Mozilla breaks our hearts, adds DRM to Firefox

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Firefox did an update on me yesterday. Switched all my buttons around and decided to give me a bright blue taskbar. I installed an older version promptly.

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So Cory, what’s your view on streaming music services? Pro…con? That’s all DRM as well. What’s the alternative? Public seems to have spoken and we’re moving from a DRM-freeish world back into a DRM world voluntarily.

I thought that the FA made all this clear.

I don’t care about how you want to listen to music or watch TV.

I care that DRM comes with laws that make it illegal to report vulnerabilities, and that this means that DRM technologies are long-lived reservoirs of vulns that can be exploited by spies, creeps, and identity thieves.

I care that DRM treats its owner as an untrusted adversary, so DRM-crippled media can’t be played on free software, endangering its use in the field.

How people while away the dismal hours between cradle and grave are their own business. The corruption of the electronic nervous system of the 21st century is all our business.


I used to love the Internet ('94-ish when I started an ISP). Democratization of information, blah, etc.

Increasingly it’s just another platform to watch TV and buy shit, and that makes me sad. Naive before, sad now…


Okay, I give up… What does FA stand for?

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Yeah, I disabled updates when I learned what was coming in Firefox 29 - it’s just so anti-user I can’t even deal with it. God forbid I want to actually DO anything other than just consume content.

This DRM business only reinforces my feelings that Mozilla is not making the right decisions for its users.


A bit hostile, was just asking your opinion on where we’ve ended up after a long hard battle against DRM especially as it pertains to music. Wasn’t challenging you. Very kind…thanks.

I’ve been anti-DRM as long as you and written against it going back over a decade. But thanks for the fucking answer.

As a boing reader and contributor for many years now…I think I’m done here.


I’m not sure which is the bigger evil, DRM in the built-in player module in the browser, or the goddamn Silverlight plugin for Netflix.

At least built-in DRM might actually work on Linux.

The idea that media companies would embrace a no-DRM model just because one of the browsers doesn’t support it was a fantasy anyway. It’s not like Netflix can just deliver non-DRM video to make the internet happy, they have contracts, and it’s not like they’re in a strong position to negotiate on those contracts. Already most major studios refuse to license the bulk of their catalog to Netflix.

I don’t know, It’s a fine line. While DRM may mean that you’re locking out your users to an extent, where is the line to say that them not being able to get media from their chosen providers isn’t also working against your users? It’s a political and philosophical question to be sure, one we’ve primarily outsourced to commercial interests. However, largely the big providers have all decided that it isn’t worth forcing the point on DRM when it comes to streaming.
Oddly enough. the old guard seems to have more control in enforcing DRM on streaming than they did in the digital sales age. Both video and audio streaming is still pretty contentious, with no company coming out ahead. They all live and die based on what shows they can offer in comparison to competitors. This competition has helped keep prices low, but also doesn’t let any of them blink on DRM unless they all do it at the same time. If they do, the content companies can starve them of streaming rights, letting the competition with DRM succeed.
The solution only seems to be using political means to restrict DRM as a matter of consumer rights.

Do Chrome, IE, opera, etc already support this? If so, it seems difficult to blame them. If not, then they should have shown some solidarity. Netflix et al are unlikely to shoot themselves in the foot and force DRM compliance if no browsers fall in line.

IIRC Firefox was the last holdout.

It’s not a fine line. It’s a really obvious one.

There is no sensible comparison between not adding code that satisfies a media company’s conditions (“Locking your users out of their movies”) and designing software that treats its user as a hostile, untrustworthy adversary, hiding secrets from them and partaking in a law that makes it illegal to tell the user if there’s a lurking vulnerability that puts them at risk (“Locking them out of their computers”).


As the article says, all the majors already support this. Moz feels they’re backed into a corner here.

Not that its any less disappointing (this decision by Mozilla kills me too, as a long-time FF user), but can’t we fork FF and have a DRM-free version?


Except that’s your use case. I’m saying other people don’t see the philosophical difference, technology withstanding, and just think Firefox is imposing their beliefs on them for the sake of politics. I’m not supportive of DRM, I’m just saying there’s an argument that they’re not screwing their users completely. Again, this current issue isn’t going to be solved in the marketplace. We need to create regulations against using DRM, or at the very least remove the penalties for exposing the vulnerabilities in DRM.

As the FA says, Mozilla has it in its power to remove that restriction themselves, by making a covenant from Adobe not to sue vuln disclosers part of their licensing deal.

Mozilla already “imposes beliefs for the sake of politics” – it is a charitable nonprofit, tax-exempt for the purpose of making the Web more free. It is literally required in law to justify all of its policy decisions in the context of “imposing beliefs for the sake of politics.”


You could, but keeping it up-to-date would be a major undertaking. You would have to be incorporating patches from the main, making workarounds for the missing DRM stuff, and so forth. It would be a full time job to avoid having your browser constantly fall behind the times.

That said, I really don’t know how the “DRM” in Firefox is supposed to square with its open source nature. Is Mozilla going to ship binary blobs with the source? Is the DRM only going to be in the precompiled versions? If I build the browser from scratch on BeOS or something am I just out of luck?

That could be good news for Cory if so. It would mean Mozilla would maintain a non-DRM version that you just have to compile yourself. And frankly, I would expect someone on the internet who shares his beliefs to do that already.

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If you want to safely run an outdated browser, try running it through Sandboxie. Seriously simple.