back to article Sir Tim Berners-Lee refuses to be King Canute, approves DRM as Web standard

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has controversially decided to back the introduction of digital rights management – aka anti-piracy and anti-copying mechanisms – as a Web standard. Writing in a blog post last week, the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) argued that to stand in the way of the new Encrypted Media Extensions ( …

  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    Another evil

    While the arguments about the need for interoperable DRM will run and run, one outstanding issue with a more universal DRM is the opportunity for advertisers to track your browser use via the DRM serial number/reporting mechanism. All they need is one little DRM-enabled bit on a page and there is a method to find out uniquely who visited.

    Google being involved makes me fear the worst...

    Sir Tim has a point, but the reality is DRM ought to have certain standards of interoperability and ethics about what is revealed before it comes in to use. For now you would need a plug-in for Firefox, but if it comes with Chrome/(IE|Edge) who is going to bet on always-on and always-reporting?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Another evil

      Cnut.

    2. Permidion

      Re: Another evil

      well, after ad blocking, cookie blocking and script blocking addon, we will simply have drm blocking addon

    3. Planty Bronze badge

      Re: Another evil

      fearing the worst that you will get caught infringing copyright? Errm, then pay for your content??..

    4. CanadaGrandpaChris
      Alien

      Re: Another evil

      Just the eb and flow of control. Remember when Satellite signals were "free"? Control of content and owners copyright income raises its head and opens your pocket book with every new communications system. My 900 videos on YouTube are by using the service owned by alphabet and eventually I'll need to pay to see them. If control can happen, it will happen. Gotta keep theses dividends flowing, eh!

      PHYSICAL OWNERSHIP WINS.

  2. NoneSuch
    FAIL

    Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

    Is censorship that WILL be abused.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

      It's also, as Sir Berners-Lee notes, inevitable due to simple realities. The content providers can withhold and stick to the classic models; people still pay bookoo bucks to sit down at cinemas, and so on. People come to them, not the other way around. So unless you want to abandon the Internet, you better hunker down. If it isn't EME, it'll be something else completely proprietary but, because it's the only show in town, accepted.

      PS. Thumbing down that simple fact isn't going to make it any less true. Their content, their rules. Take it or leave it.

      1. Yes Me Silver badge

        Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

        "If it isn't EME, it'll be something else..."

        Exactly. So it's better for it to be an open standard than something produced by a closed club or a single monopolist. Sad but true, so TimBL was right.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

        I'd prefer it if we kicked "content providers" off the web.

        They can all F off to some app store ghetto.

        1. Archtech Silver badge

          Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

          I think TBL's view is that we can all share the one Web - that's why he called it *The* World Wide Web. He has often appealed to people not to fork or partition the Web. If some people want to watch paid-for material, and submit to the necessary DRM, fine - as long as they don't screw up the Web for the rest of us.

      3. fung0

        Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

        Charles 9: "Their content, their rules. Take it or leave it.

        My browser, my PC, my money. So... leave it. Definitely. Obviously. Content distributors need us a lot more than we need them. We need the open Internet, and control over our own PCs, WAY more than we need their paid content.

        DRM intrinsically needs to be closed and proprietary, and that sucks. There's no logic in weakening open standards just to make DRM suck less. DRM is - by definition - a way of making your device, your software, work against you. That's always going to suck.

        The right way to distribute DRM content (if you must) is through a proprietary app, and preferably a dedicated, airgapped device that can only do that one thing. Not in a generic Web browser that wants to be an integral part of my system.

        The chief impact of EME will be to force people like me, who have zero interest in watching paid 4K video content in our Web browser, and who never install Flash, to run a Web browser that's capable of watching paid 4K video content - by virtue of incorporating malware-like DRM hooks. A secondary effect will be to help sanitize and validate the concept of DRM, and encourage every Web site on Earth to start encrypting its HTML content.

        Where do we see any upside to this? Nobody has even suggested any way EME will make anything simpler, easier or cheaper for users. The pitch just boils down to: we have to do this, because otherwise those mean old movie makers will get mad with us. Well, screw 'em. If they want to get mad with their own customers, they can go ahead. Whoever replaces them will know better.

        1. Mage Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

          DRM has many problems:

          1) It adds extra cost to consumer (HDCP on HDMI)

          2) It can fail where a authentication server is needed (Adobe ePub extensions or Plays for Sure etc)

          3) It ultimately is contrary to properly implemented copyright laws based on Berne convention

          4) Usually it doesn't stop professional pirates and makes life awkward to users.

          5) It blocks innovation, entry of new hardware, software, operating systems etc. Benefits largest suppliers of end user SW/HW

          There are other problems too. Basically unlike copyright or patents which can be implemented properly, DRM is simply coercive and evil. It's often misused to achieve other ends than copyright enforcement.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

            Problem is, so much piracy means honest users are paying more than they should for legally obtained content..

            Yes, I pay for content, and I hate freetards stealing stuff, it no doubt costs me money. If DRM means every has to pay, than it content gets cheaper for everyone, and the wheel starts spinning the right way again, not the wrong way.

      4. Rattus Rattus

        @ Charles 9

        *cough*

        "Beaucoup"

      5. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

        > The content providers can withhold and stick to the classic models; people still pay bookoo bucks to sit down at cinemas, and so on. People come to them, not the other way around.

        Not that I necessarily disagree with you, but would this be the same set of content providers who've been screaming bloody murder that people aren't coming to them, and instead pirating content?

        It's true that people go to the content providers, but if they're to be believed, fewer and fewer people are actually doing so. In fact, it seems like the more they push down DRM sort of routes, the more they manage to piss people off enough for them to sit down and work out how to bypass it.

        > Their content, their rules. Take it or leave it.

        As with others, I'll leave it thanks. I'm more than happy to pay for content, but DRM isn't something that should be supported, so I'll withhold my contribution to their funding and will hold out on the hope that it continues to be possible to disable EME in the browser's settings.

        I've ostensibly failed to watch legal content in the past because the provider has stuck something broken or incompatible in the way to "protect" the content I've just paid for.

        The long-term effect is that I don't go back there, but the short-term effect is often that I'll sit and look hard at their mechanism to work out how to bypass it and get the content I've just paid to watch. I'm pretty bloody-minded when I'm pissed off, and 9/10 times, once I've figured out their protection I could quite easily watch their content for free thereafter (though don't).

        Ultimately, it may well prove to be just the same with EME, they'll piss someone off enough, and the "standardised" DRM will be broken and off no more protection than they have now. We'll effectively be back to where we are now, but with an additional nasty binary lump in the browsers for no good reason.

        1. Dave 15

          Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

          Several things come to mind

          a) Tracking, this to me is really about tracking who is watching what and being able to find you

          b) I get really fed up with office these days and its continual 'this excel is locked so you can't print it' , 'this word is locked from editing click here to edit it' bull. This drm is going to make that stuff even worse

          c) Ultimately signals come out to a screen, the screen at some point inside converts the signal to dots on a screen, I refuse to believe that it is truly impossible to rig up some hardware to listen to that signal and turn it into a format you could share for free. EVEN if drm content is not allowed out on the vga port or similar. d) What about all of us who still have cranky old machines without the restrictive hardware / hardware identifiers or whatever it is they decide to use, are they really looking to block us from watching content? I suspect so in which case the idea gets even worse.

          If I am honest the film/music industry have spent decades trying to stop people copying their stuff (remember back in the 70's they put extra noise on records and tapes to stop you copying them and people invented filters for that to carry on...) , this is just another gasp at that. Perhaps what is really needed is a different thought process... how can we make our stuff cheap enough and desired enough, the delivery system simple enough that people just come to us instead of elsewhere? Rather than trying to pull content off youtube set up a rival system that makes it easier to find what you need, doesnt add adverts all over the film etc.? I buy DVDs from time to time so I have the content when I want it, but I get really really really fed up with the half an hour of out of date adverts for other films I dont want and the anti piracy bullshit I can't skip over... if I bought your damned dvd there is no need to tell me not to buy a pirate copy is there????

          1. boltar

            Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

            "c) Ultimately signals come out to a screen, the screen at some point inside converts the signal to dots on a screen, I refuse to believe that it is truly impossible to rig up some hardware to listen to that signal and turn it into a format you could share for free"

            Have you never heard of a video camera? There's nothing they can do about it. The analogue hole is still as wide open now as it ever was and until they can figure out a way of beaming content directly into our brains bypassing our eyes and ears its not going anywhere. Sure, you won't get HD quality output when videoing a screen but it'll be good enough and with with modern high refresh rate LCD screens you don't need to worry about the flicker and tearing you got when videoing a CRT.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

              They said the same thing about photocopying bank notes. Guess what? They found a way through watermarking and then mandating detectors into the printing (or in the video case, encoder chip) logic.

