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Widevine is a content decryption module (CDM) for the digital rights management (DRM) of the Google Chrome web browser and Android MediaDRM originally created by Widevine Technologies, which was purchased by Google in 2010.[1][2] It operates as an encryption scheme to securely distribute video content to consumer devices. Widevine is free to use by content providers and as such does not charge any fees for license generation or device integration.[3]


Widevine is a vendor of digital rights management software. One of its early technologies included a software system that replaced smart cards that eliminated the cost and logistical complexity of the card's distribution and introduced the abilities to process more sophisticated rights.[4] It was purchased by Google within an acquisition trend that represented the search company's development needs.[5]


Widevine DRM is used with the Chromium web browser and on Android.[6] It supports MPEG-DASH and HLS.[7] Google Chrome and Chrome OS make use of Encrypted Media Extensions and Media Source Extensions with Widevine.[8] Over thirty chipsets, six major desktop and mobile operating systems, and Google properties such as Chromecast and Android TV have adopted Widevine.[9]

Companies including Amazon Video, BBC, Hulu, Netflix and Spotify use Widevine DRM to prevent the distribution of premium content.[10][11]

It is also used by Firefox since v47, released in 2016,[12] by default to allow DRM playback, but can be uninstalled and disabled in the settings.[13] Prior to that, they used Adobe's Primetime CDM for some versions.[14]

Open source[edit]

Widevine is used in several open-source projects.

  • Shaka Player – Widevine-developed open-source HTML5 web-based player available on GitHub.[15]
  • Shaka Packager – Widevine-developed open-source content packaging solution available on GitHub. The packager supports MPEG-DASH and HLS for VOD or linear based content.[16]
  • Electron Framework – Widevine partnered with castLabs to integrate the Widevine client into the Electron framework for use with desktop application development.[17] The integration, however, still requires anyone, who wants to distribute/use it in their application to sign a license agreement with Google.[18]


In 2019, a developer, who tried to bundle Widevine in a Electron/Chromium-based application for video playing and did not get any response from Google when asking for a license agreement, effectively blocking DRM usage in the project.[19][20] He got the reply:

I'm sorry but we're not supporting an open source solution like this

The same happened to other Electron projects[21] and the developers of the competing browser to Chrome/ium, Brave, a fork of Chromium itself, also had issues to get a license from Google.[22]


  1. ^ "Widevine Media Optimizer | Encoding.com". Encoding.com. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  2. ^ "Widevine Content Decryption Module plugin". Chromium. Arch Linux. 2017. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  3. ^ "Widevine digital rights management explained". Android Authority. 2017-12-11. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  4. ^ Gerbarg, Darcy (2008). Television Goes Digital. New York: Springer Science+Business Media. p. 214. ISBN 9780387799773.
  5. ^ Watson, James; Hill, Anne (2015). Dictionary of Media and Communication Studies, 9th edition. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 119. ISBN 9781628921489.
  6. ^ Triggs, Robert (2017-12-11). "Widevine digital rights management explained". androidauthority.com. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  7. ^ Semba, Taku (2018-05-31). "HLS with Widevine for Android". Taku Semba. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  8. ^ "The Complete Guide to Widevine". encoding.com. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  9. ^ "Supported Platforms". Widevine. Retrieved 2018-01-11. nearly 4 billion devices
  10. ^ Langner, Christoph (2016-05-05). "Amazon Prime Video mit Kodi und dem Raspberry Pi (jetzt mit Input Stream und Widevine)" (in German). linuxundich.de. Retrieved 2018-01-11.
  11. ^ "BBC deploys BuyDRM to secure premium digital content". Digital TV News. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
  12. ^ Mozilla. "Mozilla To Test Widevine CDM in Firefox Nightly To Facilitate Video Watching Online". Future Releases. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  13. ^ "Watch DRM content on Firefox | Firefox Help". support.mozilla.org. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  14. ^ "Firefox 52: Adobe Primetime CDM removal - gHacks Tech News". www.ghacks.net. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
  15. ^ JavaScript player library / DASH & HLS client / MSE-EME player: google/shaka-player, Google, 2019-03-01, retrieved 2019-03-01
  16. ^ A media packaging and development framework for VOD and Live DASH and HLS applications, supporting Common Encryption for Widevine and other DRM Systems.: google/shaka-packager, Google, 2019-03-01, retrieved 2019-03-01
  17. ^ castLabs Electron for Content Security. Contribute to castlabs/electron-releases development by creating an account on GitHub, castLabs GmbH, 2019-02-28, retrieved 2019-03-01
  18. ^ Maddock, Samuel. "Support Widevine CDM · Issue #85 · samuelmaddock/metastream". GitHub. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  19. ^ Doctorow, Cory. "After years of insisting that DRM in HTML wouldn't block open source implementations, Google says it won't support open source implementations". Boing Boing. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  20. ^ Maddock, Samuel (2019-04-02). "I tried creating a web browser, and Google blocked me". samuelmaddock.github.io. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  21. ^ "Netflix isn't working even with Widevine correctly loaded. · Issue #12427 · electron/electron". GitHub. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  22. ^ Bondy, Brian R. (2017-08-21). "Netflix Streaming Error · Issue #10449 · brave/browser-laptop". GitHub. Retrieved 2019-07-25.

External links[edit]