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BBC Trial of TV Show Download Service 257

Posted by Zonk
from the working-for-the-viewers dept.
Little Hamster writes "Five thousand households with broadband access has been selected for a trial of the BBC's new interactive Media Player. The trial will run from September to December, and users can 'time shift' and download selected BBC TV shows, radio programmes, regional programming and feature films. After seven days, the content will be automatically deleted from the user's computers. BBC will use this trial to iron out any outstanding rights issues and resolve teething difficulties with the technology ahead of a full launch next year." The BBC Press Office has a release about this as well.
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BBC Trial of TV Show Download Service

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  • The Office? (Score:3, Funny)

    by FriedTurkey (761642) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:33AM (#12554944)
    Hopefully they will allow downloads of the "The Office". It is a great series. Although as an American, I have to turn on the subtitles to understand what they are saying. Also I didn't understand any of the British pop culture references except the Benny Hill ones.

    Maybe BBC should allow downloads of Benny Hill too?
    • Re:The Office? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Benny Hill was on ITV (Thames IIRC)
      • Re:The Office? (Score:3, Informative)

        by gowen (141411)
        "The Benny Hill Show" started on the BBC in 1955, but transferred to ITV in 1969. The ones that are seen in the US are entirely from the ITV run, and with many of the ruder bits cut out.
    • Re:The Office? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by BenjyD (316700) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:01AM (#12555341)
      I often read Americans saying they had to turn on subtitles to understand parts of The Office. As an English person I've always wanted to know which parts/characters Americans find hard to understand. Or is it just the slang terms used?

      From an English person's point of view, the accents are fairly standard mid-England/London accents. But then, having driven round rural Georgia, I know we are two countries divided by a common language.
      • Mostly just the general slang. I can assume most of them refer to sex. I think Americans find some of the humor [humour] in the cheeky British "shagging" words.

        Also David Brent's songs are hilarious when you actually see the words.
      • Re:The Office? (Score:2, Redundant)

        by metlin (258108)
        I *am* from Georgia, ye' insensitive clawd. x-(
      • Re:The Office? (Score:3, Informative)

        by TwistedSquare (650445)
        I gather it's largely the slang and culture references. Things like muff, minge, pub (which I didn't realise would cause confusion), and others. There is a list on the BBC website somewhere I think. Some of the culture references are just totally lost, like us watching some Simpson's episodes. I doubt anyone not from these shores could appreciate the brilliance of David Brent saying he loved Ian Botham, references to the Corrs, Des'ree, the poem Slough ("dropping bombs is no way to solve town planning p
      • Slang is part of it, but not the whole story. I think it is mostly the pacing and tones that really throw us at times. America is pretty big and most people don't do a lot of traveling. I'd say a huge percentage of my midwestern family has never traveled far enough to be fully immersed in a place with a significantly different accent.

        It is even more tricky for most midwesterners (I'm talking Iowa and maybe Nebraska here) because the networks and actors all seem to strive for a midwestern accent. There'
      • The gold standard of impenetrable regional accents on UK television must be Rab C. Nesbitt [imdb.com] - one of the funniest things ever on television courtesy of the BBC. [if you can understand it].

        I'm a Glaswegian-born lad so no problems for me, but English and US friends of mine have watched it and not understood a word.

      • As an expat-Briton who's lived in the US, I think it's more than just slang. That's certainly an issue. Also the English tendency to mumble (especially younger people) and use glottle stops is another cause of problems. However, I think the biggest issue is something to do with actually understanding the sounds. It's as if for some people (and this isn't a critism) their ears hear the words, yet their brains don't understand the sounds. Perhaps it's because they haven't been exposed to those types of s
      • Re:The Office? (Score:3, Interesting)

        I often read Americans saying they had to turn on subtitles to understand parts of The Office. As an English person I've always wanted to know which parts/characters Americans find hard to understand. Or is it just the slang terms used?

