Underholdning writes "DRM is coming to HTML5. The W3C published a working draft yesterday of the framework that will support the use of DRM-protected media. Ars Technica's Peter Bright reports on it with an article claiming that DRM in HTML5 is a victory for the open web, not a defeat. Bright argues that if HTML5 does not support DRM, then content providers will move their content away from open standards and implement it with native apps — abandoning the web in the process. Quoting: 'Keeping it out of W3C might have been a moral victory, but its practical implications would sit between slim and none. It doesn't matter if browsers implement "W3C EME" or "non-W3C EME" if the technology and its capabilities are identical. ... Deprived of the ability to use browser plugins, protected content distributors are not, in general, switching to unprotected media. Instead, they're switching away from the Web entirely. Want to send DRM-protected video to an iPhone? "There's an app for that." Native applications on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 can all implement DRM, with some platforms, such as Android and Windows 8, even offering various APIs and features to assist this.'"
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Ars reports on an international treaty being negotiated that would relax restrictions on versions of books made to be more accessible to blind people. Unfortunately, the MPAA and similar organizations have been lobbying aggressively to have the treaty strengthen copyright protections as well, and could derail the entire process. Quoting: "In principle, the digital revolution should have dramatically improved blind peoples' access to the world's information. ... Unfortunately, copyright law often stands in the way. Legal restrictions on circumventing digital rights management (DRM) technologies can limit the accessibility of e-books. And in some countries, libraries and other non-profits must seek permission from the creator of each work before producing accessible versions of books in other formats. Getting permission is a laborious process that, in practice, means that only a small fraction of available works is ever converted into accessible formats. ... The pending WIPO treaty would change that. It has two core goals that everyone we talked to supports in principle: requiring countries to enact an exception for blind people similar to America's Chaffee Amendment and allowing nonprofit organizations that help blind people to share accessible works across international borders. ... Negotiators had already excluded audiovisual works from the treaty in order to placate the movie studios. But to the frustration of treaty advocates, Hollywood has gotten involved in the negotiations anyway."
An anonymous reader writes with news on Coursera partnering with publishers to give students access to more textbooks. From the article: "Online learning startup Coursera on Wednesday announced a partnership with Chegg, a student hub for various educational tools and materials, as well as five publishers to offer students free textbooks during their courses. Professors teaching courses on Coursera have previously only been able to assign content freely available on the Web, but as of today they will also be able to provide an even wider variety of curated teaching and learning materials at no cost to the student." Zero cost, but not without cost: "Starting today, publishers Cengage Learning, Macmillan Higher Education,Oxford University Press SAGE, and Wiley will experiment with offering versions of their e-textbooks, delivered via Chegg’s DRM-protected e-Reader, to Coursera students. We are also actively discussing pilot agreements and related alliances with Springer and other publishers. ... The publisher content will be free and available for enrolled students for the duration of the class. If you wish to use the e-textbook before or after the course, they will be available for purchase."
jrepin writes "Digital restrictions management (DRM) creates damaged goods that users cannot control or use freely. It requires users to give-up control of their computers and restricts access to digital data and media. Device manufacturers and corporate copyrights holders have already been massively infecting their products with user-hostile DRM. Tablets, mobile phones and other minicomputers are sold with numerous restrictions embedded that cripple users freedom. The proposal at table in W3C to put DRM into HTML goes even further. Fight it: use today's today is international Day Against DRM, so spread the word and make yourself heard!" The EFF suggests making every day a day against DRM.
centre21 writes "Having been on Slashdot for several years, I've seen a lot of articles concerning DRM. What's most interesting to me are the number of comments condemning DRM outright and calling for the abolishing DRM with all due prejudice. The question I have for the community: is there ever a time when DRM is justified? My focus here is the aspect of how DRM protects the rights of content creators (aka, artists) and helps to prevent people freely distributing their works and with no compensation. How would those who are opposed to DRM ensure that artists will get just compensation for their works if there are no mechanisms to prevent someone from simply digitally copying a work (be it music, movie or book) and giving it away to anyone who wants it? Because, in my eyes, when people stop getting paid for what they do, they'll stop doing it. Many of my friends and family are in the arts, and let me assure you, one of the things they fear most isn't censorship, it's (in their words), 'Some kid freely distributing my stuff and eliminating my source of income.' And I can see their point. So I reiterate, to those who vehemently oppose DRM, is there ever a time where DRM can be a force for good, or can they offer an alternative that would prevent the above from happening?"
