back to article Mozilla CTO blasts WC3 plans to bless anti-piracy DRM tech in HTML5

The co-founder and CTO of Mozilla Brendan Eich has issued a strongly worded statement decrying moves by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to allow digital rights management plugins to be included in the specifications for HTML5 and future code iterations. Last year Microsoft, Google and Netflix submitted a proposal to web …


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  1. Schultz Silver badge

    Mission creep

    W3C should stay out of the DRM business and instead focus on maintaining open internet standards. If companies insist on DRM, then they should carry the burden to convince their customers that DRM is in their best interest and they should carry the burden of developing a convincing solution.

    Companies want to wall off their portions of the internet? No need to offer standardized fences.

    1. Thorne

      Re: Mission creep

      DRM has worked so well stopping piracy in the past, I can see why they want to make it a standard.....

      F@#king morons!

      All DRM does is stop people from using legal content easily and thus turn to piracy as it's easier. The idiots can't even agree on a DRM model so your browser will end up with a dozen DRM plugins

  2. dan1980

    No, thanks

    I usually support Berners-Lee but in this instance he is wrong.

    His, and the W3C's position amounts to: shoot yourself in the foot before someone else shoots you in the chest.

    If it's all the same to Google, Netflix et al, fuck right off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No, thanks

      Well, which would you rather be? Footless or DEAD? Because you're going to be shot either way and there's no escaping it. The Web needs the content but the content doesn't need the Web. If Big Media doesn't embrace the web, odds are they'll marginalize it. Already, a lot of the Internet's traffic flows through a number of big-name portals. If Big Media create the Next Big Thing, it'll probably be something proprietary that everyone flocks to, risking the Web going the way of Gopher.

      1. Killraven

        Re: No, thanks

        I have to disagree. The Web has plenty of content already. New content needs the Web or it will simply be ignored. If owners of new content want the attention of the web, then they need to play by the web's rules, not change the rules to suit them. Big Media already tried marginalizing the web once, back in 1999 with Napster, and see what happened?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: No, thanks

          But that was only the MUSIC industry. Music is easy to pass through the Interwebs. Even a near-audiophile-quality song of five minutes can be passed through modern pipes in seconds. Movies, OTOH, is are and will likely always be BIG. A one-hour clip of 1080p footage runs at least 2GB at any decent quality. Furthermore, the movie companies are much bigger and more stubborn than their music counterparts. Not only do they have more skin in the game (compare the average movie budget to that of the average album) but they also have more alternatives, many of which take precedence over the web (most of their revenue, for example, comes from the box office). They're the ones pushing for a locked-down 4K video standard, and they DO have the audacity (and the leverage) to keep PCs out of the loop entirely this time. They are insisting on purpose-built devices exclusively with complete, to-the-metal, and updateable chains of trust or they won't put their movies out for people to see. So in their view, either the web can play by their rules, or they can go back to the box office and wait for 4K to establish itself before really re-entering the home video market.

          1. Killraven

            Re: No, thanks

            Some valid points, certainly, but while it was the music industry's failures to embrace the digital world that sparked the file-sharing revolution, that revolution also engulfed the world of video as well. The industry has tried to sink their claws into the world of Blu-Ray with all sorts of DRM meant to make watching Blu-Ray videos difficult and annoying, but all that's done is give file-sharers a bit more fuel for their fires. How that effects the potential new market for 4K remains to be seen, but Pirate Bay enthusiasts aren't likely to be bothered by the extra bandwidth it'll take to transfer files even 10x their current sizes. That's if 4K manages to not go the way of 3D.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: No, thanks

              But what about these tight data allowances we're seeing of ISPs? And with no trunk investment, these limits aren't likely to go up anytime soon. BluRay had some flawed implementations which are leaving some things open, although the use of BD+ (which is updateable) is slowing down the piracy rate for the new releases.

