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BBC Download Plans Approved 177

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the no-takebacks dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The BBC reports that following approval from the BBC Trust (an independent oversight body) they are now allowed to release their 'iPlayer', enabling the download and viewing of BBC owned content such as Doctor Who. Unfortunately the Trust also mandated the use of DRM to enforce a 30 day playable period, and exempted classical music performances from being made available. There will now be a 2 month consultation period. According to one of the trustees, the Trust 'could still change its mind if there was a public outcry and it was backed up by evidence.'"
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BBC Download Plans Approved

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  • by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:16PM (#17832990) Homepage
    According to one of the trustees, the Trust 'could still change its mind if there was a public outcry and it was backed up by evidence.'

    What if there's a public outcry and it's backed up by drunken rioting?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315)
      3 Minutes in the microwave for them?

      Oh sorry, this is England not America ;)
    • Re:another option (Score:5, Informative)

      by VJ42 (860241) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:28PM (#17833216)
      No, there's a public consultation [bbc.co.uk], and a here's link direct to the press release [bbc.co.uk]here's the bit about DRM

      This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services.
      So not only are they keeping DRM, they are going to try and create a DRM for Linux
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by blowdart (31458)
        Well remember we, as license payers, pay for the content to be made. Giving it away to the world for free would probably be in violation of their charter, and would certainly make me ask "Why am I paying this again"?
        • Re:another option (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Yaztromo (655250) <yaztromo AT mac DOT com> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:13PM (#17834968) Homepage Journal

          Well remember we, as license payers, pay for the content to be made. Giving it away to the world for free would probably be in violation of their charter, and would certainly make me ask "Why am I paying this again"?

          Ah, if only the truth were so simplistic.

          I've seen such arguments trotted out from time to time, and believe me -- I feel for my friends out in the UK who have to pay for a television license. Here in Canada we have no such fee, which is the way things should be.

          HOWEVER, don't for a minute assume that your TV license fee dollars are the only funds that go into producing quality BBC programming, and thus that said programming should never escape across boarders through the Internet.

          You see, where you pay a license fee to the BBC to own a television in your part of the world, here in my part of the world the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) is funded (in part) through tax dollars -- including my tax dollars. And yet CBC Programming (especially documentaries) is shown all around the world, including portions of which are available online.

          Aside from that, let's look at one of the shows the BBC is proposing to make available online: Doctor Who [imdb.com]. Click the link and scroll down to "Production Companies". Yes, that's right, the venerable BBC Sci-Fi series is produced in part by the CBC.

          Thus, I at least have already paid for part of Doctor Who. How many other modern BBC shows are co-produced in conjunction with the national broadcasters in other (esp. Commonwealth) countries?

          (Let's not also mention that the BBC already broadcasts world-wide via various cable outlets, like BBC Canada [bbccanada.com] and BBC America [bbcamerica.com], amongst others).

          I don't argue with the complaint that the UK's TV licensing fee seems like a cash-grab to my eyes, but that's up to you and your countrymen to fix, and not something I can affect change for. However, the view that your licensing fees are the sole source of funding for popular BBC shows doesn't exactly reflect modern reality, and the desire to prevent such shows from being made available to the world for free online isn't going to put the cat back into the bag: it escaped long, long ago, and probably never should have been in there in the first place.

          Yaz.

      • Re:another option (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smallfries (601545) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @06:22PM (#17834200) Homepage
        It's quite simple - if you are British and you pay a license fee then make your views known. The feedback survey is quite short, and each section is optional. If you feel that timelimited DRM files are bullshit, especially from a license-fee funded public organisation then make your views known now!

