Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

How DRM Has Permitted Google to Have an “Open Source” Browser That Is Still Under Its Exclusive Control

Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing:

That’s where Google’s web-dominating Chrome browser (and its nominally free/open cousin, Chromium) come in: these have become the defacto standard for web browsing, serving as the core for browsers like Microsoft Edge and Opera.

And while you can use or adapt Chromium to your heart’s content, your new browser won’t work with most internet video unless you license a proprietary DRM component called Widevine from Google. The API that connects to Widevine was standardized in 2017 by the World Wide Web Consortium, whose members narrowly voted down a proposal to change the membership rules for the W3C to require members not to abuse the DMCA to prevent DRM from becoming a tool to undermine competition.

Prior to 2017, all W3C standards were free for anyone to implement, allowing free/open browser developers to create their own rivals to the big companies’ offerings. But now, a key W3C standard requires a proprietary component to be functional, and that component is under Google’s control, and the company will not authorize free/open source developers to use that component.

Reminds me a little of the efforts by Facebook and Google to disassociate privacy from common understanding. Facebook and Google do not value privacy; Google doesn’t really care about open source.

By the way, I get why Netflix and Apple Music and all the rest of these streaming media platforms use DRM, but I am discouraged by how quickly we all decided to pretend that DRM is not horrible.