Firefox 38 asks 'would you like DRM with that?'

A year since Mozilla announced it was adopting digital rights management in Firefox to allow streaming from services such as Netflix, the first release with DRM enabled has appeared.

Firefox users now have a choice with the release of version 38 of the web browser: To have DRM, or not to have DRM.

With the latest release of Mozilla's web browser, Firefox now arrives with Adobe's Content Decryption Module (CDM) to allow playback of DRM content on services such as Netflix.

Mozilla senior vice president of business and legal affairs, Denelle Dixon-Thayer, said in a blog post that the CDM will be downloaded from Adobe shortly after installing or upgrading to Firefox 38, and will be activated the first time a user interacts with a site needing CRM.

Firefox 38 DRM
(Image: Mozilla)

"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," Dixon-Thayer said.

Users will have the ability to disable or uninstall the CDM from within the browser, and for users that are determined to be without any DRM technology, Mozilla is also offering a version of Firefox without Adobe's CDM.

"Because DRM is a 'black-box' technology that isn't open source, we have designed a security sandbox that sits around the CDM," Dixon-Thayer said. "We can't be sure how other browsers have handled the 'black-box' issue but a sandbox provides a necessary layer of security."

"Additionally, we've also introduced the ability to remove the CDM from your copy of Firefox. We believe that these are important security and choice mechanisms that allow us to introduce this technology in a manner that lessens the negative impacts of integrating this type of black-box."

Mozilla first flagged its intentions to include DRM last year, with its CTO Andreas Gal saying at the time that while not having DRM would be preferable, users needed it to access content.

"We have come to the point where Mozilla is not implementing the W3C EME (Encrypted Media Extensions) specification means that Firefox users have to switch to other browsers to watch content restricted by DRM," Gal said.

"Mozilla would have preferred to see the content industry move away from locking content to a specific device (so called node-locking), and worked to provide alternatives."

The use of Adobe's CDM is currently restricted to 32-bit versions of Windows Vista and higher.

The other major feature in Firefox's version 38 release is support for ruby annotations, which Mozilla said had been a long-sought after request from Japanese, Chinese, and other East Asian users.