As a member, the MPAA will be represented on the advisory committee and be a part of the standards review process, gaining access to W3C materials before public release. Needless to say this announcement - made via Twitter - raises more than a few eyebrows.
The W3C is one of the most respected organizations in the tech universe, and for good reason. It is considered - and behaves as - the international standards organization for the World Wide Web. It counts not far from 400 members, and is led by founder Tim Berners-Lee, who is often described as the inventor of the World Wide Web which are you using now.
W3C standards are vitally important because they are adhered to by browser/application developers and acknowledged in the design of most of the world's web services. If you think about the most problematic elements of your WWW experience, they typically are associated with web sources that stray from W3C standards to add additional functionality or usability, such as sites that use Adobe's proprietary Flash plug-in to operator correctly.
The W3C claims to be committed to open standards and a "Web of Trust", but it is not without controversy. The most recent example surrounded the possible inclusion of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) - for the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) - in the HTML5 standard. DRM is certainly not associated with openness or interoperability.
Comments made by Tim Berners-Lee seemingly in support of DRM in HTML5 stoked even more fears - the so-called inventor of the web and director of the W3C rationalizing the inclusion of DRM in HTML5.
Now the MPAA has reportedly joined the group, it seems an even more likely scenario. As the trade group representing the major Hollywood film studios, the MPAA has found itself an advocate of doing harm to the open Internet on more than one occasion.
Provisions in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that appeared in the United States Congress would have given undue power to copyright holders to have websites shut down or otherwise obstructed for alleged copyright infringement. On top of that were very controversial proposals to use DNS blocking as a means to cut off Internet users from remote websites.
The MPAA seemingly is more interested with how to police what Internet users can do online rather than developing open standards. Indeed, in the past, it seemed to be more of denialist of technological changes driven by the Internet - particularly with how customers want to consume content - than an embracer of change.
Written by: James Delahunty @ 8 Jan 2014 6:05