Why We Are Voting Against the W3C Decision on Encrypted Media Extensions

There is a big controversy in the technical standards area that impacts accessibility of content in web browsers.  Ars Technica covered this recently in their post: Over many objections, W3C approves DRM for HTML5.

Benetech is voting against the W3C decision on Encrypted Media Extensions (EME).  Here is the statement that will accompany our vote:

EME should not become a W3C Recommendation without adding provisions that safeguard the rights of accessibility and security researchers to do their job without risking prosecution under the DMCA and similar national legislation.These types of provisions are already implemented around patents connected to standards work, and we believe accessibility professionals deserve similar protections. 
DRM has been the enemy of accessibility, not to mention the ugly compromise DRM represents to technical excellence and freedom.  EME’s reason to exist is to implement DRM. EME is irrevocably tainted from an accessibility standpoint because of this close association.  The arguments from our friends in the accessibility field arguing that EME is not DRM, or that EME's implementation of DRM overcomes the fundamental incompatibility of DRM with accessible media, are unconvincing to us at Benetech.  We are an organization that has been fighting to overcome the negative impact of DRM on accessibility for over a decade.
We understand that the W3C has already made the decision to compromise and support DRM-related technology. We truly hope that the W3C will act to mitigate some of the damage from that decision.


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