W3C presses ahead with DRM interface in HTML5
On Friday, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) published the first public draft of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). EME enables content providers to integrate digital rights management (DRM) interfaces into HTML5-based media players. Encrypted Media Extensions is being developed jointly by Google, Microsoft and online streaming-service Netflix. No actual encryption algorithm is part of the draft; that element is designed to be contained in a CDM (Content Decryption Module) that works with EME to decode the content. CDMs may be plugins or built into browsers.
The publication of the new draft is a blow for critics of the extensions, led by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). Under the slogan, "We don't want the Hollyweb", FSF's anti-DRM campaign Defective by Design has started a petition against the "disastrous proposal", though FSF and allied organisations have so far only succeeded in mobilising half of their target of 50,000 supporters.
W3C CEO Jeff Jaffe has given an interview in which he defends the concept of EME. "There is going to be protected content on the Web," said Jaffe. Until now, for DRM in multimedia, content providers have relied on Flash or, like Netflix, on Silverlight. Silverlight will only be available as a browser plugin until 2021. According to Jaffe, the W3C is keen to avoid walled gardens and believes that a little openness and standardisation is better than none. Jaffe has also posted on the W3C blog and is responding to questions regarding the issues there.
Google has already incorporated EME into Chrome and Chrome OS and it can be tried out on this test web page. Netflix is currently working on an HTML5 player in addition to EME – this also depends on Media Source Extensions, which permit delivery via content delivery networks, and the Web Cryptography API, which adds hashing and signatures to HTML content.