An anonymous reader writes "The new Xbox is almost here and the details appear to strongly suggest 'always on' is the way forward. We all know that this is an artificial requirement and certainly there are plenty of people on all sides of the table. To paraphrase the user 'tuffy' who commented on this issue at Ars Technica recently; if you're trying to sell 'always online' as a feature of the future, there needs to be some benefit for me the customer. There is not one. Or, rather, there is no sign yet of any actual clearly compelling reason why any end user would support this limitation to their purchase. So, what's the best way to express this? Spend your money on an Ouya? Contact the Xbox team? These are all valid options but they also lack visibility. What we need is a way that could help actually quantify the levels of discontent in the gamer community. Maybe E3 attendees could turn their backs in protest like some did during Thatcher's funeral procession. Or gamers could sign some useless petition. What do Slashdotters think? Is the upcoming Steam box a reasonable plan? As a gamer, I'm of two minds about the whole thing. I really don't like it but I may roll over eventually and join the herd because I could get used to it. Then again part of me is rankled by this slow erosion of access to me and my data."
kxra writes "The Free Culture Foundation has posted a thorough response to the most common and misinformed defenses of the W3C's Extended Media Extensions (EME) proposal to inject DRM into HTML5. They join the EFF and FSF in a call to send a strong message to the W3C that DRM in HTML5 undermines the W3C's self-stated mission to make the benefits of the Web 'available to all people, whatever their hardware, software, network infrastructure, native language, culture, geographical location, or physical or mental ability.' The FCF counters the three most common myths by unpacking some quotes which explain that 1.) DRM is not about protecting copyright. That is a straw man. DRM is about limiting the functionality of devices and selling features back in the form of services. 2.) DRM in HTML5 doesn't obsolete proprietary, platform-specific browser plug-ins; it encourages them. 3.) the Web doesn't need big media; big media needs the Web." Also: the FSF has announced that a coalition of 27 web freedom organizations have sent a joint letter to the W3C opposing DRM support in HTML5.
I've been really, really excited about digital video distribution lately: first Netflix greenlights jms's return to science fiction TV, and then Amazon announces their new pilots. Perhaps the decade long dearth of any good television is nearing its end! So, with that in mind, I finished up editing Slashdot for the day and sat down to watch some of these new pilots. Only to discover that Amazon has taken away my ability to watch entirely in the name of Digital Restrictions Management.
itwbennett writes "Amazon sent out a press release over the weekend announcing that the pilots for their original shows 'held 8 spots on the list of 10 most streamed Amazon VOD episodes.' So blogger and entertainment junkie Peter Smith decided to spend a couple of hours seeing if they were worth watching. He managed to sit through 4 of the 8 comedy shows and found a mixed bag — one a clear miss, two meh, and one he'd like to see turned into a series. Have you watched any of the pilots? What did you think?" The quality of these the pilots is not the only way they're a mixed bag: for many Linux users, they're simply not watchable. Watch soon for unknown_lamer's screed on the fat lot of good(will) Amazon is generating by making it harder to legally get these shows.
FuzzNugget writes "In a recent blog post, Netflix details their plans to transition from Silverlight to HTML5, but with one caveat: HTML5 needs to include a built-in DRM scheme. With the W3C's proposed Encrypted Media Extensions, this may come to fruition. But what would we sacrificing in openness and the web as we know it? How will developers of open source browsers like Firefox respond to this?"
DavidGilbert99 writes "According to anonymous sources, Microsoft's game director Adam Orth has left the company following a series of comments on Twitter about the rumoured always-on aspect of the next generation Xbox console. It is still unclear if Orth left voluntarily or was pushed out but either way it's not good news for Microsoft." If you'd prefer your news without obnoxious auto-playing video ads (with sound!), IGN reports Orth's departure, too.
Adam Orth, creative director of Microsoft Studios, on Thursday tweeted that "doesn't get" objections to DRM schemes that require always-on internet connection to play console games. An anonymous reader writes "Microsoft on Friday released an official statement regarding the tweets: 'We apologize for the inappropriate comments made by an employee on Twitter yesterday. This person is not a spokesperson for Microsoft, and his personal views do not reflect the customer centric approach we take to our products or how we would communicate directly with our loyal consumers. We are very sorry if this offended anyone, however we have not made any announcements about our product roadmap, and have no further comment on this matter.'" I can't help reading those tweets in the voice of Sterling Archer.
beerdragoon writes "Electronic Arts CEO Peter Moore has responded to the company's appearance in the finals of the Consumerist's Worst Company In America poll. Moore accepts some responsibility for some of EA's past failings: 'I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve made plenty of mistakes. These include server shut downs too early, games that didn’t meet expectations, missteps on new pricing models and most recently, severely fumbling the launch of SimCity. We owe gamers better performance than this.' However, he ignores or contests many of the common complaints about the company — issues that earned it a spot in the finals for the second year in a row. Quoting: 'Many continue to claim the Always-On function in SimCity is a DRM scheme. It’s not. People still want to argue about it. We can’t be any clearer – it’s not. Period. ... Some people think that free-to-play games and micro-transactions are a pox on gaming. Tens of millions more are playing and loving those games."
