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Firefox 38 Reluctantly Adds DRM Support, But Users Can Opt-Out

Posted by: , 20:23 UTC, Fri May 15, 2015

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The latest version of Firefox now downloads and installs DRM automatically, but the alternative may mean no more Netflix or Hulu
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The latest version of the open source browser Firefox now has added DRM support.

Ever since DRM support was formally added into the HTML5 video specifications, it was inevitable that browser makers would have to add support for Encrypted Media Extensions, the HTML5 extension that adds DRM support for video playback.

This presented a major headache for opens source browser makers like Firefox, forcing them to make a choice between not being HTML5 compliant, or including closed source code with their downloads.

But facing the unenviable scenario of users not being able to access major content portals such as Netflix, Firefox relented and the latest version of the popular browser, Firefox 38, has now added EME support.

Firefox will automatically download and install Adobe's Content Decryption Module (CDM) after the user installs the latest version, although users will have the ability to disable or uninstall the CDM. There is even an EME-less version of Firefox that users can download separately.

More details on these DRM related changes can be found in this official blog post.

Users concerned not only about the annoyance of DRM, but also security issues deriving from relying on closed source code, Firefox has also made sure that the risks are minimized. 

"Because DRM is a 'black-box' technology that isn't open source, we have designed a security sandbox that sits around the CDM," said Dixon-Thayer, Mozilla senior vice president of business and legal affairs. "We can't be sure how other browsers have handled the 'black-box' issue but a sandbox provides a necessary layer of security."

And on the controversial decision to include DRM support in the first place, Dixon-Thayer says that the alternative wouldn't have been much better.

"We don't believe DRM is a desirable market solution, but it's currently the only way to watch a sought-after segment of content," Dixon-Thayer said.


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