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Free Software Foundation Condemns Mozilla's Move To Support DRM In Firefox 403

Posted by Soulskill
from the we're-shocked dept.
New submitter ptr_88 writes: "The Free Software Foundation has opposed Mozilla's move to support DRM in the Firefox browser, partnering with Adobe to do so. The FSF said, '[We're] deeply disappointed in Mozilla's announcement. The decision compromises important principles in order to alleviate misguided fears about loss of browser market share. It allies Mozilla with a company hostile to the free software movement and to Mozilla's own fundamental ideals. ... 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. 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.'"
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Free Software Foundation Condemns Mozilla's Move To Support DRM In Firefox

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:12PM (#47028689)

    Truly, we got an offer we couldn't decline.

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:14PM (#47028705)
    Yes, thank god people are sacrificing their morals for some inane entertainment.
  • Re:Yawn. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MpVpRb (1423381) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:16PM (#47028711)

    Valiantly fighting the good fight against the evil weasels who view our freedom as a threat

    He is still a hero to many of us

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:22PM (#47028755)

    Firefox adopting DRM is not what is allowing the practice to continue, it is people consuming it. If Firefox did not support DRM directly, the content providers would offer a custom (closed source) tool that did. Until users decide not to view DRM content, the practice will continue, with or without Firefox.

    What Firefox is doing is making the hard choice to be flexible and give users the opportunity to view the content or not, they are empowering their userbase to make the choice. Sadly, this means Firefox values user choice more than the FSF. I don't like DRM and I do not plan to view DRMed content, but many people will and if Firefox wants to survive they need to give their users that choice.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:27PM (#47028781)

    I've contacted the CTO at agal@mozilla.com about this on behalf of my company and let him know that Firefox's one core advantage over all the other major browsers has been it's strong stance on freedom. More people need to speak up if there is any hope to effect change though.

    If Mozilla gives up its users they've got nothing left to offer. They need to stop following Chrome and Microsoft in a downward spiral. Copying Google & Microsoft's bad ideas and practices is not how you become loved. No, it's these types of bad practices which caused users to abandon those other major browsers in the first place and move to Firefox.

    It's time for Mozilla to take charge and lead again. Show its users it's got what it takes to stand up for its users. With the right choices people might actually begin to respect the browser maker again.

    Any perceived gain is not worth the moral loss.

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:33PM (#47028821) Homepage

    With the number of times /. posters point out how RMS arrived at some conclusion well before so many other people, and wrote something illustrating the point and his rationale, I would hope /. posters would recall that.

    More DRM isn't going to play out well for the public as it has already failed for those who enjoy leveraging their fair-use rights, reading/viewing something in another way, and more. RMS's ethics-backed rationale against DRM and nonfree software (as opposed to a developmental methodology that accepts practical convenience at the cost of our civil liberties) is simply invaluable. Snowden's revelations bring RMS's long-held objections to nonfree software into sharp focus all the more.

  • by ConstantineM (965345) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:39PM (#47028863)

    So funny. Just a few short years ago, Mozilla explicitly declined to support H.264 on Windows, even if there was a free native plugin, since it'll partition the Linux users.

    And now they're deciding to support DRM, just to keep the market share?

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:41PM (#47028869)

    Just out of curiosity, any of the people complaining here about Mozilla caring about market share, actually supported the Mozilla Foundation financially or by other means before screaming and shouting at them because they try to maintain theirselves "commercial" enough? They need to matter in order to obtain funding, unless we decide to pay for the product. Otherwise FF is open source, grab the sources and maintain a DRM free version of it, named IceWolf or whatever you like. Do any of you feel up to it!?

  • by bmo (77928) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:44PM (#47028887)

    If Firefox did not support DRM directly, the content providers would offer a custom (closed source) tool that did."

    So?

    It's not their /job/ to do that. It's their job to make a F/OSS browser. It's in their fucking "Mozilla Manifesto"

    DRM isn't Free. They have failed. And to somehow justify it by saying "someone else will do it anyway" is schoolyard "logic"/ rationalization.

