Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Television Media GNU is Not Unix

BBC Trust Will Hear iPlayer Openness Complaints 177

Posted by kdawson
from the tv-without-internet-explorer dept.
AnotherDaveB writes with a Register story reporting that the BBC Trust has asked to meet with open source advocates to discuss their complaints over the corporation's Windows-only on-demand broadband TV service, iPlayer. The development came less than 48 hours after a meeting between the Open Source Consortium and regulators at Ofcom on Tuesday. Officials agreed to press the Trust, the BBC's governing body, to meet the OSC. The consortium received an invitation on Wednesday afternoon.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

BBC Trust Will Hear iPlayer Openness Complaints

Comments Filter:
  • by ThisIsWhyImHot (1121637) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:21AM (#19838251)
    My girlfriend is constantly making these and I've noticed that the best way to adress them is to accuse her of using windows.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    As long as they want to use DRM, what options do they have? Should they just not make thier material available until there is a player for everyone? It seems like that is kind of screwing everybody who uses IE and wants to see the material now.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:27AM (#19838369)
      what options do they have?

      They don't know, because it appears they didn't even bother to try and find out before rushing into a deal with Microsoft that ties them into Windows Media.
    • by toleraen (831634) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:29AM (#19838403)
      Isn't RealPlayer on almost all major OSes? Or don't they have a version of DRM that works on across platforms?
      • by Ilgaz (86384) * on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:59AM (#19838799) Homepage
        Real Networks warned open source community about future potential problem with DRM, it got covered on Slashdot and they got flamed instead.

        Yes, they have a working DRM solution for almost everything you can imagine. Millions of Verizon etc. phones are using their software already to play purchased music. Of course, this happens because the WOKE UP and saw the power of open source, created Helix community offering their millions dollars worth patents for free to GPL projects.

        I also heard BBC other Windows Media DRM vendor is not so happy with feedback they get from the users. Azureus'es "Media center" like version (Vuze, 3.x) already sells BBC content in Wmedia DRM. Imagine a Java 5/6 application which works exactly same on 3-4 completely different operating systems is "prisoned" to Windows DRM solution to make money. Would you be happy? :)

        There the BBC Content: http://www.vuze.com/channel/bbc [vuze.com]

        Vuze runs on anything with modern Java but can't "sell"/"rent" legal content because of the format (Wmedia DRM) is hostile to any OS other than Windows. Now they are attempting to create same thing.

        There is a waiting scandal there for Professional IT media. If any left...

        • by LuSiDe (755770)

          created Helix community offering their millions dollars worth patents for free to GPL projects.

          Oh? Actually, by sheer luck (?), today I tried to watch a RealVideo in VLC via streaming and it did not work. MPlayer was a bitch to get working (on Windows) but eventually I got that working and it wasn't flawless. So I installed RealPlayer Enterprise (has the best settings / least spyware) and got it working. One would assume that if they 'donated' their 'millions dollars worth patents for free to GPL projects'

          • by Ilgaz (86384) *
            I am speaking about network shaping, auto falling back speed and going up. All covered by Real patents and they said they are completely free to open source projects.

            You are speaking about their codecs. No, they aren't opening codecs since there are lots of companies waiting for a working 3G/2.5G codec. Their higher bandwidth stuff are mpeg4/aac standard already.

            Helix player is a complete multimedia package for Linux. You better download that thing and reply that time.

            • by LuSiDe (755770)
              First of all I'm not using Linux on the desktop I'm ripping from I'm running Windows. Does Helix even allow me to rip a stream like MEncoder does? Thats why I needed the codec in the first place. And no, there is no DRM on this specific stream. And yes, I have been able to rip RealVideo streams in the past with MEnoncoder. Even wrote howtos about this for others.
      • Realplayer on Linux does stop you from recording stuff. The problem is that it does not, AFAIK, have a download and expire after a set time function which is what the BBC want.

        I am sure it could be done if the BBC did a deal with them instead of MS.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jimstapleton (999106)
      The problem is, they wouldn't bother until anyone complained most likely.

      Anyway, what do you consider "Everyone"?

      Windows and Apple?
      Do you add Linux?
      BSD?
      Solaris?
      True64?
      VMS?
      BeOS? (yes, apparantly people still use this)
      [Insert Cell Phone OS here]?
      PalmOS? ...

