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DRM Electronic Frontier Foundation Encryption GNU is Not Unix

RMS Urges W3C To Reject On Principle DRM In HTML5 320

Posted by timothy
from the one-of-those-has-4-letters-and-a-number dept.
gnujoshua writes "In a new article, GNU Project founder Richard M. Stallman speaks out against the proposal to include hooks for DRM in HTML5. While others have been making similar arguments, RMS strikes home the point that while companies can still push Web DRM themselves, the stance taken by the W3C is still — both practically and politically — vitally important: '[...] the W3C cannot prevent companies from grafting DRM onto HTML. They do this through nonfree plug-ins such as Flash, and with nonfree Javascript code, thus showing that we need control over the Javascript code we run and over the C code we run. However, where the W3C stands is tremendously important for the battle to eliminate DRM. On a practical level, standardizing DRM would make it more convenient, in a very shallow sense. This could influence people who think only of short-term convenience to think of DRM as acceptable, which could in turn encourage more sites to use DRM. On the political level, making room for DRM in the specifications of the World Wide Web would constitute an endorsement in principle of DRM by the W3C. Standardization by the W3C could facilitate DRM that is harder for users to break than DRM implemented in Javascript code. If the DRM is implemented in the operating system, this could result in distribution of works that can't be played at all on a free operating system such as GNU/Linux.'"
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RMS Urges W3C To Reject On Principle DRM In HTML5

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  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:01PM (#43612685) Homepage

    If he's successful in preventing HTML5 from being adopted by Netflix, Amazon, etc., that's a big win for non-open technology like Flash and Silverlight.

    Stallman is a good example of what happens if you don't pick your battles carefully.

  • Television (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamThor (995520) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:07PM (#43612759)

    They won't rest until the web is like television. Unidirectional, full of corporate messaging, highly polished emptiness. Think back to the web in the late 1990's. They're already 80% of the way there.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:10PM (#43612801) Journal

    No he's right and he's doing the right thing.

    Consider that there is going to be no DRM in the HTML5 spec itself, just negotiation channels for it. So if you want DRM there will have to be closed-source client-side apps in either case. Therefore, why condone it through support of the negotiation channels? All it could do is ease the spread and development of DRM apps.

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:12PM (#43612831)

    Stallman is right on this. The W3C should not endorse DRM. If that means that it requires Flash for certain things, then certain companies have to be OK with using Flash to display their content to their customers. The W3C shouldn't endorse DRM, that is a battle that deserves to be fought.

  • by Adam Van Ymeren (2844567) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:13PM (#43612837)
    The DRM in HTML5 will be non-open technology anyways, so what's the difference? Either I use non-open DRM with a standard interface, or I use non-open DRM without a standard interface. As a user they are both shit options, so stop encouraging them. Stallman is a popular target to make fun of, but he's right in this instance.
  • by pmontra (738736) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:21PM (#43612893) Homepage
    Would linux, the kernel, had any chance to spread out in the world without all the GNU software running on the top of it? I think Linus owes RMS more than RMS owes to Linus and so it goes for linux and GNU.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:25PM (#43612925)

    As soon as the publishers get a foot in the door, everything will be a rental with a limited lifespan.

  • by 0123456 (636235) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:27PM (#43612959)

    As soon as the publishers get a foot in the door, everything will be a rental with a limited lifespan.

    I wish I had mod points. The goal of DRM is to force everyone to pay for everything, every time, everywhere.

  • Re:Television (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:29PM (#43612987)
    That's an optimistic view. I think they won't rest until the Web is like a telescreen [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Fascinating ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:38PM (#43613085)

    No DRM means no content.

    You do realize there was content before DRM was invented, and most content today has no DRM?

  • by UltraZelda64 (2309504) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:40PM (#43613127)

    This crap is already being done with proprietary garbage like Flash and Silverlight as RMS mentioned. Let it stay that way, keep it out of web standards. If a company wants DRM bad enough, they'll find a way to shoehorn it into their site no matter what. It will still be easily broken to hell and back and effectively worthless--but at least that worthless crud won't be in the standard like (*gasp*) WEP. Not saying that WEP was bad-intentioned, but it's been found to be broken in ways that any HTML DRM will take only a fraction of the time to be broken. DRM practically exists only to be broken.

  • You're going to get modded down into oblivion for saying it. But it's true. No DRM means no content. So whether it's in the standard or not, it's coming.

    That's why all digital music is currently under DRM, as is all Javascript, photographs, recipes, comics, web pages, newspapers etc.

    Really... the only content areas still fighting the DRM fight are:
    Video
    eBooks
    software

    And software's easing off in favour of a walled garden approach.

    No DRM doesn't mean No Content... it means No Content From A Few Rich Content Merchants (not producers). The content will still be produced, just differently. However, with DRM in place, that's no longer an option. Then the content will be produced, but the limit is put on consumption rather than on limiting means of production.

  • Understanding DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:44PM (#43613201) Journal

    Most people think that DRM is about them as if it is supposed to keep movies from appearing on The Pirate Bay. It's ineffective at preventing this as it takes just one leak, any leak of a cracked or "analog hole'd" to be shared to render the whole scheme as ridiculous. And it is, ridiculous, as evidence by the fact that movies and the like are generally more easily obtained via TPB than commercially.

