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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 turp182 (1020263) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @01:59PM (#43612671) Journal

    It's like a secret code, just for us: RMS Urges W3C To Reject On Principle DRM In HTML5

  • by cmburns69 (169686) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:00PM (#43612679) Homepage Journal

    So many acronyms! It's a good thing I'm in the industry, or I'd have no idea what that headline means.

    I imagine trying to communicate this to my friends and family: RMS (sounds vaguely British) urges WC3 (the successor to Warcraft II) to reject on principle DRM (Dr. Mario) in HTML5 (they've probably heard that buzzword by now)

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

    • by marcello_dl (667940) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:07PM (#43612761) Homepage Journal

      OTOH the choice becomes: stay free and HTML5 compliant or (try to) restrict viewers relying on 3rd party technology which won't work well and forever on millions to billions of devices.

      DRM on HTML is the best way to make all HTML an ex-standard.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        OTOH the choice becomes: stay free and HTML5 compliant or (try to) restrict viewers relying on 3rd party technology which won't work well and forever on millions to billions of devices.

        So is Stallman the anti-DRM guy, or the "free" software guy? In this case the two are obviously in conflict, so it's interesting to see which side he chose.

        • No dichotomy when the aim is 100% free systems, not 100% free infrastructure built to accommodate non-free plugins which makes the result non free.

          • by MrEricSir (398214) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @04:28PM (#43614653) Homepage

            No dichotomy when the aim is 100% free systems, not 100% free infrastructure built to accommodate non-free plugins which makes the result non free.

            Unless you live in something called "reality," in which case we're looking at a case where the two are clearly in conflict: either accept DRM into an open spec, or accept the fact that closed plugins will continue to be a major part of the web ecosystem.

            Pretending their is a third alternative for the sake of argument is bullshit.

      • by unixisc (2429386)
        We can then switch to XHTML
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      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.

      ..why oh why do people think that html5 drm would be open? WHY? how the fuck would that even WORK?!?

      technically, if the html5 drm went through, it would be just another plugin system. that's also why the whole discussion is pretty useless. the thing to fear from open web viewpoint is that one of the solutions manages to really be multi platform, from all mobile os's to desktop - because imagine a world where 98% of sites were made with flash because flash worked everywhere. imagine a world where every fucki

      • I was on a website only an hour ago where the idiots had blocked right-clicking with a javascript alert message "Our images are copyrighted". It's like none of their programmers knows about right-clicking to "open link in new tab".

      • by ttucker (2884057)

        because imagine a world where 98% of sites were made with flash because flash worked everywhere. imagine a world where every fucking site had right click disabled because "hey it's cool and protects our images!"(IT DOES FUCKING NOT, it's just annoying).

        Usually I discover this by accident while doing something completely unrelated to saving any image at all... at this point I download the picture out of principle.

      • by lgw (121541)

        ..why oh why do people think that html5 drm would be open? WHY? how the fuck would that even WORK?!?

        technically, if the html5 drm went through, it would be just another plugin system.

        Well, it might be just a plug-in system, if the standards committee guys are lazy, or the vendors have already declared that's what they're writing, but it doesn't have to be.

        All you need for DRM is:
        * A way to prove the identity of endpoints.
        * A way to validate code signing (prove the code running is the expected client code).
        * A way to generate a session key to encrypt any given key.
        * Some straightforward rules about never writing the unencrypted stream to local cache, or otherwise making it easy to get a

      • ..why oh why do people think that html5 drm would be open? WHY? how the fuck would that even WORK?!?

        You _can_ have open DRM, if you reduce DRM to "Digital Rights Management" and further rely on legal protection instead of trying to create unbreakable encryption. For example, DRM for movie rentals: All you'd need is a movie player that downloads a movie, adds some trivial xor "encryption" which it removes during playback, and deletes it when the rental time is over. That's Digital Rights Management that can easily be implemented in Open Source software, and just hard enough to break for the DMCA act to ap

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmail. c o m> on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:10PM (#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.

      • We already have these things (closed-source client side apps and plug-ins). Nothing we do will take these away. They're not going to "spread" anymore than they are now - because anyone and everyone who needs/wants it does.

        All we can hope to do is to make them run correctly - and across all devices. If you don't like DRM - no one is forcing you to use DRM services/apps.

        Do you honestly think that you're going to win this battle - and that high-budget content producers are just going to start forking over

        • No I'm trying to eliminate the shoehorning of plugins and use common open codecs like WebM or OGG. I'm also hoping that content producers are just going to start forking over all their content without any kind of protection (like Amazon music store, most of iTunes, and GoG for starters) or go out of business.

          Once browsers have the means to replace Flash and Silverlight (which they basically do right now) maybe they'll go away. Look at how badly Flash has been hurt just because one particular brand of smartp

          • Look at how badly Flash has been hurt just because one particular brand of smartphone doesn't support it.

            But that didn't make anything more "open" - it just moved the proprietary stuff to needing to be done special for iOS devices. This is the exact wrong direction to go in. If there was an HTML5 DRM standard, services could have used that to work for iOS. Instead, they need to create their own proprietary iOS application. Can you imagine what the world would be like if every platform did this?