      Who do you include, who do you drop?
      • I forgot to add Minix, I insenstive clod!
      • Use an open standard.
        Then the market can provide a variety of players on every OS without impediment.

        oh wait, it already has.

        I don't think the market can solve all problems, but this one is an easy choice.
        • Is there already an open standard for DRM? I don't know about that stuff.

          I think the way they went is probably the most cost effective for the vast majority of people paying the license fee for the time being. People already complain they have to pay the license fee but don't even watch the BBC. How many people (in Britain who pay the license fee) that don't watch the BBC will actually download the BBC?

          I think they can worry about an open standard when a proven one becomes available and they have determined
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by mrchaotica (681592) *

            Is there already an open standard for DRM?

            The solution is this: don't use DRM!

            Seriously, it's as simple as that. In fact, it's mathematically proven to be the only solution.

          • by a.d.trick (894813)

            No. There can't be an open standard for DRM. DRM relies on obfuscation. If there was, someone would just write a program that could read/write the format and simply 'forget' the restrictions.

            That's how DRM works in PDF. It's utterly pointless and only serves to give the authors the illusion that their content is protected.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by gig (78408)
            > Is there already an open standard for DRM? I don't know about that stuff.

            DRM means closed. Open and closed are opposites. Standards are written to encourage interoperability, DRM is anti-interoperability. The CD is an example of standards working, the MiniDisc is an example of DRM working.

            The ISO standard for audio and video is MPEG-4 (Blu-Ray, HD-DVD, AppleTV, iPod, iPhone, iTunes, QuickTime) which does not specify any DRM, it's about audio and video. If you want DRM you add it separately but that mak
            • >>Windows Media already lost this battle years ago

              I'm not up on this stuff, but I believe I read here that all of the BBC's competitors in Britain all use Windows Media as well. I could be wrong though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vivaoporto (1064484)
      Actually, that's not the case.

      Release (or cite, if it is external) the specs for the standard of the file format, along with the protocol used to communicate with the DRMd server, and preferentially a stripped down player with source code for reference and let the developers make their own players for their own platforms. It is possible to have security (DRM, for all that matters) and openness at the same time and, if it was not possible, security through obscurity would not solve the DRM problem, as CSS
    • by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:41AM (#19838581) Journal
      I seem to remember that sun was working on an opensource DRM based on Java called Dream [java.net]
    • by BlueParrot (965239) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:49AM (#19838665)

      As long as they want to use DRM

      Well gee, seeing that the material is publicly available, and already paid for ( by a compulsory TV license ) and also already available in digital form without DRM ( through the terrestrial digital broadcast ) why exactly do they have to use DRM to begin with? I only see a few reasons:

      a)"Content providers" refuse to license their shows if they don't
      b)They have partnered with MS and MS refuse to develop a system that doesn't.
      c)Some muppet up in management still believes it can work.
      d)All of the above

      None of those are valid reasons why a publicly funded company should help strengthen a monopoly that has repeatedly been convicted under anti-trust legislation. Basically what it boils down to is drop the DRM or drop the public funding. As long as the material is paid for by the public it should be available to the public.
      • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:56AM (#19838761)
        Because the compulsory TV license covers UK viewers, and we're talking about Internet distribution now?
      • by CanadaIsCold (1079483) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:09PM (#19838927)

        They need to DRM and limit to the UK because of syndication. While most of their shows are public broadcast in the UK they license them to other TV stations that release on a different schedule. These other channels would not want to pay the same amount if the shows were available on the internet for free before they showed them on their channels.

        The same thing happens with DVD's of BBC shows. The season may be long over in the UK some times years over but the DVDs won't release until after the american syndication has aired.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by RonnyJ (651856)
        The most important reason, which you haven't mentioned, is that the BBC are regulated in order so that they don't overly damage commercial rivals. The DRM originally was less restrictive in regards to the length of time you could keep shows for, but the BBC were told to tighten up the limits. Given the choice of no iPlayer, and a DRM iPlayer, I'd pick the latter I'm afraid.

        On a similar note, some people would say that the BBC should also sell their DVDs at cost price, since the public pays for the programs,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592) *

      As long as they want to use DRM, what options do they have?

