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Electronic Frontier Foundation Communications DRM Encryption Media The Internet

EFF Resigns From Web Consortium In Wake of EME DRM Standardization (eff.org) 221

New submitter Frobnicator writes: Four years ago, the W3C began standardizing Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME. Several organizations, including the EFF, have argued against DRM within web browsers. Earlier this year, after the W3C leadership officially recommended EME despite failing to reach consensus, the EFF filed the first-ever official appeal that the decision be formally polled for consensus. That appeal has been denied, and for the first time the W3C is endorsing a standard against the consensus of its members.

In response, the EFF published their resignation from the body: "The W3C is a body that ostensibly operates on consensus. Nevertheless, as the coalition in support of a DRM compromise grew and grew -- and the large corporate members continued to reject any meaningful compromise -- the W3C leadership persisted in treating EME as topic that could be decided by one side of the debate. [...] Today, the W3C bequeaths an legally unauditable attack-surface to browsers used by billions of people. Effective today, EFF is resigning from the W3C."
Jeff Jaffe, CEO of W3C said: "I know from my conversations that many people are not satisfied with the result. EME proponents wanted a faster decision with less drama. EME critics want a protective covenant. And there is reason to respect those who want a better result. But my personal reflection is that we took the appropriate time to have a respectful debate about a complex set of issues and provide a result that will improve the web for its users. My main hope, though, is that whatever point-of-view people have on the EME covenant issue, that they recognize the value of the W3C community and process in arriving at a decision for an inherently contentious issue. We are in our best light when we are facilitating the debate on important issues that face the web."
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EFF Resigns From Web Consortium In Wake of EME DRM Standardization

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  • by postbigbang ( 761081 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @07:23PM (#55228369)

    W3C sells out, leaves its somewhat democratic origins, succumbs to the payola, jumps the shark. Carry on, EFF. Someone has to.

    • by llamalad ( 12917 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @07:32PM (#55228409)

      Why not hop over to: https://supporters.eff.org/don... [eff.org]

      and sing up to donate a couple bucks a month to the EFF?

      I did a short while ago to give them my support in light of https://tech.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org] and am very happy that I did.

      They're fighting the good fight.

      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        Done. $25, as a special. I contribute regularly.
      • Also worth noting that the EFF is a charity choice for smile.amazon.com. Every penny helps.

    • by jbn-o ( 555068 ) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @09:14PM (#55228907) Homepage

      The W3C was doing what it was designed to do—membership is only available to those who pay, and that means its membership is almost entirely businesses. Calling this selling out misses the point of how the W3C's structure virtually guarantees predictable pro-DRM business outcomes such as this. As DefectiveByDesign.org pointed out [defectivebydesign.org] long ago, "Companies can impose DRM without the W3C; but we should make them do it on their own, so it is seen for what it is—a subversion of the Web's principles—rather than normalize it or give it endorsement.".

    • It will now be up to browser manufacturers to come together and not implement EME. Wouldn't be the first time they willfully ignore W3C standards.This time it would be welcome. Without a browser offering support for EME the whole issue becomes moot.
      • The W3C are the browser manufacturers. This is their standard.

        The design of this "DRM scheme" isn't an accident, it requires each DRM vendor cooperate with each individual browser manufacturer, guaranteeing that minor and community developed browsers never see the ability to show commercial videos. This represents a hijacking of the W3C to lock out future competitors. You can't even build a new browser based upon Blink or WebKit now that can display all the same content as Chrome or Safari, they just mad

      • Wouldn't be the first time they willfully ignore W3C standards.

        This is one point where the EME thing isn't quite as bad as it appears -- supporting EME is officially optional. Browsers can refuse to implement it and still claim to be 100% compliant with the HTML5 standard.

