[pp.int.general] Fwd: Would the Web's inventor give up on free standards?

Zbigniew Łukasiak zzbbyy at gmail.com
Thu Nov 10 16:40:13 CET 2016

This looks very relevant to our ideals.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Zak Rogoff, DBD <info at defectivebydesign.org>
Date: Thu, Nov 10, 2016 at 2:53 PM
Subject: Would the Web's inventor give up on free standards?
To: Zbigniew Lukasiak <zzbbyy at gmail.com>

Dear Zbigniew Lukasiak,
[image: What would timbl do?]

The chief arbiter of Web standards, Tim Berners-Lee, has an important
choice to make this week. He must decide whether or not to allow media and
technology companies to add socially harmful Digital Restrictions
Management (DRM)
into the technical capabilities of the Web, with a proposal called Encrypted
Media Extensions <https://www.w3.org/TR/encrypted-media> (EME). The
companies are currently asking for Berners-Lee's seal of approval to move
EME to the next phase of standardization: a Proposed Recommendation of
the World
Wide Web Consortium (W3C) <https://www.w3.org>.

Twenty-five years ago, Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Back then
timbl -- as he's known online -- declined opportunities to lock down his
creation and established himself as an advocate for a freedom-affirming,
interoperable, and universally accessible World Wide Web. Now he's
considering turning his back on this vision to make Netflix, Google, Apple,
and Microsoft happy.

*We have just days to convince Tim Berners-Lee to choose freedom for the
Web and block Encrypted Media Extensions from becoming an official
standard. Repeat our message on GNU social
<https://status.fsf.org/notice/189277> or Twitter
<https://mobile.twitter.com/endDRM/status/796475563204550656>¹, asking him
a simple question: #WhatWouldTimblDo? Would the Web's once idealistic
inventor really give up on free standards?*

Not in to social media? You can also take action by sending in a selfie
against DRM in Web standards
or signing
our petition <https://my.fsf.org/civicrm/profile/create?gid=183&reset=1>.
Some background

Big media owners, like the movie studios represented by the MPAA
<https://www.defectivebydesign.org/topic/mpaa> and the music labels
represented by the RIAA <https://www.defectivebydesign.org/topic/riaa>,
feel threatened by the sharing that digital technology enables. Since the
'90s, they've poured bottomless resources into locking down not just the
Web but physical devices as well. One of their favorite tools is DRM --
digital handcuffs that limit what people can do with media.

These companies have never cared that DRM denies users the right to control
their computers, or that it causes huge collateral damage by opening
security holes
restricting cultural creativity, and limiting accessibility for the disabled
<https://www.defectivebydesign.org/disabling-the-disabled>. In fact,
they've even had laws like the Digital Millenium Copyright Act
passed, to give DRM special status that makes it illegal to circumvent.
More recently, companies that stream media, like Netflix and Google, have
forged distribution deals with media giants. These lucrative relationships
are an incentive to join the labels in their quest for control.

In 2013 Berners-Lee surprised the world by allowing some of the companies
that use DRM -- namely Netflix, Apple, Google, and Microsoft -- to start
developing their latest project within the walls of the World Wide Web
Consortium (W3C), the official Web standards organization led by
Berners-Lee. Their project, EME, is a universal DRM system for the Web. The
choice Berners-Lee faces now is whether or not to allow EME to reach the
"maturity level" of a Proposed W3C Recommendation, indicating he feels it
is ready to become an official standard and passing it to the W3C's
Advisory Committee for ratification.

This is the first time that Berners-Lee and the W3C have considered
including DRM in Web standards. Berners-Lee seems to be hoping that the big
media companies will accept EME and use it to make DRM cheaper and easier
for streaming video, then leave the free Web alone. But history shows us
the exact opposite. DRM has to keep spreading to new platforms and formats
to maintain control over users, and its owners have no reason not to use
their massive power and money to continue integrating it into more elements
of the Web. Indeed, there are murmurs about adding DRM to text
<http://idpf.org/epub-content-protection> and image
standards, which would be energized by the ratification of EME. EME
foreshadows a future Web that is riddled with DRM, where the freedom and
transparency of the system (like viewing source HTML in a browser) will be
gradually phased out.
We won't give up on the Web

Berners-Lee still has a chance to say no to EME and keep the W3C on the
right side of history. There is a real possibility that he might --
he's recently
weakened his support for EME
If he does reject it, he will be congratulated by the community of
technologists that work in the public interest -- figures like security
expert Bruce Schneier
<https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2016/01/fighting_drm_in.html> and
MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito
<https://boingboing.net/2016/03/13/joi-ito-on-drm-the-world-wide.html> have
been very clear that they want a Web without DRM, and more than 34,000
people sent the same message through petition signatures
<https://my.fsf.org/civicrm/profile/create?gid=183&reset=1>. All timbl has
to do is remember his original vision for the Web, and block EME from
moving forward through the W3C standards-setting process.

*Head to GNU social <https://status.fsf.org/notice/189277> or Twitter
<https://mobile.twitter.com/endDRM/status/796475563204550656>¹, and remind
Tim Berners-Lee of his original vision for the Web.*

¹: We recommend free software-based, decentralized microblogging services
like GNU Social and Pump.io over Twitter (read more

Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager

*Read online:

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Zbigniew Lukasiak
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