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W3C Erects DRM As Web Standard (theregister.co.uk) 260

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has formally put forward highly controversial digital rights management as a new web standard. "Dubbed Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), this anti-piracy mechanism was crafted by engineers from Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, and has been in development for some time," reports The Register. "The DRM is supposed to thwart copyright infringement by stopping people from ripping video and other content from encrypted high-quality streams." From the report: The latest draft was published last week and formally put forward as a proposed standard soon after. Under W3C rules, a decision over whether to officially adopt EME will depend on a poll of its members. That survey was sent out yesterday and member organizations, who pay an annual fee that varies from $2,250 for the smallest non-profits to $77,000 for larger corporations, will have until April 19 to register their opinions. If EME gets the consortium's rubber stamp of approval, it will lock down the standard for web browsers and video streamers to implement and roll out. The proposed standard is expected to succeed, especially after web founder and W3C director Sir Tim Berners-Lee personally endorsed the measure, arguing that the standard simply reflects modern realities and would allow for greater interoperability and improve online privacy. But EME still faces considerable opposition. One of its most persistent vocal opponents, Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that EME "would give corporations the new right to sue people who engaged in legal activity." He is referring to the most recent controversy where the W3C has tried to strike a balance between legitimate security researchers investigating vulnerabilities in digital rights management software, and hackers trying to circumvent content protection. The W3C notes that the EME specification includes sections on security and privacy, but concedes "the lack of consensus to protect security researchers remains an issue." Its proposed solution remains "establishing best practices for responsible vulnerability disclosure." It also notes that issues of accessibility were ruled to be outside the scope of the EME, although there is an entire webpage dedicated to those issues and finding solutions to them.
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W3C Erects DRM As Web Standard

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  • Digital Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @07:10PM (#54092357) Homepage

    Digital rights is an ugly theft of words implying the rights of people, rather than the rights of greed ie digital wrongs. Where is the right to privacy, absent. Where it the right to the truth, absent. Where is the right to freedom from censorship, absent. All that is covered is the digital right to greed and the ability to print money and censor and silence the public, think those digital wrongs tools wont be extended out to mass censorship, how wrong you are.

    • Re:Digital Rights? (Score:5, Informative)

      by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @07:16PM (#54092401) Journal
      That's why smart people say that DRM stands for Digital Restrictions Management.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by cavreader ( 1903280 )

        If I create some original digital content should I not have the right to set the terms of use and distribution? If someone doesn't agree with the terms they do not have the right to circumvent the terms just because they can.

        • Re:Digital Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by king neckbeard ( 1801738 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @10:04PM (#54093241)
          If you don't want something to be distributed, don't distribute it. That right to privacy is not challenged. However, that doesn't follow to being able to restrict downstream distribution once you've published something.
          • This line of argument is valid for both sides: If you don't want to support DRM, use a browser that doesn't support DRM or deactivate the DRM extensions. But don't complain if you then can't use Netflix et.al.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The problem here is that you are not the only one with rights, and when your rights intrude on the rights of others, we have a big fucking problem.
          Rights to monetary gain don't exist on the Internet, because the Internet's primary purpose is as a communication medium, not monetary.
          Monetary gains are a privilege or a luxury at best, and that's how it should stay, since this will force content creators to do their best to please
          instead of creating a situation where a saturation of 100 000 random idiots creati

        • Re:Digital Rights? (Score:5, Informative)

          by piojo ( 995934 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @10:52PM (#54093389)

          If I create some original digital content should I not have the right to set the terms of use and distribution? If someone doesn't agree with the terms they do not have the right to circumvent the terms just because they can.

          Nice thought, but no! The rights of buyers are enshrined in law, just as the rights of content creators are. For example, if you want to prevent a buyer from later selling it, that's not legal. Yet that's what DRM lets you do. You can also use DRM to block copying beyond the life of copyright, which may not be illegal, but is certainly unethical.

