FSF Outs the World Wide Web Consortium over DRM Proposal

May 06, 2013

Richard Stallman calls for the W3C to remain independent of vendor interests.

Free Software Foundation founder Richard Stallman continued his crusade against Digital Rights Management (DRM) with a recent post at the FSF website, calling for the World Wide Web consortium to reject a proposal to add specifications for DRM. The post includes a link to a petition for online readers to register their concerns about the W3C proposal.

Stallman has labored for years to raise awareness about the dangers of DRM, a collection of encryption technologies used by hardware vendors, software vendors, and media companies to limit access to digital information after the sale. The FOSS community remains divided on the issue. Linus Torvalds and others have been critical of Stallman's anti-DRM focus, and the strong prohibition of DRM (which Stallman calls "Digital Restrictions Management") is one of the reasons why the Linux kernel is still licensed under Version 2 of the GPL rather than the DRM-unfriendly Version 3.

The GPL debates, however, were based on differing interpretations on the role of a software license, not necessarily on merits of DRM itself. Over the last few years, the use of encryption has expanded exponentially with higher bandwidth, faster processors, and the growth of the Internet as a content distribution medium. Stallman argues that no one can prevent vendors from adding DRM restrictions to HTML content through proprietary plugins and other non-free code, but a world-wide standards body such as the W3C should not be lending its support to DRM through official standards.

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