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Anti-DRM Activists Take On the BBC 200

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the doing-what's-right dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Activists from Binary Freedom Boston have launched a campaign calling on the BBC to release their content online without DRM or proprietary formats. You might remember the BBC asking us about this earlier and even though the public chose not to use DRM by a landslide, they still decided to use it. EMI and Amazon have already ditched DRM. How long before the BBC does?"
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Anti-DRM Activists Take On the BBC

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  • DRM free content? Absolutely. I have to pay my TV license every year for the BBC. For the most part, I think it is value for money. The BBC news site is worth the license fee all by itself. For comparison, I pay about a third of the cost of a license on a Slashdot subscription each year and Slashdot is less than a third of the quality.

    However, I'm of the opinion that if you're going to force people to pay for a service through a tax, then the products of that government service should be free in the BSD style sense of the word. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that this needs to be codified in to law. In fact, we may already have in the Freedom of Information Act 2000 [opsi.gov.uk].

    Having just read the first section of the act, you could make a questionable legal argument that if you make a request for the unDRMED content and they fail to give you that version they are in breach of the act. If you have to buy a Windows machine just to watch one of their publicly broadcast snippets I'd say that obstructs the request for the information sufficiently for it to become unlawful. No other department is free to restrict requests in that manner!

    We've already paid for the service so give us the bloody content in a usable format!

    Simon

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dave420 (699308)
      But what about people who don't pay for a TV license? This will allow THEM access to shows YOU'VE paid for... What about if the only DRM is you entering your TV license code, with no restrictions on what you can do with it, bar removing the protection? For you, the media would be free, but for those without TV licenses (who have no right to the media), it's not free. The BBC has a mandate to protect the interests of the license fee payer, which means limiting the availability of the media to those folks
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by janrinok (846318)
        The BBC's broadcasts are already free, via satellite, in Europe. I do not pay a UK license fee but can watch BBC, and the other UK channels, via Sky and without the use of any Sky subscription. I do not think that the content being available to anyone else in the world is such a major issue. The material has already been funded and you pay for your internet access so no-one is losing money.
        • by dave420 (699308)
          That's because they have no way of changing that without denying license payers in the UK access to the content for free. They have to do all they can to ensure license payers get the content for free, and those without licenses don't. That's why as DRM exists, they're forced to use it, as without it, they'd be in breach of their charter. They can't have advertising-supported DRM-free content, as other content suppliers have done, as that again is in serious breach of their charter.
          • by bentcd (690786)

            They have to do all they can to ensure license payers get the content for free, and those without licenses don't. That's why as DRM exists, they're forced to use it, as without it, they'd be in breach of their charter.
            But, certainly, it is sufficiently easy to make an argument that DRM is ineffective (and, additionally, that it inconveniences the license payers) that if they had wanted to they could easily have neutralized that particular line of reasoning.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by pe1chl (90186)
            That's because they have no way of changing that without denying license payers in the UK access to the content for free.

            That isn't true. Until about two years ago they encrypted their broadcast and allowed UK residents to view it for free by making available smartcards to them.
            However, they did so in association with the commercial TV companies (sharing their card), and apparently that deal was so expensive to them that they decided to end it.

            But that does not mean there is "no way". E.g. here in the Ne
          • by h4rm0ny (722443)

            The vast majority of the British populace have a TV. Why be concerned about the tiny minority that would freeload. Of course, there is the rest of the World, but what the heck? We're doing it anyway and it works, so why not share it around. About time our country did something positive again.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LingNoi (1066278)
        As a license fee payer myself, I do not care if third parties have access. Good for them!

        Although some people will disagree they're more the old moaning grandparent types with their "because I had to pay you do to!" speeches. These old farts need to stop complaining and realize theres a lot of us Brits outside the country wanting to watch the BBC.

        This is really what the BBC has needed for a long time. It never made any sense to me that I have to pay this license every year but if I want to watch something I
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dave420 (699308)
          If people can watch the BBC legally without having to pay for it, or without the BBC being reimbursed in a way that doesn't break their charter, then people will stop paying their TV licenses, which means the BBC will get less funding, which means its quality will suffer.