          I'm not sure if you can sell a product and set terms of use at all. Certainly you can set terms when you provide a service or make an agreement beyond a simple sale, but the grocery store cannot tell me how to use or not use the zuccini I just bought. (Perhaps they could, but they would have absolutely no legal grounds to enforce it.) DRM lets you control your customers in ways the legal system does not.

          • The rights of buyers

            You're assuming someone buys something. They don't. They license rights to display content. That has been upheld in various courts around the world already.

            Consumers have no rights enshrined in law what so ever when discussing media.

            • And more and more of them notice it, which results in fewer and fewer of them buying.

              Instead of now learning that "Hey, people stop buying our stuff, maybe we have to adjust the contracts to win them back" the train of thought is "Hey, people stop buying our stuff, clearly they must steal it".

              An old German proverb goes "The scoundrel thinks others are just the way he is himself". Guess it's applicable here.

              • More and more people use streaming services like Spotify and Netfilx. So the numbers show that many people are willing to license rather than buy.

                • People are willing to pay for comfort with no bullshit (i.e. ads) getting between them and their entertainment. That's basically the success behind those models.

            • The rights of buyers

              You're assuming someone buys something. They don't. They license rights to display content. That has been upheld in various courts around the world already.

              Consumers have no rights enshrined in law what so ever when discussing media.

            • Stupid phone. I said preview not submit.

              You're assuming someone buys something. They don't. They license rights to display content.

              That's why all the commercials always said "Own it now on DVD!"

          • I'm not sure if you can sell a product and set terms of use at all.

            Then how can licenses like the GPL work?

        • You have that right. Just as everyone has the right to choose to go elsewhere.

          My humble prediction: some people will adopt it, people will avoid it, use will fall off and it will join the dustbunnies under the desk of computer standards.

        • Yes, you should. What you should not, though, is be entitled to a whole avalanche of laws protecting you once you notice that your business model fails.

          When you set rules to use your content and people reject them and instead decide to forgo your offer, you cannot turn around and claim that clearly they MUST be stealing because they're not buying, so open the flood gates to more insane laws to protect a business model nobody but you wants.

        • by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @06:56AM (#54094333) Homepage

          If I create some original digital content should I not have the right to set the terms of use and distribution?

          Nope. You should not.

          In the grand scheme of things, what you should have the right to, is to be paid for the act of creation of the content.
          (you should get remuneration for your work. not be entitled to use it as a rent)

          But for historical reasons, the point at which money got collected was traditionally at the distribution, because back at the time when copyright laws were emerging, duplicating and distributing content was hard (if not the hardest part of the pipeline). And thus it was a happy chance that it could also help finance upstream creation.

          But nowadays, once we're out of the dark ages and into the information age, with everything going digital, duplication and distribution is boringly trivial and can't be justified any more. Artists still need to get paid to create (They need to eat, after all), but the point at which the money is collected doesn't make a fucking sense anymore in the modern setting.

          (Also note that a few small indie artists are moving out of this business model, and going back to older concepts of patronage. See platforms like Patreon, Tipee, etc.)

      • Re:Digital Rights? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @09:02PM (#54092967) Journal

        And normal Joe's call it "bullshit that pisses ya off and sends you straight to TPB" ala the classic oatmeal strip [theoatmeal.com].

        AAMOF the ONLY DRM I've seen that doesn't piss people off and actually gets shit right? Steam. It has offline mode so you can still play your games if your connection goes tits up, and the platform actually does things FOR the consumer instead of simply being a tool for big corps to use against the user. It keeps all your games updated, gives creators of games an easy way to support modders and an easy way for players to use mods with Steam workshop, gives you chat,hassle free matchmaking, its convenient as hell which is what the media companies never seem to grasp, people want CONVENIENCE.

        But instead the big corps will shit all over it in their endless greed and fuck it up, they always do. Hell we have a perfect example with MSFT and PlaysForSure. They had a great ecosystem with tons of shops you could buy and rent from, devices at every price point from sub $10 to over $400 that worked with it, both major and minor players supporting it....then MSFT got fucking greedy and killed it for their shitty iPod clone and in less than 2 years completely wiped out every inch they had gained in the market and had nothing to show for it besides a warehouse full of shit brown Zunes.

