W3C at a crossroads: technology standards setter or legal arms-dealer?


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/12/05/w3c-at-a-crossroads-technolog.html


Okay, I’m with you on the badness of DRM, and I generally roll my eyes when people call you out on hyperbole, because you’re an activist more than a journalist or blogger…

…But this time, even I think that the hyperbole has gone too far.

Rhetoric like this may help energize those already on your side, but it won’t help convert the undecided.


I’m not sure I understand. The W3C does not have the authority to alter the DMCA. Congress would have to do that, and they’re too busy repealing Obamacare.

Make W3C members promise not to use DMCA 1201 against anyone engaged in legitimate activity…

Seems like a pretty weak protection against corporate lawyers.


Why would it be weak? The largest companies with standing to sue under the DMCA adopting a legally binding pledge not to do so is exactly the promise that the W3C requires in respect of those companies’ patents, and this has been enormously successful in preventing patent litigation over W3C standards for decades.


You know, no one has ever been forced to use the W3C standards. If they make themselves irrelevant by trying to produce toxic standards, we should provide support to those companies that begin to divest themselves from them.


It’s weak because of “engaged in legitimate activity.” They just say the activity wasn’t legitimate, which is what they are doing implicitly by making the DMCA takedown request anyway.

If they promised never to do it at all that would be something since at least you’d be able to say, “Hey, but you promised! When they went back on it.” But won’t use DMCA 1201 unless it’s fair for them to do so? Obviously they think it’s fair.


Isn’t unbreakable DRM also unbreakable encryption? Does that mean ISP’s in the U.K. Have to break it to allow unencrypted viewing? Nice catch 22.


No, it would just mean only adding a DRM complaint where there was another complaint - IOW, you could only sue for DRM violations as part of a suit over real infringement. If you couldn’t prove infringement, you couldn’t pursue the suit. “Legitimate activity” is activity that implicates no statute apart from those that protect DRM. Here’s a FAQ:


Hey, if it’s enormously successful, it’s good. It’s just that word “promise” that worries me. If it’s a binding contract that’s one thing, but if it’s a corporation’s “word of honor”…

Remember we’re about to enter an era of near-zero Federal enforcement.


No federal enforcement would be needed. If you have a suit filed against you by one of these companies, you can use the covenant to get it dismissed.


Could more specific language than “legitimate activity” be defined?

It sounds so easily handwaved away.


Maybe he’s trying to top himself before the end of 2016?


Nobody forces me to breathe, either, you know what I mean?

Trying to get people to use new web standards would be slightly easier than trying to get them to leave Facebook, which would be slightly easier than convincing Americans to vote against toxic political dualities.

Like it or not, as long as browser vendors don’t gang up on them, the w3c is a gatekeeper.

“It’s hell being an early adopter.”


Well, it would be a legally binding agreement not to invoke or sue under the DCMA, much like other agreements not to invoke or sue for patent infringement. In other words, pulling that trigger will also pull the trigger of the other gun that is pointing back at you.


This is little solace for someone that has to work in technology and work with other companies. I can say all I want that I’m not forced to use existing standards, but at the end of the day I am forced to stay fairly close to those standards. I can’t invent my own markup language and ask users to install my custom written from scratch browser just to view my website.

If I want to keep my job and my paycheck I am functionally forced to use W3C standards, even if I’m not literally forced to, the distinction makes no difference.


in a way all the single-purpose mobile apps accomplished this


Under a specific set of terms they would state don’t apply to the hacker’s use of their IP?


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.