        The British slashdot readership must be large enough to make a difference here.
        • by VJ42 (860241)
          I've done that already, also, just before this story was posted, I submitted a story with the title: "BBC proposing DRM for Linux", and both the links from my post in it. There's not a huge amount more I can do, short of writing to my, electronically illiterate, elected representatives that is, and they have no power over the BBC anyway; they can only bring moral pressure to bear.
          • Re:another option (Score:4, Informative)

            by McFadden (809368) on Thursday February 01, 2007 @04:22AM (#17840206)

            've done that already, also, just before this story was posted, I submitted a story with the title: "BBC proposing DRM for Linux", and both the links from my post in it. There's not a huge amount more I can do, short of writing to my, electronically illiterate, elected representatives that is, and they have no power over the BBC anyway; they can only bring moral pressure to bear.

            It's difficult to imagine how more inaccurate you could be. The BBC would like to be able to make programmes available for much longer if not indefinitely. In their original proposal they wanted a time frame of 13 weeks, which was cut to 30 days. Who cut it? Not the BBC themselves, but an organization called 'The BBC Trust', an independent body that replaced the corporation's governors at the beginning of 2007. Basically a bunch of stooges appointed by the government to make sure that the BBC no longer has the ability to be totally independent and go against the wishes of the almighty Tony Blair and his cronies. The sole purpose of this 'DRM for Linux' is to satisfy this fucking stupid 30 day rules that the Trust has forced on them.

            Why did it get cut? Because of pressure from the elected representatives (i.e. the government) who due to the fact that they are in bed with big business (i.e. Rupert Murdoch etc.) didn't want to do anything that might piss off their rich buddies. In other words they exerted considerably more than just 'moral pressure'.

            The BBC have released non-DRM'd mp3 copies of their radio output for ages - I have no doubt they'd like to do something similar for TV, but hey, we all know whose interests are at the heart of government these days, and it sure as hell ain't the people who elected them.
        • Re:another option (Score:4, Informative)

          by Andy_R (114137) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @06:36PM (#17834416) Homepage Journal
          If you want to make your views known, the BBC's online consultation form is here [bbc.co.uk]

          Let's make our opinions known!
        • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @06:45PM (#17834550)

          The thing I found most unfortunate about the whole affair was that the reason given by the BBC Trust for not releasing the classical music: "There is a potential negative market impact if the BBC allows listeners to build an extensive library of classical music that will serve as a close substitute for commercially available downloads or CDs." [Emphasis added]

          There are a lot of misconceptions about the BBC (not least how much of its funding comes from licence fees rather than other sources), but I'm pretty sure it's still supposed to be run essentially in the public interest. I don't really understand how protecting the commercial interests of classical music distributors are the expense of the public is part of that remit.

          If we're talking about music that's out of copyright itself (Beethoven was the example given), and the particular recording is already being made available for the BBC to broadcast, you'd think the Beeb could negotiate some fair additional compensation for the recording orchestras in exchange for the rights to make it downloadable as well. After all, we have the Proms every year and no doubt some people record and keep those (legally or otherwise), so it doesn't seem like orchestras mind the coverage. Why not legitimise keeping the material, throw in a bit of fair compensation for the recording artists to match, and make the world a little nicer for all concerned?

          • by owlnation (858981) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @07:35PM (#17835312)
            Yes, I agree, and I think it also shows how little the BBC Trust understands the classical music market (and probably how little the BMI understands too). With the greatest respect to the musicians who recorded the the BBC free to download performances, these are not the finest examples of these pieces recorded, nor are they distributed in the most lossless format - lossless is essential for classical music.

            Serious classical fans will look for and purchase the finest performances, possibly several of them - and often pay through the nose for them too (since there's little choice other than, maybe, a rare flac torrent).

            The advantage of the BBC programme is that it introduced many pieces of music to a new audience, who then likely would become fans and subsequently pay to see live performances and cds of the finest recordings.

            It's a shocking waste of a missed opportunity.
          • Indeed. We could do with more socialism in the world, if you ask me. I agree with Russell when he argues that the quest for wealth is not always coincidental with the quest for general happiness and wellbeing.
            • I don't think this has much to do with socialism. I have no problem with people who make and share lots of good music receiving benefits in return. I just don't see why the audiences and the musicians should be propping up the middlemen who don't add any value to the proceedings, yet always seem to wind up taking home most of the profits.