              1. boltar

                Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

                "They said the same thing about photocopying bank notes. Guess what? They found a way through watermarking and then mandating detectors into the printing (or in the video case, encoder chip) logic."

                Sure, if you're going to try and sell the videos then that'll be an issue. But if they're simply to keep for home consumption then there's no problem.

            2. Mage Silver badge

              Re: you won't get HD quality output when videoing a screen

              Actually you can. It's not hard at all.

      6. rh587 Silver badge

        Re: Any Restriction Placed on the Internet

        I'm with Tim on this one. If DRM isn't a web standard, content providers will simply continue to use Flash or Silverlight.

        "This application requires Silverlight"

        Installs

        Two days later

        "Your version of Silverlight is out of date"

        Updates

        "Your version of Silverlight is out of date"

        Uninstalls the entire plugin and reinstalls from scratch

        "Silverlight not detected. Please install Silverlight"

        *Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu*

        I would much rather simply know that Firefox (for instance) doesn't have EME built in at all (and use that for day-to-day browsing in the knowledge that Paul Crawford's feared bits of embedded DRM can't be used for user tracking), and then have Chrome on the side for watching whatever (which is what I do anyway, because I'm not installed Flash or Silverlight into my day-to-day Firefox install).

        I would contend it's better as an open standard that can be nixed with a uBlock equivalent where necessary than a closed blob of Flash or Silverlight.

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

    Closing the barn door after the horse has been teleported direct from its stall.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

      Yes, actually. Malware can tell using timing attacks and so on. DRM systems can do the same, and there's really no way to prevent them, say, doing time trials and using external time servers (which you can't block) to figure out if they're in a VM or not.

      Why do you think 4K BluRay players are so strict? They know all the tricks and are working extremely hard to keep all those doors closed. PCs aren't allowed to touch the stuff, only set top boxes, and those are encrypted up the wazoo, including using new DHCP keys (some even require online registration).

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

        And yet most bluray/4k stuff appears on torrent site in no time.

        That is the thing about DRM, generally it serves to piss of honest consumers and does not stop anyone really wanting to pirate.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

          But I bet you they're NOT coming from BluRay rips, though. And I think many of them aren't real 4Ks but upscaled 1080s passing off as 4Ks. Plus some of those copies are supposed to be watermarked.

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

            Companies like RedFox sell bluray ripping software. Not tried it as I don't have any need for it, but it seems the goal of DRM there has been comprehensibly broken. No mention of 4k capabilities though.

            Sadly windows only.

            Edited to add, here is a link about 4k ripping from Nov 2015:

            https://torrentfreak.com/pirates-can-now-rip-4k-content-from-netflix-and-amazon-151127/

            1. bombastic bob Silver badge
              Devil

              Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

              "Companies like RedFox sell bluray ripping software"

              Who needs software, when you can do it with HARDWARE? Anyone _not_ heard of a cable 'T' for HDMI and/or component video? Plug THAT into your TV, then use a video ripper off of the 'T'. There are legit uses for such a device (such as a DVR device for watching shows from a converter output) as well as the potential for pirating stuff.

              Seriously, existing laws should be fine. It's illegal to copy the content and distribute it to others. FAIR USE FOR YOURSELF however needs to be respected, too.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

                They don't work with 4K discs because they use HDCP 2.0, which uses different keys and IINM forbids the use of splitters.

                1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                  Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

                  "They don't work with 4K discs because they use HDCP 2.0, which uses different keys and IINM forbids the use of splitters."

                  And yet this device offers HRDCP 2.2 splitting:

                  https://www.hdfury.com/shop/splitters/integral-4k60-444-600mhz/

                  (Cheaper than replacing an older 4K TV that lacks 2.2)

                  1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                    Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

                    First, it's a TRANS-crypter, so the output is still encrypted.

                    Second, you need an HDMI 2.0-level output (which means HDCP-2.0+) to still receive 4K above film rate. Otherwise, it's downscaled (1.4 only has support for 4K at film rate). So you still have the same problem. Also, compared to 2.2, 2.0 is lossy (4:4:4 to 4:2:0). Plus they may block 1.4 down-conversion for protection reasons, only allowing 4K at 2.0 and up.

                    Third, have you seen the price tag?

          2. revilo

            Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

            You would lose the bet. No DRM has ever worked. Blue ray in particular was broken even before the standard was fully implemented (google advanced access control system).

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

              Except this time BluRay players can ONLY be set-top boxes AND they REQUIRE the use of encrypted host processors. Based on what I've seen in the smartphone front, encrypted OS images HAVE NOT been cracked (the keys are stored on the processors themselves and contain suicide circuits and the like, think FIPS-compliant crypto modules), and they use government-standard encryption algorithms which means if they can find a way to crack them, they'd have a lot bigger fish to fry.

              IOW, this time they've done their homework. The video streams are never presented on the wires in a decrypted format until they reach the actual screens (HDCP 2.0 mandates this IINM), by which time the data is too large (raw pixels) to capture in a lossless way.

              1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

                Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

                Except this time BluRay players can ONLY be set-top boxes AND they REQUIRE the use of encrypted host processors. Based on what I've seen in the smartphone front, encrypted OS images HAVE NOT been cracked (the keys are stored on the processors themselves and contain suicide circuits and the like, think FIPS-compliant crypto modules), and they use government-standard encryption algorithms

                Is it just me that looks at this and wonders why humanity has been wasting such effort on the media companies? It's an impressive setup, but feels like overkill for what it's actually protecting.

                1. Hero Protagonist

                  Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

                  "Is it just me that looks at this and wonders why humanity has been wasting such effort on the media companies? It's an impressive setup, but feels like overkill for what it's actually protecting."

                  It's protecting money, innit?

              2. Mage Silver badge

                Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

                Point camera on tripod in dark room at 4K screen.

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

          "That is the thing about DRM, generally it serves to piss of honest consumers and does not stop anyone really wanting to pirate."

          That's because they ARE after "the little guy". Think about some of the fascist DRM actions (in the form of lawsuits) have been [ab]used in the past. And now their strategy is transparent.

          Seriously, though, flash had way too many serious problems to be taken seriously, and its tech is way behind the times by now. What I *fear* is the inclusion of some closed-source requirement, SUCH AS not being able to run on Linux with an open source video driver (or on an X11-based GUI system at ALL).

          And no, Wayland won't fix it. It would only become PART OF THE PROBLEM.

          [this goes along with "you must use this browser" and oh by the way, Windows-only, worse if it's Win-10-nic only]

          1. Archtech Silver badge

            Re: And will this DRM realise its been run in a VM and is a chocolate teapot?

            Yes, but you can see their point of view, can't you? As has often been observed, everyone wants to satisfy their needs and wants, preferably with as little effort as possible, and ripping off other people is a good way of doing that.

            So you set up a big company with a huge skyscraper HQ with marble halls and fig trees (oh sorry, that's the MPs' offices I'm thinking of).

            Then you find one set of mugs - commonly known as "artist(e)s" - and persuade them to sign their valuable work over to you for a small consideration.

            And you find another, much larger set of mugs - commonly known as "consumers" - and persuade them to pay (preferably a regular subscription, whether they use it or not) to enjoy the material the artists created.

            Then you sit back in your $5,000 leather reclining office chair, put your feet up on your mahogany desk, light a cigar, sip your champagne, and enjoy the sweet smell of PROFIT!

  4. NonSSL-Login
    Thumb Down

    Get the MPAA and RIAA DRM out of our tv equipment (HDMI/HDCP) and stop it getting baked in to the internals of our browsers.

    The media companies should be able to utilise the peoples internet but not shape it to become their own content delivery content network where they have control over who can play what and where along with what websites can be seen at their behest.

    Seriously, screw the media cartels. It's bad enough that they manipulate governments to do their bidding as well as ISP's with vested interests. Now the internet creator and bastion of freedom is giving in to them. Sad times...

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Get the MPAA and RIAA DRM out of our tv equipment (HDMI/HDCP) and stop it getting baked in to the internals of our browsers.

      The media companies should be able to utilise the peoples internet but not shape it to become their own content delivery content network where they have control over who can play what and where along with what websites can be seen at their behest."

