[Discussioni] Fwd: Microsoft Edge and Netflix — testing new restrictions by locking out competing browsers?

Francesco Potort́ pot a potorti.it
Gio 21 Lug 2016 09:20:08 CEST

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Date: Wed, 20 Jul 2016 19:51:41 -0400
From: "Zak Rogoff, DBD" <info at defectivebydesign.org>
Subject: Microsoft Edge and Netflix — testing new restrictions by locking out competing browsers?

Dear Free Software Supporter,

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)][1] — in 1080p high
definition. A [PCWorld][2] 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.

[1]: https://www.defectivebydesign.org/what_is_drm_digital_restrictions_management
[2]:  http://www.pcworld.com/article/3095259/browsers/confirmed-only-microsoft-edge-will-play-netflix-content-at-1080p-on-your-pc.html

But this explanation doesn't seem to hold water. Other than the
particular category of browsers running on Windows 10 and playing
Netflix, modern browsers are in general technically capable of playing
DRM-encumbered 1080p streams. Amazon Prime, for example, already
indicates that it [allows all major browsers][3] to access
DRM-encumbered streams in 1080p on Windows and Apple OS X. Rather than
Edge being technically superior, it seems more likely that it can
stream Netflix at a higher resolution because Netflix used its DRM to
give Microsoft exclusive cryptographic permission to do so, and locked
out other browsers. This anti-competitive arrangement would help
Microsoft Edge win more Microsoft Windows users away from Chrome and
Firefox, which appears to be a major goal for the company.

[3]: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201422810#GUID-47156957-78A6-4109-806D-F3D8B6C72D0F__SECTION_18D8B095E0B144D0933947A9B2207DD7

### DRM itself is the problem

Let's zoom out for a minute. Would the situation be remedied if
Netflix told its DRM to allow 1080p streaming to Chrome and Firefox on
Windows? No — the problem here is not that Netflix chose Microsoft
unfairly, it's that Netflix is able to use DRM to limit
interoperability at all. Even setting interoperability aside, it's a
problem for any company to use DRM in any circumstance, because its
direct effects on users are even worse than its effects on
markets. Non-comprehensively, DRM has been known to: punch holes in
users' privacy and security, lock out those that wish to use free
software, make it difficult for people with disabilities to access
media, and make media that customers have already paid for suddenly
inaccessible at the whim of the company that controls the DRM.

The technology that Microsoft and Netflix appear to be using to
deliberately limit interoperability is a particularly far-reaching and
ambitious system of standardized, cooperating DRM systems, called
**Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME**. EME is a project of software
and media companies (including none other than Microsoft and Netflix)
working within the framework of the **World Wide Web Consortium
(W3C)**. The W3C is a membership-based organization which sets
official technical standards for the Web, and recently DRM-promoting
companies have been able to steer it towards DRM.

### Pulling the plug on EME

Even though EME is already implemented by Netflix, Edge, and some
other browsers and streaming sites, the W3C has yet to fully ratify it
as the first official Web standard for DRM. It's currently classified
as a Candidate Recommendation ([full text][5]). If we allow EME to be
ratified, we're likely to see even more uptake of DRM by other sites
and browsers, leading to more anticompetitive behavior and, worse, a
step back in Web users' privacy and other rights. History shows us
that ratifying EME would also energize long-simmering campaigns by the
DRM lobby to more deeply embed their coercive technology in other
standards, like those for the display of [text][6] and [static
images][7], and protocols used by [display cables][8] and [lower-level
Internet infrastructure][9].

[5]: https://www.w3.org/TR/encrypted-media
[6]: https://www.theverge.com/2012/5/19/3029793/epub-standards-body-lightweight-drm-ebooks
[7]: https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/10/theres-no-drm-jpeg-lets-keep-it-way
[8]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-bandwidth_Digital_Content_Protection
[9]: https://web.archive.org/web/20030805190017/http://www.idrm.org

**The W3C's rules of process mean that we can still prevent EME from
  being ratified — if we can demonstrate how many people oppose it.**
  Stand with the dissenters in the W3C by [signing our petition
  against EME][13] or [adding a protest selfie to the growing
  gallery][14]. You can make an even stronger statement by
  respectfully requesting a meeting with one of the [body's regional
  contacts][15] and expressing your concerns in person.

[13]: https://my.fsf.org/civicrm/profile/create%3Fgid%3D183%26reset%3D1
[14]: https://www.defectivebydesign.org/selfie-against-drm-in-web-standards
[15]: https://www.w3.org/Consortium/contact.html#region

Zak Rogoff  
Campaigns Manager

*Read online: <https://www.defectivebydesign.org/edge-netflix-eme>.*

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