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That DRM support in Firefox you never asked for? It's here

HTML5-based Adobe rights system now in Firefox 38 for Windows

Mozilla has released the first version of its Firefox browser to include support for Encrypted Media Extensions, a controversial World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) spec that brings digital rights management (DRM) to HTML5's video tag.

The nonprofit grudgingly agreed to add EME support to Firefox last year, despite the vocal objections of both Mozilla's then-CTO Brendan Eich and the Free Software Foundation.

"Nearly everyone who implements DRM says they are forced to do it" the FSF said at the time, "and this lack of accountability is how the practice sustains itself."

Nonetheless, Mozilla promoted Firefox 38 to the Release channel on Tuesday, complete with EME enabled – although it said it's still doing so reluctantly.

"We don't believe DRM is a desirable market solution, but it's currently the only way to watch a sought-after segment of content," Mozilla senior veep of legal affairs Danielle Dixon-Thayer said in a blog post.

The first firm to leap at the chance to shovel its DRM into Firefox was Adobe, whose Primetime Content Delivery Module for decoding encrypted content shipped with Firefox 38 on Tuesday. Thayer said various companies, including Netflix, are already evaluating Adobe's tech to see if it meets their requirements.

Mozilla says that because Adobe's CDM is proprietary "black box" software, it has made certain to wrap it in a sandbox within Firefox so that its code can't interfere with the rest of the browser. (Maybe that's why it took a year to get it integrated.)

The CDM will issue an alert when it's on a site that uses DRM-wrapped content, so people who don't want to use it will have the option of bowing out.

Firefox DRM warning

Restricted content ahead ...

If you don't want your browser tainted by DRM at all, you still have options. You can disable the Adobe Primetime CDM so it never activates. If that's not good enough, there's a menu option in Firefox that lets you opt out of DRM altogether, after which you can delete the Primetime CDM (or any future CDMs from other vendors) from your hard drive.

Finally, if you don't want DRM in your browser and you don't want to bother with any of the above, Mozilla has made available a separate download that doesn't include the Primetime CDM and has DRM disabled by default.

As it happens, however, many users won't have to deal with the issue at all – at least not for now. The first version of Adobe's CDM for Firefox is only available on Windows Vista and later and then only for 32-bit versions of the browser. Windows XP, OS X, Linux, and 64-bit versions of Firefox are not yet supported, and there's no word yet on when they might be. ®

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