Mozilla can’t fight implementation of online video DRM

Mozilla can’t fight implementation of online video DRM

Digital Rights Management (DRM), which is already coming to Internet Explorer, Safari and Google Chrome, will soon be included in Firefox. This means implementing closed-source code for online video, which Mozilla disagrees with, but feels forced into using.

This DRM, called a Content Decryption Module (CDM), affects services like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu. It was agreed upon between Microsoft, Google and content providers like Netflix in 2013. If Firefox would choose not to include DRM, you wouldn’t be able to view this kind of video from the browser, forcing you to use a different one. This would obviously threaten Firefox’s user base and its competitiveness with Chrome and IE.

Starting with desktop versions, Mozilla will include this DRM (from Adobe) in Firefox, but it’s keen to minimize some of the negative effects on users. Unlike other browsers, Firefox will be implementing the CDM in a ‘sandbox’. The code of the sandbox will be open source, and will contain the CDM. The sandbox means that the CDM will not have access to your hard drive – it will give sites like Netflix a ‘unique identifier’ so that you can view the content, but it will not reveal any additional information about you or your device.

The implication here is that Internet Explorer, Safari, and Chrome will indeed send more information to video providers that identifies you and your device.

This DRM system will give services like Hulu more control over how you view video, and on what devices. It is also an attempt to curtail piracy, although the industry’s yet to come up with a silver bullet solution for that, as pirates and hackers eventually find a way around DRM.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter @jonathanriggall

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