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BBC's Open Player Claims Not Followed Through

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the working-on-it-working-on-it dept.

The Media 311

ruphus13 writes "BBC's iPlayer was originally built on Microsoft's DRM-protected technology, and has never really been liked by folks like the FSF. The BBC is trying to play nice, though, recently claiming, 'the BBC has always been a strong advocate and driver of open industry standards. Without these standards, TV and radio broadcasting would simply not function. I believe that the time has come for the BBC to start adopting open standards such as H.264 and AAC for our audio and video services on the web.' This article argues that actions speak louder than words, and this is where the BBC falls short. 'The fact that both AAC and H.264 are encumbered with patent licenses that make their distribution under free licenses problematic flies in the face of this definition. It's good to see a major organization like the BBC switching from closely held secretive codecs to more widespread and documented ones. But it would be even better to see them throw their considerable weight behind some truly open formats.'"

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Which is which? I am confused... (1, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611425)

...I believe that the time has come for the BBC to start adopting open standards such as H.264 and AAC for our audio and video services on the web.' This article argues that actions speak louder than words, and this is where the BBC falls short....

Then after just one period...

'The fact that both AAC and H.264 are encumbered with patent licenses that make their distribution under free licenses problematic flies in the face of this definition.

Do you all see the apparent contradiction when iot comes to H.264 and AAC? Or Am I confused, I do not get it?

Re:Which is which? I am confused... (3, Informative)

seanalltogether (1071602) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611497)

You're reading 2 different quotes there, point and counter-point, something that should have been clear if you happened to click the links instead of being trigger happy about grabbing first post :P

Re:Which is which? I am confused... (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611695)

No it is not clear because the first quote is attributed to "the BBC" instead of Erik Huggers and then uses "I". The only suitable "I" is the poster hence the confusion because it seems that the quote has ended and now the OP is giving an opinion. Fortunately the punctuation is correct otherwise it would be completely impossible to figure out what it meant.

Re:Which is which? I am confused... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611913)

Unfortunately, whoever wrote the article confuses the issue further.
Open standard != patent license free
That is, something can be open standard and yet requires a patent license. Open standard is just a standard that is agreed on but the specification is made public so that anyone can implement the standard. However, some specifications may rely on some patented technologies, in which case, they are patent encumbered; or they may not, in which case, they are patent free.

AAC and H.264 are encumbered with patent licenses but they are open standards, so they do not fly "in the face of this definition."

h.264 and patent licencing (4, Informative)

sustik (90111) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611431)

h.264 patent licencing applies to devices (and even that is low cost):

http://www.dspr.com/www/technology/technology.htm#H.264 [dspr.com] Licensing Fees

Re:h.264 and patent licencing (-1, Redundant)

jcr (53032) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611567)

h.264 patent licencing applies to devices (and even that is low cost):

Extremely low cost, at that. The H.264 patent owners wanted wide adoption, and they're getting it.

-jcr

Re:h.264 and patent licencing (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611649)

I'm not sure if you were trying to imply that h.264 patent licensing only applies to devices and not software, but if so that's incorrect. Software including h.264 is required to pay royalties of 10-20 cents per copy (modulo various rules). Obviously this makes free software using h.264 impractical, let alone Free software.

Re:h.264 and patent licencing (3, Informative)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612205)

There are no software patents in the UK which is where the BBC operates and cares about.

You're quite welcome to produce a free software implementation of h.264 and run it in England without any problems.

Re:h.264 and patent licencing (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611689)

Besides, H.264 and AAC are probably the most widely supported formats.

It is recommended, among others, by EFFI (Electronic Foundation Finland, I could not find similar recommendation by EFF) as it is supported in most platforms (OS/CPU/...) and there are GPL implementations.

What about Dirac? (5, Informative)

siDDis (961791) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611435)

Which is developed by BBC, a cutting edge video standard on the level with H.264 and is free as in speech? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac_(codec) [wikipedia.org]

Wasn't it supposed to be used in Beijing Olympics?

Re:What about Dirac? (5, Informative)

iangoldby (552781) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611919)

From TFA:

Some people may ask: why are you not using your own Dirac codec? I am fully committed to the development and success of Dirac, but for now those efforts are focused on high-end broadcast applications. This autumn, we intend to show the world what can be achieved with these technologies.

Open, or Untested? (4, Interesting)

GaryPatterson (852699) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611459)

The Ogg/Vorbis format is often touted as completely free and unencumbered by patents, but is it? Is Dirac?

Have any free formats ever been taken to court and won, proving their status as truly free? Or are they 'under the radar' at the moment, not worth testing in court because they've not reached critical mass yet?

I ask because I actually don't know. I'd like to see truly free formats, but I'm not sure if they are, or if people just think they are.

Re:Open, or Untested? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611525)

Nope. Nobody provides inremnification for them, so if you sell billions of devices and pieces of content, you may well lose your shirt ;)
That's one of the main reasons why they see such low adoption.

Re:Open, or Untested? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611705)

But that's the case for everything. Just because you pay company A a license fee for a codec doesn't mean company B can't claim their patent also covers parts of the codec. There is no real insurance against patent trolls other than owning a bunch of ambiguous patents yourself, enabling you to countersue.

Re:Open, or Untested? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611657)

Being taken to court would prove nothing outside of the specific patent claim being sued for.

Re:Open, or Untested? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611673)

Your question makes no sense since there is no single entity called "Patent". In fact no format has every been tested since you (or someone else) would need to be sued by every single patent holder who is in any way related to your product.

Re:Open, or Untested? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611711)

The Ogg/Vorbis format is often touted as completely free and unencumbered by patents, but is it? Is Dirac?

Have any free formats ever been taken to court and won, proving their status as truly free? Or are they 'under the radar' at the moment, not worth testing in court because they've not reached critical mass yet?

