DRM coming to HTML

Not for nothing, but I finished the final bits of the data migration from ExpressionEngine — a full 20 years of work — to WordPress just as WordPress was turning 10 years old. Also not for nothing, the HTML Working Group has decided to publish a First Public Working Draft of the Encrypted Media Extension (EME) specification. This HTML5 extension, if implemented, will bring digital rights management (DRM) to the hypertext markup language, the underpinnings of the web.

The only upside is that proprietary plugins like Flash and Silverlight will be obsolete. Well, more obsolete. In their place will be a set of application programming interfaces (APIs) that permit HTML (and JavaScript) to communicate with various DRM implementations.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Free Software Foundation (FSF), and others have campaigned vigorously against the continued development of the EME specification.

This is a clear signal that the working group — comprised of the usual corporate suspects ranging from Apple and Adobe to Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla — will, come hell or high water, include what it calls “content protection” in the markup language.

While reasonable people can disagree about the merits of DRM, the notion that it will be baked into the very core infrastructure of publishing on the web is way, way out of bounds and — on its face — a direct violation of the World Wide Web Consortium‘s (W3C) key objective of maximizing interoperability and openness.

This should come as no surprise to anyone as the corporations who have infested the W3C and its working groups have made clear their intention to rebottle the web genie as quickly, efficiently, and quietly as possible. Once a working group has been chartered within the W3C, it has supposed autonomy. But when the working group is populated almost solely by corporate representatives representing solely their respective corporate interests, well, just what did you expect? The EME specification was challenged directly, and the W3C director found that work on the extension was within the scope of the HTML Working Group’s charter.

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