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    OK, so look, here’s the question. I’m a reasonably savvy, reasonably not just tech-aware but also reasonably politically-aware Internet user; I’ve been online since like 1994, I get how the infrastructural stuff works, I understand the implications of the FCC stuff, all the rest of it. I’ve got what I think is a reasonably solid comprehension of the issues involved in this sort of thing; I’m aware of the the trajectory of the W3C over the last 20 years or so; I see how the big corps have gradually worked their way into greater influence, and I’ve seen the impact that’s had on open standards and I’ve been unable to avoid noticing the transmogrification of what the web and the net were into what they’ve become, not least through the direct impact that’s had on the kind of work I can get. I’ve seen TimBL shouting about RDF and semantic web and all the rest for long enough that I’ve got to the point - not even that recently - that I’ve almost stopped listening, and just gone “yeah Tim, sure, whatever you say”. But I’ve consistently seen him at least as one of the last few sane voices speaking out for a free, open web against the ever-increasing encroachment of the megacorps.

    So when I read this, I just go, uh? What gives? Is there something I’m missing here? Isn’t it transparently obvious to anyone not just propagating the big-corp line that, actually, no, EME is going to fuck things up for everyone except the large corps? Have I massively misunderstood everything? Is there some way in which actually this is in the benefit of the many, rather than the few?

    And if not, then, really, seriously, what the fuck, Tim? Are you being massively, grossly and unfairly misrepresented? Are you in fact still trying to fight for the freedoms and the openness that you always seemed to be fighting for? Or have you, like all the rest, just gone “fuck it” and toed the big-corp line? What does that even consist of? Did you actually just take a big check? Is that how it works? Or am I really, seriously, just completely missing the deal here?

    I would really love to get some serious answers on this because on face value, of what the EFF say (and I generally think they don’t seem to be straight-out lying to us), and on the actual content of what I’ve been able to take in about EME, this really doesn’t seem to be a good thing, and if it’s not, what the fuck is TimBL doing approving it?

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      Am I maybe the one missing the deal? I know I generally don’t care about the things the EFF does as much as they do, though I can generally understand their position, but this particular issue seems to generate a great deal of passion that I don’t get. Are DRM free web sites going to be taken away? Is somebody going to show up at my house and beat me with a stick until I put DRM on my website? No? I don’t really see what’s being taken away. There’s going to be this “new” (though that’s obviously not quite true, there’s nothing new about flash or silverlight) nonfree web, but is it really zero sum with the free web? Will it become impossible for all those artists who only want exposure to release their movies for free?

      It seems like there’s a certain range of options which Netflix is going to do. And you can standardize them or not standardize, but Netflix is gonna be Netflix. So maybe some people get to watch Netflix in their browser, and some people don’t like running the DRM plugin and have to buy a Roku. The alternative would be to simply make everybody buy a Roku. Is that really a win?

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        Here’s the thing: they’re putting in a lot of time and energy in a feature that hurts the end user, and doesn’t provide the benefits that it claims to. The question here is: who does the W3C represent? Are they operating in the best interests of the overall ecosystem, or the best interests of Netflix?

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          Don’t use it if you don’t like it? I mean, there’s already a lot of W3C standards that do stuff I don’t like, so I turn that crap off. Is the ecosystem better if Netflix stuck with silverlight?

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            Why standardize a feature that delivers no value to anyone (not even the people most aggressively agitating for the feature)? It’s a waste of time and energy. Netflix isn’t stuck with Silverlight, as the vast quantity of easily pirated Netflix content demonstrates, Silverlight isn’t giving them the protection they ask for anyway.

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              Because the purpose of standards is to codify existing practice? EME is the interface Netflix uses to show video in chrome, Firefox, edge, etc. They’re not asking for permission to do this, they’re already doing it.

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              Yes.

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                Do we have a choice? Surely the writing is on the wall for Netflix over Flash/Silverlight. After the top 3 or 4 companies use EME exclusively, where can we get the latest movies DRM free or at least without running other people’s closed source code? The thing that annoys me is that no matter what they do all these shows will show up on torrents anyway, so they are really just abusing the paying customers, as always pirates get the best deal.

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                DRM has always existed before this, and has been a thing people are willing to install plugins for.

                By offering a standardised way of implementing DRM, end users will most likely be less vulnerable to the kind of bugs that “general plugins” like flash end up opening.

