back to article DRM now a formal Web recommendation after protest vote fails

Anti-piracy and anti-copying protections are now formally part of the World Wide Web after an effort to vote down content controls at the WWW's standards body failed. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has been embroiled in controversy for five years over the introduction of the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification …

  1. fobobob

    Time matters

    Only a matter of time before the entire "web" (web is dead, sadly, increasingly replaced with non-linkable dynamic pages) is consumed by this sort of thing. Anyone who believes that the industries will stop with baked-in video encryption is sorely mistaken. Looking forward to our future where the browser is required to disable PrtScn or whatever else at the behest of bigcorporatesite.com.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time matters

      Hopefully not because this provides a standard framework for multimedia DRM. This specifies a standard API that should allow browsers to access decryption modules for audio and video. In essence, this is supposed to create a standardized framework to replace Flash and Silverlight - not place DRM around HTML code

      HTML code should never be DRM'd. If HTML code was locked behind proprietary DRM packages, that eliminates open-source web browsers and also destroys accessibility tools, not to mention apps that reformat pages for offline reading and mobile rendering.

      Also the web is not dead.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: Time matters

        Flash is dead.

        As is Silverlight (even more so).

        They have been for quite a while now, over a year since outside-plugins were turned off by Chrome and Firefox, for instance. Flash got a special reprieve for a while but that's gone too.

        It'll be a year before everyone is used a browser with this stuff in, and video-slinging sites have upgraded to support them.

        This places DRM at the forefront of browser-support, architecture compatibility and security. It's a damn stupid idea. Is the DRM going to be supported on, say, a Raspberry Pi? A Steambox? A Linux laptop? Probably not. So the platform-independence of a modern web browser is abandoned once again so people can watch cats on YouTube and charge people for that microsecond of pop song in the background.

        And the web is dead for the most part, in the context of the OP. You can't link to anything any more because it's all tucked behind dynamic menus and fancy tricks that when you copy/paste the URL either don't work, carry a ton of information you don't want to publicise, or just link to the front page only rather than the exact bit you meant. As a "web" it's more like a signpost. "Yeah, it's over there somewhere."

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          Re: Time matters

          People are using the web in ways I do not approve of! Down with this sort of thing!!

        2. Mark 110

          Re: Time matters

          This just publishes a standard for DRM. Noone is forced to use it. Content publishers have just implemented their own solutions in the absence of a common standard. Not quite sure what the fuss is about.

          Better the publishers implement a standard through the standards body than go off and fork their own.

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Time matters

      Anyone who believes that the industries will stop with baked-in video encryption is sorely mistaken

      Probably way past time we 'forked' the internet anyway - it's become increasingly a shopping /TV channel with filled with propaganda and looney mainstream fringe junk myths, lies and idiocy instead of useful information of benefit to humanity.

      Oh, and bring back Technocracy.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time matters

        Probably way past time we 'forked' the internet anyway

        This is already underway. Too many people are invested in injecting politics into everything, and purging from their userbases those with whom they disagree. Naturally, this has resulted in the rise of multiple microblogging services, multiple web video services, multiple web encyclopedia services, and so on.

        When the Information Age began, I don't think anyone imagined that information would come to be weaponized, at least not in liberal western democracies. It makes me wonder if this great age will end with a bang or a whimper.

      2. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Time matters

        Probably way past time we 'forked' the internet anyway - it's become increasingly a shopping /TV channel with filled with propaganda and looney mainstream fringe junk myths, lies and idiocy instead of useful information of benefit to humanity.

        Oh, and bring back Technocracy.

        Oh we could just go back to gopher. Archie and veronica are dead, but Veronica-2 is probably still alive although haven't checked recently.

        Yes, I still have gopher running.

  2. Suricou Raven Silver badge

    I like this idea.

    One DRM encapsulation, in something the an attack surface as big as a browser?

    It'll last about three hours before the first crack. In a month it'll be as full of holes as a Labour budget.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I like this idea.

      It's ok Boris is giving 350m to the nhs a week.

      Top Tip: Don't bring politics into a conversations because they are all pricks.

  3. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    FFS

    This is the beginning of the end.

    Don't fret. The corporations will be happy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FFS

      Unlikely this is the beginning of the end.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: FFS

        More like it is the end of the beginning.

        The big question is what will follow.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge
    2. FuzzyWuzzys
      Facepalm

      Re: FFS

      "Don't fret. The corporations will be happy."

