Posted by: bluesyemre | September 11, 2016

Phones without headphone jacks are phones with #DRM for audio


Nilay Patel’s magnificent rant about Apple’s rumored announcement that future phones won’t have headphone jacks starts with the main event: “1. Digital audio means DRM audio.”

It’s true: the existence of HDMI ports enabled the use of HDCP, and led to the growth of video services whose products refused to play at full resolution (or at all) through analog outputs, and also arbitrarily refused to talk to various monitors and screens if some secret algorithm decided that they’d be a risk.

Patel later notes that “Ditching a deeply established standard will disproportionately impact accessibility,” but misses the connection between these two phenomena. Once there’s DRM on an output, then you can only plug new devices into that output if you have permission from the consortium that made the DRM. That group may make some accommodations for accessibility, but can never think of all the use-cases and solutions that a wide-open standard will have (for example, the W3C’s video DRM, EME, has many accessibility accommodations, but wouldn’t allow color-blind people to shift the gamut of video in realtime).

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