              So this time, they're taking no chances. NO digital copy capability whatsoever, and given the extent of today's cryptoprocessors and busses, this time they have a fighting chance. Cryptoprocessors with keys in OTP XOM memory so they can't be read (and likely with suicide mechanisms if someone tries to decap it),, hardware-based chains of trust, and serialized discs using technique akin to the BluRay ROM-Mark. There ARE some chains of trust that have yet to be broken, this IN SPITE of lots of motivation to break them, so there DOES appear to be a right way of doing this.

              Another thing they'll probably do is make the movies too large to move over the Internet. Imagine a 4K movie that ran at least 100GB of not 400GB. That'll be bigger by itself than most users' data allowances. And the only way to make them fit would be to reduce the quality so much it's not worth it anymore, which (like with exploiting the analogue gap) is possibly acceptable or at least less of a concern to the movie companies.

              1. dan1980

                Re: No, thanks

                @Charles 9

                Regarding data caps, I can't speak for everyone but over here in Australia we've had them for as long as we've have Internet access and if you believe the rattlings of media companies and lobby groups, we manage to 'pirate' quite ably.

  3. Sebastian A

    No surprises here

    Bought and paid for, millions spent by the parties that stand to gain the most. Parties that stand to lose (consumers) have no say. Welcome to the modern world of UltraCapitalism, where nothing is illegal and anything can be done, *if* you have the required funds.

  4. Forget It





  5. Thorne

    Get over it and accept anti-piracy tech

    As long as the media companies accept that piracy is here to stay......

  6. RISC OS

    Given that the W3C are involved...

    ... I guess we still have 30 odd years until it becomes a standard

  7. Alan Denman

    Exactly right - the proposal is a mess.

    "But the he feels W3C is making a major mistake in not specifying the exact form of DRM that can be used, which could leave browser manufacturers having to deal with competing and possibly incompatible systems."

    If the web is to stay healthy they simply need a standard. Even if that is Silverlight 'opened up' , then at last everyone meets in the middle.

    Then of course, 'that bag of hurt' will be less and thus save the web for walled in Apple users too.

  8. RyokuMas Silver badge

    MIxed opinions...

    On one hand, I hate the abuse of DRM, especially by the big players in the market...

    On the other hand, though - I am a developer. I put a lot of time and effort into the applications I make, especially the mobile games I create off my own back, as opposed to "work". And while these games are a labour of love, websites, developer tools and accounts etc. are not free.

    Therefore, I want to be able to protect my hard work, so that when I do decide to put a small charge against something, the chances of some toerag cracking it and sticking pirated free versions out on the web - or worse, swapping out the graphics and re-publishing under their own name - are minimized.

    It's the reason why it's only recently I've started looking at Android versions of my games. I wanted to port to iOS, and thanks to Monogame, the additional effort of deploying on the 'droid is minimal - just like the return I'm expecting from that platform.

    And it's also one of the reasons that I won't even consider HTML5/Javascript games - not only do I find Javascript a horrendous language to program in, but the accessibility of the raw source is makes it just not worth it - takes me back to the early 8-bit days where games were written in BASIC and with with minimal effort you could break into the code and just hack about.

    So I guess I do want to see something on the web to protect the developer - exactly what that solution is and how it is implemented... that's another matter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MIxed opinions...

      RyokuMas, sorry, I forgot, I owe you a living, let me bend over and take the DRM.

      While you're at it, why not put a stake through my foot into the lawn so you know where I am, you don't want me lending my device to anyone.

      1. RyokuMas Silver badge

        Re: MIxed opinions...

        @AC 9:32am - *sigh* Never said that DRM was the solution, just said a solution is required.

        And yes, if you're using software that I have spent the time designing and developing and then decided to charge for, you do owe me a living - or at least the price I decided to charge for said software. Same as you expect to be paid for any job of work you do, or anything you might make and then sell.

        Or - let me guess - you're one of these freetards who believes that because you're paying for the device and data, everything you download should be free. And probably live off state handouts too.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: a solution is required

          You do know about Minecraft, don't you ?