      That's it precisely, it's just for them and their bottom line. This will be of no use for part time artists and musicians like me, we'll not be allowed to use this sort of protection for our works, we'll still have our work ripped off 'cos we don't have the clout of the big corps, to be able to protect our works.

      While I like the idea of DRM, it's only in the interest of big corps who don't give a monkey's about the little guys, so it'll be a waste of time and it'll be bypassed quicker than you can download a movie off a torrent site on a Virgin 300MB home connection!

  4. TheVogon Silver badge

    Whatever they do, it will be cracked within days.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Where are the 4K Blu-ray rips, then? All I've seen so far have been Web rips.

      1. Mark 110

        Theres plenty of lower resolution rips from disc out there. Not sure theres enough demand for the 4k stuff particularly given the encoding time and upload bandwidth its going to cost the creator.

      2. Suricou Raven Silver badge

        Pirates actually don't like 4k rips. They are really huge to download, and few people actually benefit from them. Even if you have a silly-high-resolution big-screen TV, you still have to get that picture through a comparatively limited retina.

    2. whitepines Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Oh really?

      How can it be cracked when the CPU controlling your CPU stops the information / program you are using to try to attack the DRM module? Remember, you can't trust your system either since it answers to the vendor and their partners, not you...

      There will come a time and place where there is no way to access the cultural history of the West outside of an active rental agreement. We're real close now, but no one really cares and certainly no one is willing to actually a.) forgo content or b.) spend money to make DRM-free content.

      Oh well.

      1. whitepines Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: Oh really?

        Why the downvotes? What's wrong with my post?

        1. Mark 110

          Re: Oh really?

          Its best to ignore the downvotes unless they are mostly downvotes. When they are all or mostly downvotes you can usually work out why? And perhaps reassess your knowledge/opinion. Thats my take on it anyway.

          I usually get a couple of downvotes (even when just passing on a related anecdote) which I suspect are either:

          a. because I pissed people off once when I trolled a 'Year of Linux on the Desktop' or 'Linux is much more secure than anything else' thread when I was pissed

          b. My views on Brexit

          If its a vaguely controversial subject and you have an opinion for oneside or the other you will get downvoted.

      2. Mark 110

        Re: Oh really?

        And since you asked - I think I downvoted you at work earlier. I didn't reply at the time because . . work.

        "There will come a time and place where there is no way to access the cultural history of the West outside of an active rental agreement. We're real close now, but no one really cares and certainly no one is willing to actually a.) forgo content or b.) spend money to make DRM-free content."

        I down voted this because its too dystopian and also fails to take the concerns of the publisher into account. Cards on the table. I absorb a lot of content. I pay for a lot (various subscriptions, plus cinema and gig visits). I am also well acquainted with BitTorrent. I buy and read a lot of books. I also usually end up forgoing content I would like to see that isn't available via any of the above.

        I think a dystopian future where any or all of those are no longer possible is farfetched. I don't think its close. I do think people care. I do actually forego content. People do actually make DRM free content (nothing I want to watch usually but there you go).

        I am against DRM as I like to be able to absorb content that I haven't subscribed to and is held by a monopoly (looking at you Sky). But I would never question the providers right to monetise their investment by preventing people that haven't subscribed stealing from them. Thats a silly argument.

        1. whitepines Silver badge
          Linux

          Re: Oh really?

          Thanks for the detailed explanation. I'm still somewhat new here so wanted to make sure I wasn't overlooking something.

          While I also sit on both sides of the fence, so to speak, I'm not sure that dystopian future is really avoidable. The biggest problem is that circumventing the DRM is a felony, so by the time the perpetual copyright (120+ years over here) expires there is likely no chance the media will be available outside of illegal actions. I think in general content providers are smart enough to know not to compete with themselves (see, for instance, the Disney Vault), and it may be financially "smarter" to simply destroy the content versus allowing it to fall officially into the public domain.

          Honestly, what I'd like to see is a linking of DRM with loss of copyright privileges -- if you choose to only distribute content with DRM attached then you don't have a copyright when the DRM is finally broken or the protection of things like the DMCA, while if you rely on copyright you have to sell at least one high quality version of the content to the public via non-DRMed media but you get full copyright privileges / DMCA protection. This would seem to balance both sides' needs far better than what we currently have, but alas these kinds of reforms are not possible due to the Berne convention (treaties are all but impossible to change). :-/

          Linux, 'cause if you can't access common cultural content using a libre system something's amiss!

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: Oh really?

