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Proposed Video Copy Protection Scheme For HTML5 Raises W3C Ire 412

Posted by timothy
from the have-you-have-your-ire-checked-lately? dept.
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from Ars Technica: "A new Web standard proposal authored by Google, Microsoft, and Netflix seeks to bring copy protection mechanisms to the Web. The Encrypted Media Extensions draft defines a framework for enabling the playback of protected media content in the Web browser. The proposal is controversial and has raised concern among some parties that are participating in the standards process. In a discussion on the W3C HTML mailing list, critics questioned whether the proposed framework would really provide the level of security demanded by content providers. The aim of the proposal is not to mandate a complete DRM platform, but to provide the necessary components for a generic key-based content decryption system. It is designed to work with pluggable modules that implement the actual decryption mechanisms."
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Proposed Video Copy Protection Scheme For HTML5 Raises W3C Ire

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  • by Intelligenta (2568347) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:52PM (#39140421)
    DRM will be required by content providers. HTML5 video will never gain any market share without it. Otherwise we will continue to have Flash and Silverlight.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Any provider which refuses to enter the market without the presence of the impossible should die off.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:58PM (#39140479)

      DRM will be required by content providers

      Which is why they will never see a penny from me. Unfortunately, nobody else has the backbone needed to stand up to them and say, "No, you are not going to take control of my computer in exchange for entertaining me for a few hours."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrXym (126579)
        What does it matter to you if streaming content is encrypted or not pray tell? This isn't content you own, you are subscribing to a service.
        • by vadim_t (324782) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:18PM (#39140715) Homepage

          It's an attempt to intrude on and limit what I can do with my hardware, which is unacceptable. It's as if they barged into my home and demanded to to have a guard standing there to make sure I don't get the idea of duplicating a DVD.

          • by DrXym (126579) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:31PM (#39140867)
            Er, no it isn't. You are not forced to use the service, but if you do you abide by the terms and conditions of usage. The encryption is there to stop people from ripping off the content in ways the service does not permit, possibly for contractual reasons with the content providers.
            • by vadim_t (324782)

              Er, no it isn't. You are not forced to use the service, but if you do you abide by the terms and conditions of usage

              I object to the enforcement technology itself existing. Whether the service is something I want to use or not is another matter entirely.

              The encryption is there to stop people from ripping off the content in ways the service does not permit, possibly for contractual reasons with the content providers.

              I don't really care

        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:29PM (#39140855)
          The fact that if I publish a method of decrypting that stream, or even publish links to descriptions of such methods, I can be sued. No thank you, I may not have any say over blatantly unconstitutional laws but I can refuse to pay for my rights to be trampled.
        • The encryption is limiting what I can do with it. Can I, for example, watch it on the FreeBSD-based media centre / NAS that is connected to the projector in my living room? Can I watch it on my HP TouchPad? Can I copy it to my phone and watch it when I'm away from the Internet?

          I can do all of these things with DVDs that I rent. They're trying to sell streaming as a replacement for DVD rental, so it needs to provide at least the same capabilities.

          • by Tr3vin (1220548)
            Keep in mind that all of those things you listed are only possible with DVDs once their encryption is broken. The capabilities are the same, as long as you are clever enough to decrypt the stream. You must have figured out the DVD encryption, so I imagine you will do just fine.
      • nobody else has the backbone needed to stand up to them and say, "No, you are not going to take control of my computer in exchange for entertaining me for a few hours."

        I do. But that raises the question of why you think they're taking over your computer. Flash doesn't take control of your computer (unless you're talking about memory/cpu footprint), it just encrypts the channel. Once you're done with the entertainment it's gone. This isn't palladium we're talking about, it's simply a way to encrypt information.

        • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:33PM (#39140883)
          Except that in order to decrypt the information and let me enjoy it, they need to hide the decryption key somewhere. Somewhere that they are going to try to program my computer to make inaccessible to me, and should I find a way to defeat that, I cannot tell anyone else about without facing lawsuits.

          Taking over my entire computer? No, it will not do that. Making some part of my computer work against me is what they want to do here, and I am not going to allow such a thing. They are free to encrypt the information they send me, so long as I am free to decrypt it how and when I choose, and to tell others about the decryption process.
    • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:02PM (#39140511)

      They keep their locked down content to themselves.