This is the webpage of the author, copyright holder, inventor and owner of both the vorbis codec and the ogg wrapper format:
http://xiph.org/ [xiph.org]

Right there on the very front, it says this:
"The Xiph.Org Foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting the foundations of Internet multimedia from control by private interests. Our purpose is to support and develop free, open protocols and software to serve the public, developer and business markets."

What are you thinking about that position is going to challenged in court, exactly, and who would do it?

What exactly is there to challenge?

- The idea itself of a codec has heaps of prior art.

- No other codec is the same format.

- The code is open source and hence can prove its copyright heritage.

Dirac is owned by the BBC itself. The BBC get to say if it is open or not.

Patent free for the BBC (5, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611713)

The Ogg/Vorbis format is often touted as completely free and unencumbered by patents, but is it? Is Dirac?

This is the British Broadcasting Corporation so yes they are both completely patent free because there are no software patents allowed in the UK. It may be a problem for those in the US but why should the BBC worry about that?

Re:Patent free for the BBC (4, Informative)

Teun (17872) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611821)

Exactly, there is no problem to worry about.

As the BBC must have a competent legal department I really wonder what the real reason for their reluctance to use certain codex is.

Personally I'm even more pissed off the Dutch public broadcasters have elected to use some Microsoft product called Silverlight in addition to the existing .wmv streams.

And that with taxpayers money!

Re:Patent free for the BBC (1)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611903)

This is the British Broadcasting Corporation so yes they are both completely patent free because there are no software patents allowed in the UK.

In which case, from the BBC's perspective, surely H.264 is unencumbered?

Re:Patent free for the BBC (4, Interesting)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611911)

[...] there are no software patents allowed in the UK.

That's what I was thinking, but upon checking found that a recent High Court decision might allow software patents after all. There's certainly a lot of confusion over the subject and an apparent disparity between the UK Patent Office and the European Patent Office. See the IPKat blog [blogspot.com] :

[...] the UK-IPO has highlighted Mr Justice Patten's decision of today [...] to overturn the UK-IPO's decision to refuse an application by Symbian, on the grounds that it consisted solely of a computer program.

The judge drew attention to the split between the attitudes of the UK-IPO and the EPO, since the EPO has already allowed the patent to be granted.

The blog post mostly echos the press release from the UK Patent Office [ipo.gov.uk] , who plan to appeal due to the judge failing to apply the Aerotel/Macrossan test.

So it does seem that, medium to long-term, the BBC might have made a big mistake.

As for software patents in general, I believe the only way to truly be rid of the scourge is to get the US to declare software as unpatentable. The US government, and the lobbyists from its companies have tremendous power and influence around the world, and they are pushing hard for software patentability. Even though it's obviously a bad idea, and most software developers are strongly opposed to it, more [michaeldolan.com] countries [nosoftwarepatents.com] seem to be considering it. No real sources for this last paragraph as it's only my opinion, take it or leave it. :)

Re:Patent free for the BBC (1)

Wolfbone (668810) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612161)

This is the British Broadcasting Corporation so yes they are both completely patent free because there are no software patents allowed in the UK.

That's what they want you to believe but search the databases and you'll see that even the BBC itself has software patents granted by the UKIPO.

Dirac Codec (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611483)

Sorry to post as AC but I've lost a domain and can't get my password back (yet).

The Beeb have been toying with this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirac_(codec) (many links on page) since 2004. The biggest problem it has is a lack of optimisation now slowly being solved. It is supposed to be patent un-encumbered, open source and about as "free" as software from a large, commercial organisation is likely to get.

If they were _serious_ about this maybe they should take on some C/asm coders under contract (nudge nudge) to further optimise and, very importantly, app developers to build content tools, conversion utilities and a web browser based plugin.

For web apps this should be no more inconvenient than downloading, say, Flash, Silverlight or Quicktime (stop complaining at the back)

The next problem is content. The BBC has tonnes of it. I suspect corporate inertia is behind the lack of adoption (it frequently is). Someone start kicking some arse at the Beeb please.

http://www.burnttoys.net/cv

Re:Dirac Codec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611739)

Content tools? Browser plugin? Who needs that when you have a ffmpeg patch, a gstreamer plugin and a directshow filter? (In various states of completeness ATM.)

Shit don't sell itself (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611487)

You can have the best, goddamned shit in the world and give it away for nothing, but if you don't got people out there beating on motherfucking doors you won't even be able to give your shit away.

Open standards don't mean "Open" standards. The open standards that people will use are the ones that are sold to them. If you think that shaking your dick in the wind is going to attract customers, you are in for a big disappointment. Sell that shit, man!

*WHOOSH* (1)

McGuirk (1189283) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611491)

Some people really just don't comprehend what an "open standard" actually is. AAC? Open? Bah! *grumble*

Re:*WHOOSH* (1)

Hairy Heron (1296923) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611651)

AAC is an open standard, as in the spec is publicly available for anyone.

Re:*WHOOSH* (1)

Hairy Heron (1296923) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611679)

For anyone to see, that is. People seem to have made up this notion that an open standard means something it never meant.

BBC Ogg Vorbis Support (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611521)

The BBC supported OGG Vorbis long before any other mainstream news organization did. I'd take them at their word on this one.

Re:BBC Ogg Vorbis Support (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24612029)

You realise the Ogg Vorbis support was basically one guy who worked in the IT department and an old P3 running FreeBSD right? I mean, it's cool that the BBC management allowed him to do it and all, but it was hardly a top-down high profile experiment in open-standards.

Software Patents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611527)

If software patents are not enforceable in the UK (and presumably they are not since the UK is part of the EU) then h264 and AAC are indeed open standards for people that are the tax base that pays for the BBC.

