DRM Is Coming To Firefox

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DRM Is Coming To Firefox

Firefox logo

The chief technical officer of Mozilla says it has been forced to add DRM to the Firefox web browser in order to keep it relevant and functional for its users.

You might expect that as an open source browser, Firefox would be far removed from the ugly battlefields of digital rights management. Today, however, Mozilla CTO Andreas Gal announced that the browser will implement DRM in the form of the W3C Encrypted Media Extensions, which he said it was forced to do by the ongoing adoption of W3C EME by content providers.

"Mozilla would have preferred to see the content industry move away from locking content to a specific device (so called node-locking), and worked to provide alternatives," he wrote. "Instead, this approach has now been enshrined in the W3C EME specification. With Google and Microsoft shipping W3C EME and content providers moving over their content from plugins to W3C EME Firefox users are at risk of not being able to access DRM restricted content (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu)."

Because of that, and despite its "philosophical opposition" to DRM, Mozilla has decided to implement the W3C EME specification, beginning with the desktop version of Firefox. "This is a difficult and uncomfortable step for us given our vision of a completely open Web, but it also gives us the opportunity to actually shape the DRM space and be an advocate for our users and their rights in this debate," Gal wrote. "The existing W3C EME systems Google and Microsoft are shipping are not open source and lack transparency for the user, two traits which we believe are essential to creating a trustworthy Web."

It's sadly ironic that DRM has effectively become a feature that software makers feel they must implement in order to properly serve their audiences, but in an analysis for the Guardian explaining the meaning and potential impact of the change, Cory Doctorow questioned the assertion that the implementation of W3C EME is necessary at all. Gal stated that more than 30 percent of internet traffic today is generated by Netflix streams, but as Doctorow pointed out, video streams are the "bulkiest files to transfer," so it's unsurprising that they eat up a lot of data.

"When a charitable nonprofit like Mozilla makes a shift as substantial as this one - installing closed-source software designed to treat computer users as untrusted adversaries - you'd expect there to be a data-driven research story behind it, meticulously documenting the proposition that without DRM irrelevance is inevitable," he wrote. "The large number of bytes being shifted by Netflix is a poor proxy for that detailed picture."

Despite Mozilla's reluctance to implement the change, Gal said the adoption of the W3C EME standard does have a "silver lining," as it brings the web one step closer to ending its reliance on plugins. Furthermore, he claimed to see it as a transition rather than an end-state, writing, "While the W3C EME-based DRM world is likely to stay with us for a while, we believe that eventually better systems such as watermarking will prevail, because they offer more convenience for the user, which is good for the user, but in the end also good for business."

Gervase Markham of Mozilla noted in the follow-up comments that while the "exact user experience" is still being defined, the DRM will not activate and run without users "explicitly agreeing" to allow it to do so. He also said that a technical FAQ on the changes with be released within the next 48 hours.

Source: Mozilla

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This story is more like "Mozilla Firefox accepts sad reality of modern day DRM in services it's users expect". I know Firefox hasn't exactly been at it's best lately but sadly it does seem to be the reality that W3C EME is too ubiquitous not to be compliant with.

So marches on the death of the open web.

Since people are going to read the sensationalist headline and immediately move to voice their outrage, let me highlight the part of the article which explains why they're implementing support for it.

Andy Chalk:
With Google and Microsoft shipping W3C EME and content providers moving over their content from plugins to W3C EME Firefox users are at risk of not being able to access DRM restricted content (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu).

It's sad that it has to come to this, but overall I'd rather they push the most functional product they can first and back ideologies second.

EDIT: Also, looking more into it, this type of "DRM" doesn't seem to actually harm the consumer as much as give businessmen a false sense of security that pirates won't just work around it. May set a bad precedence, but for the moment I'm apathetic.

Will NOT run without my explicit permission? That's fine then, I'm OK with that and it's an option that I'm not aware users are given with Google Chrome or IE.

I'll be DENYING that permission, as I don't use netflix and I've got the plugins to rip whatever videos I want from the internet anyway.

(Really, plugins are awesome. How is moving away from plugins a silver lining?)

Thread title scared me a little till I found out that you are allowed to deny that permission.

