A Battle Rages For The Future Of The Web

from ars technica

The W3C, led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, looks set to standardise DRM-enabling Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) in browsers, a move that betrays the founding principles of the open Web.

When Berners-Lee invented the Web, he gave it away. His employer at the time, CERN, licensed the patents royalty-free for anyone to use. An open architecture that supported the free flow of information for all made it what it is today.

But that openness is under assault, and Berners-Lee’s support for standardising EME, a browser API that enables DRM (digital rights/restrictions management) for media playback, has provoked a raging battle within the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), the organisation that sets the standards for how browsers work.

The stakes could not be higher, to hear both sides tell it. On the one hand, Hollywood is terrified of online piracy, and studios insist that video streaming providers like Netflix use DRM to stop users from pirating movies. On the other hand, a long list of security experts argue that DRM breaks the Web’s open architecture, and damages browser security, with cascading negative effects across the Internet.

As the director of W3C, Berners-Lee shepherds the future of the Web, and is under intense pressure from both camps. While the W3C has no governing power to mandate a solution—in fact, many browsers, including Chrome, ship with EME already—what the W3C does have is TimBL.

And both sides want his blessing.

More here.

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9 Responses to A Battle Rages For The Future Of The Web

  1. Garrett Palmeri February 17, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    The Internet can be considered one if the greatest innovations our society has seen. Most people though do not understand how it works or why you do not buy it. Yes you need to pay for connection to the Internet, but that is like paying for gas for your car. The Internet itself is like the car that you put gas into but you got the car for free. The inventor of the Internet does not collect royalties with each use. This has been the foundation of the Internet, as we know it. Free browsing is an extremely large contributor to its success. The ability to shape and alter the interface of what we view is only one of the advantages to this. The real advantage to creating this free service is the ability to do security research. Security researchers keep public interest in mind while reducing the barriers on the Internet to help improve it. This is all in jeopardy if the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) decides the Internet should be locked down. The W3C is considering implementing digital rights/restrictions management (DRM) through Encrypted Media Extensions (EME).
    DRM is being actively pushed by Hollywood because if movie piracy. Everyone knows how easy it is to bootleg movies either from experience or word of mouth. Most people believe it is a victimless crime because movie producers are merely losing chump change to movie piracy. This is not how Hollywood feels though. To Hollywood, this is an ever-existing problem that sees an opening for a fix. Like the common theme of Hollywood not knowing what they are talking about, the trend continues. DRM would limit copying and sharing any type of information that exists on the Internet. I know many students of all ages that would be very against the limitation of copying material.
    Security researchers are already weary of legitimate research because of the fear of lawsuit according to J.M. Porup. DRM would effectively enforce a standard of code not being able to be audited or even talked about in the security research community. Security research is basically the act of hacking to find holes in systems. It sounds more malicious than it really is. There is a fine line between security research and just hacking for ill intention. The real difference is intent. This can get lost though when companies are found doing things they should not be. DRM would prevent security research from happening because it would become a more strict federal crime to access the information that is blacked out. Hollywood either does not realize the possible overall impact or they do not care.

  2. Owen Balseiro February 17, 2017 at 7:29 pm #

    Ah the internet, the world’s last wild west. Where you can watch any movie, listen to any song and do it all for free because someone put the song or move somewhere online. Understandably, knowing that people can watch their movies, shows and songs for free pisses off a lot of people in Hollywood. But to be honest the amount of money Hollywood losses to pirating is far less than they actually make. Any noise celebrities make about how DRM is necessary is just load crying made so that they can have more money. I think South Park put is best when a character on their show said this about pirating “Man must learn to think of these horrible outcomes before he acts selfishly or else… I fear… recording artists will be forever doomed to a life of only semi-luxury.” And I think that that quote explains the situation perfectly. The people in Hollywood who complain about pirating are just trying to get attention.

    In our current world, we are tracked from everything, you see in when you look for something on amazon and immediately an advertisement for it pops up on facebook. So adding a DRM and making it mandatory for people will only add another thing that can track us on the internet. It goes against everything the internet stands for, openness. The internet is a void where you can find anything you want as long as you’re willing to look hard enough. And that is what is so great about the internet, everything is there in front of you and putting a DRM in front of it. We saw this in the United States several years ago when two bills Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) were put before congress, both were shot down in 2011.It goes to show that people want to protect the openness of the internet, it is what so many of us love about it. And while yes, the openness had lead to problems, almost all of the problems can be mitigated. If we are going to be honest, people are always going to pirate, songs, movies and shows. It is just a fact. But the people that do pirate, are such a small percentage of the population of the internet. It just isn’t worth it to go after them. I think that if hollywood really wanted to solve their piracy problem they should look to video games. Video games have been dealing with privacy for as long as video games were available online. What game developers have been doing for a long time now is putting in anti piracy code into their games to detect whether or not a game is pirated when launched. When triggered the results can anything. From as small as having your character where a pirate eye patch to game breaking effects like drunk camera work on not being allowed to play past a certain point. If Hollywood is serious about the problem of piracy the video game industry looks to be a good role model for how to do it. Because video games don’t have theatres to guarantee a box office nor do they have apps like spotify and itunes. Besides if you really wanted to get a song for free you just have to go to youtube, the artists put it up there themselves.