      The problem is that the premise -- i.e., the desire to use DRM -- is itself the flaw!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bazorg (911295)
      Since the content being made available for download with DRM is the same that previously has been broadcast over the air, without any sort of protection, the other option they have is to dump the DRM on the downloadable material and put the stuff on bittorrent themselves, instead of having the viewers do it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:27AM (#19838359)
    This revolution will not be televised on my Linux computers. But maybe the effects will be.
  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:27AM (#19838367)
    Please feel free to sign the petition on the Government website.

    http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/bbcmicrosoft/ [pm.gov.uk]

    Always good to raise the profile of this...
    • by AndersOSU (873247) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:45AM (#19838619)
      Is anyone laboring under the impression that e-petitions do anything?

      I think it is hard to make a case that the standard paper petitions are effective, but it at least shows that the organizer is dedicated to the cause, and probably some respectable percentage of the signatories at least agree a little.

      With an e-petition, the organizer spends what, all of 15 minutes working on a petition, and who are the signatories? Are they even citizens, are they the same guy 30,000 times?

      I will never sign an e-petition. I may even start an e-petition to make my case to all those e-petition zealots that me, and probably a few dozen other people wont' stand for more e-petitions. We'll go so far as to enter our email addresses on a web form to show our solidarity. But then again it might just be too much work.

      Finally, why in the world would I trust the organizer of an e-petition with any information about my self? Seems like a great way to harvest spammable information. If I don't have to enter any information, how do you know I'm a real person?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by apodyopsis (1048476)
        Actually in this case they do.

        Firstly, you need to be a UK citizin and enter a UK postcode to use the Goverment ePetition.

        Secondly, let me quote the example of the Road Charging ePetition on the same site. It forced a response from the (then) Prime Minister Tony Blair and was widely reported in the news and debated in Parliament.

        See...
        http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/news/archives/2007/02 / 13/road_charge_petition_was_a_car_crash_waiting_to _happen.html [guardian.co.uk]
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6349027.stm [bbc.co.uk]
        for mo
        • by mgblst (80109)
          There is going to have be some change to road taxing in the UK. It is impossible for things to increase as they are currently. Most people who do drive, seem quite happy to ignore this. There needs to be a significant reduction in road traffic, the government has started to realise that the old solution of just building new roads is making the problem worse, not better.

          The only way to reduce traffic is to increase the price as much as possible. This is the ONLY way that people will stop driving. You can mak
          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            "Stop driving, simple. Start working out another way to go. When you buy a house 30 miles from your work, think about it, factor in the huge cost which driving will eventually be."

            I know that public transport can be and is well done over there...since there is such a small land mass, and everything is close together.

            But, I gotta ask...how the hell do you go shopping for things like groceries over there, if you don't have a car?? I mean, I'm a single guy..I like to cook, but, no way I could do my shopping

          • by garyok (218493)

            When you buy a house 30 miles from your work, think about it, factor in the huge cost which driving will eventually be.

            So what are you supposed to do if your job is in London, as about 20% of the jobs in England are? Buy a family home in Greater London for £700k? Public transport's not all that great (crowded, smelly, and nasty in the summer), the train prices are comparable to petrol + depreciation on your car, and it takes on average twice as long to get you where you're going.

            It'd be better to e

            • It'd be better to encourage folks with huge buy-to-let portfolios to divest themselves of all those spare houses to get some balance back into the housing market. Then maybe folks could afford houses in London again (that aren't next to crack houses or crime blackspots) and people wouldn't have to commute so far or indenture themselves to the banks for the next 25 years.

              blame Gordon Brown for that... when he started raiding the pension funds, those who could got their money out and got into buy-to-let... t

          • The only way to reduce traffic is to increase the price as much as possible.

            Or more generally, to increase the cost (which is not necessarily congruent to "price"). You could instead keep the price the same but decrease the convenience, for example.

            I would support this kind of thing in Atlanta, GA, USA (my neck of the woods): right now the Interstates going through the city have one HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lane each. I think they ought to increase that to two, not by adding an additional lane, but by

          • The only way to reduce traffic is to increase the price as much as possible. This is the ONLY way that people will stop driving.

            What about those of us who have to drive? Lets see:
            1. I work about 25 miles away from home in a relatively rural area. Using public transport to get to work is going to take me over 2 hours and involve taking busses via about 3 different towns. I can't afford to buy a house near work because they are rather more expensive than where I currently live.
            2. My hobbies include windsur
          • by drsquare (530038)

            The only way to reduce traffic is to increase the price as much as possible. This is the ONLY way that people will stop driving. You can make public transport free, with dancing girls and free beer, leaving from your stop every 20 seconds, and people will still complain, and get in their car. The UK has great public transport, compared to most over countries - yet still people whinge, and drive the 3 miles into work.

