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W3C Sides With DRM as HTML5 gets Encrypted Media Extensions

Posted by: , 17:44 AEST, Tue May 14, 2013

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The W3C HTML Working Group officially adopts Encrypted Media Extensions, paving the way for DRM to be added to HTML5 videos
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Image/Photo Credit: Defective By Design

Despite widespread concerns and protests, the consortium responsible for managing web standards has chosen to add Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) to the HTML5 standard. EME will allow for a standardized way to add DRM to HTML5 based videos, something that a coalition of tech leaders including Google, Netflix and Microsoft had petitioned for.

While EME does not handle the actual the encryption process or the actual Digital Rights Management system, it will allow third-party plug-ins to be officially supported by HTML5 videos.

The W3C said that the decision to give the go ahead to EME ironically largely fell upon their desire to ensure the future of the open web. The alternative, they say, would not be a web without DRM protected videos, but rather, those videos being served using proprietary and closed off systems.

W3C Chief Executive Jeff Jaffe explained the decision: "There is going to be protected content on the Web. We should we have one Web with as much commonality as possible where one is able to access free content as well as protected content. The other approach is to say if someone wants to have DRM content, that should be its own walled garden, cordoned off. We don't want the Web to be a bunch of cordoned-off apps."

This move should eventually ween the web off the use add-ons such as Flash or Silverlight, which in recent times have become an increasingly problematic barrier to standardization efforts, particular on portable devices. For example, Apple's iOS and the most recent incarnation of Android do not support Flash, which has meant that specialized apps has had to be developed for each platform to transmit copy protected videos.

Digital rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation expressed their disappointment of the decision on Twitter. "Shame on the W3C: today's standards decision paves the way for DRM in the fabric of the open web," the tweet stated.


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