Trailrunner7 writes "Source code and a private signing key for firmware manufactured by a popular PC hardware maker American Megatrends Inc. (AMI) have been found on an open FTP server hosted in Taiwan. Researcher Brandan Wilson found the company's data hosted on an unnamed vendor's FTP server. Among the vendor's internal emails, system images, high-resolution PCB images and private Excel spreadsheets was the source code for different versions of AMI firmware, code that was current as of February 2012, along with the private signing key for the Ivy Bridge firmware architecture. AMI builds the AMIBIOS BIOS firmware based on the UEFI specification for PC and server motherboards built by AMI and other manufacturers. The company started out as a motherboard maker, and also built storage controllers and remote management cards found in many Dell and HP computers. 'The worst case is the creation of a persistent, Trojanized update that would allow remote access to the system at the lowest possible level,' researcher Adam Caudill said. 'Another possibility would be the creation of an update that would render the system unbootable, requiring replacement of the mainboard.'"
New submitter SoVi3t points out comments from Microsoft Studios Creative Director Adam Orth about the debate over always-online DRM, brought to the fore recently by the disastrous launch of SimCity and rumors that the next-gen Xbox console will require it. "Don't want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? 'Deal with it,' says Microsoft Studio's creative director. In what he later termed a 'fun lunch break,' Orth took to Twitter to express his shock at people who take umbrage with the idea of an always-on console. When quizzed by other Twitter users about people with no internet connection, he suggested that they should get one, as it is 'awesome.' He then likened people who worry about intermittent internet connectivity being an issue as the same as someone not buying a vacuum cleaner because the electricity sometimes goes out. While Orth later apologized, saying it had being a bit of banter with friends, it did raise awareness that there are more than a few people who are very unhappy with the possibility of an always-on future version of the Xbox. Orth has also now switched his Twitter account settings to private."
sgroyle (author Simon Royle) writes with an excerpt from an article he wrote about discovering that publisher WHSmith has been adding DRM to books without their authors' permission, and against their intent: "DRM had, without my knowledge, been added to my book. I quickly checked my other books; same thing. Then I checked the books of authors who, because of their vocal and public opposition, I know are against DRM – Konrath, Howey, and Doctorow, to name a few – same result. ALL books on WHSmith have DRM in them. Rather than assume WHSmith where at fault, I checked with my distributor, Draft2Digital. They send my books to Kobo, who in turn send my books to WHSmith. D2D assured me the DRM was not being added by them and were distressed to hear that this was the case. Kobo haven't replied to any of the messages in this thread: 'WHSmith putting DRM in books distributed via Kobo'. I'm not holding my breath." Update: 03/22 21:02 GMT by T : Problem resolved. Hanno Liem of the Kobo team wrote with good news that the DRM notices that were appended were done so in error, and since corrected: "The original site has been updated – it was just a bug on our site, and was resolved within a day I think. We're all slashdot readers here at Kobo Operations, and this is kinda painful :p" Thanks, Hanno.
jrepin writes "There's a new front in the battle against digital restrictions management (DRM)technologies. These technologies, which supposedly exist to enforce copyright, have never done anything to get creative people paid. Instead, by design or by accident, their real effect is to interfere with innovation, fair use, competition, interoperability, and our right to own things. That's why we were appalled to learn that there is a proposal currently before the World Wide Web Consortium's HTML5 Working Group to build DRM into the next generation of core Web standards. The proposal is called Encrypted Media Extensions, or EME. Its adoption would be a calamitous development, and must be stopped."
An anonymous reader writes "I'm an indie developer about to release a small ($5 — $10 range) utility for graphic designers. I'd like to employ at least a basic deterrent to pirates, but with the recent SimCity disaster, I'm wondering: what is a reasonable way to deter piracy without ruining things for legitimate users? A simple serial number? Online activation? Encrypted binaries? Please share your thoughts."