            What's the point in getting people off the roads to reduce traffic. Even if traffic is reduc

      • Is anyone laboring under the impression that e-petitions do anything?

        Yes. They are evidence of negative publicity. For companies or governments that need to be concerned about public opinion, it's worthwhile to have more information that can be used to determine the popularity of an action/inaction -- this is important to protect brand image.

        Much like postcard campaigns and email campaigns do have *some* impact on politician's decision-making process (or at least helping to determine where they focus the

    • Talking of petitions pushing for more open source support where public funding is concerned, I am waiting to see if the government make any response to http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Open-IT-projects/ [pm.gov.uk] when it ends later this month.
  • It's all about drm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7&kc,rr,com> on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:28AM (#19838391) Homepage
    This has less to do with shafting Mac and Linux users and more to do with DRM. BBC is extremely paranoid about its content falling into the hands of consumers outside their control. Look at the website for Torchwood, you can't even view it if your outside the UK. It's not right but it fits with their approach on access to their content. Never mind that people can capture video on their PC's with a 30 dollar tuner card or record shows on dvr's. I wouldnt be surprised if more time and money went into the drm than the actually streaming process itself. Sure they loose a small but decent percentage of their viewers, but at least David wont be able to view Dr Who from the US and Billy wont be able to keep a copy.
    • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:49AM (#19838675) Journal
      It's not paranoia, it's commercial sensitivity.

      The BBC does not work in isolation. It works in partnership with other broadcasters around the world. And in making its content freely available to licence payers in the UK it has to make sure that it doesn't abuse the rights of its partners by giving away content to those outside the UK, where the rights may be shared with or even wholely owned by those partners.

      Take two productions as examples.

      The newest Doctor Who stories are co-developments with CBC, a Canadian broadcaster. I imagine that the BBC owns the broadcast rights in the UK, the CBC owns the broadcast rights in Canada and the broadcast rights elsewhere have been split or sold under an agreed formula.

      To make Doctor Who freely available to everybody everywhere would be to the detriment of not only the CBC but to those third parties who buy the broadcast rights everywhere else.

      Similarly, with Band of Brothers, which was a co-production with HBO, the BBC probably owns the UK rights, HBO the US ones and the rights elsewhere split, etc.

      To expect the BBC to release all its content to everyone would be unrealistic, not least of all because securing the worldwide internet rights for all of the productions concerned would be impossible, strategically as well as commercially.

      Faced with that reality, what choice does the BBC have if its going to make this content avaiable online in Britain and Britain only other than some from of rights management?

      I'm all for the BBC coming up with a cross-platform solution but I don't think it's fair to hit it with the unfair charge of using DRM for DRM's sake when it's bending over backwards to make more content available to their customers (licence payers), on it's own initiative, without stepping on anybody else's toes in the process.

      They're trying to be good guys here. Why blast them with both barrels over pipe dreams?
      • by Cheesey (70139) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:22PM (#19839113)
        It's not paranoia, it's commercial sensitivity.

        Fine, but they could achieve the same results by (1) refusing to serve the content to people outside the UK, (2) requiring a "licence-fee payer" login to download anything, and (3) limiting the range of programmes available online in order to satisfy the requirements of commercial co-producers. There's no need for DRM, especially as the BBC is already using a system to restrict some content to UK users only.

        Now, there is an obvious objection to (1) and (2). Someone could download a programme in the UK, then put it on Bittorrent. But that's a silly objection, firstly because that same person could capture the programme from a TV broadcast, and secondly because that person could crack the DRM. Microsoft DRM is as vulnerable to attack as any other sort of DRM.

        The use of DRM in this case is basically equivalent to saying "You can't watch BBC programmes without a Sky subscription". Sure, the delivery medium is the Internet not digital satellite, and the "Sky subscription" is a "Windows XP licence", but the effect is the same - you have to pay a third party in order to watch licence-fee funded programmes. We need an equivalent of "Freeview" that will work for anyone at no cost, but because Microsoft DRM is being used, the BBC has excluded that possibility.
        • It seems to me that you're confusing the use of some form of DRM with the use of a form of DRM that's only available on a Windows platform.