Re:Software Patents? (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611559)

You are presuming, for some strange reason, that the EU does not have software patents. Reality disagrees with your theory. Reality is that EU (and UK) law is very confused over this, with courts going all over the place. A large number of software patents have been issued there, and many have been successfully enforced. There's a pretty good article on software patents in the EU on Wikipedia, and a pretty good one on the situation in the UK. (Both are very confusing, but that is because the underlying legal situation is confused).

Re:Software Patents? (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611897)

A lot of (commercial) entities have software solutions registered at the European Patent Bureau and that's their good right.

At the same time European law is quite clear that software, being mathematical formulas, can never be encumbered with patent claims.

Re:Software Patents? (2, Informative)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611947)

Except that the UK patent office has been challenged [theregister.co.uk] over their newer policy of not granting software patents and people have had to petition to get it officially unenforceable [number10.gov.uk] . They even granted a patent that the government appealed [bbc.co.uk] .

The general angle seems to be that the Patent Office has said they won't issue them, people don't want them, and the government will contest them, yet there are still some flying around.

How can the BBCs licence model work over the net? (1)

jools33 (252092) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611529)

I really think that this whole DRM country-locked content issue is a big unfunny joke. It is not possible to access BBC open player content from outside of the UK - except perhaps via proxy servers - most of these appear blocked. The BBC has this outdated license payer model - that means that their content is only legally distributed to the UK. For any expats out there wanting to watch - there is no legal way they can get BBC content - except perhaps by a very large satellite dish. There is no expat license fee. Can this model really survive in the future? The only way for now they can acheive this is by using the strongest DRM they can get their hands on - and by blacklisting any proxy servers they find on UK soil - and even with all this the shows are appearing in the torrent sites shortly afterwards. Is this a sound long term strategy for them to follow - or should the whole TV license model be rethought for the 21st century?

Re:How can the BBCs licence model work over the ne (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611613)

It's a subscription based service, so it's not really outdated. What IS outdated is content providers trying to restrict sales by geography. Selling content based on a maximum number of viewers would be more appropriate for the internet.

Re:How can the BBCs licence model work over the ne (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611905)

It's not subscription - if you own a tv capable of receiving BBC, you have to pay the license fee.

Re:How can the BBCs licence model work over the ne (5, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611809)

Okay, so the BBC do need some way of getting their iPlayer on to Linux and other OSes, but as a Brit I'll quite happily say "give me the license fee system for the next thousand years instead of having to watch the drivel that is generally on the commercial channels and is interspersed with adverts".

The BBC has by far the best quality TV of all the channels I receive (and I'm not just on terrestrial or Free-to-air any more) and I get to watch shows uninterrupted. That's worth more than the other channels combined, especially when watching something like a sporting event or a film.

Re:How can the BBCs licence model work over the ne (1)

jools33 (252092) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611965)

Just don't ever move overseas then - cos if you do - you can forget the BBC - seems to me quite a restriction on your future freedoms that you're happily prepared to accept. I agree entirely that the vast majority of commercial channels are woeful in their content - and that the licensing system has produced good quality content - but what I donot understand is why the licensing system has to be region / country based - and why any changes at all to the licensing system will lead to the bbc being a full commercial channel. There must be alternatives - why not explore them a little. I can bet that there are millions of expats worldwide - and others who would be interested in paying for BBC content. In fact there are some illegal sites already setup - and exploiting this - by streaming bbc content to anyone with a visa card. Why the BBC cannot take control of this process - by being the legal content providers to the world? - seems to me to be the question.

Re:How can the BBCs licence model work over the ne (5, Interesting)

clare-ents (153285) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612179)

All you need is a UK machine you can ssh to.

ssh -D 3128 host.co.uk

then set up a socks proxy at localhost:3128, and you can stream as much as you like. Fortunately there's a thriving UK internet industry so a shell account / virtual server / dedicated server / beowulf cluster shouldn't be too hard to find.

Someone doesn't know what they're talking about (4, Insightful)

rmdir -r * (716956) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611545)

Considering they bankrolled the development of a brand new, completely open codec, a reference implementation of which is released under the MIT license.

And considering that they only froze the format this year, the fact that they haven't rolled it out to consumers is not exactly surprising- these things need baking time

Seriously, I think they've proven their commitment to patent-unencumbered formats...

Re:Someone doesn't know what they're talking about (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611773)

I was not aware that they were developing their own codec. In any case, h.264 and AAC have pretty darn reasonable licenses. The patent owners want wide adoption, not to gouge people.

I personally don't care about their commitment to patent-unencumbered formats, I CARE about their proven commitment to not using DRM.

It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (2, Informative)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611571)

I'm yet to see a single clip on BBC's website. They insist on running an ad from one of the major ad sites (might be doubleclick, I'm don't remember) before any clip loads. Since I have blocked most ad sites in my hosts file, the BBC clips never load.

As far as I'm concerned they could very well broadcast them in smoke signal format.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (4, Informative)

stevelup (445596) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611723)

There are no ads whatsoever on BBC iPlayer or any other page on bbc.co.uk.

I have no idea what you are talking about?

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611769)

Are you, by any chance, british? My understanding is that BBC doesn't run ads for domestic users, since they already pay for it; but does for international freeloaders. I can't say, of course, I'm an international freeloader with adblock.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (1)

stevelup (445596) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612021)

Ah sorry - my misunderstanding. I thought iPlayer was not available at all outside the UK.

Are we talking about this http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/ [bbc.co.uk] ?

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (1)

Martz (861209) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611765)

The only thing the BBC directly advertises is themselves.

Short previews of their shows, or informative adverts on how to upgrade to digital TV etc. No doubleclick adverts, so I figure you must be confusing the BBC iPlayer with break.com or something.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (1)

csp (224831) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611835)

The BBC site includes regular advertising when viewed from outside the UK.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (1)

c.r.o.c.o (123083) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611857)

so I figure you must be confusing the BBC iPlayer with break.com or something.