        I'm from the USA, but I moved to Brazil 5 years ago. I had no trouble at all understanding any of the accents on The Office (I noticed some minor variations between different characters), and I watched both seasons and the Christmas wrap-up ep. I didn't even find the s

    • RTFA. It's restricted to UK users, so no Yanks allowed (this is for the same reason that BBC America has adverts - the BBC is publicly funded by the TV license fee in the UK).
  • by frankthechicken (607647) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:33AM (#12554946) Journal
    If the BBC essentially runs a public domain service anyway, why are the shows deleted after seven days?

    This ceratinly doesn't need to happen on a video recording.
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman @ g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:47AM (#12555140) Homepage Journal
      If the BBC essentially runs a public domain service anyway, why are the shows deleted after seven days?

      I don't think it's that simple. For one, I believe that BBC doesn't own all the shows they broadcast. (Although they do own quite a few.) As such, they are licensed to provide public distribution of the shows, but are not necessary able to just give them away. This would seem to be backed by the article's mention of Hollywood and independent studios.

      In addition, it also mentions that the acting unions are "acting up"^H^H balking at the idea of Internet distribution. They don't give any details, but my guess is that actors are concerned that rampant piracy would result in lower wages and fewer acting jobs. It's probably pretty hard to convince them that if given a good for-pay alternative, the majority of people will use the convenient pay service. (The only reason why Napster ever appeared was that the music industry failed to respond to market pressures. What did they THINK was going to happen?)
      • by gowen (141411)
        actors are concerned that rampant piracy would result in lower wages and fewer acting jobs
        It's more likely that they're balking at the fact that on-demand video won't supply them with the repeat fees that they get when shows are rebroadcast by traditional means.
        • It's more likely that they're balking at the fact that on-demand video won't supply them with the repeat fees that they get when shows are rebroadcast by traditional means.

          That's a good point. I'm not too familar with British styles of acting compensation, but if I had royalties, I'd definitely like to hold onto them. Once the time-shifting issue is figured out, I suppose what they'd need to do for pay-per-view is make sure that royalties are properly earmarked for each download. This would give actors a
          • Actors generally object to too many repeats, despite royalties. They'd much rather see new programmes being made.
          • That's a good point. I'm not too familar with British styles of acting compensation, but if I had royalties, I'd definitely like to hold onto them. Once the time-shifting issue is figured out, I suppose what they'd need to do for pay-per-view is make sure that royalties are properly earmarked for each download. This would give actors a similar income, but probably more frequent payments. Plus, actors might see royalties for shows that have all but disappeared from reruns.

            Or maybe actors could just learn th

      • The biggest issue is usually the music that accompanies the programs. Rights are given for a broadcast of music (theme tune, backing music, sound effect etc ) and this is very rarely owned by the BBC. eg Eastenders (bad bad bad soap) might have a cafe scene where a top40 song is on in the background. fat chance of the BBC being allowed to give this away...... BTW does anyone know when storage will be up to the job of recording everything broadcast, indexing it locally (at my flat) and letting me hold it
    • I seem to remember a while ago that it was taking so long for them to do this (they announced it first quite a long time ago) because of the issues of paying actors (IIRC they get paid royalties each time it's shown, or something like that), so DRM is probably their solution they could agree on. Also the BBC gains a lot of capital from DVD sales.

      Really is a pity though they are using DRM, and a custom application, as I wouldn't be surprised at all if it only ran on Windows. I also hope the P2P part of it
    • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:52AM (#12555215) Homepage
      If they didn't delete content, people's computers would crash. You seem to forget we're talking about the public here...
    • Disclaimer: The following is a guess.

      The system uses a P2P network to distribute the shows. By forcing the erasure of old shows, they ensure that only the latest shows are being shared, resulting in more efficient use of bandwidth, and faster downloads.

      Having said that, it's probably just because they can.
    • It's not public domain. A significant amount of it is produced by other studios under license, licensed from other channels/countries, or will be licensed to other places for money. Now one can argue it should be public domain, but it presently isn't.
    • If you can get the same show again and again, whenever you want, what is the need to 'keep' a copy? Why not delete after X days? Prevents space problems on less than clueful users machines, and satisfies the copyright owners need for a little bit of control on the content.

