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There’s been lots of buzz about the proposed addition of “Encrypted Media Extensions” to HTML5, and the related extension of the HTML5 Working Group charter to include support for “protected content.” In the wake of the announcement that these are “in-scope” for HTML, we wanted to explain what this means — and doesn’t mean — for W3C and the Open Web.

W3C is not developing a new DRM system, nor are we embracing DRM as an organization. We do acknowledge that some in industry demand content protection and that DRM use is currently widespread. We also know that others find DRM anathema to the Open Web. In building the Open Web, we do not equate “open” content with material that must be available free of charge.

Given these competing demands, W3C is convening people with a range of viewpoints to investigate how to keep the Web maximally open (for instance, consistent with the W3C Royalty-Free Patent Policy) and to help us determine how content protection can interact with the Open Web. We invite those who are interested in the technical discussions about Encrypted Media Extensions to monitor or participate in the HTML Working Group, which is open to all. That specification will undergo the same technical review and interoperability testing as other W3C specifications on the Recommendation Track.

To help crystallize the technical discussions around Encrypted Media and DRM, we’re opening a new Restricted Media Community Group specifically to consider the paired challenges of openness and access-restriction. As a growing number of industries with current requirements related to content protection are embracing the Open Web Platform, we seek a solution that considers both today’s business and technical realities and the long-term health of the Web. The Web and TV Interest Group is another place where these conversations happen, in task forces producing requirements documents. The CG does not intend to develop specifications, although it might approach requirements documents from a user perspective.

Join us at restrictedmedia to continue the discussion.