You must be very easily confused, since the last time I checked, the BBC site looks nothing like break.com. As we speak I have the same BBC page loaded in Seamonkey on my desktop which is fully configured and on my laptop where I am yet to modify the hosts file.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/7560995.stm [bbc.co.uk]

On the laptop it plays just fine, however on my desktop it just sits doing nothing. The status bar displays "Transfering data from stats.bbc.co.uk..." A few months ago when I last tried accessing the clips the status bar displayed "Transfering data from ads.doubleckick.com" or something along those lines, which is why I thought they were displaying ads.

At least break.com works just fine on both computers.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (1)

Martz (861209) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612133)

To be fair, I've been informed by another poster that the BBC delivers adverts to IP ranges outside of the UK, so perhaps I stand corrected over if the BBC advertises. It certainly doesn't to the UK audience, but it makes sense to when dealing with non UK residents.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611797)

I've got scripting turned off for the Beeb, so I don't see their clips either. They had been using if for an idiotic scrolling headline feed (and may still) -- I simply can't read with things moving around in the screen peripheral. That's a known useability issue for portion of the population, so it rather amazed me that they would do that.

So yeah, the format is moot for practical purposes. Honestly I don't want clips from their TV show either - I want one or two selected stills and a written report by a journalist. The issues for BBC News are coverage, depth, accuracy, and timeliness. Getting video on the site is about the last thing I'd like them to work on.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (1)

TheThiefMaster (992038) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612027)

We're not talking about BBC News, we're talking about BBC iPlayer. It's a site of theirs for watching online anything that was broadcast on BBC TV in the last week.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (1)

joeava (1147727) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612153)

I have to close BBC's clip window not because of their ads but the slow speed. The videos never load within 3 minutes. I wonder if they limit the bandwidth to clients outside UK.

Re:It's the ads that kill the BBC clips (2, Interesting)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612195)

Are you, by any chance, complaining? If so, you're just another freeloading idiot that expects somebody else to serve you completely free content. Sorry, but capitalism doesn't work that way. Moron.

Stop Complaining (1, Insightful)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611581)

The BBC iPlayer, like Apple, is a company that is free to use DRM, just as you are free to choose not to pay for it. The same is true for political bias. Some news is biased to the Left, and others are to the Right. You are free to purchase publications that lean either way. Stop acting like the government is taxing you, and then corruptly using it to support politically biased news, or a locked in DRM scheme.

Re:Stop Complaining (2, Insightful)

willy_me (212994) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611735)

A bit different for the BBC. I am not from the UK, but I believe that tax dollars pay for much of what is produced by the BBC. So actually you are not free to choose not to pay for it because the government is taxing you.

This is the entire reason for putting the content up on the web for free in the first place. The BBC is not trying to maximize their profit - they realize that UK citizens have already paid for the content. (Note that those outside the UK are not allowed to see it.) Being government run, they have a different mandate. This is why people are mad about the DRM - paying for something and then not getting it sucks.

Re:Stop Complaining (5, Informative)

Spad (470073) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611827)

The BBC is *not* government run. They are publically funded, but the government has no direct control over their output.

These are not the droids you're looking for (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612077)

So the government has no 'direct' control, except for the funding. Does this work in a court of law too? "No No your honor, I was only funding this politician, I had no 'direct' control over what legislation he supported."

Let us see if the force is with me. "This is the post you want to moderate insightful."

Re:These are not the droids you're looking for (4, Interesting)

Teun (17872) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612101)

Yes that's how simple it is, the Government collects the licence and passes it on to the broadcaster who is free to spend it within the limits of the regulations.

And it's a very foolish or brave legislator who'd try to tamper with these regulations.

Another Jedi mind trick you attempt (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612173)

So, I'm free to spend it anyway I want to, as long as I follow all the rules and regulations. That one sounded so reasonable, it almost got past me. Your Midi-chlorian count must be high indeed.

Re:Stop Complaining (1)

Xiaran (836924) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611847)

You are close but slightly incorrect there. The BBC is funded from a licensing fee which you only have to pay if you own a TV. That said if you do not own a TV(like I have in the past) you still get a *lot* of hassle from them as they dont believe you dont own a TV and there is no way to prove that to them. But I still didnt have to pay when I was TVless.

Re:Stop Complaining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24612125)

You are close but slightly incorrect there. You only have to pay the licence fee if you OPERATE equipment that receives a TV transmission. You DO NOT have to pay a fee if you own but do not operate a television (for example). It is NOT a license to own, but a licence to receive.

This means, for example, that receiving a a video stream over the Internet that is simultaneous with a traditional 'over-the-air' transmission requires you to have a licence - but receiving the exact same transmission on your PC afterwards by accessing the BBC iPlayer site does not need a licence.

If you own a TV or video recorder, but do not use it for receiving broadcast transmissions, you are advised to ensure that it is de-tuned so that it is not capable of immediately receiving transmissions. So no licence is required to watch pre-recorded videos on a video recorder with a TV.

Even more mind-bendingly complicated, you do NOT need a licence to listen to radio stations transmitted on Freeview (DVB-T) transmission multiplexes. If I recall correctly, you would, however, need a licence to listen to the audio channel of the TV transmissions, wheter normally or no Freeview (DVB-T).

Re:Stop Complaining (3, Insightful)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611883)

It's not tax pounds (which would be taken out of your pay) but a license fee that you have to pay if you own any equipment that is capable of receiving a TV signal (e.g. TV, computer, certain mobile devices, etc) or IIRC a radio signal. If you don't have either of those then you don't need a TV license and you don't need to pay anything. If you do have one then it's £12 per month (~£140 per year), which IMO is a bargain for quality TV without adverts, especially when people are willing to pay £30+ per month for the drivel on satellite/cable complete with large ad breaks.

