back to article BBC Trust to hear open sourcers' iPlayer gripes

The BBC Trust has asked to meet 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 (OSC) and regulators at Ofcom on Tuesday. Officials agreed to press the trust …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boo bloody hoo

    I don't own a computer, but I do have a fridge. I demand that iPlayer will work on that. And on my sofa. And while we're at it, I drive a Vauxhall Astra, and I demand that the East Coast main line electric power system be modified so that it becomes compatible to MY vehicle of choice. I shop at Tesco, but Sainsbury's don't give me loyalty points - that's fundamentally wrong too. And why are lottery wins only paid out to people who've bought the right ticket? Bleat! Baaaa! Bleat!!!

  2. Stu

    BBC last on the episode streaming front?!

    I'm really surprised at how the BBC, known for their award winning online web presence, has been so sloooow on the delivery of their full-on streaming media services.

    We're still waiting for a public beta, and Channel 4s 4OD service has been going strong for some time now and is a good benchmark to meet. Channel 5 even has rights to present US drama series for download, albeit paid for.

    Does the common as muck ITV have episode downloads available? I wouldn't know.

    The BBC are clearly delusional if they think they can get DRM protected Windows Media Video working in Linux or Mac.

    Even crappy Sky One has episode downloads available.

    The BBC are currently only capable of delivering individual sports and music festival bits, and individual news articles. I wish to hell they are going to drop Real Media - spyware infested nag-ware with popups appearing all over the place. RealAlternative isn't going to keep them alive. DIE RealMedia!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    "I don't own a computer, but I do have a fridge. I demand that iPlayer will work on that. And on my sofa. And while we're at it, I drive a Vauxhall Astra, and I demand that the East Coast main line electric power system be modified so that it becomes compatible to MY vehicle of choice. I shop at Tesco, but Sainsbury's don't give me loyalty points - that's fundamentally wrong too. And why are lottery wins only paid out to people who've bought the right ticket? Bleat! Baaaa! Bleat!!!"

    Reality check, going with alternatives would allow it to run on ALL computers capable of media playback, not just provide an additional alternative for those who use 'fringe' computing devices. Inconveniencing no one, lowering costs, and improving compatibility across the board.

    Further more, due to the way the BBC is licensed here, WE ARE PAYING FOR THIS SERVICE, so it'd be quite nice for it to work properly, no?

    Errata: If you don't own a computer, you at least have access to one, otherwise you wouldn't be reading el reg.

    Your car is compatible with roads which follow the same general route as the rail line, so at least you can still get where you are going.

    If you shop at tesco, take out a tesco reward card - you have that option.

    And as for the lottery, if everyone won it, you'd get less than a quid back for your winning lottery numbers.

  4. /\/\j17

    Let's Not Forget Who Pays For the Beeb

    Umm, that would be all of us with a TV.

    Unlike all the examples in the Boo blody hoo post we aren't talking about making a product or service supplied by one manufacturer working with the product of another. We are talking about a paid for service only being made available to a percentage of the people who pay for it, and up-yours if your one of the others.

    If you own a TV you pay to fund the BBC. If you don't watch, that's your choice but with iPlayer they are taking licence funds (of funds that could be used to subsidise the licence fee) to provide a service that ISN'T available to all licence fee payers.

    The BBC is a special case (you don't directly pay for the TV service from Channel 4/5 - they are both funded by advertising) and should be treated as such. The decision to limit iPlayer to only Windows users is the same as the BBC making a change to terrestrial broadcasts so they only work Sony TVs (but still charging everyone else the licence fee).

  5. Giles Jones Gold badge

    DRM

    This is what is wrong with DRM, it's called Digital Rights but unless you use the technology they specify then you don't have the right to watch the content.

    It would be like the BBC only letting you watch their programming if you use a Sony television. Just because it's a popular brand doesn't mean it is fair.

  6. James

    Not that slow

    The BBC have been trialing streaming TV services for ages, but when it comes to actual rollout they are beholden to the trust bureaucracy to let them do it. I was on the last two private betas - alas now I've bought a Mac I'm unsupported in bbc-land.

    First poster, I can't believe you're actually that naiive. This is more like only being able to receive TV broadcasts on a Sony TV. What's that, you've got a Panasonic? Tough titties. It's anticompetitive, plain and simple. That would be bad enough from a commercial broadcaster, but from a public service broadcaster - and one with auntie's history of real innovation, at that - it's inexcusable.

  7. A J Stiles

    Re: Boo bloody hoo

    Oh dear, another anonymous coward looking like another paid Microsoft shill.

    The problem is that by using a proprietary technology, the BBC are excluding people from their service.

    In the MW/LW days, anyone with the requisite knowledge could build a crystal set and listen in to the BBC's output. (When broadcasts first began, there were no ready-made sets for sale: you *had* to build your own.) Nowadays, you need to build a more complicated FM receiver; but nonetheless, all the parts you need are available to members of the general public. Likewise, anyone is free to build a TV set from scratch if they so desire. Not many people do, but nobody is actively preventing them from doing so.

    The point with iPlayer is that the BBC effectively are deliberately withholding a critical component (the Source Code for the iPlayer decryption routine) which someone would need if they wished to build a "receiver" from scratch. This is the unacceptable part -- it smacks of the former Soviet Union restricting the possession of radio valves.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:Boo bloody hoo

    Smoking much recently? How about all garages refuse to service Vauxhall trash, and only service Fiats? I reckon that all the food middlemen should refuse to stock Tesco Asda and Morrisons and force you to use Sainsbury.

    Bit of a muppet who has completely missed the point aren't you. Well, if you ever do get a PC hope you enjoy spending an extra few hundred quid on Vista trash.

    I for one will not be renewing my license fee unless they start being a bit more open and decent. Runs out this month luckily.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bleat?

    To the bleater - the comparison would be more apt if your local garage only had pumps that could fill Fords, but not Vauxhalls.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop bleating.

    > Your car is compatible with roads which follow the same general route as the rail line, so at least you can still get where you are going.

    Record the programme on a video recorder, then watch it back. That's almost the same as iPlayer. At least you get to see the programme. Or get a igital TV card foryour precious Linux box, and record from that. You have the option.

    > If you shop at tesco, take out a tesco reward card - you have that option.

    Buy a Windows box - you have that option

    > And as for the lottery, if everyone won it, you'd get less than a quid back for your winning lottery numbers.

    But I don't WANT that. I want millions. I want it for MEMEME!!!! I want things for MYSELF, even though they're not currently feasible.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: reply to Boo bloody hoo

    Does you Vauxhall Astra only run on Vauxhall fuel? Can it only have Vauxhall tires and generic parts? Is your electric only provide at the companies own choice of frequency and voltage. Can you only use electrical goods sold by the a certain company?

    Is Tesco the only place you can buy your food (troll bait) from? Do you need something only from Tescos to allow you to consume your product?

    I think I've made the point.

    We have already paid for the content, by TV licence, it should be made available to us using open standards that are not dependent on any one product.

    If BBC started to broadcast TV transmissions using a MS only protocol/format, where you had to buy an MS TV to view them instead of some other brand, would you still find that acceptable?

  12. Adam

    Is open source a right?

    I still don't quite understand... why do some see it as a right that consumers should be able to do whatever they want with whatever platform they choose? I'm sure there's stuff on Linux and on Mac that I can't get on my Wintel box, but I don't complain. I have an old Commodore CDTV in the loft, should I be able to run BBC iPlayer on that too (in the old CDXL video format perhaps!).

    I have bought niche technology in the past, fully in the knowledge that there won't be as much support. But, I bought it because it offered benefits the mainstream offerings didn't.

    Few would argue that Windows is the more popular operating system, so why isn't it accepted that "more popular" leads to wider support?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    paid for

    "Channel 5 even has rights to present US drama series for download, albeit paid for."

    Key point here though. Paid for. What we 'pay for' with our licence fees only legally covers broadcast TV. Internet downloads aren't broadcast TV and they don't have the rights to just give the stuff away free (even some of their own shows, depending on the rights of the artists, writers, music, etc).

    If the BBC offered a lot of their stuff for paid download then they'd have got their iPlayer out much earlier and been able to do it cross platform as the rights holders wouldn't have kicked up so much of a fuss demanding that for "free" downloads they require DRM controls that requires essentially Windows Media Player (as the only player/format that allows DRM with 7 day expiry).

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Boo bloody hoo

    Idiot!

    So its ok for the govement to stop roads working with your choosen car?

    For tescos to stop food from being able to chill in your fridge.

    The point is that they are trying to get the BBC to recognise it has a duty to provide the service in such away that ALL license fee payers can use the service if they decided to do so.

  15. Ian

    Market share

    I'm sure I read on the Reg somewhere that Mac/Linux versions will be coming out...just not yet. Given that Windows has such a dominant market share it's only right that the Windows version be available first. Unless you're suggesting that the Windows release be held back until Mac/Linux versions are available.

    I speak as a Mac owner.

  16. Lloyd

    Choice, you fool

    "I don't own a computer, but I do have a fridge. I demand that iPlayer will work on that. And on my sofa. And while we're at it, I drive a Vauxhall Astra, and I demand that the East Coast main line electric power system be modified so that it becomes compatible to MY vehicle of choice. I shop at Tesco, but Sainsbury's don't give me loyalty points - that's fundamentally wrong too. And why are lottery wins only paid out to people who've bought the right ticket? Bleat! Baaaa! Bleat!!!"

    It's all about choice. You chose to purchase a fridge that isn't compatible with the iPlayer and a car that's not compatible with the East Coast main line electric power system (!). You choose to shop at Sainsburys and not get a Nectar card rather than Tesco and their Clubcard.

    Yes, I choose to run Linux, but the fact that it's free and to run Windows instead I would have to pay an extortionate amount of money plays a large part in this saga: as a first year CS student, I can barely afford to rub two pennies together, let alone find a couple of hundred pounds for a copy of Windows. I sure as hell am not going to do that just to watch BBC programmes, no matter how much I would like to, because I've already had to pay over a hundred pounds to them just so that I can watch DVDs on my TV in my room!