    The internet is at a fork in its future. One road goes down the openness it has always embraced, free of anymore tracking that is tolerable, the other allows DRM to take it’s roots and add another layer to the monitoring of the people that use it. Who gets to decide what road we take won’t be up to the people who use the internet the most. It has already been a resounding “NO” from them several times. The people who are going to decide are the companies, developers and creators. The people who have to deal with the question the most. Because at the end of the day, it’s them who create the content we enjoy on the internet (mostly for free).

  3. Daniel Alvarez February 17, 2017 at 8:38 pm #

    DRM or digital rights managements is a tricky subject when it comes to the Web. When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in 1989, his purpose was for the openness of information to be as widespread as possible to maximize dissemination. DRM, this article claims, has come to upset the whole purpose of the World Wide Web. It can best be described as the Web taking on a “permission culture” in that every copyrighted digital media must be requested by compensation. A surprising restriction with DRM is the limited use of purchased CD; a CD will be able to be used in a car stereo but nowhere else. The traditional way of buying CD’s and being able to move them between different stereos could be coming to an end. Xbox, has already implemented some of these restrictions. I remember I was able to purchase a game and use on any of my friends Xboxes but that is no longer the case. Those are many of the cons. Some of the pros of DRM is the fact of protecting individual media creations. It gives more copyright rights for the individual creating and or distributing any sort of digital media and stop online piracy. The DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Act which makes a felony to copyright. The DRM can help these efforts. The action in question here is the new software that standardizes DRM-enabling Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) called W3C. The W3C was also invented by Tim Berners-Lee. The Inventor of the World Wide Web has been able to watch his creation grow and the W3C is the feedback. The W3C essentially “enforces a digital black box of code which cannot be audited or looked at or even talked about by security researchers. This poses some dangers as companies can store data and run code on individual computers that they do not have access to. This part is a little disturbing but nothing else seems to be of much concern. In the article it claims that DRM should be illegal. “It means designing a program to work against the user, to harm and restrict the user. It means the product is there to control you.” To that I say the product is not there to control you. The product is created by some other individual who took the time create it and distribute it as has copyright right. If you want to interact with the product you can buy it if you don’t want to then you don’t have to.
    The stance of this page has its roots in the fact that the web has stood as a monument to Tim Berners-Lee vision of a global commons for the free exchange of ideas. If he created the Web he should know more about his creation then the writer of this article but that is just an assumption of mine. There are groups set out to improve browser security and they have been allowed to research without being sued which helps out the users and consumers in every way.

  4. Benjamin Jaros February 17, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

    This article has a lot technical jargon and tech slang in it that was difficult to understand. However, I read it and will do my best to comment on the significance that I gleaned from the article. My disclaimer is this, if I misinterpret something; do not hesitate to comment on my mistake.
    From how I see it DRM would come as a default part of installation on every browser and the user would have no way to get into it. DRM was developed to protect copyright. Further, now DRM wants the endorsement of W3C. However, there are developers that are strongly opposed to it on the grounds that it changes the very open nature of the World Wide Web. “DRM should be a crime,” Stallman tells Ars. “It means designing a program to work against the user, to harm and restrict the user. It means the product is there to control you.”
    I have never heard about this dispute before, however, I am very intrigued to understand why it has received so little media coverage. I mean if the developers against DRM believe that W3C is just endorsing DRM because of donations made to them by Hollywood. “The question here is whether an influential organization should endorse intentional injustice committed by the tech industry to serve Hollywood.”
    Maybe the media is not covering the story as much as it should because of donations made to them by Hollywood. The free press has virtually become a follow the money game. Whoever, is funding the press is controlling what does and does not get reported. There is very little press without a bias in it.
    However, this concept of “lobbying” is not new. The government does it all of the time. However, does it make it right? Certainly not! If W3C is endorsing substantively changing the World Wide Web in order to appease those who have given them donations, they should be strongly and swiftly condemned for these actions. If “Their incentives never perfectly align with creating a technically sound product that focuses on the end-user, because they always have to think about how to raise funds,” there should be repercussion for this kind of corruption.

    Finally, I think we may be living in a post-copyright age. I mean China and other countries, but notoriously China, does not respect international patents on products. If we do not respect the work of others, it does provide and economic benefit to us. However, it attacks the respect and dignity that should be shown to each innovator. These attacks affect innovation and prevent it from occurring. If an inventor knew his invention would be stolen and used by someone else, he would have no incentive for creating it.
    Lastly, these developers against DRM are security researchers. Therefore, their well-being should be in the best interest of Hollywood because their work should in the end benefit Hollywood as well. So it disturbing that Hollywood is opposed to their ability to avoid being sued over their technical work. Anyways, this was a very interesting article and I am intrigued to see how it plays out.