      The only reason I could see would be space-shifting onto another medium (play on your portable DVD player, for instance)

  • Well (Score:3, Insightful)

    by metlin (258108) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:34AM (#12554951) Journal
    If it is available digitally, it would certainly be possible to find a way of copying it without the whole deletion procedure.

    Even if its a custom media player, how long is it going to take for someone to hack it up?
    • At a pinch I'm sure you could use some sort of screen / audio grabbing software as an initial "solution"

      Your totally right anyway - it'll be cracked soon enough.
  • by Alranor (472986) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:34AM (#12554955)
    The BBC's interactive media player (iMP) is a new application in development which will allow users to download tv and radio programmes from bbc.co.uk to their PC or laptop and watch or listen to them for seven days after the transmission date.


    Anyone wanna bet it'll be Windows only.

    Guess i'll probably end up sticking to bittorrent.
    • Naturally, it might be out on the Mac too in time but I doubt it'll have a Linux version. There's no builtin DRM with Linux like there is with Windows so it'd be a lot harder to protect the content files.

      IMHO DRM and Linux don't necessarily have to be enemies. For instance take the Windows XP "Secure Audio Path". It relies on driver co-operation and essentially means the audio passes from the media player encrypted into the kernel: there's no way to get the audio out of the media player in a cleartext fo

      • ". The kernel will only decrypt and forward the audio to the driver if it's SAP enabled, which means it agrees to prevent recording at the same time as playing. In other words, you can't do a "play and record simultaneously" attack using only software."

        Never heard of or experienced that, but it sounds like something the DRMonkeys would do. Still can be evaded in software: Run your OS inside vmware, record loopback style on the host OS.

        Or hack your drivers. All it takes is one hacked instance to unleash i
        • Never heard of or experienced that, but it sounds like something the DRMonkeys would do. Still can be evaded in software: Run your OS inside vmware, record loopback style on the host OS.

          Yes that's the most obvious attack, but again, how many people both have VMware and want to use it for piracy? It's not a mass market easy to use cracker. Also bear in mind that it's trivially defeated: VMware can be detected if you look for it explicitly. Just refuse to play DRMd audio if it's running inside VMware.

          Or

          • " The drivers are digitally signed after being SAP verified by Microsoft. It will refuse to play protected audio if you have unsigned drivers."

            Gah then I really hope the BBC's DRM doesn't use this, pretty much all my drivers are unsigned (using Windows x64 edition on my Windows partition, so most drivers are beta still).
            • It's based on Kontiki which is in turn based on WMA (which obviously uses the secure audio path), so yes you will need to get signed drivers from the manufacturers.

              Probably the only way to do DRM on Linux succesfully is to do what the digital satellite companies have done and move it entirely into hardware: in other words, sell cheap USB speakers/headphones that accept encrypted audio and output (watermarked) analog audio. The process of recording and watermark stripping the analog audio would (hopefully)

      • While what you say is true, I think there is one hole in the argument. You only need one dedicated pirate to put it on a P2P network, and the game is over. If anything, the more difficult the DRM becomes to break, the more it will drive the pirate groups to try to release a zero-day hack. A lot of the small groups which do this sort of thing are doing it simply for the recognition they receive on their local IRC channel. They will still be driven to break the DRM, and post the result. Everyone else wil
    • The article states that the only stipulation is a fast internet access. Though, of course, that could just be journalistic licence simplifying things.
    • As SBS are involved, probably. Siemens (especialy the guys that just took over BBCT) are Microsoft sycophants. If it was a true BBC project - i.e. made within the corporation from R&D or something you'd get a Linux and Mac version because of many R&D guys use those platforms. The media will always be DRMed because of non-BBC copyrights. Even if it's a BBC production like Eastenders or Dr Who, and even if everyones contracts from the writers to the actors to the grips were renegotiated, you'd still h
  • I'm off to see if I can get the good Doctor here in the states! Cherrio!
    • I'm lucky: we live in Vermont, so we're 36 miles from the Canadian border. We get a couple of Canadian channels in our cable package so I've been watching Doctor Who on Canadian TV on Tuesday nights.