It is true that they have a mandate to be open to anyone with a license, though. Other than buying equipment, there isn't supposed to be any restriction on who can access the content and so operating systems etc aren't supposed to stop people accessing things.

Re:Stop Complaining (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612037)

It's not tax pounds (which would be taken out of your pay) but a license fee that you have to pay if you own any equipment that is capable of receiving a TV signal (e.g. TV, computer, certain mobile devices, etc) or IIRC a radio signal.

So it is a tax on TV ownership that is hypothecated to fund the BBC. It is still a tax and public money.

Re:Stop Complaining (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612135)

And therefore it's called a Public Broadcaster, a system that makes most Europeans, especially the Brits, very happy.

But It is certainly no tax, it's sooner a usage/consumption fee.

I do think the British collection system is silly, the trouble involved in the checking of the licenses is a great burden in a time where nearly everyone can receive these programs.

In the Netherlands this was realised years ago and the licence became part of the general tax.

Tough luck for the oddball that does not see TV or listens to the radio.

Re:Stop Complaining (1)

leenks (906881) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612039)

It is tax pounds, and since when has anything other than Income Tax and National Insurance come out of your pay?

There are plenty of taxes you pay directly or indirectly when you buy or use something, and the licence fee is essentially a tax on using your television - just like road tax when you drive your car on the roads.

I agree with you on everything else though - the BBC produces an incredible amount of quality programming, especially now they have the extra digital channels, and I should be able to easily access it from Linux, Macs, Solaris, whatever without DRM - I don't have DRM issues with the broadcasts (other than the MPEG format issue of DVBT)

Re:Stop Complaining (1)

MadJo (674225) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611939)

Yup, the BBC is a network funded through taxes.
But the main currency in the UK is not the dollar but the pound. :)

Re:Stop Complaining (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611935)

The BBC is a very special company with a specific charter. As it is funded by the license fee payers, it has to provide its service to as many people (in Britain) as possible. The unique way it is funded is actually far closer to a government tax than it is to the way Apple gets funded.

If I had a choice, I wouldn't pay for BBC (maybe just Doctor Who episodes), but as I live in the UK and own a TV, I have to cough up the license fee.

Re:Stop Complaining (1)

jambox (1015589) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612083)

I think the suspicion is that they hired a few ex-Microsoft execs to manage the iPlayer project who promptly implemented an all-MS stack.

Fair enough, lots of people are using it now (it's been a huge success for them overall and has helped justify the increasingly controversial license fee) but there's that 5% who don't want to use Windows, who are completely excluded.

That makes it look as though they're conspiring with (or are being used by) MS to marginalise the competition. That is pretty obviously inappropriate for a publicly-funded body.

technical limitations? (4, Informative)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611625)

I had some email correspondence with a BBC tech shortly after they'd experimented with streaming ogg vorbis. He said they'd concluded that it wasn't sufficiently "scalable". I've never implemented anything on a scale like BBC World Service, so I don't know if there's anything to that or not, but perhaps there are slash dotters with the experience to comment.

When a lot of people complained about CBC pimping for Microsoft they set up streaming ogg vorbis [www.cbc.ca] for Toronto, but they haven't expanded it beyond that. I suppose they figured that was enough of a bone to throw us.

This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (4, Insightful)

FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611665)

I don't live in the U.K. so I can't use the BBC's iPlayer. Their reasoning (and part of the reason for all the protections in the first place) is because I'm not paying a TV license fee like everyone in the UK who has a TV has to, so I shouldn't benefit. At the same time, I read reports that the BBC has budgetary problems. I know that I would, and I'm sure many others would, be more than willing to pay the same yearly license fee plus something extra for not living in the UK to use the iPlayer. I wish I understood why the BBC wouldn't adopt a policy like that.

Re:This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (5, Informative)

Spad (470073) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611839)

It's not so much that you don't pay the license fee but that the various 3rd parties who produce programming for the BBC don't want their foreign market profits affected by allowing people outside the UK to view their shows on the BBC website, rather than on their 'local' TV stations.

And conversely (1)

goldcd (587052) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611915)

If the BBC have produced something and want to sell it to another market - the value is decreased if a significant chunk of the people who wanted to watch it in that other market have already done so.
I think it's even more complex than that as there are commercial arms within the BBC in charge of flogging the content. One part wants to move heaven and earth to get as much content out in as many ways as possible - the other half wants you to buy it on DVD.

Re:This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (1)

mnky-33 (1293220) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611865)

Indeed, I've often noticed things like this happening on the internet and it irritates me. I hate constantly finding a new service only to discover that its for U.S citizens only. Distances mean nothing on the internet and this is for a digital service, do they not want money? Or is it a copyright thing?

Re:This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611959)

I wish they'd change their licensing fee model as well (yes, I live in the UK).

I don't think they are allowed to broadcast outside of the UK as they don't necessarily own all the content that they broadcast and are not legally allowed to let non-UK people receive all their broadcasts.

Re:This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611975)

I live in the UK and I don't own a TV so I don't pay a license fee.

Why would I? The license fee is only needed if you are watching or recording shows that are being broadcast. You do not need a license for store-and-forward or TV on demand.

Therefore you don't need a license to watch on the iPlayer or 4oD (Channel 4's equivilent) and I also have a BT Vision box, again you do not need a television license to use that.

The TV license tax system is regressive and outdated. For online it is obvious they should move to a subscription or user-pays model.

The reason they give behind not sharing iPlayer outside UK is one of distribution rights, nothing to do with TV licenses.

