W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html-comments@w3.org > June 2013

Keep DRM out of Web standards -- Reject the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) proposal

From: Laurel L. Russwurm <laurel.l@russwurm.org>
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2013 02:58:27 -0400
Message-ID: <51B57913.9020609@russwurm.org>
To: public-html-comments@w3.org
Dear Sir Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web Consortium:

If the W3C allows the incursion of DRM into the HTML5 Web Standard, it 
will erode trust on a global scale.

As a middle aged mother, I've been learning (and sharing what I've 
learned) about net neutrality, the importance of free software, free 
culture,  and an open Internet, ever since I began hand coding my own 
HTML web pages [http://laurel.russwurm.org/] and participating on the 
Internet in 2009. As a creator from a creative family, as well as 
publishing my own content online, I run a blog for my eighty three year 
old father. [http://lynn.russwurm.org/blogs/] I have come to consider 
myself a netizen. [http://laurelrusswurm.tumblr.com/netizen]

One reason DRM is dangerous is that it can hide all manner of spyware 
and malware from users.  Another is that most people don't even know 
what it is, or if they do, how to recognize it. While governments have 
allowed large corporations and media conglomerates to cripple digital 
products with DRM, there is no requirement anywhere in the world to to 
inform customers or computer users of such application.

I have avoided DRM wherever possible, but even with the absurd extension 
of copyright law, I have been certain that free culture will win out 
eventually.  But that confidence presupposes a free market.

In Canada where I live, our new Copyright Act makes it illegal to 
circumvent DRM for any reason at all, even if the the circumvention is 
allowed under our "fair dealing" exemptions, or if the DRM is applied 
inappropriately.  I consider the application of DRM to freely licensed 
or public domain creative works to be inappropriate.

This is a huge concern for me, both as a cultural consumer and as a self 
publishing author.  Existing copyright law has prevented me from even 
seeing the finished production of one of my own works. 

Independent creators and Internet users are already at a huge 
disadvantage, because the large media special interests have the 
wherewithal to successfully lobby governments around the world into 
maximizing copyright laws and the attendant copyright monopoly, to their 
own great benefit, at our expense.

These large and powerful special interest groups have long had a seat at 
the W3C table.  But where is there representation for Internet users?

Most of the public does not even know W3C exists, let alone how to 
comment on an issue such as this.  Although I am passionately interested 
in the subject, until I read Harry Halpin's Guardian article last week, 
I had no idea there was any way for Internet users or creators to 
express our dismay beyond signing the Defective By Design's "Keep DRM 
out of Web standards -- Reject the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) 
proposal" Petition. But Mr. Halpin pretty much implies that petition 
wasn't enough.

Although Canada has been a world leader in Internet adoption, most 
Canadians are still not online.  For most of those who are, 
participation on Facebook signifies the height of technical prowess. 
Certainly most Canadians haven't even heard of the Guardian, and so will 
not have even read the article.

Mr. Halpin essentially gave me the weekend to get the word out.  This 
weekend Identi.ca, the social network of choice for a great many people 
who are aware of these issues, is undergoing a massive migration from a 
backend of StatusNet to pump.io software.  Many users like myself have 
been consumed in setting up our own federated status net instances.  As 
well, those of us with privacy concerns have been caught up in the NSA 
Prism news story.  For myself, I've had two major family happenings this 
weekend in addition to those pressing online issues.

Maybe a few people have read my blog post I wrote, but a weekend is not 
much time.  Especially considering that the special interests that want 
DRM written into the Web Standard have been at the table for so very 
much longer.

Until the W3C holds a widely publicized meaningful consultation process, 
that Free Software Petition must be given at least as much weight as the 
opinions of any other group of stakeholders.  Perhaps more, since the 
inclusion of DRM in the standard panders to the direct benefit of a 
specific special interest lobby group.  Internet Users are easily the 
largest group of stakeholders, and our exclusion from the process means 
that the W3C must look out for the public good.

Keeping even a whiff of DRM out of the Web Standard will not harm the 
corporate special interests who lobby so effectively for it.  They can 
just continue on as they have been, locking their own content behind 
DRM.  Allowing the DRM toehold EME provides will lead to DRM becoming 
the default.

DRM exists to break interoperability.  If DRM is allowed into the W3C 
Standard, it will become the W3C Standard.  If W3C supports this, it 
will sacrifice the free and open Internet, not just for us, but for 
generations to come.  Please don't do this.

Laurel L. Russwurm

[note: this is my second attempt to post this letter to the W3C mailing 
list as the first does not seem to have succeeded.  If it turns out to 
be a duplication, please disregard....llr]
Received on Tuesday, 11 June 2013 00:09:09 UTC

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