          A cross-platform solution is what we need: DRM and OS lock-in are two different issues and the real issue here is OS lock-in.
          • by Cheesey (70139)
            A cross-platform solution is what we need: DRM and OS lock-in are two different issues and the real issue here is OS lock-in.

            I see what you're saying. And I agree that if the player software could run on a free OS, then that would be the Internet equivalent of "Freeview" that I mentioned at the end of my post. Licence fee payers would have access to the programmes without a requirement to pay the Microsoft tax. That solution would seem satisfactory, if not ideal.

            However, the use of DRM does limit viewers to
            • And I agree that if the player software could run on a free OS, then that would be the Internet equivalent of "Freeview"

              Nope, Freeview is not DRM'd and uses open standards. You can grab any DVB-T tuner and receive Freeview on it (same with their DVB-S broadcasts). Why does the BBC feel the need to act differently with content delivered over IP?
              • Because, as I've pointed out, the BBC doesn't have exclusive rights to do what it wants with this content over IP.

                Its digital (and analogue) terrestrial and satellite transmissions do spill over to some neighbouring countries but no more so than is avoidable.

                If you have read my initial post on this subject and still don't appreciate why there is a difference between what the BBC can do over the airwaves and what it can do over IP space then you're missing the whole point.

                The BBC is responsible for its actio
                • by aj50 (789101)
                  You do realise that it's possible to tell what country someone is in from their IP address right? The bbc already does this to prevent sports broadcasts on Radio5Live from being listened to online from abroad. Additionally, anyone who can be bothered to set up a proxy in the UK just to be able to download programmes from the bbc is probably capable of finding them on p2p anyway.
                  • Yes, I'm very aware of it, thanks for asking.

                    I'm also very aware that we live in a world where the BBC cannot make the decision to release online downloadable content of this nature without considering the impact that it would have on others and how those others might react to it. This seems to be where most of the crowd and I differ.

                    There's trying to give people more and then there's trying to commit commercial suicide. Surely you can see the BBC's dilemma?
                    • by aj50 (789101)
                      Yes indeed, you make a good point. However, I would suggest that releasing this content online won't have much of an impact on others so long as the vast majority of the BBCs distribution is only to the UK. The amount of stuff exported by end users will be minimal when there are so many people who rip shows live and upload on bittorrent. The problem the BBC needs to worry about is people being able to archive BBC content and then not buying the DVDs. Which I guess is why they've wanted to use DRM. To be ef
                    • I think I recall reading that the BBC is committed to making its entire archive available online without any time limitations. Clearly, if that's the case then the affect on DVD sales (at least in the UK) isn't a consideration.

                      From what I can see, the key consideration seems to be to make the archive available to it's customers (UK TV licence payers) and nobody else. Hence the need for some sort of rights management.

                      It's not an ideal world solution but it is a pragmatic one.
                    • by aj50 (789101)
                      I didn't know about any BBC plans to make their entire archive available, this gets better and better.

                      The key consideration is to make the archive directly available only to it's customers and no-one else. Everything good is available via bittorrent, if people are prepared to go through an illegal third-party to get tv programmes they can do so already. The BBC can restrict broadcast to the UK only using IP addresses and allow only licence fee payers in the same way that they do now. If that's not accepta

                    • The problem is simply that if you want to restrict your audience to the UK only then IP addresses alone aren't an answer. Proxies alone make using an IP-based restriction ineffective, hence the need to look for another solution.

                      There's no single, make-everybody-happy option. I wish there was, but there isn't.
                • Because, as I've pointed out, the BBC doesn't have exclusive rights to do what it wants with this content over IP.

                  Nor does it have exclusive rights to transmit the content in any way, including DVB. Yet the BBC don't feel the need to impose DRM on their DVB streams.

                  Its digital (and analogue) terrestrial and satellite transmissions do spill over to some neighbouring countries but no more so than is avoidable.

                  So how is this different to providing an un-DRM'd stream to UK IP addresses?

                  If you have read my init
                  • Come on, you know the answers to these questions...

                    The BBC's DVB streams are broadcast to the UK only, not to the world, and hence there's no need for any form of encryption. The limited overspill that there is is accepted as being beyond the BBC's control. Indeed, the BBC has actually done everything possible to limit it, and this has been well documented.

                    As I seem to have said at least twice before, the BBC doesn't act in isolation. In making the decision to make its archive available online I'm sure it h
                    • The BBC's DVB streams are broadcast to the UK only, not to the world, and hence there's no need for any form of encryption.

