Mozilla has come in for some harsh criticism from the Free Software Foundation, following its controversial decision to support Digital Rights Management (DRM) in its Firefox browser.
The FSF has published an open letter condemning the move, saying it’s “deeply disappointed” by Mozilla’s actions. This came after Wednesday night’s announcement that Mozilla would work with Adobe to support Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) within Firefox. EMEs are being added to the HTML5 specifications after the W3C bowed to demands from major content providers, which means it would be impossible to view any video media that’s protected by DRM in browsers that don’t support it. That’s the reason why Mozilla, even though it despises DRM, capitulated to those same demands – because it fears people would simply use other browsers if they couldn’t watch their favorite movies using Firefox.
However, the FSF has launched a stinging attack on Mozilla, saying that its decision is “unfortunate” and “shocking”. It adds that Mozilla is risking compromising the principles that set it apart from other major 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,” says the FSF. “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.”
Mozilla’s decision to partner with Adobe came in for special criticism. The FSF describes Adobe as an ideological enemy of it and Mozilla, saying it “has been and continues to be a vicious opponent of the free software movement and the free Web.” It adds that with Mozilla and Adobe now cozying up in bed together, the former may not be so willing to criticize the latter going forward. It’s main concern though, is that Mozilla will from now on be devoting part of its resources to “delivering users to Adobe and hostile media distributors.”
As SiliconANGLE noted yesterday, Mozilla plans to make its DRM implementation ‘safer’ than other browsers. The plan is to build an open-source “sandbox” that will allow users to install plugins that provide DRM functionality. DRM won’t be built into the actual Firefox browser, which will stay 100 percent open-source.
But that’s not enough for the FSF, which is so rabidly anti-proprietary software that it’s even hostile to the concept of open-source. It says that Mozilla has performed a complete U-turn from its year’s old policy of “sticking to Web standards in the face of attempts to impose proprietary extensions.”
The FSF wants Mozilla to reverse its decision. But if not, the letter instead calls upon Mozilla to start devoting as many of its resources to challenging DRM as it now does to supporting it.