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Re: EME and proprietary plug-ins

From: Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 13:13:19 -0800
Message-ID: <CAAWBYDCdkMiAbxPo1QatShJ71ri0GZL6AQMk0n-NBFFjdPLFzQ@mail.gmail.com>
To: Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com>
Cc: Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi>, Chris Wilson <cwilso@google.com>, Robin Berjon <robin@w3.org>, Andreas Kuckartz <A.Kuckartz@ping.de>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Fred Andrews <fredandw@live.com>, "public-html-admin@w3.org" <public-html-admin@w3.org>
On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 11:26 AM, Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 11:00 AM, Tab Atkins Jr. <jackalmage@gmail.com>
> wrote:
>> On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 9:13 AM, Glenn Adams <glenn@skynav.com> wrote:
>> > On Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 12:50 AM, Henri Sivonen <hsivonen@iki.fi> wrote:
>> >> EME poses the threat of unleveling the playing
>> >> field for browsers even within operating systems in addition to
>> >> keeping the playing field unlevel among operating systems.
>> >
>> > If unleveling means moving away from the status quo of using only
>> > Flash/Silverlight for distribution of protected media content, then you
>> > are
>> > correct.
>> You know what Henri means, and it's not that.  He means, very
>> obviously, that individual browsers may be locked out even on a given
>> OS.
> I understand Henri's point, but I believe it based on speculation and not
> necessity. I believe EME can function perfectly well on all OS/UA
> combinations, and the issue of which CDMs will be available on those
> combinations cannot be predicted. For example, I don't believe one can claim
> with certainty that any given CDM will not be available on some OS/UA
> combination, e.g., on Ubuntu/FF.

I believe we have an actual statement from Mark (Netflix) that they
don't expect widely-used DRM modules to be available on Linux.  (I'd
have to dig up the email to find his exact words, but I believe this
is an accurate paraphrase.)  Aside from

> The choice of which CDMs can be used for deploying some given content will
> be determined by the content owners, as is their prerogative. The existence
> of the EME solution that supports a variety of CDMs will increase the number
> of options for content owners.

Content distributors are neither the only nor the highest constituency
we care about.  (They're roughly a subset of "authors".)  Something
that's good for them (increasing choice) can still be bad for the
platform as a whole if it's bad for users and the rest of the
"authors" category, or very bad for browsers and the technical purity
of the platform.  Henri, myself, and others have been arguing that the
negative to the rest of the platform greatly outweighs the positive to
content distributors.

>> > The issue of OS playing field is a non-issue.
>> Several people disagree.  I'm not sure why you think it's a non-issue,
>> or why you think it's *such* a non-issue that it can be dismissed
>> out-of-hand like that.  Producing technologies that will only be
>> usable on particular OSes is a bad thing.
> There is nothing about EME that prevents it from being implemented on any
> OS. Whether a given CDM is supported on an OS/UA combination or natively in
> a OS is a deployment decision outside of the scope of the EME specification.
> There is nothing in principle that prevents any CDM from functioning on an
> OS. That's why this is a non-issue.

As we discussed a few months ago when this started, ignoring reality
and pretending that everything will turn up roses is simply wrong.  We
*know* from existing DRM experience outside the web platform that most
DRM modules work on only one or two platforms.  A lot are written only
for Windows (or just specific versions!) or for Windows and Mac (or
just specific versions of each!), because supporting other platforms
is extra engineering effort that the DRM vendor doesn't find
sufficiently profitable.

I don't think it's possible to honestly theorize that *this* time
it'll be different, and DRM vendors will magically decide to expend
the necessary effort to support the same set of OSes that browsers do
today.  Browsers have users on a lot more things than just "the latest
version of each major OS", and if it looks likely that many of those
users will be locked out of modern content using DRM through EME,
that's a problem.  (Flash, at least, still supports a lot of older

>> > EME will enable new opportunities, while the status quo keeps content
>> > locked
>> > out from the web or locked into the Flash/Silverlight solutions.
>> The "new opportunities" are locking content into new plugins.  It's
>> not materially different from the status quo, and you shouldn't try to
>> pretend that it is.
> It is substantially different from the perspective of those content owners
> and content providers that are actually delivering content. I don't feel it
> necessary to repeat again the reasons I and others have cited before.

I understand that the content distributors consider Flash's and
Silverlight's DRM to be different from their preferred DRM module.  To
everyone else on the platform, the difference is unimportant (after
all, it's ideally invisible), except in how it affects them.  Henri
and others have argued well for how it is probable that the EME spec
will produce a "worse" DRM situation for the other parties in the

Received on Wednesday, 13 February 2013 21:14:06 UTC

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