EFF Fights Against DRM Proposal for Future WC3 Web Standards

March 21, 2013 -

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is shining a spotlight on a proposal currently before the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML5 Working Group to put digital rights management (DRM) into the next generation of core Web standards. The proposal in questions is called Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME. The EFF says that adopting EME into core standards would be a "calamitous development."

Putting the technical specifications of the proposal aside, why does the EFF think that certain parties are pushing this EME proposal? Here's their analysis on that:

"The DRM proposals at the W3C exist for a simple reason: they are an attempt to appease Hollywood, which has been angry about the Internet for almost as long as the Web has existed, and has always demanded that it be given elaborate technical infrastructure to control how its audience's computers function. The perception is that Hollywood will never allow movies onto the Web if it can't encumber them with DRM restrictions. But the threat that Hollywood could take its toys and go home is illusory. Every film that Hollywood releases is already available for those who really want to pirate a copy. Huge volumes of music are sold by iTunes, Amazon, Magnatune and dozens of other sites without the need for DRM. Streaming services like Netflix and Spotify have succeeded because they are more convenient than piratical alternatives, not because DRM does anything to enhance their economics. The only logically coherent reason for Hollywood to demand DRM is that the movie studios want veto controls over how mainstream technologies are designed. Movie studios have used DRM to enforce arbitrary restrictions on products, including preventing fast-forwarding and imposing regional playback controls, and created complicated and expensive "compliance" regimes for compliant technology companies that give small consortiums of media and big tech companies a veto right on innovation."

You can read the details on the EME proposal here. You can read the EFF's full analysis here.

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