Yeah I know everyone else in the comments has already said the same, but it cannot be stressed enough that this is DRM that all the other Internet Browsers already have in a stricter form. The headline sounds like 'Firefox sucks', when actually the story is 'everyone sucks and Firefox have given in'

I'm sorry but I really don't get it... Doesn't using an internet browser require you to always be online in the first place? Isn't that kind of what DRM is? I really don't get it. I use Chrome and if there's some kind of hidden DRM in that, I'm not aware. Is this actually a big deal?

I wish I understood any of this

RedDeadFred:
I'm sorry but I really don't get it... Doesn't using an internet browser require you to always be online in the first place? Isn't that kind of what DRM is? I really don't get it. I use Chrome and if there's some kind of hidden DRM in that, I'm not aware. Is this actually a big deal?

It's got to do with video/audio and the format they're downloaded in.

These extensions mean that video and audio you download doesn't have to be downloaded in a format that's directly copy-able to rip to whatever you want. Instead it can be downloaded in an encrypted format that you can't directly copy.

Of course, this is DRM and DRM never works so instead of directly copying it you'll have to decrypt it first, which if these extensions have existed long enough to be part of the W3C has in all likelihood already happened.

EDIT:

To give a real world example: it's like DVDs. Commercially produced DVDs have all their data scrambled to prevent copying. So DVD players need special software to unscramble said DVDs before they can play them, this is Firefox including said special software in their browser to unscramble things because idiots who don't understand computers thought they should be scrambled. Note how there's a million freaking programs all over the internet to allow the copying, decryption and ripping of DVDs.

2nd EDIT:

Another victory for the mindless businessmen who just don't have a fuckin' clue. DRM doesn't work. It never did and it never will. It's always going to be an inconvenience and the only people who don't have to suffer through it are the same people these businessmen are trying to protect their content from.

RedDeadFred:
I'm sorry but I really don't get it... Doesn't using an internet browser require you to always be online in the first place? Isn't that kind of what DRM is? I really don't get it. I use Chrome and if there's some kind of hidden DRM in that, I'm not aware. Is this actually a big deal?

DRM dose not have to be online or have an online component. DRM is simply digital rights Management. It's a way to protect software from piracy.

In this case the media file is encrypted. when you stream you are simply downloading it. If you were to say copy that downloaded file and try to play it in something else, the video would not work.

Well, it's open source. Within days, fork of FF without the DRM crap will appear.

It would be great if the DRM code in FF would be easy to just comment out and disable with one stroke.

I dont understand, what is this DRM, and what will it do?

Is it to stop people from downloading version 28.exe, so they dont have to see ads? When all they have to do is change the homepage to not see ads?

EDIT: oh, so its to stop downloading youtube videos?

Hagi:

RedDeadFred:
I'm sorry but I really don't get it... Doesn't using an internet browser require you to always be online in the first place? Isn't that kind of what DRM is? I really don't get it. I use Chrome and if there's some kind of hidden DRM in that, I'm not aware. Is this actually a big deal?

It's got to do with video/audio and the format they're downloaded in.

These extensions mean that video and audio you download doesn't have to be downloaded in a format that's directly copy-able to rip to whatever you want. Instead it can be downloaded in an encrypted format that you can't directly copy.

Of course, this is DRM and DRM never works so instead of directly copying it you'll have to decrypt it first, which if these extensions have existed long enough to be part of the W3C has in all likelihood already happened.

EDIT:

To give a real world example: it's like DVDs. Commercially produced DVDs have all their data scrambled to prevent copying. So DVD players need special software to unscramble said DVDs before they can play them, this is Firefox including said special software in their browser to unscramble things because idiots who don't understand computers thought they should be scrambled. Note how there's a million freaking programs all over the internet to allow the copying, decryption and ripping of DVDs.

2nd EDIT:

Geez, do you guys have to use intentionally misleading headlines for all your articles? I really doubt it brings more traffic to the site. Pretty much every other headline I've seen on this subject has been more fair to Firefox. I understand that you guys don't even pretend to match the journalistic caliber of sites like Ars Technica or even CNET, but come on, at least have some standards.

It's unfortunate (but understandable) that the internet is moving in this direction, but let's be honest; if Netflix doesn't work on Firefox and does work on Chrome, then (even more) people are going to switch over to Chrome. A commitment to open software only works if your userbase is as committed as you are.