    --
    BMO

  • by lgw (121541) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @08:52PM (#47028939) Journal

    If you don't like DRM, don't consume it. But stop trying to take away my freedom to do so, thanks.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:03PM (#47028975)

    Truly, we got an offer we couldn't decline.

    Many successful FOSS projects are corporate sponsored or subsidized, so corporations are going to be able to provide direction.

    The days of volunteers controlling things are long gone for many large and/or successful projects.

  • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:06PM (#47028989)

    If Firefox did not support DRM directly, the content providers would offer a custom (closed source) tool that did.

    Why would they even bother? I think it far more likely that they would simply put in a "We're sorry, but your browser is not supported at [service] at this time. Please consider using Google Chrome, Microsoft's Internet Explorer or Apple Safari. Our apologies for the inconvenience."

    Given the choice between e.g. watching the latest episode of a show, or.. well.. not, guess what most people are going to do, even if you have made the dangers of DRM clear to them.

    The reason is apathy... those dangers have simply not yet materialized in any way that it has truly affected people. DRM server for an 8-year old game goes down? "Well I wasn't really playing it anymore anyway." Can't save/record Netflix content and after a while you find out that the show they used to have, they no longer have, and so you can't continue watching it? "Oh well, what else is on..."

    The FSF can, and should, condemn Mozilla all they want for being pragmatic; the FSF cannot be thus. But Mozilla can, and should, lest FireFox becomes increasingly marginalized. Now if the FSF could convince Apple, Google, Microsoft to not include DRM schemes...

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:08PM (#47028997)

    Firefox would suffer a large drop in market share if they refused to support features that a significant portion of their userbase would consider critical. Being known as "that browser that doesn't work with Netflix" isn't the road to success.

    If you don't like DRM, that's fine. The average joe doesn't care, and he's going to drop a browser in a heartbeat if it's stopping him from watching House of Cards or whatever other content he wants.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:10PM (#47029005)

    Most people’s reaction to the Mozilla & DRM debacle makes me want to firmly and repeatedly smash my head against my desk. I’ll outline why:

    1. People who can’t (be bothered to) read

    Most of the criticism comes from people who haven’t been bothered to go and read what Mozilla’s written about the issue (or just suck at it). If these people had, we’d have no complaints of Mozilla forcing users to use DRM, bundling propitiatory code, or ‘giving up’ on user’s freedom and rights.

    Essentially all that is happening is Adobe’s CDM is going to be implemented as an optional, monitored, special-type-of-plugin.

    I’d say it’s no different from Flash, but it is going to be different. It’s going to be more secure, and presumably less buggy (being a ‘feature’ of Firefox). Once Firefox implements EME, there’s really no reason for Flash or Silverlight to continue to exist. Sure, this setup sucks. But I think Flash sucks more.

    As for ‘giving up’: Mozilla can only be influential if it has influence. The primary source of Mozilla’s influence is the number of people using Firefox, which isn’t currently very big. Not implementing EME won’t help that. As others have said, this is not the hill to die on.

    This all leads nicely onto my second point:

    2. People who use Chrome

    One of the best Tweets I found on the issue was somebody threatening to switch to Google Chrome because of this. I think the irony here is clear.

    Yet, what astounds me more is not people threatening to switch, but people already using Chrome who want Mozilla to protect their rights.

    Google is a for-profit company which exists to exploit users data. It’s collaborated with the NSA. It’s helped to lead the charge with Microsoft and Netflix for EME. Why on Earth, then, would you give Google support by using Chrome?

    This may seem hypocritical from someone who uses Google’s services. Yet Google Search, Maps, Android (and so-on) are unparalleled. Chrome isn’t.

    The single easiest thing you can do to support Mozilla is to use Firefox. It gives Mozilla the influence it needs to fight.

    3. People who think Mozilla can single-handedly ‘change the industry’

    I hate DRM as much as the next guy and I think copyright is fundamentally broken - it’s why I’m a member of the Pirate Party, it’s why I donate to ORG and EFF, and it’s through these avenues I expect to see real change.