  17. Phil Endecott

    Just a spec wanted, not an implementation

    > I demand that iPlayer will work on [my fridge]

    I don't demand that it work on my fridge.

    I just demand that they tell me enough about how it works so that I can try to make it work on my fridge myself, if I want to. I.e., the same situation as analogue and digital radio and television and (most of) their website content.

    "Freedom to tinker" is what I'm after.

    Their argument is that they can't tell me how it works because they rely on secret DRM mechanisms to prevent piracy. But this is nonsense, since by definition the content that they're protecting is already available over-the-air in an open format.

    I think they also need to be told that Linux (and Mac) users (and pirates) will inevitably get access to this stuff in due course by reverse-engineering their DRM - I can't think of any example of non-cracked consumer DRM. I'd place a (smallish) bet that it's cracked by Christmas.

  18. djwhisky

    Bang for your buck...

    As a BBC license fee payer I want to see the money I pay used in the most efficient way and for the benefit of the most people. The fact is that most computers run Windows and therefore this is the platform that the BBC should concentrate on the most - if they had spent the money on just a Linux variant everybody would be saying it was a waste of license fee payers money as only a small minority could use the system.

    Although the BBC isn't a commercial organisation it has to use the money it's got to satisfy the most people - not everybody will ever be 100% happy with that, but it's life so get over it and wait patiently as you're using a minority system.

  19. alex dekker

    re: Is open source a right?

    No-one is asking the BBC to support Linux or Mac, just like they're not asking the BBC to support Windows. All we're asking for is the information necessary to write a client that can view the video streams on platforms other than the BBC can be bothered to write clients for. Who knows, a community-written player could end up being better than the official one, benefiting *everyone* who uses the BBC, regardless of OS.

  20. AndyB

    RE:Is open source a right?

    The problem isn't that the BBC iPlayer doesn't support certain, very rare, systems. The problem is that is supports only one, single system, Windows.

    To use the car analogy. Requiring iPlayer support for a CDTV (I've got one in the loft, too) is like expecting garages to supply coal for steam powered vehicles. What the BBC have done is like all garages in the UK only supplying fuel for Ford cars.

  21. Steve Anderson

    Re: is open source a right

    It's not a right, but being treated equally should be. And since when is a Mac 'niche technology'? It's not just us Linux users who're being shafted, it's anyone other than Microsoft users - there's the difference. If they charged for the iPlayer thing, it'd be less of an issue because I could choose not to fund it seeing as it would be useless on my two Linux boxes or Mac. But no, the BBC have decided to do all this great new stuff with my money that I can only benefit from if I agree to use one form of buggy malware or other.

    Our anonymous troll has missed something as well, with this comment: "get a igital TV card foryour precious Linux box". Stuff that's going to be offered on iPlayer is archive stuff as well. Maybe an igital card is a special sort of card that can record through time...

    And on top of all this, DRM doesn't work, ever. FairUse4WM, anybody?

    AND! (I'm on a roll now.) DRM is bad for the planet. Increased CPU cycles to deal with it takes more power. The BBC's DRMed content will be responsible for climate change. (Erm, perhaps.)

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All bad examples

    I didnt read all the responses... but a good example would be:

    If the Beeb brought out an on demand service that only works on Sony TVs.

  23. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Browser Incompatability

    While desktop Linux is a niche product, the issue goes beyond operating system tribalism.

    iPlayer is Internet Explorer-only too, even though Firefox now has about a third of the browser market.

    http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp

    Chris Williams

    El Reg

  24. AndyB

    RE:Market share

    I could agree with that if the upcoming Linux and Mac versions were compatible with the existing Windows version. What is likely to happen is that, because MS's DRM won't be available on Mac/Linux a different DRM 'solution'will need to be used. This could mean that files shared by Mac/Linux users won't be compatible with those shared by Windows, and vice-versa.

    So though the BBC MAY make an iPlayer for Mac/Linux, the chances are it will be completely pointless as its users won't be able to access most of the content.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a Win, Mac, Linux, Solaris and AIX user...

    First off: The software that is being rolled out is a BETA, this is to test that the Beeb's systems can handle large volumes of users, with relatively little problems. Some projects like this you'd kick off your beta with all OSes, others you wouldn't, the Beeb have chosen to use Windows here, it makes sense, there are far more Windows users than any other OS.

    2nd: The BBC have committed to supporting Mac OS.

    3rd: Linux is not as popular as the other OSes, AFAIK the software doesn't exist (yet) for the DRM that the BBC must use. (Yes, they must use DRM because they can't give their product away to anyone outside the UK, as they won't be licence payers.)

    4th: What about Solaris and AIX, should these be supported, even though they are rather specialist and used by a tiny amount of people - where is the cutoff point, how many users must an OS have before it is supported?

    A few other thoughts: Not everyone in the UK can get terrestrial TV to their houses, they some areas have to run cables up cliffs and install aireals there, do they have a right to have a special transmitter put in just for them, or should they supply their own equipment to get the reception? (They way I'm going here is: if you have a computer and you want the Beeb on it, should you supply compatible hardware/software if the beeb make all reasnoble efforts to get the data to you. If so, what is a reasnoble effort)

  26. Hayden Clark

    Use the BBC version of RealPlayer

    ... if you don't want the ads. Because the the public service remit, the BBC aren't allowed to feed you ads.

  27. alex dekker

    re: Is open source a right?

    No-one is asking the BBC to support Linux or Mac, just like they're not asking the BBC to support Windows. All we're asking for is the information necessary to write a client that can view the video streams on platforms other than the BBC can be bothered to write clients for. Who knows, a community-written player could end up being better than the official one, benefiting *everyone* who uses the BBC, regardless of OS.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Choice ?

    "Yes, I choose to run Linux, but the fact that it's free and to run Windows instead I would have to pay an extortionate amount of money plays a large part in this saga:"

    So you chose to Run Linux knowing that there were potential limitations to it. As a 'minority OS*' (in terms of installed user base) you should expect that there will be things that cannot be done on it.

    Why should additional money be wasted on 'niche*' markets that could be spent on say, better programming, more services for minority groups.

    This looks to me like another tired excuse for the Linux / Mac brigade to stop trainspotting for 10 minutes and have another bash at "The Evil Empire"

    You dont have a choice when it comes to paying for the license fee, so why would you expect a choice when it comes to the Media player?

    *Minority and niche in terms of installed uk user base.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Government

    "Buy a Windows box - you have that option"

    Does 'One Laptop Per Child' use Windows? They had the option, you think.

    There's plenty of people living in poverty in the UK, lots of schools, lots of charities, and lots of people who could benefit from cheap open-source machines.

    The government is not showing leadership. There's no support for Open Document Format and other standards and nobody's pressurising the BBC to do the right thing.

    I'm sure our government's IT vision is entirely based on a few free lunches, some scare tactics from the likes of Microsoft and the promise of a job or two. It's no wonder the BBC get themselves into such a mess.

  30. Cris Page

    Title

    The best idea would be for the BBC to invest in programs rather than all this bandwidth hogging video streaming!

    Jeeze.. watch TV on tv! leave the web for those of us who DONT want to watch the drivel!

    Oh and Im a Linux user so please dont dismiss this as an anti tux rant... Im just sick of seeing bandwith sucked up by this b/s

  31. Iain

    Why do the BBC need Microsoft...

    The BBC seem to have some good engineers and intellectual property in this area …for example the Dirac video codec: http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/dirac/

    I think the BBC would be an ideal candidate to build an Open Source version of Joost... this would make the BBC relevant as broadcaster in the 21st century, allow them to cheaply reach a global audience (...which is probably the national interest... well, I'm sure we could sneak some subliminal "freedom + democracy" propaganda into Eastenders), and encourage innovation in this area (like the BBC Microcomputer did way back).

    But then I’m biased – I live in Germany and just want an easy way to watch UK tv!

  32. Matthew Brown

    They really should've spent more time working on Dirac

    Or at least spent more time working on their own DRM to add to it. Screw using other people's DRM when you can implement your own on top of your own codecs.

    Not that I like the idea of DRM in the first place, but it's not like the old media is going to give up that easily...

  33. neil

    works for me

    i haven't been contributing to beeb tax for years now and couldn't honestly say that i miss them. the licence fee i save covers the dvds of the very occasional programmes that i would enjoy. RSS feeds and conversations keep me informed in greater detail and diversity than i could manage with a tv.

    we have a globally connected communications network at our disposal, and free (as in speech) software from projects like Dyne:bolic (http://dynebolic.org) to play, record, edit, remix and broadcast for ourselves.

    the revolution might not be televised, but it'll probably be streamed live from mobiles.

  34. Law

    RE:Boo bloody hoo

    Obviously a thick & rich Windows user then!! ;)

    Thats mean, I use windows sometimes... we're not all thick! :)

    But, like all the other Open Source advocates on here - it's not that we want the BBC to spend years making this compatible with EVERYTHING... we just want it to be open enough to be ported to other platforms.

    I pay a TV license... granted, just because I have a license it don't mean I own the content, but I want to be able to at least view the content!!

    If they are forcing people into one operating system or the other just because they couldn't be bothered picking a standard and sticking to it then they should reduce what everybody pays for the TV license to the tune of a Windows Vista license each I think... i.e - they pay us!! ;)

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hello. reality check

    "This could mean that files shared by Mac/Linux users won't be compatible with those shared by Windows, and vice-versa"

    eerr hello, think you'll find your not allowed to copy and share, that's the idea of DRM !

    Windows is by far the market leader, therefore it makes sense to roll it out first to this and then to other O/S's later. It's called Business.

  36. Steve McKinty

    Public services

    The BBC is a public service broadcaster, funded by a levy on the ownership of TV receiving equipment. It has a duty to ensure that its services are available to all members of the public it serves. It should, of course, be free to use any of the *public* standards for multimedia broadcasting, whichever it feels is technically superior. This is no different to its choice of PAL (versus SECAM or NTSC) for analogue TV transmissions, or AM/FM/DAB for analogue/digital radio.

