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Encrypted Media Extensions

Updated: 2017-07-12T11:13Z

Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) is a proposed W3C specification for providing a communication channel between web browsers and digital rights management (DRM) agent software.[1] This allows the use of HTML5 video to play back DRM-wrapped content such as streaming video services without the need for third-party media plugins like Adobe Flash or Microsoft Silverlight. The use of a third-party key management system may be required, depending on whether the publisher chooses to scramble the keys.

EME is based on the HTML5 Media Source Extensions specification,[2] which enables adaptive bitrate streaming in HTML5 using e.g. MPEG-DASH with MPEG-CENC protected content.[3][4]

EME has been highly controversial because it places a necessarily proprietary, closed component into what might otherwise be an entirely open and free software ecosystem.[5] On July 6 2017, W3C publicly announced its intention to publish EME web standard.[6]


In April 2013, on the Samsung Chromebook, Netflix became the first company to offer HTML5 video using EME.[7]

As of 2016, the Encrypted Media Extensions interface has been implemented in the Google Chrome,[8] Internet Explorer,[9] Safari,[10] Firefox,[11] and Microsoft Edge[12] browsers.

While backers and the developers of the Firefox browser were hesitant in implementing the protocol for ethical reasons due to its dependency on proprietary code,[13] Firefox introduced EME support on Windows platforms in May 2015. Firefox's implementation of EME uses an open-source sandbox to load the proprietary DRM modules, which are treated as plug-ins that are loaded when EME-encrypted content is requested. The sandbox was also designed to frustrate the ability for services and the DRM to uniquely track and identify devices.[11][14]

Netflix supports HTML5 video using EME with a supported browser: Chrome, Firefox,[15] Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer (on Windows 8.1 or newer[16]), or Safari (on OS X Yosemite or newer[17]). YouTube supports the HTML5 MSE.[18] Available players supporting MPEG-DASH using the HTML5 MSE and EME are THEOplayer[19] by OpenTelly, the bitdash MPEG-DASH player,[20][21] dash.js[22] by DASH-IF or rx-player.[23]

Version 4.3 and subsequent versions of Android support EME.[24]


EME has faced strong criticism from both inside[25][26] and outside W3C.[27] The major issues for criticism are implementation issues for open-source browsers, entry barriers for new browsers, lack of interoperability,[28] concerns about privacy and accessibility and possibility of legal trouble in the United States due to Chapter 12[29] of the DMCA.[30][31][32][33]


  1. ^ "Encrypted Media Extensions W3C Candidate Recommendation". W3C. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017. 
  2. ^ HTML5 MSE
  3. ^ David Dorwin. "ISO Common Encryption EME Stream Format and Initialization Data". W3C. Archived from the original on 2015-02-19. 
  4. ^ Lederer, Stefan (February 2, 2015). "Why YouTube & Netflix use MPEG-DASH in HTML5". Bitmovin. 
  5. ^ Lucian Constantin (24 February 2012). "Proposed Encrypted Media Support in HTML5 Sparks DRM Debate on W3C Mailing List". IT World. IDG News Service. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "W3C Announcement". Retrieved 12 July 2017. 
  7. ^ Anthony Park and Mark Watson (April 15, 2013). "HTML5 Video at Netflix". Netflix. 
  8. ^ Weinstein, Rafael (26 February 2013). "Chrome 26 Beta: Template Element & Unprefixed CSS Transitions". Chromium Blog. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  9. ^ "Supporting Encrypted Media Extensions with Microsoft PlayReady DRM in web browsers". Windows app development. Retrieved 31 August 2014. 
  10. ^ Protalinski, Emil (3 June 2014). "Netflix ditches Silverlight for HTML5 on Macs too: Available today in Safari on OS X Yosemite beta". The Next Web. Retrieved 16 October 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Firefox 38 arrives with contentious closed-source DRM integrated by default". PC World. IDG. 13 May 2015. Retrieved 12 August 2015. 
  12. ^ Mohrland, Jesse; Smith, Jerry (October 27, 2015). "Using Encrypted Media Extensions for interoperable protected media". Microsoft. 
  13. ^ Mozilla begrudgingly brings Netflix support to Linux with DRM in Firefox
  14. ^ Jeremy Kirk (May 15, 2014). "Mozilla hates it, but streaming video DRM is coming to Firefox". PCWorld. 
  15. ^ Netflix system requirements for HTML5 Player and Silverlight
  16. ^ Anthony Park and Mark Watson (26 June 2013). "HTML5 Video in IE 11 on Windows 8.1". Netflix. 
  17. ^ Anthony Park and Mark Watson (3 June 2014). "HTML5 Video in Safari on OS X Yosemite". Netflix. 
  18. ^ "The Status of MPEG-DASH today, and why Youtube & Netflix use it in HTML5". bitmovin GmbH. 2 Feb 2015. 
  19. ^ THEOplayer by OpenTelly: HLS and MPEG-DASH player for HTML5 MSE and EME
  20. ^ bitdash MPEG-DASH player for HTML5 MSE and EME
  21. ^ bitdash HTML5 EME DRM demo area
  22. ^ dash.js
  23. ^ rx-player
  24. ^ Ozer, Jan (July–August 2015). "HTML5 Comes of Age: It's Finally Time to Tell Flash Good-bye". Streaming Media Magazine. Retrieved 2016-01-12. In mobile markets [...] Android has supported MSE since version 4.1, and EME since version 4.3. 
  25. ^ "Boris Zabrasky opposing EME". Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  26. ^ "Ian Hickson opposing EME". Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  27. ^ "Richard Stallman Braved a Winter Storm Last Night to March Against DRM". Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  28. ^ "4K Netflix arrives on Windows 10, but probably not for your PC". Retrieved 26 November 2016. 
  29. ^ "Title 17, Circular 92, Chapter 12 -". Retrieved 25 July 2016. 
  30. ^ "EFF's Formal Objection to EME". Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  31. ^ "Save Firefox". Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  32. ^ "Open Letter to W3C". Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  33. ^ "Interoperability and the W3C: Defending the Future from the Present". Retrieved 10 June 2016. 

See also

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