Thursday, May 15, 2014

DRMed To Hell: All Browsers, Including Firefox, Will Soon Include Digital Rights Management For Most Powerful Content Providers

Your web browser... no matter who provides it... will soon include sealed, proprietary code supporting display (playing) of Hollywood movies delivered in proprietary secret locked formats. The best explanation I've found is Danny O'Brien's article at EFF, Can This Web Be Saved? Mozilla Accepts DRM, and We All Lose, and following and reading just about all the links.

The browser vendors, most especially Mozilla, pretty much agree that a) integrated, proprietary DRM is contrary to the spirit of the Web to this point, and b) the pressure from the largest proprietary content providers (read: Hollywood and the sound recording industry) makes it inevitable that content will be delivered in formats that allow the content providers control over who has the right to view/play the digital content they own, and under what circumstances... and that web browsers will be cluttered with proprietary code for policing access to those formats. Even the stodgy W3C has yielded, specifying something called EME (Encrypted Media Extensions) that allow the addition of DRM modules to the emerging HTML5. Major browser vendors are reluctantly going along.

In short: "Everybody knows that the war is over; Everybody knows the good guys lost." (Hmm... that line is Leonard Cohen's; I wonder if I'm violating his publisher's digital rights...)

Expect browser upgrade installations to become your worst nightmare. Expect outright pitched battles with content providers over your right to view the digital movie you just purchased viewing rights to, when the rights management process goes awry. Expect more multimillion-dollar lawsuits from the movie and sound recording industries against 10-year-old kids. Oh, and expect one more thing. Expect successful copyright violations, some by those 10-year-olds, some by slightly older kids. DRM will be devastatingly disruptive... and ultimately ineffective.

What can you do?

Not much. My solution is to boycott the industries pushing this nightmare. (No doubt Stella will personally make up for my decrease in consumption of videos and sound. But even she checks out videos from the library a lot lately.) I haven't stolen a sound recording or video for well over 40 years, and since the DRM wars started, I have cut back my purchase of new videos to one or two a year... gifts for friends who expect them. In the old days it was not unusual for me to buy 100-200 CDs a year. Apparently the only thing the bastards understand is their lust for geld, so that's where I'll hit 'em. No, of course they won't notice.

You may notice, though, if the number of graphics I publish here decreases markedly. What can I say but "So it goes." Oh, wait; the estate of Kurt Vonnegut may sue me for that...


  1. How the Web's Fast Lanes Would Work Without Net Neutrality:
    Net Neutrality an Oxymoron as FCC Decides Winners and Losers:

    1. Thanks, Enfant. The Bloomberg article was helpful. Unfortunately I don't have a WSJ subscription.

      There seems to be no realization on Wheeler's and the FCC's part that the Internet is fundamentally different from any other big corporation. But what can one expect from a former telecom CEO.

  2. Easy:
    Find: How the Web's Fast Lanes Would Work Without Net Neutrality via google, as I my self always do!!!!
    No need to subscribe!

    1. Thanks! Didn't know that trick! The article is excellent, as WSJ's usually are, except for their opinion pieces. %-p



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