        So don't worry fellow geeks, they will shit all over this thing as they always do. they will have the content split among a dozen different places, half of which won't play nice with the other half and ALL charging too much, it won't work worth a piss with any mobile that is older than 5 minutes ago, and it'll go the way of SecuROM and RMA files because if its one thing we've seen is true of big media? Its owned by a bunch of old farts that have ZERO clue what the consumers want.

        • by piojo ( 995934 )

          Steam's DRM only works because games have a finite shelf life. If my copy of Portal 2 stops working in ten years when Steam shuts down, I won't mind. If I purchase books and they stop working at any point for any reason, I will be upset.

          • It works because people don't think about this. Would I be pissed if Steam goes belly up and all the games I bought are gone? Yes. Do I think about that now? No. I still play Civ3 from time to time, and I just recently bought a couple of very old games that I used to have again on Steam for a handful of bucks because, yes, convenience. I just recently noticed by accident that the DVD drive in my computer must have gotten disconnected at some point in the past. I didn't notice. I don't use it.

            And that's the

            • You DO realize that Steam games are easier to crack than any other DRM, yes? That there are websites that have cracks for damned near every game Steam has ever hosted, including cracks for Steam itself so it will just be locked into offline mode forever? That the majority of cracks out there for triple a titles are based on the Steam version because the Steam version is the easiest to crack...you do know this, right? And that Steam has a built in backup tool so you wouldn't even need Steam to reinstall your

              • To be honest, no, I didn't know. Neither did I care. It works. No need to spend time on it. It also keeps the games up to date, patched and compatible. It lets me browse a huge game catalogue from the comfort of my sofa.

                Yes, comfort sells. Time is a commodity for me, and time I spend doing stuff I like is valuable to me.

        • the ONLY DRM I've seen that doesn't piss people off and actually gets shit right? Steam.

          Steam pisses me off, but it does so to a lesser degree than other similar efforts. I refuse to use it nonetheless.

    • by ls671 ( 1122017 )

      Sure it could make ripping streams harder but I never understood how DRM could prevent you from reproducing a stream since you have to be able to see and hear it ultimately. Replace ears and eyes with sensors or tap into display and speakers and there you go.

      • Re:Digital Rights? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @07:30PM (#54092475)

        Most DRM isn't expected to prevent 100% of copies indefinitely. Usually it's intended to deter and/or delay casual copying, and in that, it is often quite successful these days. This is something that almost invariably gets overlooked in the "DRM never works" posts that will no doubt be filling this Slashdot discussion within minutes.

        • >Most DRM isn't expected to prevent 100% of copies indefinitely. Usually it's intended to deter and/or delay casual copying, and in that, it is often quite successful these days.

          I can't recall the last time I looked for media that wasn't available in an unencrypted stream within hours of being released in digital format, whatever the DRM.

          • Then you're only looking at mainstream, mass market, fixed content. A great deal of content created commercially isn't actually in that category.

            Also, it makes a big difference what the "digital format" is. Sure, if you're providing fixed content that someone can play at home, then if nothing else you're vulnerable to the analog hole if you're willing to accept the drop in quality, and for the next Avengers movie or Taylor Swift album or whatever, someone among the millions of interested people is going to

          • by Kjella ( 173770 )

            I can't recall the last time I looked for media that wasn't available in an unencrypted stream within hours of being released in digital format, whatever the DRM.

            Well, just checked Amazon now and there's 366 4K BluRays out, as far as I know there's no decrypting those yet. Not that I'm sure how you'd play an UHD HEVC HDR 10 bit Rec. 2020 stream properly anyway. BluRays look pretty good though...

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Which is easier: subscribe to a service and then try to rip its streams yourself, having to play each one out in real-time, re-encode into a better format etc, or just download the .torrent/pirate stream?

          People who want to make copies will do so anyway. People who don't want to pay, won't. DRM only punishes your customers.