                      So I'm again left asking what the difference is between broadcasting to the UK only over DVB and broadcasting to the UK only over IP? I'm not talking about broadcasting to the whole world.

                      Whereas you and others might not see a great distinction between 1) making DRM-free content over IP to the UK only that is then accessed from anywhere else in the world by proxy servers; and 2) a reco
                    • I'm sorry but clearly either there is some aspect of the operation of a proxy server, and the consequences that one would have on an IP-only based restriction method, that either I've failed to clearly spell out or that you don't understand.

                      As I'm not a mind reader and as I don't want to be rude I'll assume that it's the former. My apologies. Perhaps you could ask one of your colleagues at Opendium for a clearer picture than the one that I've attempted to paint?

                      Perhaps they could also join the dots for you
                    • I'm sorry but clearly either there is some aspect of the operation of a proxy server, and the consequences that one would have on an IP-only based restriction method, that either I've failed to clearly spell out or that you don't understand.

                      You don't seem to understand that IP streams and DVB streams can *both* be accessed via a proxy server over the internet.

                      Perhaps you could ask one of your colleagues at Opendium for a clearer picture than the one that I've attempted to paint?

                      Can I ask what my business ha
        • by mgblst (80109)
          You have just proved that they do need DRM.

          Fine, but they could achieve the same results by (1) refusing to serve the content to people outside the UK, (2) requiring a "licence-fee payer" login to download anything, and (3) limiting the range of programmes available online in order to satisfy the requirements of commercial co-producers.
           
          The only way to be sure of these points, is to use DRM. How else do you do it, ask the user before the video plays?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Cheesey (70139)
            The only way to be sure of these points, is to use DRM. How else do you do it, ask the user before the video plays?

            My post must have been unclear, please allow me to clarify.

            (1) The BBC is already using a system that detects your country of origin based on your IP address. If you're not connecting from the UK, you can't get certain content from their website. This is implemented by a simple security check.

            (2) The "licence-fee payer" login would be checked by a BBC server before files were served. Login sche
          • The only way to be sure of these points, is to use DRM.

            No, the only way to be sure of these points is nothing. Why? Because DRM is mathematically-flawed snake oil anyway!

            Trying to secure content the way the BBC wants is a lost cause. It always has been. The would would be a better place if media companies would simply realize that and move on!

        • by janrinok (846318)

          They want to do 2 things:

          Stream to UK licence holding citizens. In which case the service is free (i.e. already paid for). So they have to be able to limit this stream to valid licence holders, hence DRM.

          Stream to non-UK licence holding citizens. In which case they can charge for the service but they have to be able to ensure that it is only going to those who have paid, hence DRM.

          The problem, as someone has already pointed out, is not with DRM which is the solution to their problem (whether we like

      • They're trying to be good guys here.

        Well, then they're failing miserably at it! "Good guys" don't use DRM. Period.

        • It's nice that you can see the world purely in terms of black and white. Unfortunately, the rest of us have to deal with shades of grey.

          Tell me, if you were responsible for an archive of content that you had exclusive rights to for the UK only but which you didn't have exclusive rights to for any other market then how would you go about making it available online to your exclusive market only while respecting the rights of your partners to their own markets and without getting yourself sued to oblivion and
          • by jZnat (793348) *
            Bring in an expert witness that explains how DRM is fundamentally flawed and only increases the likeliness that people will turn to piracy for the content in question. Besides, anyone redistributing copyrighted material (e.g., via BitTorrent) is already breaking the law which should not be BBC's fault, full stop.
            • Your proposal is to go to trial against every other broadcaster with which the BBC is currently in partnership and then hope for the best?

              Really?
      • by Ngwenya (147097)

        The BBC does not work in isolation. It works in partnership with other broadcasters around the world. And in making its content freely available to licence payers in the UK it has to make sure that it doesn't abuse the rights of its partners by giving away content to those outside the UK, where the rights may be shared with or even wholely owned by those partners.

        You make some good points - but I suspect that the solution which the BBC has chosen doesn't actually address the threats which they perceive. The

      • by ManxStef (469602)
        Well said! That's quite similar to my comment on this matter [slashdot.org] in a previous story, though I think yours reads better, mine was a bit ranty.
    • Yet when I wanted to watch the BSG webisodes I was told I wasn't in the US so I wasn't allowed to watch them, they were free as well! Typically the shows come out in the states before anyway else so you don't experience this but now you've tasted it, its crap isn't it, so much for the net being open to everyone, in reality its held to the whim of the networks and pre existing licensing deals. Oh well.
  • by LingNoi (1066278) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:31AM (#19838419)
    A forced meeting is going to produce no results. All it shows is the BBC unwillingness to solve the issues.