          • by pbhj (607776)
            >>> "so it doesn't seem like orchestras mind the coverage"

            Not wanting to sound childish (and failing) but tough-titty-ha-ha if the orchestras mind. It's work for hire, the TV owning British Public is the client, they are providing work at our (distant) request.

            The license fee payer owns the recording, the BBC manages that ownership for us, so why can't we listen when we want?

            I'm so with you on the not protecting commercial interests. This isn't a commercial television channel. The fact that this sm
      • by jimicus (737525)
        Are we reading the same document?

        I see:

        The BBC Executive propose a strategy at launch to enforce compliance with rights which
        requires users to have Windows XP (or later) as their operating system and Windows
        Media Player 10 (or later) as their player. This puts a constraint on reach by excluding
        Windows users with earlier operating systems as well as a minority of consumers who
        choose Apple and Linux systems.

        My take on that is "The Powers that Be propose Windows. We know this will lock others out." but it do

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by VJ42 (860241)
          Well, this is the bit I was going from:

          This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux,

          sounds specific, and quite self explanatory to me: the BBC is going to try and develop some form of cross platform DRM. Combined with Question 5 [bbc.co.uk]

          How important is it that the proposed seven-day catch-up service over the internet is available to consumers who are not using Microsoft software?

          It sounds ominous for Linux users; perhaps even "Linux DRM, or no product".

    • They know that people won't like this. They know in advance that there could be a public outcry. Why are they trying to screw the public with a defective product until they scream?
  • iPlayer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dcskier (1039688)
    ...they are now allowed to release their 'iPlayer'...

    i love how it's 'cool' to name everything i* now. the bbc couldn't come up w/ a better name? at least something british sounding.
  • by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:20PM (#17833060) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    The BBC Trust, an independent body that replaced the corporation's governors at the beginning of 2007, said the on-demand plans - which also cover cable TV - were "likely to deliver significant public value".

    But it agreed with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, which said earlier this month that the iPlayer could have a "negative effect" on commercial rivals.

    As a result, the trust has imposed several conditions on the BBC.

    It wants the corporation to scale back plans to let downloaded "catch-up" episodes remain on users' hard drives for 13 weeks, suggesting that 30 days is enough.

    Chris Woolard, head of finance, economics and strategy at the Trust, defended the decision to cut the storage time.

    When people record a programme at home "if they don't look at it within 48 hours, they don't look at it at all", he said.
    So basically, it's the usual -- a bunch of politicians trying hard not to piss off their corporate masters, while tossing a bone to the public here and there, just enough to keep people coming out to the next election and maintaining the facade.
    • by RDW (41497)
      ...and deeply ironic that the Trust's supposed role is to 'work on behalf of licence fee payers, ensuring the BBC provides high quality output and good value for all UK citizens'. In what way does tightening an already onerous DRM scheme provide 'good value'? Have they actually met a single 'license fee payer' who thinks this is a good idea?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      When people record a programme at home "if they don't look at it within 48 hours, they don't look at it at all", he said.

      Indeed! HE might not look at it, but I use my MythTV PVR for time shifting, and sometimes it's a long time shift. Episodes are recorded every week of the shows I DO watch (and some I might watch if they seem interesting like Modern Marvels episodes) and it's frequently more than a week before I get around to catching up on the missed episodes. But 48 hours? Where the hell did he get that number? Methinks it was produced rectally.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Znork (31774)
      "But it agreed with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, which said earlier this month that the iPlayer could have a "negative effect" on commercial rivals."

      So. What? Since when has competition 'having a negative effect' on the competititors been a problem in a free market?

