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back to article Who's adding DRM to HTML5? Microsoft, Google and Netflix

With tech companies abandoning the proprietary Flash and Silverlight media players for HTML5, it was inevitable somebody would try to inject DRM into the virgin spec. Microsoft, Google and Netflix are that “somebody”, having submitted a proposed modification to HTML5 to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) for “encrypted media …

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Anonymous Coward

Why bother?

Seriously, what's the point of all this BS? Like every other DRM scheme ever it's not going to prevent even semi-determined people from doing whatever they want with the content, all it will do is inconvenience normal punters and yet again make piracy seem like a worthwhile option, to avoid the hassles associated with the legitimate version.

Media rights holders can either:

A) Just put their stuff out DRM-free, inevitably some people will misuse it as has always happened.

B) Insist on another pointless DRM scheme, roughly the same amount of people will still misuse the content as with option A - possibly slightly more since you mildly irritate the entire userbase, and help legitimise people's excuses for pirating your content.

C) Use a proprietary system/app/whatever as some people here have mentioned as an option if they don't get their way with DRM, in which case your marketshare will drop off a cliff and people wanting your content will simply use the traditional and superior illicit methods.

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It might be unethical

But it's also obviously necessary to support streaming video services. Otherwise they'll just use a Flash / Silverlight plugin.

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Re: It might be unethical

Probably, and they are welcome to.

And I'm quite happy to not download it.

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Re: Re: It might be unethical

Then you won't be using streaming services which is fair enough.

Problem is some people (all those thumbs down people) appear incapable of understanding it is necessary for streaming. Netflix, YouTube et al who stream commercial content are contractually obliged to encrypt it. If HTML5 doesn't provide what they want, they'll use a plugin that does.

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Re: Re: It might be unethical

MGale. so you know you don't have to download it? Then what's your problem? Nothing is being forced on you other than the convenience of not even being told you need to download something.

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Re: Re: Re: It might be unethical

DrXym, you're right, they will. Good on them.

Craigness, you'll be told you need to download something quite regularly, probably every time the current DRM system gets broken.

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@DrXym

I'm not entirely sure why any of this has to be "web" based to be honest (with the web being the www not the Internet of course)...

Forget HTML5 tags, browser plug-ins or any of that... they could just release an application for it - hell, the app could be little more than an custom HTML renderer and DRM system then you can keep the web monkeys employed on the GUI... that's pretty much what Steam is for games or Spotify for music.

Don't need to worry about plug-ins, nor W3C specifications - just make installing the app a condition of the service and jobsagoodun.

If you don't need DRM, feel free to use an unencumbered website; if you do, make an app for it then you're only pissing in your own swimming pool.

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The Ancient Round Table does Hollywood ..... Holywood MonarchIC Quantum Style

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At these exalted levels of MetaDataBase Control the rules that reign are those you Power by Selfless Sharing . Control without Power is a Friend Alone in Need, and Occasionally Always Fabulously Lonely in APT Situations/Hot Episodes/Passionate AIMissions .......... Virgin Venus Ventures /Magical Mystery Turing Trip in CyberSpace Simulators ........ Virtual Dream Machines.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Ancient Round Table does Hollywood ..... Holywood MonarchIC Quantum Style

Between up-voting and down-voting, can we have a third option here ? I don't know, something like the thumb held horizontally maybe ?

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Re: The Ancient Round Table does Hollywood ..... Holywood MonarchIC Quantum Style

[broadcast Eclear, sent 1330022571.4]

xGSV Slightly Perturbed

o(unknown) amanfromMars 1

You seem to have a problem with your language subsystems. As far as I can tell, you appear to have your primary lexer set to "C++ CamelCase" instead of English.

May I assist?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: The Ancient Round Table does Hollywood ..... Holywood MonarchIC Quantum Style

Better still, a "remove posts from this malfunctioning carbon unit from my view of the site".

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JDX
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As already mentioned, the idea of DRM is not bad (IMO)... time-limited and even account-limited make sense.

The lack of DRM in HTML5 would mean it can never take over from Flash, so we have little choice.

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Anonymous Coward

@JDX - What the .... is going on here?

DRM means I want you to be allowed to decrypt content and at the same time I want you to be prevented from decrypting it. If this is not schizophrenia then how would you call it ? And you find this idea not bad ? Again, WTF ?

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Anonymous Coward

OK, so how does that work?

DRM "works" with Flash because:

1) the Adobe Flash player is not open source

2) entities like Hulu can push an encryption algorithm to the flash player via an encrypted channel.

3) the user cannot see the algorithm, because Adobe Flash is a black box.

4) so a degree of protection is provided.

Now, if you add DRM to HTML5, you either

a) make it a plug-in, which means it is little better than what we have now from a user convenience standpoint.

b) build it into EVERY big name browser.