      Trouble is, it's ultimately THEIR content. Copyright means they get the final say on where their content gets shown and under what conditions. If you can't abide by those conditions, just don't watch. But since they still make a killing, that would put you in the minority.

      1. Graham Cobb

        Trouble is, it's ultimately THEIR content. Copyright means they get the final say on where their content gets shown and under what conditions.

        Indeed. But it is MY money and MY eyeballs. That means I actually get the FINAL say on whether I will buy it and under what conditions! They can offer it to me with whatever conditions they wish but only I decide if those are acceptable, for the price.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          No, THEY get the final say because they're the providers. The seller ALWAYS gets the final call. They don't HAVE to sell or provide, AND they can give ultimatums: take it or leave it. If you leave it, it's YOUR loss, not theirs (they can always find another customer).

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
            Trollface

            Which is why piracy is important, to keep the sellers honest

        2. jmch Silver badge

          "But it is MY money and MY eyeballs"

          How much do you pay for your browser? Zero, zilch, nada. You might be paying for an ad-blocker extension, though. Similairly, if enough people are willing to pay for a browser that doesn't include DRM standards, I'm sure it will be built. Heck, given the uproar this has created I'm pretty sure some friendly fold will provide an open-source DRM-free browser for free. So, if you want to continue to use the web without seeing other people's copyrighted content, you are still at complete liberty to do so, and this won't affect you one jot.

          If you want to watch Netflix or whatever online, you need to use a browser that works with that (and it's not like it's an issue to have multiple browsers installed on the same computer is it? I've had at least 3 different browsers on every PC I've owned in the last 10 years)

          What worries me with DRM isn't the technology itself (as many people have said above, it's bound to be broken eventually). It's people like Google taking stuff that isn't theirs (like they did with orphan works with their Books) and using DRM on that. It's Youtube DRM-ing videos that users have uploaded and therefore where the copyright lies with the users (if I upload a video to youtube I grant them non-exclusive use but I am still the copyright owner). It's content providers creating their own DRM systems so that only big studios can protect their content, while small independent artists (for whom this is a livelihood, not another zero in a 15-zero bottom line) cannot afford to protect their content.

      2. streaky Silver badge

        Copyright means they get the final say on where their content gets shown and under what conditions

        This isn't actually strictly true, and effective DRM isn't actually possible. It's just shit to put in browsers for the sake of putting it in. If it can be built it can be broken.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "This isn't actually strictly true, and effective DRM isn't actually possible. It's just shit to put in browsers for the sake of putting it in. If it can be built it can be broken."

          Oh? How come they can't do that with smartphones, then? There are still plenty of phones for which custom OS's are impossible because they use CPUs with mandated black-boxed encryption (the key is stored in the CPU and not accessible directly) that enforces signature checking and the like?

          1. streaky Silver badge
            Boffin

            How come they can't do that with smartphones, then?

            Because phones aren't general purpose computing devices despite all claims to the contrary? Secondly they're not as secure as you might think - keys *can* be retrieved from them if they were worth the effort. They can be broken, if somebody was that way inclined, but honestly, why bother. P.S. microprobing is cool.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              "Because phones aren't general purpose computing devices despite all claims to the contrary? Secondly they're not as secure as you might think - keys *can* be retrieved from them if they were worth the effort."

              But risky. Many of those keys are housed in suicide circuits (think FIPS-compliant modules) which wipe if you try to read them directly. And the effort clearly isn't worth the reward at this point since even new smartphones with the feature built-in (not to mention things like ARM's TrustZones) would make very attractive targets yet they haven't been broken. This may have to do with the most fundamental signature checks being against ROM, making them impossible to defeat without performing a preimage attack (and if you can pull off a preimage attack, there are government agencies that would like to talk to you).

      3. Suburban Inmate

        They're not messing with t'internet. It's just delivering the data. The DRM is at the source and the players.

      4. fung0

        Charles 9: "Trouble is, it's ultimately THEIR content."

        Trouble is, it's not. It's ultimately OURS.

        Copyright law acknowledges that every new work is built on all previous works, and that all creative content therefore ultimately belongs to civilization as a whole - 'the public domain.' In order to allow creators to go on creating new works, copyright grants them strictly limited rights, so that they can reap a reasonable profit. But at no time do they own the content. We all do.

        Publishers have framed the debate these days so it's all about "creators' rights." But we, the public, are supposed to have the more extensive and fundamental rights. We might do well to remember that.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Yes, they do. They ONLY cede those rights when the copyright expires. That's why their name is attached. And we're talking about how new releases which are MEANT to be within copyright's purview.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "Seriously, screw the media cartels."

      You REALLY want to screw the media cartels? There's only one way they'll listen. Get lots of people to stop going to cinemas.

      1. DailyLlama
        FAIL

        They're doing that themselves. Seriously, £13 to see a film at the cinema? Plus the £1 extra for the extra 6 inches of legroom, and the £1 extra for the "Blockbuster surcharge" if it's the opening weekend... plus the £millions it costs for popcorn, sweets, drinks etc... it's a £20 trip each time. For a film I can watch on Sky for free (as part of my subscription) in 6 months, or buy for £8.99 in Sainsbury's 2 months after that.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "They're doing that themselves. Seriously, £13 to see a film at the cinema? Plus the £1 extra for the extra 6 inches of legroom, and the £1 extra for the "Blockbuster surcharge" if it's the opening weekend... plus the £millions it costs for popcorn, sweets, drinks etc... it's a £20 trip each time."

          And yet people are willing (yeah, even eager) to pay up. The latest Wolverine film Logan is ranked #4 among R-rated movies on opening weekend (the #1 in the US as of now happens to be another Marvel film: Deadpool). Sounds to me like we have less say than we think. People are voting with their wallets, and we're losing.

  5. Wade Burchette

    Here is my problem with DRM

    The simple fact is that DRM is 0% effective against piracy. It is a system, and it can always be hacked and it always will be hacked. Big Media tells us DRM is to stop piracy; it is a lie. DRM is not to stop piracy but to control how the majority of people use their content.

    If there was no DRM, everyone could buy a movie and then turn around and re-encode a version for their tablet. And people could easily remove all the unskippable garbage they have to go through before the movie even plays. And people could make *gasp* backup copies instead of buying a new one if yours goes bad. You are looking at lost revenue right there. With DRM, you have to buy a disc and if you want a copy on your tablet and on your phone and on your child's tablet you have to buy a copy from Apple or Amazon or Google.

    Make no mistake, DRM has absolutely nothing to do with stopping piracy but everything to do with controlling those who don't know or are too afraid to break the DRM, which is the vast majority of people. If Big Media was Pinocchio, their nose would be instantly be 100,000 miles long after telling us DRM is to prevent piracy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Here is my problem with DRM

      Very good points! And I might add that along with the other chap mentioning DRM as a tracking agent, it is also the "foot in the door" for the RIAA/MPAA's newest stream of revenue; suing, or just making money threatening to sue, anyone trying to share a "protected media." This usually means sending out lots of letters to trick fearful people who cannot afford to defend themselves into "settling out of court" for cash prizes for the two bands of thugs. Mind you, the big time content copiers get away no problem, it's the small-time folks who make up the bulk of this revenue generator.

      There are SO MANY new TV shows and movies released each year, and unless I'm getting old, the media quality is going down. I collect DVDs for shows and movies I would repeatedly watch, and I'm running out of things to get and not space to put it. Same thing for 4K TVs; most of my content was produced on and rendered in Standard Definition so I have zero use for a 4K HD set. Nor a connected one, unless it is a Kodi player inside I'm not hooking it up to the net. Nor 3D. I purchased a Blu-Ray player, two of them, and they are garbage. Both have shit for apps, and are slow to boot [sic] so I am very happy to continue to collect DVDs. Not everything new is good.

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: Here is my problem with DRM

        > There are SO MANY new TV shows and movies released each year, and unless I'm getting old, the media quality is going down.

        They're not mutually exclusive ;)

        > Nor a connected one, unless it is a Kodi player inside I'm not hooking it up to the net.

        As someone with a "smart" tv (AndroidTV at that) - not even then. Get a seperate box to HDMI into the TV and hook that into the net instead.

        Smart TV's are a shit-show. I connected mine up during the first week of having it so I could run captures and see how noisy it was, one quick review of the PCAP was enough for me to say "never again"

        > I purchased a Blu-Ray player, two of them, and they are garbage

        I only got as far as buying one. Then some of the content providers (cough... Fox...) changed the encryption they were using on disks and I started finding that some new Blu-Rays wouldn't play. The manufacturer had decided to discontinue the line, so didn't have a firmware update to support the new schema.

