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Re: Formal Objection to Working Group Decision to publish Encrypted Media Extensions specification as a First Public Working Draft (FPWD)

From: Mark Watson <watsonm@netflix.com>
Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 17:04:30 -0700
Message-ID: <CAEnTvdBGUcXXQGrWcp6c=87fYJg687q5RwUkR_dk52hnOQkNrA@mail.gmail.com>
To: Kornel Lesiński <kornel@geekhood.net>
Cc: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>, "public-html@w3.org" <public-html@w3.org>
On Thu, May 30, 2013 at 4:44 PM, Kornel Lesiński <kornel@geekhood.net>wrote:

> > I am suggesting that if the web is to truly remain Open, *anyone* can
> contribute a standard to the larger stack, and that no one group or
> philosophy should set themselves up as gatekeepers, which is the net effect
> of what the EFF and others appear to be attempting to do.
> I don't agree with that definition. To me it's akin to saying somebody is
> not open-minded for refusing to believe in ghosts.

That's not a good analogy because the absence of scientific evidence for
ghosts is hardly disputed. On the other hand the balance between the
choices of FOSS authors and the choices of some content providers, in
respect of their license terms, is very much a question of opinion and a
subject of debate. If those two groups of people can't get along, the W3C
should not take sides.

> I think it's fair for an open platform to refuse additions that make it
> less open.
> To me definition of Openness is allowing anybody to implement the full
> stack any way they want. Apple could build commercial iPhone Safari in
> secret as well as Mozilla can build FirefoxOS in open on FOSS terms, and
> both can interoperate without asking anybody for permission. I think it's
> wonderful that Web technology is just as open to international corporations
> as "hippies".
> This has been true for the entire stack... except plug-ins and certain
> codecs, and CDMs don't pass my openness litmus test either. Apple cannot
> make Netflix EME-compatible browser in isolation and FirefoxOS can't hope
> to get FOSS-compatible CDM from Netflix.
> You have to have permission from Netflix's CDM vendor to write browser
> that plays content from Netflix's website. It doesn't matter that the API
> to invoke Netflix's plug-in is free and open if the plug-in is required,
> proprietary, system-dependent and protected by DMCA from being made
> interoperable.
> EME is like <object> tag. The tag's spec is free and open, but then you
> still need Silverlight (or Netflix CDM) to use it. The open part is useless
> without the closed part.

And yet <object> is already part of HTML5. We're proposing an improvement
on <object>, but because it doesn't improve as much as you would like you
reject it altogether. Why not let those who do value that improvement
benefit from it ?

> > If you believe my first point, then I further suggest that working on
> those standards at the W3C is far preferable to having those same standards
> developed elsewhere (whether at another standards body, or behind closed
> doors), for the reasons I stated.
> I thought W3C was not ideologically neutral and sided with free, open and
> FOSS-compatible solutions.

> Netflix may choose to restrict who is allowed to implement playback of
> their video, and may have excellent reasons to do so, but that is in
> conflict with freedoms W3C fought to give to users and implementors so far.

The ability to watch content in a browser, without needing a separate
native app, or a plugin install you have no choice over, is also valuable
to users. You talk as if the W3C already gave users the freedom to watch
this content with FOSS software. It hasn't. It seems because our proposal
doesn't achieve that you oppose it. It's fine to be ambitious, but you also
need to be realistic.

> I agree that non-free technologies, commercial platforms, and closed
> source software have their place (I develop such things for a living), but
> I don't think W3C brand is appropriate for them.
> W3C EME is like PETA hunting rifle.
> So I strongly support taking EME to another standards body, or even
> designing it behind closed doors (I expect CDM APIs to be developed behind
> closed doors regardless of W3Cs actions, so EME+CDM stack as a whole will
> remain closed).
> I would prefer it to be called "Google/MS EME" or even "ISO EME" rather
> than "W3C EME", to avoid falsely suggesting that playback of EME video is
> as freely implementable as other W3C technologies are.
> --
> regards, Kornel
Received on Friday, 31 May 2013 00:04:58 UTC

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