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

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

From: Laurel L. Russwurm <laurel.l@russwurm.org>
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2013 15:08:55 -0400
Message-ID: <51B775C7.9020105@russwurm.org>
To: Chris Baker <chris.baker.gr@gmail.com>
CC: Arthur Clifford <art@artspad.net>, public-html-comments@w3.org
Dear Mr. Baker:


The Internet is currently undergoing enough paroxysms of copyright 
takedowns and DRM lockdowns because DRM is not effective without being 
bolstered by law.

Once DRM tags are inserted into the web standard, and indeed onto the 
Internet, how will copyright laws the world over impact on HTML5?

If Country A's laws make circumvention of DRM illegal, will copyright 
trolls in Country A's country be able to pursue copyright infringement 
claims against people in Country B, where DRM circumvention is legal?

International Copyright law is a complicated mess because every 
jurisdiction has the sovereign right to impose its own variation of 
copyright monopoly on its own citizens.  International treaties have 
been attempting to harmonize the copyright monopoly around the world for 
a great many years.   It seems that there is a very possibility that 
adding DRM to the specification will either result in a situation where 
any country that chooses not to follow the copyright maximalist agenda 
might be forced to do so at the risk of being cut off from the Internet. 
  Will it also provide a back door which will allow ACTA to be 

I am a novelist, not a lawyer, but it seems that adding DRM to the 
specification will open the door to legal intervention into the way the 
Internet is actually built.  That frightens the daylights out of me.

