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Television Media Businesses Microsoft Operating Systems Software

BBC Chooses Microsoft DRM Platform 384

Posted by Zonk
from the unpopular-with-the-penguins dept.
bazorg writes "The BBC has chosen Microsoft's DRM technology to limit the viewing of content downloaded from their website. These downloads would allow viewers to catch up on shows that were broadcast on the previous 7 days; they would be compatible only with Windows Media Player and a new product called 'iPlayer'. This iPlayer is not yet available for platforms other than MS Windows, which caused the Open Source Consortium (OSC) to file a complaint to national and EU authorities. 'The BBC aims to make its content as widely available as possible and has always taken a platform agnostic approach to its internet services. It is not possible to put an exact timeframe on when BBC iPlayer will be available for Mac users. However, we are working to ensure this happens as soon as possible and the BBC Trust will be monitoring progress on a six monthly basis.'"
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BBC Chooses Microsoft DRM Platform

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:44AM (#19650271)
    Windows and OS X!

    What do you mean "What about all the others?" There are others? Er, when you say "Future platforms" you mean the next version of Windows, right?

    We might need to go back to the drawing board on this one...
  • by yohanes (644299) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:44AM (#19650273) Homepage Journal
    Don't worry, someone will be able to hack a player for Linux/Mac faster than BBC's official one.
    • Re:They will hack it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ralphclark (11346) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:06PM (#19650649) Journal
      Maybe, maybe not.

      Microsoft DRM has been around for a good few years now and whereas the earliest versions were cracked in due course, the later versions are still fairly solid. I don't believe it's yet possible, for example, to watch DRM-protected WMV files on Linux, even if you have the W32 codecs pack installed.

      I did see one sort of hack for MS DRM but it was limited in what it could do...if you had a valid DRM "licence" for the protected file you could use the hack tool to create a non-DRM copy of the file. But it couldn't unlock a file for which you didn't have a valid key.

      I suppose this type of hack could theoretically be used to unlock MS-DRM protected videos on BBC *if* they use the current form of DRM which relies on you downloading a key and *if* you use the tool to unlock it before the seven days expires.

      It's hardly ideal.

      OTOH, a much bigger worry is this response from the BBC that "iPlayer will be available for Mac" - it's implausible that they haven't heard of Linux, so this is tantamount to a deliberate slap in the face for Linux users. And checking on progress every SIX MONTHS!? What kind of project management it that? The "don't care" kind.

      Common sense prevailed at the BBC while Greg Dyke was around. Since he was pushed out it's all turning to shit again. With people like these at the wheel, television's days are surely numbered. I don't know about you lot but the only thing I watch on TV these days is Dr Who and it wouldn't kill me to give that up. Fuck 'em.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tolan-b (230077)
        Yeah Linux was clearly referenced in the consultation documents. The fact that they've got into bed with MS and are now not even mentioning Linux stinks. The argument that only MS DRM does what they need might have been a bit more plausible if not for the sudden dropping of any mention of Linux and FOSS.
      • by linuxrocks123 (905424) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:13PM (#19650791) Homepage Journal
        > I don't believe it's yet possible, for example, to watch DRM-protected WMV files on Linux, even if you have the W32 codecs pack installed.

        Your phrasing means you don't know. I don't know either, and I use Linux exclusively. That shows you how important playing DRMed WMV files is.

        DRM is impossible to implement correctly because it is theoretically impossible to do. The only reason any DRM system isn't cracked is because no one has cared enough yet to crack it.

        The earliest versions of WMV DRM probably were just so easy to crack that someone did it without really trying, but when they fixed the most obvious holes ... no one really cared enough to actually bother.

        If WMV DRM gets used on anything people actually want to watch (like the BBC), it will be cracked.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chandon Seldon (43083)

          DRM is impossible to implement correctly because it is theoretically impossible to do. The only reason any DRM system isn't cracked is because no one has cared enough yet to crack it.

          DRM is theoretically impossible. That's true. Unfortunately, DRM that can only be inexpensively hacked with an allowed player and recapture equipment is probably entirely possible. What that means is this: It's possible to create a DRM system that will prevent people from playing videos on Linux. It'll still be possible to cra

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Cheesey (70139)
        I did see one sort of hack for MS DRM but it was limited in what it could do...if you had a valid DRM "licence" for the protected file you could use the hack tool to create a non-DRM copy of the file. But it couldn't unlock a file for which you didn't have a valid key.

