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The Internet DRM

FSF Activists Want You To Call Tim Berners-Lee About DRM (boingboing.net) 126

"The Free Software Foundation is calling on netizens to make calls to the W3C demanding they not include DRM in Web standards," an anonymous reader writes. Cory Doctorow reports: There's only two weeks left until members of the World Wide Web Consortium vote on whether the web's premier open standards organization will add DRM to the toolkit available to web developers, without effecting any protections for people who discover security vulnerabilities that affect billions of web users, let alone people who adapt web tools for those with disabilities and people who create legitimate, innovative new technologies to improve web video.
Tim Berners-Lee has final say over this change, according to the article, which directs callers to urge him to "keep the web free and open, rather than rescuing DRM from its slow collapse due to the complexity of fielding and supporting it without standards like those the W3C makes."
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FSF Activists Want You To Call Tim Berners-Lee About DRM

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2017 @10:49AM (#54160233)

    Seriously, he's not a god. He can't stop Google and so on pushing DRM if they want to (which they did, regardless of whether he accepted that he was powerless in this case).

    I really don't understand the FSF anymore. "Let's go after the symptoms instead of the disease! Let's divide our own supporters! Let's act like if we just pretend that if DRM isn't an official web-spec, it won't still be a de-facto web-spec!" What difference will any of that make, really? It's a pathetic waste of everyone's time and donation money.

    • Somebody mod this up please

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@@@world3...net> on Sunday April 02, 2017 @11:07AM (#54160289) Homepage Journal

      The real problem is that Firefox is on the decline. Microsoft and Apple will implement whatever DRM Chrome has because they want streaming services like Netflix to work as well as possible in their browsers. Without the DRM, no 4k support, for example.

      Mozilla was the only major browser vendor willing to stand up to this stuff, but market share has fallen so far that Firefox is no longer a strong enough force to make bad technologies die. Consider this: if Firefox had announced Flash support was ending in 2016, do you think that would have been as powerful as Google announcing it? Would sites have moved away from Flash because of it?

      • by Skinkie ( 815924 )
        I consider Mozilla Firefox being on a decline as a good thing. The Mozilla Firefox development is covered by political statements weighting in the wrong direction. Statements as "Because Internet Explorer does it in the same way" are made over Chrome/Webkit still working as expected. Just read this bugs in hindsight. And this is only what I remembered. Mozilla became a commercial non-profit, with an office in the center of Paris that really can't be imagined. Someone/thing is keeping that alive.

        https://b [mozilla.org]
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The really awful thing about the Firefox situation is that it was completely unnecessary.

        Firefox had about 35% of the market at one point. It could have retained that and probably even grown its share had the Firefox devs done just one thing: listened to their users.

        That's all they needed to do. Listen to the users, and then do what the users said to do.

        The users said, "Make Firefox perform better."

        The users said, "Make Firefox use less memory."

        The users said, "Make sure that Firefox protects our privacy wh

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This. Tim Berners-Lee is not an influence on the development of the internet anymore, and has not been for a long long time. Google and Facebook call the shots. It pains early adopters and self-styled "pioneers" like me, who had to download the earliest browsers via FTP on dial-up connections, to say that but the war is lost. Our numbers dwindle, we're outnumbered and outgunned, on the prairies we used to roam they've built cities. We're barely tolerated guests. It's not going to get any better.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      If there is no official DRM standard, then that greatly weakens the position of vendor specific DRM extensions, and is a benefit even if it is not a perfectly ideal situation. It reduces to the status DRM always had on the web: if you wanted to add it yourself, go ahead, but it was not going to be officially sanctioned on what was supposed to be an open platform.

    • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Sunday April 02, 2017 @11:23AM (#54160337)

      > I really don't understand the FSF anymore. "Let's go after the symptoms instead of the disease!

      DRM *IS THE DISEASE*. That's what people are so mad about.

      > Let's act like if we just pretend that if DRM isn't an official web-spec, it won't
      > still be a de-facto web-spec!" What difference will any of that make, really?

      Thanks to Chrome and Windowa 10, snooping, privacy-invading browser and OS are "de-facto specs". Do you want everyone to fall in line? Do you want Firefox, Pale Moon, and linux in general to start snooping on you? "But Mom, all the other kids are doing it".