Laurel L. Russwurm

On 13-06-11 02:18 PM, Chris Baker wrote:
> This whole discussion seems strange in the context of a standard for presentation-level markup. In terms of separation of concerns, DRM seems very out of place here.
> Putting aside your opinions on DRM itself, can anyone justify HTML as an appropriate place to manage copyright enforcement? Isn't DRM more appropriate at a different layer? Why include a complex state in stateless markup?
> I appreciate the debate about the cart, but we don't even have horses, and we shouldn't.
> "Laurel L. Russwurm" <laurel.l@russwurm.org> wrote:
>> Dear Mr. Clifford:
>> Just so you know, a devil's advocate is one who agues against their own
>> belief in an argument, which is clearly *not* what you are doing here.
>> 1) If drm is not in the specification, why is backwards compatability
>> required?
>> 2) As you point out, since DRM is only effective when supported by law,
>> it begs the question: why is DRM necessary?
>> It is the law, not DRM, which does the work of fighting bootlegging.
>> DRM serves only to thwart ordinary people engaging in their own personal
>> uses.
>> It has been demonstrated over and over again that the bootleggers that
>> DRM is supposed to stop always find ways to circumvent DRM.  DRM is
>> really only most effective against those who can not circumvent it,
>> whether they are blind people prevented from running an ebook though
>> software that will make it accessible, or the student wanting to watch a
>> public domain film, or the senior who wants to copy a grandchild's home
>> video.
>> 3) I certainly never said "I create therefore its yours is a de facto
>> truth."
>> Like every creator since the beginning of time, you most certainly do
>> have absolute control over your own creations, so long as you keep them
>> safely locked up in your own private domain (i.e. unpublished).   Once
>> anyone publishes their work into the public domain, the work is no
>> longer private, and the reality has always been that the creator loses
>> absolute control over their work at this point.
>> When your work is performed in front of my eyes, or played into my ears,
>> it stops being solely your work, because it is now part of my
>> sensibility.  When many people see/hear/touch a work it becomes part of
>> our shared culture.  We share and talk about our culture with our
>> friends.  A thriving culture, like a thriving Internet, requires
>> interoperability because it is a shared thing.
>> Unless you have been raised by wolves in a cave, like all of us, the
>> reality is that you have been influenced by all of the culture that you
>> have been exposed to.  Any creative work that arises out of your own
>> sensibilities has been influenced by the work of the other creators you
>> have been exposed to over the course of your life, whether you are
>> consciously aware of it or not.  There is no doubt in my mind that
>> George Harrison believed "My Sweet Lord" was a totally original
>> composition when he wrote it.
>> The imposition of copyright monopolies over the past few hundred years
>> has attempted to alter that reality with the legal imposition of
>> cultural restraint.   When creators (or more often corporate
>> rightsholders) impose state granted monopoly rights onto the culture, it
>> violates the sovereignty of human beings to be influenced by the work of
>> others and remix it into their own creations.
>> Copyright never did guarantee any creator a right to make a living. All
>> it does is turn our former free culture into permission culture.  The
>> resultant copyright chill impedes the free creation of new work.
>> Artists don't dare expand on a theme, writers can't safely quote a few
>> lines of prose without first consulting lawyers.
>> In fact, creators made a living long before there was copyright.  Human
>> beings have been creating art probably even before we painted pictures
>> on cave walls.
>> Yet even with our current permission culture in place, Josh Woodward is
>> one of the most successful independent musicians I know, and he licences
>> all his readily available creative work with a Creative Commons
>> Attribution 3.0 United States (CC BY 3.0 US) License.
>> [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/us/]
>> It isn't the W3C's place to decide on the validity of the various
>> copyright monopolies, however, but rather to establish Web Standards
>> that support an interoperable open web.  This is another compelling
>> reason why copyright issues, up to and including DRM, should not appear
>> in W3C specifications.
>> 4) I agree there are legitimate arguments against encrypted media
>> content.  And as a creator from a creative family, I well understand the
>> arguments in favor of copyright, and by extension, DRM.
>> As most of the world has seen over this past week with all the PRISM
>> revelations, there are certainly good arguments for encryption.  Banks
>> employ good encryption now.  Very often (as with PRISM) it is human
>> action that endangers our private data.  Encrypted email is certainly a
>> good thing. When sharing digital photographs of private individuals, or
>> sending out unpublished work, even I have plastered passwords over web
>> content.  This has always been possible without requiring the inclusion
>> of DRM in the W3C web specification.  It is a red herring to suggest
>> that universal DRM is necessary to facilitate security.
>> As I said before, I have been certain that free culture will win out
>> eventually.  But that confidence presupposes a free market.  If DRM can
>> be used to shoehorn copyright maximalism into the very structure of the
>> Internet, if DRM becomes both the default and the norm, independent
>> creators will be shut out and the Internet will stop being open and
>> interactive and become the modern incarnation of television.
>> 5) This *is* advocacy.
>> Even if I wanted to coerce anyone, which I don't, in order to dictate, I
>> would require the power of coercion, which I simply don't have.  Unlike
>> Copyright Law, which is itself an example of state backed coercion.
>> The funny thing is, even though all the influence, power and money
>> resides in the hands of copyright maximalists,  I don't think coercion
>> is necessary.  Though the apparent advantage is theirs, culture and
>> artistic creation are human essentials.  We are driven to create and
>> share.  As creators come to realize that we can create as well or better
>> without the state imposed coersion of monopolies, we will win out
>> eventually.  I think the special interests know, this, which is why so
>> much effort has gone into changing the rules.
