EME in standards would mount enormous pressure on all free systems

→ comment to On EME in HTML5 by Tim Berners-Lee, taking a social angle to the problems of DRM via EME in web standards.

Dear Tim,

The previous commenters already addressed every technical comment I wanted to add. There is only one aspect I still feel missing here:

If you give EME your blessing, the social pressure on all free software communities to add proprietary blobs in their shipped browsers will rise enormously, because otherwise the proprietary developers will accuse them of not following the standard.

With that weapon in their box, I could even see copyright cartels taking to legal tools to force free software distributions to include their proprietary blobs — because following standards is seen as so important in Europe that programs can be excluded from government tenders when they do not follow specified standards. And while EME does not specify any CDM as part of the standard, that is very easy to hide in the argumentation.

Yes, that would be irony: the ones who always fought against standards suddenly using their interpretation of the standard to expunge programs which do not follow their interests.

But is it actually implausible?

Consider the pressure Microsoft put on the city of Munich to kill off the LiMux project. How much easier would this have been, if some CDMs didn’t and couldn’t run on the free system?

Please stick to the vision of the web and keep EME out of the standard. I can decide not to use an app, and every user can clearly recognize the app as not-the-web. With EME users will instead say that Linux is broken, because it does not play their internet videos. And when confronted with non-playing videos, the site owners will say "your browser does not follow the standard". That argument is in a different league than the current "we bought a non-standard third-party tool which does not support your setup".

in reality the utopian world of people voluntarily paying full price for content does not work — Tim Berners-Lee

This started to work for music once big platforms started to provide DRM-free music which was easy to pay for.

Instead of EME, the web needs a standardized way to pay for content conveniently. Then most people will pay — as they already do for music — because its much easier to simply buy the work and they have much more important things to do with their time than searching for a gratis copy which doesn’t actually give them anything extra. The only use of DRM in HTML is forcing inconvenience on all law-abiding users.

Instead of binding that much energy in a battle about preserving or destroying the freedom of the web, I’d wish the w3c would focus its efforts on a standardized, convenient way to pay.

PS: Also see the Response to Tim Berners-Lee's defeatist post about DRM in Web standards by defective by design.

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