    It should *not* be allowed to choose a closed, proprietary digital system which works only on equipment from one commercial manufacturer. To do so is a violation of the fundamental principles of its charter.

  37. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    To Boohoo-ist

    As a proud owner of a fridge - tell me, will you be happy if it only accepted tomatoes from Tesco and would eject Waitrose or Sainsbury's varieties back in your face?

    Besides, BBC must have got a kickback from MS for locking into their tech (and if they haven't - they are schmucks). As I pay my TV licence to finance BBC I want my rebate too!

  38. Ed

    As someone in the beta...

    I'd emphasise the fact that the iPlayer doesn't actually really work as being a fairly major issue. Sure it works some of the time, but the amount of effort I had to put in (about 2 hours of deleting hidden system files and registry entries) to get it to work was ridiculous.

    I think the issue is that the BBC choosing to go with Windows Media DRM will make people think twice about 'switching to mac'. I don't think this this is a role that the BBC should be in...

    Equally, I can currently download any program I want from the BBC, ITV or Channel 4 (or any US network) over the internet in superior quality - what is the DRM actually for?

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    TV Licence

    "3rd: Linux is not as popular as the other OSes, AFAIK the software doesn't exist (yet) for the DRM that the BBC must use. (Yes, they must use DRM because they can't give their product away to anyone outside the UK, as they won't be licence payers.)"

    Err - I've got a TV licence with a huge long set of number on it which change each time I get a licence. Why can't the BBC use that and some sort of on-line confirmation (handshaking) to limit who can get access to the material?.

    DRM doesn't work - we know it, Apple know it, the big record labels are starting to realise it. its only Microsoft and Hollywood who still seem to believe that it is the way to go.

  40. Matt

    Re: As a Win, Mac, Linux, Solaris and AIX user...

    Frazer, you dolt: at least the people who have bad reception are not prevented by the BBC from actually putting up an aerial on their cliff or hilltop.

    The problem is not that the BBC are saying they will only support and provide software for Windows and Internet Explorer users, but that they are saying that no-one else is permitted to even attempt to "put up their own aerial" (or write their own software, or engage someone to write it for them), despite the fact they must still contribute to the licensing costs to MS for the software they cannot use.

    If the BBC insist on make this service so that the only people permitted to access it are Windows/Internet Explorer users, then in my opinion it should not be funded by the license fee, but should be funded by pay to use.

  41. Paul

    The real problem here...

    Is that DRM is NEEDED, it's a contractual obligation for them to provide DRM on the content. They CAN'T just give it away DRM free as it'd make it avaliable to everyone worldwide and that would piss off their content providers and lead to no iPlayer for anyone. Yes, as all know DRM is bad blah blah doesn't work blah blah blah, but as long as the content providers demand it it has to be done or there's no content.

    The only platform where the DRM exists to do what is being asked of the BBC to provide this content is windows. It's simple comman sense then that the only platform they CAN offer the service on at the moment is windows.

    You want iPlayer on linux/mac/whatever go write a DRM system that can be used on all platforms that has the required features (such as 7 day expiry) or stop complaining and expecting the BBC to do the impossible and somehow magic it to work within the constraints of their agreements.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can someone find out how much this costs the licence payer

    Under the freedom of information act we should be able to request how much of the license fee has funded (and will the development, deployment and ongoing support for the iPlayer.

    Once this has been done, those of us who cannot access this paid-for content can withhold that proportion of the license fee.

    I suppose that the people who cannot receive digital broadcasts could do the same - Without a TV you don't need a license. Therefore without a digital TV receiver you don't need to pay the digital tv portion of the license (because you need to buy additional specialist equipment to receive it).

  43. Steve

    Choice/Bohoo

    "So you chose to Run Linux knowing that there were potential limitations to it. As a 'minority OS*' (in terms of installed user base) you should expect that there will be things that cannot be done on it."

    Are you actually this thick ? I doubt it somehow, or you'd be unable to breathe, but you have missed the point entirely weather on purpose or because of some serious mental defect (like being a Daily Mail reader, for instance)

    The point is not that OSs other than wndows are limited or that there are things that cannot be implemented on them, in fact it's quite the opposite, there are *no* technological barriers to providing cross platform compatibility. And that's why the Beeb ought to be supporting more than just wndows. They've got the talent, and there are plenty of cross platform libraries around, especially now that Apple have drunk the unix kool-aid.

    If this was ITV or C4, no one would give a toss, but we expect more from the Beeb, and we are entitled to since the Corporation was established for our benefit.

  44. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Re: The real problem here...

    "Is that DRM is NEEDED..."

    DRM is not NEEDED, it is DESIRED by content providers because they see it as the weapon which will finally enable them pull all the blanket on their own side and make sure that noone can play anything anywhere unless it is first authorised by them (for a fee). Changing PLAY button to PAY button, iin other words.

    They don't care about piracy or about home taping or file sharing. These things are just excuses for them to put more pressure on the lawmakers (bless them) to make anything without DRM illegal. It's what WMD were for the "War on Terror", no more.

    That BBC bit the bait is disgusting and disturbing. That's why there won't be any iPlayers on any of my computers. The can take their content and stuff it where "the sun will never shine (C)".

  45. Bill Alsbury

    Re: Title

    I'm with you Cris, when the Internet is totally unusable because of all the video, TV and other crap on it everyone will be bitching as to how the new extra bandwidth will be funded.

  46. Matt

    Re: The real problem here...

    "... is that DRM is NEEDED"

    I I agree that's a real problem. The BBC should stop wasting our money (both in

    Lawyers fees and in fees to MS for the DRM software) on trying to make available

    via iPlayer things it does not have full rights to, and just put things it does have the full rights to (or for which copyright has expired, e.g. anything more than 75 yars old) on t'internet, with no DRM, in a openly defined standard format. That way everyone will be able to get access regardless of their OS choice, without anyone, including the BBC having to pony up a load of cash

    Note there are so called "Open Source" DRM systems available, which will run on any operating system (there's one from Sun I believe), and there's always Flex/LM from MacroVision which runs on absolutely everything.

    Actually the real problem is that the BBC has forgotten it's prime mission is as a public service broadcaster to all citizens of the UK, and seems to think it is a coomercial entity hch should turn a profit. Oh and someone must have taken a massive back-hander to saddle us with a restrictive, closed, expensive solution.

  47. Sean Ellis

    Phil Endecott is right

    It's not about supporting it on every platform under the sun, but _allowing_ anyone sufficiently motivated to support it on any platform they wish.

    The "open saucers" will quite happily cruft up an iPlayer version for Linux, BSD, iFridge or their mum's cat if it takes their fancy, as long as they have the info to do it.

  48. Nev Silver badge

    Time for another pop at the Beeb!

    Wow, amazing how little it takes for people to start having a pop at the BBC.

    All this moaning about licence fees.

    It's the same everywhere else! I pay The French TV licence and never watch their TV or listen to their radio. (Because it really is shite!) Stop moaning for once, open your eyes and see one of the only remaining truely great UK assets.

    The BBC do a great job. Both TV and Radio news, current affairs and drama is miles ahead of anything other countries have to offer.

    I assume the reason they aren't supporting an in-house developed piece of kit for VOD is because the budget has been spent doing the government's job of upgrading to digital. As is so often the case these days this was probably the quickest and (in the short, but no long-term) cheapest solution.

    Why isn't it BBC Micro based, anyway?!

    Funny how most of the Beeb bashing seems to be led by Murdoch controlled media. Hmmmmm.....

  49. John

    Sign the 10 Downing St ePetition please! see below...

    Sign the 10 Downing St ePetition please! see below...

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

  50. Tim

    Public service broadcaster

    I'll say it again. Internet downloads (iPlayer included) are NOT broadcast TV.

    Problem is everyone is assuming it's their god given right to get this service, but legally internet TV is not broadcast TV in the UK. The BBC are not required to provide this service at all, let alone for any particular platform. The licence fee pays for it, but then it pays for the cleaners at the BBC but that doesn't give me the right to have the BBC cleaners clean my house!

    The restrictions are there because of the content providers (this includes individual artists/actors, musicians, etc) who are not keen on allowing *downloads* for free. However they do agree to "free"* broadcasting under the UK legal definition of broadcasting.

    * - remembering it's not actually free, we pay licence fees, and this is another issue... the Internet isn't restricted to just the UK.

    It's not just the BBC. Ask Sky why they charge subscribers to download shows on Sky Anytime for PC. I did and their answer is simple: the content providers will not allow them to do it any other way and they don't have a licence to provide the shows like they would for broadcast TV. Therefore they have no choice.

    Oh and where's the fuss about Sky Anytime and 4oD which are also Windows services (in fact use the same system as the BBC's)? Okay Sky are a subscription service, but aren't Channel 4 also a public service?

  51. Gerry

    Re: The real problem here...

    Paul,

    The real problem here is the fight for the desktop. We wouiild be dancing around our handbags if we said otherwise. The question is whether a significant player in one market, entertainment, is unfairly influencing another market, operating systems (etc).

    If it's about the law then we can't choose laws according to the ones we like. The media player/operating system thing is an area of concern in competition law. Government policy is that the consumer benefits from competition. As has been noted regarding browsers, things only began to improve when there were viable alternatives that the consumer could choose (took a lot of effort but it happened).

    Whether or not there is a dominant operating system is different from asking whether the consumer would have a better and cheaper operating system if the dominant player were faced with real alternatives.

    One of the ways (regardless of motive) of preventing the dominant operating sytem from facing real alternatives, is the creation of unnecesssary barriers to adoption of alternatives.

    The OSC argument is that the BBC has created a barrier that it should not have done. It has the technology and the know-how to do differently. And let's not forget that the BBC is a nice customer to have, so it could told content providers which DRM system it was going to use. (Might even have been one that worked...)

    And if the BBC cannot provide a solution that fits the requirements of competition law, and, as has been pointed out already, all the content is available elsewhere without regard to DRM, then it should not be permitted to create barriers to adoption elsewhere, and no harm is done to the customer of content.

    The question might best be put as whethee the existence or not of iPlayer has a more significant effect on the consumers of content as the barrier to adoption has on the consumers of operating systems.

