Proposed encrypted media support in HTML5 sparks DRM debate on W3C mailing list

A proposed extension to HTML5's media handling interface resparked a debate about digital rights management support in browsers

A proposal drafted by Microsoft, Google and Netflix to add support for encrypted media playback in HTML5, has sparked a debate on the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) HTML public mailing list.

The document is entitled "Encrypted Media Extensions v0.1" and was submitted to W3C's HTML Working Group for review on Tuesday. Its authors propose an extension to the HTMLMediaElement interface that would facilitate the decryption of protected content.

"Many content providers and application developers have said they can't use <audio> and <video> because HTML lacks robust content protection," said Adrian Bateman, one of the people who drafted the new proposal, on the mailing list. "Without this functionality, they cannot move their apps to the web platform."

Companies like Netflix need to protect the content they are licensed to distribute. Because of this, their current platforms are built around plugin-based technologies like Flash or Silverlight, which support DRM (digital rights management).

The Encrypted Media Extensions proposal doesn't aim to implement a comprehensive DRM system in HTML5, but to provide a simple mechanism for exchanging content decryption keys, its authors said.

However, some people don't think the standard should include such a feature. "I believe this proposal is unethical and that we should not pursue it," said Ian Hickson, the maintainer of the WHATWG (Web Hypertext Application Technology Working Group) HTML5 specification, in response to Bateman's argument. The WHATWG HTML 5 specification serves as basis for W3C's HTML5 standardization efforts.

Hickson didn't elaborate on why he considers the proposal unethical but said that it wouldn't provide robust content protection, so it wouldn't solve the problem content distributors have anyway.

Even though the proposal doesn't provide a complete DRM solution, some people feel that it is designed to allow such systems to be built into browsers at a later time. However, implementing something like this would be very problematic for open source vendors like Mozilla.

"A browser like Mozilla is *legally prevented* from actually implementing DRM, because they have to reveal all their code, including the decryption code that contains the secrets you use to decrypt," said Google Chrome team member Tab Atkins Jr., in a reply to the mailing list discussion. "We should not be attempting to put anything in HTML which won't be implemented by one of the major browsers."

At the moment, the proposal has an unofficial draft status which means that it is a work in progress and is open for comments from the public.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lucian Constantin

IDG News Service
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?