          No DRM, no protection in any way, pirated six ways to Sunday and yet, the developer made millions out of it because fans were willing to pay for something they could (and still can) copy.

          If it's good, people WILL pay for it. Those who don't never would have anyway.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: a solution is required

            Funny that. The developer of "World of Goo" took an entirely different perspective on the same issue, and he was even able to quantify the level of piracy he had: somewhere around 90%, and this supposedly accounting for dynamic IPs and the like.

          2. RyokuMas Silver badge

            Re: a solution is required

            Yes, and I also know about Angry Birds - and the numerous other titles Rovio had beforehand.

            Here's a link, in case you haven't:

            But Rovio got lucky, getting external investment. If they hadn't, would Angry Birds ever have seen the light of day? I don't know.

            The point is, Minecraft is a one-in-a-million occurance where a developer hit it big first time.

            How many great games that we know today would not have existed had the studios that made them not gained any revenue from prior titles?

            Moreover, Minecraft is very distinctive, making it very difficult for others to make their own versions based on hacking-and-changing. If you saw two games of the same genre, but one was at a lower price or free and had reviews saying "better than [paid title] and free!" - which would you download?

            It's not about pandering to the big, bad media corporations that use DRM to squash people's freedoms, it's about protecting the creativity of start-ups to help ensure that the market does not stagnate.

            1. fung0

              Re: a solution is required

              "The point is, Minecraft is a one-in-a-million occurance where a developer hit it big first time."

              Minecraft is far from the only example. It's just the most over-the-top lucrative one, so far.

              "How many great games that we know today would not have existed had the studios that made them not gained any revenue from prior titles?"

              Nobody is arguing against software creators getting paid. But history does not guarantee immortality to any one business model. The old model where you could sell exactly one product to one consumer broke when the 'cost of manufacture' and 'cost of distribution' dropped to zero. That world is gone, and DRM won't bring it back. The only option is to move forward and evolve new business models. Crippling new, transformative technologies has never worked.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: a solution is required

                Actually, it IS possible to stifle innovation if one has enough money and/or influence to make the environment too hostile, if not squelch it directly by obtaining it for the sake of destroying it. That's one of the things we're seeing with the patent system these days, particularly in regards to fast-moving industries.

                Also, consider that your consumers WON'T LIKE any other business model you try, like Microtransactions or Subscriptions. What happens if you're hemmed in: your existing models are sinks and any new ones are too unpopular to implement? Your only options left are to (a) give up and go home or (b) find a way to knock one or the other back into shape.

  9. pip25

    DRM plugins?

    What happened to the brave new plugin-less HTML5 world? Does this mean that Apple and Microsoft will do a 180 degrees turn on their current mobile/TIFKAM browser policies? And let's not get started on the potential problems caused by the numerous platforms one can use to access web content today... Will DRM plugins be ported to all platforms? Android? iOS? Linux...? I highly doubt it.

    Either I'm fundamentally misunderstanding something here, or this DRM proposal goes against each and every trend on the web today, a fact that becomes even more baffling when one looks at the companies pushing for it.

  10. phil dude

    lateral thinking..

    When i first read about this i thought this may have another application...

    How about DRM instead of being content managment (which is what THEY wany), how about it becomes about PROCESS management. Which bits of code can run where, and more importantly what memory they can access?

    It may be a sane way of adding some permissions control to otherwise unregulated process proliferation...

    I think I am trying to suggest better sandboxes...?


    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: lateral thinking..

      The problem with sandboxing is that SOMETHING has to be OUTSIDE the sandbox to act as a guard (usually the process that created the sandbox in the first place, such as the Java runtime). That means a malicious process can take a shot in the dark, hook the outside process, and escape the sandbox. This is the same mentality behind the "Ring -1" attack (attempting to hijack a VM hypervisor from inside the VM): the hypervisor has to interact with the VM--attack through that.

      Basically, no airgap is going to be 100% effective. You have to be able to communicate across the airgap or it's useless, and as Stuxnet showed, a very determined adversary can find a way to attack across the airgap.

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