Youtube ditches Flash, but it hardly matters

A year ago, the news that the world's biggest video site was abandoning proprietary software would have been incredible, but thanks to the World Wide Web Consortium's Netflix-driven DRM work, this changes very little.

(This is my first EFF op-ed in more than 10 years. Nice to be back in the saddle!)

Both the W3C and Mozilla made similar "pragmatic" arguments for taking this controversial and divisive step—one that disappointed their own staffers as much as their supporters. Fundamentally, their argument went: "We are the good guys, and we will become irrelevant if we don't do this terrible thing, which will happen whether or not we play along. The Internet is a better place with us fighting for its users, even if we're selling them out here." In other words: "We have to destroy the village to save it."

Which brings us back to Youtube. Now, you can access all of Youtube videos without having to use Adobe's proprietary software, so long as your browser supports the W3C's version of Adobe's proprietary software. If you're using Firefox, you can access all of Youtube's videos without Flash, except that in some cases, you'll need their version of the W3C-standardized "Encrypted Media Extension"—which requires that you use proprietary software. From Adobe.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Youtube Ditches Flash, and it Hardly Matters: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss
[Cory Doctorow/EFF]