        That's fine, that's all that is needed. A third-party Linux/Mac client would mimic the behaviour of the official client, and from the perspective of the BBC servers, the two would be indistinguishable. A lot of programming effort might be requ
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CarpetShark (865376)

      Don't worry, someone will be able to hack a player for Linux/Mac faster than BBC's official one.


      This is a lot like the "They came for the jews, but I wasn't a jew..." argument. You can dodge the bullet for a while, but eventually, you have to take a stand. The sooner you start, the more time you'll have to find others who'll stand with you.
  • Will the binary codecs for mplayer work with this stream? Not sure DRM is handled in this fashion but it does let you view wmv files.
  • by kazade84 (1078337) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:45AM (#19650295)
    is I have to pay for this junk through my "BBC Tax" even though I won't be able to use it. Here in the UK a TV license is compulsory if you have a TV that can receive a signal EVEN if you pay for a subscription service through someone like Sky or Virgin Media.
    • by jareth-0205 (525594) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:57AM (#19650519) Homepage
      Ah, suck it up. It's a tax, always has been a tax. Finding a random situation where you personally believe you pay enough doesn't change the fact that you're paying for a public broadcaster. The BBC is a useful thing to have around, like schools and hospitals and welfare it's a good thing even if you might not use it personally.

      Pay your licence and be happy that not everything in Britain is driven by commercial interests.
      • by The Great Pretender (975978) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:14PM (#19650811)
        But surely if you pay the tax you should have unlimited acess to BBC content. So why should the BBC adopt DRM to limit access, it's public.
        • by Lennie (16154)
          There is a simple answer to that question:

          Because the BBC also shows content they did not create.
      • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@@@nexusuk...org> on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:26PM (#19650991) Homepage
        The BBC is a useful thing to have around, like schools and hospitals and welfare it's a good thing even if you might not use it personally.

        I've got no problem with paying my licence fee so long as I am allowed to access the content. Sadly the BBC seems to be adding artifical restrictions to ensure that I can't access the content without me purchasing an expensive product from exactly one vendor with whome I have ethical problems. This is the same as saying "you can only watch TV on TVs made by Sony" - it completely removes competition from the market and this inevitably leads to an expensive poor quality product.

        Also a worry is that the BBC appears to believe that being "platform agnostic" involves only supporting Windows and Mac - no mention of other platforms at all.
        • I've got no problem with paying my licence fee so long as I am allowed to access the content. Sadly the BBC seems to be adding artifical restrictions to ensure that I can't access the content without me purchasing an expensive product from exactly one vendor with whome I have ethical problems.

          No-one's stopping you accessing the content. You will still be able to watch the shows on TV, just as you always could; some of the more popular shows are often repeated now, in fact, for those who have access to t

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            "So they should say Windows, Mac and Linux? Or should that be Windows, Mac, Linux and FreeBSD? Or Windows, Mac, Linux, FreeBSD and my toy OS that I wrote in CS class?"

            Well, actually.....I'd think if they did it right, they could write/program ONE player for the Unix style variants, and that would cover them all.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Bert64 (520050)
              Or they could make the media available in an openly documented format, that's already supported by multiple platforms.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by FireFury03 (653718)
            This is more like the "listen again" feature they've been offering to radio listeners for some time: an extra, not a replacement.

            An extra which I am paying for, yet have been explicitly locked out from. I should also point out that I can listen to the "listen again" stuff on Linux (ok, it's not using a Free codec, but it's actually possible to use the service) - why should TV be different?

            So they should say Windows, Mac and Linux? Or should that be Windows, Mac, Linux and FreeBSD? Or Windows, Mac, Linux, F
    • Do TV tuner cards count as a TV then? Seems you want to watch TV on your computer anyway so this might be a nice way out. Plus you could use your computer as a DVR ala MythTV or similiar packages and skip the whole iPhone mess.

      Then again I dont know how the laws work in England, but I would think this would be "fair use".

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by beezly (197427)
        Yes, they are. If it can receive TV signals, then you need a license.
        • That's not strictly true. If your hardware is never used to receive television signals, you can notify the TV Licensing people about this in writing and claim an exception. This is mentioned in their FAQ [tvlicensing.co.uk] under the "General questions" category.

    • by GauteL (29207) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:03PM (#19650613)
      "is I have to pay for this junk through my "BBC Tax" even though I won't be able to use it. Here in the UK a TV license is compulsory if you have a TV that can receive a signal EVEN if you pay for a subscription service through someone like Sky or Virgin Media."

