EFF objects formally to DRM in HTML5
On Wednesday this week the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a formal objection to the inclusion of digital rights management (DRM) in HTML5, arguing that a draft proposal from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) could stymie Web innovation and block access to content for people across the globe.
The W3C’s HTML working group is creating a technical standard for HTML5, an impending revision to the computer language that creates webpages and otherwise displays content online. The working group has accepted a draft that includes discussion of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), which will hard-wire the requirements of DRM vendors into the HTML standard (news passim).
“This proposal stands apart from all other aspects of HTML standardization: it defines a new ‘black box’ for the entertainment industry, fenced off from control by the browser and end-user,” said EFF International Director Danny O’Brien. “While this plan might soothe Hollywood content providers who are scared of technological evolution, it could also create serious impediments to interoperability and access for all.”
DRM standards look like normal technical standards but turn out to have quite different qualities. They fail to implement their stated intention – protecting media – while dragging in legal mandates that chill the speech of technologists, lock down technology, and violate property rights by seizing control of personal computers from their owners. Accepting EME could lead to other rightsholders demanding the same privileges as Hollywood, leading to a Web where images and pages cannot be saved or searched, ads cannot be blocked, and innovative new browsers cannot compete without explicit permission from big content companies.
EFF filed this objection as its first act as a full member of W3C with the aim of broadening discussion of the consequences of accepting DRM-based proposals like EME for the future of the Web.
“The W3C needs to develop a policy regarding DRM and similar proposals, or risk having its own work and the future of the Web become buried in the demands of businesses that would rather it never existed in the first place,” said EFF Senior Staff Technologist Seth Schoen. “The EME proposal needs to be seen for what it is: a creation that will shut out open source developers and competition, throw away interoperability, and lock in legacy business models. This is the opposite of the fair use model that gave birth to the Web.”