W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-restrictedmedia@w3.org > May 2014

The challenge of serving *EVERYONE* (was RE: Mozilla blog: DRM and the Challenge of Serving Users)

From: John Foliot <john@foliot.ca>
Date: Thu, 15 May 2014 09:22:53 -0700
To: "'Deivi Kuhn'" <deivilk@gmail.com>
Cc: "'John Sullivan'" <johns@fsf.org>, <public-restrictedmedia@w3.org>
Message-ID: <04da01cf7059$ed388be0$c7a9a3a0$@ca>
Deivi Kuhn wrote:
> As Executive Secretary of Free Software Brazilian Government
> Committee I could say that is a real deception.
> For years the Floss community and the Brazilian Government have
> supported Mozilla actions and worked together spreading Firefox.
> As we already have stated, the EME specification take out our right
> to use Free Software. And unfortunately we are right.
> Mr. John Foliot, make sure that we are not just talking, we will act
> to use a real free software alternative for web access. This is our
> right and we will fight for it.


Can you please explain how an API removes any of your rights? This is a 
serious question.

In the case of Firefox, according to their announcement yesterday, they are 
using EME (an open API) to allow their browser to communicated with an 
additional downloadable module from Adobe, a module that, according to Mozilla 
will be heavily sandboxed, so that *IF* you wish to access Premium Digital 
content from legally entitled rights-holders (who wish to protect their 
investment), you can.

You have a right to download and install this Adobe module, as well as the 
right to NOT install that same module - the choice is, and remains, yours to 

There is no "rule", no law, no imperative today to use this technology, and 
nobody is forcing you, the Brazilian Government, or its citizens to download 
and install the Adobe CDM - unless of course you wish to access Premium 
Digital content via the web.

Let's look at this further... say for example that the Brazilian Government 
decides to pass a law making the installation and use of the Adobe CDM (or any 
CDM) illegal - which as a sovereign nation they absolutely have the right to 

What happens next?

Well, for one, those service providers who are legally contracted to ensure 
that Premium Digital content is protected in a fashion that meets the rights 
holders requirements might likely stop providing service to that region: no 
Netflix, no Amazon Prime, no Hulu, no HBO Go, no (fill in the blank). As 
non-national corporate entities, you cannot force them to set up shop in an 
environment that restricts their ability to do business, so they simply will 
not show up (or shutter their existing services).

Brazilian television broadcasters, seeking to purchase entertainment content 
from outside of the country, may find that no-one is willing to sell them that 
content without the ability to restrict distribution, meaning that some of 
those sources will simply dry up.  None of this is "illegal" however, and 
again, the Government of Brazil is totally within its rights and powers to 
establish this kind of economy and society.

Young, smart Brazilians, wanting access to this entertainment content, may do 
any of the following: a) ignore Brazilian law and surreptitiously download and 
install the CDM, and then using an off-shore proxy stream the latest 
installment of Game of Thrones to their computer (making them criminals in 
their own country), b) pirate Premium Digital content via sites like Pirate 
Bay and isoHunt (to name but 2). Those of us aware of and follow such things 
already know that both of these options are being used today, and will likely 
continue to be used long after Mozilla releases their CDM-ready browser. The 
legality of these actions however are a little more circumspect. I am hard 
pressed to imagine that the Brazilian people and government would be 
interested in presenting themselves on the world stage as thieves and outlaws 
(although I freely admit that in some regions, the governments do have such 
military and totalitarian strangleholds on their people that web access is 
restricted and heavily monitored: North Korea, China, etc.)

I will suggest to you however that I think that the Brazilian Government and 
people are smarter than that, and certainly would not go to those extremes 
over House of Cards or the Amazing Spiderman 2.

Let's be perfectly clear here: THIS IS NOT SOFTWARE, it is entertainment 

It is not systems or technology critical to the workings of the country or the 
society of Brazil. It is the creative work(s) by artists and producers; works 
which are already protected under Brazilian law 
(http://www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/text.jsp?file_id=125393), which states:

	Title II, Intellectual Works, Chapter I - Works Protected
	7. The intellectual works that are protected are creations of the mind, 
whatever their mode of expression or the medium, tangible or intangible, known 
or susceptible of invention in the future, in which they are fixed, such as:
		V. musical compositions with or without words;
		VI. audiovisual works, with or without accompanying sounds, including 
cinematographic works;

It is premium entertainment that routinely cost a lot of money to create, and 
is the output of a whole industry that produces hundreds of thousands of jobs 
and revenue not only in the US market, but for television and film industries 
around the planet. (I also wonder aloud how the Brazilian TV Producers - 
http://www.braziliantvproducers.com/en/ - feel about content protection: do 
they want to digitally protect the telenovelas they currently produce and 
export around the world, making them one of the largest TV exporters on the 
planet? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_in_Brazil I'll bet I know the 
answer to that one...)

I am personally hard-pressed to contemplate that the Brazilian government 
would ignore the magnitude, impact and importance of that industry over a 
simple piece of voluntarily installed software.

In the case of Mozilla, they are partnering with a decryption module that is 
(will be) heavily sandboxed inside of the browser, decrypting content being 
streamed to the browser via the <video> element - and I have not heard anyone 
suggest that it will do anything more.

I understand that Digital Rights Management is distasteful to the EFF and the 
FSF, and that Cory Doctorow is well paid (by entities such as The Guardian - 
who BTW copyright all of their output, including Cory's) to cry out how "evil" 
this technology is (yes Cory, we all remember the decade old Sony root-kit 
scandal - times, and technology, have moved on). It is easy to portray the 
creators of EME and the Adobe CDM as evil people, complete with tall black 
hats and twisted, waxed moustaches, cackling deliriously in the background as 
they steal your soul and enslave your mind. It is a cartoon character that the 
EFF/FSF/Doctorow want you to fear, worse than the boogey man and move evil 
than the devil himself. It's smoke and mirrors, and it is being sold, like all 
good snake-oil is, via Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.

I would equally suggest however that a useful role you and the Free Software 
Brazilian Government Committee could play would be to monitor, as an 
independent 3rd party, how the Mozilla + Adobe CDM progress goes. Be 
"grown-up" and accept that in the world we live in, you sometimes need to take 
a little water with your wine.

If the technology is done right, it will provide the appropriate balance 
between user (and user-rights) protection, and content owner protection - it 
will serve everyone, fairly. See this as an opportunity to contribute to the 
world stage, as an example of the technology progress that Brazil has 
achieved, and be that rights guardian, rather than sitting there bemoaning the 
fact that we live in a society that is based upon an economic model, and 
vowing to tilt against windmills 

Rather than attempting to unscramble the egg, why not make sure that the 
scrambled eggs are cooked right? Dare I even say deliciously? The choice is 


Received on Thursday, 15 May 2014 16:23:32 UTC

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