Re:This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24612015)

The 'license fee' isn't. It's a tax, pure and simple. And you're not a British taxpayer. The Brits have been misnaming their taxes to confuse people for centuries: a stack of embassies in London have refused to pay the 'congestion charge', which is actually a tax for driving in London, because they are legally protected from taxation.

It's causing quite a legal fuss in London, but it shows that the Brits haven't got the distinction between a fee for services, and a tax by a governmental agency whether or not you use the service, quite right.

Re:This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24612017)

I do live in the UK, but becuase I don't watch or record live broadcast TV I don't *have* to pay a TV licence (until they change the law).

I've just tried comparing the new H.264 to the On2 VP6 and didn't see much change in quality. Though it will probably be more noicable in the future.

If only the BBC would do al slightly lower quality Flash version too, then the millions of people in the UK with Nokia N95's could access it.

Re:This is mildly offtopic but still apropos... (1)

Evildonald (983517) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612127)

You'd be happy to pay USD $280 to view tv through your browser? I think you might be the only one.

I'm not happy to pay it (as I don't watch the BBC but I have a tv that can potentially watch it) and I think it's a stupid licensing method.

The good news is it'd only cost you USD $80 to watch it in your browser in Black and White

Licenses? Why not buy one? (1)

mveloso (325617) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611671)

If you stick with unencumbered stuff, you'll eventually run out of technology. Let's face it, people invent stuff and want to be compensated. Some of the stuff is pretty neat. It wasn't so long ago that the consensus was that you couldn't compress audio...so much for that idea (does anyone remember those days?).

Instead, why doesn't the FSF (or some other organization lobbying for open-ness) just license the patents and release their own player/library/whatever?

It sounds like what gets people's goat is that it's not free, not that it's not open.

Re:Licenses? Why not buy one? (1)

Hairy Heron (1296923) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611703)

It wasn't so long ago that the consensus was that you couldn't compress audio...so much for that idea (does anyone remember those days?).

You mean except for the fact that audio compression systems have been around for decades? Exactly who were these people claiming such things?

Please change the record (-1, Troll)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611731)

Lets face it, nobody uses Ogg/Theora (Netcraft confirms it, Ogg/Theora is dead etc.). Nothing (except probably Gnome) supports it out of the box, so most people don't know what to do with it. The BBC would be crazy to use such an obscure format for iPlayer.

Re:Please change the record (1)

MartinG (52587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611813)

Why would they be crazy exactly? They would simply include the codec as a part of the iPlayer download. The user wouldn't even know the difference.

Re:Please change the record (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611859)

No one uses VLC or MPlayer, so they don't count either.

Re:Please change the record (1)

ya really (1257084) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611941)

No one uses VLC or MPlayer, so they don't count either.

I do. Wait how am I writing this, I don't exis-*poof*

Re:Please change the record (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611893)

It's so dead that no-one but you even mentioned it. Not sure what you're getting at. As long as they're supplying the player to most people, they can use what they want anyway...

Software patents aren't enforced in the UK! (1)

x_bob (1084907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611749)

This means that it really doesn't matter whether the BBC uses standards covered with patents because it makes no difference to FLOSS users in the UK (the only ones that would be using the BBC service)... this fact makes this whole story completely redundant.

It is opensource - Dirac and/or SchrÃdinger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24611755)

Dirac is created by the BBC and released as OPEN SOURCE.

SchrÃdinger is a fast codec that can PLAY dirac files at resonable speeds.

Both are here [diracvideo.org] .

who cares? (3, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611757)

how about you pick the best codec for the job, no one gives a crap about how open software is if it doesn't do the job as well. i'm not trying to troll here i'm just pointing out the blinding obvious truth. it's the reason MS is still dominating the market and the linux desktop is still 3 years away (same as it was 10 years ago)

frankly h.264 is a brillant piece of work and i can't really begrude it's creators for patenting it and making a buck. it's VERY low cost and it's getting wide adoption because of the very reasonable terms it's licensed under.

Re:who cares? (1)

MartinG (52587) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611837)

1) The BBC has a duty to provide access to all, not just to those who chose to depend on a particular vendor.

2) Using patented technologies excludes a significant minority of users, and is therefore incompatible with (1)

Re:who cares? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611977)

Guess the BBC had better pull out of freeview which broadcasts in MPEG-2. The widespread adoption of .h264 by software producers, content producers and hardware manufacturers is far more important to pandering to a few people's hatred of patents which aren't even valid in the UK (the BBC has no obligation to none licence fee payers and the BBC World service itself is funded by the government)

Re:who cares? (1)

ya really (1257084) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611961)

how about you pick the best codec for the job, no one gives a crap about how open software is if it doesn't do the job as well.

Would have been nice if NBC had of thought of that instead of going with Silverlight for their online showings of the Olympics. No thanks on giving MS a reason to keep that nasty thing around.

Re:who cares? (1)

IBBoard (1128019) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612013)

I think the people who run Linux and either a) want to be purists or b) don't want to have to shell out anything for their OS (which they'd have to do if it bundled codecs) or buy the codecs separately (which is what Fedora prompts you to do for MP3) are the ones who care.

The BBC made its own DIRAC codec so that it could keep its standard-def infrastructure but handle high-def camera feeds instead of spending even larger amounts of money tearing out and replacing its infrastructure. They open-sourced it, so they could quite easily create an iPlayer that used it and not have any issues with patent fees for anyone.

You can't begrudge people for wanting to make money from their work, but you also can't begrudge people not wanting to pay for something when a free and almost equally as good (if not better in the case of DIRAC) alternative is available.