But to do b) you have to release the source as a part of Firefox, and then you can intercept the data needed to decrypt the data, OR you make the source for the DRM plug-in not a part of the Firefox release (and thus create a distinction between Firefox-that-Mozilla-built and Firefox-that-I-built).

DRM is logically flawed - you want me to be able to read this data, but you also want me to NOT be able to read this data.

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Re: OK, so how does that work?

Problem is we're not talking about Firefox here. We're talking of Chrome and Internet Explorer. They're both closed source so there is ample opportunity to encrypt / decrypt content in a way which is at least as secure as using a Flash plugin but with content which is HTML5 but with the video src pointing at some encrypted content.

<p>

Even Firefox could implement something similar if they wished given that they release binary builds which could contain stuff which is not in the source. And failing that someone could simply produce a binary extension / plugin for Firefox which bundles up a video player which supports the DRM and places it in the page. This would not be rocket science to do.

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Regrettable perhaps

But the media companies do need to be able to make money or there will be no media.

So we should be looking for a *content protection* system that does not.

1. Limit the device you can use

2. Place unfair restrictions on sharing (the 'I've got this DVD, shall I bring it round to watch over a few beers?' - model should still work. even as simple as logging in somewhere else)

3. Be difficult to use, require installation of weird software

4. Be proprietary so that users worry whether they can still use *their* content in 10yrs time, when the company has been bought & merged 10 times (If they cant do that perhaps it should be regarded - and priced as a rental)

Really that doesn't sound like something that sits in the end user device so much as something that sits in the network itself

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Regrettable perhaps

For any DRM scheme to work, you need closed trusted (by who ?) end-to-end protection. Get it ? Your browser must be into this end-to-end otherwise it will not work. Your entire machine hardware+software must obey to them and not to you as an end-user, sorry I meant consumer.

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JDX
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Re: Regrettable perhaps

>>2. Place unfair restrictions on sharing (the 'I've got this DVD, shall I bring it round to watch over a few beers?' - model should still work. even as simple as logging in somewhere else)Well Netflix seems to let me log in on any PC - don't think so on the PS3 but streaming on consoles is still immature.

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Re: Re: Regrettable perhaps

Why would they let you do it ? then they could have you register and unregister a limited number of computer (say one), and force you to pay and pay again ?

If they COULD prevent you to share the joy and think they could cough a bit more of money out of you WHY would they not do it ?

If it is possible and nobody fights it, it will happen.

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Unfortunate reality

I hate DRM and view it as pointless. Very few DRM schemes have lasted more than a few months without being cracked, so it essentially restricts legitimate users while posing no real problem for pirates. Still there's no way that big media is going to allow content to be legally streamed without it. The possibility of DRM inside the HTML5 spec would be a marvelous way to ensure that. It would also buy Netflix, as well as similar services, the ability to be on all platforms instead of just those that support Silverlight.

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Re: Unfortunate reality

The unfortunate reality is that the DRM component would work only on the platforms that it has been compiled for. Sort of like Flash, but baked into the spec so you can't get rid of it.

Like I've said above, keep the DRM in some kind of external plugin. It has no business on an open Web. You know, the sort that the W3C is all about promoting?

Again, for the benefit of anyone who didn't see the link above: http://www.w3.org/Consortium/mission

DRM takes that mission, stamps on it, takes it out back, shoots it with a 50 cal, dumps the whole lot in a barrel, shits on the remains and then sets fire to it. I'm not surprised the W3C are opposed.

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Anonymous Coward

A poll

Vote up or down:

How many of you think most of the people who say "well, this will be circumvented anyway so why bother" have also said (to some earlier article) "well, what do you expect; they didn't secure it well enough".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: A poll

What?

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DRM?

I'm all for it, as long as EVERY 'approved' website gives us irremovable(?) warnings about the dire effects of 'piracy' so we can sit around for several minutes waiting for it to load.

BTW, it's not about 'digital rights' its about 'digital restrictions'.

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Linux

The "problem" are open source browsers.

The linked to article puts this out very clearly. It's impossible to stop an open source browser to write decoded frames to disk, for instance.

So they're hand waving a lot and mentioning *hardware devices* or *binary drivers*.

Err, that's a proprietary plugin, in my book.

Thanks, but I think I'll give this one a pass.

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Re: The "problem" are open source browsers.

in the end you could just film the screen with a camcorder.

No amount of proprietariness will stop it completely.

There's also no need to point the finger at opensource: The internet is open - you cant stop that. But anyway even if you could, it wouldn't help

What Media Cos need is a system that's easy to use and doesnt get in your face! That way, even a leaky system is *good enough*

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Re: Re: The "problem" are open source browsers.