        It's now an overly expensive CD player, and we're a non Blu-ray household again.

        1. MJI Silver badge

          Re: Here is my problem with DRM

          Blu Ray

          I will admit I took the console route as it was firstly cheaper, secondly quicker, thirdly more likely to be supported.

          Mine still works OK and it is from 2009, replacing a 2007 YLOD.

          I haven't used my latest console for BluRay but streaming from Amazon and BBC I player is great, trivially easy.

          As to Smart TV, mine is more like Village Idiot.

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: Here is my problem with DRM

      I have been forced to pirate on a few occasions, often due to attempts to stop people easily watching.

      A few were of course DRM related, but others were locking down of content to force adverts, and some were format issues.

      I put a DVD in my DVD player and I could not get to the film, everything was locked down, even the home menu button, so ripped it, burnt a DVD-R, watched the copy.

      After a few of these I learnt my lesson and stopped buying DVDs

      Then there was the aborted attempt by one producer to kill BluRay, so of course I obtained a rip of the HDDVD version and copied it to the hard disk of my Blu Ray player. I was so pleased that HDDVD was broken so easily as it helped to kill off that format war.

      But then I find that when doing it legally is much easier I will. If I want a BluRay I will buy it and it WILL PLAY or I will obtain it. DVD I only get if someone gives them to me, as so many of the producers are obsessed with forcing you to watch the "would you use a Policemans hat as a toilet thingy", followed by 500 locked adverts of films I am not interested in, so if I have to rip and burn I may as well obtain it rather than rip it.

      TV is fair game, but Amazon make it so easy I prefer to hand over for Prime membership. I am the only person at work who has actually paid to watch The Grand Tour. And I would also consider Netflix in the future.

      So as you can see if you make it difficult we will work around the issue, make it easy and we will play along.

      I cannot see any reason to get 4k Blurays due to the lockdowns, if I can stream in similar quality without lots of do this or do that.

  6. O RLY

    DRM is terrible. Whenever the scheme changes, previous purchases (or ideally for the MPAA/RIAA/cabal, licenses) of media are lost. XKCD covered this well:

    obligatory XKCD

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    Seriously bad news

    Having witnessed the Internet's birth, it looks like I'll be attending it's wake in the not too distant future.

  8. Paratrooping Parrot
    FAIL

    DRM means you don't own your content

    I have a Nook e-book reader. I bought a few books from the Nook store. However, when Nook decided to close down its online book store, it meant that the books that I paid for were no longer available and were going to be wiped from my system if I connected it to the Internet. I had to download a special software to remove the DRM from my paid books.

    This is what I HATE about DRM.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: DRM means you don't own your content

      You NEVER own that content. It's ALWAYS been LICENSED to you. That's what copyright is all about.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: DRM means you don't own your content

        Funny how my books and artwork just keeps "working" even when the seller has gone.

        Why should digital be any different?

      2. Tannin

        Re: DRM means you don't own your content

        Nonsense. Of course, you never own the artistic work, but you do own the physical copy of it. Think of a book: you retain complete freedom to do whatever you want with it: you can read it, paper the walls with it, set fire to it, lend it to a friend, draw naughty pictures on it, whatever you like.

      3. Graham Cobb

        Re: DRM means you don't own your content

        You NEVER own that content. It's ALWAYS been LICENSED to you. That's what copyright is all about.

        No, that's not true. That is what the copyright holders claim, but it is not true.

        If you buy a book, you own the book. It is yours to keep, to sell to other people, to tear into little pieces, to burn, to scribble over, and to read. And to do anything else you want to to it or with it unless that act is specifically illegal. You can't murder someone with it, for example. All "copyright is about" is that it temporarily adds one thing you can't do with the book: at certain times and certain situations you can't copy the book without a licence (in certain other cases it is still allowed).

        The same is true for a CD or a DVD. They are no different. Just because the creator tries to claim that you have just bought a licence does not make it true.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: DRM means you don't own your content

          "And to do anything else you want to to it or with it unless that act is specifically illegal."

          That includes PHOTOCOPYING it.

          1. jmch Silver badge

            Re: DRM means you don't own your content

            "That includes PHOTOCOPYING it."

            Depends. For as long as the copyright is valid, you cannot photocopy the whole book and sell / distribute the copies. You are free to photocopy the whole book for your own use or limited non-commercial distribution (ie give to your spouse or lend to a friend).

            You are also free to photocopy or otherwise use excerpts of the book as illustrations, as part of a parody or critique. In these cases, it's also OK if you are commercially distributing your parody / critique that includes the excerpts. That's specifically allowed by copyright law

            1. MJI Silver badge

              Re: DRM means you don't own your content

              Book photocopy.

              Been there and done that.

              About 100 pages copied in a reference book, then ten years later Ebay appears and I can finally buy my own copy!

        2. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: DRM means you don't own your content

          "The same is true for a CD or a DVD."

          and SHOULD be the same for an electronic-only copy. Just because it's bits on a hard drive doesn't make it any different, really.

      4. Long John Brass Silver badge

        Re: DRM means you don't own your content

        Bullshit Copy-Right != Licence agreement

        Copyright is a law that says you may not copy for redistribution a given work for $x number of years

        Licence agreements while enforceable by legal means are a civil contract

        Or at lease that is the way it used to work :(

    2. MJI Silver badge

      Re: DRM means you don't own your content

      One reason I still buy paper ones.

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: DRM means you don't own your content

      I buy ebooks from Amazon and use my REAL Kindle's serial number on a plug in for Calibre so I will always have it and can read on non-Amazon eReader or apps with no DRM.

      At least Amazon does let publishers (or indie authors) be DRM free. Smashwords is also DRM free.

      DRM is evil period.

      I never give other people copies of anything still under copyright. Eventually the content of my physical and digital archives ought to be public domain.

  9. Martin 47

    Yes but, without DRM would people pay the inflated prices the media industry charge?

    Exactly, think of all the poor media execs etc that would suffer.

    1. MJI Silver badge

      Answer is of course

      Charge a bit less and get many more customers. Make it an easy option get more.

      The cheaper and easier it is the more likely you will get a paying customer.

    2. MrXavia

      Of course they would, they already do pay plenty... I am sure if Netflix allowed downloads without DRM, they would have just as many subscribers...

      I would probably download everything they had I liked, but I'd continue to pay because of new content!

      Now I am sure there would still be piracy, but if you tagged the downloads somehow, you can sue the up-loader easier....

      But really if you can get DRM-free content for a small fee/month, why would you bother with torrenting, where your probably paying for a VPN for that anyway?

  10. Adair

    All the whining in the world...

    isn't going to take away the reality that, regardless of bad faith, somehow content creators and distributors need to earn a living. In the past the sheer cost, complexity, and inconvenience of owning your own printing press acted as an effective 'DRM'. Digital technology has made everyone a mass distributor (if they want to be).

    DRM may be everything it's critics accuse it of, but the critics still have to come up with real world alternatives that somehow look after the legitimate interests of those who pay the price of producing content that others want to use.

    Meanwhile, in other parts of the World's Wild Web people will get on with creating innovative ways of using the technology that completely bypasses the dinosaurs of the the old way of doing things, but some how, sooner or later folk have to earn a living without too much risk of being cleaned out by scumbags and lazy selfish 'consumers'.

    1. Lennart Sorensen

      Re: All the whining in the world...

      DRM does not stop piracy.

      What would help piracy is to make buying it legitimately actually be more convenient than pirating.

      If you could buy it easily, in a format that would be yours forever (so no server shutdowns to worry about), that you could play on whatever device you wanted when you wanted, could re-encode into a format needed for your device easily, then that would be what one would do. As long as a legitimately bought version is less functional than the pirated version, people will be willing to go through the hassle of finding a pirated version.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: All the whining in the world...

        But that's searching for unicorns because NOTHING beats FREE.

        1. Rattus Rattus

          Re: "NOTHING beats FREE"

          Rubbish, Charles. CONVENIENCE beats free. Fandom and the desire to support your favourite content creators ALSO beats free. All an artist has to do is build a relationship with their fans, and provide their works in an easy to use, easy to transfer manner. Of course, that won't keep the coke train running for the increasingly-irrelevant middlemen. Tough shit for them.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: "NOTHING beats FREE"

            Tell that to World of Goo. He released a game cheap as chips and people STILL pirated it, EXTENSIVELY. And he had proof of it, too.

