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MPAA joins Web standards group amid video DRM dispute

The movie business now will have a direct voice in a controversy about how to handle copy protection of videos on the Web.

That's because the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has joined the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), a group that creates Web standards, such as the HTML technology that underlies every Web page on the Internet.

"Just met with W3C CEO Jeffrey Jaffe. We're excited to join W3C and look forward to listening, learning and contributing," tweeted Alex Deacon, the MPAA's senior vice president for Internet Technology at the MPAA. Jaffe has … Read more

Take three for better browser images on different screens

Last week, it seemed like browser makers were about ready to settle on an idea called srcset to grapple with the tricky task of fetching the best images to show on today's wide variety of screen types.

This week, the issue is up in the air with the arrival of a new possibility called srcN. And it also handles another situation called "art direction," the idea of delivering a cropped image so people seeing it on small screens aren't saddled with inconveniently small details.

On Friday, Google engineers Tab Atkins and John Mellor proposed srcN, which … Read more

Advertiser group: Do Not Track Web privacy effort is dead

Thwarted by irreconcilable differences, the Digital Advertising Alliance has withdrawn from an effort to standardize how browsers could tell Web sites that users don't want their behavior tracked.

The World Wide Web Consortium's Do Not Track effort included browser makers, privacy advocates, and advertisers, but the conflicting agendas hobbled an already contentious effort. Most recently, the working group trying to hammer out the standard rejected a July proposal from the DAA.

"After more than two years of good-faith effort and having contributed significant resources, the DAA no longer believes that the TPWG is capable of fostering the … Read more

Do Not Track standards group shoots down advertiser proposal

A standards group has rejected a proposed standard from several advertising groups on the best way to let people tell Web site operators not to track their behavior.

The leaders of Tracking Protection Working Group, which includes representatives from browser makers, advertisers, privacy groups, and more, announced the decision Monday night. Instead, the group will use the June 2013 draft of the proposed "Do Not Track" standard.

The standards work is taking place at the World Wide Web Consortium, and the decision is final, said the group's two co-chairs, Peter Swire, who joined in November, and Matthias … Read more

W3C proceeds with Web video encryption despite opposition

The World Wide Web Consortium has decided to go ahead with a technology that will let companies like Netflix stream encrypted video using Web sites -- against the wishes of the Free Software Foundation, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and 25,600 petition signatories.

The Web standards group announced the move Thursday, to nobody's surprise. Entertainment-industry players had approached the group three years ago to discuss the technology, Microsoft has been helping develop it, and Google already has built the specification, called Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) into Chrome.

The standard doesn't actually handle encryption and digital rights management (DRM) to … Read more

Free Software Foundation attacks DRM in HTML video

The Free Software Foundation, never a friend to digital rights management, has taken issue with its arrival in the Web standards world.

In a letter from the FSF, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Creative Commons, and other allied groups yesterday, the group called on the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to keep DRM out of the standards it defines.

"We write to implore the World Wide Web Consortium and its member organizations to reject the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) proposal," the groups said. "DRM restricts the public's freedom, even beyond what overzealous copyright law requires, to the perceived … Read more

Coming to an e-book or car near you: The Web

BARCELONA, Spain--You're used to the Web on your PC. You're getting used to it on your smartphone. So what's next?

Publishing and automobile industry players have just begun spinning up efforts at the World Wide Web Consortium, said W3C Chief Executive Jeff Jaffe in an interview here at Mobile World Congress. So don't be surprised to see proprietary technology for e-book readers and in-dash computer systems slowly disappear in favor of software based on Web technology.

Books are perhaps an obvious area for Web technology, given that in electronic form they're just formatted documents and the Web began its life as a way to share formatted documents. But the two domains have taken years to reach today's level of convergence.

"The Web equals publishing," Jaffe said. "There's really no difference anymore."

Among the inroads Web technology has made into publishing:… Read more

W3C buttons down HTML5, opens up HTML5.1

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today took two significant steps down its double-track path toward standardizing HTML, the core language of the Web.

First, it released a "candidate recommendation" of Hypertext Markup Language 5, which means HTML5 is settling down in the eyes of the standards group. Second, it released a first draft of HTML5.1, a smaller set of changes it's developing simultaneously.

"CR [candidate recommendation] is the stable branch into which only bug fixes go, [and] 5.1 is the new line for improvements," said Robin Berjon, one of the five newly appointed HTML5 editors. … Read more

Privacy professor to try to break Do Not Track logjam

Peter Swire, an Ohio State law professor and privacy expert who has worked with the Obama administration, is stepping into a contentious process to create a standard way to let people stop Web sites from tracking their online behavior.

Aleecia M. McDonald announced today she's stepping down as co-chair of the Do Not Track standardization effort at the World Wide Web Consortium. She previously worked for Firefox maker Mozilla, which launched the current DNT technology after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sought a mechanism to block online tracking, but she currently works for a program within Stanford University'… Read more

Web standards vet marches Microsoft to the front lines (Q&A)

You might think developing technology standards is plodding, bureaucratic tedium compared to something like the frenzy of smartphone innovation.

But you'd be wrong, at least in the case of Paul Cotton, who leads Microsoft's involvement in the important and often fractious world of Web standards. Web standards are hot -- and hotly contested.

Cotton, an even-keeled Canadian, discovered a passion for standards more than 20 years ago when figuring out how to digitize airplane maintenance manuals. He's comfortable with the contradictory motives of standards groups: fierce competition one moment and gentlemanly cooperation the next.

It's a … Read more