  52. Phill

    Fuck you

    I'm a linux user and I pay for a TV license. Who the hell are you, anonymous poster at the top, to tell me I HAVE to shell out £400 for an operating system just get my content I paided for.

    Open source software IS a right. I own the physical equipment...I happily write my own software. Why in gods name should I be excluded from public services, or rather, tv licenses I am forced to pay because my computer has a TV card in it?

    Your the kind of twat that moans when Microsoft charges us double the price of Windows for UK customers and then doesn't do anything about it.

    You need to wake up and protect your own freedoms. Your being fucked in the ass and you don't know it. The mere fact you don't care about quality or choice is the reason your forced to Windows.

  53. Chris

    Damned if you do, Damned if you don't

    "we just want it to be open enough to be ported to other platforms."

    "Note there are so called "Open Source" DRM systems available, which will run on any operating system (there's one from Sun I believe)"

    Umm, If I know the pixel values by modifying an open source DRM sdk, what's to prevent me from saving to file. There is no way to do DRM and Open Source. If I have the code, I can do what I want with it unless you are distributing parts of it as compiled libs.

    I think the problem is with the BBC's licensing fee in general. The UK should just slam the fee into your taxes and be less open with what your taxes are going towards. Then they wouldn't need to ensure only people who paid the fee get to see the programs. They could say they were doing it as a "public service." That's how we do it over here on the other side of the pond. Slam it into a general "income tax" and most numbnuts won't care what they're paying for. I pay for a whole bunch of shit I don't utilize. School for my children (which I don't have), roads (I use public transportation), subsidization of the national rail system (don't use that either, it's nicer to fly), war in Iraq (I didn't care if we went there or Afghanistan), etc etc etc.

    Bottom line is you can have transparency in what you pay for with your road taxes, your BBC fees, and everything else your government provides ala carte. But then you need draconian measures to prevent people who have not paid from benefiting from paying users. Or you can have the stupid situation we have here in the states where the government decides what's best for you all the time, takes your money, and does it without your explicit permission. Choose your poison.

    If I was the BBC, I'd just say "I've had enough griping, and it's too much of a bitch to give everyone a DRM client, so we're not putting anything online."

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    "... but it's life so get over it and wait patiently as you're using a minority system"

    iPlayer will *never* work on Mac or Linux. It's been engineered to work exclusively on Windows. Six months review periods etc. is a typical public sector obfuscation tactic.

    You've got to wonder the Beeb haven't used Dirac (http://www.bbc.co.uk/opensource/projects/dirac/) instead.

    Mmm... let me guess.

  55. Karim Bourouba

    how many people hoping to use this service use linux?

    I wonder how many people the BBC surveyed about usage of this service will be using a Linux in their leisure time..

    I would imagine that the BBC has a very good idea about the target demographic for this service.

  56. A J Stiles

    Minority OSs

    Fraser,

    The BBC doesn't have to provide explicit support for OSs such as Solaris (which is hardly a minority OS: it's already very popular for servers, and since the Source Code became available, it has begun attracting a new following among hobbyists) or AIX. All anyone is asking for is the Source Code for the player -- that is to say, the human-readable form of a program, such that a competent programmer can understand and modify it. It will then be up to the Solaris and AIX communities to tweak it to run properly on those systems.

    That's the point about Source Code: it can be compiled on any system with the proper compiler. (Nearly every operating system includes some sort of compiler as standard -- Windows, despite its popularity on the desktop, is the exception here. Hence the popularity of pre-compiled software on the Windows platform.) The Apache web server, for instance, is distributed in Source Code form. You can compile the exact same package on Linux, Solaris, AIX, Mac OS X, any of the BSDs -- or even Windows (if you pay extra for the compiler). And if someone were to release a brand-new operating system tomorrow, then as long as it includes a C compiler it will be able to run Apache.

    All we want is the Source Code.

  57. Matt

    Various replies...

    Tim:

    "Problem is everyone is assuming it's their god given right to get this service, but legally internet TV is not broadcast TV in the UK. The BBC are not required to provide this service at all, let alone for any particular platform. The licence fee pays for it, but then it pays for the cleaners at the BBC but that doesn't give me the right to have the BBC cleaners clean my house!"

    To twist your analogy to it's logical end: I have no problem with the license fee paying for the cleaners at the BBC... it's when the license fee is being used to pay for the cleaners at YOUR house (and a lot of other peoples houses) but not at my house (in fact to take the analogy to where the situation actually is: your house is being cleaned and it is not even permitted for my house to have cleaners at all, even if I pay for them). The BBC should not be wasting their money on this-- if the only way to do it is with Internet Explorer/Windows/Windows Media DRM, then it should not be done at all. The money wasted should instead be spent on good programming available to all and/or archiving this material to proper open formats so that when the copyrights expire it will be permanently available to all (and not locked into some proprietary format that we will not be able to open in 20 years time).

    Gerry:

    "Umm, If I know the pixel values by modifying an open source DRM sdk, what's to prevent me from saving to file. There is no way to do DRM and Open Source. If I have the code, I can do what I want with it unless you are distributing parts of it as compiled libs."

    The above works for proprietary systems as well, although a DRM sdk is not needed-- all you need is to be able to snoop the pixel values. The DRM is going to be broken whatever OS it is running on. I would rather the BBC was not wasting its money on stupid systems that don't work (e.g. the DRM), and either post it DRM free, or not provide it all and spend the money that would be spent on some worthwhile programming.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Matt

    I was trying to make a balanced point, rather than be sensationalist. My reasoning was that currently anyone can get the feed from the internet, if they have broadband, however they also have to have Windows. I realise that not everyone has Windows, as indeed, not all people have an aireal on their roof that can get broadcast TV. Some people even need to get a Sky dish to recieve BBC TV. Some people need to run a coax line up a cliff. Either way, they are having to fund extra equipment in order to be able to get broadcast telly. About £200 quid would seem a sensible cost for getting a Sky dish (without the Sky subscriptions) probably a similar amount for running coax up to wherever it is that you need to (I think this is somewhere in Wales, yes this is an actual place I'm talking about.) Now what I compare this to is suggesting that if someone has a standard Intel PC at home, which is running Linux (or whatever) and capable of running streaming video from the internet, the chances are that it is also capable of running XP. It costs less than £200 to put XP on a machine like this. I know this isn't ideal, but this is the price that you sometimes have to pay for beta software.

    Now the main point that I was making is:

    THIS IS BETA SOFTWARE. The BBC have comitted to supporting Apple, and if the guys that I know who work there are anything to go by, they really want to be able to support Linux as well.

    A further point is: They can't support everything capable of running streaming media, (what about my Wii for instance?) I don't really see how they can publish the standards for DRMed codecs, without imparing the security of the DRM. (I may be wrong here, I accept that) If they can provide enough information to enable a OSS codec to be written, without imparing the security of the DRM, then they probably should.

  59. Don Mitchell

    Linux, Linux, Linux

    I'm so tired of the constant whining by Linux users. You're running an archaic operating system, kludged up in the last ten years to support most of the features of NT. You apparently think it's "elite" to run Linux, although I've never seen any indication that you know anything substantial about computer science or operating system technology. Have you ever compared the feature set of Kernel32 against the Linux kernel? Who was first to do asyncronous I/O, to do events, to do critical sections? Who was first to do I/O concentration...oh wait, Linux still doesn't do that. You use fucking helper processes to emulate a lot of what NT does cleanly with kernel support. What's your solution for extensible GUI programming? When are you going to refactor the Linux kernel for security theorem proving, like Vista did?

    It's a never ending series of demands for entitlement, for users of an system that fails to gather an audience beyond the die-hard leftists who run it as a protest against Apple and Microsoft. It's a never ending stream of propaganda for your politcial mass movement, disinformation about the quality and security of open source software vs. commercial software. While commercial software companies pour money into R&D, the open source community reverse engineers formats and applications. While programmers earn a good living in the commercial sector, you demand their work be collectivized. After Apple and Microsoft built the revolutionary technology of personal computing, you sweep in denoucing them, copying everything they did and scratching to get a bigger piece of the action.

    It's like watching Greenpeace or Earth First supporters. There are good concepts and causes unerlying the movement, but its all drowned out by noisy intolerant zealots.

  60. Morely Dotes

    DRM? No, it's not DRM

    @ Giles Jones: "DRM" stands for "digital Rights Management." that name is deliberately deceptive. The purpose of DRM is to knowingly, willfully, and maliciously deny to the consumer certain rights which are guaranteed to him by copyright law; specifically, the right to make a backup copy, the right to play the media on any device designed for such playback, and the right to enjoy the media without other restrictions, beyond the legitimate concerns of commercial (mis)use and unlicensed redistribution. DRM does not address commercial misuse, nor does it address unlicensed redistribution; anyone interested in doing those is quite capable of circumventing DRM; it's a trivial exercise.

    I propose that instead of the term DRM, all knowledgeable people should in future refer to this technology by the truthful phrase, "Technology User's Rights Denial System," or "TURDS" for short. Many people will happily buy a device or a software package containing DRM, but if they knew it contained TURDS, there would be very few buyers (possibly farmers in need of fertilizer, but surely no one with a healthy mind).

    And, let's be honest - the Beeb's latest player is just full of TURDS.

  61. Clive Galway

    RE: @Matt

    "A further point is: They can't support everything capable of running streaming media, (what about my Wii for instance?) I don't really see how they can publish the standards for DRMed codecs, without imparing the security of the DRM. (I may be wrong here, I accept that) If they can provide enough information to enable a OSS codec to be written, without imparing the security of the DRM, then they probably should."

    But hang on a minute... where is the DRM on other BBC services?? How is the DRM going to limit the right to watch based upon whether you have a TV licence or not (Which surely is the only right the BBC have the right to enforce)

    If I can build a radio circuit to pick up Radio 1 for free, and copy it because there is no DRM on radio, then why should my choices in receiving video which is also paid for with the same licence, be restricted by DRM?

    If there was no DRM, it could be encoded with something commonplace and then anything could decode it. I could write a decoder for my wii (Like I could assemble a radio receiver) and watch on what I wanted.