      I don't think they're being broadcast on any American channels yet and I haven't seen them advertised on BBC America, which would be the first place they'll probably show up here for the rest of the country.
  • I like it. I think that you should be able to keep stuff for a month (what if you are on vacation, etc.) because you can't always watch what you need. I don't have Tivo because when I got it a while ago there was no interoperability with my VOIP phone. If I was told I could have this service I would have taken it. It might not suit everyone, but it works for me.
  • BBC and DRM (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tdvaughan (582870) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:39AM (#12555032) Homepage
    I was disappointed at first to see that the BBC is implementing DRM but it's worth bearing in mind that not all the content broadcast by the BBC is owned by them. Much of it comes from independent studios who license it to the BBC. So I remain hopeful that the BBC will offer its own copyrighted material to UK license payers on more permissive terms.
    • Re:BBC and DRM (Score:2, Interesting)

      by taskforce (866056)
      Agreed, I thought the most interesting deveolopment was that they were allowing downloads of feature films (which presumably they've liscenced to show on the TV channels as well.) That's a step forward if anything.
    • I was disappointed at first to see that the BBC is implementing DRM but it's worth bearing in mind that not all the content broadcast by the BBC is owned by them. Much of it comes from independent studios who license it to the BBC. So I remain hopeful that the BBC will offer its own copyrighted material to UK license payers on more permissive terms.

      The BBC makes a lot of money from DVD/Video sales, as well as selling content internationally.

      I expect the BBC will be looking to DRM to allow them to run thi
  • by c0ldfusi0n (736058) <admin.c0ldfusi0n@org> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:45AM (#12555105) Homepage
    But with that headline, i first thought it was refering to a lawsuit. Trial and Music in the same headline, and it's not a lawsuit?! Expect a letter from the RIAA soon, guys!
  • by RealProgrammer (723725) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:48AM (#12555159) Homepage Journal
    Dr. Who fans will note that their house now looks a lot smaller on the outside than it really is on the inside.

  • by TheFlyingGoat (161967) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @10:51AM (#12555196) Homepage Journal
    I've had a decent idea for legal TV distribution online in my journal for a while now. Most of the posts I see so far about this BBC service are negative. Finally a media outlet is trying to embrace technology instead of calling their lawyers every 5 minutes, and all people can do is complain. Downloadable shows will probably never be free without the show including some form of DRM or advertising... get used to it. I'd much rather have DRM or ads than no downloadable shows at all.

    If you don't want the DRM or ads, get a Tivo or TV capture card and skip the commercials or edit them out.
    • Downloadable shows will probably never be free without the show including some form of DRM or advertising.

      That's what we keep being told. But I choose as part of my participation to boycott drm'd products and to support open formats. I went out of my way a while back to spend more on a portable music player that can play oggs.

      The trouble here though, is that because I own a television I have to pay the BBC for the content anyway whether I like it or not, but I still can't use it on my os and hardware p
    • by kingdon (220100) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:36AM (#12555870) Homepage
      Well, my local NPR radio station here in California is offering the radio SHARK as a premium you get for donating money. (The radio SHARK is a tuner which receives radio programs and records them to a computer; as far as I can tell from their website, there is no DRM).

      Don't know if the station had some heavy discussion about DRM, or even thought about it, but it would appear that not everyone in the content production and distribution business are as worried about pushing DRM as we assume.
  • I will pay subscription fees to whoever will take the money so that I can download Six Feet Under or Lost or whatever else within minutes of broadcast without having to go looking for a torrent. Even more important, I want to be able to get series that I missed (Firefly, Sopranos) .... The nature of most P2P services (esp bittorrent) is that this older stuff is harder to come by.

    I don't really care if I can keep the episodes forever. I do now, but I never rewatch any of them an only keep them around so I h
  • by ChaosCube (862389)
    Automatically deleted from user's computers? That would make me a bit uncomfortable. Why would I want someone poking around MY computer deleting stuff, even if it is authorized? Computers, especially systems running Windows should not be open to others for manipulation (IMAO). Then, there's the issue of Linux. Will there be a special BBC account set up, or should users just hand over their root password?