      • DRM is not the disease. Greed, selfishness and neoliberal delusions that giving human greed a free reign will magically make the world better: those are the disease. It is those that took a mechanism which, in its original form, was essential to avoiding a disastrous free-for-all in the nascent publishing industry of a few centuries ago and, via systematic strategic lobbying, twisted it into modern copyright laws. Remove DRM and the disease remains.

      • I ask this question every time Chrome and spying are brought up but no one can ever answer. Can anyone provide packet logs of Chrome supposedly spying? We all have definite proof of Windows 10 but people clam up when I ask for proof of Chrome.

        • Re:Chrome (Score:4, Informative)

          by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday April 02, 2017 @02:28PM (#54160925) Homepage Journal

          As far as anyone knows, Chrome only sends search data home [lifehacker.com] on a regular basis. I think it's still worth being concerned about the platform's capabilities but I wouldn't be paranoid about it.

        • I ask this question every time Chrome and spying are brought up but no one can ever answer. Can anyone provide packet logs of Chrome supposedly spying? We all have definite proof of Windows 10 but people clam up when I ask for proof of Chrome.

          Wireshark is free. Max out all Chrome privacy settings, run Chrome and see for yourself what it does.

          I've been there and found it's impossible to make it stop calling home. You can't even launch Chrome with a default blank page and have it sit there doing absolutely nothing without calling home.

          The most in your face aspect of Chrome was realizing even after blocking various Chrome related hosts via DNS was the use of Google's primary search engine URL itself seemingly used as an application data collectio

      • DRM *IS THE DISEASE*. That's what people are so mad about.

        NO. DRM is a secondary infection. It's not that it isn't a sickness. It's that it isn't the root cause. In this simile, DRM is HSV, and copyright law is HIV. Actually, that's not even true. DRM is a tertiary infection! The root sickness is greed. But we have about as much chance of stamping that out as, well, herpes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      I really don't understand the FSF anymore. "Let's go after the symptoms instead of the disease! Let's divide our own supporters!

      This is nothing new. The FSF waged a civil war for over a decade against "Open Source Software" as opposed to "Free Software" despite them being just two different terms for the same thing.

    • Not making DRM a W3C standard will turn it into another Flash/Silverlight type thing. Look at how hard it is for them to die. If DRM is going to be done, and it is going to be done, a W3C standard is better than nothing. As for where effort is expended, it must be in cultivating DRM-free content platforms, and DRM-free content.

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Sunday April 02, 2017 @01:14PM (#54160657) Journal

        I've been in web development for 20 years. I've dealt with DRM implemented with Active X (limiting sites to Internet Explorer only), Java, Flash, Silverlight, and others. Mostly the effect of this is that users who chose anything but Windows couldn't access the media. For example, for years Linux users couldn't access Netflix - until HTML5 IME came along. (IME is the "drm" that this article complains about). Of course the blessed platforms are now often Apple iOS and Android, rather than Windows.

        Columbia and MGM aren't about to release their movies as unprotected mpeg4 files, no matter how much we would like them to do that. The actual effect of IME (aka html5 drm) has been to open up content, such as Netflix, to more people. Hollywood isn't going DRM-free. Our actual options are a) Silverlight DRM or other platform-locked, non-standard DRM, or b) platform neutral, standardized streaming such as we have with HTML5 IME. Given the realistic choices, I prefer (b). I'd prefer Netflix be platform-independent than not.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2017 @01:21PM (#54160683)

          Columbia and MGM aren't about to release their movies as unprotected mpeg4 files, no matter how much we would like them to do that.

          Of course they would. if consumers gave them a choice: release DRM free, or go out of business, they will release DRM free. They need us more than we need them.

          As it sits there are other companies releasing DRM free films and games, and those are the only ones i will buy from.

          • by Fringe ( 6096 )

            Of course they would. if consumers gave them a choice: release DRM free, or go out of business, they will release DRM free. They need us more than we need them.

            You do realize that the consumers receive, not give, choices, right? The sellers says, "take it or leave it." And won't sell without sufficient protections. Adobe Flash didn't become the standard because it's easy to write for; it was because of DRM and you needed it to watch anything.

            So the thing is, people who actually want to watch the new movies, will tolerate the DRM. Mostly you don't even notice it's there. And with CMAF, how you watch it is relatively up to you. But it's still protected.

          • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Sunday April 02, 2017 @03:16PM (#54161095) Journal

            > if consumers gave them a choice: release DRM free, or go out of business

            If I had four hooves and a horn, I'd be a unicorn. 99.9% of Hollywood's paying customers (the people they care about) don't know what DRM *is*.