        • Outside of a few purists, nobody cares if their browser is compliant with the HTML5 standard. I'm guessing most people who use browsers these days wouldn't even know that means, let alone have a clue if their browser complied. In fact, quickly checking my own browser at https://html5test.com/index.ht... [html5test.com] indicates that Firefox 55 on Windows 10 is only MOSTLY supporting it. And it looks like very few browsers will even intend to support the whole standard.
          • But everybody cares if the web returns to the days when sites had to have those "best when viewed with..." badges. And we're solidly on that road again -- I have to keep more than one browser installed because some sites only work well with certain browsers. This is something I haven't had to do in a decade or so.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @07:35PM (#55228413)

    My main hope, though, is that whatever point-of-view people have on the EME covenant issue, that they recognize the value of the W3C community and process in arriving at a decision for an inherently contentious issue.

    Sorry there bubs. Any respect I had for the "value of the W3C community and process in arriving at blah fucking blah" has now gone out the window.

    Respect is earned, not demanded. This is going to be the undoing of the open internet, more than any other single thing in its history.

    • by JohnFen ( 1641097 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @08:00PM (#55228531)

      This is going to be the undoing of the open internet, more than any other single thing in its history.

      Well, let's not get too hyperbolic. This is a terrible thing, but it only affects the web, not the entire internet. There are bigger threats to the internet at large than this.

      • by roca ( 43122 )

        And it doesn't even affect the Web all that much.

        EME lets browsers play back DRM'ed video and audio. That's all.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by WarlockD ( 623872 )

          And it doesn't even affect the Web all that much.

          EME lets browsers play back DRM'ed video and audio. That's all.

          You miss understand, this is the npapi all over again. The buggy flash plugins that infect pc's. The java pugin that formats your hard drive. My personal opinion, for as useless as long term DRM is, that just having DRM isn't a problem for the web. The problem is custom plugins that sit outside chrome/IE/firefox's walled garden that do whatever the fuck. Now its in the standard that says "open season". And if you think that its "just for DRM video", I already see them trying to design some kind of os s

  • I might have been confused at the first mention of EFF resigning from W3C consortium because of the DRM standardization.

    https://tech.slashdot.org/stor... [slashdot.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Tim Berners-Lee has lost his way. I remember when he came to Wellington NZ and he was doing public talks about appstores and how people were using apps more than the web. He sounded scared that they would make the web irrelevant. If I were to guess why he kept supporting DRM it was because of this.

    Obviously over the years W3C has drifted between relevance, with HTML5 being done in the WhatWG and then copypasted to the W3C for no good reason (except for standards wonks trying to push specs to the ISO etc).

    So

  • The time has come. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @07:51PM (#55228493)

    Without a standards organization that can actually make portable standards (see lack of CDM documentation), it's time that we must construct a new standards body that isn't afraid to do what it claims it will do rather than what they must in order to appease their corporate masters.

    The W3C has lost it's credibility. The time has come to form a new standards body for the web.

    • You mean like Whatwg? [whatwg.org] I used to ignore it as it was kind of webkit and Google oriented back in the day but that was awhile back.

  • honest questions...

    what happens now? how does this actually manifest into something? do browser makers now have to have certain features to be W3C certified or something?

    is this at all similar to Chrome's recent decisions to not allow credentials from certain places, etc? I may not be remembering this stuff correctly but it seems like just another entity's decisions to do something they feel 'right' about

    do they have that much power to affect the web?

    help me out, pls
    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      No browser "has" to implement it, but at least there is a 'standard' way of doing it so web developers will start asking whether/how they can be using it instead of using Flash/Silverlight.

      There are plenty of standards the W3C has that aren't implemented across browsers (even simple things like input types) and there is another standards group WHATWG that has an entirely different implementation of HTML (which is what WebKit etc uses)

  • DRM schemes aren't going away and having standards around them seems like the best path forward. Without DRM, you can't have content rental systems. It's been said many times that information wants to be free, but the content creators need to eat and the studio executives need to fuel a lavish lifestyle. Without some form of DRM you wouldn't be able to have subscription services like HBO Go or Amazon Prime. It's a fair criticism that when you "purchase" a movie or TV show using Amazon Prime or Apple TV
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @09:00PM (#55228877)

      You might think you're being a "pragmatist", but actually you're just a liberal cock sucker.
      "This guy won't stop waving his cock in my face, so I may as well suck it" - You.