      Personally, I'd like to set up a very expensive monopoly selling bottled air, and I demand that the government deal with this everpresent free air! How am I supposed to charge for air when it's free to breathe all around? How many employment oppo
      • by teh kurisu (701097) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @06:43PM (#17834524) Homepage

        This is something that's always irked me about objections to the BBC's funding scheme, emanating from the likes of ITV and Sky - the BBC was there first! These companies entered the market with the full knowledge that they were competing against a publicly funded body. It would be like me building a road somewhere, and then complaining that all the other roads in the country get public money.

  • Windows Only (Score:4, Informative)

    by Winckle (870180) <mark@nOSPAM.winckle.co.uk> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:21PM (#17833072) Homepage
    Despite their commitment to mac and linux compatibility on their audio streaming, the iPlayer only runs on windows, disappointing as I'm sure even us mac users pay our licence fees.
    • Despite their commitment to mac and linux compatibility on their audio streaming, the iPlayer only runs on windows, disappointing as I'm sure even us mac users pay our licence fees.

      Does any mac video player even have time-limited DRM? iTunes vids only allow you so many "licences", but once you bought it, you get too "keep" it forever (as long as you remain 'authorized')

      And Windows Media Player on the mac is horribly under-supported (that 3rd party company that MS paid to keep WMP up to date isn't doing a great job).

      Unlike their audio streaming (which can use Real, WMP, or QT streaming), they'd have to create a new video format & player to handle time-limited DRM. They can't j

      • Re:Time limited DRM? (Score:4, Informative)

        by VJ42 (860241) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:57PM (#17833806)

        Unlike their audio streaming (which can use Real, WMP, or QT streaming), they'd have to create a new video format & player to handle time-limited DRM. They can't just buy it from Real/MS/Apple.
        That's what their Press release [bbc.co.uk] suggests:

        The Trust will require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe. This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services. (emphsis mine)
        So, yes it seems they are going to create "BBC DRM", and not only that but "BBC DRM for Linux" as well.
    • by Jabrwock (985861)
      I heard that the DRM used is based on WMP 10 & 11, both of which are unsupported on the mac and linux, due to MS dropping all support for Mac WMP (except through that 3rd party).

      Perhaps if FairPlay utilized a similar style of DRM, although I wouldn't really want them to develop time-expiry for iTunes media...
    • Re:Windows Only (Score:5, Informative)

      by slebog (609847) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:38PM (#17833416)
      The original plans for the iPlayer were based on Windows Media. But as part of the announcement today, the Trust has said the service will have to cater for all platforms. From the press release [bbctrust.co.uk]:

      Platform-agnostic approach: As proposed, the TV catch-up service on the internet relies on Microsoft technology for the digital rights management (DRM) framework. The Trust will require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe. This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services.
      • Re:Windows Only (Score:4, Insightful)

        by bmsleight (710084) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @06:34PM (#17834386) Homepage
        Thats why I love the BBC and I am happy pay my license fee. If the Beeb was a normal TV station, they would just take the lazy option of windows only. Name me another tv station who would do this ? Value for money.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Alef (605149)

        This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology [...] to access the on-demand services. (Emphasis mine)

        That sounds kind of backwards to me. More like "...to prevent users of other technology from accessing the on-demand services too much.".

      • by pbhj (607776)
        >>> "The Trust will require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable timeframe."

        The suggested timeframe is 24months. What I want to know is if they push this through by saying access for non-MS users will come later, what happens if later they just ignore us.

        I'm guessing that the BBC Trust says "naughty-naughty next time you initiate an DRM based video download player system make sure you do better". Indeed in the same (iPlayer PVT) document they say they'll ask a
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by turgid (580780)

      Despite their commitment to mac and linux compatibility on their audio streaming, the iPlayer only runs on windows, disappointing as I'm sure even us mac users pay our licence fees.

      Maybe the agreement they signed with Microsoft [bbc.co.uk]back in September 2006 has something to do with this?

      From the article, "The BBC has signed an agreement with Microsoft to explore ways of developing its digital services," ... and ... "To ensure that the BBC is able to embrace the creative challenges of the digital future, we need

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by askegg (599634)
      At least they have stated a commitment to mac and linux.