            Of the maybe one in a thousand customers who even know what DRM is, maybe half of those will take it unlawfully *regardless*, they aren't going to pay $5 for the movie (their share of the production costs) *no matter what*. So you're left with maybe 0.05% of customers who know and care about DRM, and who will maybe pay for a non-DRM copy. The studios aren't going to make such important decisions based on less than one tenth of one percent of the market.

      • Not making DRM a W3C standard will turn it into another Flash/Silverlight type thing. Look at how hard it is for them to die. If DRM is going to be done, and it is going to be done, a W3C standard is better than nothing.

        It's not actually a standard, just defining a standard interface to a DRM module. It makes it easy for people who want content and aren't bothered by DRM and it makes it easy for people who avoid DRM content on an ideological basis, it also avoids fragmenting the mechanisms with different implementations like in Flash, Silverlight, ActiveX, etc.

      • Not making DRM a W3C standard will turn it into another Flash/Silverlight type thing. Look at how hard it is for them to die.

        No, the opposite: see how we can browse the web today with no Flash/Silverlight and others. If they were a standard, that would be impossible.

        • Not making DRM a W3C standard will turn it into another Flash/Silverlight type thing. Look at how hard it is for them to die.

          No, the opposite: see how we can browse the web today with no Flash/Silverlight and others. If they were a standard, that would be impossible.

          So why you think you could not browse the internet without a DRM module, or without EME altogether thanks to open source browsers or older versions of browsers that don't have it?

    • by Shoten ( 260439 )

      Seriously, he's not a god. He can't stop Google and so on pushing DRM if they want to (which they did, regardless of whether he accepted that he was powerless in this case).

      I really don't understand the FSF anymore. "Let's go after the symptoms instead of the disease! Let's divide our own supporters! Let's act like if we just pretend that if DRM isn't an official web-spec, it won't still be a de-facto web-spec!" What difference will any of that make, really? It's a pathetic waste of everyone's time and donation money.

      An excellent point, and there's another one as well that relates to the limits of what he can do.

      What W3C is working on are "technical standards," which is within their realm. The OP speaks of "protection" for security researchers...this is a legal matter, not a technical one. The reason that W3C isn't putting any kind of protection in place for people who find vulnerabilities is that they have no power to do so. You can't say "by using http version 4, you legally agree to not prosecute security research

    • Seriously, he's not a god. He can't stop Google and so on pushing DRM if they want to (which they did, regardless of whether he accepted that he was powerless in this case).

      He can say no.

      I really don't understand the FSF anymore. "Let's go after the symptoms instead of the disease! Let's divide our own supporters! Let's act like if we just pretend that if DRM isn't an official web-spec, it won't still be a de-facto web-spec!" What difference will any of that make, really? It's a pathetic waste of everyone's time and donation money.

      Suppose a few member states of the UN would like to get together and discuss how they can best coordinate the commission of human rights abuses to benefit themselves.

      Since the UN is powerless to do anything about such meetings conducted outside the UN they should allow working group meetings to take place within the UN to facilitate that coordination beeccaause...ummm.... it's.... going to happen anyway.

    • All the same, he should be on the right side of history, instead of the wrong side.
  • Doctorow wants you to know that he knows the difference between "effect" and "affect" and isn't afraid to show it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2017 @11:21AM (#54160333)

    It starts out with media only.

    Then the behavioral tracking companies and advertisers throw hissy fits like the media companies are, to restrict people's ability to locally modify web pages, such as with uMatrix or other tracker blocking technologies. It gets extended to cover the basic presentation of all web page content, not just video, and end users lose control of how they view the web, just as that control is being lost in the mobile space, but worse.

    We've seen a constant slow erosion of our own control over personal computing and a transfer of that control to large corporations, who were never happy about this whole "internet" thing. They want a more TV-like model, where THEY control the presentation, as well as the tracking, and the end user has no control.

    Make no mistake. You let the DRM camel's nose into the official standard's tent, and that IS what we will end up with. You like your ability to block trackers? To control fonts and colors and other local presentation? Your adblockers? Your ability to locally stop scripts from blocking right mouse clicks or cut&paste? If DRM continues to make inroads, you will lose all of that, and more. It will be nothing less than the end of the open web as we knew it.