      I completely agree that the BBC has a duty to make this available to anyone that wants it, thus choosing an open platform for it. However, I disagree with your sentiment on the BBC tax in general. The TV license is why the UK has a healthy non-commerical broadcaster that produces some very good quality material that maybe otherwise wouldn't be commercially viable. That you pay for a subscription service in addition is completely irrelevant. You still receive all the BBC channels and it is not the BBC's fault that you chose to give money to Sky or Virgin in addition.

      Non-commercially funded TV is necessary as a counterweight to commercial TV, particularly as commercial media is consolidated onto fewer and fewer hands. While I won't claim that Non-commercially funded TV is non-biased, it certainly has a different bias.

      If you suggest that it should rather be included as part of the regular income tax, then I might agree. The TV license makes no distinction as to people's ability to pay the license, and almost anyone has a TV. Yes, it would be unfair on the people who do not have a TV, but no system is fair to everyone.
    • by arkhan_jg (618674)
      You are aware that virgin and sky both carry the BBC channels, right?
    • by mpcooke3 (306161)
      Here in the UK a TV license is compulsory if you have a TV that can receive a signal

      I hate to be a pedant but that is actually slightly misleading.
      It is only compulsory to have a TV license if you receive or record a broadcast signal (BBC or otherwise).

      That said, it might be wise to de-tune the TV if you plan to allow TV Licensing to check your TV (which you are under no legal obligation to do).
  • Not for Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by Toffins (1069136) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:47AM (#19650335)
    Despite the several hundred requests the BBC has received for a Linux iPlayer (so said one insider), the BBC is not planning to make iPlayer available for licence-fee payers who use Linux.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dedazo (737510)

      several hundred requests

      As opposed to the millions they'd get from people who use Windows?

      I'm not sure I understand why everyone is outraged at the fact that the Beeb is not catering to an OS that has less than 2% of the desktop market? I'd be more outraged if we were talking OS X here, but that's not even the case.

      I surmise that they need DRM because the BBC Trust requires that only TV tax-paying Britons can watch the taxpayer-funded content. If that's the case, then I don't see what the alternative

      • Re:Not for Linux (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrchaotica (681592) * on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:48PM (#19651385)

        I'm not sure I understand why everyone is outraged at the fact that the Beeb is not catering to an OS that has less than 2% of the desktop market?

        It's the government. That means it has a responsibility to all citizens, not just the ones who use commercial OSs! Ignoring Linux (and other) users by refusing to use open standards is like ignoring disabled people by refusing to provide wheelchair access to government buildings*. Would you be equally okay with that?

        I'd be more outraged if we were talking OS X here, but that's not even the case.

        Why? At this point, there's probably at least as many users of Linux as there are of OS X.

        I surmise that they need DRM because the BBC Trust requires that only TV tax-paying Britons can watch the taxpayer-funded content. If that's the case, then I don't see what the alternative would be for them, since there are no "free" file formats that support DRM in a stable, tested way.

        Don't use DRM, and accept that non-Britons might have access to it. It should be obvious that it's better to give it to extra people for free than to restrict it from people who already have a claim to it! After all (and here my American bias shows through), the whole point of creating a work is to show it to people, not to hide it from them; copyright and licensing is only a necessary(?) evil to begin with!

        (* aside from the unfortunate implication that Linux users are "disabled," which they're not -- DRM users are the disabled ones!)

      • by Inda (580031)
        Who says I should watch it on my desktop? That has to be one of the worse places to watch the tele.

        What if a non-evil company makes a nice set-top for me to use? Cost-a-plenty because of Microsoft tax, I bet.

        What if I refuse to use Windows Media Player or iPlayer, which is bound to be fancy skin, or just embedded, with all the security issues that come with it?

        What if I want to watch it through XBMC?...

        It's that old chestnut 'choice' again.

        So, to the BBC,

        Please don't force me to use crappy software. I'm qui
  • Run windows apps on Linux [computerworld.com] -- eventually, we're going to need to take this step. A standard, unified API to develop for makes it easier on companies that are already afraid that DRM violations will erode their bottom line. If Linux starts running Windows apps, I think more people will switch over, because they run Windows for the easy installation (now nearly conquered by Ubuntu) and the vast library of software guaranteed to run on it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by AKAImBatman (238306) *

      Run windows apps on Linux

      You might as well have said, "Colonize Mars!"

