W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html-media@w3.org > February 2013

DRM nonsense

From: Florian Bösch <pyalot@gmail.com>
Date: Tue, 12 Feb 2013 17:48:23 +0100
Message-ID: <CAOK8ODimUuXAOJ6Fj-DjHvaF0cogDoR3SFbqYUcTM-V1fJ6Jig@mail.gmail.com>
To: public-html-media@w3.org
DRM does not belong into HTML, nor into any kind of W3C standard for the
following reasons:

1) The core premise of using encryption with only one trusted party is
flawed. As such it gives rise to a variety of obfuscation schemes.

2) A user-agent must be able to obtain the raw bytes of the media in order
to work with them (display, composit, output etc.).

3) The standard (intended to define things) would have to omit the
essential bits of how something works (in order to obfuscate them)

3) Open Source browsers are discriminated against in the consumption of
such media because they cannot include an implementation.

4) An already fractured media landscape on the web, gets more fractured by
requiring proprietary runtimes to be present, responsible for the decoding
of encrypted media.

5) The distributors of the proprietary runtimes would have to refuse
running for programs they did not approve of (such as wget, curl, firefox,
webkit etc). As such they become the gatekeepers on which party can make
browsers that work, leading to a chilling effect on browser competition.

6) The distributors of the proprietary runtimes would also discriminate
against marginal operating systems (such as linux etc.) because they would
not port their runtimes to these systems, thus leading to a chilling effect
on the operating system competition.

7) Previous standards that omitted how something actually works (such as
<audio> and <video>) are a prime example how the standard failed to make
things interoperable. People wishing to deploy <audio> and <video> are
still facing substantial hurdles to do so because there is no set of common
codecs/containers supported by every browser. DRM as a standard would
further this effect.

8) Accessibility will suffer from the inclusion of DRM in a variety of ways
(screenreaders, subtitles, etc.).

9) A range of useful technologies (such as WebGL, Web Audio Data API, CSS
Shaders etc.) will not be able to work with media in these formats.

10) A DRMed media stream cannot trust a user-agent. It can also not trust
the operating system, the video driver or the audio driver. That leaves no
trustworthy party to actually implement the standard.

11) DRM schemes as a means of copy-restriction have been repeatedly been
shown to be defeated. The same would happen to any DRM scheme supported by
browsers. As such, they cannot make things copy-restricted for so inclined
users. They can however worsen the experience for everybody else.

12) DRM schemes are therefore mainly a means of the "media" industry to
limit competition, control a market, raise new barriers of entry, break
interoperability and fracture the media landscape. It cannot be the purpose
of a standard to help the "industry" achieve these goals.

13) DRM methods are among the most patented technologies in existence. Any
standards body which dabbles in them and any browser vendor implementing
them would draw inevitable lawsuits from patent trolls
(non practicing entities) and real companies alike.

14) Since only proprietary runtimes can implement the DRM scheme, it would
be nothing more than a new plugin API.

15) The intent of DRM schemes is to introduce incompatibility
intentionally. As such, it would only be missused to exclude other vendors,
users and competitors from certain platforms. For instance Netflixes DRM
plugin for Chrome would discriminate against firefox, it would also
discriminate against linux and it would discriminate against Amazons DRM
plugin, unless Amazon can get as many users to install their plugin or vice

Closing note: DRM is often touted by the media "industry" as a technology.
Its relationship to actual technology is about the same as the one of
faith-healing to the discipline of actual medicine. It cannot work, it
cannot be defined, yet it can hinder interoperability, ease of use and

Attempts at the corruption of standards bodies by the media "industry" (or
any other industry) have to be vehemently resisted. As a leading example of
this one needs to look no further than Microsofts subversion of ISO/ANSI on
document standards that set back adoption of common word processor
standards to this day.
Received on Tuesday, 12 February 2013 16:49:04 UTC

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