            Circumventing DRM may be a criminal offense. That is a problem with laws such as DMCA in the US. The incentive to apply DRM is a result of copyright law and exacerbated by its grant (in the US) of practically unlimited duration as against the much more limited grant probably envisioned in the US Constitution and implemented in early copyright law.

            The blame belongs with the governments that authorize it, not the organizations that establish technical standards and the businesses that implement the standards or use the implemented DRM to protect their copyrighted material. Going after the standards organizations and the DRM developers and users is misplaced and diverts activity from the appropriate target.

            The choice is not whether there will be DRM, but how many implementations there will be and how long it will be usable by copyright holders. The real question is whether copyright law distributes benefits justly among the creators and consumers of copyrightable material. That is not something for the W3C but for the governments that enact copyright laws.

          2. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Oh really?

            "...while if you rely on copyright you have to sell at least one high quality version of the content to the public via non-DRMed media but you get full copyright privileges / DMCA protection."

            Doesn't the Library of Congress fulfill that by its obligation to hold a copy of every American-made work?

            1. whitepines Silver badge

              Re: Oh really?

              Is that copy DRM-free such that it can be freely and legally copied when the copyright expires? If so, that's great news (aside from creating a second Library of Alexandria), but if not, it doesn't help much.

              1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                Re: Oh really?

                "Is that copy DRM-free such that it can be freely and legally copied when the copyright expires?"

                Jury's out, but I think they CAN compel copyright holders to provide a means to unlock locked content as and when necessary since their remit means they must be able to ACCESS it on demand.

  5. Ellier

    There are bigger fish to fry

    While I understand this concept and see that it is grounded in content rights, I can't help but think of other things that webmasters and server administrators are already saddled with. The basis for this, while sound, doesn't address the deeper issue - the fact that piracy is something that some end users do, for varying reasons (or more appropriately called excuses). Webmasters and server admins have to deal with the lack of standards (or even an RFC) for things like wildcard domains. End users feel the brunt of that one with different code from different browsers (and Chromes method is the absolute worst). This entire evolution from Web 2.0 to 3.0 (or what the rest of you would call the HTML 5 Standard being adhered to) has been a huge mess. It's time for some REAL standards to appear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There are bigger fish to fry

      "The basis for this, while sound, doesn't address the deeper issue - the fact that piracy is something that some end users do, for varying reasons (or more appropriately called excuses). "
      Is it really an excuse when, let's say, you want to purchase a PK for Office 2010 from MS, but they refuse to sell you one? Isn't it more a case that MS has a very poor excuse for giving you no option but to pirate and run the concomitant risk of malware infection?

      1. Ellier

        Re: There are bigger fish to fry

        Apples and oranges. DRM mentioned here is for content that is viewed in a browser. However, I'll address your "orange". If you can't find a vendor that still has a copy of Office 2010 that you can buy today, then you aren't looking hard enough. Wanting to buy it from Microsoft when it is in extended support and not mainstream support is your second problem.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There are bigger fish to fry

          "Apples and oranges... If you can't find a vendor that still has a copy of Office 2010 that you can buy today, then you aren't looking hard enough. Wanting to buy it from Microsoft when it is in extended support and not mainstream support is your second problem."
          I quoted your words and responded to them. In what way is that apples and oranges?

          Sure you can buy a PK from any number of vendors who will come up as advertisers on a Google search. Problem is, they are not legitimate, issued by Microsoft PKs. If you know of a legitimate source, let us know.

          Lots of software I use is long out of support. That's not a problem. Software doesn't suddenly start malfunctioning when it's past some arbitrary use-by date.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: There are bigger fish to fry

            Don't give the software makers funny ideas...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Apples and oranges

            It's apples and oranges because we're discussing DRM for media in the browser not extended software support. Like you can't understand the difference.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Apples and oranges

              "It's apples and oranges because we're discussing DRM for media in the browser not extended software support."
              I was discussing Digital Rights Management following someone else's post. There's more to DRM than browser-based DRM and it also acts against the interests of the consumer. BTW, who appointed you as comment police?

          3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            Re: There are bigger fish to fry

            Software doesn't suddenly start malfunctioning when it's past some arbitrary use-by date.

            No - but it does stop getting updated. Are you happy that something as massive and buggy as an office suite that you are using is no longer maintained? Especially MS Office with it's long and inglorious history of hosting exploits that can own your machine?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: There are bigger fish to fry

              "Are you happy that something as massive and buggy as an office suite that you are using is no longer maintained?"
              The least buggy version of Word was 95. Are you saying the current version is less massive and buggy because, nominally at least, it's "maintained"? I think web browsers contribute more to the hosting of exploits that can pwn my machine.

