Mozilla has made a difficult decision today, having to pick between sticking to its guns on the open internet or implementing a feature into their browsers that users will want. The developer has decided will work with Adobe to implement HTML5 digital rights management (DRM) into Firefox in order to make sure customers will still be able to view media content within their browser.
CEO of the Mozilla Foundation Mitchell Baker displayed the company's thought process behind making the shift, even though they have been against DRM for some time. With the older DRM system that has been in place going away in favor of new standards, DRM features though avenues like Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash may not be viable for much longer. This leaves the organization with a choice; ether find a way to work with DRM or run the risk of chasing away Firefox users.
Rather than run the risk putting a damper on the future of the browser, Mozilla will be making the move to encrypted media extensions (EME) with help from Adobe. The move follows browser level implementation of DRM components by other companies, like Microsoft and Google, which will be the only way users will be able access DRM laden content online. In spite of the company's dislike for DRM, it was thought best to attempt to implement it in a way that protects users.
"Unfortunately, Mozilla alone cannot change the industry on DRM at this point," says Baker. "In the past Firefox has changed the industry, and we intend to do so again. Today, however, we cannot cause the change we want regarding DRM."
Mozilla won't be responsible for writing the code for the EME specifications, but will pair up with Adobe to implement the change. Mozilla is left to work with Adobe as the EME specification forces the company to "utilize a propriety closed-source CDM." However, Mozilla won't load the content decryption module on their own.
Chief Technology Office Andreas Gal outlines that the module will be put into an open-source sandbox that keeps the module from having access to the network or hard drive of a user. This will keep the DRM from collecting identifiable information or "fingerprinting the user's device." Firefox will be responsible for the receipt of encrypted data and the display without the CDM having further communication. Users would retain some control of the process, giving them the option to activate the implementation. Audits of the sandbox by Adobe or content providers will still be allowed.
Even with the upcoming DRM changes, Mozilla says the will still look for other options. "But Mozilla also believes that until an alternative system is in place, Firefox users should be able to choose whether to interact with DRM in order to watch streaming videos in the browser," says Baker.
When the EME specifications would make their way into future versions of Firefox was not addressed in the statement. The feature will be tested, as any Firefox features would be, for several months before being available for public use. EME is expected to be put into desktop versions of the browser for Linux, OS X and Windows.