            1. Rattus Rattus

              Re: "NOTHING beats FREE"

              Some people will, always. Those people are not your customers and there is nothing to be gained in throwing good money after bad in an effort to lock out this tiny percentage, especially using methods that cost you money and alienate a large proportion of your paying customers. That's called cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. Incidentally, I bought World of Goo, was a fun game.

              If you want examples why not look at one of the biggest and best known ones? CD Projekt, makers of The Witcher games and the brains behind GoG.com. They are raking it in hand-over-fist because (a) they release good stuff, (b) they won't use DRM and they make sure people know that, and (c) they don't get all bent out of shape over the small handful that won't pay for their games. They even released patches to remove Steam's DRM from their games, just out of principle. THIS is how you build a loyal fan base in the modern age.

              Admittedly, it is a bit more difficult for first-time releases such as the World of Goo guy. If you are completely unknown, you won't have much of a fan base to start with. That needs to be built up over multiple releases.

              1. sabroni Silver badge

                Re: That needs to be built up over multiple releases.

                Yeah, fine if mummy and daddy are happy paying for the company to run for a few years. How do you build that fan base up if no-one's paying for what you produce?

                1. Rattus Rattus

                  Re: That needs to be built up over multiple releases.

                  If you're just starting out, why don't you have a day job? Success takes time. Building up a fanbase takes time. As you build a good relationship with your fans you can expect to see piracy dramatically drop off as fans CHOOSE to support you in your artistic endeavours.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: That needs to be built up over multiple releases.

                  Good point, but from experience the answer is easy. Keep your day-job.

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: "NOTHING beats FREE"

            "Rubbish, Charles. CONVENIENCE beats free. Fandom and the desire to support your favourite content creators ALSO beats free. All an artist has to do is build a relationship with their fans, and provide their works in an easy to use, easy to transfer manner. Of course, that won't keep the coke train running for the increasingly-irrelevant middlemen. Tough shit for them."

            Not necessarily. Haters gonna hate, and life on tour isn't what it used to be. Billy Joel's first #1 hit, "Piano Man," was based on the night he was just scraping doing playing in a bar. Many can't even get beyond that point and just fade into obscurity and you never hear about them. If you say tough shit for the middlemen (who you usually NEED to really get past the tour life due to their connections), you're basically saying tough shit for live music because that's life. Sometimes, the only way to make it is to make a deal with the devil; sad but true.

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

          Re: All the whining in the world...

          > But that's searching for unicorns because NOTHING beats FREE.

          And yet, people quite happily pay subscriptions to unlicensed services (i.e. all the content is technically pirated) because they offer the convenience of having everything in one place, or have a good app, or don't restrict viewing it to "you must be running silverlight on this specific revision of Win 10".

          Free is hard to beat, but there are services out there who are actively managing to do so, even with the fact that they're occasionally receiving DMCA takedown's for some of the content they're "providing".

      2. jmch Silver badge

        Re: All the whining in the world...

        "What would help piracy is to make buying it legitimately actually be more convenient than pirating."

        I would like that to be the case, and I believe for some people that is true. But there are still many people worldwide who would pirate rather than buy, whatever the price / convenience, because gratis is always gratis.

        If I'm a small producer whose film has a potential market of 20-30,000, then even 10-15% of them pirating it is a big loss. 30-50% start doing that, I'm working at a loss. I'm not saying DRM is the solution to piracy (it isn't), but let's not kid ourselves that piracy is something that happens BECAUSE of DRM. Some piracy is people not wanting restrictions on the stuff they buy, but most piracy is because people don't want to pay for the content they want to see.

    2. Tannin

      Re: All the whining in the world...

      Narrow-mindled, blinkered thinking will never get you anywhere. Why do we have to give studios money? Ans: we don't. Content creators and distributors can starve. Or get real jobs. Screw 'em.

      And what would ge the result? Well, nothing really. There will still be new content created and distributed. If you knew anything about history you'd know that there weren't even copyright laws back when the greatest creative geniuses the world has seen were creating wonderful art. Mozart, Shakespeare, Haydn, and Beethoven, for example: they all created great works anyway. No DRM, not even copyright.

      DRM. Just say no.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: All the whining in the world...

        "And what would ge the result? Well, nothing really. There will still be new content created and distributed. If you knew anything about history you'd know that there weren't even copyright laws back when the greatest creative geniuses the world has seen were creating wonderful art. Mozart, Shakespeare, Haydn, and Beethoven, for example: they all created great works anyway. No DRM, not even copyright."

        Yes, but then the common people didn't have access to them. They were all commissioned...by the RICH. Want to go back to those days when art was only done by commission by the rich who could afford the artists' price demands?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All the whining in the world...

      No. Genuinely creative work doesn't need protection in order for creators to make money. My creative work is done for nothing. Always has been. No artist works to order; when they do, unless they're a Renaissance genius, the result is always sad. Money made by artists is just a way of financing future art, and often it's in a completely unrelated field.

      Correction. Genuinely creative work doesn't need protection, except from intellectual property law. My creative work typically costs me money. Why? Because I hold patents. Often have, often will. Why? Essentially for defensive purposes, so some other bastard doesn't control me in the future by patenting what I've done; and so I can persuade others to work with me; and and so I can do further work and make further art without the risk of someone "owning" me in the future. Intellectual property rights are a crock (and for centuries economically disastrous, as instanced by writers from Adam Smith on the free market to Richard Posner on modern US IPR and Barry Supple on the Stuart monarchy). They're also vulnerable to politics, illustrating the same point.

  11. tom dial Silver badge

    This issue, I think, concerns copyright and its effectively unlimited duration and scope as it does the technical issue of protecting the rights of copyright holders. The holders have the legal right to control distribution of the copyrighted material, as well as the right to use technical means to protect against its unlawful copying and distribution, for definitions of unlawful that vary from country to country.

    Along the way, the copyright holders as a group have engaged in rent seeking activities that resulted in protection that extends far beyond the life of any author who might have been thought the intended beneficiary of the copyright law, and additional protection for the technical means of media protection as exemplified by the DMCA. They also have been tempted, too often successfully, to include in the technical means features that prevent lawful use of copyrighted material and to engage in extortionate lawsuits that demand wholly unreasonable punishment for relatively inconsequential infringements. They often have been a sorry lot indeed, and quite deserve to be brought to heel.

    Failing to include digital restrictions management capability in web standards will not prevent the media corps from implementing their own any more than including it in the standards will prevent it. However, having a standard, even an inadequate one, often is preferable to having none, and in the case of EME may result in broader availability of copyrighted material than is the case now; and that probably is a good thing. A better thing might be its availability without such encumbrances, but that is unlikely. A better thing, almost for sure, would be to revise copyright law to reduce the term to something reasonable like the far older 14 years with an optional 14 year extension, and maybe reduce penaltie for infringement to an amount commensurate with the actual royalty payable for legal copies in the quantity infringed.

    1. fung0

      I hate to disagree with such a well-reasoned post, but paying the danegeld never does any damned good.

      Giving in to the copyright industry on EME will not result in a greater availability of any material, because the copyright industry is in the business of limiting access to content, and it has chosen those limits to be exactly what they are now. They could have opened the floodgates as soon as Internet bandwidth was adequate, but they didn't, and they won't. They could have monetized a huge backlog of old material that's just sitting idle, but they won't do that either, because it would compete with new, overpriced material.

      Giving in to Big Content never helps. Microsoft baked DRM into Windows (Vista), but it bought them absolutely no concessions from Hollywood. Because the publishing business today is all about control, and gives up none of it, ever.

      As far as restoring reasonable copyright terms, you are absolutely right. But most forms of DRM aren't about enforcing copyright - they're about grabbing extra rights not actually provided under copyright. For example, preventing users from putting movies on a NAS drive, which would be perfectly legal in many jurisdictions. Or preventing paying subscribers from viewing Netflix content while traveling to another country. Or preventing a US consumer from playing a Blu-ray purchased while on holiday in the UK.DRM is very effective in these cases, but totally ineffective at its ostensible role of preventing copying of discs for public distribution.

      Bottom line, there's nothing whatever to be gained by accepting EME in HTML, but a great deal to be lost.

  12. Jon 37

    Better than plugins

    EME is better than the alternatives.