  6. Trey Pattillo

    Already happened....

    Lock down your favorite [me personally is now opera, also vivaldi, firefox, screw google].

    Let's see adguard, ublock org, privacy badger, scriptblock on a linux debian VBox.

    Half of my news site story video does not work.

    Either a never ending spinning circle or message, "we can not deliver our 'product' on your system".

    Oh, I'm over 60 and ready very well.

    What is it with the young people that type and can not write, and listen/watch instead or reading.

    And now our nazi-in-chief has his dumb-ucation head destroying the rest of teaching.

    This world is so so so so trashed.

    No one to blame but ourselves.

    "We need to figure out the difference between an imperfect friend and a deadly enemy" -- Bill Maher

    1. sabroni Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Already happened....

      Someone got out of the wrong side of bed this morning!!

      Cheer up grumpy, might never happen!!

  7. joed

    It's sad if Tim has sold out to highest bidder. Worse yet if he's done so for nothing, out of naivety.

    I'd rather have a browser plugin than obligatory module that streamlines DRM deployment and turns nuisance into commodity everyone expected/took for granted. I've disabled playback of DRM content in my FF and so far I have not noticed anything missing. I can't be sure this will continue with compromise to standards. I bet China would also like to add users name to this DRM scheme.

    Since the system no longer appears wide open, they may consider renaming to W2C.

    1. Ole Juul

      competition

      So browsers have to get a highly restrictive license in order to display popular video? No doubt the corporates are snickering over that win. Open source takes yet another hit. This whole thing is just so uncool.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Governmet also published a list of testimonials from Nazis including Hitler, Dr. Mengele and Joseph Goebbels arguing why Concentration Camps were a good thing, and outlined in detail why citizens will benefit from the recommendation.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think you'll find it was the British that invented Concentration Camps during the Boer War.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        "I think you'll find it was the British that invented Concentration Camps during the Boer War."
        Norfolk Island and Macquarie harbour were British concentration camps founded in 1788 and 1822 respectively. The Boer War started in 1899.

  9. Charles 9 Silver badge

    But as Sir Tim noted, what can you do? The Web as we know it was MADE by corporate interests. They have the money, and money talks. All else walks. If you want a purer Web, like back in the days of Gopher and unencrypted FTP and Telnet, you'll need to go back to Square 1.

  10. JakeMS
    Alert

    Can it be turned off?

    When browsers implement this "feature" can it be disabled in the browsers? Forcing the video/media with it to not play at all?

    I sure hope so! If I can, it'll be the first thing disabled for the same reasons I don't run flash and haven't for several years now.

    If it cannot be disabled then I'll have have to make my home browser like my stores EPOS system, unable to play any media whatsoever. But the store has it due to the store not having a BBC License... it also has the added benefit of confusing the hell out of the iplayer and youtube websites .. you have no html5? you have no flash? what is this witchcraft?!

    (You'd need root to re-enable media playback, which the BBC hitmen do not have, they've tried but failed, about:config will simply show media settings as locked and disabled)

    Okay, comment made, more coffee here I come!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Can it be turned off?

      Just wait until it is mandated by National Governments requiring 'Approved' browsers that eliminate 'extremist material' (i.e. anyone who disagrees with them).

      Hell, they could even try considering disenfrancising Voters who make critical remarks about them on Social Media.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Can it be turned off?

        Very unlikely that will happen.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Can it be turned off?

          Oh? What's gonna stop them? Not the voters, that's for sure. They'll just start culling them in the name of overpopulation.

          1. tom dial Silver badge

            Re: Can it be turned off?

            "What's gonna stop them?"

            In the US, the first amendment lawyers and their clients who will bring lawsuits in federal court and probably win. It might work differently in the EU and other places where the government's authority extends to censorship.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Can it be turned off?

              No, because the First Amendment in this case falls to the content creators themselves (IOW, the people who WANT DRM). Not only that, but Copyright IS a congressional mandate under Article I, Section 8, so establishing rules concerning copyright IS a direct federal responsibility.

              IOW, the law's on big media's side, not ours.

    2. rh587 Silver badge

      Re: Can it be turned off?

      "When browsers implement this "feature" can it be disabled in the browsers? Forcing the video/media with it to not play at all?"

      Well that'll be up to Google/Mozilla/Opera/Apple.

      I should say yes in most cases, just as they give you options regarding treatment of cookies, etc today.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Can it be turned off?

