An old slogan from days-gone-by: Ask not what the Internet can do for you, ask what you can do for the Internet. 

I read a piece in Ars Technica talking about efforts to get DRM built into the web. It’s a complicated story, touches on a bunch of different viewpoints, Tim Berners-Lee, Richard Stallman, Cory Doctorow, Joi Ito.

My point of view: I have been, at one time, a dues-paying corporate member of the W3C, around the time XML-RPC was becoming SOAP, but I mostly stayed away from the process. I saw it as a time sink, it took me away from developing features for users, which is what I like to do. It looked to me as if the goal of the W3C was to negotiate between the big companies of the day, at times Microsoft, Oracle, Apple, Sun, IBM, then Google, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, the entertainment industry, these days. 

The idea — take a public resource and let the biggest companies divide up its future. The result is as lifeless as you might imagine. A big part of the reason imho why the web is in so much trouble these days. 

Anyway, I wanted to offer my two cents in the DRM debate.

Should the web have DRM?

I don’t see why the web needs DRM. 

Is there a simple one or two page summary of the reasons for DRM? I understand why big media companies want to keep people from copying their movies, music, TV shows, etc. No judgement on that. In that I’m not as radical as Stallman, but I’m closer to his view than I am to that of big companies with expensive content that they want to lock up under DRM. 

I was surprised to hear that MIT is unhappy that the W3C isn’t paying rent. They are entitled of course, but I don’t think the web itself should have to pay. 

Anyway, I see how the web can help big companies, but I wonder when you all are going give back to the web? Seriously, the web has given us so much, and it’s languishing because the big companies and the organizations they back suck the life out of it, and we stand by and say nothing? What does the web get in return for making these companies and their founders so rich? 

Maybe we should have a negotiation. Someone should stand for just the web. You can have DRM, but in return you have to help the web. If you can’t do that, then the argument might go, the web can’t help you.

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