      I was interested to see a advert directly after "Supernatural" the other night here in Australia that promised "free download of the episodes" (see http://supernatural.ten.com.au/ [ten.com.au]). Cool I thought - the networks here are listening and responding to the demand for true on-demand viewing.

      Imagine my disappointment in discovering that I must be running Windows XP with IE6 and WMP9. Nothing else will work because other players do "not support the
  • Of course, you could just record the shows with your TV tuner, and play them on your Archos, and they wouldn't expire, but why would anyone want that?
  • Maybe I'm missing something, but TFA doesn't make it at all clear whether they're planning on selling these downloads, or just giving them away. Any info?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jackhererUK (992339)
      Very probably it will be free but only to UK residents. As mentioned in another comment in the UK we pay an annual license fee, which is enforced like a tax. Everyone that owns equipment capable of viewing TV has to pay it. This funds the BBC so they can't then charge for stuff and there are no adverts.
      • by badfish99 (826052)
        So non-UK residents will have to get their Dr Who episodes off bittorrent, just like they do now.
        Come to think of it, that will work for us in the UK too. So what's the point of the DRM?
  • iPlayer? (Score:2, Funny)

    by faqmaster (172770)
    iPlayer? Sounds like it will be compatible with Apple's iSue.
    • by VJ42 (860241)
      At which point the BBC will point to the fact that it's interactive (hence the i) and online services have been called BBCi since 2001.
  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:30PM (#17833270) Journal
    Something tells me the majority of non-British Dr. Who fans will continue to obtain the show by less...contstraining means.

    Eventually they'll figure it out: until we can download it and watch it in the viewer of our choice as often as we want when we want, we will continue to obtain copies of such content by other means than theirs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'm from the UK and I still torrent episodes after watching them on TV. Making avatars requires screencaps, which my TV doesn't do as well as VLC player.
      • by PFI_Optix (936301)
        I assume in the UK it's legal for you to capture the feed with your PC, so I fail to see a distinction between you recording it yourself and downloading it via torrent.

        We Yanks, on the other hand, currently have no way to see the Doctor in a timely manner without the aid of torrents.
        • It's the same for all of us, if they don't release it here the same day as else where we torrent it.

          It's the media age we're living in.
        • what's the time delay between airings on the BBC and airings on Sci-Fi? I talked to somebody in London the other day and they said they are still waiting on the start of season 3 also (course, ours just ended 2 or 3 weeks ago on Sci-Fi), so I'd guess the lag isn't but a couple of months? That's a whole lot better than the lag of several years back in the Tom Baker days (yes, my "geek" card is certified and up to date).
          • by PFI_Optix (936301)
            I think the season ends there shortly before it starts here. I haven't been paying attention, I don't get SciFi (I refuse to pay $50 a month for 100 channels, five of which I will watch)
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          If you're far enough north you may be able to pick up the CBC from Canada. I'm not sure if the episodes play the same week as they do in the UK, but I think they are pretty current.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Paulrothrock (685079)

      Something tells me the majority of non-British Dr. Who fans will continue to obtain the show by less...contstraining means.

      I prefer the term "alternative content distribution methods."

      Eventually they'll figure it out: until we can download it and watch it in the viewer of our choice as often as we want when we want, we will continue to obtain copies of such content by other means than theirs.

      Yeah, that seems to be the only way to make people happy. However, there's no way to make sure people are paying

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      ...which was exactly the sort of point that I tried to make when I filled in the "consultation" form (see links above) earlier today. For example. just about any shop in the UK that sells things with plugs on (which seems to be anything bigger than a corner shop) is selling some sort of PVR, none of which have any artificial 30-day limit. It's this world (and the world of sites Youtube/torrents/whatever happens next year) that the BBC are now living in, and bits of the BBC don't seem to have grasped it ye
  • bittorent (Score:2, Informative)

    by pbaer (833011)

    "The BBC reports that following approval from the BBC Trust (an independent oversight body) they are now allowed to release their 'iPlayer', enabling the download and viewing of BBC owned content such as Doctor Who. Unfortunately the Trust also mandated the use of DRM to enforce a 30 day playable period"

    Or you could use bittorrent. I'm not entirely sure of the legality of downloading things that you already pay a license for such as TV shows, but that's never stopped anyone before.