I can't wait for the addon that lets me bypass it.

In most any other circumstance, this would be when I switch providers, since I'm vehemently against DRM of any kind. (Steam alone barely squeezes by with a pass since it provides such great customer service, demonstrating that they know their place.)

However, this is Mozilla: an open-source, non-profit organization with a history of listening to its users and providing great service. DRM in concept is designed to be anti-consumer and allow companies to be monopoly scam artists, even if the companies who use it don't believe that. Because Mozilla is a non-profit organization, I know that they're doing this for the sake of the users rather than for themselves. They clearly believe in the philosophy that what's good for the customer is good for the company (which is antithetical to modern business philosophy). Mozilla wants Firefox users to access whatever website they want, and if they don't implement this software, then services that use it would be unavailable.

Therefore, they have not lost my trust in this matter. Netflix is already problematic since it uses Microsoft Silverlight, a terrible piece of software(par for the course for Microsoft, I know) that also requires the use of cookies.

Besides, Firefox has plenty of derivatives that we can use if things get too bad. (Waterfox and Iceweasel in particular.)

Well, there's always Chrome.
I, for one, welcome our Google overlords.

...what? How the fuck do you put DRM into a web browser?

Also if my permission is required then permission not granted.

Candidus:
I'll be DENYING that permission, as I don't use netflix and I've got the plugins to rip whatever videos I want from the internet anyway.

So your first instinct when posting a reply to a news report about DRM is to brag about being the reason that said DRM is felt necessary in the first place. Grats.

I'd make fun of people in this comment section who have no idea what's actually going on yet still feel the need to share their opinion, but with an article this bad I can hardly blame them.

Firefox doesn't get DRM, it will just support DRM formats. Big deal for an open source browser and maybe the entire OSS movement, not so much for the average user. And no, there are no alternatives to using these extensions, that's the whole point. Either use them or nothing.

PhoenixUp:
Well, there's always Chrome.
I, for one, welcome our Google overlords.

Maybe read the article. Chrome already has the DRM that Firefox is implementing.

As others have pointed out, the headline is sensationalist and if you read the article it tells how Firefox is basically implementing what all other browsers already have. DRM itself is Digital Rights Management, and despite what some people think it's existed for a loooong time. Basically this is a way to encrypt the files so that you can't simply download them for yourself...which is funny because it doesn't work at all because not only are there converters and extensions people use to get around this. Basically this is trying to encrypt the data so it can't be downloaded and copied, nothing to get in a huge tizzy about.

canadamus_prime:
...what? How the fuck do you put DRM into a web browser?

Also if my permission is required then permission not granted.

A web browser is just software, of course you can put DRM into it. You can put DRM into ANYTHING!

---

At least they give us a choice, which is more then you get from anyone else.

So fuck that W3C EME bullshit, I don't need it, I'll just wait till it gets hacked like every other piece of DRM in existence.

Valderis:

canadamus_prime:
...what? How the fuck do you put DRM into a web browser?

Also if my permission is required then permission not granted.

A web browser is just software, of course you can put DRM into it. You can put DRM into ANYTHING!

---

At least they give us a choice, which is more then you get from anyone else.

So fuck that W3C EME bullshit, I don't need it, I'll just wait till it gets hacked like every other piece of DRM in existence.

Well yeah, of course you can, but what are you DRMing in a web browser esp. an open source one?

What have you done Firefox? You've made Internet Explorer more user friendly then you

canadamus_prime:
...what? How the fuck do you put DRM into a web browser?

Also if my permission is required then permission not granted.

As it says in the article (hint hint), they're adding support for a video playback DRM meant to stop people from just ripping streams off of Netflix, etc. or otherwise illegally misusing the data. This playback DRM already exists in internet explorer and chrome, and really doesn't practically negatively effect the consumer at all.

Neeckin:
What have you done Firefox? You've made Internet Explorer more user friendly then you

...You are aware that Internet Explorer and Google Chrome already have this type of DRM in it right? It's been in both browsers for ages now, and the article even says it. Frankly I'm surprised that FireFox didn't already have this in it's coding, as I assumed it did.

canadamus_prime:

Well yeah, of course you can, but what are you DRMing in a web browser esp. an open source one?