      And the internet is for unlocked content.

      Either they play by the rules of the playing field or they go elsewhere.
      They should stop trying to break the internet and go somewhere else where they can be happy.

      • They keep their locked down content to themselves.
        And the internet is for unlocked content.
        Either they play by the rules of the playing field or they go elsewhere.
        They should stop trying to break the internet and go somewhere else where they can be happy.

        I wasn't aware "The Internet" had any rules.

        Traffic moves both openly and encrypted.

        Some sites are accessible to anyone while others are restricted. Some services are free while others demand payment.

        Slashdot has its own "locked content" and paid subscription benefits.

        Content can go elsewhere.

        To the Internet enabled HDTV, the video game console and set top box.

        To the app store and the walled garden of the iOS, the Kindle and Windows 8 Metro.

        The problem for the geek is that users move to the platforms

    • Keep using Flash (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pavon (30274) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:04PM (#39140545)

      That's fine. There is a place for free software and there is a place for proprietary software. DRM is security-by-obscurity which by definition requires you to keep the implementation secret. That can't be done with free software, only by proprietary software. And the proper place for proprietary software on the web is in stand alone applications and plugins, not in open standards.

      HTML5 will work great for YouTube, Vimeo, and the thousands of other people who don't care about DRM. Those who do can stick with proprietary solutions.

    • by Myopic (18616) * on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:09PM (#39140611)

      I don't agree. At the end of the day, if "content providers" are stubborn and refuse to release their "content" without DRM, while at the same time customers refuse all DRM, then those "content producers" will cease to exist, and will be replaced by new content providers, who are actually willing to... you know... provide content.

      Oh, are they not willing to show their movies to people unless it is incredibly inconvenient for customers? Okay, well then they get what they wanted: nobody sees their movie. Yay! They got their way! No 'unauthorized' viewing of their content, because there is no viewing of theircontent! They should be very happy about that.

      Consumers have done quite shockingly well at refusing DRM over the last decade. We defeated the music industry for the time being. I think it is quite likely that sufficient pushback from consumers could win the fight against movie companies, too.

      • Oh, are they not willing to show their movies to people unless it is incredibly inconvenient for customers?

        Netflix and Hulu are probably the two most convenient ways for me to watch the shows I enjoy, and the only reason they exist is because of DRM.

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      DRM will be required by content providers. HTML5 video will never gain any market share without it. Otherwise we will continue to have Flash and Silverlight.

      And... how's that a negative?

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      HTML5 video is already gaining market share. Do you actually suppose flash is going to remain when Adobe is dropping support for it? Microsoft already dropped support for silverlight entirely (not that it had any originally)

    • DRM will be required by content providers. HTML5 video will never gain any market share without it. Otherwise we will continue to have Flash and Silverlight.

      "We"... are you speaking for the movie studios? Haha, you honestly think we mind what "you" use?

      Not to be too flippant, but all the DRM free content available on iTunes shows that this idea is incorrect. So long as it is not available, or difficult to obtain, piracy will continue to grow. And so long as Apple has a prohibition against plugins like that, they are already at the mercy of a DRM free web experience if they want to publish to mobile.

      The studios are between a rock and a hard place, with a risin

  • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:53PM (#39140435)

    browser pluggable executable objects --

    Yeah that always sounds like a good idea.

    *sigh*

    I thought the whole idea of HTML5 was to get open framework where no unknown code was needed so we could get away from these monsters.

  • Misdirection ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:53PM (#39140437) Homepage

    Netflix's Mark Watson responded to the message and acknowledged that strong copy protection can't be implemented in an open source Web browser. He deflected the issue by saying that copy protection mechanisms can be implemented in hardware, and that such hardware can be used by open source browsers.

    Or, they'll eventually decide to outlaw open source browsers, since they're clearly designed to allow for copyright infringement.

    Of course, that is exactly what the copyright lobby wants ... absolutely nothing will be allowed if it could even remotely be used to violate copyright.

    This is good for Netflix and the people pushing this ... but it isn't good for the rest of us.