    • Re:bittorent (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dedazo (737510) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:42PM (#17833516) Journal
      Since only people in Britain pay the BBC telly tax, what is the status of these downloads as far as the rest of the world is concerned? I can't see the BBC Trust subsidizing bandwidth of content paid for by Britons so that people in the US or Chile or Katmandu can watch Dr Who or whatever. Are they going to use IP blocking or something?
      • by parvenu74 (310712)
        Why can't they set up a proper clone of the iTunes store and simply allow folks who aren't already paying the franchise fee to buy shows -- like Top Gear, for example -- for a nominal fee?

        Speaking of shows for a nominal fee, does anyone know of any legality or reason why Apple can't sell BBC shows on the US iTunes store, or is it just a matter of the BBC or Apple not wanting to sell shows?
      • Bingo! That's a reason for the DRM.

        They want to sell their programmes to broadcasters in other countries, but they know that just restricting downloads to the UK won't be enough to stop UK-based viewers downloading and redistributing shows with BitTorrent. If all the Dr Who fans in Usania have already seen the latest episode online, then the Usanian TV network will be less keen to buy it.

        Although the DRM is effectively useless, as UK viewers can just capture the DRM-free signal from digital television, the
  • by Irvu (248207) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:40PM (#17833482)
    NBC is entirely a private enterprise that (in theory) compensates the public for use of its airspace adequatly via the licences for it's broadcast spectrum (read the in theory before you flame me). As such they have something of a leg to stand on when they claim private ownership and the attractions of DRM for their crap... er ... shows.

    Anyway, the BBC is (at least on paper) a public enterprise oned (in heory) by the British Public and paid for via the TV Tax. Much like the Voice of America is a service funded by the American Public. As such shouldn't the content produced by the Beeb be freely available (at least to the Brits, Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Irish) for them to do with as they please? Didn't they pay to have it made and as such "own" it?

    Or is this one of those cases where the drive to resell said content (say on BBC-America or via deals with other channels, or on DVD) that was supposed to "offset costs" now driving availability?
    • by nicklott (533496) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @06:52PM (#17834670)
      The UK govt doesn't work like that. What happens is they build something with tax payer's money, attach lots of legislative strings to its output/produce then sell it off because it's "not working". Normally a government minister will then become a director of said privatised company within a couple of years.

      The BBC has lots of legislative strings and the reason they can't share the content is ostensibly because it would be competitively "unfair" on the independent TV stations who don't have access to taxpayers money. Of course in the real world ITV and C4 are doing it anyway, but that sort of minor detail doesn't matter in politics.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by pnattress (1002576)

      at least to the Brits, Welsh, Scottish, and Northern Irish

      Offtopic, but just so you know, "British" is a term encompassing those three latter nationalities you mentioned (although some Northern Irish may disagree that they are British at all). I assume you meant "English" rather than "British".

    • Anyway, the BBC is (at least on paper) a public enterprise oned (in heory) by the British Public and paid for via the TV Tax. Much like the Voice of America is a service funded by the American Public. As such shouldn't the content produced by the Beeb be freely available

      The flaw in that argument is that people in the United States are forbidden from listening to the Voice of America [wikipedia.org] and even transcripts of its programs are not available to ordinary citizens under the FOIA. Public Law 402:

      information p

      • by Irvu (248207)
        Save that now VOA News [voanews.com] is available online. But even when it wasn't I don't see that as a flaw seeing as how the VOA news was provided free of charge when asked for not later "resold" to other news companies.
    • VOA is a State Department operation. Good or bad, at the end of the day it is a propaganda outlet aimed at foreigners.

