Ars Technica: DRM in HTML5 is a victory for the open Web, not a defeat

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t3g
t3g
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Iscritto: 05/15/2011
Soon.to.be.Free
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Iscritto: 07/03/2016

If it's a joke, it's a very subtle one...

Frankly, I don't think the article is "wrong" per se in stating that it would be a defeat for the open web if it was abandoned in favour of DRM-compatible "walled gardens" becoming almost ubiquitous, nor in saying that failing to adopt DRM as a web standard would likely lead to this.

However, it misses the point- if we insist on free software, then that incentive is suddenly removed. There's a general rule- if the choice is between "evil" and "a lesser evil", there's probably a third option.

May all DRM modules be libre, and hence non-existent.

strypey
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Iscritto: 05/14/2015

Yes, this Ars writer is serious. These are basically the arguments that Berners-Lee and the other people supporting this within the W3C are making.

"Frankly, I don't think the article is "wrong" per se in stating that it would be a defeat for the open web if it was abandoned in favour of DRM-compatible "walled gardens" becoming almost ubiquitous, nor in saying that failing to adopt DRM as a web standard would likely lead to this."

I agree with the first part of this, but the second is just scaremongering, because there's just no reason to think it would happen. I've written about this on my blog:
https://www.coactivate.org/projects/disintermedia/blog/2015/09/07/mozilla-sells-out-firefox-users-for-market-share/

Firstly, There have always been popular content delivery networks that are not the web; radio, TV, CD/DVD/BluRay, game consoles, Napster, BitTorrent etc. The web is not fundamentally in competition with these. In fact, sharing information about the content delivered over these other platforms is one of the things that has driven the growth of the web (artist homepages, fan sites, IMDB, Discogs etc etc). DRM-crippled content delivered over the internet using software other than the browser is no threat to the usefulness of the web.

Second, the proliferation of platform-specific apps would create huge extra costs for the companies maintaining them, compared to maintaining one mobile-friendly HTML5 website. That's precisely why they are trying to push crippleware into HTML; to save themselves money. In contrast to what the Ars writer claims, keeping crippleware out of the browser is more likely to force the media gatekeepers to consider "unprotected" (ie copy friendly) distribution.

Since all the major browser vendors have already built in the EME crippleware unit, it doesn't really matter from a practical perspective whether its in the official HTML spec or not. But it remains symbolically important that the W3C doesn't formally endorse a standard that can't be implemented in free code software. Amongst other things, it means the DRM-promoters can't accuse free browsers that don't implement EME of not properly supporting the HTML5 standard.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

The main point of concern for this writer is that companies would move DRM-restricted media off of the Web.

My answer to that is: so what?

After all, it wasn't (legally) on the Web before. The Web was just fine. Heck, the fact that they weren't offering a legal source of media was probably the biggest reason file sharing took off so strongly. They lost! That's why they gave in and started selling MP3 files without DRM. Because if they didn't, we were just going to continue sharing the media files ourselves.

So why should I care if they each start requiring their own specialized app to play their DRM-restricted media rather than using Web standards? It would just be more of the same, and they would lose. Plain and simple. So if they know what's good for them, then they will offer the same media DRM-free, just like the music industry did.

This won't happen so easily if DRM is considered a standard feature for Web browsers to support. Hey, remember in the early 2000s when everyone and their grandma had a stupid plugin they required for their site to work (before Flash won out and became dominant)? Yeah, it would be just like that, except with the W3C endorsing that state of affairs.

Magic Banana

I am a member!

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

For those not following the "Defective by Design" campaign, organized by the FSF, here are the articles relating to EME: https://defectivebydesign.org/drm-in-web-standards

And the petition still is worth signing: https://defectivebydesign.org/no-drm-in-html5