Petition to Mozilla: Remove DRM

J.B. Nicholson-Owens jbn at
Mon Oct 6 00:08:54 UTC 2014

Pierre Schweitzer wrote:
> I'd like to raise a few points on that concern, because they are a few
> dark corners for me. I hope you can throw some light for me on this.
> What's exactly the matter with supporting DRM? It means that they will
> have to ship some closed source binary with Firefox so that DRM will
> properly work in Firefox?

Coming from a perspective of software freedom and discussing this on an 
FSF mailing list such as we are, it seems to me the situation should not 
be framed in terms of the movement that doesn't support software 
freedom. A "closed source"[closed] binary is a reference to the open 
source movement, the very movement that has no problems abandoning their 
own developmental methodology[abandon] when a sufficiently convenient 
and powerful proprietary program is published. This abandonment is no 
accident, as that movement was designed to not support software freedom 
in the first place. As the FSF points out, "Most discussion of “open 
source” pays no attention to right and wrong, only to popularity and 

> If that's the case, what about letting the users the freedom to
> choose? Distributions rebuild their Firefox (or equivalent), so they
> can provide a DRM-free and a DRM-compliant release? I'm seeing this as
> it could be done for Linux with non-free and free firmwares. Perhaps a
> too naive approach?

The freedom to choose is a ruse. Choosing unethical behavior or choosing 
power over others[power] (proprietary software certainly is the 
proprietor asserting power over that program's users) is an attempt to 
turn software freedom into merely another alternative[alternative] among 
equally valid alternatives, thus dissuading anyone from thinking 
non-freedom is an oppression.

> I'd like to highlight some major point in the end: the user must be
> free. That's IMHO the most important thing, and this shouldn't be
> forgotten. Let's impersonate a Firefox end-user. They want to be able
> to browse the web and visit sites that have an interest for them. This
> might include Netflix for instance. And this requires DRM support.
> Firefox doesn't have it and plans to have it. Why would we choose for
> the user what's good or not? That's not free software.

Sometimes freedom requires a sacrifice. Your Netflix example currently 
requires Free Software users to do without Netflix. This is a small 
sacrifice anyone can make in the pursuit of software freedom.

> Let's have the upstream developer do what he believes match the users
> requirements. And let's just ask him possibility to eventually disable
> such features if they don't match distribution/user philosophy.

What you propose here is indistinguishable from how proprietary software 
already works. Users on MacOS or Windows can choose not to install 
Adobe's DRM binary. And asking for "eventual" action is asking for 
delaying one's software freedom.

The heart of this issue is not how much of a nuisance DRM is, nor 
whether Adobe will publish binaries that run on one's preferred 
GNU/Linux system. Those are minor technical distractions that fail to 
address the freedoms all computer users deserve and how important it is 
to consistently frame the issue around these freedoms in order to ensure 
any real resolution is built by first respecting these freedoms.

See for explication 
on how proprietary software is always power over users, never freedom.

particularly the section titled "Different Values Can Lead to Similar 
Conclusions…but Not Always" for how this abandonment occurs.

See for more 
on this.

See for 
more on this.

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