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

Following on from yesterday's brutal, awful news that Mozilla is going to add DRM to its Firefox browser, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Danny O'Brien has published an important editorial explaining how Mozilla's decision sets back the whole cause of fighting for a free and open Internet.

Mozilla's DRM code, imported from Adobe as a closed-source binary, will sit in a cordoned sandbox, simultaneously Mozilla's responsibility but beyond its control. Mozilla will be responsible for updates to the DRM blackbox, which means users will have to navigate browser updates that will either fix security bugs or strip features from their video watching. Mozillians have already been warned of the danger of talking too much about how DRM works (and doesn't work), lest they trigger the provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that forbid "trafficking" in circumvention knowledge.

Baker may think that Mozilla cannot change the industry on its own (despite it having done so many years ago). Sadly, it changes the industry by accepting DRM. It is these repeated compromises to the needs of DRM advocates by tech company after tech company that are changing the nature of personal computing, transforming it into a sector that is dominated by established interests and produces locked-down devices, monitored and managed by everyone but their users.

Can This Web Be Saved? Mozilla Accepts DRM, and We All Lose [Danny O'Brien/EFF]

Notable Replies

  1. Mozilla's DRM code, imported from Adobe

    That alone should be enough to scare the pants off you.

    Adobe Systems, where security was never a serious consideration.

    At Adobe systems we do things on a grand scale. In 2013 alone we allowed 192.9 million user accounts to be compromised. No one else has such a commitment to handing out your data.

  2. From the article you linked:

    More importantly, popularity is not an end in itself. This is especially true for the Mozilla Foundation, a nonprofit with an ethical mission. In the past, Mozilla has distinguished itself and achieved success by protecting the freedom of its users and explaining the importance of that freedom

    Exactly. So having a user base got to their heads? If the user base doesn't care about an issue as fundamental as baked-in DRM, are a they really a Mozilla user base? I'm not trying to "No True Scotsman" here, but what's the point of being Mozilla if you aren't anymore? I'd rather have "Wouldn't implement DRM" on my headstone than have "Teamed up with Adobe to implement in-browser DRM!" in my lifetime achievement award...

  3. Does anyone have any actual technical data showing how this is different than watching Netflix through the Silverlight plugin?

    This isn't a technical issue for those who oppose this move by Mozilla. If you read the multiple statements linked by boing boing in several posts, they explain this in detail.

    While I don't fully agree with some of their points, I can at least respect their point of view that this is clearly a move that the Mozilla Foundation is doing against its own, stated principles.

    There's an awfully high level of histrionics over what seems to be, in the end, a plugin...

    In the end, it's really about principles for those who are against acceptance of this form of DRM in a self-professed open platform. And calling people melodramatic for standing up for their principles seems overly dismissive in my opinion.

    I don't necessarily agree with everyone who is against Mozilla's decision, but I also don't find the insulting need to claim they are being histrionic for standing against DRM and standing for principles.

  4. 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,

    2. You can't hide something from someone while showing it to them,

    3. 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. ...

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