Google, Microsoft, Netflix Want Encrypted HTML5 Video and Audio

Posted by at 10:47 am on February 24, 2012

Google, Microsoft, and Netflix have put forward a proposal that could add a level of copy protection to HTML5 audio and video. Encrypted Media Extensions would let apps on the web and elsewhere use keys to control who has access to a given media stream. It would allow any format that would work in HTML5 as long as the format itself can support some kind of key or bit.

If implemented, it could eliminate objections raised by Adobe as well as content providers regarding HTML5’s limits. Paid movie services and others that want a secure stream have either limited HTML5 to native mobile apps, where users can’t easily rip the feed, or avoided it altogether. Netflix would have the option of dropping Microsoft’s Silverlight plugin when on the web, while Google could skip Flash for its YouTube-based movie service in Android Market. Microsoft has been deprecating Silverlight and could use HTML5 even on the Xbox 360.

Concerns exist both on technical and philosophical levels. It may not necessarily provide the promised experience in at least the initial spec and could require revision. Despite promising to keep digital rights management out of HTML5, the trio have also raised alerts from Mozilla and others concerned it would break standards and force a less than ideal concern that might hurt some HTML5 supporters.

The World Wide Web Consortium, which has to consider the proposal, hasn’t said when it might decide. As an unofficial draft, it could spend some time being completed before the question of approval and possible implementation comes up.

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