Rejoice Firefox lovers! Firefox on Linux can play Netflix now, without any plugins or additional gimmickry.
Until now, only Google Chrome (and Opera perhaps) was able to play Netflix videos on Linux. The main reason behind other prominent browsers such as Chromium and Firefox not playing Netflix videos relates to DRM.
DRM (Digital Rights Management) is the generic term used for technologies that control how users can use a digital media. The main aim is to protect the digital product from being copied, shared and pirated. It also enables the provider to restrict the content on their specific device.
For example, if you own a Kindle and ‘buy’ books from Amazon, you cannot read the eBook you bought on Amazon on a non-Amazon device such as Kobo. It’s as if you don’t even own the book you actually purchased.
Issues like this are reasons why DRM has been constantly criticized by open source advocates.
Firefox + EME = Netflix
In the beginning, Netflix used Microsoft’s Silverlight to provide DRM content and thus it wasn’t possible to use Netflix on Linux without special employing tricks. Gradually, they moved to HTML5
To provide DRM protected content in HTML5. Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) are used.
Mozilla Firefox brought EME support to Linux version in the fourth quarter of 2016. And today Netflix announced the news that Netflix can be played on Firefox in Linux.
What’s your say?
You won’t have to do something special to make Netflix play on Firefox. Simply upgrade it to the latest version. Raspberry Pi users will still won’t get to play Netflix though.
I know that DRM is a touchy issue and not everyone will be happy about Mozilla compromising on its earlier stand on DRM. But considering that EME is an HTML5 standard now, I think it was inevitable. At least, end users can play Netflix and Amazon Videos with Firefox now.
What do you think of it?
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