    I don't know. It's just too much control over private property by a governmental/corporate entity
    • by Pakaran2 (138209) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .rennurdniw.> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:04AM (#12555385)
      The issue of Linux is that it simply won't be supported. Isn't that obvious?
    • Yeah. That's my thoughts, too.

      An alternative would be to download encrypted versions of the file, and have the player grab a decoding key from the server or something every few days or so. (Given permission from the user, of course.) After a few days, the server will stop generating encryption keys for old files, so the user's data will be useless, but he will still be in control over his own computer. (And it might be harder for Warez doodz to crack the mechanism.) Is this a good idea?

      Also, it would be n
      • I very much doubt the BBC will open the source of their player, at least while DRM is still used - it would be much too easy to work around; For example if the player grabs the decryption key from the server as you guessed, I could just stick some extra code in to cache the keys.
  • FTFA: (Score:3, Funny)

    by oneandoneis2 (777721) * on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:01AM (#12555336) Homepage
    Commercial rivals have already voiced fears that the BBC's substantial investment in iMP and the Creative Archive could damage their chances of making money from the concept.

    [rant]Well, maybe they should have been worrying about that for the last bloody decade then, instead of spending all their time & money trying to legislate the whole bloody concept out of existance!![/rant]

    *ahem*

    Yay, BBC! It's times like this I don't object to paying my license fee!

  • It is MY computer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rtkluttz (244325) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @11:33AM (#12555820) Homepage
    They still don't get it. DRM will still be unnacceptable.

    It is MY computer and it should only delete something when I tell it to. No one else. It should not police me. It should not tell me what to do, I should tell it what to do. If I break the law using my computer, then I should be held responsible, but I should NOT be limited if I choose to use the computer in a fashion that some short sited company didn't plan on.
    • ok, how about this option- your player refuses to play it after 7 days. You can keep the file, it will just be encrypted. Think of it as a rental.

      And yes, I know, the encryption will be broken etc etc. But for the sake of argument- if you beef is with the auto delete, that's not a big problem.

      As for wanting to watch it more than a week later, I agree completely. I'd want that too. The providers are thinking of it more as a rental.
    • DRM is always able to be circumvented. It's just a matter of how long it'll take, and how convenient the methods are. Not to mention that some quality degradation may occur, which wouldn't neccesarilly be the case with a straight digital-to-digital copy.

      For instance, without knowing for sure (I haven't downloaded any of the BBC's content to try this), I'm guessing that converting to and from analog will remove the DRM. If this method doesn't work, it should give you some ideas about different things to t
  • the mpaa... they might learn something from this totally newfangled e-idea of a bussiness model based on TV over the Intarwebby.
  • After seven days, the content will be automatically deleted from the user's computers.

    No, after seven days the show will be deleted. Or the audio and/or video will be deleted. The content, if any, will not be deleted any more than the format, presentation, or volume.

  • I'm running almost a week behind on my Tivo right now. And in any case, on principle, I simply won't use anything that's going to be deleting stuff automatically. I want to watch stuff on *my* schedule, not anyone elses.
  • This is interesting, thanks to Google, I found the trial sign-up and download page here:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/imp/client/eula.html [bbc.co.uk]

    It says it doesn't currently support the Mac, but having poked around the Kontiki site, it seems they take Mac support quite seriously.

    I'm on a Mac, so I haven't tried downloading from the link above.
  • by pla (258480) on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @02:50PM (#12558346) Journal
    BBC will use this trial to iron out any outstanding rights issues

    So remember, kids, even if you come up with a totally trivial means of defeating their DRM, don't release it until AFTER they have irreversably committed to this!
  • by Echnin (607099) <`moc.liamekaens' `ta' `201f64s3p'> on Tuesday May 17, 2005 @04:36PM (#12559638) Homepage
    NRK, the Norwegian government-run TV already offer high-quality streams of every single show they produce, including newscasts, for free. It's an excellent service; if I miss a show, I'll just watch it online. How the BBC claims that this is revolutionary I cannot understand. http://www.nrk.no/ [www.nrk.no]

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