This week, the chief arbiter of Web standards, Tim Berners-Lee, decided not to exercise his power to extend the development timeline for the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) Web technology standard [defectivebydesign.org]. The EME standardization effort, sponsored by streaming giants like Google and Netflix, aims to make it cheaper and more efficient to impose Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) systems on Web users. The streaming companies' representatives within the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) were unable to finish EME within the time allotted by the W3C, and had asked Berners-Lee for an extension through next year.
Berners-Lee made his surprising decision on Tuesday, as explained in an email announcement by W3C representative Philippe Le Hégaret. Instead of granting a time extension — as he has already done once — Berners-Lee delegated the decision to the W3C's general decision-making body, the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee includes diverse entities from universities to companies to nonprofits, and it is divided as to whether EME should be part of Web standards. It is entirely possible that the Advisory Committee will reject the time extension and terminate EME development, marking an important victory for the free Web.
So it's not dead yet, despite Berners-Lee's decision. Let's not celebrate prematurely and keep up the fight to keep DRM out of the web!