Techdirt reports on the controversy over making Digital Rights Management (DRM) part of the Web’s very makeup by adding support for Encrypted Media Extensions to HTML-5.
In the article titled DRM In HTML5: What Is Tim Berners-Lee Thinking? Techdirt points out that…
Rather ironically, given the fact that EME may well lead to the official closing-down of much of the open Web, Tim Berners-Lee has recently written an article entitled “The many meanings of Open”, which included the following section:
The W3C community is currently exploring Web technology that will strike a balance between the rights of creators and the rights of consumers. In this space in particular, W3C seeks to lower the overall proprietary footprint and increase overall interoperability, currently lacking in this area.
The article concludes with these words:
Perhaps the W3C should worry less about its own position and more about the users it claims to put first. After all, the net effect of creating an official standard for interoperable DRM will be to make it easier for copyright companies to adopt it — there won’t even be the present barriers and friction caused by incompatible ad-hoc systems that might make them think twice about adding it. Instead, it is likely to become the default on most online products, placing more obstacles in the way of fair-use rights of users, particularly those who are visually-impaired, who will find it harder to access these materials at all if such DRM becomes commonplace.
So it looks like, for all the talk about openness, we are likely to have less free access to information (and content) as the Web develops.
An interesting, highlighted comment on that article puts the emphasis on connectivity rather than (protected) content, with these words:
IT’S THE CONNECTIVITY, STUPID!
What drives the Internet is not content, but connectivity. There were other online networks before the Internet–anybody remember Compuserve, Prodigy, the original AOL? Their selling point was their exclusive content, which you couldn’t get on the Internet. Yet they were all swept aside, simply because the Internet offered better connectivity between people.
The Internet doesn’t need content providers. It is content providers that need the Internet.