    • Compiled code is just very, very hard to read source code. Luckily, we've got these things called computers that can do all sorts of information processing, gathering millions of data points a second and sorting them for humans to interpret.

      If it's impossible to implement securely in an open-source program, it's impossible to implement securely, period. There is nothing magical about machine instructions. A compiled program is just harder to interpret. For one person, out of the 7 billion on this planet. And then it's out there, forever and ever.

      This entire debate is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of software.

      • If it's impossible to implement securely in an open-source program, it's impossible to implement securely, period. There is nothing magical about machine instructions. A compiled program is just harder to interpret. For one person, out of the 7 billion on this planet. And then it's out there, forever and ever.

        Strong DRM usually has the problem that is gets harder to break, it also gets harder to make it work without problems for legitimate users. Therefore there are cases now where weak DRM is used, just strong enough not to overcome it by accident, and the DRM gives the rights holder strong legal rights. See Apple with the ridiculously weak DRM preventing to run MacOS X on non-Apple computer.

        You could easily implement DRM in open source. It would of course be breakable, but it would be strong enough to give

    • Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but wouldn't having the copy protection in hardware *not* help with an open source player? Once it's decrypted and funneled back to the player for playback, someone could rewrite the open source player to capture that output in its unencrypted form. Am I wrong?

    • by forkfail (228161) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:36PM (#39140929)

      Your analysis is close, but misses the key point.

      copy protection mechanisms can be implemented in hardware

      That's where all this will end up. You won't be able to buy a computer without the DRM hardware installed, and it will be illegal/impossible to remove/alter.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:55PM (#39140457)

    All this HTML5 hype isn't going to change the fact that the studios are NOT NOW, NOT EVER, NEVER going to support streaming of content on a format with no DRM option.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      And?

      So they'll be forced to write their own client applications to do the streaming, rather than banking on browser developers to do all that work AND support their (inevitably) failed DRM schemes for them.

      • by PNutts (199112)

        And?

        So they'll be forced to write their own client applications to do the streaming, rather than banking on browser developers to do all that work AND support their (inevitably) failed DRM schemes for them.

        Um, yes.

      • I don't really want a netflix plugin, a hulu plugin and a bank plugin. I kind of get the feeling most slashdotters would agree it's much better to have one plugin that runs on multiple platforms then a mess of single use plugins with widely varying platform support. Or even better, have a single interopable standard that makes browser plugins redundant.
        • by Microlith (54737)

          You won't have plugins, but you'll have a slew of applications on your desktop. I find that far more preferable than having browser writers waste time, money, and effort implementing a failed scheme for the sake of the entertainment industry, especially when this will be impossible for open source browsers anyway.

      • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:19PM (#39140737)

        It won't be the studios worrying about streaming and DRM implementations. It will be services that want to implement different kinds of pricing model, maybe pay-per-view or a NetFlix-style flat rate subscription, which have contractual obligations to protect the content and will inevitably pass on the cost of meeting those obligations to their customers.

        DRM is going to happen, on a wide scale, for the foreseeable future, and if it's used responsibly that's not necessarily a bad thing (because without it those new business models are unlikely to work commercially, yet many people apparently prefer to pay for their content in those ways). The only result of not standardising DRM for philosophical reasons will be introducing inefficiency into the supply chain, which will ultimately cost consumers more for no benefit or in the worst case make a business fail instead of offering a service that consumers would have enjoyed.

    • Yeah, that's what they said about the music industry.

    • by Myopic (18616) * on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:10PM (#39140623)

      Just like music companies, right?

      In the end, the market will win. If consumers won't buy DRM, then DRM won't exist. It's up to you; tell your friends. We won an amazing victory against the RIAA, now it's time to square off against the MPAA.

      • We won no DRM in music we purchase. There is still DRM in music you rent through subscription services, and for good reason. In the same line, there ought to exist DRM for services that stream video content like Netflix and Hulu.
    • While what you said is true (at least for now, though I'm holding out hope for a something like what happened with iTunes and music), but it doesn't match with your title, which is quite incorrect. There are plenty of examples of non-Flash and non-Silverlight approaches getting studio support (iOS being a prime example, since it supports Netflix as well as downloads from the iTunes Store), but, as you point out, they all rely on DRM. Flash and Silverlight will die out over time, only to be replaced by somet

    • by vadim_t (324782)

      Bullshit. The music industry didn't want that either, yet go figure, now MP3 is sold with no DRM.

