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DRM Your Rights Online

The W3C Sells Out Users Without Seeming To Get Anything In Return 348

Posted by samzenpus
from the deal-of-the-century dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Questioning the W3C's stance on DRM, Simon St. Laurent asks 'What do we get for that DRM?' and has a thing or two to say about TBL's cop-out: 'I had a hard time finding anything to like in Tim Berners-Lee's meager excuse for the W3C's new focus on digital rights management (DRM). However, the piece that keeps me shaking my head and wondering is a question he asks but doesn't answer: If we, the programmers who design and build Web systems, are going to consider something which could be very onerous in many ways, what can we ask in return? Yes. What should we ask in return? And what should we expect to get? The W3C appears to have surrendered (or given?) its imprimatur to this work without asking for, well, anything in return. "Considerations to be discussed later" is rarely a powerful diplomatic pose.'"
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The W3C Sells Out Users Without Seeming To Get Anything In Return

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  • Anyone noticed (Score:5, Informative)

    by djupedal (584558) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:05PM (#45098019)
    . . . we won the DRM wars? All the major stores are DRM-free. Obviously tho, some people don't really like music - they just like being self-righteous on the internet. (That's right, I ripped off xkcd 546 AND 849
    • Re:Anyone noticed (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jaymz666 (34050) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:06PM (#45098031)

      music, maybe. It's video that is a nightmare right now

      • Re:Anyone noticed (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:36PM (#45098161)

        music, maybe. It's video that is a nightmare right now

        And we won the music wars primarily because there was no DRM in the standard. Every attempt to impose a DRM-hobbled "standard" on the music industry came from a single company: RealAudio wasn't real, Apple's AAC fell to the wayside, Microsoft's SureWontPlay, etc. We forced content providers to choose: Roll your own DRM product and fail, or adopt a DRM-free standard, and make money.

        By leaving DRM out of the standard for the Web, we could have forced content providers into that same choice: offer DRM-free video at a price, or starve.

        I like Netflix. But I don't like Netflix more than I like the web.

        • Re:Anyone noticed (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Nemyst (1383049) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:58PM (#45098269) Homepage
          I'm not sure you're attributing this victory to the right cause. I think it's a lot more simple: regardless of the DRM employed, piracy still worked fine. No DRM scheme has ever survived in the wild for any viable period of time, which has made the entire exercise moot. The stores slowly realized that they could make just about the same amount of money without investing into often costly DRM schemes, and as a bonus they'd get free publicity from savvier users saying just how great they were for not putting DRM on their tracks.
          • Re:Anyone noticed (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:09AM (#45098525)

            Yeah, except that that's totally wrong.

            How many people pirated Nintendo 64 games? I mean, back before they had computers capable of running the ROMs.

            Physical cartridges prevented piracy; GameCube DVDs spin the wrong way to be read and written by consumer equipment; and eventually, they will be able to prevent piracy on PCs, by destroying them.

            Piracy is not an answer. Piracy is worse than not an answer, it helps the enemy. Every time someone pirates a song instead of using a free one, it cements the copyrighted song's market dominance and prevent free songs from becoming popular.

            If you must use proprietary software, or songs backed by labels, or mass-market movies, it's better to pirate them. But the only way to support freedom is to support freedom.

            • Re:Anyone noticed (Score:5, Informative)

              by squiggleslash (241428) on Friday October 11, 2013 @09:37AM (#45100723) Homepage Journal

              GameCube DVDs spin the wrong way

              For what it's worth (which is not a lot because I don't want to undermine your point which is good) that's a myth. GC DVDs spin the standard way. IIRC, certain headers or something similar are missing/done differently on GC DVDs which makes it difficult to read them without custom firmware on the reader itself. But they do spin the normal way.

        • Re:Anyone noticed (Score:5, Informative)

          by Desler (1608317) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @11:04PM (#45098291)

          Apple's AAC fell to the wayside

          AAC has nothing to do with DRM. And Apple still uses AAC for its DRM-free music as well.

          • FairPlay is what the parent was thinking of. It's the DRM that limits you to 5 device authorizations but with unlimited lossy "burns" and 10 playlists with unlimited "burns".

            It actually wasn't that burdensome - some might say "fair" but the reality was/is that people are happy with lossy lower quality mp3s so the unlimited part was a loophole that voided the DRM in practice. Apple abandoned it ASAP and opted to simply make buying tracks easier than pirating them. Worked pretty well.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by jonwil (467024)

          What forced DRM out of the music industry was Apple's market dominance of the MP3 player market with the iPod. The record companies were afraid that the Apple iTunes store was going to become such a dominant player in the digital music business that they would loose all their power. The only way to break iTunes was to allow another competitor (in this case Amazon) to offer a music store that was DRM free (as only Apple can produce DRM audio for the iPod). Once Amazon was up and running the studios offered A

          • This standard is supposed to help out people using Linux so you can still watch movies without installing an operating system that has a Flash player or SliverLight.

