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Mozilla slammed over Firefox DRM scheme

Mozilla slammed over Firefox DRM scheme

Mozilla has reluctantly agreed to adopt the EME digital rights management (DRM) system into Firefox, and free software campaigners the FSF aren't impressed.

An agreement between Mozilla and Adobe to build digital rights management (DRM) technology into the popular Firefox web browser has raised the ire of the software freedom and privacy communities.

The move sees Mozilla implementing Adobe's Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) into the Firefox web browser in order to allow the encrypted streaming of video and audio footage from services like Netflix and LoveFilm, regardless of host operating system. However, it also gives away control of how the browser operates from the user to large corporations like Adobe, and that's something Mozilla itself has raised concerns about in the past.

'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,' claimed Mozilla's chief technology officer Andreas Gal in an announcement on the matter. 'Instead, this approach has now been enshrined in the W3C [World Wide Web Consortium] 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), which can make up more than 30% of the downstream traffic in North America. 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.'

While Mozilla might not be happy about being rail-roaded into implementing EME, free software campaigners are even less impressed - despite the use of a sandboxing system which Mozilla claims will prevent the DRM module from sniffing information about the user and his or her computer.

'The Free Software Foundation is deeply disappointed in Mozilla's announcement. The decision compromises important principles in order to alleviate misguided fears about loss of browser marketshare. It allies Mozilla with a company hostile to the free software movement and to Mozilla's own fundamental ideals,' claimed the Free Software Foundation's executive director John Sullivan of the move. 'To see Mozilla compromise without making any public effort to rally users against this supposed "forced choice" is doubly disappointing. They should reverse this decision. But whether they do or do not, we call on them to join us by devoting as many of their extensive resources to permanently eliminating DRM as they are now devoting to supporting it.'

With streaming services on the rise and Mozilla's rivals implementing EME, however, it's hard to see how the company could have kept all its users - both free-software campaigners and plain old users who just want to watch House of Cards - happy.

33 Comments

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Icy EyeG 15th May 2014, 12:50 Quote
The die hard free-software users can always stop using Firefox and start using Iceweasel, if they don't do it already.
jrs77 15th May 2014, 12:54 Quote
Mozilla has no real options here. Either they implement EME or users of Firefox won't be able to stream content. So why is it Mozilla that get's blamed here, when it's the content-providers who are to be blamed?
loftie 15th May 2014, 13:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrs77
Mozilla has no real options here. Either they implement EME or users of Firefox won't be able to stream content. So why is it Mozilla that get's blamed here, when it's the content-providers who are to be blamed?

+1, most (average) people would just switch to chrome or even ie if they work. So long as it does what they want they don't care what's happening behind the curtain.
ZeDestructor 15th May 2014, 13:28 Quote
So... FSF slams FF...

I have to ask, where were they when Chrome integrated it? And Opera? And Safari? And IE?
SinxarKnights 15th May 2014, 13:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeDestructor
So... FSF slams FF...

I have to ask, where were they when Chrome integrated it? And Opera? And Safari? And IE?

Chrome, Opera and IE are not free software. Not sure about Safari though can't say I've ever looked into it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software
schmidtbag 15th May 2014, 15:20 Quote
I really don't see the problem. You don't HAVE to use the services that require EME and you can always use iceweasel instead of firefox. There's a good chance someone will bypass EME at some point anyway. I'd say this does people more good than harm.

I think the quote from FSF is ridiculous. I'm a fan of FOSS but seriously get over yourselves. This isn't going to ruin firefox, it's just 1 OPTIONAL feature that consumers desire and can't change. Seriously though, would the FSF rather firefox be left in the dust and become another netscape? Because that's what will happen if firefox doesn't get things that target a massive amount of consumers - free, open source, or otherwise. They clearly aren't looking at this in a long term perspective.
Anakha 15th May 2014, 15:46 Quote
You also have the option of disabling the EME sandbox completely if you so desire.
Corky42 15th May 2014, 15:55 Quote
I'm confused, reading up on EME from the The World Wide Web Consortium page about it, and other sources, it claims "This specification does not define a content protection or Digital Rights Management system."