  62. Alan Paice

    Title

    I do hope that this service is for the British license fee payer only.

    Was very pissed off when I found that Black Adder DVD was cheaper in the US than over here. FFS I have paid for it once.

  63. Jonathan Wallington

    Money, DRM and the BBC

    So it's bad for the BBC to "waste" money to provide an (admittedly probably only marginally) useful service to close to 100% of the population but it's OK for it to give away all its content for free thus wiping out at a stroke all its revenue from overseas sales? If money's what this fuss is all about then the use of DRM seems a no brainer and if it isn't, why keep bringing it up?

  64. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Monopoly

    >Few would argue that Windows is the more popular operating system, so why isn't it >accepted that "more popular" leads to wider support?

    Might have something to do with the popularity of Windows being due to monopolistic practices (convicted in the USA and EU) and the Windows lock-in.

    Windows Media has been removed from EU versions of Windows due to an EU ruling as the EU didn't want a repeat of the browser wars where bunding IE killed off Netscape.

    Therefore if the BBC are using technology removed from Windows due to it being anti-competitive, you have to ask why the Beeb are using it? especially when the BBC created their own video codec a while back which is open source.

  65. Matt

    @Frazer

    ... but the point is, there are a large fraction of people who do not use Windows... and there is no reason to make Windows a requirement. DRM systems will run perfectly well on any operating system, and there are DRM supporting video player systems available that are multi-platform.

    There is no technical reason for following the Windows only route (my phone for instance is running Symbian/Nokia S60 and has a DRM'd media player that works perfectly well). I would be surprised if there is a compelling financial reason for following the Windows only route...

    This smells like a middle or upper management decision imposed on the technical people to me: nobody has actually been told to find the best solution for the problem, they have been told to implement it on Windows and Internet Explorer, because that's what the PHB has got on his desk and at home.

    Regardless-- I still think using DRM at all for this is a waste of license fees.

  66. Cyberspice

    Practicalities...

    Practically I can understand why the first release of iPlayer is for Windows. Since I work in digital television development I can also understand the politics that requires the Beeb to include DRM (Note I didn't not say requires DRM!).

    I do not think there would ever be an open source solution. It would be difficult to have an open source but secure DRM system basically because access to the source allows you to intercept the unencrypted data. The best you could hope for is a binary library which could display an encrypted feed as video in a window and then you could have a variety of open source players that link to that library.

    I have an Apple (several actually). I do not expect a player for my machine to be available at the same time as one for Windows but I would like a time scale. A date, and not a review date, by which a player would be available. My worry is that they chose a Microsoft dependent DRM. Microsoft always seeks to improve its market through controls such as proprietary formats and security.

    I am not happy that a public body is using such a system and personally I don't think a non Windows player will see the light of day. I think that is very wrong for a corporation which is supposed to be for the people.

  67. Matt

    Windows/Obsolescence

    Following up my own thoughts-- another problem with going the Windows only route is that it is likely that the whole BBC infrastructure for providing the DRM'd files will have to be updated when the next version of Windows or Windows media player comes out, since that will no longer support the old DRM formats (especially since these will have long been cracked).

    Doing it properly with an openly defined standard (even if that standard caters for secrets such as the encryption keys for DRM) means that you only have to build the infrastructure once, and not continue paying MS for new encoders when ever they update their operating system...

    It should not ever be about the BBC supporting more than one system of video/DRM, it's justs that the one system they support should be widely available for implementation on any OS.

    Oh... and Don Mitchell: you pretty funny guy, RATFLMAO!!

  68. Darren Davison

    Sign the (inevitable) petition

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

  69. Adrian Silver badge

    Re: Linux, Linux, Linux

    Don,

    You may be fed up hearing of Linux user's wants. I don't care much about the features you mention - they weren't invented by either microsoft or linux engineers, but appeared in other computing systems long before PCs.

    The point about alternate operating systems is not that they're better, more modern, more complete, etc. than proprietary ones (though they may be any or all of those). The point is that they ARE an alternative, and their presence keep Microsoft (and, indeed, Apple), honest. Or more honest :-). Without viable competion, there's nothing to stop us getting screwed.

    Look at the price hikes in the supermarkets recently for an example of what happens when a monopoly kills the competition. Look at the lack of development in IE until Firefox started to steal back market share for an example closer to home.

  70. Kenneth

    BBC iPlayer - give the BBC a chance would you?

    As with all new technologies these things take time. We should just be glad its finally coming out at all. So what if its windows only at launch? I cant see that being the case for the rest of eternity - its bound to come out for other systems.

    p.s. what colour is your Astra? I used to have one until last year when I was in an accident

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: At Fraiser

    @Matt "DRM systems will run perfectly well on any operating system, and there are DRM supporting video player systems available that are multi-platform."

    No there aren't. There aren't any available DRM systems on other operating systems that support timed expiry of files, which is what the BBC needs since it can only afford to buy 7 days worth of rights.

    Buying in perpetuity rights to it's current content would cost circa an extra £5 billion a year, which means over trippling the current licence fee.

  72. Cris Page

    waste of our cash

    "Problem is everyone is assuming it's their god given right to get this service, but legally internet TV is not broadcast TV in the UK."

    Then as we are forced to pay a licence to receive broadcast TV , a licence which funds this monoloth called the BBC, why are they diverting that money away from the core purpose of the BBC?

    Again I say if the BBC feel they must offer this service then they shoud raise private finance to put the infratsructure in place and then offer it to those who want it by subscription, while ensuring that a proportion of those subs is channeled to the ISP's whose bandwidth is being sucked up by this frivolity so that they can invest it in additional facilities so that the rest of us dont get screwed down by stupid caps on so called unlimited services to ensure that the additional neccessary bandwidth for this (alleged) service is available and the rest of us dont have to suffer for the MINORITY of net users who feel drawn to this.

    WE are all forced to pay for a licence, which increases all the time while the BBC whinges all the time about being short of cash for programs... and yet they waste millions on this! OUR MONEY!

    If they used the money to make better programs they may increase their audience share... just a thought...

  73. JJ

    Realities

    The easiest option would have been to just not offer this service.

    While a full multi-platform product might have been nice, I suspect cost was as big a factor as anything and finding a solution that would suit the vast majority of users, while not having huge implementation costs, probably proved too tempting.

    There's also the not insignificant point that the material has to be licensed for transmission on this system, and if the rights holders won't let you use the material on a 'multiplatform' compatible system then there's not much you can do.

    Linux and Mac support is always a 'nice to have' feature rather than a solid requirement; I can think of all sorts of products that I'd like to have Linux support but it just isn't practical or economic to add it, it's cheaper and easier to just use them under Windows, even if this means adding a single Windows box into a sea of Linux based systems.

    Alternatively, you could look at it like this: regardless of having a license, the terrestrial broadcast system only supports PAL, even though there are systems out there using things like NTSC. If I'm in the minority who chose to buy an NTSC receiver for some reason it's a bit rich to start demanding a broadcast is produced to suit my system even though the existing system supports 99%+ of the installed user base, and I still have the option of buying a PAL receiver if I really want to make use of the service. No one is actively stopping me using the service, it's my choice of incompatible platform that gets in the way.

    Or how about something like Sky? Closed platform, and if you want to access it on a system other than a Sky box, regardless of paying for access, you're SOL.

    While I find mulitplatform support great, and would love to be access his sort of service on my choice of platform it ultimately has to be accepted that the majority will get support first, and the minority *might* get support at some point in the future.

  74. Alexander Hanff

    Hmm guys you are posting the wrong petition

    You should be posting this one as it already has ~10 000 signatures.

    http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/iplayer/

    I will add my 2p worth as well since most of the comments regarding this article so far are ludicrously stupid.

    The situation is very simple.

    The BBC is funding this project with License Fees. Therefore all license fee payers should have the right to access the service, irrespective of their operating system. It doesn't matter a crap if it is broadcast TV or not, I pay for it, therefore I have the right to access it, period.

    Linux and Mac may well be minority systems, however, that minority runs into 100s of thousands of users in the UK alone, which equates to 10s of millions in License Fee revenue. So they are basically defrauding the British public out of 10s of millions a year by refusing to allow -all- license fee payers to access this service.

    As for those who said a Linux and Mac player will be coming, no it won't. Not under the current system, and you are bloody fool if you think it will. BBC have made no commitment to bring the service inline with other operating systems, all they have done is said they will review the decision every 6 months, which means they will do nothing in reality.

    The content providers will -never- allow the BBC to release this service to Linux/Unix users, the same as they have refused to allow the same people to legally play DVDs they have purchased on these platforms. Even if a cross platform DRM system was used, the content provider would still not allow it. DVDs already have DRM built in in the form of CSS yet the content providers have refused to license a player for these platforms and in fact have resorted to using DVD authoring techniques on top of CSS which openly go against the DVD Standards to deliberately cripple non licensed players, that is how strongly they feel about NOT allowing us to use content/media we have payed for.

    They are the facts, whether you like it or not.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DRM and inefficient network use too!

    okay. i can comprehend the DMR issue - as they dont want

    the content to be then forwarded to other territories where they are

    selling their output..and to restrict the viewing as a lot of content

    just isnt theirs to give away.

    but i cannot understand why they've stopped pushing the multicast

    way of doing this. instead they are going for P2P which, whilst

    more efficient for THEIR SERVERS compared to unicast of the data

    it still isnt as efficient as multicast. I've been happily watching the

    BBC multicast trial streams on media player, VLC and real player.

    let them not forget, that if the video/audio can be viewed and seen

    then it can be converted back to another format . fact of life is DRM

    is broken. dont waste time on it

  76. Alexander Hanff

    DRM will be unlawful soon anyway

    Given that the government have announced a commitment to alter UK Copyright Law in 2008 to add an exception for format shifting, this would effectively make DRM unlawful, as it would prevent people from exercising their legal right to format shift under the new exception.

    So one has to question why the BBC have not only pissed off all the non windows using license payers, but have decided to use a system which will effectively be outlawed within 18 months anyway. The BBC should at the very least provide services which do not breach UK law and they don't even seem to be able to do that.