            It could also help out with emerging platforms --- like say a video toaster.
            • How does it achieve this? The DRM will be in the form of plugins, native to the OS, that render video and audio themselves, bypassing the browser. I don't see why it's more likely that Netflix would choose to write an HTML5 DRM plugin for Linux, or your toaster, than it was that they chose Silverlight over Flash.

              The standard part of this DRM is the way it communicates with the browser. Its communication with the devices is still dependent on the particular OS. That's how I understand it to work anyway,

        • by cshark (673578)

          I like Netflix. But I don't like Netflix more than I like the web.

          It's a false dichotomy to assume that having DRM in the standard makes the web any more or less free. What you get it useless, easily bipassable security features that placates content providers for the time being. At some point, I think they're all going to give up DRM, and we'll regard it as silly as the pay walls nobody ever uses, that are built into the http.

          DRM doesn't change anything meaningful.
          You still have a choice as to whether or not you're going to use it on your site. If you don't like DRM, fin

          • What you get it useless, easily bipassable security features

            Which would be fine, except that bypassing those features is almost certainly going to be illegal under laws like the DMCA. We can expect to see people sued and non-complying browsers declared illegal as circumvention tools.

            So are you really advocating breaking the law as a valid response to an onerous standard?

            And if one day the content corporations launch a series of prohibitive lawsuits, will you condemn those corporation for their poor

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Dahamma (304068)

          By leaving DRM out of the standard for the Web, we could have forced content providers into that same choice: offer DRM-free video at a price, or starve.

          Not sure how this is "insightful". Netflix, Apple, VUDU, Amazon, Hulu, etc all have DRM and they are far from "starving". But they are all using a random mishmash of DRM solutions individually developed/licensed/etc. And they will continue to do that as long as there are no standards they all can adopt.

          Standardizing DRM in HTML5 is not caving to anyone, I don't know what people keep thinking that. It's just consolidating the APIs so that these providers can create HTML5 web apps that run on more devices

          • It's just consolidating the APIs so that these providers can create HTML5 web apps that run on more devices without modification

            Consolidating the APIs isn't worth a thing when the APIs are just talking to some OS-specific (and possibly browser-specific) blob, which is what the W3C is actually proposing. Who cares if Netflix is using an open API, if instead of using MS Silverlight they're now using MS DRM Plugin?

          • Again, if the W3C were standardizing DRM, that's be something different. They're not. DRM will be provided by a system of proprietary, platform specific, browser specific, plug-ins.

            It's stupid. It's completely unnecessary. There's no demand for a means to stream HTML5 video that's reliant on a third party plug-in to work. Netflix will NOT benefit from this tag, except in that they'll have one more option, on top of Flash and Silverlight and Real, to use.

            I'm having a hard time seeing the justification.

        • Re:Anyone noticed (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:13AM (#45098983)
          > We forced content providers to choose: Roll your own DRM product and fail, or adopt a DRM-free standard, and make money.

          Apple's DRM worked acceptably and looked great compared to the nightmarish DRM from other companies. The media companies realized that DRM was quickly giving Apple huge leverage over them and locking their customers into Apple-only --- and then Apple would tell them "you can only charge $0.99 cents for a song".

          Then they realized The DRM was working great! Really great! For Apple. For the music companies? Not so much.

          [Classic "Beware, you might get what you want!" Pie in the Face story.]
      • by guises (2423402)
        I'd say it's video games, and we seem to have all but lost that one. Video game DRM is not only more ubiquitous now, but has gotten worse. Steam has normalized the idea of software activation, and even more onerous schemes, like continuous activation, have gained traction and willful double-think when paired with high-profile releases like Diablo 3 (best selling game of 2012).

        There are some holdouts, but the Humble Bundle is selling DRMed games now so that really only leaves Good Old Games if you want so
        • Video games are a drop in the bucket, many more people watch video than play games. When talking about browse based drm, I definitely think video

          • Re: Anyone noticed (Score:5, Informative)

            by Dahamma (304068) on Friday October 11, 2013 @01:36AM (#45098855)

            Drop in the bucket? Really?!?

            Video games grossed about $67B in 2012 worldwide. The movie box office was $35B and the home video market was about $30B. More people watch video, maybe, but games are often much higher priced per unit. And don't forget mobile games, that industry has EXPLODED.

            The buckets are pretty close to equal these days...

