W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > March 2012

Re: Encrypted Media proposal

From: Mark Watson <watsonm@netflix.com>
Date: Sun, 4 Mar 2012 19:02:42 +0000
To: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
CC: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, "<public-html@w3.org>" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <84032886-F845-49E5-A23B-3A548DA25634@netflix.com>


Sent from my iPhone

On Mar 4, 2012, at 8:11 AM, "Tab Atkins Jr." <jackalmage@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Sat, Mar 3, 2012 at 9:27 AM, Mark Watson <watsonm@netflix.com> wrote:
>> Ian, we have well over 20 million customers streaming something like an hour a day each on average, so of course you will find evidence of technical problems related to this as to any other aspect of the service. I could find the fraction of playback failures related to DRM - I expect it is very small.
>> 
>> What I mean is that, aside from such issues, we don't see that the use of DRM impacts customers ability to get what they expect from the service. It's not cited as a common reason for cancellations and our market research doesn't flag it as an inhibitor to take-up of the service.
>> 
>> Of course there are a technically minded minority who would like to get more from the service than we promise, or who want to remove the DRM 'because it's there'.
> 
> I agree that, for a lot of customers, DRM on a streaming service is
> not nearly as troublesome as DRM on files they own.  The files are
> transient and not expected to be "owned" by the user.  Further, for
> "on-demand" streaming services such as Netflix, the ability to
> time-shift is moot, as it's an inherent quality of such a service.
> Finally, the overall experience of a good streaming service is
> generally much better than attempting to track down files and download
> them yourself.
> 
> This is not without trouble, though.  A user of a minority browser
> without Flash ported to it would be unable to use Netflix.

Actually, we use Silverlight.

>  A customer
> with an internet-capable TV but no game console or other box that
> Netflix has explicitly been ported to wouldn't be able to use it
> either.

I believe Netflix is supported on most Internet-capable TVs. We'd obviously like it to be all. Hence the proposal.

>  For streaming services that aren't on-demand, like some
> television streams, DRM prevents them from time-shifting to a time
> they wish to watch.
> 

And so those services should be less attractive to consumers than services that do support time-shifting.

> None of the caveats apply to services that want to sell DRM-encumbered
> movies to customers.  In this scenario, DRM is inconvenient for the
> customer in every aspect; it is almost a strict improvement in the
> customer experience to rely on someone sharing a file instead.
> 
> 
>>>> It's often argued that all customers want is easy, convenient,
>>>> reasonably-priced and legal access to content and they become frustrated
>>>> with industries that refuse to offer them that. But that is exactly what
>>>> we are offering and what we want to make possible with HTML5.
>>> 
>>> It is often argued indeed. But it's not at all what you are offering. It's
>>> not what your proposal enables -- HTML video can _already_ be used to
>>> provide content easily, conveniently, at a reasonable price and legally.
>> 
>> Some content, yes, but not the vast majority of content on our service, because it doesn't support features required in the licenses for that.
>> 
>> You're arguing that W3C should take a biased position and say 'change your license terms or we won't let you on the web'. Again, that would be a policy, not a technical issue, even assuming that W3C is empowered to be such a gatekeeper.
> 
> The W3C takes *precisely* that position all the time.  We demand, with
> very few (no?) exceptions, that all W3C members in a WG with relevant
> patents license the technology in the specs we produce royalty-free.
> If a company has contracts that prevent them from doing so, either
> they change their contract or *we don't use that technology*.

Yes, and that's a policy decision of the W3C (one I support). No such policy decision has been made in respect  of the issue of content licenses.

> 
> It's quite normal and relevant for the W3C to demand that the open web
> stay open.  Many browser vendors in the discussion so far believe that
> adopting this proposal would do exactly the opposite.  Since it's
> attempting to solve a problem that will disappear in a few years
> anyway, it's appropriate for the group to push back on this.
> 
> Finally, policy issues are completely appropriate for this forum.
> We're not a hivemind of problem-solvers, solely focused on solving the
> tasks placed in front of us.  We're a community of people interested
> in developing the web, who have come together for the purpose of
> making it easier to interoperate.  We decide *not* to solve certain
> problems all the time; in fact, that's the *majority* outcome for
> problems brought to the group.  If we gave up our prerogative to judge
> problems and decide whether or not to solve them, the output of this
> group would be markedly worse.

Yes, but it's the basis of those decisions that differs. Most are based on whether there is a sufficient body of interest in solving the problem and sufficient real-world experience to expect that it can be solved in a way that will stand the test of time. This is a very practical basis for decision-making. The character of the arguments in this case are completely different. With all due respect to the members of this group, our expertise is primarily in engineering - at least this is what we all have in common - and the concerns that have been raised are not at all engineering issues.

...Mark
> 
> ~TJ
> 
Received on Sunday, 4 March 2012 19:03:13 UTC

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