It came not as a roar, but a whisper. Those that we thought were fighting for the universality of the web were, in fact, being poisoned slowly. Eventually even the the stalwart and faithful relented before the will of corporation. Now we’ve reached the end of the road. The new road set forth by the corporate masters is laden with encryption and access controls designed to make the consumer the criminal, not the actual criminals (who will weather this storm as they have for decades before).
For those who aren’t aware: Firefox (as Chrome before it) has included what is known as “Encrypted Media Extensions” or “EME” for short. This allows a content producer to encrypt and decrypt media. This is the same crap that iTunes and other music distributors started out with, then discarded because people wanted to listen to their music on any device. Well, it’s back and now it’s part of your browser. Adobe seems to be the only game in town with a module, but these are early days yet. Remember when, a few scant years ago, we didn’t need to deal with nasty plugin compatibility issues? Yeah, that’s coming back. Remember when you could copy and paste from various websites for whatever reason you wanted? Yeah, that’s going away. DRM doesn’t stop pirates. Period. DRM harms the customer.
I really wish that people could see what harm DRM does to them. From restrictive rights management that offer no recourse or appeal if it breaks, to invasive spyware and firmware that you cannot inspect, opt-out of or simply choose to use in a different manner than was originally intended. The absolutely hilarious thing is that all these attempts to wrangle “piracy” do little to stop it from happening. DRM has historically never worked. It doesn’t work because the fundamental flaw with media is that, at some point, you have to view it, hear it or in some way consume it. This analog hole is the major reason why the whole thing is just an arms race between “pirates” and the media industry. The consumer is the one who always looses.
By allowing DRM, especially on the web, you are effectively allowing yourself to have your hands tied so you can watch or listen to anything. You are giving up your agency to choose because you want some temporary entertainment. You give up your rights to Fair Use because you don’t want to deal with thought that the equipment you purchased is yours and not theirs, and you are the one who decides how it should be used.