    • We won the downloadable music DRM wars, you mean. (And possibly the downloadable video one, as well; I'm not involved, so I don't know the state of that.) The streaming video DRM war, however, is very much unwon. What should be as simple* as "provide authentication credentials, receive video stream" has been complicated to permit the provider to distinguish between viewing on set-top boxen, "normal" PCs, and mobile devices, so they can charge different amounts and/or have different content available. *Thi
      • And now with proper formatting...

        We won the downloadable music DRM wars, you mean. (And possibly the downloadable video one, as well; I'm not involved, so I don't know the state of that.)

        The streaming video DRM war, however, is very much unwon. What should be as simple* as "provide authentication credentials, receive video stream" has been complicated to permit the provider to distinguish between viewing on set-top boxen, "normal" PCs, and mobile devices, so they can charge different amounts and/or have different content available.

        *This is particularly true for subscription-based (watch any content number of times while your subscription is valid) or library-based (watch particular content any number of times as long as it's in your library) services -- any service letting you pay once to view once, and pay again if you want to view again, gets a little more complicated, to handle connection droppage, etc., but still doesn't need the DRM they actually use. Since all the real services I have any interest in are in the first two classes, this is an academic point to me, but I don't know if other streaming services may be literally pay-per-view.

        (This just in, /.'s mobile interface sucks.)

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      The internet will just flow around the sites like paywalls. The brands using the tech will be interfacing with peoples computers and their user experience.
      The content producers seem to hope they can out bandwidth and out price any 3rd party web 2.0 rental or shop with quality, cost and convenience.
      Do the DRM from the content producer people understand the reality of HFC and optical cable networks?
      They will have locked away broadcast content on their networks. Recall http://delimiter.com.au/2013/05/14/f [delimiter.com.au]
    • by Gerzel (240421)

      Then why are the bullets still in the air?

  • by stox (131684) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:11PM (#45098049) Homepage

    Cushy consulting gigs at the content producers/distributors.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:13PM (#45098057) Journal
    If you're looking for confusion in the blog post, this sentence seems to capture all of it:

    What are we users – and what is the W3C – getting from building the risk of programmers being jailed into the core infrastructure of the Web? I have no doubt that browser vendors eager to cut deals will incorporate DRM into their offerings.

    The users don't have anything to bargain with except their eyes, and the W3C is made up from browser vendors, so if he understands why browser vendors want to incorporate DRM, that answers the whole question.

  • by Jonah Hex (651948) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .smtodxeh.> on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:14PM (#45098063) Homepage Journal
    I can hear the argument in a few years "We didn't need considerations when we implemented DRM, why should we actually give some now when it could cause problems". Fuck the whole argument, we don't need DRM and we don't need considerations now or later. Leave both out. - HEX
  • TV 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:17PM (#45098087)

    There are many forces commercial and governmental both which want to rein in the internet. It's too dangerous in their view to have anyone able to communicate freely with anyone else without permission or monitoring.

    Thus gradually step by step the once open nature of the internet will be closed down. The problem is that people look at each 1/1000th of the whole picture and say "that isn't so bad!". Secure boot. That isn't so bad, you can disable it! (for now). DRM in HTML5. That isn't so bad! Etc. But the overall trends is clear. The internet became what it was before the authoritarians really became aware of it. They won't make that mistake again, and they will act to put more and more controls on it both legal and technical, until what made it an incredible thing is gone.

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:17PM (#45098091)
    That is probably one of the most idiotic things I have read in some time. You either allow it or you dont. What is there to trade? Its like saying.. well.. we'll let you have the H1 tag.. but you gotta let us have the HR tag.. what??
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You'll have to pry the <BLINK> and <MARQUEE> tags out of my dead fingers. The web is worth nothing if I can't annoy the hell out of my viewers.
  • "Considerations to be discussed later" is rarely a powerful diplomatic pose.'"

    No shit. It means those considerations consist entirely, wholly, and purely, of bupkis.

    --
    BMO

  • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:40PM (#45098197)
    The committee members that push it through will get swanky positions with the industries that benefit from DRM. And since the world economy is crashing and only a few are going to live the good life I suppose I can't blame them...
  • by mbone (558574) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @10:45PM (#45098209)

    The W3C used to be a member (i.e., company) driven organization, but in 2012 they took a large donation from the Internet Society [w3.org] and were basically brought under ISOCs umbrella (they were running out of money) :

    “The Internet Society’s generous donation has fueled deep organizational change at W3C,” said Jeff Jaffe, W3C CEO. “We have strengthened our business model and broadened participation to accelerate the development of the Open Web Platform technology that is transforming industry.”