          • That assumes you're talking about the kind of mass market content that is usually available and easy to find on a torrent. There's a huge long tail where that isn't the case, and you're making a big assumption that someone who chooses to pirate will easily be able to find an alternative source.

    • Re:Digital Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @07:39PM (#54092537)

      Digital rights is an ugly theft of words implying the rights of people

      Rubbish. Digital rights is clearly the rights of the rightsholder, in this case the copyright holder.

      Where is the right to privacy, absent. Where it the right to the truth, absent. Where is the right to freedom from censorship, absent.

      Then get off your soapbox and go do something about it rather than whining that people with an interest in copyright aren't equally interested in what you've listed there. This "oh poor me, won't somebody else act in my interest for me" is getting quite lame.

      All that is covered is the digital right to greed and the ability to print money and censor and silence the public, think those digital wrongs tools wont be extended out to mass censorship, how wrong you are.

      Don't be such a drama queen, the freedoms you speak of don't come from violating copyrights nor is EME a tool for censorship.

      If you don't like it then release your content freely, fund free content and don't support non-free content. Time and time again people like you complain about DRM and freedom whilst clamouring for non-free content, if you steer clear of non-free content then this doesn't affect you in the slightest. EME is a mechanism to access a DRM implementation, if you don't provide one then it does nothing.

      • Re:Digital Rights? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fox171171 ( 1425329 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @08:43PM (#54092871)

        Don't be such a drama queen, the freedoms you speak of don't come from violating copyrights nor is EME a tool for censorship.

        Don't be so naive. A car isn't a getaway tool, a gun isn't a murder tool. If it can be used or abused, it will be. This won't be the end, merely the beginning. It will creep and grow.

        The Internet isn't what it used to be. It has been taken over and changed. Maybe should be called the commercialnet, or spynet or something of the sort. Do a search for stuff these days and more often than not I get sites trying to sell me stuff. Just yesterday I was searching for a how to on taking my laptop apart to clean the fans, and most links were for buying fans. I found what I needed, but it was way down the list.

        The net wasn't created for online sales, yet it must be rebuilt at everyone's expense, so a few rich may ensure profit.

        It was good while it lasted.

        • Our biggest mistake was that we wanted the masses in our garden, thinking that this would actually make it even greater than it was.

          Because that's what the internet originally was. Our beautiful garden. Sure, it was more a jungle where you needed a machete and some survival skills to get shit done, because the tools that everyone can use like today didn't exist, but we tamed the jungle and built some beautiful gardens. Most of it hand-planted because, like I said, there weren't many tools.

          From time to time

      • nor is EME a tool for censorship.

        Of course it is. Content owners can retract content. To hide and deny proof of wrongdoing, like a video of a copy shooting an innocent person. And more dangerously, putting content owners under pressure to retract such material. There goes freedom of 'speach'

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      Sounds like you're not going to use DRM. Good for you.
    • Where is the right to privacy, absent. Where it the right to the truth, absent. Where is the right to freedom from censorship, absent.

      Maybe you should ask yourself what you're doing about that. For all the conspiracy theories about how the established order can censor everybody and control everything the reality is the populist vote has been winning out more than ever, we have President Trump, we have Brexit, why didn't they use their powers of censorship to stop those disruptive forces?

      But the thing you're worried about is the standardization of an interface to a module that attempts to enforce copyright (and of course many non-standard

    • Digital rights is an ugly theft of words implying the rights of people, rather than the rights of greed ie digital wrongs.

      It's not theft, it's just digital words management.

    • I'm not sure whether you are criticising the way DRM is defined at the moment to only favour the big entertainment producers, or you are against DRM in any form. Given the massive, commercial interests that drive much of the internet, I think it is unrealistic to expect that we can get rid of DRM completely, but I agree that it needs to be rebalanced, probably in a quite radical way. However, I think DRM is only a corner of a much wider problem, namely the problem of what information it should be possible t

  • Alternative Choices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by aprentic ( 1832 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @07:15PM (#54092391) Homepage

    Are there vendors, browsers or developers who have committed to not adopt this standard?