Whining (5, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611931)

The BBC have NO obligation to anyone, especially people who don't pay licence fee, to produce or adopt open source software. Their obligation is to provide good value for money whilst providing the best service to licence payers.
.h264 and AAC both cost so little for the BBC and any partners that using OGG/OGM would actively cost them more due to the inferior video compression. iPlayer eats insane amounts of bandwidth and if they can shrink videos down at all whilst maintaining quality it's in the BBC's best interests.
That's not even taking into account the number of consumer devices that have hardware .h264 decoding compared to Theora. Would cost HW manufacturers a lot to add support for a format that's barely used.
OSS types complained when the BBC made iPlayer windows only at first (even though they always said it was in development for more platforms) but the BBC still responded by speeding up the development of a more compatible platform. The BBC have made great strides with their own video codec even if it's not quite ready. Services like iPlayer are/were ahead of their time and are showing the way for other broadcasters.
If the BBC do things like this yet only get people moaning in response, it'll make them wonder why they're spending licence fee's money on projects like these rather than giving their TV shows higher budgets or promoting HDTV adoption.

Re:Whining (4, Interesting)

ledow (319597) | more than 6 years ago | (#24612209)

Although I agree in part with you, there are a number of problems with what you say.

".h264 and AAC both cost so little for the BBC and any partners that using OGG/OGM would actively cost them more due to the inferior video compression."
"The BBC have made great strides with their own video codec even if it's not quite ready."

These two statements show the problem nicely. The BBC actually funds its own video codec specifically for archiving its video archives (which, eventually, it hopes to allow access to directly on the Internet - there's a quote somewhere if you look for it). This codec is already very good, completely free (and patent-free which is much more important for the BBC) and the cost to "finish it off" (which at this point is minor bug-fixing and bundling into a nice WMP-codec DLL / mplayer plugin etc.) is negligible to anything that they could buy - no matter how cheap. They could do it tomorrow.

However, all they ever seem to do is cut back on Dirac and spend on other technologies. If Dirac's a failure then, to paraphrase yourself, they "have an obligation to the license payer" to cut it. If it's not, they really should be using it in place of a pay-for patented codec. It was designed with this sort of thing in mind and, if memory serves, was designed so that multiple "quality levels" could be easily made from the same streams to allow streaming over a very slow connection and professional-quality distribution/archival. Hell, have Dirac in all downloads for the iPlayer software and use something else for the Flash streams. It would still save money. And there's an precedent...

"iPlayer eats insane amounts of bandwidth and if they can shrink videos down at all whilst maintaining quality it's in the BBC's best interests."

Yes. Then they add the Wii to it, but only in the codec it's compatible with, which takes up 4x the bandwidth of the normal iPlayer streams. Thus, this argument is dead on it's feet. They actually put out an entirely seperate encoded file just for Wii (the most popular games console ever?) on every single video they have, sucking up 4x the bandwidth each time they are used. They also realise that real-time Flash-based streaming is dependent on peak hours and thus puts a massive dent into their bandwidth bill to cope with that peak-time, non-peer-to-peer surge. The other day they put the entire movie of Chicken Run on BBC iPlayer Flash streams and I had it playing in the background.

But they can't write a Linux frontend (even if closed source) for already-existing code to solve this problem (and thus relegate real-time Flash streaming to a second-class method of delivery) or solve the "DRM problem" on Linux. Hell, speak to Nintendo and get iPlayer software bundled with the next Wii update - the more Wii use, more Wii's plugged into the TV all the time, the more bandwidth shared and the closer world Wii domination is.

"That's not even taking into account the number of consumer devices that have hardware .h264 decoding compared to Theora."
"Would cost HW manufacturers a lot to add support for a format that's barely used."

Hardware-decoding is neither here nor there - modern PC's can brute force their way through any iPlayer stream without even breaking a sweat. Even consoles can handle the streams properly - my 600MHz Thinkpad on Linux without video acceleration laughs at the Flash streams and can play full-screen video of that type (800x600 DivX's, DVD's etc. don't worry it at all, even streamed over wireless). There aren't many (any?) HD streams available on iPlayer or broadband connections capable of making this an bottleneck.

However, what you say has an element of truth in that they would have to make a way to play those streams available to the non-techy public. Like, say, an iPlayer app. Hmmm...

"OSS types complained when the BBC made iPlayer windows only at first (even though they always said it was in development for more platforms) but the BBC still responded by speeding up the development of a more compatible platform."

Yep. Does this not reek of "sod you Jack, we'll do what we want?". And we *still* haven't got a Linux/Mac version of the *real* iPlayer software despite all those promises (is it years yet since the first Beta version where this came up?) which are still being made. They could have said "sorry, not possible." They tried to. Then it was basically *ordered* that they had to provide something for users of non-MS-based computers. So they did - a half-arsed, Flash-based stream that probably took all of two seconds to enable because Flash on one platform is pretty much compatible with Flash on any other. Then they made interesting noises about "downloads for Linux/Mac eventually" that never happened.

In fact, there isn't a non-Windows version at all, just a Flash-based preview of what it can do (which, let's be honest, they get for free anyway because Linux/Mac basically plays Flash in the same way as Windows does - the BBC did nothing special to make it happen) - and we had to fight to get even that.

Admittedly, the Flash version probably gets a lot more use and traffic now than the download version but that wasn't true in the early days. I don't have the numbers to hand - however the front page of BBC iPlayer doesn't even MENTION downloading or the iPlayer software at all now. And you have to go to the pages with the Flash streams to get a download link, or hunt through the help pages.

The point of the iPlayer software was to reduce the bandwidth bill (which is so great now that ISP's are having problems coping with it... my ISP published a graph of their bandwidth use from the time that iPlayer was introduced - it's now at about 25%-30% of all bandwidth they carry) - it could become a BitTorrent for BBC shows and reduce their expenditure on connectivity. At some point that morphed into "we don't want Linux/Mac users and let's just Flash-stream everything, even in inferior paid-for codecs, and sod the bandwidth bill". Some people point out that MS is very much in favour for everything at the BBC. To quote the all-knowing Wiki:

During the 2005 and 2006 iPlayer trials, the DRM system used was based on Microsoft's Windows Media DRM... The BBC emphasises that it "has a commitment to platform neutrality and a remit to make its content as widely available as possible", and that while the initial trial used a Microsoft-based technology, they are constantly looking for new technologies which would enable them to relax the restriction.