        "Well that'll be up to Google/Mozilla/Opera/Apple"

        Not if compelled by governments on penalty of being barred from participating.

  11. Mark 110

    Is Doctorov being a bit of a cock?

    I have loads of respect for the work of the EFF but throwing your toys out of the pram and going off to sulk because you lose one vote seems a tad juvenile. Better to be at the top table than shouting abuse from the sidelines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is Doctorov being a bit of a cock?

      Unless you're not being heard from the top table. It's one thing to take the ball and go home, it's another to take the ball because no one's even recognizing you exist. If their answer to, "But the privacy!" is "Screw you!" you've basically been declared persona non grata.

  12. LaeMing Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Elephant in the room

    How can copyright be enforced uniformly across the web when copyright rules vary from region to region?

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Elephant in the room

      How can copyright be enforced uniformly across the web when copyright rules vary from region to region?

      Simple. The media companies will buy their way through the various national assemblies/parliaments until the copyright period matches their desired duration[1]..

      [1] Life plus however long the media company desires. Want to read a book from 1500? Well - it's been grandfathered back into copyright so that version you downloaded from Project Gutenburg is now illegal..

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Elephant in the room

        What about things like the US Constitution where such grandfathering is strictly forbidden (Article I, Section 9, no retroactive or ex post facto acts allowed)? It would take an Amendment to do that, and Congress is way too divided to agree on anything enough to get the necessary two-thirds majority. And what kind of crisis can you manufacture to remove the retroactive restriction?

        1. handleoclast

          Re: Elephant in the room

          @Charles 9

          And what kind of crisis can you manufacture to remove the retroactive restriction?

          Terra-ists. They hate us for our freedoms. That's why we're taking away your freedoms. So the terra-ists won't hate us any more. That's why we have to retroactively remove the bits of the Constitution that enumerate our freedoms.

          Simples.

          Hint: see the horribly-contrived acronym that is the USA PATRIOT Act.

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Elephant in the room

        A citation would be informative.

  13. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Like all the other DRM technologies they have brought out, someone will find a way around it and before they know it all their DRM protected content will be available for all the freetards to download from TPB.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      If that were true, we'd already be seeing 4K BluRay rips, but so far the only rips have been web rips. Also haven't heard much about pirated Xbox One or PS4 games. Seems to me the rights holders are doing their homework and finding nigh-bulletproof systems to protect their content, unless you can prove me wrong.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Still don't know whether they've actually cracked the system (since we don't know HOW they're doing it) or have sidestepped it perhaps with an insider.

  14. Old Handle

    Good by W3, you're now officially irrelevant.

  15. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Slaughtering the golden goose as usual

    And so, the goose that laid the golden eggs was finally slaughtered.

    We only got to the scale we have today because the Net was open and accessible to all. Creating a DRM layer will mean that there now will be three Nets rather than two: a Darknet, the Net as we know it and the corporate DRM-protected version where the stench of decay is already wafting from before it's even built.

    The next step is self-evident: prioritisation of DRM content. Bye bye Net neutrality.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Slaughtering the golden goose as usual

      "We only got to the scale we have today because the Net was open and accessible to all."

      That's arguable. Some would say it was the commercial interests that drew the masses to the web in the first place: turn the Web into the next Sears Catalog, for example. Well, that and porn, of course.

      Point is, money still talks, so if you tried to keep the Web open, commercial interests would simply "fork you" and go their own way, like they have with Flash and so on. Even if Flash were to disappear, they'll just enforce something else in its place, and do you think you have the cojones to take on the mass of customers that regularly use Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.? IOW, what you describe would happen anyway, only in a different way, and since the masses follow the commercial interest...well, let's just say, you're outvoted.

      "The next step is self-evident: prioritisation of DRM content. Bye bye Net neutrality."

      Google has already shown the way to beat Net Neutrality: private nets. As soon as it's financially worthwhile to do it, all the big Net companies will start deploying private nets to shortcut their way around the Net. Net neutrality soon becomes inapplicable because they can bypass most of the Net. Why do you think the likes of DHL, UPS, and FedEx keep their own vehicle fleets? Same thought process.

  16. Randy_Abigail

    Sorry to hear that. I don't like DRM at all.

    As a video lover, I'd like to watch iTunes movies in all kinds of devices too.And of course, iTunes movies are having DRM, fortunately, nowadays there are many DRM removal software which can help us get the job done to remove DRM easily. Usually I have to use a DRmare M4V Converter to help me remove the DRM from my videos.

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