    The entire debacle lacks any intelligence either from a long term perspective or a consumer/license payer rights perspective. Whoever made the executive decision at the BCC to make this microsoft and DRM only, should really be sacked as it is going to cost the BBC untold millions to correct these issues, if indeed it is possible to correct them at all.

    The only logical solution I can see at the moment is for the BBC to scrap the project completely and even that is not without its problems as they would then be accountable for the huge waste of public money they have spent on this cock up and are unlikely to get away without some form of official government review for misappropriation of public funds.

  77. Mike Silver badge

    Reality check, Copyright and OSDRM

    Since copyright in th U.S. for anything created since "Steamboat Willie" is essentially unending, and I hear there are a few internet users there, I wonder how anybody, even the BBC, could provide much "expired copyright" material of interest.

    As for Open Source DRM, it is true that pretty much anything susceptible to a screen-grab (easier with OSS) foils DRM, but there is much talk of requiring digital "video" to be encrypted all the way to the monitor. With that acomplished, the DRM will be _in_ the monitor, and OSS video CODECs will be either trivial or moot. The most likely result will be that even OSS video-editting software will be illegal, or will render only at reduced fidelity on legal-to-purchase monitors, as discussed in the great Vista/DRM/Tilt-bits kerfuffle of recent past.

  78. Martin Owens

    BBC iPlayer

    I did ask the BBC in my complaint not to continue with it's online service unless it could use open standards and provide a clear way for people who have a licence to view the content fairly. They won't do either, my main problems are the following:

    * The BBC are supporting a monopoly which is leveraging media codecs to control the operating system market

    * DRM systems rest on the premise that it is legal to encode the restrictions of a contract into software, even when that software and those restrictions go beyond what the law allows; effectively removing due legal process.

    * If any encryption method can be broken simply by knowing how it works, then it is not good enough. Those who believe in security by obscurity are not worth listening to.

    * Quite a few linux people will not use windows out of a principled obligation to not support a single company who damages the IT market landscape.

    * The BBC will only support Apple even though Linux and Mac OSX share similar market share in the UK (around 3% each)

    I wonder if we bribed people in the BBC we'd get better actions; does anyone in the FOSS world have a few million squid to buy the Director General a nice lunch?

  79. Alexander Hanff

    re: Reality check, Copyright and OSDRM

    Mike,

    Even if DRM does happen at the monitor level, that still won't stop people being able to view content since the hardware will rely on flags in the stream to enforce the DRM. These flags can be removed and will be, so if the monitor doesn't know that something is supposed to be protected it won't prevent viewing it.

    DRM does not work period, it can always be circumvented because you don't need to view the stream to remove the DRM (and in fact I can't think of any ripping software that does require streaming during the processing stage). Even using a tool as simple as mplayer you can break the video into single jpeg frames, edit any nefarious hidden flags in the output out of the images and rebuild the video from the result into pretty much any format you want.

  80. Matt

    RE: At Fraiser

    " @Matt "DRM systems will run perfectly well on any operating system, and there are DRM supporting video player systems available that are multi-platform."

    No there aren't. There aren't any available DRM systems on other operating systems that support timed expiry of files, which is what the BBC needs since it can only afford to buy 7 days worth of rights. "

    So what's this expiry date property in the MP4 files that shows up in the media player in my phone? It's also got a 'number of plays' permitted property as well...

    Oh hang on, and whats this trivial Google search turned up?

    http://doc.trolltech.com/qtopia4.1/qdrmcontent.html

    Seems to bang on about time based rights quite a lot. Oh and Qt and Qtopia are pretty well cross platform... (I mean Qtopia doesn't run on my router, and I think it is pretty hard to install on my phone, but beyond that pretty well everything seems to be covered).

    I think someone has been drinking the Microsoft Marketting KoolAid a little too long...

  81. Tim

    Money again

    "The BBC is funding this project with License Fees. Therefore all license fee payers should have the right to access the service, irrespective of their operating system. It doesn't matter a crap if it is broadcast TV or not, I pay for it, therefore I have the right to access it, period."

    Fair enough, but you can't have unlimited perpetual access to the shows available on it as the licence fee can *never* cover the cost!

    This is the point about the distinction between broadcast and download. The licence fee doesn't cover the rights for perpetual use downloads. The best they can do is offer a system with 7 day expiry DRM to avoid massive copyright law suits.

    If anyone can come up with an open source system that will keep the BBC on the side of the law in regards to copyright, feel free. Remember the BBC is your public service. You can get involved instead of just moaning as if they are some faceless corporate monopoly.

    In the meantime, the petition is fairly pointless as the BBC have already committed to launch players for other platforms. It's just going to take time. Of course that doesn't stop everyone jumping on the bandwaggon to have a go at the BBC (again I say, why not have a go at Sky and Channel 4 who do exactly the same thing as the BBC here?).

  82. James Jones

    Invincible ignorance

    "You're running an archaic operating system, kludged up in the last ten years..."

    On my planet, Linux came out sixteen years ago.

    "You apparently think it's 'elite' to run Linux, although I've never seen any indication that you know anything substantial about computer science or operating system technology."

    Guess I managed to fool the university into giving me that Masters degree, then.

    "Who was first to do asyncronous I/O, to do events, to do critical sections?"

    Well... possibly I/O channel programming on OS/360 counts as asynchronous I/O. Unix and VMS supported it before Windows even existed. Dekker's algorithm for mutual exclusion dates back to 1965, and Dijkstra's semaphore, first used in the THE operating system, is of similar vintage.

    Tell us again how much you know about CS or operating system technology?

    Better yet, let's stick to the subject at hand. If the BBC weren't a governmental organization that all in the UK have to support by law if they want to watch television, things would be different--but since it is, for the same reason governments should use open data formats for documents, the BBC should use open data formats for video and audio.

  83. Alexander Hanff

    Re: Money Again

    Tim,

    Please cite a source where the BBC have committed themselves to launch players on other platforms. It simply isn't true, their original stance at the beginning of the year was to provide support for Mac within 2 years (nothing about Linux) but this was recently changed from providing definite support to simply reviewing the situation every 6 months, with no deadline or even official plan to provide support for any other platform.

    As for DRM with regards time limits on copies, who gives a shit about US law, in the UK where we live and the BBC exists, OUR copyright law does not place any such restrictions on private copies. Under OUR copyright law we are legally permitted to copy for the purpose of time shifting, there is no 7 day limit in OUR legislation, so there is fuck all the content providers could do legally if people do keep the content more than 7 days.

    Furthermore, read my previous comment regarding upcoming changes in our Copyright Law regarding format shifting, which would make current DRM systems unlawful.

  84. Matt

    Re: Money again

    "Fair enough, but you can't have unlimited perpetual access to the shows available on it as the licence fee can *never* cover the cost!"

    That really depends on who owns the rights and on what terms they license them. The BBC for instance does actually still produce a lot of shows itself, sometimes in partnership with other Public Service Broadcasters (today I learnt that Dr Who is produced in partnership with CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation another public funded, public service broadcaster).

    For new shows they could be careful to retain the rights to geographically limited (by IP address) distribution over the Internet. This would require no DRM at all. Then there is presumably a whole bunch of out of copyright stuff they could distribute...

    The reason why we don't bang on about Sky and C4 is that

    a. Sky is a subscription service-- you have to pay to use it, and you also have the option of not paying to not use it (unlike the BBC-- I can't just get Sky without the BBC License fee for instance)

    b. C4 is paid for by advertising or subscription. Again I have the option to not pay or not watch the adverts.

    The BBC is Our Public Service broadcaster. It does a fantastic job, but it should be held to higher standards, and it should remember that it is a service for the citizens of the UK, not a corporation seeking to maximise it's profits.

    Another thing I learnt today: 95% of BBC funding still comes from the license fee, only 5% from licensing of its output to other broadcasters...

  85. mhewitson

    Im a linux user

    But not until someone made the point that the BBC license fee is a levy on those with Television receiving equipment that I saw where the 'other camp' was coming from.

    If they charge a license for owning a PC then I expect it to work on my PC, until then I'll wait till the DRM is cracked, and I don't give it long...

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BBC - a refund please

    Dear Mr & Mrs BBC, As you are supporting an OS and Web browser that I never use (i.e. Microsoft OS and IE) I cannot therefore watch any of your iPlayer content. Consequently I wish to have my BBC license refunded immediately. I do not have a TV. I only have a computer. Kind regards, mvallance

  87. corestore

    Just reverse-engineer....

    ...the damn thing. How long before some DVD Jon has this problem fixed, do you reckon?

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft paying BBC? BBC paying Microsoft?

    First of all, I doubt anyone will get this far, but I just need to chime something quickly: NO ONE IS PAYING EACH OTHER FOR USING MICROSOFT.

    Microsoft is NOT allowed to be paid/or pay to have any advantage in ANY market. Welcome to the 21st century and anti-trust cases.

    Any business happening is because of their work, not because of payments being made.

    (uses fedora at work. plugs his ipod into his vista desktop too. boss is next to me, we all work for the big ms :) )

  89. Steven Pepperell

    Woah!!!

    Ladies and Gents,

    It’s perfectly simple; make it into something like this http://www.jalipo.com/epg/

    Make sign up based on licences (ie no licence no account) this mean DRM isn’t needed

    Cross compatible

    Fast

    No huge downloads

  90. Alexander Hanff

    Re: Microsoft paying BBC? BBC paying Microsoft?

    You silly little person. You really have no idea do you?

    It is not about being paid with cash, there is more than one way to skin a cat. Firstly, services like the iPlayer effectively lock people in to using microsoft windows if they want to use the service. This secures Microsoft's market share. Secondly, Microsoft negotiate license deals with large corporations, the BBC is a large corporation, it is very likely that this deal will be seen favourably by Microsoft next time the BBC need to renew their corporate licenses with Microsoft and although there will be no way to prove the BBC get a reduction in their license fees (because there is no set license fee to compare it against), it would be more than a little surprising if they didn't.