    Mozilla can only change the industry with user support. And users don’t care about DRM, they only care that video works. We clearly saw this with WebM and H.264.

    There’s work to be done, but it can’t be done if Mozilla loses its influence, and it can only be done with the support (not ire) of other organisations.

    Users want DRM. We should give them DRM. That doesn’t mean Mozilla supports DRM, and it doesn’t mean Mozilla can’t educate users about what DRM means (and there are some very good signs of that being bundled into Webmaker soon).
    In conclusion

    Don’t be disappointed in Mozilla.

    Be disappointed in Google, Microsoft and Apple for implementing this first, and backing Mozilla into a corner.

    Be disappointed in Netflix and its friends (including, surprisingly, the BBC!) calling for DRM.

    Be disappointed in your elected representatives creating an environment where it is potentially illegal to say specific things about DRM.

    Now go out, educate users about what DRM means, and why it’s bad. Use Firefox, and donate time or money to Mozilla to give it the influence it needs. Support organisations (such as EFF, ORG, FSF, FSFE) and political parties who represent your views on DRM and Copyright reform.

    This is by no means the end of the battle over DRM and Copyright - it’s just the beginning.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:14PM (#47029013)

    Your missing the point, and the problem. Nobody is saying users should be prohibited or prevented from installing digital restrictions software. What we're saying is Mozilla shouldn't be encouraging, or enabling it. Rather they should be discouraging users from using it. Words like “spyware” and “malware” should be used to describe these anti-user digital restrictions systems.

    The user should not be forced to give up control, security, and privacy just to accommodate an industries interests in making greater profit. Largely this profit is made via deception, not via preventing piracy using digital restrictions. Pirates will continue to be able to pirate regardless of widespread us of digital restriction systems.

    However what digital restrictions do is hand over more and more control to the companies that be of users systems and use of the legitimately purchased goods. As an example if I purchased software in 1990 I'd generally be able to install it on any system I owned. I didn't have to re-purchase the software when I bought a new computer. Nor did I have to tell the entity anything about myself.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:26PM (#47029059) Homepage Journal

    Many successful FOSS projects

    So doesn't this mean that someone could just fork Firefox without the DRM?

    As corporations co-opt FOSS, it's all gotten so confusing for me.

  • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:30PM (#47029089)

    If you don't like DRM, don't consume it. But stop trying to take away my freedom to do so, thanks.

    Look, I don't care much about ideological debates, but could we stop with the nonsensical wording? How exactly does one "consume" DRM? You can perhaps take advantage of, support, view content which makes use of DRM. That's all fine. But please don't "consume" DRM. You can't, not anymore than you can "consume" highways or the history of Somalia.

    On a minor note, I should also point out that being against Mozilla implementing DRM support on Firefox does not "take away your freedom" to view content which makes use of DRM. Unless you're forced by someone or something to use solely Firefox for viewing all your movies or something like that, in which case you should probably reconsider the focus of your digital freedom fighting.

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Saturday May 17, 2014 @09:37PM (#47029133) Homepage Journal
    So how should one be "on our side" while still providing a technical means for rental of non-free videos on demand? Or has FSF declared that not only all software but also all cultural works must be free?
  • by BZ (40346) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @10:09PM (#47029297)

    You're mischaracterizing Brendan's position on DRM, as I'm sure he would tell you if you just asked him personally. I strongly recommend you do so.

    He doesn't like DRM, and neither does anyone else at Mozilla, but you do realize that he was CTO and then CEO while most of the negotiations with Adobe were happening, right?

  • by ikhider (2837593) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @10:10PM (#47029303)
    Most do not understand about DRM, and that is what Mozilla is acting upon--complacency. Sure, you have a handful who understand the dangers of DRM, and why it is important to have a free internet and free open software but not enough. That is why Mozilla caves in, not enough users hold them accountable. Most of their funding comes from Google anyway. More need to be educated about this. When Stallman started the GNU operating system, their numbers were few. Now GNU is a bigger force. It may be time for another browser that respects the users' freedom. To Mozilla, I say, Fork You!
  • by acscott (1885598) on Saturday May 17, 2014 @11:35PM (#47029651)

    Am I too lazy to figure out what this means? What is DRM? If you create something cool I think you should get some credit for it if you want credit. If you don't want credit that's cool too. If there's a business that has employees, we should at least respect their limited time on earth. Producing high quality work (for me anyway) takes sacrifice of something. That's me though. I ramble, but is DRM a bad thing and why?