      What you're proposing is a solution that's far easier said than implemented. The WINE Project [winehq.org] has been running for a decade and a half now, and is not too much closer to full Windows support than it was when it started. ReactOS [reactos.org] has taken the approach of reimplementing Windows itself, but is similarly hampered by the complexity and fluidity of the Win32 API set.

      • by athloi (1075845)
        Hi,

        I read all of your posts that I can find, and I respect your opinion. I hope the following different one can be taken in that spirit. (Argumentation should be fun, like all things in life we can make fun.)

        I am not arguing from a purist position, or even an ideological one. I am speaking of practical solutions to many of the issues we are likely to face in the desktop world. I run Linux, BSD and Windows and see each as a balance of strengths and weaknesses.

        Why I say Linux should run Windows applications:
        • As the person you're replying to said, what you're suggesting has been tried - the Wine project has been working on it for years and expended an impressive amount of resources on it. As a result, it's possible to run quite a few Windows apps on Linux. But - they've discovered that the basic idea of re-implementing Windows won't work in general because it's a moving target.

          We'll be much better off pointing developers in the direction of stuff like WxWidgets and getting them to write cross-platform apps. It

    • OS/2 ran windows apps, so nobody saw a need to create superior native apps. Where is OS/2 now? This is a dumb way to go about getting software on linux.
  • Personally, I don't know of any off-the-shelf-and-easy-to-implement open source DRM solution the BBC could have gone for, and given the choice between using Microsoft DRM and getting an iPlayer out the door now or building something in house that could take years I can see why the BBC made the decision they did.

    I'm from the UK, love the BBC, not overly keen on Microsoft. The BBC's promise to keep things under review and aim to get something for other platforms out in ~2 years is good enough for me.

    Plus,
    • by afc_wimbledon (1052878) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:57AM (#19650507)
      Don't use DRM. As a licence payer, UK tax-payer and voter I want my state broadcaster to, well, broadcast the media, not spend my money on restricting who can see it, and probably inconveniencing the people they WANT to see it in the process.
  • Party like it's 1999 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BristolCream (102658) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:50AM (#19650387)
    With the resources that the BBC has available, the technological opportunities now available [mediaframe.org] and the mandate that they have to serve the British public, I am consistently amazed that they continue to align themselves with multinational, license charging companies.

    Shame on you BBC.
    • by fyoder (857358)

      I am consistently amazed that they continue to align themselves with multinational, license charging companies.

      In the beeb's defense, I've been listening to World Service on Linux for years. When they have a problem with content they don't have a license to stream (typically sports), they present alternative content. It's not OSS, but realplay, however it isn't costing me a dime. They did experiment with streaming ogg, but determined that it 'didn't scale' (from email correspondence with a beeb tech).

      With regard to specific content with licensing restrictions, alternative content isn't really an option. "Due

  • by Tweekster (949766) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:52AM (#19650407)
    Seriously, what are they trying to "protect"
    • The BBC gets revenue based on people in the UK. IIRC they don't even make more money based on viewership...
    • Presumably... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd (1658)
      ...their rights to go psychotic and trash recordings, as they did in the 70s. I can't think of anything else they'd want to secure to that kind of level, especially as they have their own technology unit (what do you think dirac came from?).

      Ooooh! I know! They're trying to stop people stealing the copy of Micro Live!, where the BBC was hacked on live TV by the Cheshire Catalyst!

  • What about dirac (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:55AM (#19650487)
    The BBC was working on a new open source / royalty free video Codec Dirac. I hope they did not drop the effort (looking at the projects websites makes me think there is still live to the project).

    http://dirac.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    http://schrodinger.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Interesting. From the Dirac website:

      Why are you releasing Dirac Open Source?

      The BBC has always advocated open standards, and has tried to use them where possible. So far, streaming has been dominated by proprietary systems and existing licensing regimes for standards-based systems have not been as attractive as they might be for large-scale broadcasting, particularly for Public Service broadcasters.

      (my emphasis)
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @11:59AM (#19650551)
    This is in no way acceptable.

    The BBC's insistence to use DRM (Digital RESTRICTIONS Management -- it does sod-all for my rights) goes against their charter.

    When the BBC first began, you had no choice but to build your own radio set. There was never any question that some essential part might be kept locked away out of the reach of the General Public for the specific purpose of preventing just any random person from constructing a receiver.