    • As far as I can tell, not having an EME compliant browser simply means that the browser will not be able to play streams encumbered with DRM. With Google, Microsoft and Netflix behind the standard, there's little chance of the other browser developers being able to force content providers to no adopt this standard.
    • by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @07:51PM (#54092613)

      Are there vendors, browsers or developers who have committed to not adopt this standard?

      Does it matter? EME is just an interface to a DRM module, if you don't have a DRM module then the content won't play. Just like if you want to watch content that requires Adobe Flash to play and you don't have Flash installed the content won't play.

    • by pjtp ( 533932 )

      The Pale Moon team have publicly said that they won't be implementing it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No DRM has ever been effective in its stated purpose.

    Stripping A/V from a stream is trivial.

    The best way to circumvent it is to simply make iso files from DVD's and Blurays. It is so trivial APK and Hairyfeet could do it!

    • Be aware that extracting from DRM, distributing software to remove the DRM, or even teaching people who to remove the DRM is illegal and could end you in jail. Whether it's trivial or not doesn't matter.
  • I don't really care if the support is there as long as I'm notified that content is so crippled so I can avoid it.

  • "Standard" is just a label you give to a proposal. Right now all effort has been focussed on preventing to stick that label on EME. I think that effort could have been spent better.

    You can for example make browser vendors adopt only DRM plugins that charge money for each visit, that will drive away all the little websites and makes every website owner think twice before they put their video under EME DRM. Really the worst that can happen now is that every video website on the web starts putting all their vi

  • Follow the money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @07:48PM (#54092593)

    member organizations, who pay an annual fee that varies from $2,250 for the smallest non-profits to $77,000 for larger corporations

    Clearly, the W3C created the EME standard to please its "member organizations".

  • So does this stop simple screen capture software that people have been using for years?
    • I would suspect that most DRM plugins will require secure path - which incidentally also means this proposal will create even more barriers and fragmentation than exist already. Say bye bye to Netflix on GNU/Linux - it was nice to have it for a year or two, but...
  • So, it looks like the open Web has a new enemy, and its name is EnEME.

  • by Archfeld ( 6757 ) <treboreel@live.com> on Wednesday March 22, 2017 @11:24PM (#54093479) Journal

    A standard is only as good as it is implemented in the wild. W3C can recommend all it wants but if web masters refuse to implement it or adopt it, it is just so much wasted documentation. This will likely result in a huge fragmentation of the web not seen since the AOL, Prodigy days of the past.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Thursday March 23, 2017 @12:25AM (#54093609)

    If you wish to cause the current system of DRM to implode it's actually really easy, you just need to know how to play by their rules. All you need to do is simulate the CDM plugin environment of Microsoft's Edge browser and package it as a single program that can write the output to an unprotected file. It doesn't even have to output an optimized video file, a raw capture will do. They will be contractually obligated to stop using CDMs because they can no longer meet the standard of the "robustness rules".

    With any other browser, it would mean only that specific browser would be unable to use CDMs but Microsoft isn't about to be left out of the game they helped fix.

  • The only question remaining is whether protected content will be accessible through a general purpose web browser. If not, subscribers will abandon the browser for the app.

    The app that has already been integrated into their smartphone, tablet, HDTV, video game console, set top box, etc.

    The streaming music service I use has 30 million tracks to explore. It would be very tempting to settle in there to stay. If you want me to have a look at what can be found elsewhere, don't make it anymore difficult than it n

  • Ye'll nevarrrrr stop me ye scurvy dogs!

  • It's about time we stopped expanding DRM to "Digital Rights Management". I don't need anything to manage my rights, digital or otherwise. I pay for content so I consume it. DRM is all about restrictions - it is Digital Restrictions Management.
  • So the pirates will need to spend $20 on one of these:

    https://smile.amazon.com/ViewH... [amazon.com]

  • One of my very most favorite old-timey sins! Hubris.

    "The DRM is supposed to thwart copyright infringement by stopping people from ripping video and other content from encrypted high-quality streams."

    Sounds an awful lot like "The Titanic is Unsinkable" doesn't it?

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