    The alternatives are:

    1) Plugins such as Flash, Silverlight, etc. Currently in common use for DRM video playback. To be useful, a plugin has to include not just the DRM bit, but also the media download, video & audio decoders, and a UI framework, and a scripting language to write the video player in (for fast forward, rewind, volume, etc). Because they end up including a whole scripting language and UI framework, which have to be massive to be useful, they have a massive attack surface and are full of bugs. They also have limited availability - e.g. Flash on Linux wasn't available for a long time.

    2) EME. This is basically "plugins lite" - an EME CDM is basically an extremely cut-down plugin that just does the DRM. The browser handles the UI and JavaScript, and also does the media download and sometimes the video & audio decodes. Becasue an EME CDM is so much simpler than a plugin, it has a much smaller attack surface and is likely to be harder to hack. Also, because EME CDMs are new, browser makers are demanding they are sandboxed in a way that can't easily be done with plugins. (Yes, I know Chrome runs Flash in a sandbox, but that wasn't easy for them to do, and AFAIK no-one's done that with Silverlight or any non-Adobe plugin).

    3) Something browser-specific. That gets you direct to "this site only works with Microsoft Edge". No-one wants this.

    4) Streaming video sites stop serving PCs. If you want to watch Amazon Prime, go buy an Amazon Fire TV or an Amazon tablet. No-one wants this.

    5) The magic fairies ride in on their flying Unicorns and persuade Hollywood to make their content available without DRM. This is the one that anti-DRM people want, but the problem is that ... unicorns aren't real, and no-one has yet found a way to persuade Hollywood to do that. Some anti-DRM people seem to believe that they can say "the web doesn't support DRM for videos" and that will force Hollywood to go "ah well, in that case we'll make our videos available DRM-free". In fact, of course, Hollywood will say "That's not true, we've been doing DRM video on the web for years - see option 1. But if you want to break that in your browsers then we'll stop supporting them, and advise people to use different browsers or Fire TV or iPads or whatever, and most people will, because in the real world most people care more about actually seeing videos than care about your ideological anti-DRM stuff." Therefore this approach would be suicidal for any browser vendor - even Mozilla realised that and added support for EME.

    (Note that I'm not taking a position on whether DRM is "good" or "bad"; I'm taking the position that in the real world DRM is here to stay and there's nothing we can do about that, so lets make the best we can).

    1. fung0

      Re: Better than plugins

      Unfortunately, DRM is demonstrably "bad," which kind of invalidates everything you've said.

      Also, to your point 5... It's not about getting access to content. EME won't change that at all. There's shitloads of content now, and there won't be any more or less if we leave EME out of the HTML standard. (What exactly are you expecting EME to enable that you can't see already?? Fairies and unicorns, maybe...)

      But by rejecting EME we will have made DRM look just a bit less acceptable. And we'll have kept at least one channel, the Web, fundamentally free of it. Of course, things like Flash will work as before, but they'll remain what they are now - obviously proprietary workarounds - rather than being endorsed as part of the Web's basic architecture. That's an important distinction, and it costs us absolutely nothing, other than having to show a bit of backbone.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Better than plugins

        "That's an important distinction, and it costs us absolutely nothing, other than having to show a bit of backbone."

        Except it's all hollow bravado. The content providers are the types who hear, "Over my dead body," and respond, "If you insist..."

        IOW, sometimes you have to pick your fights. And since people still flock to cinemas, we wouldn't win that fight. The average joe wouldn't be able to tell the difference and frankly wouldn't give a rodent's donkey about whether or not it's an open standard or not. Gimme my movie is all they want, which is why Netflix is making a killing, too, IN SPITE of proprietary standards.

        1. Dave 15

          Re: Better than plugins

          People flock to cinemas for an experience.

          Its a night out, yes its expensive and the popcorn a rip off but it is still a night out. Dinner in a restaurant is a rip off if you look at the cost of the ingredients, a night club is an expensive way of listening to a record and a pub a horrendous cost compared to a beer from the supermarket. None of this matters, people WANT the feeling that they are doing something a bit special.

          That does NOT mean DRM is essential to protect content. Make the cinema experience better, make the dvd / blueray or whatever a reasonable cost and let it play on my nice big living room tv for the family without me getting frustrated about the length of time to load, the rubbish I have to put up with before the film and stop bothering to ship a second dvd of crap I will never watch, make sure the player/tv can let me switchon and watch NOW without spending hours booting (yes, really, a modern tv is SLOWER than my old valve one!!! and compare that dvd player with the old video tape and it loses everytime). This way I might stop bothering with tracking down ripped off content on my laptop which is always a pain and takes a long time and provides content littered with adverts.

          Basically try thinking rather than repeating the mistakes of the past. It is for the reason of forcing people to think that I would have said no to this drm crud becoming an internet standard.

  13. Scott 26

    That word you keep using, I don't think you know what it means.....

    "Berners-Lee makes a series of arguments for why EME should be approved: including that having a standard allows for greater inoperability; and that it enables the data provided by content use to be limited, improving online privacy."

    "inoperability"???

    Shirley you mean "interoperability"

    (or maybe he does mean what he says.... and he wants things to be not working)

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: That word you keep using, I don't think you know what it means.....

      Having a standard allows for greater interoperability. Having DRM allows for greater inoperability.

  14. chuckm
    FAIL

    Pointless!

    The DRM will be crap, It will be defeated. And the content will end up out there in the wild anyway.

    1. Trilkhai

      Unfortunately, no

      Speaking realistically, people "pay" for their media through spending either money or a chunk of time & effort circumventing DRM. It's enough of a hassle that the vast majority of people are busy & economically comfortable enough that they'll gladly fork over money to avoid it — which means it's doing its job, not at all pointless.

  15. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    insanity

    What big content want is end-to-end control of the entire distribution channel. This includes them having the ability to run arbitrary code on your machines. No doubt they will also continue lobbying until they get the next piece of the puzzle: namely, being able to bring you to court if you try to circumvent these "protections" on devices that you and you alone own.

    Notwithstanding the fact that I'm sure that these "protections" will be easily defeated by simply lying to the EME code (supplying them with fixed DNS, time and random number generator) and replaying a valid authorisation exchange, nobody wants the kind of DRM that lets big media run whatever sort of code they want on their own machines. The only way that this scheme will not be easily defeated by an emulation-based environment is if the DRM hooks invasively into your OS. Remember the Sony rootkit fiasco? Well, maybe they said sorry, not our fault, but in their heart of hearts, this sort of invasive spyware is exactly the sort of thing that big media execs have wet dreams over.

    Shame on Tim Berners-Lee.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: insanity

      "What big content want is end-to-end control of the entire distribution channel. This includes them having the ability to run arbitrary code on your machines. No doubt they will also continue lobbying until they get the next piece of the puzzle: namely, being able to bring you to court if you try to circumvent these "protections" on devices that you and you alone own."

      WRONG. They'll fix that by making it so you only LEASE them and make it a Hobson's Choice so you have no other option. If you REALLY want to make the movie companies pay attention, convince people to boycott cinemas and stop watching ANY movies in ANY form. Only when you can hit them in their most lucrative money stream will they notice you.

    2. sabroni Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: Shame on Tim Berners-Lee.

      What, for not agreeing with you? Surely he's earned the right to have an opinion, even if it's "wrong"....

      He's done more for the internet than any of the blowhards from either side pontificating here.

  16. inmypjs Silver badge

    Browser better with DRM - opnions differ

    The provider of a large and expensive software package I use have training and tutorial videos on their web site for anyone to view. I much preferred to download them so I could view them without needing an internet connection or wasting bandwidth. The dedicated player is much more responsive and lets me size the video to whatever I want. You could see the urls for direct download in the page source.

    On their support forums I suggested they provide links to the videos for downloading and was told that downloading was forbidden and I must watch the videos online in a browser. Effing stupid of course. I asked them if they had an email address which I could return the videos I had already downloaded to.

    If DRM is generally available in browsers I can see dicks like these people using it because they are dicks and can.

    1. Dave 15

      Re: Browser better with DRM - opnions differ

      Another thing you can do with your downloaded copy... you can watch it on the train/tube/plane where there is no connection. This is frankly very valuable.

  17. Old Handle
    Trollface

    Wondering if there's any legitimate use for EME

    Where legitimate = helpful to the user, not harmful.

    About all I can think of would be streaming illegal content (whether pirated or more illegal than that) and making sure no trace is left on your computer. Has anyone made an EME module for facilitate this? Maybe it would change the industry's tune.