    The only reason they're meeting is so that if this does go to the court they can claim they "tried to resolve the issues".
  • It's ironic... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bri2000 (931484) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:32AM (#19838439)
    ...that the BBC download system won't work on Macs given that every BBC technical bod I know (and I know quite a few through my sister and her husband who both work in post-production there) is a complete Mac obsessive.
    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
      Creative types tend to be.. I probably know more mac owners than 'pc' owners.

      Really surprised they didn't cut a deal with realaudio to add any missing features into their system rather than this windows
      drm sillyness.
  • Of course, and it has been said a number of times before (I'm just karma whoring :P), if the BBC don't develop a product that can be used on a number of different operating systems (and I don't mean just MS Windows XP and Vista...), then they are breaking their trust to the British public. The public (well most of them) pay a TV licence (which you have to pay if you have a TV capable of receiving the broadcasts, unless you can show that you don't use it for that) for access to the BBC. The BBC makes their p
    • "advanced computing technology does not imply an endorsement of Western industrial civilization."

      Don't kid yourself, it does.

      Western industrial civilization created soe of the best things ever created by man. It has allowed us to build building that touch the sky, send a machine outside out solar system, and put men on the moon and got them home. More people have clean water, access to food, and medical care then ever in the history of mankind.

      Greatest. Society. Ever.

      Greatest != perfect
    • by MontyApollo (849862) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:51AM (#19838699)
      The logical consequence would be to require a license fee for every computer, then that way they could afford to support all the users...

      Downloading programs in a way is a value added service that works beyond the TV. People complain already that they don't watch the BBC but they still have to pay the fee. Now, the fee is going to pay for even more stuff they don't use.

      I think it is reasonable to go with the most cost effective solution that works for the vast majority of people to begin with. They can worry about expanding it later on when they see what the demand really is and get all the kinks worked out.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        They did moot it but it was shot down as being impractical.

        You require a license fee for a TV card of course.
  • BBC R&D? (Score:2, Insightful)

    What ever happened to BBC research and development division? It seems the BBC do not innovate/invent in any way these days. BBC should come up with some sort of system that is open to all, and has some sort of DRM, not use a Microsoft product that is close to everyone apart from Windows XP users who use Internet Explorer.

    It's not just he ~10% of none Windows users they are leaving out, but the other 20-25% that use alternative web browsers.
  • by advocate_one (662832) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @11:50AM (#19838685)
    someone will crack the DRM and the content will be put up on torrents etc...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209)
      Wait, why would they wait until after the showed aired and rip a lossy video stream when they could (and already do) simply record the live broadcast and post that?

      DRM has -never- stopped determined people, only delayed them a bit. This is no different. The only thing DRM does stop is the average joe. And that only until some enterprising hacker makes a name for himself by publishing the crack.

      In this case, the only people being stopped are the few non-Brits that want to watch British TV and don't know w
      • by jez9999 (618189)
        And that only until some enterprising hacker makes a name for himself by publishing the crack.

        So at least we can say DRM is helping someone.
    • I know this will be an unpopular post, but it does irk me that any time DRM is mentioned somebody always resorts to "somebody will crack it anyway" and usually with a sense of fanboyism for piracy (although granted not seen in the parent post). At the end of the day there are cases where someone owns or has licensed content and they either desire or are legally required to make it available only under certain conditions. In a sense you have a group of people (the BBC in this case) trying to provide better a
      • it does irk me that any time DRM is mentioned somebody always resorts to "somebody will crack it anyway"

        Why? All they're doing is stating a fact! The entire concept of DRM is fatally flawed, in that it simultaneously tries to provide and withold the content from the user. It should be obvious, even if you're not an expert in cryptography, that this is fundamentally, mathematically, impossible.

        At the end of the day there are cases where someone owns or has licensed content and they either desire or are leg

    • by mormop (415983)
      Ultimately, you don't need to crack DRM. You can just video/DVD record it off the TV, push it into your PC via the SCART socket, turn it into a useful format and distribute it via Torrent. DRM is only a hinderance to people without a clue and can be easily overwhelmed using good old analogue recording. To anyone with half a brain it's a small obstacle while DRM is an expensive waste of money, time and CPU cycles.
      • by Tony Hoyle (11698)
        You don't even do that.

