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[liberationtech] WC3 and DRM

Catherine Roy ecrire at
Tue Jul 16 22:27:27 PDT 2013

Hi Jonathan,

On 2013-07-16 02:04, Jonathan Wilkes wrote:
> Hi Catherine,
> Thanks for the link!  I didn't know about that effort until now.
> It seems like there are two fronts-- one, which you address by 
> jettisoning EME in freedomhtml, and another which is to keep member 
> organizations from standardizing software/hardware on EME. Is there 
> any way for the current members of all the working groups to put 
> pressure on the WC3?  If they all banded together and threatened to 
> leave would that have any effect on the administration?  It's only 
> anecdotal evidence but I see a lot of articulate arguments against EME 
> in the archives I've looked over, and no principled stances in favor.

If I am not mistaken, W3C is a private consortium, their operations are 
mostly funded[1] by their member organisations via membership fees[2], a 
significant part of which comes from their corporate members[3]. It has 
been brought up more than once on the Restricted Media Community Group 
mailing list (a group btw, that has no power over the EME draft aside 
from discussing it and exploring alternatives) that W3C is technically 
only accountable to its members and this argument has not been disputed 
by W3C staff.

As you know, Google, Microsoft and Netflix are the editors of the EME 
spec so I think that is pretty significant. Mr. Jaffe has argued for the 
need of "content protection" while basically denying[4] that W3C is 
working on DRM and while technically, that may be true[5], the fact 
remains that EME is being developed to interact with DRM components.  It 
has been argued that the only way to beat this is to join it or in other 
words, propose another technical solution that will satisfy "premium 
content" distributors. But if discussions on the restricted media list 
are any indication, this is unlikely to happen if that solution involves 
accomodating open source systems.

At this point, I can not see anything that will change the situation 
despite overwhelming opposition. Personally, I doubt W3C will be 
deterred from "process" (because W3C is all about process) and we can 
probably expect more formal objections where process allows and 
meanwhile, EME is being implemented regardless that it is for the moment 
only a First Public Working Draft and a very controversial one at that.

> Also, has the EFF's formal objection had any effect?

To my knowledge, no information has yet been made public regarding the 
outcome of this formal objection. There has been a second formal 
objection filed that is also awaiting resolution [6].

> It's just all mind boggling to me because this draft is the only thing 
> I've ever seen from WC3 with the sole purpose of restricting people's 
> access to content.

While that may be true, I would add that regarding HTML5 accessibility 
for people with disabilities, it has been an uphill battle since the 
very start to ensure the inclusion of certain attributes and some losses 
have been incurred along the way. So I would say that in reality, this 
could well have the effect in terms of restricting access to content.

Best regards,



Catherine Roy

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