  18. CheesyTheClown

    Standard DRM = crack once use forever

    This is a good thing. Imagine you buy a phone or a tablet and it reaches end of support. This device sold and marketed a device capable of playing standard DRM content might end up black listed because someone else found a method of cracking DRM using that device. Since updates are not available, whoever blacklisted that device can be held liable and sued for their actions.

    Consider that browser based DRM is simply not possible.

    A plugable module is code which requires standardization of an API. The API will be well understood and will not be restricted. So you write a small loader app and then based on entry points, issue your own keys and decide some of your own streams and find out where the keys are held.

    The DRM must be extremely lightweight otherwise batteries will drain to quickly. One could write the DRM using JavaScript which would be smartest and with instruction level vectorization a part of WebAssembly, it could be quick. But it would consume far more power than a hardware solution. So DRM in code would have to be limited more to rights and providing decryption keys for AES or EC. And if the keys can be transferred at all, they can be cracked.

    The media player pipeline in Mozilla and Chrome are well understood. The media player pipeline in Windows is designed to be hooked and debugged. There is absolutely no possible way to DRM video on Windows, Linux or Mac that can't be intercepted after decryption. As for Android, unless the DRM blacklists pretty much every Android device ever made, it can't work.

    So... good luck trying... I actually buy all my films, but I decrypt them so I can still watch them even if the DRM kills. I lost tons of money buying audiobooks on iTunes which could only be downloaded once. I won't ever buy media I can't decrypt again. I'll join the race to see who can permanently crack the DRM fastest.

  19. Christian Berger Silver badge

    The Web ist lost, and the W3C did nothing to prevent this

    Every new feature has, so far, been utterly abused by site operators. We have cookies which were supposed to help with state in web applications, they are now abused for tracking users. We have Javascript, which was meant for local validations of form values, which is now abused for tracking and annoying users. Now we get DRM which will undoubtedly be used to turn the life of the users into hell again.

    Maybe we should just acknowledge that the web has failed. Institutions like the W3C apparently don't even see that we actually have 2 different things. One provides (quasi) static pages of mostly text, the other one provides access to some sort of application. Trying to do both with the same set of tools leads into disaster.

    Maybe we should just use text files or some sort of PDF subset for static pages and use something like RFB (the protocol behind VNC) for dynamic things. After all despite of the overhead both protocols provide, they are still _way_ more efficient to the bloated versions of our protocols that are currently in use.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Web ist lost, and the W3C did nothing to prevent this

      "Maybe we should just use text files or some sort of PDF subset for static pages and use something like RFB (the protocol behind VNC) for dynamic things. After all despite of the overhead both protocols provide, they are still _way_ more efficient to the bloated versions of our protocols that are currently in use."

      What about dynamic text like tickers and constantly-updated stats? What about stuff where you need to send things back like forms? Plus if you haven't noticed, RFB isn't very efficient for stuff like videos where most of the grunt work really needs to be done client-side.

      And if you're going to say the Web has failed, then you might as well say the INTERNET (the ENTIRE Internet) has failed as well because, in the end, businesses (or governments) own the wires, not us, so they can dictate terms just like they can in real life. It's just that it's taken until NOW for those entities to cotton onto the reality.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: The Web ist lost, and the W3C did nothing to prevent this

        Tickers and updated stats work fine via RFB, just as well as "web applications" where you need to send back forms.

        You can trivially extend RFB to have an encoding "h.264" or "vp9" or whatever, or you can embed video into your "PDF-like" static document format.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Web ist lost, and the W3C did nothing to prevent this

      the web has not failed and many are fighting to make sure it does not fail

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People hate DRM...

    ... yet flocked to Google Chrome. The biggest company that controls contents on the Internet today and access to them. And that is very interested in monetize that access... oh well, they deserve browser specific DRM....

  21. itzman
    Facepalm

    I have given upo trying to read paid for e-books

    Because DRM makes it impossible to read them in the way that I want.

    Foot, in the shoot self?

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: I have given upo trying to read paid for e-books

      Manage them with Calibre and suitable plugins.

  22. itzman

    The stupid thing is....

    If you can watch it on a screen. you can copy it.

    Even if its just a video recorder plugged in where the display card and sound card comes out.

    Wholesale piracy, the sort that loses millions, isn't going to be stopped by DRM

    But the odd consumer wanting to watch a show later on, will be.

    The compact cassette destroyed the music business. I know. I was there. We had a decade of the cheapest most dreadful music there has ever been - punk - simply because no one wanted to invest in albums that would instantly be copied. Then someone had the bright idea of giving the recordings away for free, and charging for live performances instead! Radical!

    The problem is the industry wants its cake and to eat it as well., They want to give ready access to people, to make it easy as possible so they can sell movies, rights, advertising space etc. But they dont want to simply give it away as a loss leader.

    I buy books now. Why. Because E-books cant be lent, can't be carried with you unless you also buy a particular piece of kit, which is not how I want to read them... I was buying e-books till the DRM got so bad I couldn't even download them without some proprietary kit. I would still be buying e-books. I can afford a few quid for a decent read.

    The answer is to have paid services like netflix and accept that at some point someone is going to record off them and swap films with mates.

    Just like they do with DVDs.

    And go after the major profitable pirating organisations and leave the students alone.

    The reality of the medium is that its copyable. Learn to live with it. Copyright is, today, completely unenforceable. That is the lesson the music business had to learn with the demise of the 'studio album' bands.

    Find another way to make money.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The stupid thing is....

      They don't care about screeners there since most of the quality will be lost. They care about screeners in cinemas since it breaks their timetables.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The stupid thing is....

      "And go after the major profitable pirating organisations and leave the students alone."

      Most of the pirating organizations live in countries hostile to the West, making apprehending them nigh-impossible (because those states are tacitly encouraging them).

      "The reality of the medium is that its copyable. Learn to live with it. Copyright is, today, completely unenforceable. That is the lesson the music business had to learn with the demise of the 'studio album' bands."

      4K BluRays can't be copied. They're encrypted end-to-end, including the player and the display. Unless they can break the end-to-end encryption used on many smartphones, DHCP 2.0 should remain strong for a while (yes, even the master key has a safeguard since many movie discs are serialized and require Internet registration). The 4K rips you see now come from WebRips, not BDRips.

      1. jmch Silver badge

        Re: The stupid thing is....

        "4K BluRays can't be copied. They're encrypted end-to-end, including the player and the display."

        And yet the modern 4k displays and video cameras are so good that one could just set up a high-res video camera in front of the display and record it. It wouldn't be too expensive to set up 'studio' conditions that allow the playback to be recorded at almost Blu-ray quality on both audio and video. Also, the increasing quality from DVD to Bluray to 4k Bluray gives diminishing returns - you arrive at a point where most people can't tell the difference in quality (eg anything above "retina" display quality all looks the same)

        So there literally is no way that copying can be prevented

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The stupid thing is....

          One, the images can be watermarked to block camming (that's how Cinavia and the like work, they can be built into the encoder chips so they can't be circumvented--the codecs are under patent and can be licensed with conditions), and two, there's still a loss of quality involved crossing the analog gap this way, especially with stuff like 4K where details are important, and there's still the need for extraordinary conditions to ensure a consistent result (one good shake and your shot is...shot). That's why cams are almost always either a last resort or the realm of the impatient.

  23. evilhippo

    "Sir Tim Berners-Lee refuses to be King Canute"

    No, he is indeed being King Canute and used the King Canute analogue correctly, pointing out that he and W3C do not have the power to ban things people seem to think they have.

  24. Adair

    All the whining in the world - 2

    The reality is that the money grubbers have, do, and always will grub for money, by whatever means they can get away with (legal or otherwise). That is reality.

    DRM is a thing and always will be, because there will always be money grubbers attempting to control the money stream. That is what they do.

    If you don't want to use DRMed material, then don't use it. I accept the cost of using Linux because I don't want to have to put up with the cost of all the money grubbing power grabbing shit that is attached to using Windows (plus Windows isn't all the great as an OS anyway, but that's another matter).

    I don't have to 'consume' DRMed material, and publishers don't have to use DRM---there are other ways of working and earning a living. If that means I don't get to see some of the things that others get to see, well poor me; life goes on. Just because someone builds a prison and paints it shiny, doesn't mean I'm obliged to go and live in it. All sorts of buildings can be built, and people invited in on all sorts of understandings, and then there is always the big wide world just outside the door. It's important that we do work to keep that world accessible and open to all who seek it. But the jail builders, let them build their jail, and live in it, and much good may it do them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All the whining in the world - 2

      But is it really a jail when everyone else is in it and you're left basically Walking on the Sun?