      BBC is much less controlled by the British goverment than VOA is by the Americans, which is why the TV License (not "TV Tax") is collected by an independent organisation. This way, the goverment doesn't control the BBC's purse and has very little influence over content.

      Obviously, there is always going to be some influence, just like goverment has influence over any commercial station, but th
  • by David McBride (183571) <david+slashdot@dwm. m e .uk> on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:48PM (#17833612) Homepage
    The imposition of DRM is pointless, at least if the goal is to limit redistribution of the content. The BBC are already digitally broadcasting all of their content, classical or otherwise, from all of their broadcasting stations in clear. (Crystal Palace is even broadcasting 20Mbit/sec H.264 streams as part of the current HD trials; indeed, my understanding is that the BBC will continue to broadcast in clear when the service goes into full production.)

    Presumably OFCOM want to force the BBC to use DRM (they even specified that it should be Windows DRM) in order to buoy the position of Microsoft and/or commercial broadcasters?

    In any case, I guess my MythTV server will continue to be useful for some time yet.
    • by dave420 (699308)
      It's to make sure the downloads aren't watchable any further than their terrestrial broadcasts. They are required to do everything they can to protect their broadcasts, and at the same time to ensure access to them by the public. They have to use DRM, as it's there. Suggesting it's anything to do with Microsoft is ridiculous, as there is no evidence what-so-ever to support such a claim.
      • It's to make sure the downloads aren't watchable any further than their terrestrial broadcasts.

        DRM isn't necessary for that; GeoIP lookups and special peering arrangements can achieve this without significant difficulty. Indeed, the MS DRM facilities don't even appear to provide an facility to restrict playback according to the computer's location. (Certainly no mention of such a facility is listed on Microsoft's DRM website [microsoft.com].)

        They are required to do everything they can to protect their broadcasts, and at

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AntiDragon (930097)
      I really don't like DRM in any shape or form. However, I think there *is* a point to this.

      The Beeb's public broadcasts are public only in the UK. Other countries around the world that show BBC shows (Monty Python repeats are a good example) have had to buy the rights to those shows, just like any commercial station.

      This "on-demand" system is a free service - any licence payer can use it. The DRM and use of a proprietary player enables the BBC to ensure that by enabling free access to shows previously broa
  • There will be no public outcry. There will be no public users. Waste my DL limits for a 30 day playable period? How about wait for the 'fixed' version on bt instead?

    BBC will get no complaints, and then wonder why DLs are so low.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The BBC have been offering a "Listen Again" service for a while now, which is very well regarded. Various popular radio shows are available for download (in Real format) for seven days after a show airs, and then they disappear from the web site. Theoretically you could keep them indefinitely once you've got them, but for many BBC shows, people are more interested in catching up on what they missed the other day/night. For that, both something open-ended like the current Listen Again service or the proposed

  • Feedback about DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cheesey (70139) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @05:58PM (#17833826)
    From the article:

    "There is a potential negative market impact if the BBC allows listeners to build an extensive library of classical music that will serve as a close substitute for commercially available downloads or CDs," it said.

    The news will be a disappointment to the one million people who downloaded Beethoven's symphonies in a Radio 3 trial last year.
    I downloaded those symphonies. I still listen to them. There's no DRM, my only complaint is that a higher bitrate could have been used (128k hardly does justice).

    The BBC should be providing licence fee payers like myself with unrestricted digital content. If we end up building up massive libraries of free classical music, then so much the better! It is their job to educate, inform and entertain licence fee payers, not sell us CDs. They should not be concerned with "negative market impacts" - they should be providing the public service that we Brits are paying for.
    • by Thwomp (773873)

      The BBC should be providing licence fee payers like myself with unrestricted digital content. If we end up building up massive libraries of free classical music, then so much the better! It is their job to educate, inform and entertain licence fee payers, not sell us CDs. They should not be concerned with "negative market impacts" - they should be providing the public service that we Brits are paying for.

