Mozilla grudgingly adopts DRM support in Firefox

Firefox will use proprietary EME code, after Mozilla bows to pressure

Jane McCallion
15 May 2014

All future editions of Firefox will include digital rights management (DRM) technology, Mozilla has announced, even though it disagrees with Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) on principle.

The company has “little choice” but to implement the technology, as “most competing browsers and the content industry [are] embracing the W3C EME specification”, according to a blog post by Andreas Gal, Mozilla’s CTO.

Mozilla, along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), has been protesting against the incorporation of EME into the specifications for HTML5 by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

While the organisation isn’t against DRM per se, it has argued that the majority of systems, including EME, are “overly burdensome for users” and can restrict even lawful use of content, such as buying a film on one device and trying to watch it on another.

It also disagrees with the fact EME uses proprietary code, which Mozilla is against on principle as an open source foundation.

However, some of the biggest content providers on the web - including Netflix, Microsoft and Google - have put their weight behind EME, leaving Mozilla no choice but to include it in all upcoming versions of Firefox.

“Mozilla would have preferred to see the content industry move away from locking content to a specific device … and worked to provide alternatives,” Gal said.

“We have come to the point where Mozilla not implementing the W3C EME specification means that Firefox users have to switch to other browsers to watch content restricted by DRM… which can make up more than 30% of the downstream traffic in North America,” he said.

Danny O’Brien, international director of the EFF, disagreed. “Mozilla and the W3C are both organisations with missions intended to defend and promote the open web. Both have now committed to a system of content control that is seen as a violation of those principles by many internet users.”

“We need to challenge the baseless assertion that users don't mind DRM as long as they can watch House of Cards and … given the amount of compromise we have already suffered, we need to spell out the principles that we won't compromise on,” he concluded.

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