      1. Adair

        Re: All the whining in the world - 2

        @AC - 'But is it really a jail when everyone else is in it and you're left basically Walking on the Sun?'

        Yes, yes it really is a jail, even if there is only one person 'outside', if the 'inside' is controlled by a few for their own benefit, and those 'inside' cannot leave without permission, then it is a 'jail'. And the one who is 'outside' is the one who is 'free' (if only they realise it).

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: All the whining in the world - 2

          But then again, is it worth it? Is it really a jail if no one WANTS to leave? After all, the planet is pretty much a jail, too, since we can't live in space and we lack the tech or know-how to leave for the near future.

          1. Adair

            Re: All the whining in the world - 2

            No, I know what you mean, but the 'world' is not a 'jail' because the 'world' lacks intent (I am not suggesting the world has consciousness) to deliberately deprive people of something that is intrinsic to their being, and/or to restrict access to that intrinsic 'right' by means of some arbitrary 'payment'.

            The only reason the DRMers can get away with their action is because sufficient people allow them to by 'buying' into their jail. If what they are buying truly 'belongs' to the jailers then it can be considered a legitimate trade---I regard the benefit I receive to be worth the price I pay. If the 'product' truly belongs to the 'jailers', and we don't like the price they are asking that's our tough luck.

            If the 'product' does not in fact 'belong' to the jailers, then it really is open season. The jailers can make their jail as shiny as they like, and try to get the law on their side, but in the end they are trying to lay claim to something that is not theirs any more than it belongs to anyone else.

  25. wolfetone Silver badge

    Prick.

    As above.

  26. subject

    1. This promises to be a massive boon to those wishing selectively to destroy internet access to any chosen individuals or classes of individuals: namely, every nation-state in the world (not just the usual suspects, but also nations such as the UK which already has internet-associated court orders in law and would love to do the same things less visibly outwith the law).

    2. Independently of that, if executed the proposal permanently will end anonymity on the internet.

    In fairness, apart from those minor issues, it's all peachy. Beyond the catastrophically expensive lunacy of DRM itself, and the entrenchment of mercantilism, and the undetectable but illegal discrimination by commercial interests, and the final death-throes of the free market in digital services, which of course are mere economic problems. But I guess these last things are the real purpose, and the first two points are just collateral damage.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      they will never destroy internet access to any chosen individuals or classes of individuals or will they be able to permanently end anonymity on the internet, many are fighting to make sure they dont

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Given the anarchy given by the IoT, a stateful Internet where anonymity is nigh-impossible will probably be the next step.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    King Canute...

    ...is generally misunderstood.

    He commanded the tide to stop to prove that he *wasn't* omnipotent, knowing it would fail, to chastise some overly sycophantic courtiers. In other words, he wasn't the deluded one. It's a pity popular myth has cast him in the exact opposite role.

    /There's a plaque on Canute Road in Southampton that reads 'Near this spot, Kind Canute reproved his courtiers'.

    //On reflection, anyone prepared to get contaminated by the waters of the Solent must be mad...

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    General solution to all this: move to Iceland; vote the Pirate Party into power; and do what you like.

    (oops: forgot about the righteous US invasion. Never mind. I'll get my coat)

    1. Adair

      The 'general solution' is probably to come up with better solutions. Laws will always be broken or worked around; technology can almost always be hacked; but coming up with a 'solution' that is socially and economically constructive and elegant will usually drive idiocy and fear away, until the next time when someone's 'nice little earner' gets threatened.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Trouble is, for those in power, the status quo IS the best solution. So they're actively DE-motivated to accept anything else, and they probably have enough strings to say if people protest to nuke 'em.

  29. MrXavia

    DRM just harms the legitimate users, not those who want to violate copyrights and release content to the world...

    If they would just provide the content without DRM, they would probably pull in a lot of torrent users into their fold...

    Simply put, remove the reasons for using pirate sources and you stop the piracy.... increase the reasons for piracy, and you increase piracy....

  30. 13thHouR

    Say bye bye to private infromation

    Hi this is 13thHouR, some of you may remember me from the whole Security Technologies (Starforce) battle a few years ago.

    Although I see the market bs about DRM's the reality is that they are a false economy that give the illusion of security for content providers. Basically Marketing snake oil.

    The is one simple rule, make your content affordable and accessible and you will never need a DRM, as those willing to buy will buy, those not willing to buy, then look at advertising based platforms.

    Even after all this you will have the die hard who will refuse to purchase. The reality is to those peeps you never had a sale anyway.

    The Internet is no longer a new media platform, the one thing we have learned from the Banks and Austerity, there is no benefit in propping up old ways of doing things.

    DRM's make the end user pay twice for legitimately accessing content, once for the content and the second time for the band width and hardware required to decode that DRM.

    Why should the end user pay twice, just because the media industry refuses to adapt with the times.

    Did we not learn anything from Starforce? To secure any DRM these days requires run level zero access, do you really want your Browser having access to the root of your hardware/Software?

    Starforce had the potential to be exploited in such a manner as to shift the balance in the control of information around the world, with Catastrophic results had it still existed in that format in today's political environment. Do we really want to hand that sort of control to our browsers?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Say bye bye to private infromation

      "Starforce had the potential to be exploited in such a manner as to shift the balance in the control of information around the world, with Catastrophic results had it still existed in that format in today's political environment. Do we really want to hand that sort of control to our browsers?"

      Trouble is, they'll insist and withhold content if they don't get their way. And remember, we're not the majority who willingly pay bookoo bucks to sit down in crowded, noisy cinemas and pay robber's fees for cheap junk food. If you're surrounded by idiots, you're basically outvoted. You lose.

  31. nijam

    It'll all be fine, because there will have to be a back door in the encryption. Because terrorism.

  32. lukewarmdog

    Not sure why your browser has to be the place that all this happens in.

    Take it out of the browser and stick it in apps. DRM the app of your choice, leave the browser alone.

    A web browser should do what it says, browse the web. If you've got a film you want me to watch for a price you should be delivering that in a different way.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      That app tended to be Flash and Silverlight, which also meant Linux tends to get locked out of the loop. You really want to go back to stuff like that?

  33. MonsieurTM
    FAIL

    Hmmmmm....

    All from the man who cursed the world with HTML... A physicist...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No doubt the DRM code in the browser will refuse to work if ad blocking is active.

  35. InDigital Nomad

    It's not Tim that's playing Canute, it's Sony (et al)

    If anyone wants to put video through my video card to my monitor, at that point it belongs to me, end of.

    There will never be a way of stopping a redirect for that streaming, even if it's real-time pixel by pixel.

    The only way it could work is if the content delivery company encrypts a video feed to a secure monitor and that is not going to happen.

    DRM is old thinking and will always fail.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "The only way it could work is if the content delivery company encrypts a video feed to a secure monitor and that is not going to happen."

      Have you tried looking up HDCP 2.0? The requirements for 4K BluRay players? Both require end-to-end encryption (from player to monitor), and PCs are completely locked out of this loop (exactly BECAUSE users have control of them). Plus, last I checked, trying to capture a raw 4Kx2K screen in realtime involves a pretty intense amount of bandwidth.

  36. InDigital Nomad

    It's strange.

    There's all this copying going on, allegedly costing the producers billions in lost revenues but they still end up being the largest companies in the world.

    Copying and open source never hurt anybody.

    I remember Adobe giving away Photoshop with breakfast cereals (almost) to ensure their market share and put down Digital Darkroom. IT doesn't seem to have done them any harm.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "I remember Adobe giving away Photoshop with breakfast cereals (almost) to ensure their market share and put down Digital Darkroom. IT doesn't seem to have done them any harm."

      Are we talking the same Adobe whose key software is now subscribed instead of sold? Much like Office is now subscribed instead of sold? Sounds like what I've said: a movement from selling to leasing.

  37. Libertarian Voice

    They don't want it to be too good.

    In these days where most of us do not believe the mainstream media any more content that is not freely available will be marginalised. They need to get people talking about their content in order to promote it. A little poxy trailer will not fulfil the requirement.

    For this reason they will always accept that they need pirated content to promote their material and therefore it is highly unlikely that it will ever be fully secured. This is more about striking the balance to maximise profit; and whether they like it or not, they know that profit needs pirated material to be out there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They don't want it to be too good.

      Last I checked, though, most of their revenue comes from the box office, though. They may bitch and moan once it hits the home video/PPV/VOD phase, but that's mostly second wind unless it's direct-to-video.

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