    In 2011, one of the ways in which W3C reached out to new stakeholders was through new Community Groups and Business Groups. A W3C Community Group is an open forum, without fees, where Web developers and other stakeholders develop specifications, hold discussions, develop test suites, and connect with W3C's international community of Web experts. A W3C Business Group gives innovators that want to have an impact on the development of the Web in the near-term, a vendor-neutral forum for collaborating with like-minded stakeholders, including W3C Members and non-Members. In just four months, more than fifty groups have been created or proposed.

    This does not sound like "deep organizational change at W3C," or particularly open in nature. I think that interested parties should comment / complain to the ISOC Board of Trustees [internetsociety.org].

  • Google and Mozilla (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 10, 2013 @11:05PM (#45098293)

    As long as Google and Mozilla simply fail to implement DRM, it will be DOA.

  • What's the fuss? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday October 10, 2013 @11:34PM (#45098403)

    Relax, it's W3C. It's not like any browser that ever existed did actually implement any of their standards correctly, what makes you think it's different with DRM?

  • time to fork W3C? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skapare (16644) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:09AM (#45098523) Homepage

    So, does this mean it is time to fork W3C and have a more meaningful standards organization?

    • The exact opposite is the case. If the W3C didn't make a home for implementers who want to agree on a standard, the implementers would find somewhere else.

      And what's the issue, anyways? They're not publishing DRM, and they can't tell Web browsers to protect content. Read the EME spec that's so controversial, there's no reason why you couldn't write your own EME implementation.

  • Out of the market (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Skapare (16644) on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:24AM (#45098579) Homepage

    Content owners that make their DRM not work for me (a Linux user) cannot consider me in their market. Therefore they would LOSE NOTHING if I crack the DRM and access their content privately.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday October 11, 2013 @12:28AM (#45098595) Journal

    'What do we get for that DRM?'

    Did "we" vote on this? Let's look at their members list [w3.org]: Apple, AT&T, Facebook, Csico, Comcast, Cox, Google, Huawei, HP, Intel, LG, Netflix, Verizon, Yahoo!, Zynga and ... The Walt Disney Company. Seriously, are we really so daft that we sit here scratching our heads wondering why a consortium of those players and THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY ended up including DRM? REALLY? There is a bill known as The Mickey Mouse Act in regards to excessive copyright that was passed into US law. And we're wondering how Disney might have influenced DRM as an option in a standard ... they're on the list, folks! Pull your heads out of your asses!

    And those are just the companies I recognize that have a serious amount of money to be made on DRM (hello, Netflix?!). If I examine closer, there are much smaller players like, say, Fotosearch Stock Photography and Footage that sound like they would gladly vote for DRM in order to "protect" their products/satiate content owners.

  • What the W3C should demand in exchange for doing this is that all it does is prevent copying. Content can't "phone home". Content can't keep you from skipping the commercials. All this mechanism should do is restrict a container of content to one or more specified devices. It should not be used as a technical means to give content powers beyond those established by copyright law.

  • The real issue is to understand why people like to be locked in, shackled and then anally fist fucked by DRM. It's because they like it and, realistically as long as it's shiney, they don't care being bitches. Of course, what is critical is not to use any of the core features of DRM to quickly so that they actually start to wonder why people who know about DRM, don't like it and are forced to educate the targets about why it's bad. Generally people will respond with "I quite like being fist fucked - whats y

  • by thestudio_bob (894258) on Friday October 11, 2013 @02:10AM (#45098973)

    The abuse of DRM by corporations, governments and people more interested in restricting information, far out weighs any benefit given to the average consumer. I, for one, am totally in disbelief that the W3C caved in on this.

  • by nimbius (983462) on Friday October 11, 2013 @04:19AM (#45099387) Homepage
    the W3c is comprised of these guys
    http://www.w3.org/Consortium/Member/List [w3.org]
    theyre major corporations like Microsoft, Sony BT, Cox, Square Enix Comcast and at&t. these guys either have direct pressure to, or direct interest in pushing DRM whether you like it or not. they outnumber individual members and can basically determine the course as they see fit by lobbying and intimidating other members into concensus. in short, asking the W3C is functionally incapable of representing the interests of anything more than a collection of large corporations. Sort of like the US Government.
  • by westlake (615356) on Friday October 11, 2013 @06:55AM (#45099925)

    There are thirty million Netflix subscribers in the states or about ten percent of the adult population.

    The web user is middle class --- someone with the disposable income needed to support the purchase of broadband and mobile data services, computers, smartphones, tablets, video game consoles and so on.

    Protected content, retail sales and subscription services are not a burden to him --- quite the contrary --- if they are not available through the browser he will go elsewhere and he won't be looking back. The success of the "walled gardens" of Apple and iTunes, the Kindle and Amazon Prime makes that perfectly clear.

    W3C doesn't exist to pacify the geek.

    It exists to insure the continued relevance of the general purpose web browser,

     

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