Youtube ditches Flash, but it hardly matters


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A good aspect of the widely standardized approach, compared to ad-hoc proprietary solutions, is that by its sheer size it attracts a lot of attention about breaking it. Which increases the chance of having a youtube downloader that can break the DRM crap. Then there are the support issues, as with more platforms for the vendor to keep up with there is a better chance that at least one of them will not be entirely watertight.

Easily breakable DRM is a way to have the cake and eat it too.

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In your article, you lead with the idea that Google ditching Flash should have been a cause of celebration. Then you go on to say that a year ago, it would have been “a blow to internet freedom”. These two stances seem pretty inconsistent?

Also, replacing Flash, a proprietary multifunctional object which is much more vulnerable to attack since it can execute code, with a single purpose builtin codec that only handles audio/video content is inherently safer, isn’t it? And isn’t Youtube using the webm format, which is royalty free, so anybody can generate and host content without agreements with Adobe (I don’t know much about flash content serving, i apologize if I’ve got it wrong)? And can’t videos (the vast, vast majority, I have no idea what’s been locked as you implied but I’ve never had issues) still be downloaded and played back with most common video players just like before? Isn’t this a net benefit for the internet community?

Your tone and conclusion seem to indicate that it’s just slapping a new coat of paint on the same rotting house, and seems to strongly suggest that everyone is being duped. I understand your massive, massive reservations about the inclusion of DRM mechanisms, and I have to be careful what I say because you know much more than I do and would use that as a basis to completely shred anything I have to say on the matter. As a marginally informed consumer, or maybe blind sheeple or whatever you want to call it, I think a case can be made that the digital ecosystem can equally support both locked and unlocked content side by side, and this gives users more options.

I also think by incorporating it into the web standard, it would be much easier for independent producers who want to maintain control over distribution and not have their work ripped and posted elsewhere to use it as they see fit. They have to figure out the opportunity cost of doing so of course, because locking content inevitably greatly reduces exposure, but they can tailor their approach as they see fit. This may mean that blogs who rely on embedding other’s content for ad revenue suffer, but maybe that paradigm is due for an overhaul anyway.


No, you got it right. Reducing the scope of the 3rd party code to a codec makes it inherently safer for the user (and yes, harder to break the DRM - at least for now ;-)).

The gist of YouTube’s change, from a user’s point of view, is (to quote Cory - emphasis is mine):

If you’re using Firefox, you can access all of Youtube’s videos without Flash, except that in some cases, you’ll need their version of the W3C-standardized “Encrypted Media Extension”—which requires that you use proprietary software.

Access to YouTube without Flash sounds like a big win to me.

It’s nice to see Cory “back in the saddle” - too bad he keeps strapping it on the same ol’ dead horse that he likes to flog so indiscriminately. Not forcing users to install Flash in order to view YouTube videos in FireFox isn’t quite the same tragedy as the bombing of Bến Tre. :expressionless:

There are valid concerns with DRM and I’m glad that EFF is fighting the egregious aspects of it. But the reflexive hand wringing about the sky falling any time DRM is mentioned is really no helping the cause.


That was exactly my point. I felt Cory was skirting Godwin’s law when he he made this analogy in his article (look for this link towards the bottom).

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I thought Godwin is scope-limited to WW2 era and does not extend to 'Nam?

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Wait until you hear what Mozilla has in store for extension (add-on) signing. Pretty soon you won’t be able to run an add-on in your browser unless Mozilla says you can. Apparently the response to a world of walled gardens is to create your own walled garden.

This will be justified as necessary for end-user security, but those arguments start to sound a lot like government arguments for sacrificing civil liberties in the name of security. Because there’s a threat, you must compromise your freedom, and if we force it on you it’s because we know better than you and it’s for your own good.


Except that governments tend to be local monopolies, and web browsers aren’t. It’s much easier to opt out of a browser if you don’t like their terms, and use another, or make your own.

That’s the “if you don’t like it you can leave” argument. I don’t find that compelling, given what Mozilla claims to stand for, and we’re all hoping they actually mean.

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As annoying as they are, sometimes they are valid - but only in the places where there is achievable-enough “elsewhere” to leave to.

Given that Firefox code is (and has to stay, I hope) open, there will be forks.

Still, the growth of walled gardens is rather annoying…


I wasn’t aware that nonplus had a track record of flogging anything, let alone indiscriminately. That is what you are implying. You’re also calling it a grudge, but I see nothing in nonplus’s statements to conclude that it is anything more than an observation about Cory’s past performance.

Is there something else at play here?


To be fair he did say “skirting.” Perhaps we need a new class of analogies which are based on “Godwin’s coattails.” :wink:


I am not convinced that add-on signing needs to be against what they stand for, but the possibility is there. So long as they are transparent (as shaddack said, they are open source) it should be easy. And they might have a developer mode which runs them unsigned for coding purposes.

My kid did have a system get hosed by a malicious drive-by Firefox add-on - no doubt from a fake Minecraft mod download page - so I am guessing that this is the sort of thing they are trying to avoid.

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Merely turnabout. Perhaps there is something else at play somewhere else and I’m encouraging someone to keep it there by speaking his language?

At any rate, I’m not wasting another second on that users weasel language.

I imagine they should, because the article says the exact opposite of this criticism. “A year ago, the largest video site on the net ditching Flash would have been a blow for Internet freedom.”

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I’m not anywhere near well informed enough to know how this can and will shake down, but I can say that in me own personal experience flash is ass. It freezes and crashes all the time.


“blow to Internet freedom” and “blow for Internet freedom” are two different things. You’ve misquoted the article.

Once again, it seems that the poster supporting the asshole’s side of the argument has a brand new account. It’s not always the case on BB, but overwhelmingly, this holds.

@doctorow is right, this is the same circus, different clowns. Or if you prefer, new horses, same shit. DRM does not benefit the people. Blind people and deaf people and people who want to get at content in a different way than it is doled out are prevented from doing so. People will find ways around the locks, and only those smart enough to figure out how to use the picks will benefit, and everyone doing so will be breaking the law.

Look at the recent changes for independent musicians wishing to use YouTube as their vehicle - they must agree to some wholly unwholesome terms, which will include DRM, if they wish to use YouTube (aka the only game in town) to share their work - for a living example of how bad this is.

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It’s going to become less easy, when the content conforming to the new W3C DRM-laden standard won’t render in your W3C non-compliant browser. So now you have to resort to trickery (and perhaps criminal acts) to get the content to display in your browser.

This is how bad it will be.

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You can, but the better way is to just display ethical content. So long as people keep using the DRM, they can say there’s a demand and not concede to change. This is why I avoid DRM crippled media formats rather than circumvent them. Most people are not corporate stooges, so these content creators can press for browser tech which facilitates what they publish.

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I’m assuming he means “Youtube WILL ditch Flash pretty soon,” because it asked me to update my flash player twice in this last week or so.

If I’m missing something, someone please say so.