          I totally agree that the BBC's back-catalogue should be made available to license payers to watch, but without some sort of mechanism to ensure that viewers actually have a license fee, when such a measure is possible, then that breaks thei
          • by gilesjuk (604902)
            Simple, make people register and use their TV licence details to gain access.

            It's better than locking everything with DRM.
            • by dave420 (699308)
              And those files will not be able to be shared with non-license-fee-paying folks how, exactly? Your solution is not a solution in the slightest. It certainly doesn't free the BBC from their obligations. I'm completely against DRM on music, as music is an advert for the live gigs. I support DRM when it's used as it should be, to allow media to exist where previously it couldn't.
              • by gilesjuk (604902)
                It won't, but the net is full of BBC shows anyway. There's probably little interest in their programming outside of the Uk anyway.
                • by Zoxed (676559)
                  > It won't, but the net is full of BBC shows anyway. There's probably little interest in their programming outside of the Uk anyway.

                  Definitely not true; here in Germany there is plenty of BBC programmer shown (dubbed :-( ) in the regular German channels. IIRC Wildlife, some comedy and Dr Who sell well. IIRC the Teletubbies made a packet for the BBC worldwide. And their DVDs are in the shops. All this helps subsidize the cost of making the shows, and I guess they do not want to cut into their own market b
          • Bullshit.

            That would make some sense if DRM actually worked, but it doesn't. Any DRM can be bypassed or stripped, then the result conveniently distributed by BitTorrent.

            The only people for who DRM makes things harder is legitimate buyers. The pirates have it much, much better. No messing with payments, no worrying about expiration dates or it being bound to the computer, no problems with requiring a specific player. Pirates download from BT, and play it where they want, when they want, on any device or OS th
          • If people can watch the BBC legally without having to pay for it, or without the BBC being reimbursed in a way that doesn't break their charter, then people will stop paying their TV licenses, which means the BBC will get less funding, which means its quality will suffer.

            So make it a flat tax paid by all citizens, instead of a "tv license." If almost everybody's paying it anyway it doesn't actually change anything...

          • by Solandri (704621)

            If DRM didn't exist, there would be *no* online media from the BBC.

            I disagree. That's what the media companies would like to believe. However, the fact remains that news and entertainment programming dissemination is gradually moving from push-based broadcast-based media to online pull-based media (where the viewer requests what they're interested in). If a company refuses to put their media online, they will quickly find themselves becoming irrelevant, and someone else will step in to fill in the void

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by AlecLyons (767385)

            such as restricting playback to the UK, where if you have a PC capable of watching it, you must have a license

            Not quite. You only need a license if you are capable of receiving the television broadcasts. Actually I think that the letter of the law says you only need a license if you use equipment to receive the broadcasts (ie you don't need one if you have a tv but only use it to view CCTV, of DVD's).

            That said the TV licensing people are very very aggressive. They seem to think a residential address not having a licence is evidence of infringement in itself.

            • by Kijori (897770)
              The enforcement attempts are utterly ridiculous - I have thus far received 7 letters this year threatening me with legal action for using a TV without a license. They now want to schedule an enforcement visit to gather their evidence - I've repeatedly told them I have no intention of letting them check for TVs and that I don't have one. I wonder at what stage it moves from legitimate enforcement to harassment.
              • by init100 (915886)

                I have thus far received 7 letters this year threatening me with legal action for using a TV without a license. They now want to schedule an enforcement visit to gather their evidence

                I don't know what powers the license enforcement people have in the UK, but in Sweden, they have the same rights as any citizen, i.e. no police or other elevated powers whatsoever. The can knock on your door and ask if you have a TV, but they cannot enter your apartment. If they try to force their way in, you can file a complaint with the police, just like with any other crime.

                They try to look and sound very official, often slightly threatening, so that people would think that they have some type of ele

            • I second the agresiveness point. Being a university student (who doesn't own a TV), I am constantly being sent letters from the licencing authority (who are not the BBC).
              They tell you that you are 'under investigation' and that they will visit your premises (yet to see that happen) unless you send them a letter and arrange for them to visit(!) to verify your lack of equiptment.

