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10.24.13

CMSWire Article About DRM in HTML5

Posted in DRM at 11:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A padlock

Summary: Digital handcuffs in Web standards are discussed in a new article from CMSWire

A week ago, following recent criticisms of DRM in HTML5 (going back to June), CMSWire asked me: “Will the decision by W3C to include encrypted media extensions into the HTML5.1 standard have a positive or negative effect on web experiences?” An article has just been published to address this subject and my take on it (which is in the second page, closing the article) was as follows:

Web experiences are not the sole factor to consider here. Several years ago, Microsoft used such arguments to promote Silverlight and Adobe had promoted Adobe Flash Player by saying it would enhance web experiences. This overlooks a lot of the attributes of the Web, including search/indexing, navigation by standard link structure, universal access, etc. But there are bigger issues here.

In order to effectively tackle the question we need to lay bear what DRM in HTML 5.x would mean. DRM is a mechanism that prevents access to information. It is designed to facilitate a particular business model of particular parties, which are only some of many. DRM denies the majority of people — or bots — the ability to obtain data. This in itself is against the raison detre or the spirit of the World Wide Web. If the Web was motivated by sharing, then it would best serve society by encouraging business models of abundance, not artificial scarcity.

The step taken by the W3C sought to make it easier for conglomerates that advocate DRM to advance their agenda which they had long lobbied for. We already know, based on experience, that many companies embraced a model of open access or open data, only to yield benefits to all sides, maximising access.

To pose this as a problem of “web experiences” is to present a loaded question. Everyone wants a good web experience, but the issue at stake is inherently one of power and control. Do we want to emancipate Web users or further empower the copyright monopoly? Whose interests are we promoting?

This response, quite frankly, was written too quickly, but it hopefully represents opposition to DRM in HTML5 adequately enough.

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