FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Boston, Massachusetts, USA—Thursday, April 13th, 2017—Today Defective by Design granted Tim Berners-Lee the first ever Obedience Award, recognizing his work to help wealthy corporations add DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) to official Web standards. Inspired by the MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award, the Obedience Award highlights activity upholding the status quo despite an overwhelming ethical case against it. Today is the first opportunity for the addition of DRM to become final as per the formal process for setting Web standards.
Encrypted Media Extensions
For years, we have been fighting Web companies and Hollywood conglomerates who want to weave Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into the technical standards undergirding the Web. Their DRM proposal, known as EME (Encrypted Media Extensions), would make it cheaper and politically easier to impose restrictions on users, opening the floodgates to a new wave of DRM throughout the Web. This puts all Web users at risk; DRM undermines privacy, weakens security, and is incompatible with free software. To truly respect users' rights, DRM's role on the Web needs to be reduced, not expanded. (Read our position letter for more about EME.)
Decision-making about the standard lies with the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). The standards body is under heavy pressure from Microsoft, Netflix, Apple, Google, and others to enshrine DRM in Web standards. But through in-person protests and online activism, we push back. Along with allied organizations, we have already significantly slowed the progress of Encrypted Media Extensions.
Take action as a Web user
- Call Tim Berners-Lee, the Director of the W3C, and demand he block Encrypted Media Extensions
- Send a protest selfie to the W3C
- Sign the petition
- Cancel your subscription to Netflix, a major backer of DRM in Web standards
Take action as a W3C member organization
Publicly announce that your organization will:
- Reject any extension of the charter for the HTML Media Extensions Working Group unless the charter is modified to end work on Encrypted Media Extensions immediately.
- Reject Encrypted Media Extensions if it comes to the Advisory Committee for approval as a W3C Recommendation.
- Reject any other proposed W3C standard that specifies DRM or a system designed specifically to interface with DRM.
Contact Defective by Design at email@example.com with questions.
Posts about this campaign
Since the beginning of the Web—the age of dial-up Internet connections—the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) has kept the Web's technical standards tuned in a careful balance that enables innovation while respecting users' rights.
On April 13th, that will change. User-hostile DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) technology will become an official part of the Web. Unless we can stop it.
Yesterday, the project manager of W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) announced unofficial guidance for organizations facing reports of user-threatening vulnerabilities in their programs or Web sites.
Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, star of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony, and one of the best-known tech celebrities outside of Silicon Valley, believes he is powerless.
Well, at least when it comes to keeping Web users free and safe.
Twenty-five years ago, Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Back then timbl -- as he's known online -- declined opportunities to lock down his creation and established himself as an advocate for a freedom-affirming, interoperable, and universally accessible World Wide Web. Now he's considering turning his back on this vision to make Netflix, Google, Apple, and Microsoft happy.
This week, the chief arbiter of Web standards, Tim Berners-Lee, decided not to exercise his power to extend the development timeline for the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) Web technology standard. The EME standardization effort, sponsored by streaming giants like Google and Netflix, aims to make it cheaper and more efficient to impose Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) systems on Web users. The streaming companies' representatives within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) were unable to finish EME within the time allotted by the W3C, and had asked Berners-Lee for an extension through next year.
Next week, demonstrators will gather at a meeting of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in Lisbon, Portugal. They will make the same demand that we made at the last major W3C meeting in March: stop streaming companies from inserting Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into the HTML standard on which the Web is based.
Microsoft made the news last week when it announced that its Edge Web browser could deliver a better Netflix streaming experience than the other three most popular browsers. On Windows 10, Edge is the only one that can play Netflix's video streams — which are encumbered with Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) — in 1080p high definition. A PCWorld article confirmed the claim, but no one writing online has been able to give a clear explanation for the discrepancy. Following the tone of Microsoft's announcement, most writers seem content to imply that Edge's "edge" in Netflix playback on Windows derives from technical superiority, and that intelligent Netflix users should switch to Edge.
Despite dedicated resistance by tens of thousands of Web users and civil society groups, Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has allowed Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) to move to the next phase of development within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
Watch Harry's resignation pledge. CC BY 4.0
Since 2013, Defective by Design has been fighting Encrypted Media Extensions, a plan to add a universal DRM system to the Web. In March, as an element of this campaign, we led the first-ever protest rally at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which designs official standards for the Web.
Activists around the world protested in solidarity with this demonstration in Cambridge.
On Sunday, we led a protest at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) against the attempt by Netflix, Hollywood and other technology and media companies to weave Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into the HTML standard that undergirds the Web.
Explore the gallery of photos against DRM in Web standards, and add your own!
Last week, we asked you to show the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) that you wouldn't allow Digital Restrictions Management in the Web's technical standards, and you answered. From around the world, you sent in protest selfies against the proposed restriction standards championed by Netflix, Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Hollywood. With you at our backs, we're organizing a major demonstration this Sunday, outside the building where the W3C will be meeting to discuss DRM. A parallel demonstration is planned outside the W3C office in Amsterdam. Our activism is working -- the campaign has drawn renewed attention to this once low-profile issue and more people are learning that DRM standards would be a major regression for user freedom on the Web.
Join these activists and take your own photo at a W3C office near you.
For years, Defective by Design and the anti-DRM movement have been fighting Hollywood and proprietary software companies who want to weave Digital Restrictions Management into the HTML standard that undergirds the Web. Winning this is a top priority for us -- the DRM proposal, known as EME (Encrypted Media Extensions), would make it cheaper and more politically acceptable to impose restrictions on Web users, opening the floodgates to a new wave of DRM throughout the Internet. We've been calling this awful possibility the Hollyweb -- a network riddled with restrictions that serves Hollywood, not its users.
Last week, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) became a paying and governing member of World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) (no, seriously).
If there were any doubts that W3C was in bed with Big Hollywood, now it couldn't be more obvious. Together, W3C, the MPAA, and a handful of the world's most powerful web companies are preparing to build Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) deep into our public Web standards. We must stop them.
Last Friday, we made a powerful statement to the W3C by delivering the verified signatures of over 22,500 people against Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), Big Media's proposal to incorporate DRM support into HTML.
In celebration of International Day Against DRM today, we rolled out the red carpet at W3C to deliver your petition signatures. Internet freedom's most stylish gathered to present W3C with an award for "Best Supporting Role in 'The Hollyweb'," accompanied by over 22,500 verified signatures from members of the public who oppose a proposal that would weave Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into the fabric of the Web.
Hollywood is at it again. Its latest ploy to take over the Web? Use its influence at the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to weave Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) into HTML5 — in other words, into the very fabric of the Web. Millions of Internet users came together to defeat SOPA/PIPA, but now Big Media moguls are going through non-governmental channels to try to sneak digital restrictions into every interaction we have online.