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FSF slams Mozilla for 'shocking' Firefox DRM ankle-grab

Stallman org claims users sold out to 'hostile' media firms

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The Free Software Foundation says it is "deeply disappointed" in Mozilla's decision to support digital rights management (DRM) software in future versions of its Firefox browser and has published an open letter condemning the move.

Mozilla announced on Wednesday that it will work with Adobe to ensure that Firefox supports Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) – which are being added to the HTML5 spec at the behest of major content providers – even though it is ideologically opposed to DRM.

In an editorial posted Wednesday evening, the FSF characterized that choice as "unfortunate" and "shocking", and said Mozilla risked compromising the principles that set it apart from other browser makers.

"We recognize that Mozilla is doing this reluctantly, and we trust these words coming from Mozilla much more than we do when they come from Microsoft or Amazon," the letter reads. "At the same time, nearly everyone who implements DRM says they are forced to do it, and this lack of accountability is how the practice sustains itself."

The FSF was particularly critical of Mozilla's decision to partner with Adobe, which it described in its letter as "the company who has been and continues to be a vicious opponent of the free software movement and the free Web."

"With this partnership in place, we worry about Mozilla's ability and willingness to criticize Adobe's practices going forward," the FSF said, adding that the partnership meant Mozilla would be devoting some portion of its resources to "delivering users to Adobe and hostile media distributors."

Mozilla's stated plan is to build an open source "sandbox" technology that will allow users to install proprietary Content Delivery Modules into the Firefox like plugins. No DRM technologies will be built into the browser itself, which will remain purely open source.

But to the FSF – which is so zealous in its promotion of free software that it objects to the concept of open source – that's not good enough. By allowing Firefox to host proprietary components the sole purpose of which is to restrict users' rights, the FSF says, Mozilla is doing an about-face from its track record of "sticking to Web standards in the face of attempts to impose proprietary extensions."

The FSF says it hopes Mozilla will reverse its decision. But if it doesn't, the FSF's letter challenges it to begin "devoting as many of their extensive resources to permanently eliminating DRM as they are now devoting to supporting it." ®

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