HTML and EME

As much of the technical world is now aware, Mozilla has agreed to
put HTML5 EME support in Firefox [0] via implementing a DRM scheme. I
am like many other Free Software folks who are very upset by the
Mozilla Foundation acting in a way that I see as against their stated
goals. Bradley Kuhn has a great post [1] in which he argues that the
Mozilla Foundation (either by enabling the Mozilla Corporation, or by
its own volition) by creating and distributing DRM is acting against
its charitable purpose as posed to the IRS. After reading the
documents that bkuhn linked to [2] [3] the Mozilla Foundation’s stated
goals and their actions do appear to be directly opposed.

The two statements made by the Mozilla Foundation in their
IRS paperwork that I will draw on here are as follows:

From “Part II, Question 1: Part B. Background”
“Furthure, some Web pages can be viewed solely on a certain type of
computer or with a specific Web browsing software. The use of such
non-standard technologies, often promoted by commercial software
developers and vendors who are eager to maintain a competitive
advantage, reduces the Web’s universality and, consequently, limits
Internet access on those unable or unwilling to afford the commercial
technologies.”

From “Part II, Question 1: Part D. Key Activies”
“The Foundation plans to engage in the following key activities in
pursuance of its exempt purpose:”
“(1) Facilitate the development of a web browser, e-main software and
other Internet software that (a) are open source, (b) implement open
standards, (c) are available free of charge to all Internet users
around the world, regardless of the make or model of computers they
use, the language they speak, or disabilities they may have, (d) are
developed in an open process in which any interested party
(individuals, government agencies, nonprofit organizations,
corporations) can contribute, and (e) are powerful and easy to
use.”

“(5) Participate in Internet standards development efforts with the
focus of promoting standards that complement the Foundation’s exempt
purpose (i.e., the availability of software to the general public
free-of-charge, regardless of the make or model of computers that they
use, the language they speak, or disabilities they may
have).”

Based on the quote from “Part B” above, we can clearly tell that
the Mozilla Foundation as it was when these forms were filed, knew
that DRM was not something that would advance the free and open
web. The fact that an organization behind a for-profit company was
willing to publically say that is a very big deal.
In the second quoted section above, the notable part is “(5)”
wherein the Mozilla Foundation states that they will work
promoting standards that complement the Mozilla Foundation’s
stated goals. One of these goals is “the availability of software
to the general public free-of-charge, regardless of the make or
model of computers that use, the language they speak, or
disabilities they may have.”

Deconstructing that Goal
————————
That sentence reads funny to me. Is the goal to make software
available free-of-charge to users no matter what computers they
use, language the speak, or their disablities? Meaning, for users
of GNU/Linux, OS X, or Windows the cost is $0; For speakers of
English, German, Spanish, etc. the cost is $0; etc. Or is the goal
“to make software available” that has the following
characteristics:
-is free-of-charge
-will work regardless of computer specifics
-will work regardless of language
-will work regardless of a user’s disability

If the correctly stated goal is the former, then the Mozilla
Foundation has by enabling DRM in Firefox acted completly in
accordance with their stated goals. If however, the later
clarification is correct, then the Mozilla Foundation has misled
many people for a long time, and is no longer even trying to act
as it claimed it would.
I only use vanilla Firefox on my mobile phone, but now, I am
unsure if I even will continue doing that. On all of my other
machines, I use GNU IceCat and I would suggest that others do the
same.
I also suggest that others educate themselves on the HTML EME
fiasco, and on the Mozilla Foundation’s latest news before jumping
to rash decisons.

Further Reading:
—————-
https://u.fsf.org/xj

To Serve Users


https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/03/defend-open-web-keep-drm-out-w3c-standards
http://manu.sporny.org/2013/drm-in-html5/

On Encrypted Video and the Open Web


http://www.defectivebydesign.org/

[0] https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/05/14/drm-and-the-challenge-of-serving-users/
[1] http://ebb.org/bkuhn/blog/2014/05/14/to-serve-users.html
[2] http://www-archive.mozilla.org/foundation/documents/
[3] http://www-archive.mozilla.org/foundation/documents/mf-irs-501c3-application-attachment.pdf