      The industry, in the end, cares about money. Make DRM unprofitable, and it'll go away, one way or another. Making it disappear is just a matter of putting up a decent opposition.

  • Dear Google, Microsoft, et al., the internet IS NOT YOURS. Take your locked down crap that way ----> /dev/null

    • by Rockoon (1252108)
      Dear Wowsers. The internet IS NOT YOURS EITHER. Don't like a protocol, file format, or DRM scheme? DONT USE IT.

      Your freedom to choose means that you do not have the moral authority to dictate to other free people as to the manner in which they interact. I'm pretty sure that you dont use Netflix, so what fucking business is it of yours as to how Netflix delivers content? Its not your business at all, BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS NOT YOURS.
      • by vadim_t (324782)

        Dear Wowsers. The internet IS NOT YOURS EITHER. Don't like a protocol, file format, or DRM scheme? DONT USE IT.

        And I won't. But I'll also use all other avenues available: I'll make sure to be as much of a pain in the ass as possible to those who work against my interests. They try to use legislation, and standards and I'll make sure to extert the opposite pressure.

        so what fucking business is it of yours as to how Netflix delivers content? Its not your business at all, BECAUSE THE INTERNET IS NOT YOURS.

        It's

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @04:59PM (#39140487)
    Solution: If you don't want your content on the internet, it's not like anyone's forcing you to put it there. You can keep it hidden in vaults deep within the mountains, only accessible with an armed guard who takes everything resembling technology from you, leads you down a long corridor, where you can watch Teh Valued Contentz.

    Browser makers have no obligation to help them perpetuate their broken business model. I think the standards committee should just say "No. In fact, let me think about that for a minute... Hell No." Because the internet's very raisin de etre is to share information even when the network is badly damaged, under hostile control, etc. We can't simply redesign it into a read only medium to serve ONE industry's interests, nor should we.

    Browser makers: Just say no. Walk away. Let their content rot behind their own walls.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      We can't simply redesign it into a read only medium to serve ONE industry's interests, nor should we.

      Well, technically we can, and that's their preferred option ... make all technology subservient to copyright.

      I agree we shouldn't, but that won't stop them from trying to do it. Sony et al would happily outlaw the general purpose computer to make sure we were all running only industry approved devices which give them all of the control.

      • by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:17PM (#39140695)

        Well, technically we can, and that's their preferred option ... make all technology subservient to copyright.

        Even if every browser maker on the planet suddenly co-opted to every demand by the entertainment industry, people would simply stop using newer web browsers. The demands of the industry and market are such that any initiative like that would insta-fail. That's why they've been slowly increasing the penalties, throwing up road blocks here and there, feigning here and there about what they're up to, negotiating backroom deals with other governments, and making high profile arrests all over the place. They can't win the war by swaying public opinion -- the public is stupid. Very stupid. Monumentally stupid... but not that stupid. And I say this knowing full well that whenever I say "Nobody can be that stupid" in this industry, an example comes along to prove me wrong. Every average everyday thing that even the lobotomized flatworms of the IT world use depends on the internet being a two-way communications medium. They can restrict, throttle, beat, manipulate, and mutilate it to the point that it barely resembles the internet you and I know... but they can't fundamentally erase what it is right now without segmenting the network off from the rest of the world, and spending a ludicrious amount of money to keep it "pure" according to their standards.

        As long as two-way packet-based communication is possible on the chunk of wires, routers, and "tubes" known as the internet, Big Copyright will never have a complete victory. I mean, even if they run around with portable execution squads and electric chairs and are given full reign to do whatever they want, ala the Spanish Inquisition... they won't be able to get what they want.. and they'll be utterly oblitherated by the first person who creates a system of communication they can't control.

        Call it the Hacker's Law -- there will always be a place for the free exchange of information. Somewhere.

      • by Myopic (18616) *

        I see what you are saying, but it isn't really true. We can't stop copyright infringement with DRM; it's not theoretically possible; it is theoretically impossible.