So we're looking at (at least) three years to find a non-MS-based DRM technology, even when that above quote is surrounded by others stating that some content doesn't need DRM at all and could be offered to Mac/Linux NOW without DRM. Hasn't happened. Still waiting. You're not telling me that the iPlayer couldn't be shipped as a closed-source Linux/Mac app with some sort of encryption that prevents downloaded videos from being played unless it was from within iPlayer itself - they could make one is less than a month without struggling. It'd be cracked eventually but it's trivial to make it as strong as the Windows DRM in use (i.e. not very, considering the strength of any DRM when faced with a determined hacker) - even if it means that the iPlayer app talks back to the BBC to get keys, where it's checked that it's trying to play something that that particular copy of iPlayer downloaded earlier, and not something "copied" from a friend.

"Services like iPlayer are/were ahead of their time and are showing the way for other broadcasters."

100% agreed. It's not perfect but the BBC led the way, even if only by mentioning that they were considering it, and now everyone's doing it or working out how they can do it. Even more reason for them to lead the way on responding to the problems people are having with it. If the BBC offered (and prioritised and highlighted) it's non-DRM videos (which it says it has), guess how long it would be before everyone else did?

"If the BBC do things like this yet only get people moaning in response, it'll make them wonder why they're spending licence fee's money on projects like these rather than giving their TV shows higher budgets or promoting HDTV adoption."

No they won't. They're the BBC. They get criticism left, right and centre. The problem is whether they LISTEN to it or not. If they had listened to us, after a small development effort, we could have had Linux/Mac downloads of the software and there would be a lot more people using the service at times other than peak periods (as, I believe, you can schedule downloads of the latest episodes with the software). A lot more effort would have been put into the software and the Flash streams could easily have taken second-place to the software itself. Every user of the software cuts their bandwidth bill. Every user of the software means a person looking at a BBC app to watch BBC TV. This would have saved them money and gained them noteriety.

They would be using their in-house codec in their software, which would save them licensing/patent fees. They would be pushing the software and not the Flash version and thus could chop and changes codecs (and DRM), distribution methods as and when they liked for all platforms, which would have saved them (and, by extension, me) a considerable amount of money.

But no, the easy way out was the keep paying the (exponentially growing) bills for DRM/patent/content licensing, bandwidth, etc., sod the "customers" (hate that term unless I'm actually BUYING things rather than getting something for free or having to pay for a license anyway), fritter money away and still not fix any of the problems that were there since the outset (at least three years these problems have been present) while *looking* like you were doing something and even giving sound-bites to that effect to everyone who asks.

iPlayer could have been SO much better, cheaper and more prevelant with SO little extra effort. It could have been *the* video app and other channels would have killed to be in on it. In fact, what has happened is that it hit critical mass quite slowly and then development stagnated completely. All they've done since it was released is re-jigged the front page a bit and bundled radio and tv programs together. You still can't download to a non-Windows (maybe even non-XP computer, if Wiki is still correct about Vista problems) computer. You still can't download some radio streams at all because the DRM doesn't work (but you can stream them okay!). You've still got every ISP complaining about the traffic it causes and the solution given so far is "Let's stick a BBC box in every ISP" (seriously).

It coulda been a contender. As it is, it's propped up on enormous coffers of bandwidth and liable to be supplanted by just about any legal peer-to-peer, video-sharing, broadcast-station-supported app that comes along. It's no different to the ones available for other channels, where it could have been something that the other channels would PAY to be on.

Go with the flow (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 6 years ago | (#24611987)

The last thing we need is another codec and/or supporting plugin/application to play it. Particularly as Flash etc. is starting to be the defacto standard.

Just adopt the MPEG4 stack already, if theres patent issues surely they can be resolved fairly easily in the case of the BBC, and these 'other platforms' people ask to be supported can do so easily. (Give them the stream URL to play in Quicktime or VLC)

Re:Go with the flow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24612091)

Let's be clear. The BBC Iplay is a proprietary version of a Bittorrent, peer-to-peer bandwidth sharing protocol. The BBC cannot afford to run the servers to simply let everyone stream ORB/Voggis, and they've already invested a big pool of their hardware and software resources into running this service based strictly on Windows Media.

Why did they do this? Because Windows Media gave them tight DRM, to prevent easy rebroadcast, especially for sports coverage and other BBC shows that they'd have to renegotiate contracts for. Can you imagine getting Paramount to cooperate with a non-DRM format for showing movies that get played on the BBC? Or your average sports team selling broadcast rights? Or China with the Olympics?

The Flash, Quicktime, and other formats we're hearing about are strictly because a bunch of people in the UK noticed and screamed about the unfair corporate tie-in to Windows, and now they're trying to backtrack on business plans that cost millions of pounds of business lunches, Powerpoint presentations, and fact-finding tours to convince the BBC's managers that it would work well.

You've missed the whole point of the iplayer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24612103)

Watching live television broadcasts in the UK is only legal if you have a TV licence. That also applies to those 'live' broadcasts which are available over the Internet.

The BBC do not publicise that fact very well, and a whole load of viewers who do not own televisions, and therefore imagine that they are not liable for the TV licence tax, are becoming accustomed to using the net to view BBC content.

They need DRM and user tracking to identify who is viewing.

The BBC is preparing itself for future possible partial or complete privatisation.

BBC - funded by threat of violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24612169)

... stuff them.

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