    There are also many other ways both parties can benefit from the deal which don't involve a direct monetary relationship.

  91. Jon Argles

    Auntie's Humbugs

    The BBC receives its funding from the license fee and the government in lieu of advertising.

    That's it, as far as its autonomy goes. Since the Mark Thompson review, it uses a lot of independent producers and copyright holders; indeed, this is why they've been taking so long to reach a decision. It was finally agreed that content could be hosted for free for seven days with the BBC before it moved into the commercial hands of BBC Worldwide, who buy the programmes outright, and can sell them wherever they wish. This means that those producer's interests ( for every Flog It and Last of the Summer Wine, there's a Jekyll, a Torchwood, a Dr Who and a Rome) need to be rewarded to encourage future development.

    That said, BT Vision will be offering BBC on IPTV, and Virgin Media already offer a limited 7 day catch-up service for most of the crunchy stuff. If project Kangaroo kicks off, too, then anyone who doesn't want to spend £400 for Media Player can spend £30 on a Freeview box instead and get all the terrestral catch-up programmes without touching their computer. Course, my entire laptop cost £400 with WMA bundled, so I think some of the figures being bandied about are pretty disingenuous anyway.

  92. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    It's nothing to do with the technology...

    The BBC has contractual issues with its artists (aka 'talent') which define payments per performance and the maximum number of broadcasts of the finished material.

    They have negotiated terms which allow after-transmission rebroadcast of a show but which must - by contract - be unplayable after a set time (hence the one-month limit) and therefore requires some kind of DRM. As others have pointed out, MS is the most-used OS which currently includes the DRM technology required. Without it - at present - the BBC would be contractually unable to offer the service at all.

    The local/overseas issue is somewhat of a red herring, since it's handled at the gateway to the server farms (and is reasonably easy to circumvent using a UK gateway) but again is contractual: particularly for live sports or music events, the BBC may only have rights to distribute in the UK.

    The question is: in what way is it different from recording the bitstream from a DTT off-air feed or sticking a video recorder across the bsae-band signal? Both of these are perfectly legal activities and neither requires the timeout. (And frankly, I'd rather grab the 6Mb/s DTT stream than something already further compressed and processed to run in a tiny window.)

    The issue for the BBC is that it can't be seen to be contributing to anonymous material floating around the internet, I think, lest it suffer both public opprobrium (hey, my tax paid for that!) and the financial retribution of its talent.

    Neil

    (And for what it's worth: the licence fee does *not* pay for the BBC. The licence fee permits the use of television (and by extension radio) receiving equipment. The BBC is paid for by a government grant agreed every three years or so. There's no reason why the grant should match the money collected, but generally it's pretty close.

    Also - remember that the BBC is *unique* in the broadcasting world: every other broadcaster is in the business of delivering viewers to advertisers; the BBC is in the business of delivering content to viewers. It's not the same.)

  93. Matt

    Re: Microsoft paying BBC? BBC paying Microsoft?

    What, you think that MS is giving their DRM encryption/encoding software to the BBC for free? Or is the BBC pirating it?

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Errrm.

    "For new shows they could be careful to retain the rights to geographically limited (by IP address) distribution over the Internet. This would require no DRM at all."

    and what stops someone torrenting it to be downloaded by people outside this geographic region?

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No one responds to Don?

    A few curious things about the responses. Only one Linux person has properly responded to what Don had to say about Linux that I find very telling. It tells me that the ratio of propagandists to actual Linux developers is enormous.

    It fascinates me the way these debates always degenerate into the same thing; noisy, abusive diatribes that give the language of criticism a bad name. Anyone who takes an alternate viewpoint to the cant of open source can expect a barrage of personal insults that by any measure borders on hate speech. The intolerance and anger of the messages posted is honestly quite shocking, where a mob mentality seems to rule and Linux users end up coming across like a vengeful lynch mob.

    It's clear in this debate the issue of getting iPlayer on alternative platforms is simply another means to an end to let a minority of fundamentalists vent their intolerance and misdirected anger. If you've ever wondered why people who dare to post anything contrary to the accepted wisdom of open source do so anonymously, then you haven't been paying attention to what I've already said. There is nothing pleasant about the vitriolic personal attacks where the basic proposition you're being targeted with with is neo-fascist absolutism. People like that are frightening and is the reason why people choose to remain anonymous.

  96. Craig

    Boo bloody hoo

    Im sick and tired of minority whingers shouting about the lack of support for their particular flavour of OS. It makes perfect sense to support the largest userbase first. Besides, support for other OS's is tied up with DRM regulations and restrictions.

    Just look at terrestrial digital TV, if you follow your arguments about universal support through, what about all the people with analogue TV's still? They miss out on MOST of the BBC's content.

    What about people who don't have computers, should they get a refund relative to the funding the BBC put into web services?

    Lets take it to the extreme, I dont like or watch gardening programs so I want a refund of the investment put into making them.

    All of you whingers, GROW UP!

    /rant

  97. Matt

    Most of these comments are missing the point

    When you pay your licence fee you are paying for the right to receive the (various) BBC broadcasts, It is no longer your money, you do not get to specify how it is spent (there are various oversight groups to do this - not you!) When a program is broadcast you have the right to view it or record it and watch it once later (I believe this is correct) you do not have the right to watch it repeatedly forever. (If you later buy it on DVD you can obviously watch it as much as you want!)

    If you have a computer connected to the internet it is not required to be covered by a TV licence unless you intend to use it to watch TV (remember workplaces buying licences for the world cup?)

    If the beeb wants to make programmes available over the web (and it does, if you disagree with this stance then complain to the BBC, leaving comments on el reg etc demanding licence fee refunds makes you sound like a petulant child) then it is required to use some form of DRM to protect the copyright holders.

    No DRM isn't perfect but it will dissuade most, and anyone who puts the effort into breaking it knows they are breaking the law and may be punished accordingly. Just because it can be broken doesn't mean its pointless (Your house can probably be easily broken in to, but I bet you close your windows and lock the door before you go out, don't you?)

    Under the licence fee you are not guaranteed the right to access these internet broadcasts (possible exception: if the broadcast is exclusively internet based - I don’t know) Therefore Alexander Hanff’s comment 'It doesn't matter a crap if it is broadcast TV or not, I pay for it, therefore I have the right to access it, period.' is incorrect as is his statement 'They are the facts, whether you like it or not.'.

    Remember this is only beta and they have chosen to first roll out the service to the 90% odd of people who can receive it (reasoning: http://www.thecounter.com/stats/2007/July/os.php, about 92% of people use windows, therefore have access to IE, therefore can use this service). This makes sense people, they have a duty to do the best they can for the most licence fee payers. I am willing to bet that the BBC has done their research while looking into the possibility of providing these *extra* services on Linux and Mac and they have not ruled out either, just said not yet, because they are limited by their legal obligations.

    If the OSC does take them to eurocourt and this is branded anti-competitive then the beeb will probably withdraw the service altogether, and we all lose.

  98. Matt

    We're not all trolls

    And to some of the earlier posters, just because somebody disagrees with you does not make them a troll / microsoft employee.

    If you label someone a troll this does not mean you get to ignore their comments, esp if they raise a good point that you don't have an argument against (this is not just limited to this thread).

    Also if someone has a good point, but it is illistrated with poor examples then just ripping their examples apart does not invalidate their point (presuming some good examples exist...)

    and finally thread this is about the BBC's iPlayer (from what I hear is a POS anyway) only running on windows during its beta release. It is not Windows vs. Linux, no one cares which OS you think is best. Not here anyways.

  99. Tim

    DRM time limits

    "As for DRM with regards time limits on copies, who gives a shit about US law, in the UK where we live and the BBC exists, OUR copyright law does not place any such restrictions on private copies. Under OUR copyright law we are legally permitted to copy for the purpose of time shifting, there is no 7 day limit in OUR legislation, so there is fuck all the content providers could do legally if people do keep the content more than 7 days."

    Who gives a shit? The artists give a shit. Sorry but whilst I agree we live in the UK and shouldn't care, the problem is once it's on the net it doesn't stop anyone outside the UK getting it (and IP blocking doesn't work effectively). The people you need to convince are the rights holders to the content (artists/actors, musicians, etc). Remember these people are members of guilds and stuff who will kick up a huge fuss if things are given away for free, to the extent they can bring all their members out on strike. Then we have no programmes at all!

    Oh, and our copyright law in fact has no provision for private copies when it comes to Internet downloads unless explicitly licenced by the copyright holder (and it isn't likely to beyond the '7 day' clause).

    Once again I have to point out... INTERNET DOWNLOADS ARE NOT BROADCASTS!

    Therefore all the stuff about time shifting laws DOES NOT apply. It only applies to broadcasts (and even then I'm sure there is a time limit on it though never enforceable).

    Remember also there is NO fair use in UK copyright law, unlike in the US.

  100. Matt

    Re :Errm

    " "For new shows they could be careful to retain the rights to geographically limited (by IP address) distribution over the Internet. This would require no DRM at all."

    and what stops someone torrenting it to be downloaded by people outside this geographic region?"

    Absolutely nothing. But then that does not change the current situation at all. I can already download via torrent pretty well all the BBC shows at the moment anyway, free of DRM.

  101. Hamish

    Re: Damned if you do, Damned if you don't

    "Umm, If I know the pixel values by modifying an open source DRM sdk, what's to prevent me from saving to file. There is no way to do DRM and Open Source. If I have the code, I can do what I want with it unless you are distributing parts of it as compiled libs."

    You are arguing for security through obscurity. A proper cryptographic system keeps only one thing secret: the secret key.

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reality counts

    It's worth keeping in mind that this is an exercise in accountability for the BBC. They simply want to assure content partners that they will go through the motions of fullfilling the impossible corporate DRM fantasy. Hence the Microsoft DRM plan.