>> I don't want to force you to share your work any way you are not
>> comfortable with,  Mr. Clifford.  Lock it up with all the DRM you like.
>> All I want is to reserve the right to avoid such content.  My concern is
>> that the inclusion of DRM in the web specification will lead to the
>> imposition of DRM across the Internet.  That would strip creators and
>> users of our ability to make our own choices.
>> 6) Attribution existed long before copyright law.  Neither copyright law
>> or DRM are needed to ensure attribution.  If anything, the prevailing
>> copyright maximalism is encouraging many people to not attribute the
>> works they share for fear of reprisal.  Best practice is to always
>> attribute any cultural work.
>> Plagiarism is not covered by Copyright Law either, nor is it remedied by
>> DRM.
>> Seriously, Mr. Clifford, if it were not for corporate incursions into
>> the personal sphere, I would not be here arguing about the merits of
>> copyright or DRM.  Like most everyone else, I used to accept the
>> legitimacy of copyright law.  Copyright used only to be the concern of
>> creators, publishers, lawyers and bootleggers.
>> In the zeal to impose control over the new digital mediums, Corporate
>> Special Interests have been successfully lobbying governments to erode
>> the rights of people, audiences, users, and creators.
>> Over the course of my life, the reach of copyright has spread from the
>> commercial realm into the personal, making it possible for activities
>> that used to be perfectly acceptable to result in criminalization.
>> Today's children need to understand copyright law before creating,
>> copying or sharing anything for their own self protection.  It is
>> incomprehensible to me that anyone could be bankrupted or jailed for
>> non-commercial copyright infringement.
>> Web Standards are intended to secure the free exchange of digital ideas
>> and content, DRM exists to limit the free exchange of digital ideas and
>> content.  Were it not for the unrelenting efforts of dedicated corporate
>> lobbyists, no one would even be considering incorporating DRM into the
>> HTML5 specification.
>> Regards,
>> Laurel L. Russwurm
>> http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com
>> On 13-06-10 10:02 PM, Arthur Clifford wrote:
>>> I don't know why but I feel compelled to be a devil's advocate.
>>> 1) if the html specification supported DRM it would be, in order to maintain backward compatibility, an optional feature.
>>> 2) if drm tags were present in a given document and user agents did not honor the drm and there was no legal recourse for when violations occur there would be no point to having drm.
>>> 3) I create therfore its yours is not a de facto truth. By assuming you should have full rights to everything I create a) violates my soveriegnty as a creator to protect my work and my right to make a living through the work I   produce. b) it limits the amount I'm willing to give because if
>> there's something I'm willing to share in part but have no mechanism to
>> do so, I'm not going to share at all.
>>> 4) There is a legitimate argument to be made against encrypted media content, and a legitimate argument in favor of it. If you want data to be private passing it around in the clear is completely insecure.Data encrypted for transfer to/from a server is done for the protection
>> of the end user. This could be abused if you do not know what is being
>> sent to the server as a nefarious content provider may be encrypting
>> other tracking info
>> that you may or may not approve of. Many of the developer tools right
>> now make things fairly transparent but if I could see my data
>> unencrypted in a developer tool by visiting my bank's website I would
>> not be very likely to continue banking with them. Having said that, if
>> you want to argue that there are scenarios whereby a user with
>> legitimate credentials should be able to see decrypted transactions I
>> would agree that is worthy of discussion.   I also wouldn't have a
>> problem saying that encrypted media providers must support a service
>> request that identifies properties stored in encrypted transactions to
>> empower user agents (browsers) to validate actual data stored  relative
>> to data purported to be stored as a measure against fraud.
>>> 5) Advocate rather than dictate. A world that shares ideas and resources is a beautiful one. But your decision to share freely your creations is your soverign right as a content provider. If you feel that is the way and the light,advocating that ideal is your right; more power to you. But do not in
>> your zeal to separate wheat from chaff tread on my sovereign right over
>> my creations and my freedoms. Your ideal does not work in all situations
>> and I would argue that a market based on an html spec without DRM
>> options cannot be a free one.
>>> 6) In academic circles (from which the internet sprung) even the notion of referring to another's work requires a citation.   Failing to do so qualifies as plagiarism which can get one fired or
>> expelled from an academic environment for ethics violations. Releasing a
>> memo outside of a company is grounds for being fired.  There have always
>> been cases in pre-digital and digital environments where some degree of
>> consequence existed for failing to recognize an author or an authority's
>> rights.
>> Advocating for safer ways of doing that is one thing, saying we
>> shouldn't have any is quite another.
>>> Seriously, the anti corporate rhetoric is a bit misplaced here. The w3c is standardizing what the corporate bogeymen and women figured out how to make/adapt and profit from and therefore fund so that the internet as it exists today could even exist at all.
>>> The real objective should be digital sovereignty, sustainability (which *may* include profitability), and the ability to facilitate an exchange of ideas and content in a way that is safe for both the end user and the content provider. Anything the HTML spec can do toward that end, should be explored.
>>> Art C.
>>> On Jun 9, 2013, at 11:58 PM, "Laurel L. Russwurm" <laurel.l@russwurm.org> wrote:
>>>> 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. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110724/11180115223/writer-explains-how-copyright-has-prevented-her-ever-seeing-tv-shows-she-wrote.shtml
>>>> 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.
>>>> [http://laurelrusswurm.wordpress.com/2013/06/07/tell-the-w3c-no-drm/]
>>>> 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.
>>>> Regards,
>>>> 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 19:16:19 UTC

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