        The entire point of DRM is that, eventually, the encoded bits become decoded, and therefore are available for sniffing, at some point. That is true whether or not the actual DRM scheme itself is broken, which has happened (so far as I know) 100% of the times it has been attempted. If nothing else, then you can simply record the signal produced by

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      I think maybe the content makers should be forced to follow through with their claims. Back in the early days of cheap VCRs, they claimed that VCRs would put them out of business. We need to go back to that and hold them to their word, by forcing them to only show their movies in theaters, and not releasing anything on any other format for people to watch outside of official theaters. Let's see how that all works out for them.

  • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:02PM (#39140507)

    Translation: "We're going to charge you more and blame more things on piracy."
    Funny part is, the more they blame things on piracy and try to lock it down the more people will actually move to piracy in order to get what they want. It's completely counter productive.

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:04PM (#39140535)
    Play video in browser while running Fraps. There I bypassed this first. While the quality isn't that great it is a way to essentially moot what they are doing.
  • Ryan Paul wrote

    The requirement for DRM on streaming video isn't likely to go away, however. If consensus can't be reached and no better approach emerges, there is a risk that some browser vendors will simply implement their own solutions outside of the standards process.

    Since when did the big guys followed the standards anyway (IE html validation anyone!). maybe this is what we need ? It's not the first time some company, organization or someone didn't follow standards and his software got way more popular. I could state that mozilla wasn't standard but it did follow the rules way better than IE did with W3C.

  • "It is designed to work with pluggable modules that implement the actual decryption mechanisms."

    Pluggable Module == Binary Blob == content providers PWN your computer. They won't be content with anything short of that.

  • There's an easy fix for this: MS, Google, et al, can just stop producing content that people want to copy.

  • Content licenses for music have been pretty silly over the years. A standard license for even displaying lyrics requires that the website take basic measures to disable copy and paste. That said, there are many online radio stations on the net operating without DRM. Jango and Pandora come to mind. Then there are stations like Grooveshark that do try to obfuscate their stream. The irony here is that Grooveshark is operating in the gray area whereas Jango and Pandora are appropriately licensed.

    Anyway, we'll s

  • Screw whether it works or not... like I NEED another fucking plug-in/language/idiotic "standard" to add to my page-builds. Let's just add even more to the design/developer's plate... especially when it sounds like it's going to be another flash-in-the-pan, oops, that didn't work out either kind of solution.

    Get your heads out of your asses, you morons, and stop heaping more crap on the pile. If you're going to do it, do it right the first time, not with MORE server calls, MORE code, MORE to break, and MORE

  • by nightfire-unique (253895) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @05:32PM (#39140875)

    Guys, can we all make an effort to start calling it what it really is?

    Copy restriction.

    The word "protection" was chosen by proponents to steer the debate on whether or not the practice is acceptable.

    Frankly, I think it would be appropriate to offer a choice to content vendors: either use DRM/copy restriction, or receive the force of law in protection of your copyright. Not both. And, it would make sense; copyright is an exchange of limited monopoly, so if content is encrypted, they're not holding up their end of the bargain. Who's to say the key will be around when the copyright expires?

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @06:08PM (#39141215)

    Better idea: stop trying to stuff everything into web browsers. Just bring the mobile Netflix app to the desktop. They could dump Silverturd^H^H^H^Hlight and go with whatever format and encryption scheme gives Reed Hastings the biggest chubby.

  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @07:15PM (#39141863)
    Once we lock down the computers and turn them into industry approved "content viewers", we will have taken the greatest communications system devised to date and turned it into something that looks just like Cable TV. If MPAA thinks this is better than cable (because the cable company charges both parties) they are mistaken - once it's all locked down, the ISPs will start collecting fees from "content providers".
  • by Requiem18th (742389) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @11:27PM (#39143785)

    I've said this before but it baffles me that the studios are so obsessed with forcing DRM on paying customers.

    The kind of people that upload Hollywood movies is already capable and willing of breaking any DRM you can dream of since it is mathematically impossible to create unbreakable DRM. The kind of people who want to pay for content are exactly the kind that avoids downloading illegal copies, much less uploading. It creates enormous amounts of discomfort for paying customers in exchange of minimal discomfort for infringers.

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