"What Media Cos need is a system that's easy to use and doesnt get in your face! That way, even a leaky system is *good enough*"

They already have it, so no need to require it in every web browser. There's no need to require DRM to be baked into anything and everything that uses html5, or even for it to be part of the spec. After all, is a message telling you "this machine does not have Panopticon Technology DRM so you cannot view this content" any more or less annoying than "This web page cannot find Panopticon Technology's DRM plugin"?

What surprises me most is Google's part of the tag team. With Microsoft? And Netflix? I'm guessing that somehow the three of them have figured if they can push this through now they can control the deal. That'd certainly be enough to set aside any other arguments for now. Bottom line, and all that.

(Also, it figures that there is a real Panopticon Software, based in Sweden. Ho hum.)

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there's going to be leakage

just like shoplifting, rail ticket avoidance, whatever

If media companies can just accept that if it's easy enough to use, and the price is not too bad than *most* people will pay. Doesn't mean there will be no freeloading but good enough is good enough.

However if they want a totally rigid, over-priced (ie same as a DVD even if you can't *have* the media) system, then people will be motivated to bust it - and they will!

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This is a tough one.

DRM is evil but if it weren't for it I would not be able to watch anything legally apart from "my kitty is funny" on YouTube. I hate DRM but I can't see any way that Linux users will ever be able to watch anything mainstream without it being part of HTML5.

Heck, It's already not possible to use Netflix or LoveFilm as a Linux user and things will only get worse.

If anyone posting the anti-DRM comments above would like to propose a solution to this I would love to hear it, and that is not sarcasm.

I find a black-box lib-evil-drm.so file for some HTML5 sites to use (no need for anyone who doesn't want DRM to encode) less shitty than the alternative -- which will be iTunes or Windows Store only.

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Re: This is a tough one.

OR the alternative could be the by law interdiction of walled gardens and the artificial creation of scarcity, a real change.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is a tough one.

This is not a Linux technical issue, it is a copyright problem. Trouble is not who is going to write this proprietary lib-evil-drm.so file but rather who is going to distribute it. GPL license forbids distribution of any piece of software that imposes restrictions on end-user digital freedoms. This is why you have to download yourself those driver/firmware binary files, even if they are free (like in zero cost) no Linux distribution would be allowed to do it. Those FOSS guys may be freetards but they all obey copyright laws like the rest of us. And their license states that the GPL software must never impose any restriction upon the downstream recipients. That is precisely why a lot of big corporations are so allergic to it (in particular Microsoft can't even spell GPL without fainting instantly).

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Nobody works for free.

So if you want to have real quality content, I am willing to pay for it. If the price is fair, and it is easy to pay for just that one item. And not have to have a subscription set up you can't get rid of any more.

Let me give an example: I am not a big football fan, but there are some games during the year that I want to see.. So a subscription is a nogo. I would gladly pay something like 3 or 4 euros for viewing Barcelona vs Real Madrid.. but I don't want a subscription to all football matches during the whole year.

I am pretty sure that theres a lot of money lost now, because companies just want to tie us into subscriptions. Thats a much bigger problem than the drm itself. drm is just a means... you first have to have a goal.

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JDX
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Dreamland

The comments, general tone and voting patterns on this article really make me wonder exactly who El Reg's reader-base really is, and what planet they come from. Apparently some planet where big companies don't shape the web, and content providers are simply going to magically give up on DRM because HTML5 doesn't support it yet.

Like it or not, content providers are big on DRM and that won't suddenly change due to HTML5 - it might change long term (I doubt it) but there is absolutely no way moving from Flash->HTML5 will cause a paradigm shift because the big bosses don't even understand the changes.

If MS, Google and Apple want it to happen - it's going to. It doesn't matter one jot if w3 approve, the big browser guys will either make their own proprietary solutions or work together on an unofficial standard.

It'll save your blood pressure if you simply realise this now and stop making fools of yourself bandying around words like 'unethical' and 'evil' (I mean, seriously?!) Nobody tells Google/Apple/MS what features they can put in their browsers, if those three agree on implementing DRM functionality everyone else will have to.

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Re: Dreamland

If Google rescued a cat from a tree it would get a downvote from El Reg commentards.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Dreamland

Google would only ever rescue a cat from a tree to sell you pet insurance.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Dreamland

Microsoft would up-sell you a dog i.e. a cat with less features.

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Coat

Re: Re: Dreamland

I'd be annoyed because it took me a while to get the bugger stuck up there in the first place. Ever tried herding cats?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dreamland

You do understand that there's no one forcing people to actually pull out their wallet and buy DRM laden shite, do you?

That's what it comes down to, some people will blindly 'buy' stuff they don't really own, others refuse to. Whether or not it is there is meaningless, look at Google Video (absence thereof)

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Re: Re: Dreamland @Brah

I'll pick your post as it's indicative of others.