    But that's not really the point of DRM. DRM prevents 3rd parties from being able to make a buck off the content being protected. Companies are extremely averse to liability, and even though cracked content is widely available, trying to make a buck off of it is nearly impossible to do without opening you up to legal liability.

    DRM isn't really about you, it's about irritating you in order to prevent other companies from improving your experience with accessory services.

  • Re:Fascinating ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:50PM (#43613293) Journal

    You're going to get modded down into oblivion for saying it. But it's true. No DRM means no content. So whether it's in the standard or not, it's coming.

    Having done standards-committee work, I'd phrase that differently. The standard is what's out there in the field, that you have to code against. All the committee produces is a document, which you hope enough vendors adopt (and interpret similarly!) to become standard.

    Netflix and Amazon video and the rest of the commercial streamers are all contractually bound to use DRM. So it doesn't matter what the W3C says, the significant chunk of internet traffic that is legal video streaming will have DRM. Nothing the committee can possibly do will change that contractual reality. Better to standardize it as best you can then to childishly ignore it.

  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmhNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:51PM (#43613295) Journal

    Because there will be a common DRM negotiation protocol among all browsers. I want those DRM developers to work hard to make their shitty plugins work, not provide a universal API for them.

  • Re:Browser vs OS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wagnerrp (1305589) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @04:30PM (#43613969)

    Wrong. If we standardize it in the browser, this could result in distribution of works that can't be played at all on free web browsers such as Firefox or Chromium... and of course, if the DRM were properly implemented, this could result in the distribution of web browsers that could not be run on free operating systems such as GNU/Linux, unlocked ChromeOS, or after-market blends of Android.

    DRM requires that every single piece of code that handles unencrypted content, from the browser, to the operating system, to the hardware drivers, and even the firmware on that hardware, be signed and authenticated such that it will uphold the restrictions of the DRM. Yes. By definition that means that Flash has a broken DRM implementation.

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @05:00PM (#43614345)

    It's not about me, Flamey McTrollerson. The W3C exists to promote open standards. DRM by definition is not open. Look over this page and tell me which of these points relates to the W3C endorsing DRM:

    http://www.w3.org/Consortium/mission [w3.org]

    DRM is a choice for the market to make, not the open standards body. If someone wants to sell your coveted program on a DRM-laden DVD, great, go out and buy it. But don't standardize that bullshit on the open web.

  • Re:Fascinating ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orasio (188021) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @05:08PM (#43614429) Homepage

    RMS doesn't use that word, "open" a lot.
    Doesn't use "greed" a lot.
    Those are probably your preconceptions of what he says.

    RMS usually talks about freedom, as in not giving away your freedom.
    DRM requires you to give some other entity control over your devices, more than what you have. That means giving away freedom, and that's why he is against it. I agree with him, also.

  • Re:Fascinating ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cheekyjohnson (1873388) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @05:26PM (#43614613)

    DRM is required to get them fully on board.

    Even assuming that were true, I'd rather have no content.

  • Re:Fascinating ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rahvin112 (446269) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @06:31PM (#43615271)

    John Galt is a character from an Ayn Rand novel that presented the Robber Baron capitalists as innocent victims of evil communists and hero's of the working man. This is the same Ayn rand that is on record as admiring the pure efficiency of a serial killer of her time along with a long string of people she admired that would probably make your skin crawl.

    Randian philosophy is the basis for people that call themselves libertarians, but in fact who have more fascist leanings than true libertarianism. The adherents are often at best frat boy capitalists with no concept what capitalism is, how markets work or any sense of empathy for other people. Many of them are from the "me" generation.

  • Re:Fascinating ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cas2000 (148703) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @08:25PM (#43616101)

    just because you want content doesn't mean that I and everyone else should have to have spyware and crippleware on our systems.

    DRM goes way beyond just playing some stupid videos - it's an integral plank in the war against general purpose computing.

    WTF do you think Microsoft's Restricted Boot is for? it's certainly not for protection against viruses - its purpose is to control what you can install or run on your computer.

    at the moment, it can be disabled on x86 computers and motherboards, but it CAN'T be disabled on ARM-based Win8 tablets. The Win8 tablets are a trial-run to get people used to the idea that they can't install other operating systems - or software bought outside of MS's app store - on the hardware they've bought.

    same for iphones and ipads - you pay for them, but you don't get to really own them, or decide what you want to install or run on them. You can only run what Apple allows you to.

    stock android devices are also full of spyware (for google, the manufacturers, and for telcos), but at least it's possible to install software for sources other than Google's app store (either by USB cable or from other app-stores like FDroid), and it's also possible to root them and replace the stock OS with cyanogenmod etc or even a non-Android Linux. not perfect, and they're still spy devices by default, but better than nothing.

    and this is NOT just limited to phones and tablets - this is the future for PCs. Apple are already mutating OS X into an IOS style app-store only device, and microsoft is pushing for the same with Restricted Boot.

    when you buy hardware with such restrictions you're voting for it with your wallet. you're saying "yes, fuck me over, take my money but retain ownership of what i've bought". people like you would buy a turd on a stick if you were told it was a better hot-dog or that you really needed it for the Full Flavour Experience<tm>

    so, yes, life is about principles. partly because principles in themselves are important, but also because principles affect results.

Any sufficiently advanced bug is indistinguishable from a feature. -- Rich Kulawiec

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