As browsers decline in relevance, they're becoming DRM timebombs

[Read the post]

1 Like

Why the added “Olympus Digital Camera” text to the image in post view?

1 Like

Because the image probably came off of Flickr (under a CC license) and that was the caption embedded in the image.

(edit: it’s actually from Wikipedia, but same issue applies)

1 Like

Nope, I checked the license - nothing like that required. And the caption isn’t embedded - look, it’s selectable text. It was added by Boing Boing.

One can only presume that it’s a form of subliminal advertising decreed by BB’s corporate overlords. Certainly not that it was down to any kind of automated process, or even a distracted editor copy-and-pasting the wrong bit of text.


I just uploaded the source to my WP blog. It came with a caption just like the one shown above.

A caption is an optional part of the metadata, and when you upload an image to WP it will snag that caption and insert it in the relevant spot.


Aha, thanks!

All the DRM fooey aside…I’m actually quite curious about this part of the statement.

That is news to me.

Browsers are in higher usage and more relevant to most people’s lives then ever before, what isn’t done in a browser these days? I watch TV, pay taxes, work, read news, calendar and schedule, play games, all in the browser.

There are even frameworks like Cordova and Electron that allow developers to leverage the browser for cross browser and cross os apps.

If anything the trend is for these technologies to become the most crucial part of any operating system.


Indeed you are correct. But…when DRM comes baked in, suddenly that usefulness falls off a cliff, and we find ourselves looking for something to fill the void in our hearts like the internet once did.


Monopolists. If the net can’t do away with them, what can?

1 Like

That’s why I said DRM Fooey aside.

I’ve expanded in great length about how EME does not include any DRM at all, not one shred, zero, zip, zilch. It is simply an api for discovering and interacting with third party CDMs which are NOT baked in and are NOT part of the browser.

All the EME does is switch the bindings from <embed> and <object> tags to <video> tags, which give the browser more control over the content (play/pause/mute/etc.), allow people with disabilities to access the content, and provide better sand boxing and security and privacy for the end user.

In 2016, ALL the major browsers already use EME, this is just making the standard official. Nothing is changing.

What I’m more curious about is this “browsers decline in relevance” business…



I want to know what is meant by “browsers decline in relevance”, I only see them gaining in popularity. Apps are gaining in popularity, but I don’t think one trick pony apps will go very far beyond the browser, which is jack-of-all-trades and master of most.

Thanks for the levelheaded info on EME, and I agree with you totally on it. This FUD being thrown around reminds me of when the Kindle came out and everyone in the same circles were up in arms about the DRM, totally ignoring the fact that you could load all the non-DRM content you want on the device. Video’s been DRMed for a while, and while it sucks and sucks a lot nothing’s exploded. We’ve not lost content, only gained. Yeah, some content requires keys. Some content will always require keys. It’s just the way people are.

I want a world without DRM. It doesn’t solve the problems people are looking to solve with it, it just adds obstacles for legit users and more shit to go wrong. But instead of being up in arms about every little thing that comes up, the people who oppose things like DRM need to pick the right battles.

Remember: “the perfect is the enemy of the good.”


I think apps are becoming their own native “browsers”, so you are using the different apps (facebook, instagram, tindr etc.) directly more, and accessing things via browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) less as we continue to shift away from desktops to mobile devices. “Every program is going to rely on an embedded browser rather than be accessed throught a separate branded front end browser”, maybe that is more technically correct, but harder to communicate to masses.

1 Like

Apps are on the rise, but they will plateau and I suspect that people will use them for two things in general. One for things they frequently use, like Facebook. The other will be things that have a significant thing they do better (an app like Instagram can work a lot better than a web page) or easier. I think we’re on an upswing in apps in general, but who the fuck needs a McDonald’s or Uggs app. Browsers will always be widely used for the other 90% of things you may go to and do (even if that 90% doesn’t occupy 90% of your time).

1 Like

It’s a Cory Doctorow post. Facts be damned! It seems right, so go with it. Embrace the Truthiness of it all.

And Cory will get back to you with a response to your questions, some time around…


Although some of the biggest tech corporations in the world today support EME, very few of them could have come into being if EME-style rules had been in place at their inception.

This is not uncommon. It could even be described as “traditional”. See H.J. Chang’s “Bad Samaritans”. (Bloomsbury Press; 2007)

Given that ‘video-based exploits’ are already an established risk factor online, the idea of standardizing a new way of wrapping them in concealing encryption that, by virtue DRM conceit, is not intended to be enduser controllable or decryptable, seems like it’s also a new backhanded way of providing a conduit for exploits and man-in-the-middle attacks to run directly on our hardware. This isn’t something that can be characterized as “tinfoil hat wearing” in this, our post-Snowden world. Dark days, indeed.

At best, I increasingly envision separate environments to conduct my life online-- one that’s secure, and one that’s compatible with these lax new standards from the W3C etc. I wonder if the breathless futurism that infected me from WiReD magazine in 1993 would have gotten off the ground if anyone knew how quickly it would be corrupted. It took less than a generation for the bodies that author and publish the open standards to sell out. What now?

1 Like

(that’s just one of many recent studies citing less and less traffic from browsers, and more experience being contained within silos; see eg Facebook Instant Pages)


I feel grateful that @doctorow and EFF are so carefully tracking this important and poorly understood and politicized set of legal issues. It’s some of the best coverage available.

1 Like