      You should make your voice heard [bbc.co.uk]! I plan on submitting my opinion and I urge other U.K. residents to do the same.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by peepleperson (888013)
      Completely agree. Before I start, I'll just clarify - I'm talking about native BBC content, not programmes made by third-party producers.

      I've never understood how BBC DVDs (and video cassettes before them) cost the same as, if not more than, Hollywood movies. As license-fee payers, we've already paid for production once, so should only be paying for materials and distribution to own a copy.

      As the method of distribution is peer to peer [bbc.co.uk] they should be paying us (or at least those of us with fat pipes!)
    • by jesterzog (189797)

      The BBC should be providing licence fee payers like myself with unrestricted digital content. If we end up building up massive libraries of free classical music, then so much the better!

      I'm really interested in what their reasoning could be for this, and what's meant by "classical music"? Is it orchestras performing symphonies that have been out of copyright and commoditised for a long time, or does it include individual artists performing their own individual pieces that nobody else performs?

      If it's t

  • Exempted? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by RowanS (1049078)

    ...exempted classical music performances from being made available...
    Is that similar to the way that people in jail get exempted from leaving the jail?
  • "How important is it that the proposed seven-day catch-up service over the internet is available to consumers who are not using Microsoft software?"

    Anybody in the UK who wants to join in the consultation can use this link http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consult/open-consult ations/ondemand_services.html [bbc.co.uk]
  • Plan won't work (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elronxenu (117773) on Wednesday January 31, 2007 @11:52PM (#17838194) Homepage
    But [the BBC trust] agreed with broadcasting watchdog Ofcom, which said earlier this month that the iPlayer could have a "negative effect" on commercial rivals

    I think that's not the BBC's problem. The commercial rivals must take care of themselves - by, for example, providing higher quality content or different content. Is Ofcom asserting that there's a limit to the amount of classical music and TV shows which the economy can support? That having more choice will lead inevitably to commercial loss for these competitors? Perhaps the BBC should stop producing classical music and high quality TV programs altogether lest they damage the market share of commercial competitors? Perhaps we should limit access to the Public Domain too, since it can't be easily monopolised.

    It wants the corporation to scale back plans to let downloaded "catch-up" episodes remain on users' hard drives for 13 weeks, suggesting that 30 days is enough.

    Assuming (as devil's advocate) that their DRM is adequate, why limit the time that the content works? If somebody records one of these shows on their VCR, they are allowed to watch it again and again forever. Why limit a user's fair use rights for no better reason than "because it's technically possible"?

    The trust also asked the BBC to explore ways of introducing parental controls to its on-demand services, as it is worried at the "heightened risk of children being exposed to post-watershed material".

    TV doesn't require electronic "parental controls", so why should downloaded shows?

    "There is a potential negative market impact if the BBC allows listeners to build an extensive library of classical music that will serve as a close substitute for commercially available downloads or CDs," it said.

    I'm afraid they're several years too late on that point. It seems the BBC Trust hasn't been paying attention to recent events. Here are some facts to brighten your day:

    • DRM doesn't work. Cross-platform DRM doesn't work even more than ordinary DRM doesn't work. The media will be read (CDs), the encryption will be broken (DVDs), the keys will be recovered (HD-DVD and BluRay), or the audio will be captured (iTunes). All DRM does is annoy ordinary people.
    • All it takes is one person to remove the DRM from your content and upload to a P2P network, then the non-DRM file will spread because it's more convenient to people than the DRM file. For example, they will be able to play it in their favourite music player rather than having to use yours.
    • This content is already paid-for, by the British television-owning public.
    • Making the content easy to download from the source (BBC) will discourage people from making it available on P2P networks.
    • Making a wide range of content available on a permanent basis will earn the BBC a lot of respect.
    • The BBC is guilty of years of mismanagement of its legacy, losing historically priceless television footage. Opening up what's left (under, say, a non-commercial Creative Commons license) is one way that the BBC could make amends, as well as limiting the possibility of that travesty happening again.

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