                I can understand fighting this, but if you have the hypothesis that DRM is already present and won’t go away midterm, then this is a security improvement

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                I’d imagine that Roku is Defective By Design as well, as such, it wouldn’t be an alternative.

                The alternative would be to not watch Netflix, because Netflix by itself is defective by design as well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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                  Do you develop software for Amiga or at least try to make sure yours run on one? Platform is still around even if it isn’t as actively supported as it used to be and has to be run on PC.

                  My guess is that no, because it doesn’t matter. Platforms or really ideas of any kind do not get to achieve some kind of world-wide enlightenment that would make them permanently anchored in our society. They have to fight for their little place as any other idea all the time. Technologies, languages, religions, they all die if there is not enough force of some kind behind pushing them.

                  I am an open web advocate because I think it benefits society even if it may not any particular company. Companies on the other hand, based on plenty of empirical evidence, clearly don’t take the same view neither when it comes to value of openness or the “constituency” of their actions.

                  Netflix could stream their stuff easily with technology already out there. The whole point of DRM and EME is to restrict access and control by running uncheckable binary blobs on our computers and I really don’t see nor believe that this would stop with video if it doesn’t have to.

                  In other words, EME is a way of getting to close parts of web since getting rid of it clearly did not work. It is true it would not get rid of all of it, but web would certainly have fewer teeth.

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                    Netflix does stream their stuff with technology already out there: EME.

                    I’m still unclear what’s meant by “getting to close parts of the web”. Which parts are those and when were they open? Are we talking about Netflix’s website? Is the issue here they made the mistake of using port 80 instead of port 81? If the encrypted video was hosted on port 81, and thus outside the web, would it no longer be a threat to the open web?

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                      Sure, but you don’t NEED EME to stream from purely tech perspective. You need it to meet other goals.

                      As to the second point, in a narrow sense I agree that it doesn’t literally take anything away and therefore the quoted part is not the best way of putting it. I also think this is a very reductionist way of looking at what technology is and does.

                      My worry is two fold. On a more technical side that this will enable pushing more closed stuff into browsers and thus enable companies to avoid finding an open and shared solution for new capabilities. Old, open stuff might still work, but would get less important and relatively smaller over time.

                      Secondly, it normalizes closeness and confirms it as an option. Netflix & co. do not want to stream to browsers out of goodness of their hearts. They want to do this because their customers demand it and instead of getting them to yield eventually we folded. So even if DRM/EME itself does not offer yet tools to close off more than content, W3C effectively said that open is just a nice to have, negotiable with enough pressure.

                      I can see how this decision might not look like a big deal, but it sure as hell isn’t a win for an open web.

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                        Ok, I can see the existential dread argument. But it’s kind of abstract, no? So when somebody asks, what the hell, why isn’t everyone angry, the answer is it’s pretty hard to articulate what to get angry about.

                        From my perspective, I’ve been a Netflix customer since before streaming. Then they added streaming, with a very limited catalog, and it basically only worked with IE and silverlight. You could maybe try silverlight on other browsers, but pretty hit or miss. Of course, this made some people really angry. I needed to boycott Netflix or else someday I’d be really sorry. Well, here we are ten years later, and more people can watch more shows on more devices than ever. not just slightly more, but lots more. And so, despite all the screaming about how things were only going to get worse, they really don’t seem all that bad.

                        If there’s an argument that things are going to go from bad to worse, I’d like to see it account for the past ten years as well. Explain how Netflix has actually made millions of people unhappy, or how this represents some new inflection point, etc.

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                    A roku is going to be hard/impossible to use in all situations though, for example on the bus.

                    I think the main objection is allowing/requiring third party, probably closed source code to run in the browser with less restrictions than javascript for example. However for something like Netflix you have to use either Flash/Silverlight or HTML5 + CRM currently anyway. I’m not sure what the difference will be between HTML5 + CRM vs EME though. Seems like you are going to be running someone else’s code no matter what.

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                    So when I read this, I just go, uh? What gives? Is there something I’m missing here? Isn’t it transparently obvious to anyone not just propagating the big-corp line that, actually, no, EME is going to fuck things up for everyone except the large corps?

                    The thing you’re missing is that EME is already going into into browsers. It’s going to be there and get used regardless of what the W3C does. The only question is who gets their names on the document, and whether it ends up being cross browser or not.

                    This isn’t a fight that we’ve already lost, and Tim Berners-Lee seems to realize that.

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                    The EFF release goes into a bit more details here.