    Captch: "product".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The open web is doomed and has been doomed the moment corporations set their sights on it. It took years but they conquered it piece by piece, perverting its structure from decentralized to centralized and buying the necessary legislation to eliminate any opposition. We lost and that's it.

    • Your mistake is thinking that this process hasn't already begun, and that by blocking DRM from being a W3C standard, we either stop or slow down this path. If the W3C blocks DRM, it will just end up throwing itself off an out-of-control train of corporate greed.

    • by grumbel ( 592662 ) <grumbel+slashdot@gmail.com> on Sunday April 02, 2017 @01:17PM (#54160667) Homepage

      The loss of control over personal computing and web browsing especially is completely self inflicted in the name of ease-of-use. If Mozilla wanted, they could have build a Freedom browser, but instead they build a crappy Chrome clone and to get a little bit of freedom back you have to install all kinds of third party addons (e.g. even basic things like saving video). It's mind boggling how featureless modern browsers are by default.

      As for the DRM, it's tricky. If there is no standard, you either get no video or you get a proprietary plugin. The lack of a standard doesn't make DRM go away and companies have to problem breaking standards to squeeze DRM in there. I don't like DRM being a standard, but I don't think it will make things worse than they already are. On the plus side, if there is a standard it might be easier to crack.

  • Apple and Google don't care, they'll do what they want. I don't care because I know every type of DRM gets circumvented in the end so they can play their futile game all they want.

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday April 02, 2017 @12:03PM (#54160449)

    I've posted this before [slashdot.org] but...

    If you wish to cause the current system of DRM to implode it's actually really easy, you just need to know how to play by their rules. All you need to do is simulate the CDM plugin environment of Microsoft's Edge browser and package it as a single program that can write the output to an unprotected file. It doesn't even have to output an optimized video file, a raw capture will do. They will be contractually obligated to stop using CDMs because they can no longer meet the standard of the "robustness rules".

    With any other browser, it would mean only that specific browser would be unable to use CDMs but Microsoft isn't about to be left out of the game they helped fix.

  • by knorthern knight ( 513660 ) on Sunday April 02, 2017 @12:03PM (#54160451)

    Anti DRM-circumvention laws were originally enacted to penalize copying of audio and video from physical platforms like CDs and DVDs. When audio and video streaming came to the web, those laws still applied.

    A video store can legally sell a legal copy of a Hollywood movie full of sex and profanity. But if they pay for the copy, edit out the sex and violence, and sell the edited copy, that's illegal. See https://freedom-to-tinker.com/... [freedom-to-tinker.com]

    Now let's apply this to the web. A website puts weak HTML-DRM on its entire webpage, including ads. If you block ads, pupups, autoplaying garbage, etc, to get a cleaned-up webpage, you're subject to prosecution, just like the outfit that sold cleaned-up DVDs. If the web doesn't have built-in DRM, that becomes a lot less likely.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2017 @12:49PM (#54160593)

      Agreed - that is part of the desired outcome of the normalization of DRM technology on the web.

      It is intolerable to certain parties that owners of personal computers got to control what those computers did - which might include blocking their advertising and tracking of every single thing you do. There has been a continual legal and technical assault on that front for decades now, and everyone buying devices that moved control out of their hands are complicit.

      The open internet was a very short duration thing - a few decades at most, and we're at the end of it now. It could never survive the post Eternal September world.

    • What does "freedom to tinker" have to do with the Cleanflicks case? If we're going to have a copyright system at all, in any form whatsoever, then prohibiting the creation of unauthorized derivative works for commercial gain has got to be the #1 item on its agenda.

      I support freedom to tinker with things you own, but you don't own the copyright to the movies you watch. Don't like the content? Fine, make your own.

      • What does "freedom to tinker" have to do with the Cleanflicks case? If we're going to have a copyright system at all, in any form whatsoever, then prohibiting the creation of unauthorized derivative works for commercial gain has got to be the #1 item on its agenda.

        Prohibiting the creation of derivative works is far from the main purpose of a copyright system. If anything, it's a harmful and unintended side-effect, inhibiting rather than encouraging the creation of new (even if not entirely original) creative works. The only thing copyright is supposed to do is ensure that the copyright holder gets paid for any new copies. Copyright is not intended to allow the copyright holder to control how a copy is used once it's been sold; this is the principle commonly known as

        • I support freedom to tinker with things you own, but you don't own the copyright to the movies you watch.

