International Day Against DRM

As an upstart browserengine it is my privilege to promise on this International Day Against DRM 2022: Haphaestus will never support Encrypted Media Extensions or any other form of DRM.

In fact the GPLv3 license used for various components state:

No covered work shall be deemed part of an effective technological measure under any applicable law fulfilling obligations under article 11 of the WIPO copyright treaty adopted on 20 December 1996, or similar laws prohibiting or restricting circumvention of such measures.

In plain english: This software is not DRM, do not litigate as if it were.

Then again, even if I wanted to humor incumbant publishers and implement enough of a roadblock to legally qualify as DRM we’ve got a large enough backlog of features to distract us from doing so. Not to mention multimedia and JavaScript, both dependencies of the EME (partial) specification, are specifically out-of-scope for Haphaestus!

It is possible streaming-only apps may register to handle specific links for Haphaestus and other apps, but I don’t consider that our concern.

What is DRM?

Incumbant publishers insist, supposedly on behalf of their authors and citing questionable math, that they need to prevent “piracy” and recover those lost sales. In the persuit of this they put some token security in place to trigger relatively-recent laws against accessing that data except through their apps.

Today this near-exclusively takes the form of streaming-only services. To the extent that most of the shows discussed around the watercooler today are only legally available for rent.

Why not DRM?

DRM is the central knot which must be untied before we can enjoy widespread software freedom, as opposed to a world where practically all our software is built upon free/opensource software without passing on the Four Freedoms.

DRM epitomizes the “we knew bestsecurity-by-obscurity approach, being in place specifically to prevent the user from exercising their software freedom to modify the playback software. To prevent you from adding features the upstream developer dissaproves of, or worse simply hasn’t considered yet.

As such DRM is inherantly proprietary software, and as long as society coerces us into accepting DRM into our lives the ideology of proprietary software has a foothold.

Besides it is not like the web must have DRM before it can have quality entertainment. The web allows anyone to publish their own handiwork at near-zero cost where others around the world can enjoy it! The primary role left for “publisher” middlemen is to advertise the work they’ve funded as “must-watch” entertainment. The role for that funding may be diminishing too with new technology like NeRFs and NeRVs, audiofiction provides precedance.

How to oppose?

Fundamentally we need to stop normalizing DRM, and to make our opposition crystal clear.

The perception is that DRM is a necessary law to fund artistic endevours in the digital age. This is incorrect, but publishers excel at marketting themselves as the only worthy option. Until a counterexample becomes widely known we’ll have trouble convincing politicians otherwise. So go out of your way to locate what the open web offers and share what you find with friends, there’s plenty of art which deserves a wider audience then they have! And chip in some money if you can so the artists can continue their great work!

What I am specifically not advocating is to download “pirated” copies of popular movies, I understand the temptation but that only serves to justify the need for these anti-circumvention laws. Though feel free to break your handcuffs on media you supposedly own.