I don't know, I don't know how these idiots coked up on DRM madness think things throe. If it was up to them everything would be DRM'ed to the max and we'd have to sign EULA's for every damn button press we made in our lives. They don't care about functionality, they live in fear and are stuck in their old ways of the pre-internet era idiocy.

Whew, we can deny it permission? Done deal. Guess I'll stop downloading Chrome now...

Captcha: Umbrella Corporation

Holy shit, I fucking KNEW it! They're the reason why! Better pack up and leave before they unleash and entire zombie apocalypse on my town just to kill me.

Phrozenflame500:

canadamus_prime:
...what? How the fuck do you put DRM into a web browser?

Also if my permission is required then permission not granted.

As it says in the article (hint hint), they're adding support for a video playback DRM meant to stop people from just ripping streams off of Netflix, etc. or otherwise illegally misusing the data. This playback DRM already exists in internet explorer and chrome, and really doesn't practically negatively effect the consumer at all.

I read the article thank you very much. However I still wasn't clear on how DRM could be integrated into a web browser.

Valderis:

canadamus_prime:

Well yeah, of course you can, but what are you DRMing in a web browser esp. an open source one?

I don't know, I don't know how these idiots coked up on DRM madness think things throe. If it was up to them everything would be DRM'ed to the max and we'd have to sign EULA's for every damn button press we made in our lives. They don't care about functionality, they live in fear and are stuck in their old ways of the pre-internet era idiocy.

Yeah? Well I say they can take their DRM shove it someplace unpleasant.

canadamus_prime:

Also if my permission is required then permission not granted.

Hope you don't want to use Netflix or its contemporaries, because that's what this is for.

OT: I read the headline and I was worried, then I read the article and realized this is a total non-issue.
Although I suppose that's just proof that sensationalist headlines work.

Candidus:
Will NOT run without my explicit permission? That's fine then, I'm OK with that and it's an option that I'm not aware users are given with Google Chrome or IE.

I'll be DENYING that permission, as I don't use netflix and I've got the plugins to rip whatever videos I want from the internet anyway.

(Really, plugins are awesome. How is moving away from plugins a silver lining?)

These plugins may well no longer work. I don't think they ever did with netflix and as more providers switch over to EME this may very well break plugins since it will change how data is streamed and decoded by the browser... of course this is just if the site uses EME...

this change will have no effect on sites that don't use it.

It's nothing to flap over. it simply means that rather than run the risk of Firefox not being able to access content on these sites at all... they will now work when call upon by sites that use it. NOt unlike say you flash plugin. If a site has no flash.. the flash plugin is never loaded, or called.

canadamus_prime:

I read the article thank you very much. However I still wasn't clear on how DRM could be integrated into a web browser.

Maybe reading this will help.

https://dvcs.w3.org/hg/html-media/raw-file/tip/encrypted-media/encrypted-media.html

Adam Jensen:
Another victory for the mindless businessmen who just don't have a fuckin' clue. DRM doesn't work. It never did and it never will. It's always going to be an inconvenience and the only people who don't have to suffer through it are the same people these businessmen are trying to protect their content from.

Another victory of not reading the article at all.

"Mozilla would have preferred to see the content industry move away from locking content to a specific device (so called node-locking), and worked to provide alternatives," he wrote. "Instead, this approach has now been enshrined in the W3C EME specification. With Google and Microsoft shipping W3C EME and content providers moving over their content from plugins to W3C EME Firefox users are at risk of not being able to access DRM restricted content (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Video, Hulu)."

So, I hope you have no plans on ever being able to se netflix or other services like that ever agina on Firefox when you deny it (which you can).

So me, I am for this, because it can (and will in time)reduce the need for/to potential eliminate the need for plug-ins.

PhoenixUp:
Well, there's always Chrome.
I, for one, welcome our Google overlords.

Has the exact same DRM in it. Has for quite a while now.

RedDeadFred:
I'm sorry but I really don't get it... Doesn't using an internet browser require you to always be online in the first place? Isn't that kind of what DRM is? I really don't get it. I use Chrome and if there's some kind of hidden DRM in that, I'm not aware. Is this actually a big deal?

Only always-online DRM requires you to be online. DRM can come in many forms, including stuff that never needs an internet connection.

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