I take it you don't own any Apple or Microsoft products and you only watch video content freeview or freesat? If not then you are pulling out your wallet for DRM laden shit.

There is no alternative -- if HTML5 specification does not include DRM then things like iPlayer, LoveFilm and the rest will either continue to use Silverlight or Apple and Microsoft will start including DRM in Internet Explorer and Safari anyhow meaning you will have to buy their software or be locked out of Internet video. This is already happening, in case you havn't noticed.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Dreamland @Brah

So why in this case do Microsoft, Google, Apple and others do need to pervert the open standards of the web ? They could just keep on doing what they do best and let us the non-consumers enjoy the rest of the web (the one without Internet video) like free humans and not like cows attached to their stable. I for one can live with it.

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Re: Re: Re: Re: Dreamland @Brah

So your argument against DRM in HTML5 is that it will have no effect on you, but will pollute your ideal standard, so you don't want it? You'd rather push more people away from Linux on the desktop than suffer a DRM library file you'll not install anyhow?

Do you really not use anything with DRM or use Windows at all? If you do you're a selfish hypocrite since you're happy to pay for DRM video but you don't want anyone else to unless they do it your way.

For anyone that wants to use Linux to watch video not having DRM in HTML5 could well mean there will be no mainstream content available in the next few years. Linux is already locked out of BluRay, LoveFilm and Netflix and if/when Flash goes then so will iPlayer and the rest.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dreamland @Brah

There's a difference between buying a DVD, which does have rudimentary DRM which can be easily circumvented, and buying a digital only copy of a file on a remote locker service.

Now having vendor and platform specific hooks for DRM in a supposedly open market standard.. how the hell does that benefit _anyone_ except existing walled garden services?

We all should oppose it because it goes against what the W3C and open standards are for. And for the record, you're the one that mentioned open source and linux.

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Re: Re: Dreamland @Brah

DRM is DRM and breaking any of it is illegal in the US and, potentially, could be in other places too.

Also, this is more about streaming than buying -- HTML is not really about downloading gigabyte sized files for playing offline (though I understand that will be possible in future) it's more about streaming video with things like iPlayer.

Without some kind of DRM for streaming in the HTML spec it will be dependant, eventually, on Silverlight thus locking a heck of a lot of people out of it.

I mentioned Linux because if you're not running it or a BSd chances are you're paying someone for DRM software somewhere -- you certainly are if you bought Windows.

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JDX
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Facepalm

sorry - I added Apple mistakenly but no doubt they'll be on-board.

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Anonymous Coward

You should withdraw your post then, because they aren't.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, no doubt they'll be on-board, because that's totally consistent with their previous behavior isn't it? Like when they railroaded music labels into distributing DRM-free tracks on iTunes last decade?

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JDX
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You're saying you DON'T think Apple will want DRM capability in HTML5? Why wouldn't they? HTML5 represents a big risk to iTunes otherwise.

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FAIL

Stupid...

DRM has nothing to do with payment, if you don't pay for the service then the service doesn't provide you video at all...

Region, although highly unethical is also not a drm issue, you check the ip accessing the content and reject it based on your arbitrary regional discrimination...

All DRM is actually designed to do, is to stop legitimate purchasers from format shifting etc, and forcing those purchasers to buy the same content multiple times.

DRM is simply not needed, all it does is harm, inconvenience and ultimately discourage paying customers. Music is now distributed drm-free, movies are already distributed in drm-free formats such as broadcast tv and drm schemes always get cracked...

The only reason cracking of flash/silverlight drm is not more commonplace is because the quality and selection is poor compared to bluray, so its easier to rip those instead.

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Anonymous Coward

Try that at a theater sometimes....

"All DRM is actually designed to do, is to stop legitimate purchasers from format shifting etc, and forcing those purchasers to buy the same content multiple times."

Do you find your local movie or live theater lets you come back as many times as you want, as long as you buy one ticket? Not mine. They also frown on attempts to record the performance, although people do. The fact that people do doesn't mean they should, or it is moral of them to do so, or immoral of the performers and theater management to put such a restriction in place.

Tell me why this is different. Why aren't content providers allowed to set the terms under which they license their IP? You can choose not to buy, and if you're right, they go out of business. Somehow I suspect they won't.

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Re: Try that at a theater sometimes....

"Intellectual Property" is why. One of the most insidious terms I've ever heard. Sorry, I bought the DVD, it's mine. You might own the performance and distribution rights, but if I decide to copy that DVD to to my computer's hard drive, a VHS tape, laserdisk or reams and reams of punched card, it's absolutely none of your business. So long as I am not selling cargo containers full of your movie stacked 9-side down, what the hell is the problem?

Oh yeah, you want me to buy one thing twice. Sorry, no can do.

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