EFF Stirs Fear of Flash DRM

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is upset about Adobe’s efforts to add digital rights management to its extremely popular Flash video format. Since the Digital Millennium Copyright Law (DMCA) forbids circumventing DRM, this could make mashups and downloads of Flash videos illegal.

DRM, by restricting the remixing of Flash videos, stands to bankrupt a rich store of educational value by foreclosing the ability of students and teachers to “echo others” by remixing videos posted online.

Adobe’s designs on DRM have been public for almost a year now. The Adobe Media Player (which is still due this quarter, according to an Adobe spokesperson I talked to recently) is to include DRM, as we reported last April. This is a play for the growing ad-supported streaming TV market. An outside vendor, Widevine, announced support for Flash DRM in April as well.

Adobe won’t be flooding the online video market with DRM anytime soon, though. Its Flash DRM would only be available to customers of Adobe’s expensive Flash Media Server, for which many video-sharing sites decline to pay, and users of the Adobe Media Player, which hasn’t even been released yet.

Adobe Media Player is meant to be an hardware-independent competitor to Apple iTunes and Windows Media Player, setting up yet another skirmish among the three companies. Elsewhere, Apple, despite customer interest, continues to withhold Flash from the iPhone.

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