        You pull the off-air mpeg2 directly off something like a toppy so you get it as originally broadcast with no degradation.
        • by mormop (415983)
          Your comment proves the point so perfectly. If you could just let the BBC know it'd save licence payers a whole lot of cash.
  • by jeevesbond (1066726) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:02PM (#19838845) Homepage

    For those not aware of how British politics works: Blair (and now Brown's) government both follow what is known as the 'tabloid agenda [blogs.com]', the most read tabloid in the world is 'The Sun [thesun.co.uk]' this is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Heads of the Labour government regularly meet with Rupert Murdoch, in fact Murdoch was known as the hidden member [guardian.co.uk] of Tony Blair's government. Don't think Brown is any better though: an interview [bbc.co.uk] (sadly I think that's been taken off-air so you'll have to trust me) with the editor of The Sun revealed that Rupert Murdoch often used to joke about having to visit both Number 10 and Number 11 whenever he was in the UK.

    As the BBC is competition to Murdoch he would like to see it shutdown. This is natural. Unfortunately for him the BBC is not controlled by the government, but the BBC Trust is. So when the government comes out with weird statements like:

    there is evidence that certain aspects of the proposals may have a negative effect on investment in similar commercial services which would not be in the long-term public interest.

    It's pretty obvious to me who's behind the complaints. The people--whom the government are supposed to serve--just want the BBC to be the best it can be, and if private media can't keep up? Then it shouldn't be in business! Particularly when considering how these words are touting 'public interest' then enforcing the use of DRM? Public interest my arse. In the words of Hugo Swire (shadow culture secetary):

    We're going to have to see if this trust has teeth and the iPlayer is the test... There are companies who feel threatened by the BBC.

    So as usual, it's all big company interests. I somehow doubt that the BBC Trust will listen to the Open Source Consortium. Not that I think they shouldn't try, however it's unlikely they'll be able to remove their heads from Rupert Murdoch's arsehole long enough to listen. :)

    • by LWATCDR (28044)
      The UK has had an interesting history of nationalization disasters going all the way back to the R101. I am not a big fan of big government but frankly the BBC seems like a case where Government support is a good thing. I am not big fan of Murdoch but in this case I have to just sit back and wish the folks in the UK the best of luck. I don't live in the UK so in the end it isn't any of my business. I just hope they don't mess up BBC America.
  • by dduardo (592868) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @12:09PM (#19838921)
    Here's an idea that could make them them money and make us happier:

    Why don't they use a flash based video player like NBC, ABC, etc.

    If they detect that you are from the UK they show you the videos WITHOUT ADs. If you are outside the UK they show you the videos WITH ADs based on your country of origin.

    Everyone gets to watch their content and they makes more money though AD revenue. A win-win in my book.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      Why don't they use a flash based video player

      Maybe because Flash has the most horrific video format known to man?

      How about a Java-based video player?
    • by trawg (308495)

      Why don't they use a flash based video player like NBC, ABC, etc.

      Well, because then everyone is locked into using Flash.

      It sounds like a great idea, but "just because everyone else is doing it" isn't really a good reason. I believe there were a lot of problems with Flash video on Linux (though I think these are largely resolved now?).

      I think the crux of the issue here is they should be releasing their videos in a DRM free, open format that anyone can access on any platform in any player. If they use an open video system that anyone can make a player for, it'll work ev

  • by paj1234 (234750) on Thursday July 12, 2007 @01:04PM (#19839653)
    Has this got anything to do with the BBC's two-billion-GBP computer outsourcing deal with Siemens? Way back in 1999 the BBC had its own Linux-savvy wizards who did a fantastic job on the BBC website and other tasks:

    http://linuxplanet.com/linuxplanet/reports/1176/1/ [linuxplanet.com]

    I'd like to thank them for making sure the BBC's watch/listen pages work on my GNU/Linux/Mozilla/Realplayer computer at home. Now, it's all gone to Siemens, apparently:

    http://www.computerweekly.com/Articles/2004/10/01/ 205660/bbc-completes-2bn-outsourcing-deal-with-sie mens.htm [computerweekly.com]

    Anyone inside BBC or Siemens care to comment?

Never trust an operating system.

Working...