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

Re: Encrypted Media proposal (was RE: ISSUE-179: av_param - Chairs Solicit Alternate Proposals or Counter-Proposals)

From: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>
Date: Wed, 07 Mar 2012 01:42:00 +0100
Message-ID: <4F56AED8.7080206@lachy.id.au>
To: Mark Watson <watsonm@netflix.com>
CC: "<public-html@w3.org>" <public-html@w3.org>
On 2012-03-06 18:00, Mark Watson wrote:
> Some seemed to be suggesting that the W3C adopt a 'restrictive' goal
> of restricting the web to only those services where the client side can
> be implemented fully as free open source.
> I believe our goal should be an 'expansive' one of widening the
> features of the W3C open web platform to encompass as much of the web
> as possible. I think this aligns with what Charles said. The two
> goals would lead to different actions. For example, in pursuit of the
> first goal we would probably remove <object> from the specification

No. In pursuit of the first goal, we recognise that <object> has 
provided for a certain level of innovation by 3rd parties, with an 
understanding of the costs, limitations and the inherent problems that 
come with it. We then work to provide competitive alternatives that can 
work as good as or better than what the plugins provide, and which can 
be freely implemented by multiple vendors, ideally without inherently 
relying on different 3rd party binary blobs to provide the functionality 
we're trying to integrate.

> and mandate an RF video codec.

We certainly tried that. It's an ongoing problem that we haven't yet got 
a common baseline, but it is at least down to two main alternatives.

> The restrictive goal is dangerous, in my view, because it aims to
> exclude from the web innovation outside the Royalty-Free Open Source
> space. You point to several examples of such innovation below.

Innovation can still occur outside of this space. But you have to 
understand that bringing such innovation into the traditionally 
royalty-free and openly implementable space of the W3C inherently 
requires exhausting all possible avenues for finding a royalty free and 
openly implementable solution first, before settling on a compromise 
that involves or ends up requiring due to market forces inherently 
closed source/non-RF components.

With this in mind, we need to know all known requirements that must be 
met by a CDM for it to be deemed acceptable by the major content 
providers.  Then we would at least have a chance of coming up with a 
spec that meets those requirements.

Ideally, we should also have the content providers themselves involved 
in these discussions and for them to be willing to reach a compromise on 
the level of protection they will accept.  If their only intent, in 
using you (Netflix, et al) as a proxy, is to dictate exactly what we 
must provide, then these negotiations are unlikely to go well.

> On Mar 6, 2012, at 6:38 AM, "Lachlan Hunt"<lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>  wrote:
>> On 2012-03-05 18:55, Mark Watson wrote:
>>> If you propose to restrict the services which can be offered on the
>>> web in any way, you restrict innovation. Just as evolution in
>>> constrained environments produces dodos.

>> There is absolutely no significant technological reason why video
>> service providers can't start to offer streaming video to all
>> HTML<video> implementations now and in the future.
> That view simply isn't shared by the owners of the content.

The content owner's limitations are not really technological. They're 
politically motivated.  By mandating DRM, they get to keep tight control 
over what innovation can take place, limiting what functionality user 
agents can provide for users, with the legalities of anti-circumvention 
laws to back them up, in spite of what fair use/fair dealing laws would 
otherwise allow.

> That they  don't share this view is itself a significant barrier.

It's a self-inflicted barrier by the content providers, not an inherent 
technological barrier.

> Rational people change their views on such matters on the basis of evidence.

Correct. But after years of paying attention to the utter nonsense 
spouted by the content industry executives, lobbyists, and the 
politicians they bribe on these issues, it's not clear that those people 
are rational.

There are some sensible people in the industry, however. Valve's Gabe 
Newell has clearly stated that piracy is a service problem and that 
restrictive DRM only encourages more piracy.  Yes, Steam does use DRM 
for some titles, but there are plenty of titles that don't, and there is 
no evidence that those titles available without DRM suffer from any more 
piracy than those with.

> Anyone who truly believes your assertion has a fantastic business
> opportunity before them. With the money that you save on technology you
> can buy more and better content. You could safely and at no cost offer
> to fully indemnify the content owners for any loss of revenue from
> unauthorized use of content from your service.

There is no reliable way to calculate the amount of lost revenue, and 
the excessively inflated and highly questionable figures thrown about by 
the content industry lobbyists in support of whatever draconian 
copyright enforcement legislation or secret trade agreements they're 
trying to push through at any given moment around the world should 
clearly illustrate this.

Besides, I didn't say, nor even imply, that record profits would be made 
and be able to cover such indemnity. That's just absurd.  My only point 
is that offering content DRM free, or at most with a thin layer of 
obfuscation to prevent casual copying, won't result in increased piracy 
or indeed any significant losses.  There is absolutely no evidence that 
it would have any negative effect at all.  (Content providers know this 
- DRM doesn't stop piracy - and as I've stated, "piracy" isn't their 
real motivation for pushing DRM anyway).

As to whether any given business will succeed or not depends almost 
entirely on their business model and the ability to provide a valuable 
and attractive service to consumers. As I'm sure you're aware, it would 
be naive to think that being DRM free is all that's needed to succeed.

> Users will apparently be  much happier too. Why aren't there 100
> startups doing this?

There are hundreds of startups and independent content producers that 
offer DRM free content; just not from any of the major Hollywood studios.

Just like eMusic was successfully offering DRM free indie music well 
before the big-four record labels jumped on board.  Even during the time 
when the labels were still shouting about how DRM was essential to 
prevent piracy. In the end, the labels were undeniably proven wrong, 
just as the film and TV industry eventually will be.

The producers of Sanctuary (TV Series) started out by offering the 
episodes for sale on the web, DRM free, and did very well right up until 
the show was subsequently picked up by a TV network.

Another startup, started producing a series called Pioneer One, offered 
for DRM free torrent download or a streaming option, using crowd funding 
to pay for and produce the episodes and largely promoted through social 
media and word of mouth.

Louis CK grossed over a million dollars in just a few days when he 
recently offered his show for sale DRM free.

Also, Fandor have recently taken a small, but significant step toward 
offering DRM free streaming.

I could go on, but I think I've made my point.

>> It was Warner Bros. who relentlessly attacked RedBox, trying to
>> prevent them from renting DVDs too cheaply, and ultimatley forcing them,
>> along with Netflix and Blockbuster, to accept wholly unnecessary, and
>> ultimately harmful to themselves, release windows.
> Actually, noone is forced to accept DVD rental release windows in the
> US. The 'first sale' doctrine means any DVD available for purchase
> can be purchased and rented out. In the past we have bought DVDs from
> Walmart.

Yes, I know that. But that comes at an increased cost and didn't help 
much when even Walmart joined in the fight against RedBox, making it as 
difficult as possible for them to acquire the DVDs [1].  But whatever 
the reason in the end, RedBox eventually caved into Warner's demands, 
agreeing to a ridiculous 28 day release window, and there's now a push 
for extending that to 56.  Such stupidity on behalf of the content 
providers will only push consumers to find alternative illegitimate 
means to obtain their content instead of waiting, and Warner is going to 
keep shouting about how "piracy" is killing their business.

[1] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100204/1222178053.shtml

Lachlan Hunt - Opera Software
Received on Wednesday, 7 March 2012 00:42:29 UTC

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