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  7. Sirina Natarajan February 24, 2017 at 8:44 pm #

    Patents and copyrights have always been a tricky business, but with the growth of technology exploding in our society, we need to be wary of information and ideas being stolen and copied immediately after they are thought. This may seem like an exaggeration, but anything put on the worldwide web is open to anyone with an internet connection and a pair of eyes. It has become nearly impossible to keep anything to oneself or to take credit for a person’s own innovation. I see on Twitter every day these accounts that take a popular tweet that was crafted by a witty user and they copy the exact same tweet and get three times the retweets and likes. When it is something like twitter infamy, maybe it is not as important. However, imagine it is a start-up blog who is brainstorming a new way to combine all social media accounts into one app to make checking social media easier. The idea is great and people would use it, but if a huge technology company like Twitter could swoop in and steal the idea. How is this fair for the little guy?
    The article mentions limitations that consumers have to copy and share the information they come across on the internet. It seems so far into the future because the DRM would need to take apart the security in place to put in a new one. This would leave people susceptible to even more privacy issues and would make browsers less safe for the user. DRM would create a standard code for every person’s browse which is both stupid and unsafe. If one person can be hacked, then we can all be hacked. It creates a sort of mysterious string of code that the user does not have access to, but must trust is there to be helpful.
    Netflix and other video sharing companies protect Hollywood from pirated videos and illegal streaming, but that type of security does not need to be applied to everything on the internet. Some things are meant to be shared and, if proper credit is given, they should be allowed to be shared. I am not completely sure what either side is really pushing, but I know it pertains to the security of the browser and of the web. DRM seems very restrictive and that it could limit the access the user has to the web, but EME may not be the best for the internet. Tim Berners-Lee invented the web to enable people. He wanted them to be able to access all of the information on the internet and to be able to put their own information out there. He did not originally intend for such high security, but it seems his opinion has changed. I think security is definitely needed on the web, but if it restricts the users from using the internet for its original purpose, then maybe it is not the best type of security. Perhaps they should adapt a less severe browser so the internet can fulfill its intended purpose.

  8. Filip Bizek February 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    Berners- Lee has truly engraved his name forever in our history books by creating the Web and making it accessible for everyone with a computer. I cannot think of a more significant innovation in recent years. It propelled the whole world to a new era where free flow of information is no longer within the country’s physical borders. The Web created a virtual link between every nation and every person. It is truly extraordinary how it gave rise to so many other innovations whose rise to power would never happen if not for the creator of the internet. Apple’s current success is largely due to the creation of an iPhone and the App store. Uber’s success is because of the App store and the iPhone. The chain goes on and on but every single app and the iPhone itself have the same origin in form of an internet. It is impossible to put enough emphasis on its value to every business, government, and other institutions in the world. Who does not use the internet in today’s world?

    However, as everything else in life, there is a negative and a positive to every story. Introduction of the online world has its consequences. There is a new way for criminals to penetrate walls storing sensitive information. Locks will no longer secure the private premises. The infiltrators became much more sophisticated than we could have ever expect it. They use the Web to steal valuable information form anyone who is connected to the internet. This threat is real and it cannot be put into oblivion state. Let us just take an example from the big companies who just recently became victims to cyber-attacks. In 2014, JPMorgan Chase witnessed the biggest breach in the financial institutions’ history. The data information including addresses, names, telephone numbers, and emails of 83 million homes were compromised through cyber-attacks. This is one of many examples how hackers extort information even form the most powerful business in the United States.

    I believe that the article is right about the Web being potentially a security time bomb in the near future. The issue is not going to go away; it will only get bigger as we progress right along technology. Over the years we have become tremendously dependent on internet and there is no way to stop it. Private business have to combine their forces with the governmental agencies in order to tackle this problem. I do not think there is a way to stop it but there is a way to limit damage done by cyber- attacks. We have to spread the cyber security awareness in order to protect our privacy, which is significantly intertwined with online data storages.

  9. Tianqi Xu October 6, 2017 at 11:31 am #

    In the current era?many people are focusing on the development of science and technology, therefore people pay more and more attention to science knowledge. They may feel that after graduation can be easier to find a job or find a high-paying job. However, the focus of this article is on the art of high-paying jobs. This is a really good news for the art study students.
    In this era of rapid development of robots, the rapid development of electronic products, we have been very difficult to note that those who have nothing to do with science and technology disciplines. Most of the reason is that those disciplines in the people seem to have no substantive significance of course, the most important is the employment difficulties after graduation. Man is a very practical animal. No one will pay the time and energy for something that does not make sense. Everything is for the benefit of everything.
    This article gives seven current art high salaries. When I read these seven professions, I realized a problem, and now society lacks creative people. These jobs are basically to learn to complete, rather than to rely on the machine. When fewer and fewer people work in the field of art, then the art resources are less and less. This is why the wages of these seven jobs are high. This is a very simple economic principle, when the demand increases, the price will increase. The job like marketing manager, the purpose of his or her job is to interoperate with other people. This is a high skill required job. I do not believe robot has the ability to do this job. And, the job of creative director, as it says “creative”. The person who work for it need have creativity mind and this requires a mental activities a lot.
    After reading this article, those who are interested in the art filed can learn art with full heart now, because they can also make money as others. However, the most important is that learn what you like. Do not forget what you really like and do what you like.

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