Mozilla CAN change the industry: by adding DRM, they change it for the worse

So what choice does that leave me?

I went into a Mac folder, since that’s what I have.

To avoid security issues? Whatever browser you run, keep it up to date. An out of date browser is a 0 day browser.

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The html5 drm stuff is just controlled by javascript, so if you don’t want the DRM module you can probably just use a simple greasemonkey/etc script to disable the code – not much different than flashblock/etc.

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Or, you know, just don’t opt-in and install it. The support for the EME is there by default. The DRM is not. You have to opt in for it to be installed and activated.


And, Ian Hickson enters the fray…

Discussions about DRM often land on the fundamental problem with DRM: that it doesn’t work, or worse, that it is in fact mathematically impossible to make it work. The argument goes as follows:

  1. The purpose of DRM is to prevent people from copying content while allowing people to view that content,
  1. You can’t hide something from someone while showing it to them,
  1. And in any case widespread copyright violations (e.g. movies on file sharing sites) often come from sources that aren’t encrypted in the first place, e.g. leaks from studios.

It turns out that this argument is fundamentally flawed. Usually the arguments from pro-DRM people are that #2 and #3 are false. But no, those are true. The problem is #1 is false.

The purpose of DRM is not to prevent copyright violations.

The purpose of DRM is to give content providers leverage against creators of playback devices. …

Read More:


It’s Chrome’s fault really. That’s who Mozilla are afraid of.
It came on the market and surpassed them in no time. It forced them into adopting a weird versioning system - I’m pretty sure they did it in a misguided attempt to compete with Chrome’s rapid “major” releases.

So yes, they are very much afraid they’ll lose even more market share and they may be right.
(I’m not making excuses - I hate this as much as anyone here and I’m typing this in Firefox)

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Or as someone mentioned above - do your browsing in a sandbox. Of course, that still leaves problems such as browser history not being saved (if that’s something you find useful) and possibly the chance of a browser-flaw leaking passwords etc…

So I can avoid security issues or DRM. Pick one.

No because the DRM is opt-in, which folks would know if they bothered to read the specifics of what is going on. There is no DRM software on a Firefox user’s system unless they install the DRM plugin. All Mozilla did is make a framework available for it so the Adobe plugin could be installed if the user chose to do so. It isn’t there by default.

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Thanks. I’ll be careful.

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The fact is that DRM is in the HTML spec now. It’s not likely to leave the spec, even with massive objection from everyone. It got into the spec initially over similar, massive objection.  That’s done. Mozilla has two options: refuse to participate or adopt and improve.

In the past (e.g. with h.264 or WebSQL), what’s happened is that they have refused to participate and floated their own, open, alternative approaches.  The result has usually been that the proprietary implementations (in many cases already de facto standards) have gone ahead anyway, gained user and developer acceptance and Mozilla has later had to back pedal into supporting those or risk losing their users. What’s more, not participating in initial implementations in the past has left them unable to influence the nascent standards and the implementations suffer as a result. Anyone who has ever tried to use Web SQL for anything can certainly attest to that.

This time, they have opted to take a seat at the table, participate in the initial implementation, yell obscenities as necessary, call out the bullshit as it is floated into the evolving spec by proprietary interests, and influence the implementation’s future.  This also has the neat side effect of letting people continue to use Firefox to do all the inherently proprietary, currently-plugin-based things which have become normal and expected things to do on the Web, like watch Netflix. And all of this without yet another plugins governed by single corporate entities, which are certainly not good for the Future Web.

Tim Berners-Lee ensured this would be a lose / lose for Mozilla and for the Open Web last year when he came down on the side of DRM and it went into the spec in the first place. It is a bummer, it’s almost certainly the objectively wrong thing to do, but I’d definitely rather have Mozilla in the conversation and bringing the fight directly than locked outside holding a protest sign while Comcast is in there with donuts and a suitcase full of brand new thirty dollar bills with George Bush’s picture on them…

The Web is changing, but that’s not new. It has always changed and it will continue to change. More great things will happen. More terrible things will happen. The critical thing is to continue to participate. Ditching Firefox in protest (for… which DRM-free browser, exactly?) is not actually helpful, and likely hurts the cause in the long term. But you know what? It’s the Web: at any point, if you don’t like what’s happening with the browser scene, please write a new one!


I’m pretty sure that bug has been closed as “wontfix.”

Inherent sexism? What about “histrionic” is sexist?

Wouldn’t it be much more helpful to collectively tell them that you’re going to commit to getting every single person you know to see the importance of these issues (that is, have meaningful discussions with people who know you and trust you and look to you for guidance that it’s worth not using Netflix e.a.), and get them to switch to Firefox, so that the next time Mozilla is faced with a similar decision, they’ll know they have the full backing of their users, rather than the fear of losing their relevance due to their users preferring encumbered content over freedom?

