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DRM The Internet

An Open Letter on DRM To the Inventor of the Web, From the Inventor of Net Neutrality ( 46

Tim Wu, a law professor at the Colombia University, and best known for coining the term "net neutrality," has published an open letter to Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web and director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). In the letter, Wu has asked Berners-Lee to "seriously consider extending a protective covenant to legitimate circumventers who have cause to bypass EME, should it emerge as a W3C standard." Cory Doctorow, writes for BoingBoing: But Wu goes on to draw a connection between the problems of DRM and the problems of network discrimination: DRM is wrapped up in a layer of legal entanglements (notably section 1201 of America's Digital Millennium Copyright Act), which allow similar kinds of anticompetitive and ugly practices that make net neutrality so important. This is a live issue, too, because the W3C just held the most contentious vote in its decades-long history, on whether to publish a DRM standard for the web without any of the proposed legal protections for companies that create the kinds of competing products and services that the law permits, except when DRM is involved. As Wu points out, this sets up a situation where the incumbents get to create monopolies that produce the same problems for the open web that network neutrality advocates -- like Berners-Lee -- worry about.
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An Open Letter on DRM To the Inventor of the Web, From the Inventor of Net Neutrality

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    When we look at recent browser usage stats [] we see that Chrome has 50% or more of the market. Safari has about 10%, but it's mainly on mobile devices. Other mobile browsers like UC Browser for Android, Samsung Internet and Opera Mini are about 15%. IE and Firefox are both down to around 5% or 6%. Then there are various minor players.

    "Web browser" today means Chrome. If Chrome doesn't support some web technology, then it may as well not exist. If Chrome supports a technology, then Chrome's level of support ef

    • by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @11:54AM (#54320113)
      It is possible to move away from Chrome, it is harder to do so from W3C.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      When we look at recent browser usage stats we see that IE6 has 90% or more of the market. Safari has about 0%, becase it doesn't exist yet. Other browsers like Netscape Navigator Gold exist I think.

      "Web browser" today means IE6. If IE6 doesn't support some web technology, then it may as well not exist. If IE6 supports a technology, then IE6's level of support effectively defines the standard.

      So what's the point of the W3C these days?

      Is it just to document how IE6 behaves, so the other lesser browser vendors

  • If there is a case for supporting DRM, then clearly there is even better case for embedding support for violence. For example, someone moderated your post on ./ at -1? Use

    <a violence={moderation != +1}> Kaaapoow! </a>

    in your post.

  • by 605dave ( 722736 ) on Friday April 28, 2017 @11:51AM (#54320087) Homepage

    These are legit concerns, but they will never win the argument. Yes the example given is the problem with DRM, but it is so specific that there will be no mass uprising to protect it. And having DRM built in does scare me. Imagine not being able to take a screenshot of something on a webpage, or being prevented from copying text from an article. All of this could be done with DRM.

    That being said I am hoping we have enough of an open browser system now to avoid the chokepoint issue. There are several open rendering engines that browsers can use, so there will always be an alternative to the IE problem. Those browsers can support DRM while still insuring the rest of the web stays open. In a way I think the market will show that DRM taking over the web won't work. It's tolerated on videos because everyone came to the same conclusion as Tim.

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      From the technical point of view, this DRM effort is doomed. The client is in the hands of the enemy, so DRM effort is dead on arrival. Therefore, this is about legality - not about what can be done, but about what is legal to do.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Problem is: people were making that same argument about game based DRM, and some console DRMs were decades before they were cracked, even with the hardware "in the hands of the enemy".

        And even if it is, that quickly gets too complex for 99.999% of people, who will be bound by whatever the DRM wants.

        This isn't about media files. It's about who gets to control the local machine. It's always been the end user. We're now seeing a grab over that power.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          And even if it is, that quickly gets too complex for 99.999% of people, who will be bound by whatever the DRM wants.

          So they turn to piracy. DRM is a hassle, and piracy makes the hassle be someone else's problem.

          And if you've tried pirating in the last few years, you probably know by now that it's no hassle at all. Piracy is the easiest thing to do; easier than paying. If people had to pay more (instead of less) to pirate, they'd do it. The players are nicer, the UIs are better, the selection is wider, and

        • by Altrag ( 195300 )

          There's an enormous difference between console DRM and PC DRM -- the console DRM was built into the hardware. Unless this new standard somehow forces computers (including all pre-existing computers) to include/install a hardware chip of some sort, the cracking potential is significantly easier.

          Heck even with some sort of hardware dongle, PC cracking is significantly easier as the post-DRM output still goes through unsecured parts of the machine. That was the problem the whole "disk-to-screen" DRM system t

  • What is Berners-Lee going to do? Incorporate these changes into his next release of the interwebs?

    • It's not at all clear to me what the author is asking Berners-Lee and W3C to do. The issue he brings up is a concern with a particular law. W3C doesn't write the law. Html EME defines a technical interface for "if you want a browser to use an encryption module, here's the code to declare that". It doesn't, and can't, effect any law in any way I can see.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I for one cannot wait for the DRM standard to be expanded to cover the entire contents of web pages, so it becomes extremely difficult to block advertising, trackers, web-asm based malware, or do something as simple as "right click" on an image and "save as".

    Fun for all!

    Captcha = boycott

  • "Tim Wu, a law professor at the Colombia University"

    Pretty sure Tim Wu is a professor at Columbia University, not "Colombia" university. "Columbia" is the personification of the New World, while "Colombia" is a country in South America.

  • Why do people think that if there isn't a standard for DRM, that websites won't use DRM at all?
    All it means is that websites will write their own version, some already have.
    • All [no standard] means is that websites will write their own version, some already have.


      Also: In the race between weapons and armor, weapons always (eventually) win.

      By creating a standard and getting the bulk of the "content providers" to adopt it, the WWWC creates a single big target that leads to breaking MOST of the DRM simultaneously. Meanwhile, content providers are left with the choice of getting behind the big target or being non-standard.

      Which is fine: Like WEP, or a locked screen door, D

  • Universal Embedded DRM would kill the social networks dead overnight. Just watch the titans fight it out. If the social networks lose, you can always spin up your own site with no DRM, standardized or not. Just be prepared to pay the new ISP toll.

    History has proven over and over DRM is not a long term solution to anything. I'm kinda looking forward to the cat-mouse-mouse games between the rights-holders, social networks, and users. Maybe I'll make a few bucks "modding" browsers.

    I swear, every couple of year

  • Richard M. Stallman (rms, widely known as the founder of the GNU Project [] and frequent lecturer speaking for software freedom [], the freedom to control one's computers by having the freedom to run, inspect, share, and modify the code they run) explained why the W3C can't get away from DRM [] ("digital handcuffs []") starting around 11m40s into the interview. Around 15m16s rms pointed out why the W3 is structurally incapable of challenging DRM:

    He [Tim Berners-Lee] should handle it by saying 'no' but he can't, really,

When someone says "I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done," give him a lollipop.