    For the BBC to insist that their programmes only be received on one particular make of receiver (however it may be rebadged), and that an essential part (the Source Code for the decryption) be specifically denied to home constructors and experimenters, is nothing short of outrageous.

    This country is becoming more and more like the former GDR every day.
    • Digital RESTRICTIONS Management -- it does sod-all for my rights


      The "rights" referred to in DRM are those of the copyright holder, not the end user. The end user does have rights, as well, and these ARE ignored/infringed upon by DRM technologies.
  • Complain? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zelos (1050172) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:08PM (#19650693)
    Places to register complaints: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ [bbc.co.uk] http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/points_ of_view/index.shtml [bbc.co.uk] Maybe report the BBC to Watchdog for dodgy business practices ;-): http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/watchdo g/index.shtml [bbc.co.uk]
  • two questions. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by apodyopsis (1048476)
    first, more info http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6236612.stm [bbc.co.uk].

    1, how did M$ persuade them?

    There were many options out there, why on earth did they go to M$? call me suspicious - but I think there is more to this announcement then meets the eye.

    2, did the BBC have to pay for this tripe?

    or, its bad enough that BBC is using a DRM system from M$, but please tell me that they are not paying for it out of our license money. whats the betting M$ if offering this free in order get a larger audienc
  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:38PM (#19651195) Homepage
    Have we already forgotten that the BBC hates DRM? [slashdot.org]
  • What happened to the old days, where premium content on a website was behind a username/password system?

    DRM'ing this content is -pointless- because it is sent over the air unencrypted first. Anyone who would download it from the website and repost it will instead just DVR it and rip it from there. It's an added step, but not much trouble at all. Especially with PC-based DVR.

    So who are they really trying to protect this from? The common citizen? Most of them couldn't download the stream if you installed
  • First, they cut down on spectacular comedy series they have been doing, and instead turned to crappy NBC imitation shows with subjects like forensic detectives, thrillers, crapola and crap.

    now going microsoft drm way. beh.

    apparently whomever is directing the channel now has no wits.
  • Interesting that they get up in arms about DRM, but don't mention the fact that the BBC has its own private police force that's in charge of making sure people pay a yearly tax to own a TV. Not only do they have to register their TVs, but the police have vans equipped with systems for picking up and pinpointing TV heterodyne circuits to locate unlicensed TVs. Yeah, Britain, keep telling yourselves you're freer than US citizens...
  • No surprise (Score:4, Informative)

    by wlvdc (842653) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:55PM (#19651501) Homepage Journal
    The BBC has been offering video downloads on their website for quite a while now and it is still not available for other platforms. Trying to communicate with the BBC about ETA etc. is virtually impossible. I live in the UK, where open source is not very popular, and often considered not to be reliable enough for business or education environments. Here, ICT education in secondary schools means learning MS Office applications. Many city councils and universities have partnership agreements with MS. Even learning how to make web pages seems not possible with MS Word if you follow the governement agencies' guidelines. So the BBC's decision use with MS' DRM is very much in-line with everything else in this country.
  • I don't care if it runs on my mac or not --- if they are restricting when/where I can watch the content, then I'm not going to download it in the first place. I would be more than happy to pay the license fee to get bbc shows, but not with restrictions.
  • by Danathar (267989) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:11PM (#19651761) Journal
    As long as content providers continue to dance around DRM distribution bittorrent sites will thrive.

    nuff said
  • This just makes me sad. This is video that is paid for by British citizens. Publicly funded content. And still, the PHBs feel the need to lock it to specific devices, limit the number of views, and keep track of who watched what when.

  • Here's a Reaction... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Miseph (979059) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:24PM (#19651985) Journal
    :reads summary: :looks at BBC news feed on bookmark toolbar: :right-click, delete:

    BBC can fuck right off. Shame too, since their news tends to be pretty good, but I refuse to support behavior like that. I've gotten to like Reuters better of late anyway.
  • Free The BBC (Score:4, Informative)

    by Joel Rowbottom (89350) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:38PM (#19652245) Homepage
    There's an effort going on to persuade the BBC to adopt DRM-free technology: www.freethebbc.info [freethebbc.info].

    I'm wondering if there's mileage in an anti-trust suit against the Beeb for this...

  • BBC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by loconet (415875) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @02:48PM (#19653337) Homepage
    As a Linux user, I just lost a lot of respect for the BBC.

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