              The letter states that potentially licence-requiring equiptment includes 'PC with a Broadcast card' and 'Mobile Phone' - the wording
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by asuffield (111848)

            I totally agree that the BBC's back-catalogue should be made available to license payers to watch, but without some sort of mechanism to ensure that viewers actually have a license fee, when such a measure is possible, then that breaks their charter.

            The BBC's main product is the BBC terrestrial broadcast. DRM measures are possible on this, such as the encryption and decoder mechanisms used by the cable companies. The BBC does not use them. Anybody can buy (or build, it's not that hard!) their own TV receive

          • by init100 (915886)

            The BBC is legally obligated to do all it can to protect the content and ensure it's only available to those who have paid their license fees. If DRM didn't exist, there would be *no* online media from the BBC.

            I wonder why the BBC cannot do this, when the Swedish public service television (SVT) can. SVT is financed by TV license fees, just like the BBC. Sure, they do not put up externally produced shows (such as movies and television shows), but a great amount of internally produced content is put on the web without DRM.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bentcd (690786)

          As a license fee payer myself, I do not care if third parties have access. Good for them!

          One minor question that has been bugging me for a while is this: has Britain totally given up any attempt at cultural influence beyond its own borders? I have for long time considered that the cultural value inherent in BBC's very high quality of programming could be a most potent tool in gendering understanding for "the British way/view" abroad if only the world at large were given ready access to it. Surely, such an effect would have considerably more value to Britain than whatever it is they would be sp

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by bigtomrodney (993427) *

            One minor question that has been bugging me for a while is this: has Britain totally given up any attempt at cultural influence beyond its own borders? I have for long time considered that the cultural value inherent in BBC's very high quality of programming could be a most potent tool in gendering understanding for "the British way/view" abroad if only the world at large were given ready access to it.

            I think that is a very narrow view, and if I may say so a very British one. What makes you thinkthe small island of Britain has a right to push cultural influence outside of its own borders?
            I think it would be far more valuable to Britain to venture out looking for cultural influence from outside. Don't get me wrong I am not attacking Britain, but we are long past the days of the British Empire and there is too much naval gazing and self congratulation in nations throughout the world without more pushing o

            • by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @02:32PM (#19452025) Homepage

              What makes you thinkthe small island of Britain has a right to push cultural influence outside of its own borders?
              This question puzzles me. Why should they not have this right? If freedom of speech is important on a domestic level, why would it not be equally important on an international one? If the content turns out of be of no interest to the world at large, they'll just ignore it. (Although my opinion is that the BBC produces content of sufficiently high quality that it will not, in fact, be totally ignored.)

              I think it would be far more valuable to Britain to venture out looking for cultural influence from outside.
              This seems to be a false dilemma. Surely, it is possible both to export culture and to import it at the same time.

              Don't get me wrong I am not attacking Britain, but we are long past the days of the British Empire and there is too much naval gazing and self congratulation in nations throughout the world without more pushing of their own views. Countries would have more benefit if they looked beyond themselves for their own growth.
              It will be difficult to look beyond oneself for cultural input if everyone around you is jealously guarding all of their goods. My suggestion is basically that Britain not prevent others from looking to it should they so choose.

              Is it better than mandating into your national broadcaster that they should be pushing "the British way/view" as you put it?
              I am not sure where, or how, I "put" that. I am suggesting that Britain should spend money to make their cultural production available to the world at large. How they go about doing this is certainly an interesting question, but I don't think that I even hinted that the solution might be "force Brazilians at gunpoint to watch Shooting Stars". If I suggested anything then it might have been, considering the context of this debate, "make BBC content available on the internet without DRM".
              • I agree that the content should be available on the internet without DRM, and of course import and export can occur simultaneously. My point was there is a vast difference between making something available for all to enjoy and learn from and trying to actively export a point of view. If I misunderstood your intention I apologise.
              • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                by Chaffar (670874)

                there is too much naval gazing and self congratulation in nations throughout the world
                I totally agree. Here in France, we spend on average 10 hours a week looking at ships pass by and congratulating ourselves for it; something must be done.
          • by drsquare (530038)

            One minor question that has been bugging me for a while is this: has Britain totally given up any attempt at cultural influence beyond its own borders? I have for long time considered that the cultural value inherent in BBC's very high quality of programming could be a most potent tool in gendering understanding for "the British way/view" abroad if only the world at large were given ready access to it.

