendor.

             

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      0x41414141totheEIP, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:47pm

      Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

      The w3c created a standard for calling a DRM module, so the actual implementation of DRM is down to the "content" provider, which is most likely going to be one of a few providers(like modern Cert Authorities).

      So, break the main few, free content for you!

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re: Is it a standard if it changes every few days?

        "So, break the main few, free content for you!"

        Then content creators bitch that they're dying from a thousand paper cuts and insist that the W3C put in stronger protections that will also not work in the end.

        And the wheel turns.

        I hope the W3C knows what it's getting into.

         

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    S. T. Stone, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    Yeah, I can sum up my feelings on this proposal with three words:

    Fuck that noise.

     

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    Jay (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:23pm

    Disturbing...

    I'm just going to say it out loud. Agree or disagree...

    It looks like Tim Berners-Lee has sold out open technology for closed proprietary spaces while adopting the framing and paycheck of an RIAA member.

    I have lost any respect for someone who decides that money is a better thing to have than innovation.

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:24pm

    This is truly NOT surprising. The Internet is a SPY system.

    It's the telescreen protocol. You young puppies who grew up with it as daily presence just don't notice.

    The phony deal that evil people (and gullible fools) try to force on us: You can't have the benefits of technology unless give up all privacy.
    08:23:44[j-530-8]

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:20pm

      Re: This is truly NOT surprising. The Internet is a SPY system.

      "It's the telescreen protocol"

      And you are a moron.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:29pm

    "The W3C community is currently exploring Web technology that will strike a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of consumers. In this space in particular, W3C seeks to lower the overall proprietary footprint and increase overall interoperability, currently lacking in this area."

    Look at govt established broadcasting and cableco monopolies (full of commercials and expensive) and the DRM behind cable (and satellite) that makes it difficult for others to create affordable DVR's and view international satellite stations without some paid subscription, copy'right' lengths and retroactive extensions and the one sided penalty structure behind those who infringe who can receive huge penalties and those who falsely claim infringement who can get far lower penalties and almost never get punished.

    The government should not grant govt established broadcasting monopolies for private or commercial use and yet it does. The private organizations that wrongfully receive these monopolies are not entitled to these monopoly privileges and they should have no govt privileges to prevent me and others from broadcasting or using existing (or creating new) cableco infrastructure. Yet they do.

    The existing laws are not 'one sided', they do not balance the needs of 'consumers' and 'produces', they are only intended to serve the parasite middlemen at the expense of both users and creators. IP law is an abomination that should be destroyed.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 12:30pm

      Re:

      errr... that last paragraph should say

      The existing laws are not 'balanced', they do not balance the needs ...

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 9:24pm

      Re:

      and likewise these DRM advocates that want to 'balance' things are not interested in balance, they are only interested in one sided laws and DRM intended to only serve the parasite middlemen at the expense of both consumers and content creators.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:00pm

    Broken Algorithms in standards make no logical sense to me

    DRM does not work, we have proven this time and time again.

    You cannot lock up content and at the same time provide the key to the user to unlock that content for viewing while also preventing the user from using the key in unintended ways.

    Why are people wanting to include broken algorithms in standards? Sounds like the sort of standard I would want to avoid.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:31pm

      Re: Broken Algorithms in standards make no logical sense to me

      The next step up for DRM, when it is still being broken, is to lock down user machines, which Apple is well on its way to doing, with Microsoft following along behind. This means that only Apple or Microsoft approved, and signed, programs can be run. Note this means no user programming, and handing complete control of machines, including phones, to major companies. This is what the MAFIAA want, total control over what users can consume so that they can overcharge for it.
      Also given NSA's desire for collecting data, all storage would be in the cloud so that they could look at what everyone is looking at and writing. This is the dystopian future predicted by RMS if users cannot control the software on their machines, and how their data is stored. One bright spot, the soviet union could not stop the circulation of Samizdat, you cannot stop the copying of content when it is on paper.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 3:23pm

        Re: Re: Broken Algorithms in standards make no logical sense to me

        That's the problem, if I own the machine I can do whatever I want with it and the law can do little to stop it. If many people have these machines all it takes is for one person or group of people with the resources and the engineering know how to figure out how to crack the keys and then those keys can be made available to all. When these machines are out in the open it's very hard to control what happens to them and how people reverse engineer them. People can and will reverse engineer them and the corporations are powerless to stop it. The cost of implementing DRM is always far greater than the cost of breaking it and so even the most powerful corporations with expending lots of resources to create DRM can have their DRM broken by the masses.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:11pm

    Sounds like Berners-Lee has finally come around. No DRM solution is bulletproof, however this one will deter much of the wanton freeloading that exists today. Particularly that of those who are not particularly tech savvy and simply commit infringement crimes of opportunity, knowing the risk is minimal. The most important aspect is that this will help build case law for contributory infringement for companies that fail to adopt "industry standard" DRM.

    Geez, I'd think you Techdirtbags would be cheering this innovative use of technology. Or is that limited to technology that helps you freeload?

     

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    Doug D (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    I'll be disabling it.

    If DRM makes it into HTML, then I am certain that at least some open source browsers will have an option to disable it (if they support it at all). Some closed-source browsers probably will too, I'm guessing.

    I'll disable DRM, just as I do not install Flash today (except in cases where I'm required to do otherwise for my job, and am using employer-provided equipment). I will encourage those around me to do the same, where they have that option.

