Firefox will get DRM copy protection despite Mozilla's concerns

Mozilla has little choice lest users be cut off from popular content services, Mozilla's CTO says

Mozilla said it has taken steps to protect users' privacy in implementing digital rights management technology in Firefox.

Mozilla said it has taken steps to protect users' privacy in implementing digital rights management technology in Firefox.

Mozilla will upgrade its Firefox browser with copyright protection technology, fearing a loss of users if they can't play protected content from services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon.

The organization has long opposed DRM (Digital Rights Management) technologies, which seek to prevent unauthorized sharing of content under copyright protection. Critics say DRM also prevents legal uses of content, such as a person moving it between two of their own devices.

"While we would much prefer a world and a Web without DRM, our users need it to access the content they want," wrote Andreas Gal, CTO and vice president of mobile for Mozilla, in a blog post Wednesday.

The DRM specification, called Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), will first be implemented in the desktop version of Firefox, Gal wrote. He didn't give a timeline. Google and Microsoft support EME, and major content providers also endorse it, he wrote.

EME was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and is designed to let content be played only by authorized users. DRM has long been part of the Web landscape, with plugins like Adobe Flash and Microsoft's Silverlight supporting copy protection.

The W3C's EME specification implements DRM directly in the Web stack, Gal wrote. Content within a website labeled with a <video> HTML5 tag triggers a Content Decryption Module (CDM), which can access the keys needed to decrypt the content.

Mozilla has been concerned about CDMs since the components contain proprietary code not shown in the EME specification. The code is secret to prevent users from trying to circumvent playback restrictions.

Firefox's code is open source, and Gal wrote that "for Mozilla, it is essential that all code in the browser is open so that users and security researchers can see and audit the code."

DRM can also potentially leak users' private information, Gal wrote. Many DRM systems "fingerprint" a device, collecting identifying information so they can prevent content from being played on a different device.

Mozilla doesn't have a lot of choice since it must use a closed-source CDM to implement EME. It has decided to use Adobe's CDM and implement it in a way that "satisfies the requirement of the content industry while attempting to give users as much control and transparency as possible," Gal wrote.

Firefox will wrap Adobe's CDM into an open-source sandbox sealed off from a user's hard drive and network. The sandbox will only allow the CDM to communicate enough externally to show the content. It will not allow device fingerprinting.

"Instead, the CDM asks the sandbox to supply a per-device unique identifier," Gal wrote. "This sandbox-generated unique identifier allows the CDM to bind content to a single device as the content industry insists on, but it does so without revealing additional information about the user or the user's device."

To prevent tracking across a number of websites, Firefox will change the unique identifier presented to each site, making "it more difficult to track users across sites with this identifier," Gal wrote.

Mozilla will distribute its open-source sandbox, but the CDM will have to be downloaded from Adobe, Gal wrote.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com. Follow me on Twitter: @jeremy_kirk

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags MicrosoftbrowsersinternetGooglevideosoftwareapplicationsmozillaHuluAdobe SystemsInternet-based applications and services

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jeremy Kirk

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?