Creator of the World Wide Web, and director of the web standards body World Wide Web Consortium, Tim Berners-Lee has backed measures to add Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) to HTML5.
The EME would provide APIs which connect to Content Decryption Modules (CDMs). The CDM could perform certain checks, for example: a particular browser, operating system, hardware or user authentication before playing media on a web page. This lead to free software advocates including the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Free Software Foundation to argue that the specification plays to the financial interest of movie studios and tech giants, along with placing restrictions on how individuals can use the internet.
Earlier this year a letter from a consortium of 27 groups opposing the EME said the specification would “harm interoperability, enshrine non-free software in W3C standards and perpetuate oppressive business models”. Earlier this week it was revealed that Berners-Lee himself had rejected calls for the W3C to recant its support for embedding the “playback of protected content” in HTML, a goal which was set in the proposed W3C HTML Working Group Charter.
“There were various concerns by the EFF and individuals about the charter including playback of protected content within its scope,” a W3C posting from earlier this week read, in part. “While we remain sensitive to the issues related to DRM and usage control, the director reconfirmed his earlier decision that the ongoing work is in scope,” a W3C posting this week read, in part.
In an interview with ZDNet earlier this year, CEO of W3C Dr Jeff Jaffe said it was necessary to back the use of DRM to help prevent a scenario where movie studios would remove their films from the web in an effort to protect them from piracy,” Jaffe said, in part. “We’re not going to standardise proprietary DRM systems, but on the other hand we don’t want it to be excluded from the web platform. The compromise is a set of open APIs that give a standard framework to bring in this content via plug-in, but where we don’t standardise the plug-in.”
The EFF has reacted to Berners-Lee’s decision regarding the EME, saying it was “deeply disappointed”.
“That breaks a-perhaps until now unspoken-assurance about who has the final say in your web experience, and indeed who has ultimate control over your computing device,” the EFF wrote, in part. It also pledged its continued efforts to alleviate the effects of Berners-Lee’s decision: “EFF is still a W3C member, and we’ll do our best to work with other organizations within and without the consortium to help it fight off the worse consequences of accepting DRM. But it’s not easy to defend a king who has already invited its attackers across his moat.”