And other sources, that i admit goes a little over my head claims...
Quote:
Note that an application using EME interacts with a license server to get keys to enable decryption, but user identity and authentication are not part of EME. Retrieval of keys to enable media playback happens after (optionally) authenticating a user. Services such as Netflix must authenticate users within their web application: when a user signs into the application, the application determines the user's identity and privileges.
Would i be wrong in thinking they mean EME only enables browsers to interact with license servers to get keys ? Is that really browser DRM.
r3loaded 15th May 2014, 16:28 Quote
The beauty of open source software is you can set a flag and recompile the Firefox source code to create a browser without any non-free software (in fact, Debian already do this and it's referred to as Iceweasel). That ought to be enough to keep the Stallmanites happy, while the rest of the world can watch Netflix without having to install Silverlight. In fact, EME should be a boon for Linux users who want Netflix as there's currently no option due to the lack of Silverlight!
jrs77 15th May 2014, 17:40 Quote
This DRM is no good and allready circumvented anyways. So why do they still bother with DRM to begin with?
Corky42 15th May 2014, 17:42 Quote
Isn't Silverlight similar to Adobe flash, whereas EME is an extension to the HTML 5 specs.

AFAIK it's why EME exists, because Adobe flash, Silverlight, and such can request keys from servers if they need to playback encrypted media, but with HTML 5's ability playback media without using plugins like Adobe flash, Silverlight there needs to be a way for it to authenticate the user.
Guinevere 15th May 2014, 18:32 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jrs77
This DRM is no good and allready circumvented anyways. So why do they still bother with DRM to begin with?

Because they have blind faith.
mi1ez 15th May 2014, 22:17 Quote
Could they not have implemented this in an extension or suchlike to give users the choice?
Nexxo 15th May 2014, 23:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeDestructor
So... FSF slams FF...

I have to ask, where were they when Chrome integrated it? And Opera? And Safari? And IE?

I think that complainers need to STFU and remember that Firefox is a free piece of software. Take it or leave it, but don't make demands of something you don't even pay for.
jb0 16th May 2014, 03:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SinxarKnights
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeDestructor
So... FSF slams FF...

I have to ask, where were they when Chrome integrated it? And Opera? And Safari? And IE?

Chrome, Opera and IE are not free software. Not sure about Safari though can't say I've ever looked into it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software

Sure they are. I've never paid for any of them.
Richard Stallman is not the thought police, and I can keep using the commonly-accepted definitions of words.
Icy EyeG 16th May 2014, 09:59 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo

I think that complainers need to STFU and remember that Firefox is a free piece of software. Take it or leave it, but don't make demands of something you don't even pay for.

I've said it before, that's why Iceweasel exists. It's a fork of Firefox with branding and proprietary bits removed.
And, by the way, yes, you can complain, specially if you contributed to the project before.
Measter 16th May 2014, 11:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by mi1ez
Could they not have implemented this in an extension or suchlike to give users the choice?

As I understand, they are. Basically, Mozilla have implemented an open source sandbox environment in the browser, which you can optionally install Adobes closed source DRM to.
impar 16th May 2014, 11:28 Quote
Greetings!

From the blog:
https://hacks.mozilla.org/2014/05/reconciling-mozillas-mission-and-w3c-eme/
Quote:
As plugins today, the CDM itself will be distributed by Adobe and will not be included in Firefox. The browser will download the CDM from Adobe and activate it based on user consent.
PCBuilderSven 16th May 2014, 13:16 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by jb0

Sure they are. I've never paid for any of them.
Richard Stallman is not the thought police, and I can keep using the commonly-accepted definitions of words.

I have to strongly disagree with you there. There is one commonly accepted definition of free software, which is Stallmans. Anyone with the slightest clue about software would agree, try googling define free software: even standard dictionaries agree. Free software is certaintly not synonymous with freeware.
Icy EyeG 16th May 2014, 16:44 Quote
Exactly, freeware is free as in free beer (aka gratis), and free software is free as in free speech (aka libre).
Corky42 16th May 2014, 17:26 Quote
Isn't the word freeware a portmanteau of the words free and software ?
schmidtbag 16th May 2014, 17:36 Quote
freeware means free (of charge), not open source, and as far as I'm aware, is not redistributable either. Then there's stuff like shareware, which is redistributable, almost always free, but not specifically open source. A product is also allowed to be open source but not free or redistributable. To complicate things further, software can be free, open source, and/or redistributable, but it doesn't mean the libraries or extensions used by the software also apply.

Firefox is really difficult to ACCURATELY classify because it isn't 100% free, open source, or redistributable. That's where iceweasel comes in, which is supposed to be all of those things.
theshadow2001 16th May 2014, 17:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
I think that complainers need to STFU and remember that Firefox is a free piece of software. Take it or leave it, but don't make demands of something you don't even pay for.