    I'm actually okay with losing access to much of the web, if that turns out to be the consequence of this. There are plenty of people who aren't on the web at all. I'll manage.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 1:43pm

    seems to me that Berners-Lee is doing what he is told by the entertainment industries, particularly the USA industries, just like everyone else. it wont be long before the internet will be banned for use by the likes of the ordinary person for anything other than spending money on some site or other. there will be no option, let alone any enjoyment in using the web, browsing round looking for info on some obscure subject. all the various companies and governments want to be able to do what ever they want, but want to prevent the people from doing anything other than what they are told. might as well scrap the bloody thing now!!

     

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    vastrightwing, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:05pm

    I don't care

    Yep, HTML has been broken for decades and there is no sign of the specification getting better because it is designed by committee with all kinds of special interests. The DRM spec may get introduced, and it will atrophy along with many other features of HTML.

    The plug-in approach won't work across all platforms, so your mobile device won't render content that works on your IE platform and vice versa. This will be just as broken as the current spec. Situation normal.

     

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    Violynne (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:20pm

    None of this is really going to matter, in just a few short years.

    As a web developer myself, I've read recent information browser makers are going to start designing new browsers, with different engines, in order to "compete" differently than a "compliant" browser.

    Chrome will embed features to which only Chrome browsers can view, for example, while Mozilla will actively try to stay as open as possible.

    If this sounds familiar, it should. When Microsoft entered the browser arena, we were inundated with blink and marquee tags which no other browser could view. Once IE was "bundled" with the OS, people developed pages specifically for IE, not realizing other browsers were in use.

    It took years to rectify this, and now HTML 5, along with companies telling add-on makers to "white list them", just goes to show there's no such thing as "compliance" anymore, unless "compliance" means "don't break our stuff".

    I've been in this business for 20 years, and this news just makes my heart sink. We finally get some semblance of unity, and now it's all about to be flushed down the toilet.

    I see myself into a forced retirement soon. Not because I'm coming of age, but I absolutely refuse to go back to the programming hell of having to determine what a browser has (or not) just to push information.

    It's pathetic Corporate America has yet to figure out the internet in this day and age.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    The question is: How long until a neat little add-on for Firefox makes that DRM obsolete?

     

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    TheLastCzarnian (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:22pm

    XHTML

    A few years ago, I took a course on XHTML. It was all the rage:all the cool kids were doing it, and you could put a special "XHTML" logo from the W3C if your site passed muster.
    Within the first 2 weeks, I realized that I would never use this piece of garbage. It was case-sensitive for no good reason, and the keywords were all lower-case where previous convention called for upper-case. There were many other problems as well, but heck if I can remember them. I just remember the new feature set: nothing. For all of the recoding and ugliness, I got zilch for using it (excepting the logo, of course.)
    Lo and behold, no one else used it, either. The specification is essentially dead.
    So, if they expect HTML5.1 DRM to take hold, they better come up with some additional kick-a$$ features, or it will end up in the same dust-bin as XHTML, regardless of it's status as a "standard."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:29pm

    "strike a balance"

    I think I'm going to write a Greasemonkey script that replaces every instance of "strike a balance" with "screw you over", so I can grok the actual intent behind political statements without having to bother to read between the lines.

     

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 2:44pm

    It's The Connectivity, Stupid!

    What drives the Internet is not content, but connectivity. There were other online networks before the Internet--anybody remember Compuserve, Prodigy, the original AOL? Their selling point was their exclusive content, which you couldn't get on the Internet. Yet they were all swept aside, simply because the Internet offered better connectivity between people.

    The Internet doesn't need content providers. It is content providers that need the Internet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 4:31pm

    How would you even enforce this? The browser could just ignore the "DRM."

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2013 @ 5:37am

      A plugin by any other name,,,

      Then the browser would be unable to play it. Despite the talk about it being a "standard," it still relies on proprietary encryption and requires the use of plugins—oh, wait, excuse me, that should be "Content Decryption Modules"—to play the media back.

       

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    akp (profile), Oct 16th, 2013 @ 5:12pm

    I know what he's thinking: "Gosh, I'll mop up the tears of the Internet with all these fat checks the entertainment industry keeps sending me."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:27pm

    Mark my words: DRM will destroy the openess of the Internet.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2013 @ 11:29pm

    Or... The Internet needs to destroy DRM.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2013 @ 3:02am

    If for HTML5 the following priorities are used:
    “In case of conflict, consider users over authors over implementers over specifiers over theoretical purity.”

    And if the following (from the Berners-Lee's blog post) is true:
    "No one likes DRM as a user, wherever it crops up."

    Then can someone explain why that doesn't logically lead to the conclusion that there shouldn't be DRM in HTML5 because user's don't like it, regardless of what authors prefer?

     

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    relghuar, Oct 17th, 2013 @ 6:22am

    To paraphrase one arrogant man: "Tim Berners-Lee, fuck you!"

     

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    AC, Oct 18th, 2013 @ 2:12pm

    W3C is dead

    We need a legitimate replacement.

     

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    Vinz C., Jan 14th, 2014 @ 2:59pm

    Consumer?

    Being labelled «consumer» by a non-profit organization, that's odd! Screw it, man, along with all this forced consumerism, I am NOT a consumer if I don't intend to be. If that's all we are, don't be surprised what your... "customers" are up to one of these days! If that's rejecting the W3C for treason, well, count me in!

     

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    san go, Jan 22nd, 2014 @ 12:21am

    standard if it changes?

    If the image is widescreen, it will be shown letterboxed (I have a 4:3 monitor) and the black bars will become part of the image. It would then need to be cropped, which means re-encoding it, resulting in more quality loss.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 5:44am

    SHIT ON W3C FOR SUCH A DECISION THEY WANT TO MAKE A OUR INTERNET A PEICE OF SHIT!! Now mcpa joins the w3c we will for 100% get Drm.(DIGITAL RESTRICTIONS MANAGEMENT)

     

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