Why EME is great

12th February 2018

Everyone I know thinks it's fine and great to pirate movies and music. But they are wrong. Piracy is bad. This is because movies and music take a lot of effort to make and it's not fair to use this content in ways the creator doesn't want.

Happily, there is a solution: EME. Encrypted Media Extensions are a technology that means your web-browser downloads a blob of code, and that blob allows the graphics card to decrypt a media stream. This stops people saving a movie to a hard-drive and sharing it with P2P networks like BitTorrent.

This technology works well, and it's already in use on websites like YouTube and NetFlix!

The Free Software Foundation is vehemently against EME and other types of DRM. See this website they maintain: Defective by design. This is what they say about DRM on the FAQ page:

“While it is advertised as a mechanism to prevent copyright infringement, DRM is actually designed to restrict all of the incredible possibilities enabled by digital technologies and place them under the control of a few, who can then micromanage and track every interaction with digital media.” - FSF

But the fact is that, with movies and music, there are only a few real uses:

If someone wants to sell a movie but they don't want it pirated or modified without their permission, that's fair-enough. It's their content and it took them a lot of effort to make it. I don't see why you would think you have the right to take someone elses work and do what you want with it without permission.

It's stance on DRM is one of many things that the Free Software Foundation gets wrong by being too absolutist about everything and ignoring the reality of how people really use technology.

Normally I disaprove of technology that's designed to be hard to understand. However, DRM is an example where it's actually beneficial for technology to be obscured. It stops people pirating stuff.

The thing that makes EME so great is that, it's the tidiest DRM scheme I know of. In the past stuff was DRMed with stuff like Adobe Flash Player, which was a giant proprietary mess. EME puts the DRM into a tidy little module.

So. Enjoy DRMed media and don't pirate!