    • There was a time when a DRM-free purchase seemed like a great idea. But that was when we wanted to do things like download an entire movie and play on various devices. Now everything is streaming and you don't even notice the DRM.

      Sorry, but it still seems like a good idea to be able to watch a movie somewhere where I don't necessarily have an active, reliable, high-speed internet connection, or would rather not pay for streaming bandwidth over and over again every time I watch it.

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Wednesday September 20, 2017 @12:28AM (#55229509) Journal

      DRM schemes aren't going away and having standards around them seems like the best path forward.

      No. Having them byzantine and hard to use is a much, much better option. Fragmentation will keep them from being used as much.
      The only reason to favor this is if you want DRM.

      • This seems to be the general hope that somehow DRM will fail and go away. Nothing wrong with wishing for that but it's a far-fetched dream at best. Current DRM systems for streaming content work very well. You turn on your TV and you can watch HBO or Amazon Prime or anything else without even knowing that there is DRM at play. At $10/month for unlimited streaming you can't even buy one movie for that price or even a ticket to a theater.
        • This seems to be the general hope that somehow DRM will fail and go away

          No, it is the hope that it will remain as painful as possible.

          I will also add that I think you personally are trash for advocating DRM.

    • But that was when we wanted to do things like download an entire movie and play on various devices. Now everything is streaming and you don't even notice the DRM.

      Speak for yourself. I don't do streaming, and probably never will, because it's a huge waste of money. If I want content, I buy it DRM-free so I can format and time shift and don't have to worry whether or not it will still be available the next time I want it.

  • Jeff Jaffe, CEO of W3C said: "I know from my conversations that many people are not satisfied with the result. EME proponents wanted a faster decision with less drama. EME critics want a protective covenant. And there is reason to respect those who want a better result. But my personal reflection is that we took the appropriate time to have a respectful debate about a complex set of issues and provide a result that will improve the web for its users.

    Your fallacy is Middle Ground, Jaffe. [yourlogicalfallacyis.com] Maybe after he's do

  • Devil's advocate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FeelGood314 ( 2516288 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2017 @10:17PM (#55229115)
    This was not a fight about whether DRM was good or bad, it wasn't about whether it should be used or not either - It already exists and is being used. It wasn't even a debate about whether it should be standardized, you really can't stop a group of people from agreeing to agree on how to do things. The only possible debate was whether the DRM standard would be part of W3C.

    Now the W3C could decided they hate DRM and not put it in their standard but then the web browsers are going to standardize it on their own outside of the W3C. This definitely weakens the W3C but it also goes against what W3C stands for. They are supposed to be the place for people to put web standards together. Just because the EFF doesn't agree with DRM, shouldn't allow them to stop the web browser makers from agreeing to the standard and making it a W3C standard.
  • Once upon a time, a family argued over what program they should watch on their TV. The father looked at the argumentative bunch and decided to weigh in with a bit of wisdom. "Let's resolve this democratically" he said. "Junior and Sissy should get one vote each for the show that they wish to watch, Mother should get two votes as her position allows for more power. As for me, I should get five votes as I'm the Pater Familias." At that point, the rich elitist bastard who lived in a mansion on a hill that had

  • Consensus is not always possible for contentious issues. It's a nice ideal to strive for, but there are some issues where consensus cannot be practically reached. Compromise is likewise not always possible either. Those are the times when strong leadership is called for to make a decision, over the well-reasoned objections of some of the members of the body.

    As this post [slashdot.org] nicely describes, DRM is already here, isn't going away, and this whole debate wasn't about whether or not we should have DRM at all.

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