            What cultural influence is coming out of the BBC these days? Reality TV, antique/auction shows and repeats?

        • by jez9999 (618189)
          These old farts need to stop complaining and realize theres a lot of us Brits outside the country wanting to watch the BBC.

          There's also a lot of Brits inside the country who don't give a shit about the BBC and don't want to pay the licence fee, and we're pretty pissed off that others who are viewing its content don't have to!!! By a lot, I mean at least several hundred thousand. Fuck you if you say that's irrelevant because it's a 'small percentage'.
      • But what about people who don't pay for a TV license? This will allow THEM access to shows YOU'VE paid for...

        Hell, if the Beeb would offer high-quality, non-DRM'd digital programming for download, I'd pay the equivalent of a licence fee for access. I grew up in the UK and ended up living in the US for reasons out of my control at the time. Now I've established myself in this country, but I miss a lot of the stuff on the BBC. I'd happily shell out the cash for unlimited digital access to their library.

        I'd really like to see the BBC move into a digital-distribution model, and making their artistic content ava

    • The BBC has actually done this at least once in the past. A while ago, they released recordings of the BBC Orchestra playing Beethoven Symphonies Nos. 6-9 in MP3 format, for free on their website. I jumped at the chance and downloaded them, and still listen to those recordings occasionally.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Angostura (703910)
        And they were jumped on by the regulators and the BBC Trustees. The BBC had to commit to them to not do any such thing in the future.

        (It was the full set of symphonies, actually).
    • by arivanov (12034)
      That is an interesting and rather entertaining interpretation of the Freedom of Information Act.

      Anyway problem elsewhere. BBC already tried to release un-DRM-ed content and got into hot water for it. More specifically they released all Bethoven Symphonies as played on BBC radio via their web site 2 or 3 years ago (I got 6-9 and missed the first 5). And they stopped. Guess why - because the rest of the music industry threatened to sue them for undercutting classical music prices.

      Personally, I found the argum
    • I have to pay my TV license every year for the BBC.

      And here across the pond I have to pay the music industry for every RW-CD I buy regardless of use. But they still want to sell you the same thing twice. I think you in the UK stand a better chance of getting DRM-free BBC, than we do of getting rid of the music tax. For us Yankees just how much is your TV liscense? I might want to pay it from here, If that got me some BBC DVDs.
      • by MightyYar (622222)
        You realize that you can record music onto a data CD-RW (which are not encumbered with a fee)? Or are you applying the term "Yankee" to Canadians, who do have to pay a license fee for CD-RW disks?
    • Ladies and gentlemen... I present to you the ONE person who actually pays to read Slashdot!
    • The Freedom of Information Act does apply to the BBC, however it could not be used for this purpose. Firstly there is an exclusion in FOI which says you cannot specify the format of the information - i.e. if they have it in a table you can't request a pie chart. Additionally information already published cannot be made the subject of a FOI request and there is an exclusion for information that is commercially sensitive. All in all the chances of getting the latest Dr Who are small.

      The second more important
    • by Swift2001 (874553)
      What a simple and wonderful idea. Of course it's true, and it's a good response to the libertarian argument. They reject taxes as inherently unjust, and therefore government itself is an oppression. That's wrong, and this explains why. If you tax everybody for a service, it must serve everybody. The costs are proportionately shared by the public, so the benefits must be too. Conservative orthodoxy has those '30s-era rules in the media on the ropes here in the U.S., and even our PBS has well, you've got to
  • The problem (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The problem is royalties for net based distribution, the morons at equity (the union) refuse to recognize that repeat fees are unworkable in the digital age.

    It will change gradually as those who stick to the outmoded royalties model find themselves without work. If these guys really want to protest - target equity [equity.org.uk]

  • Amazon Unbox is as DRM infested as they come. Perhaps they've chosen to unencumber certain music tracks (no doubt to "coincide" with a price hike), but movies? No way.
  • by geoff lane (93738) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @12:37PM (#19451257)
    I see no reason why the BBC should award a monopoly to any company and their media format for material owned by the BBC. It is not the job of the BBC to support Microsoft, Real or any other closed format exclusively.

