Mozilla reluctantly agrees to bring DRM to Firefox

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Mozilla announced that it will add Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) into future versions of the open-source Firefox, in an agreement with Adobe to support commercial video streams.

The company, which had been objecting to the plans of integrating EME as technically unnecessary, has now made the move without of much enthusiasm, and as precautionary step to avoid being sidelined by Apple, Google and Microsoft to support Netflix and other DRM-encumbered videos in their browsers.

“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,” said Chief Technology Officer Andreas Gal.

“This makes it difficult for Mozilla to ignore the ongoing changes in the DRM landscape. Firefox should help users get access to the content they want to enjoy, even if Mozilla philosophically opposes the restrictions certain content owners attach to their content.”

EME, developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is designed specifically to be added into the specifications for HTML5 to let only authorized users play the content. The W3C spec requires the use of proprietary Content Decryption Modules, which is Mozilla’s one of the major objections.

Gal said that the company will reluctantly use Adobe’s CDM system and Firefox will run Adobe’s CDM in a sandbox for added protection. However, Mozilla made it clear that it will not be built into Firefox directly, but software that users can download.

Gal also noted that the sandboxing technology developed by Mozilla will be open source and the company is fully transparent and “open” with developers tweaking it to build their own sandboxes. Mozilla also welcomes content providers to audit the sandbox to check if the code is up to specification.

“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 said.