Netflix debuts on Firefox for Linux, but not everyone's happy about it

It's possible because DRM is being baked directly into web browsers

Firefox on Linux is now playing Netflix, but not everyone is happy about it.

The streaming video service recently announced that anyone running the latest version of Firefox on Linux can now stream Netflix videos. Previously, only Chrome on Linux worked with Netflix—and unofficially at that.

For several years, Netflix has been moving away from plugins like Microsoft’s Silverlight to HTML5 video on Windows and Mac. The idea was that HTML5 freed Netflix streaming from reliance on browser plugins and made it easier for users to get Netflix on their computers without taking any extra steps.

But Netflix and other companies looking to use HTML5 brought more to the open web standard than just user convenience. These companies also started pushing to standardize digital right management (DRM) as a part of HTML5, known as Encrypted Media Extensions (EME). Mozilla announced in August 2016 that Firefox 49 would support EME.

The story behind the story: Not so coincidentally, Netflix announced that it had landed on Firefox for Linux around the same time that the World Wide Web Consortium said that EME would enter the final stage before standardization as an official part of HTML5. Netflix and other content providers want EME to become a web standard due to the commitments they’ve made to to protect movies and TV shows from unauthorized copying. Open web advocates, meanwhile, oppose the move as fundamentally bad for the web.

Fight!

DRM is generally opposed by open standards advocates since it imposes restrictions on users and has never really done much to thwart piracy anyway. DRM also brings in a troubling aspect of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA makes it illegal to break DRM even if it’s for the purpose of finding security flaws inside the software—a dicey prospect when that DRM's baked right into web browsers.

To help mitigate the issue, the W3C is working on a voluntary best practices policy that would allow security researchers to disclose security flaws without getting sued or investigated by law enforcement.

Even so, open standards advocates are not happy. The Electronic Frontier Foundation called on the W3C to require companies to promise not to take action against security researchers as a condition of participation in the W3C instead of rolling out a voluntary framework.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Firefoxnetflix

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ian Paul

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?