Mozilla is in it for the long haul. They need to remain relevant to be able to continue doing good; so the threat of hemorrhaging users is about the only thing which they really must avoid at all costs, making them choose to live to fight another day over a principled last stand. The open web is all for them, though. The vast, vast majority of people working for Mozilla (whether employed or volunteer) care more deeply about these issues than almost anyone, you’ll find anywhere else. Trust in that, trust that they’ve agonized over this for months and months, and have been fighting this every step of the way.
If they had 50% marketshare, with the knowledge that they had that marketshare because their users care, then they could’ve made it stick.

Yet instead they live in a world where people switch to Google Chrome for a tiny perceived speed difference, signaling that they care more about that than about rights or principles. That is something you can help fight, something where your success can help Mozilla stick to their guns.

Think about it. How can you actually make a difference? How can you actually do some good in this fight, rather than just making yourself feel good?

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If you really want to make a difference, wait until the “non-DRM’d” version comes out, and then use it to access Firefox’s websites. Intentionally change the agent string.

But again, what are you really saying? The DRM really isn’t in there until YOU TELL IT TO COME IN. Mozilla will make this an obvious notification. IF you install it, it’ll go into a very tightly controlled sandbox. Now, it does not.

The only way you will have DRM in your Firefox is if you, and you alone, intentionally download and load DRM into your firefox. Just like it is now.

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Ultimately, in all this, what really really chafes me are three very distinct facts.

  1. This persistant belief that Mozilla is somehow behind this, when in reality, W3C and others stacked their chips behind DRM long ago. Mozilla has always been a browser that tries to implement the standards, and in this case, the standards SUCK. I think Mozilla has chosen to implement the standards in a loud, noticeable way, that will allow users to have maximum control over the software they choose to install. I don’t know what else they can do.

  2. The belief that DRM is now being introduced into Mozilla’s products when it clearly is not. What is being introduced is a sandbox environment for executing plugins. What we have now is a more porous environment for executing plugins that quite literally was invented by Adobe a long time ago. NPAPI, people forget, was made as a way to embed Adobe’s PDF rendering engine into Mozilla products while allowing Adobe to retain control of key components of the DRM. DRM is NOT new in Mozilla, and Adobe designed the system that we are now currently using. If Mozilla were to disapprove of their new self-created Sandbox (which, yes, admittedly will run Adobe and other’s DRM modules), what would they go back to? Adobe’s initially created system from years ago that is way less security minded and way more focused on Adobe and others…

  3. This horrible belief that Mozilla is somehow the last bastion of good faith that we can ever have and that they alone are fighting for a perfect and open web, all on their own. Mozilla gets most of their money from Google. Specifically, Google searches and google primacy, based on the number of users using Firefox. If those users drop significantly, those users will cease to be. Yes, Mozilla is an amazing foundation/organization, but they exist because of a competing browser company’s actions. And their existence is paid for by Mozilla users USING that competing company’s resources. This implication that Mozilla is pure as the driven snow and our only hope is a fallacy. They’ve had to make choices to retain funding, and their browser is OPEN SOURCE AND CAN BE FORKED. If it is time to move to an open web that does not involve mozilla, we users and coders can make that happen. No thing is permanent. One of the driving components of Open Source software is the knowledge that when someone makes enough decisions that you disagree with, you can fork their project. Whining and gnashing of teeth and sobbing about the lost internet because a good guy made a decision you agree with is really NOT the open source way.

That’s what bothers me.

That people are blaming Mozilla (and seemingly no one else) for adopting a stupid standard that W3C and even Tim Berners-Lee stood behind, that people think that this somehow is a NEW position for Mozilla on DRM, and that people think there’s nothing that can be done now because a company that receives upwards of 80% of its funding from people USING its browser to google search have to make a tough decision that they believe will help people use their browser.


I don’t use netflix, I would be even less inclined to switch to chrome since I have very limited interaction with google products. I think you can support a group without endorsing every decision that they make.

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I think Mozilla has chosen to implement the standards in a loud, noticeable way, that will allow users to have maximum control over the software they choose to install. I don’t know what else they can do.

They could have stuck to their own stated principles and let the chips fall where they may. That’s how principles are supposed to work.

The belief that DRM is now being introduced into Mozilla’s products when it clearly is not.

Clearly, it is. And, that’s why this is an argument of principles and not over technological implementation issues themselves.

This horrible belief that Mozilla is somehow the last bastion of good faith that we can ever have and that they alone are fighting for a perfect and open web, all on their own.

That’s a false argument. If you look at some of the detractors, they are exceedingly experienced with open web standards.

For example:

The issue is among popular web browsers, and Firefox did stand alone in resisting DRM in this field:

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