            • Sorry that sounds too much like "become the enemy to beat the enemy." If iOS weren't a closed platform with curated app selection, you can bet everyone would have installed Flash in under 10 seconds - to match every non-curated platform out there.

      • by MrEricSir (398214)

        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.

        If you still have a plugin, how does that make it easier to develop DRM'd apps? It seems like you're arguing both sides.

      • by westlake (615356)

        So if you want DRM there will have to be closed-source client-side apps in either case.

        Client apps which can exist outside the generic web browser --- and perhaps replace it. Think of the Netflix tile on the Win 8 Start page. Now imagine a one-stop subscription service for books, magazines, newspapers, music, video and games. all instantly accessible without ever once opening Firefox or Chrome.

    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:12PM (#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 BitZtream (692029)

        Yea, we should definitely all miss out on the benefits of DRM (like getting to watch content that I wouldn't get to watch otherwise because they won't sell it without DRM) because of YOUR political ideals. God forbid we should have a feature that YOU don't use.

        We should all just use features that YOU think are the right ones ...

        If everyone behaved like you say, nothing would ever get done. If you want an example of where everyone objects to anything that doesnt' fit their agenda please watch sessions of U

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 westlake (615356)

      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.

      It's a big win for the walled gardens of the app and the app store.

      It's a big win for the internet enabled HDTV, the video game console, the Roku set top box. It's a big loser for the "open web" browser when the content people want --- and are willing to pay for --- is only available elsewhere.

    • by SirGarlon (845873)
      DRM is worse than Flash or Silverlight. Those, at least, are free-as-in-beer.
    • by rhysweatherley (193588) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:28PM (#43612965)
      Oh shut up - taking a pass on DRM is not "pick your battles carefully". Flash and Silverlight are dying on their own because they don't run, or run barely, on the current generation of smart phones, tablets, and ... wait for it ... smart TV's. The content distributors desperately need standardisation because supporting hundreds of device types and dozens of plug-in technologies is a pain in the neck. The problem is they've chosen to outsource the problem by making browser vendors write the proprietary DRM plug-ins for them. Instead of simply adopting the existing specifications for Internet video formats and protocols. Everything they want to do can already be done with AVI/MP4/etc together with HTTP/RTP and a "video" tag in HTML. Everything that is except spy on users and take away people's ability to enjoy the content on a whim. If we resist DRM, they'll either have to adopt open standards or they'll have no business model at all.
    • 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.

      I normally have a kneejerk reaction against RMS ranting but in this instance I agree with his position.

      Flash is no longer universally assumed or available to be installed. Silverlight is and always shall be DoA. There is a real cost in electing to use DRM if it requires something all users don't or can't have.

      The trends with all of this tablet/phone nonsense is to lock down execution in the browser environment. You simply do not have the option of running any plugins if you wanted to on some "modern" sys

  • Television (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AdamThor (995520) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:07PM (#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 Zerth (26112) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:08PM (#43612781)

    I'd be quite happy if they'd standardize the DRM in HTML5. That way there would be one common DRM to crack instead of everyone having their own peculiar variant.

    • by Phil Urich (841393) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:30PM (#43612993) Journal
      As far as I understand it, DRM in HTML5 would be like the Video tag; no actual specific format specified, just a standardized method for declaring its existence. Just as people can put proprietary, patent-encumbered video formats in an html video tag, so too could they with the DRM standard in HTML5. Folks would still have to install or have proprietary DRM blobs/programs of sorts for any of this to work. Ironically, this puts DRM in webpages potentially even less tied to web technologies, as they'll be passed through to OS-provided methods.
  • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:27PM (#43612953)

    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.

    ... if DRM is implemented in the hardware (BIOS, (U)EFI, TPM - whatever) then this could result in distribution of free operating systems that cannot be played on the hardware you own...

    Aren't both of the above the *desired* configurations for closed-source and/or media/content providers - and possibly the government?

    [ Now, where is my tin-foil hat? Okay! Who took my frelling hat? ]

  • RMS Said: " 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.'"

    ...so...

    If we standardize it in the browser (HTML5) - we won't have to implement it in the OS.

    I don't like DRM either - but I would like my services like Amazon, Hulu, Netflix or whatever to work across all my devices. As much as I would love to have these services simply unprotect all their content - I don't think they'l

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

      by wagnerrp (1305589) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @03:30PM (#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 EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Thursday May 02, 2013 @02:37PM (#43613071)
    I usually find his views a bit extreme but in this case I believe that DRM will be the thin edge of the wedge. Suddenly a huge amount of perfectly open content (say government data) will be DRM'd as a reflex. Plus the DRM will come out on Monday and be cracked on Tuesday resulting in just having a new buggy and useless layer to deal with. So now you will invite a whole new audience to the cracking party. So people will all start downloading FirefoxK'd.
  • Of course it should be rejected, you don't include something that doesn't work because it is impossible.

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