Open letter from EFF to members of the W3C Advisory Committee

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Do you think a daily full court press on this will sway anyone, especially when W3C members come here and say you’re distorting what’s actually going on?


Seriously, @doctorow?

I get that you’re passionate about this, but this is the third post in four days:

If you want us to care about this, give us something new. Reply to the W3C’s responses in the other comment threads. Engage with the community, and maybe we’ll listen. Preach at us from a lectern, and you’ll put yourself at the level of every other lectern-preacher on the Internet, and get drowned out by the cacophony.

I want to be convinced, one way or the other, about what constitutes the right future for the web, and the EFF’s side feels like the one I’d like to be on, but when the other side comes on to your message board, explains that you’re misrepresenting their position, and you don’t respond to that; when, instead of engaging, you step back and do more preaching…

What I’m trying to say here, Cory, is that you’re not helping your case.


liked and seconded. I feel like philosophically I’m always for the EFF, but the silence is deafening in the other threads when the W3C members and others explain their reasoning.


nope. that is the exact opposite of what is happening. they are creating an inter-operable standard that anyone can implement to protect and interact with protected content. the content will need the permissions of the rights holders, not implementing the standard. get your facts straight please before the next twenty articles.

this is EXACTLY what they are doing, and what you are trying to block. they are trying to standardize something that already exists and isn’t going away to make it more inter-operable, more secure, and eliminate many of the very real negative impacts of DRM implementation that exist today. including the legal risks in implementation and for browser makers and security researchers. Sure the fact that DRM content exists can be argued against, but why shoot the one group trying to and successfully improving the existing situation just because you want to see DRM gone overall. They are just being more realistic, but in being so are making an actual difference that is HUGE. You are hurting the good guys and the overall cause.

he took a position with the EFF and is getting paid to do this.
problem is, the baseless scare tactics that aren’t founded in the reality of what the W3C is doing and aren’t backed by any real points, and are in direct contradiction to the facts is hurting the EFF. I am a supporter of the EFF but this is seriously making me question if they’ve gone off the rails? We are a smart enough audience to not be suckered in by scary headlines with articles that don’t back those claims. this isn’t Fox News.


That’s exactly what I’m saying.

I doubt Cory Doctorow’s getting paid to “write this post about why EME would have caused iTunes to fail out of the gate.” You don’t hire a popular author to a nonprofit and then micromanage him like that. More likely, he’s getting paid for the more general task of being a spokesman for the EFF: making the organization look good and making its policies look good. With this constant one-sided barrage, he’s failing at both.

Now, they might be telling him, “Write more posts about EME,” and if so, fair enough that he keeps posting about it. However, he may be succeeding at that task, but he’s failing at its underlying purpose: to convince the bOING bOING community members (like me) that EME is evil.

Cory would accomplish his purpose much better by coming and talking to us in the community about this, in a dialogue. He’d certainly be better off not leaving a post that stands in direct opposition to his as the last word in the iTunes thread.

If he really wants to change minds, he should be talking with us, not talking at us.

[Edit: …And, while I was typing that, he actually responded in the iTunes thread. It’s a start.]


The open letter linked to in the article speaks about introducing agreements into the standards that would protect security researchers from prosecution for circumventing DRM in order to reveal security defects.

Why is everyone mad about protected media, uh, content?

I’ve been following along fairly loosely (according to my capability :slight_smile:) and it does feel like two sides trying to game an eventual outcome through negotiation tactics. I’d like to have seen some responses to the (apparent) W3C people’s questions but for all I know, those innocently framed questions could have been attempts to entrap Cory into making specific, public responses which could be used to redefine the envelope at later stages of the interaction.

Whatever you think of drm-wrapped media, trying to influence the evolution of a process of standards creation with the intent to introduce protections for security researchers can’t be bad… can it?


Cory replied here:

Apparently there’s a confidentiality risk, so we’re not likely to see any back and forth.

There are a few things at play. First is the W3C standard itself, which I’m all for. Between leaving things all proprietary with no standards, DMCA still applying, and patents galore applying but individually to a sea of crap, or having a standard to better manage that morass, the latter seems preferable. It appeared Cory was against that in earlier posts, but this post’s not really about that.

With the W3C approach there’s a separate issue re anti-circumvention rights (DMCA and other abominations), which boils down to whether we’ll still have the same very absolutely hideous anti-circumvention regime we’re in now, or whether that can be improved. This is still under discussion by the W3C, so the latest is just a request in an ongoing internal discussion of a committee. If I’m understanding this correctly, the request is one I’d like to see respected, and I think Cory’s approach is reasonable (leave most of the crap in, but prevent threats and chilling effects to protect security research). So unless I’m misunderstanding things (totally possible, I’m exhausted) I’m onboard with this one.


Something weird is afoot here, and assuming it’s not a Charlie Sheen-style public meltdown(?), I’m prepared to believe that Cory and/or EFF genuinely believe they have a point that BB readers would want to get behind. The problem is, I don’t think most of us are getting this point.

I get that DRM is a stupid, toxic toilet fire of an idea that benefits no one and appeals only to wicked, venal dipshits. If people in a smoke-filled room are plotting to extend its grip, I’m not in favor. But from my understanding of the W3C’s role, I don’t see how the EME spec does that, or why it’s undesirable; isn’t it more like an arms-reduction treaty, in that it’s getting people to agree to do the shitty things they’re doing in a fractionally less shitty way?

I suppose the question for me is: What is EFF’s ideal outcome here? Is it for the standard not to happen (and why would this help), or is it to use the standards process to agree a convention against DMCA attacks on civilians? Is there some special aspect of the politics I don’t know about?

(I’m not asking rhetorically; I genuinely don’t understand the context, and it’s something I potentially care about)


What are the two sides? EFF and then everyone else?

DRM is here. It’s been here for years. Right now, it is here in binary plugins (proprietary and not open source code) in the form of Flash and Silverlight on popular sites like Netflix.

The EME work is an open standard to get away from these plugins (and their gaping security problems) to make an interoperable standard for protected video content. @doctorow objects to the idea of protected content on its face, so he’s not going to be happy with either the existing solution or the new proposals. For the rest of us, we already want to play video and DRM is a requirement from the rights holders to do that. So our choices are binary plugins or a new standard that hopefully gets away from those and opens things up a bit. Pick one. DRM isn’t going away and that’s, really, the only thing that will make Cory or the EFF (and RMS) happy.

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yes, you seem to grasp it pretty well. it is saying, drm exists, given that fact what are all the things we can do to mitigate its negative impacts. how can we make it more secure? how can we make it more standardized so anyone can implement it on any platform? how can we make it more inter-operable? how can we protect the people making solutions, like browser maker, from liability? how can we protect security researchers from liability? how can we make it so that the big players aren’t locking the small players out? how can we level the field for new players?

Basically they are doing everything single thing they can to make DRM less evil short of getting rid of DRM, and that is why these “rant” articles are so baseless and detached from reality.

If I had to guess, I think the fear is that by eliminating so many of the complaints previously leveraged against drm, that it takes the fangs out of the anti-drm argument. I think this terrifies them because it will dramatically reduce the problems which in the long run makes their goal of getting rid of drm all together more difficult, and if they keep things shitty and fragmented, then their chances of getting enough traction to shift public opinion is higher. They are sabotaging the only people making real positive change to make it an all in, all or nothing, high stakes game. Problem is this sucks because that isn’t really a realistic thing and doing so HURTS all the people that the EFF is supposed to protect.

I’m against drm on principal, but I consider what the w3c is doing to be a huge win, and so should anyone who isn’t all or nothing. the benefits of this aren’t minor they are HUGE.


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