  • by enter to exit (1049190) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @12:01AM (#47029713)
    I don't want to stop you from running free software, the FSF wants to stop me from non-free software. This is the fundamental difference. I don't impose my views on you, they want to impose their views on everyone. Their views are fundamentally extremist, mine are not.

    Their ideas of a total ban on non-free software would infringe on my views. My way allows for you to run a free-software system while allowing me to run non-free software. They don't want to give me the option of running non-free software. They would rather i have nothing that use proprietary software

    You are like the insane anti-abortionists who wants to ban the practice. I am the one who wants to make individuals to have a choice. I don't impose my views on you and would like you not to infringe on my right to do what i like. It's very simple.
  • by Dahamma (304068) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @01:48AM (#47029967)

    Mozilla is big enough that they could have fought this. The endgame of having the largest user base is not as important as their original manifesto of building and maintaining a free and open browser.

    No, they are not big enough and could not have fought this. The fact is there as long as there is at least one other browser on a platform that *does* support DRM necessary for Netlfix, Amazon, VUDU, whatever - it's just NOT that hard for a user to download and use that browser. Not hard enough that the content providers (i.e. movie studios) will allow their content to be streamed without DRM...

  • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @02:15AM (#47030017)

    They made like $300 million last year. There is no way that I, or even 1000 people like me, could give enough for them to listen to us. It makes far more sense to give to a smaller fork that is still on the correct path, and doesn't see Google money so smaller donations matter.

  • The fact that a web browser that I use includes things that legitimize DRM is certainly not a win for me. The only possible "win" for me is when someone creates a Firefox-based web browser that doesn't include this garbage.

    I have principles I am not willing to surrender. I can see that you may not have such things. Even the mere existence of DRM is a disgrace.

    Except that RIGHT NOW, TODAY, Firefox supports a plug-in architecture which allows Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight to run and play DRM-encumbered content. Just like every other major browser we've been using for the last two decades. Now they want to make a better, safer, way to do it, and people are upset?

  • by silviuc (676999) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @02:46AM (#47030105) Homepage
    The last time Mozilla stood their ground on the H.264 format do you remember what happened? Yeah, you'd find that most HTML5 videos did not work and one would have to resort to using flash. Their move was irrelevant since every other major browser had support for it (Safari, IE, Chrome)...

    So yeah, tone down the "they are big enough" speech... past "experiments" prove they are not "big enough".
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @08:41AM (#47030823) Journal
    There's the ideological argument why DRM is bad: it places control of the content in the hands of the content publishers. I'm fine with paying for the content that I want, but I object to the publisher being able to control how I consume it. If I want to play it on a tablet or computer running a niche OS that isn't worth the investment for the publisher to support, then I should be able to as long as I don't demand support from the publisher.

    There's also the economic argument, which is a bit more compelling: it prevents entire industries from emerging. Take portable digital music players as an example. They only exist because the DRM on CDs was so weak that a court ruled that it didn't exist. Apple was selling so many iPods for a while that they were buying the entire first two years of production output from flash factories before they were even built. Without that kind of investment, we wouldn't have cheap SSDs today. Various publishing industries have tried to kill the home video recorder, the tape player (no copying music from the radio, or from your CDs to play in the car!), portable digital music players, and so on. The reason that iTunes can rip CDs but not DVDs is simply that Apple is a DVD licensee and so can't break the trivial DRM without losing their license to sell DVD players. A modern phone can store (recompressed), several DVDs worth of video, but DRM has prevented the market emerging for consumer-friendly DVD ripping software. How many people own tablets and would like to be able to rip their DVD collections with a one-click ripper and copy the movies across with a simple interface? I'd imagine, most of them, and yet the only companies that have tried to do this have been sued out of existence.

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