    I note with interest that the various free/open media formats are available on every platform and do not require license payments. The only reason not to use a free/open format is DRM and if that is the case here then the BBC is making a wrong choice for both technical and financial reasons.
    • Most MS formats if not all are free to use on any OS in the EU (you have to download the OSS implementation of it, but its not protected by license or patents)
    • While I can imagine recent programming would be covered by this, a lot of the BBCs archives have little or no financial potential and can be made available.

      Childrens programmes, old TV shows etc.. have been long paid for and wouldn't earn much on DVD.

      Lets not forget that home taping of TV shows is the only reason some TV shows exist these days. I've seen it a few times on nostalgia shows where they have used someone's VCR recording to show a clip. The more the BBC can spread their programming the more chanc
    • It could be both DRM, and the documented difficulty of supporting multiple media formats. They easily triple your storage and support costs to support Realtime and Quicktime as well, and nothing else has the market penetration. And unless you've actually tried to *install* some of the amazing "Linux server" pieces of festering gob-shite (to borrow a British friend's phrase), I suggest you not underestimate the pain and cost of doing so.

      If you don't believe I'm serious about the difficulty, go try to gracefu
      • I think that is a non-issue (I haven't used it though but bear with me).

        If the BBC decides to only serve their content under, say, Ogg Theora, how long do you think it would take before that HAD "the market penetration"?

        Think about it from a end-user point of view:

        end-user 1: "I want to watch the BBC on my PC/mobile/microwave oven but it doesn't work anymore" (enlightened) end-user 2: "Click here to download the program that plays it and then it works" Useful information like that spreads quickly.

        Th

        • It's an issue until market penetration occurs. I doubt the BBC have the resources to do the customer support needed for such less well-propagated formats, even if they're superior. And I think for right now, they're unfortunately committed to the idea of DRM in order to keep their contracts with actors and producers, etc.

          It's a shame, really. A media company the size of the BBC could be wonderful at promoting a newer and less DRM-crippled standard, if they had the chutzpah and short-term funding to do it. A
  • So some group of yahoo's out of Massachusetts have decided that they dont like restrictions on free content? The anti-drm argument is fine when its paid for content (If I buy it I should be able to do what I want) but free content should be distributed however the owner wants to do it. Their arguments are rather sad. The first one is that DRM doesnt work, if thats the case then why worry about it, just circumvent it and shut the hell up. The second point makes no sense, what right do you have to free co
    • Your really missing the point here; possibly because of a lack of knowledge about BBC, the UK, and the history behind all of this. I know I am making a big assumption there as to your background, but your comments make no sense to me except as being made by an uninformed observer.

      The BBC is a public service and does not operate on the same standard corporate level that you seem to think it does. That's why they have a charter from the government (quoted many times in the article).

      To refute your formulation
      • by grahammm (9083) *
        The reason DRM does not work in this situation is not that it can be broken but that the same material has already been broadcast without DRM. DRM is ineffective in preventing unauthorised sharing if the same material has been made available without DRM.
      • No, there is a tax called a "license fee". It's hardly free.

        Circumvention also hardly calls for intelligence. The workaround is called www.thepiratebay.org. It only takes one person with a slight bit of intelligence to circumvent the DRM, and then it's downloadable by anyone.

  • by Spad (470073) <slashdot AT spad DOT co DOT uk> on Saturday June 09, 2007 @12:43PM (#19451291) Homepage
    Part of the problem is that a lot of the "BBC's" content isn't actually owned by the BBC because they just buy it in from 3rd parties (I'm talking original programming here, not stuff bought from the US etc).

    The smart thing to do (depending on your attitude towards these things) would be to take the Apple-esque route and make all of the BBC-owned content available sans-DRM (but maintaining the existing geo-IP blocks for non UK users as is required) and then make everything else available DRM-encumbered with clear information explaining why this is the case and who to contact if you want to bitch about it.

    To be honest, I do believe that if they had the choice, the BBC would open up all of their archives for DRM-free download to UK citizens, but it's not always as simple as that.
  • music own you
  • What about NPR? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by freelunch (258011) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @12:53PM (#19451359)
    Why can't we easily download NPR content in a friendly format?