    Look at the facts:

    1. The BBC broadcasts a standards-based DVB signal, which works on any DVB compliant device.

    2. Millions of people have standards-based digital video recorders that will record any channel. (I have a friend who is a media critic. I can get a UK TV commercial to her on the other side of the world about 30 minutes after broadcast. I can see the ad critique posted on the web within an hour. Students can be studying and discussing it on a class blog less than 24 hours later. And everyone can lose interest in it 24 hours after that. )

    3. All the BBC shows are available at DVD quality via digital TV for everybody to record, archive, burn to DVD, or whatever is convenient. (It's standards-based!)

    4. The iPlayer programs will be low resolution, plagued with Microsoft DRM tech issues, and terribly inconvient for most people to use - impossible for others. (It's not standards-based!)

    5. Shows have fans who want everyone else to join them. The iPlayer exists to create demand for the shows on the internet, ie. the shows won't be available to all, they will be awkward to use, and impossible to share, so fans will create high quality standards-based versions. They will record the shows and spend countless hours creating beautiful DVD collections of episodes with full motion menus and 3D graphics (Yes, fans are crazy, passionate, wonderful people).

    6. We will go through a cycle: videos that work for all will be increasingly available on the internet, followed by more strict DRM and lowering of resolution via the iPlayer, which creates more demand for standards-based versions, so there will be even more BBC shows freely available to all via the internet.

    7. It seems obvious this is the BBC plan, since it doesn't make any sense to use digital TV to provide DVD quality shows that anyone can share on the internet at the click of a few buttons, but then lock down really crappy versions available on the internet. The only outcome can be a proliferation of high quality, non-DRM videos on the internet.

    As you can see, the BBC is secretly working very diligently to ensure that all BBC shows are available on the internet, at high quality, in a standards-based format that anyone can use. They are simply using the iPlayer as a means of stimulating demand and getting the public to do the work of internet distribution.

    You should save your outrage until the US government and US media conglomerates are successful in their lobby to ensure that all UK digital TV has DRM, ie. you can't record any TV shows or use your DVR any more. (We're a testing ground for the US. Once implemented here, DRMing TV can go global.) That will be your cue to freak out. After you fail to have any impact on that issue, you can just give up on TV, and the BBC, and iPlayer, and find something better to do with your life. Make your own shows. Start a band. Write a novel. Stop depending on giant corporations to buy creative people to entertain you. Find them yourself. Become one yourself.

  103. A J Stiles

    Various Responses

    Anonymous Coward wrote: '"For new shows they could be careful to retain the rights to geographically limited (by IP address) distribution over the Internet. This would require no DRM at all."

    and what stops someone torrenting it to be downloaded by people outside this geographic region?'

    How about the same thing that stops someone torrenting a BBC programme they recorded from the airwaves on a commonly-available DVD recorder to be downloaded by people outside this geographic region?

    Craig wrote: "Just look at terrestrial digital TV, if you follow your arguments about universal support through, what about all the people with analogue TV's still? They miss out on MOST of the BBC's content."

    To the best of my knowledge, anybody can purchase the necessary parts and schematics to build a digital TV receiver. However, one of the necessary parts to build an iPlayer receiver is the Source Code for the decryption routines (which then could be compiled to run on any sufficiently-capable processor, or even used as the basis for implementing an ASIC). Microsoft are withholding this from independent "setmakers". The code is only available as a pre-compiled binary blob (so it will only work on one type of processor) and even then only in a form that can be used with the Windows operating system.

    UK copyright law allows an exemption for "fair dealing", but exactly what this includes is to be determined by the courts. And in practice, it is unlikely ever to be tested. No jury in the land would ever convict anyone for taping CDs to listen in the car or recording TV programmes to watch another time -- but no police force wants to lose the ability to get a search warrant on the strength of a home-copied cassette glimpsed through the window of a suspect's car. If you're actually unlucky enough to be nicked for home taping, it means you're really wanted for something else -- and one of two things will happen. If any evidence of a more serious offence turns up, the home taping won't be mentioned on the charge sheet when the matter comes to court. If no other evidence is forthcoming, the evidence of the home taping will go astray and you will be free.

  104. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Minorities

    Sorry, I may have missed someone posting the same as me here, but...

    @ The anonymouse poster of 'Choice?'

    The BBC makes programs for minority groups in the UK. I myself do not listen to BBC's Asian radio station. In fact, the majority of those in the UK don't. So to me it has no value, and the same to most people in the country. But that doesn't mean it shouldnt do so.

    The BBC is a public service. It provides content for everyone. We pay for this content whether we want to watch it or not. The problem comes when a 'minority' is excluded. You say Linux is a 'minority OS'? Then we are being discriminated against, and should have the same rights as all other minorities, and not be forced to do things the same way as the majority. Simple as.

  105. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    92% do not use Windows *XP*

    Matt: "about 92% of people use windows, therefore have access to IE, therefore can use this service"

    No, Matt. The iPlayer only works with Windows XP. Not even Vista, and certainly not older versions of Windows. I think tech-savvy people often forget how many people are still limping along on Windows 2000, Windows ME, Windows 98...

  106. Matt

    92% do not use Windows *XP*

    Mah apologies,

    81% then.

    Obv, this is only as recorded by thecounter.com (which I would think gives a better x-section of users than w3schools!), and is International stats, not just the UK.

    p.s. They also list Firefox as holding steady at about 12-13%, quite a far cry from w3schools 33ish% (w3schools tends to have more technically minded ppl who also tend to vary their choice of browser)

  107. Matt

    Re: 92% do not use Windows *XP*

    (Incidentally, for anyone under the suspicion that there is someone with a split personality disorder posting, here there are actually two seperate "Matt"s.)

    ... all of which does not change the fact that if the BBC had gone with a Standards based approach they could provide feeds that pretty well everyone could use; and not be tied to clients using only Window XP SP2 & Internet Explorer.

    The BBC should not be in the business of either specifying, promoting or supporting a particular client side technology. They should be in the business of providing support for a single standards based format-- if the available formats do not meet their needs then they should be considering the development of such formats (and not picking a closed of the shelf solution that locks everyone into a particular client platform. Particularly an obsolete one).

  108. Craig

    Title

    A J Stiles Wrote: To the best of my knowledge, anybody can purchase the necessary parts and schematics to build a digital TV receiver.

    This is why its pointless making logical arguments against some people.

    Honestly! Who in actual fact is going to do that?

    How about the people who live in digital "dead zones" where the signal dosent reach? Don't tell me, they can purchase the necessary parts and schematics to build a very tall aerial.

    Once again, GROW UP! Join the real world, then we'll talk.

  109. Ted Treen

    Auntie Beeb

    Auntie Beeb is now quite an old lady - and like many old ladies, she's gone quite dotty in her dotage.

    Utterly out of touch with reality.

    I blame that John Birt (yes, I know he wasn't involved in this, but he is the sort who gives smug morons a bad name).

  110. Jonathan Samuels

    A BBC licence does

    NOT Guarantee that you can receive its programs

    It merely means you are allowed to if you have the appropiate equipment.

    I have to pay for Virgin cable to watch the BBC (no external antenna allowed, no internal reception), is this the BBC fault of course not, Do I expect the BBC to give me compensation or to change their entire systems for me of course not.

  111. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "single cpu's"

    Someone posted above:

    "The code is only available as a pre-compiled binary blob (so it will only work on one type of processor) and even then only in a form that can be used with the Windows operating system."

    Microsoft designes their software to work on "almost" any cpu.

    Try that with a MAC (pre-intel) and post intel.

  112. Matt

    Very tall aerials!

    >Don't tell me, they can purchase the necessary parts and schematics to build a very tall aerial.

    lol, I kinda like that idea, keeping up with the Jones's: "My aerials taller than yours!"

  113. Matt

    Re: 92% do not use Windows *XP* (but 8% do?)

    "(Incidentally, for anyone under the suspicion that there is someone with a split personality disorder posting, here there are actually two seperate "Matt"s.)" - No there isn't - I'm in your head.

    I agree that the BBC should not be in the business of forcing one choice over the other, but you must recognise that they are limited to their choice by legal obligations, and they have chosen the way they believe gets the service, in a legal manner, to the greatest number of people.

    A number of people have said scrap DRM because it is easily possible to get the latest Dr Who HD episode DRM free, but just because it is possible (to do so illegally) doesn't mean you should also expect the BBC to behave in such a manner.

    The whole argument appears to boil down to this:

    BBC: We are trailing this way of letting approx. 80% of licence fee holders download some of our content.

    Linux/Mac Users: But we want it too!

    BBC: I know, and we will keep trying but can't atm because of DRM issues on your OSs.

    L/M: We want it DRM free!

    BBC: Err, thing is we have legal obligations so we need DRM

    L/M: WANT WANT WANT!

    BBC: Sorry kids, what can I say? Its got to have DRM

    L/M: Well I can d/l a better quality verson DRM free anyway, so I wouldn't use your iPlayer anyway. neyah!

    BBC: Well that is illegal, and while people may look the other way when a few home users do that if we, a large corporation closely allied to the UK Govt who we rely on for funding, were to do the same, it may have more serious repercussions, so you see its not really quite as simple as just giving all of this content away!

    L/M: Its the principle at stake, we want it now, and for free!

    BBC: As we said before, we are restricted by our legal obligations but will try…

    L/M: U R the EViL, BBC Suxors, U R in bed with micro$oft!!!1

    Bill Gates (Possibly in some kind of darkened room, with his fingers pressed together Mr Burns stylee): Excellent!

    (this is how it happened in my head)

  114. Matt

    @Craig

    I dunno if anyone is still reading this, but...

    Craig wrote: "A J Stiles Wrote: To the best of my knowledge, anybody can purchase the necessary parts and schematics to build a digital TV receiver.

    This is why its pointless making logical arguments against some people.

    Honestly! Who in actual fact is going to do that?"

    It's not so much that people can build their own aerials/receivers, its the fact that they are permitted to either do it themselves or engage someone to do it for them (i.e. an aerial contractor). This is the analogy of the BBC using a standard open format.

    With the BBC using the closed format they currently have a solution, not only is the source code closed (i.e. not available to anyone to modify), but the format itself is closed and I understand their are laws against reverse engineering the format and the encryption. This is analogically (real word?) the same as saying that you are not even permitted to try and get an aerial built to receive the signal.

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