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Mozilla begrudgingly brings Netflix support to Linux with DRM in Firefox

Closed DRM and open source don't mix
Thu May 15 2014, 12:04

A Firefox logoSOFTWARE DEVELOPER MOZILLA has announced the implementation of proprietary HTML5 based digital restrictions management (DRM) in its Firefox web browser, such as that used by media streaming services.

EME and CDM encryption are already supported in other web browsers, but up to now, Mozilla has resisted adding them to Firefox, in protest of what it sees as imperfections that make them no better than their predecessors.

Today however, the company admitted a grudging retreat, saying that with the end of Flash and Silverlight based implementations, the company would be left on the sidelines by its competitors if it didn't at least give users the option to use the new DRM standards adopted by the W3C. Both Flash and Silverlight have been targeted by malware attacks in recent months, underlining their vulnerabilities.

Opponents argue that this is another example of Hollywood studios, music companies and their media cartels wrestling power away from users and software houses in order to protect copyright, and that users have a right to choose.

Linux users will have mixed feelings as, while it goes against the openness of open source software, it marks the first time that DRM encumbered services such as Netflix will be natively available in the Firefox web browser.

In a blog post today, Mozilla chair Mitchell Baker explained, "We very much want to see a different system. Unfortunately, Mozilla alone cannot change the industry on DRM at this point. In the past Firefox has changed the industry, and we intend to do so again. Today, however, we cannot cause the change we want regarding DRM."

The implementation, which will be provided through middleware developed by Adobe, will be only for the desktop version of Firefox, and Mozilla has not announced a timeframe for deployment.

Mozilla said that it intends to fight on, searching for alternatives to DRM, and much like Netflix's own payments to ISPs, it is grudgingly going along, for the moment. µ


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