    It seems like their audio is WMV or RP and the download links are buried. I don't want to launch a proprietary player from my browser or otherwise, thankyourverymuch.
    • Why can't we easily download NPR content in a friendly format?

      Some local NPR affiliates release their broadcasts in open formats even through nationally NPR does not. BTW, why are you still listening to NPR? It really isn't "public" media anymore, and the political slant is about as right wing as fox news. Pro-war, pro-religion, pro-corporatism. "Nationalist Public Radio" perhaps? "National Pentagon Radio"? I prefer Democracy Now! [democracynow.org] for my news. They offer one hour ogg vorbis streams every day.
      • by AnyoneEB (574727)

        BTW, why are you still listening to NPR? It really isn't "public" media anymore, and the political slant is about as right wing as fox news. Pro-war, pro-religion, pro-corporatism. "Nationalist Public Radio" perhaps? "National Pentagon Radio"?

        I admit have not listened to NPR very often in the past year or so, but this comment surprises me. Could you provide links to articles showing this? Generally it is pretty easy to find a news report you heard on the air on their website.

        • The comment is a bit over the top. Studies have shown that NPR is about the same as the mainstream media on the political spectrum. This seems correct to me. Its basic news coverage is not really any different from the commercial network radio's.

          What sets it apart is that it still does longer and much more complex pieces, real shoe-leather journalism. That's an art that's almost lost. A relative of mine spent the late 80s and most of the 90s out of the country. When she returned, she was shocked to
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        So you think that NPR should only exist if it's a left-wing mouthpiece? And further, assume that anybody listening to it is only listening to it specifically because it's a left-wing mouthpiece?

        WTF is wrong with people.

        Dude, if he likes the station, let him listen to it, ok?
        • Dude, if he likes the station, let him listen to it, ok?
          I have no problem with anyone listening to or watching anything that they want. I'm totally pro-free speech. Listen to Rush Limbaugh or watch The Triumph of the Will if you want. I was just pointing out an alternative that might be of interest to someone who likes the idea of non-corporate news.

          So you think that NPR should only exist if it's a left-wing mouthpiece?
          I think that a public station should be run in the interests of the public, not in the
          • by SEE (7681)

            So you think that NPR should only exist if it's a left-wing mouthpiece?

            I think that a public station should be run in the interests of the public, not in the interests of a wealthy elite. So-called public networks like NPR and the BBC have been in strong support for the interests of the executives, board members, and shareholders of convicted criminal corporations such as Microsoft. A public station should be left wing because the left (anarchists, socialists, progressives, etc) really are concerned with t

  • Don't forget that the BBC doesn't always have the rights for some of the programming, or only has rights to broadcast within certain geographic boundaries. For example football (soccer) matches are sold in other markets as PPV whilst being free in the UK. Those broadcasters abroad will not be happy if everyone can watch those matches off of the BBC web site for free.

    When the BBC channels were broadcast on the old satellite the satellite foot print meant that many european countries could also pick up the
  • I'm a license payer, I've tried to email them about the content not working with open formats and needed real player/WMP. I simply don't understand why they don't allow it to work with Helix player or even provide it as an ogg download so that it would be really easy to play it in linux through mplayer.

    The automated response I got threatened to sue me if I told anyone the contents in a way which I'm pretty sure isn't legal (but i'm used to being threatened by the BBC...). I never got a real reply. Over t
  • The BBC is well watched in lots of countries in the world (hurray Dr. Who in 30 minutes!!) yet not all the viewer pay the hundreds of euros/dollars for that privilege. Right now I pay less for the beeb than when I lived and worked in London, even when nowadays BBC3 and 4 are available. Point is: they have the right to market their reputation, and if they think they need to protect it with a light DRM (comparable to Apples), well so be it. It's a treasure trove of data, and they can do with it whatever they
  • They air their programs world wide, via satellite, they make extraordinarily good journalism, they're a public television and once the program's has aired, it just disappears into oblivion...That's not vey smart.

    Why not let people download all their content with tools like the Democracy player? What have they to loose if more people see a fantastic BBC documentary they like? What's it to them if I wanna keep a documentary where I actually learn something?

