Google’s DRM proposal

Google turned Evil, along with Netflix has submitted a proposal for Digital Restriction Management for HTML5. I’ve been more or less following the emails, and just saw a great reply by Hixie that I’d like to archive.

Of course, having a DRM «standard» doesn’t make any sense, because you’d need a proprietary plugin anyway – and then we’re straight back to flash! It just doesn’t work.

But as Hixies email made me remember, is that arguing like that will be wrong. Because you’re playing on their field, like DRM should be legitimate at all. But really, Digital Restriction Management has no value and shouldn’t be added even if we could solve the unsolvable cases:

A bit of context, Ian Hickson wrote:

It’s when you’re trying to prevent the user from getting to the content that it stops making any kind of sense.

To which Mark Watson of Netflix replied:

Yes, I understand this does not make any sense to you. But it does to others. It’s a pre-requisite for services like Netflix to use HTML5 instead of plugins.

W3C needs to decide whether to work on making that a possibility, or whether HTML5 is simply not going to be a suitable technology for our segment of the industry, which would be a shame.

And Ian Hickson replied back:

No, Mark. The shame is that people’s rights are being taken away by paranoid content producers who don’t trust their users, and that there are any software engineers willing to do this for them. And shame is absolutely the right word for this.

It is morally wrong to deprive users the ability to time-shift or format-shift content they have paid for.

It is morally wrong to deprive users the ability to reuse content they have paid for purposes of parody.

It is morally wrong to deprive users the ability to criticise content they have paid for.

DRM doesn’t stop copyright violations, and is unnecessary for the purposes of selling media (indeed it seems to actually reduce total sales). The music industry figured this out a few years ago. Your industry will figure it out eventually too.

That’s the true crux of the matter!

BTW, a bit fun that Hixie is also Google, but they’ve allocated resources on this, so the DRM is the corporate direction. Hixie is an employed smart guy.

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