[A2k] Coalition letter urges W3C to keep the Web free

Frederic Couchet fcouchet at april.org
Thu Apr 25 01:58:20 PDT 2013

Dear all,

International coalition of Internet freedom organizations urges W3C to
reject Encrypted Media Extensions, a proposal to build Digital
Restrictions Management into the Web

Read this online at: http://www.fsf.org/news/coalition-against-drm-in-html

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 -- Today a
coalition of twenty-seven organizations released a joint letter to the
World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the Web's standards-setting body,
condemning Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). EME is a proposal to
incorporate support for Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) -- the
systems used by media and technology companies to restrict watching,
sharing, recording, and transforming digital works -- into HTML, the
core language of the Web.

The coalition opposing EME includes the Free Software Foundation (FSF)
and its sister organizations FSF Europe, Latin America, and India; the
Electronic Frontier Foundation; Creative Commons; Fight for the Future;
Open Knowledge Foundation; Free Culture Foundation; April; Open
Technology Institute; and several chapters of the Pirate Party. In the
letter (full text of which is visible at
http://www.defectivebydesign.org/sign-on-against-drm-in-html), these
organizations lay out their reasons for opposing EME, and encourage
principled Web users to sign Defective by Design's petition against DRM
in HTML at http://www.defectivebydesign.org/no-drm-in-html5. On May 3rd,
the International Day Against DRM, the Defective by Design campaign
plans to hand-deliver 50,000 petition signatures to the W3C's Cambridge,
Massachusetts, office.

The letter argues that "DRM restricts the public's freedom, even beyond
what overzealous copyright law requires," and warns that for the W3C,
"ratifying EME would be an abdication of responsibility; it would harm
interoperability, enshrine nonfree software in W3C standards and
perpetuate oppressive business models. It would fly in the face of the
principles that the W3C cites as key to its mission and it would cause
an array of serious problems for the billions of people who use the

EME is sponsored by a handful of powerful companies who are W3C members,
like Microsoft, Google, and Netflix. These companies have been promoting
DRM both for their own reasons and as part of their close relationships
to major media companies.

In order for watching, sharing, recording, and transforming media to be
restricted, computer users must be prevented from modifying the plug-in
software used to view the media (otherwise people would modify the
software to remove the restrictions). This makes DRM by nature
incompatible with free "as in freedom" software. The letter argues that
by enshrining nonfree software in HTML itself, EME would comparatively
diminish the values of freedom, self-actualization and decentralization
so critical to the Web as we know it.

FSF executive director, John Sullivan, said, "Building DRM hooks into
HTML is another attempt by Hollywood and its friends to gain control
over our home and mobile computers in order to restrict the way we use
media on the Web. DRM turns these companies into gatekeepers capable of
filtering and controlling not just movies and music but also educational
materials -- anything digital. The FSF and its partners won't allow
these companies to sneak this change into the Web's core language. We
want the World Wide Web, not the Hollyweb."

Web expert and W3C HTML Working Group member Manu Sporny has also warned
that EME would spur a new proliferation of incompatible proprietary
browser plug-ins for playing DRM-encumbered media, harming
interoperability on the Web. This would run counter to the W3C's stated
principles, which include an explicit commitment to "global
interoperability," as part of the Open Stand guidelines to which W3C is
a signatory.

The coalition signing the letter is an international group of free
software and Internet freedom organizations. Frédéric Couchet, executive
director of the French free software organization April, wrote, "DRM is
an outrageous threat made by the entertainment industry against its own
customers. Accepting the EME proposal would make the W3C complicit in
forcing DRM on every computer user."

The W3C hosts the full text of the EME proposal on its site at

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