    It makes no sense to me. The content has already been
  • BBC and MS (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linuxci (3530) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @03:54PM (#19452467)
    Remember when the BBC were developing their own open source video codec (Google dirac [google.co.uk] for more info)? All looked promising, the thought of being able to download BBC content to use on your OS of choice was starting to look very likely.

    Then they suddenly became very friendly with Microsoft (not sure if it was connected with the change of management after Blair kicked the existing one out by saying bad things about Iraq or whether Bill came by with a sack of cash) - they developed iPlayer [wikipedia.org] which was based on Windows Media Player, so now Linux and even Mac users were left out in the cold. In effect the BBC started discriminating against people unwilling or unable to pay the Microsoft Tax.

    The BBC have lately promised to also make the content available on MacOS X eventually, but no dates have been fixed. In the end for it to work on the Mac they will have to offer their content either in an open DRM-free format or use Apples DRM. If they stick with the DRM route it will mean Linux and other OS users will be out of luck. FWIW (not a lot probably) here's a petition [pm.gov.uk] to make iPlayer cross platform (with a name like iSomething you'd expect it to work on a mac!).

  • by Budenny (888916) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @04:18PM (#19452599)
    The problem is a simple one. In the UK, in order to have the legal right to watch any television, including non-BBC television, you are obliged to subscribe to the BBC. It is compulsory, its a criminal offense not to.

    It is as if, for you guys in the US, in order for you to be allowed to read any newspaper, you were legally obliged to buy a subscription to the NY Times, whether you wanted to read it or did read it or not. It is as if you are legally obliged to buy a copy of Windows in order to own a computer and run Linux or MacOS, whether you install and use it or not. Whether you even can install and use it or not. You buy computer, Mac or barebones. Fine, pay fee to MS.

    Now, the BBC has no corresponding obligations back to you. And there is no way you can say, no I would like to choose an alternative supplier of TV. You cannot, for instance, say that, since the BBC does not support your chosen OS, but Sky does, you are going to subscribe to Sky instead. No, you subscribe to Sky AS WELL.

    Whether the BBC does DRM is neither here nor there - its no more objectionable, nor less so, than any other company doing DRM.

    What is appalling, and a total denial of human rights, is that it forces people to subscribe, whether they want or can access its content or not, so they can get to different content they do want and can access.

    Now, in reply to this point, we ordinarily get people saying that the BBC is excellent. Ie they like it. They can receive its content. They want to subscribe. Its just irrelevant to the human rights issue. I should have the right to watch TV without paying for the BBC if I do not want to watch it.

    Tell me again why everyone else has to be compelled to subscribe?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by evilviper (135110)

      the UK, in order to have the legal right to watch any television, including non-BBC television, you are obliged to subscribe to the BBC. It is compulsory, its a criminal offense not to.

      And in order to have the legal right to drive on the roads, you are obliged to pay taxes for road maintenance... even the roads you NEVER drive on.

      That's the way all taxes go. They go to some things you like, as well as some things you may not like. Being in a democracy, however, you do have the right to lobby for your mon

  • by NekoXP (67564) on Saturday June 09, 2007 @05:03PM (#19452917) Homepage
    I'd consider the BBC to be a subscription service.

    There's a big difference between "pay for an item and want the ability to play it without restriction" DRM and "pay for an item and the ability to play it while you pay your subscription".

    DRM works - at least it has a purpose - for the subscription model. Just like I (in the UK) can't even view the Showtime website to check on some of the shows I've seen from the Showtime network, and HBO crack down on non-subscribers accessing their shows (although I get to see them on UK TV about a year behind), and I can't view the Battlestar Galactica extra scenes from the US Sci-Fi website (it tells me I am not in the USA therefore have no access to it - and no anonymous proxying works for some reason), I don't see why a bunch of Americans, French, Japanese should be able to get hold of unrestricted content that I as a UK citizen and a dutiful payer of the TV license in the UK have technically paid for.

    After all, someone has to pay for the content at some point. It stands to reason if the content is subscription-based, some kind of rights management needs to be in place.

    DRM may well be in place for BBC because they are protecting British citizens and license-fee payers' rights to the media. If you did not have to pay the license fee to download the content for free, the BBC would not get any money every year; that's what the license fee is piled into. So it has to be protected somehow.

My idea of roughing it turning the air conditioner too low.

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