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DRM and W3C Standards: Will the Web Stay Open?

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DRM and W3C Standards: Will the Web Stay Open?

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A recent article from Danny O'Brien at the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported that the proposed Encrypted Media Extension (EME), which focuses on the protection of video content, could potentially be incorporated into W3C's HTML5.1 standard. According to O'Brien, the inclusion of the EME will encourage expanded use of DRM-locked content, as well as open doors for a wide range of restrictive DRM-centered movements, which may lead to a far less open web.

We're deeply disappointed. We've argued before as to why EME and other protected media proposals are different from other standards . By approving this idea, the W3C has ceded control of the "user agent" (the term for a Web browser in W3C parlance) to a third-party, the content distributor. That breaks a—perhaps until now unspoken—assurance about who has the final say in your Web experience, and indeed who has ultimate control over your computing device.
- Danny O'Brien

While some of the possibilities O'Brien suggests are scary, he also provides a number of caveats. One imagines a web where DRM is championed over openness, and anything from text to images is inaccessible outside of the content provider's intended method of consumption, but some may argue that it's a fallacious slippery slope and there really isn't much to worry about.

Check out the full article and see what you think. Is there cause for alarm, or have Silverlight and Flash, for example, already ushered in the full extent of DRM-locked content?

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