Surely a group of people who support and contribute to a project which is aligned with their ideals should remark when that project takes a step away from that ideal.

Also the very fact that the term "free as in beer or free as in freedom" exists is a testament to the inffectiveness of the term "free software". It's a useless ambiguous term.
Nexxo 16th May 2014, 18:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by theshadow2001
Surely a group of people who support and contribute to a project which is aligned with their ideals should remark when that project takes a step away from that ideal.

True, but the objectionable plugin is optional. People can take it or leave it. I don't think the Linux foundation would argue for instance that people cannot write proprietary software to run on their free, open source OS.
Corky42 16th May 2014, 19:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by schmidtbag
freeware means free (of charge), not open source, and as far as I'm aware, is not redistributable either. Then there's stuff like shareware, which is redistributable, almost always free, but not specifically open source. A product is also allowed to be open source but not free or redistributable. To complicate things further, software can be free, open source, and/or redistributable, but it doesn't mean the libraries or extensions used by the software also apply.

I think it's safe to say the terms used to describe the different types of software are very confusing, as to me freeware means free software under certain conditions, that is not open source, and is freely redistributable.

Shareware is the same as freeware, that is not open source, is freely redistributable, but with limits on what can be done without paying for it, such as only the first episode of DOOM, or WinRAR's 40 day limit.

IDK If all open source software is free (no cost) or not, but i would guess by the way the code is open to anyone to modify if they wish, that it would be difficult to charge money for something that is open source.
theshadow2001 16th May 2014, 19:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nexxo
True, but the objectionable plugin is optional. People can take it or leave it. I don't think the Linux foundation would argue for instance that people cannot write proprietary software to run on their free, open source OS.

This is true, but I believe the objection is not coming from the way it's included in the browser. The objection is that by supporting this EME at all they are...endorsing, the use of binary blobs and method of drm the free software foundation object to.

Now binaries like flash exist in the Firefox ecosphere. But I believe, this is the start of the end of plugin browser tech like java and flash. This was an opportunity to get things on the right path as the fsf see it. Something that would to them, be secure and open source. But things are just continuing down the same road of random unknown code living in your browser.

This is an important milestone, hence the objections.
Corky42 16th May 2014, 20:23 Quote
But if the CDM was made open source wouldn't it be possible to bypass the decryption ?
theshadow2001 16th May 2014, 20:30 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
But if the CDM was made open source wouldn't it be possible to bypass the decryption ?

Well truecrypt is open source, but it still encrypts things.

I'm not going to pretend to know about these things or what fsf actually want to see
Corky42 17th May 2014, 07:41 Quote
Good point.
There is also the OpenSSL project that is used for more important encryption/decryption (imho) than DRM.
If FF and the FSF are so concerned how come they don't make an open source CDM.
rollo 17th May 2014, 11:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SinxarKnights
Chrome, Opera and IE are not free software. Not sure about Safari though can't say I've ever looked into it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_software


How is Chrome not free? or Opera for that matter?

This all goes back to content publishers and there requirements for drm on stuff.
SinxarKnights 17th May 2014, 14:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by rollo
How is Chrome not free? or Opera for that matter?

You can't take their source code and modify it for your needs and redistribute it without meeting their licensing requirements. Opera uses the Apache license: http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0. Chrome includes proprietary code - when you remove that you are left with Chromium. That is a different browser.

Firefox uses http://opensource.org/licenses/MPL-2.0
Kamakazie! 19th May 2014, 13:28 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
The beauty of open source software is you can set a flag and recompile the Firefox source code to create a browser without any non-free software (in fact, Debian already do this and it's referred to as Iceweasel). That ought to be enough to keep the Stallmanites happy, while the rest of the world can watch Netflix without having to install Silverlight. In fact, EME should be a boon for Linux users who want Netflix as there's currently no option due to the lack of Silverlight!

This is a big issue for me. I recently tried to go to Linux on my media PC and had no end of problems with Netflix and then NowTV.
Pipelight worked for a time and then randomly stopped working. I also had issues with stutter during playback when it was working. This was better on Chrome bit still not great.
tux 23rd May 2014, 14:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Icy EyeG
The die hard free-software users can always stop using Firefox and start using Iceweasel, if they don't do it already.


IW is Mozilla's FF alternative in Linux
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