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HTML5 DRM comes to all Chrome OS devices

Google updated the dev channel of Chrome OS to version 27.0.1438.8 for all Chrome OS devices. This build contains a number of stability fixes and feature enhancements. But the most important update is the arrival of ‘kind of‘ HTML5 DRM to all Chrome OS devices (earlier HMTL5 was DRMed only on ARM based devices).

This update brings, what Google calls, ‘Widevine Content Decryption Module’ to all Chrome Devices (not only ARM). It’s a module which ‘enables Widevine licenses for playback of HTML audio/video content. The new HTML5 Encrypted Media Extensions aka EME (a set of APIs designed to control playback of protected content) made this possible.

But why lock HTML5 with DRM?

There are two aspects of this news, one good and one bad. The good news is it will boost the adoption of HTML5 among the ‘media’ companies who otherwise were preferring non-free, non-standard and insecure technologies like Adobe Flash or Microsoft’s SilverLight.

Let’s get one thing clear big media companies are always going to ask for some kind of DRM for streamed media. If a platform or technology doesn’t support it, they won’t make their movies, shows or music available through that platform or technology. So no matter we dislike if we want media through open source/open standard technologies it will have to support DRM.

However, what Google has done there is not exactly as François Beaufort of Google tries to explain:

This HTML5 new feature is actually not “the” DRM module. Big media companies won’t stop asking for encryption to broadcast their videos. We know that. So, in order to have a seamless web experience (I mean no plug-in here), EME has been created to provide a unique way to interact with protected content.

We are looking for aspiring bloggers and journalists for The Mukt. If you are interested, apply now!

Netflix is already using EME for their HTML5 videos. So now such ‘content’ won’t be out of the reach of Linux users.

Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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