          Pick one.

          Pick one of what? What are you suggesting are the things he should pick from? He's saying he supports the freedom to tinker with things you own and that you don't own the copyright to movies you watch.

          The freedom to tinker—or more generally, the right to use your property as you wish without interfering with others' equivalent rights to use their property—is fundamentally incompatible with copyright.

          No it isn't, copyright relates to distribution and again to the point made above you don't seem to understand it is not your "property".

          Either you are actually free to tinker with the things you own, potentially including using them to make copies of arbitrary data in your possession and giving or selling those copies to others, or a legally privileged class of copyright holders get to decide how you are allowed to use your property despite the fact that your use of your property does not and cannot in any way impede their use of their "property", which is non-rivalrous by nature.

          No. You are free to tinker with things you own so long as you don't violate the rights (including copyrights) of others, it's not that complicated. I'm not sure whether you ge

        • The problem comes in when Cleanflicks sells the resulting copy of the movie under its original title. It's not The Big Lebowski anymore if they edit out all of the F-words. It's something else. Something Cleanflicks didn't have the right to distribute for commercial purposes, or to attribute to the original copyright owner in any way. It's a derivative work, in other words. They're taking 99.9% of someone else's work, bowdlerizing it to create a new product, and selling it under the original title. Th

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      AFAIK there is no "HTML-DRM". EME (the W3C DRM standard) only applies to media, not to the page structure. You can still access to DOM, block HTTP requests and do all the cleanup that ad-blockers do. You may not be able to modify the pictures or videos on the fly (but you could block or replace them). AFAIK, no "webpage cleaner" modifies media.
      Technically what EME (the DRM standard in question) does is that if provides an API for deciphering and displaying protected media. The layout and network part is sti

    • Really? That is fucking WONDERFUL! Because you want to get the masses really REALLY pissed off, enough to demand this shit be taken out back and shot? yeah just kill their pop up blockers and let their PCs get infected with malware while they are assaulted by a bunch of "punch the monkey in the balls and win an iPad!" ads.

      You see THIS is why we really don't have to worry about this because it never fails that their unmitigated greed comes back to bite them in the ass. If you have thought of this I guarant

  • I don't understand the zealotry about blocking a DRM standard. Let's recap the current situation:

    Initially there was no DRM. And no content, except via usenet.

    Then we got Macromedia Flash. Which supported DRM. And content began to appear, along with streaming video.

    Eventually lots of content appeared, some protected via Flash and some not. Audio and TV stations began streaming, DRM-protected by Flash.

    Then Apple (HLS / Fairplay) and Microsoft (Smoothstreaming / PlayReady, including packaged as Silve

    • The vast majority of people are indifferent toward DRM, it has been annoying and a bit clunky in the past and this initiative aims to change that. What that means is consumers are even less bothered by DRM which is not good for the anti-DRM crowd if they are trying to rally support to their cause.

      DRM was annoying and cumbersome so DRM proponents are now addressing that feedback. On the other side of the coin content providers didn't have a mechanism to deliver DRM-free content whilst still being guaranteed

  • by Anonymous Coward

    July 2, 2009 was the day that Tim Berners-Lee abandoned a free and open web.

    https://www.cnet.com/news/an-epitaph-for-the-web-standard-xhtml-2 [cnet.com]

    That was the day that he announced the termination of his XHTML2 standard, and allowed Apple, Google, and others to dictate the HTML5 "standard". (And I place "standard" in scare quotes because it isn't really a standard. In fact, they acknowledge this fact, and prefer to use the deliberately deceptive term living standard [whatwg.org] .)

    The fight against DRM in the HTML standar

  • Seriously, DDOSing a real individual? They've jumped the shark on this one, for sure.
  • With all the shit going on these days, this is what keeps Stallman up at night? What a bunch of privileged dicks.

  • Just don't adopt or support the new web standards. It won't prevent large companies from doing what they want, the only thing it does provide is a guideline to interoperability. If no one enacts web sites to the new standard it has no effect, but having a published standard guides companies towards smooth interoperability and helps prevent wholesale fracturing of the web.
    If everyone's DRM follows a standard, when that is cracked, and it will be, the whole market will fall apart. If every entity arrives at its' own method you will need a hodgepodge of solutions to just navigate and use resources, which leads to a huge effort to maintain and secure from the user side.

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