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Regulator Blocks BBC DRM Plans

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the hey-at-least-they-report-it dept.

Government 177

TheRaven64 writes "The BBC's plans to introduce DRM for over-the-air digital broadcasts were today dealt a setback when the regulator, Ofcom, asked them the same question that has been asked of many DRM systems: 'How does this benefit the consumer?' The letter to the BBC is quoted in the article as saying that 'Ofcom received a large number of responses to this consultation, in particular from consumers and consumer groups, who raised a number of potentially significant consumer "fair use" and competition issues that were not addressed in our original consultation.' This does not end the chance of the BBC being allowed to introduce DRM in the future, but it at least delays their opportunity to do so."

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177 comments

last of the corepirate nazi hostage $ sucks? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045366)

that would be cell phone 'service'. steadily creeping up to 120$ mo., for a family of 1?

a smart greedmonger (uncle sam?) would bust that scam up, give us all better 'service', for much cheaper, whilst still making a billionerrors ransom, which might help pay for the repairs of the deep doo we keep talking ourselves into?

more feechurns/hostages than even fuddles (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045460)

now that's innovation on a gottiesque scale.

Consumer? Pah. (5, Insightful)

wiggys (621350) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045368)

DRM was never about the consumer. The only people who benefit from DRM are content providers. They use DRM as a way of unfairly controlling what you can do with the content you paid good money for.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (3, Funny)

the_fat_kid (1094399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045480)

but don't you see how that helps the consumer?
The good people who brought us Hanna Montana and American Idol are looking out for our entertainment interests.
Oh, I'm sorry, BBC, Coupling and Torchwood.
If they don't get all of your money, the terrorists win.

Piracy is a consequence.... (2, Interesting)

mrops (927562) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046058)

An old quote from where I come from goes like this... "If you see abundance of money and wastefulness of resources, then understand that someone's legitimate right to those resources is being compromised".

Yes, art... like any other field should provide a given artist a stable income.

Yes, the artist worked hard, nonetheless, piracy is a consequence of someone who is finding it hard to pay the bills wanting something beyond his budget. On the other hand, a given (successful) artist who will probably feed generations with the wealth accumulated wants even more money.

On purely human grounds, I find something is wrong with this picture, very wrong.

Once the songs has been composed, the value-added component for every CD or MP3 they sell just doesn't add up to the price they charge consumers. Even if you take into account the effort and labor of composing the song, it still does not add up. This is something fundamental to a working capitalist society. Things should cost a fair price, media does not.

What exactly are the media giants selling, is it art... then why have I bought the same song in LP, Cassette, CD and now mp3s.

I can't put my finger on exactly what is wrong with this model.

IMO, this needs to be revisited to figure out how everyone gets their fair share, consumers and artists.

Re:Piracy is a consequence.... (1, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046424)

Not all pirates are plain shit broke.

Many pirate simply because they are cheapskates, and many more as of late do it simply out of spite/revenge against the RIAA. It's cheating. As wikipedia calls it, it's "getting more for less"

Bottom line is that pirates are willfully defying the law. Someone with a "devil may care" attitude like that almost certainly isn't going to have clean hands, so to speak, when his true motivations are put under a microscope.

Both sides are sleazy. Big Content indeed has its ethical problems.

But any pirate who says they deserve what they get, rightly or not, is just a pot calling a kettle black.

Re:Piracy is a consequence.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30046760)

It's cheating.

It's bartering in a system that doesn't allow bartering.

For example, say I like CSI. I like it enough that I'll pay $20 a season on DVD (Roughly seasons 1 and 2, maybe 3 if it's on sell). I don't like it enough to pay the 40+ that they want for seasons 4-6, the 50+ for 7-8 and the 60 they want for season 9. What can I do? I can't go to Target and say, I'll give you $20 for season 9 (Well, I could, but they'd laugh) So, I buy seasons 1-5, and download seasons 6-10. Voila, roughly $20 an season.

Re:Piracy is a consequence.... (1)

Ohrion (814105) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047630)

So what you're saying is, the consumer should set the price based on how much they're willing to pay? That you think this is how it should work is simply amazing. That you posted this as AC points to what you really think about it.

Re:Piracy is a consequence.... (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046772)

Not all pirates are plain shit broke.

Indeed, some of them just like to do a bit of violence on the high seas.

Re:Piracy is a consequence.... (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047466)

Artists usually get shit for their work. It's not about the artists, it's about the big pockets of media corporations that can never get enough. They squeeze the artists just as much as they squeeze the public.

Guys like Metallica wouldn't complain because they sell so much that:

  1. Their share of the record sales is significative due to the sheer number of records sold (the label gets many many times that, of course).
  2. They more negotiating power to force better deals with their label.

So basically, if you're not a multi million seller artist you'll get nothing for the record sales and will have to work hard playing live to make a living.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045764)

The only people who benefit from DRM are content providers.

Well, then, maybe all of the people who want content, and who are always complaining about the quality of content, should look for a way to get what they want without there being any content creators/providers who do what they do with any prospect of earning a living. If we can just dispense with this whole notion of creative professionals, and just settle for entertainment created by junior high school vampire romance fangurlz, Bon Jovi tribute bar bands, street mimes, and hippes who want everyone to have their vegan curry recipes (for free!) then everything would just settle down nicely. There's absolutely no need for people who work for years on recording or film projects. It's pointless to expect people to work off and on for a decade on a novel. Those people should never be able to sell their works, they should instead focus on t-shirt sales and readings in coffee houses, where they are compensated with a share of the barista's tip jar. After all, it's absurd for anyone to make a single penny the week after they've spent a year doing the actual work of creating something. All entertainment should be paid for in advance by fans. Selling your work, on your own terms, after you invest the time to create it: that's, like, totally fascism.

Here's an idea: just don't do business with DRM-centric content creators or the distribution networks/agents with whom they've chosen to do business. Give your business to people who want to give away their work for free. If that really is the way to earn a living as a creative person, then truth of that notion will be plain for all to see. Put your money (or the lack of spending it) where your mouth is. If having a say in how your creative work is reproduced strikes you as eeeevil, then you surely wouldn't want to enjoy entertainment or information produced by someone who embraces the idea anyway, right? Right? Because, you know, that would be intellectually dishonest.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045894)

Thank you. Just thank you. Damn well said - and about time.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (4, Informative)

simcop2387 (703011) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045998)

in the case of the BBC, if they add DRM, then citizens of the UK CAN'T NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM, if they own a tv they have to pay the license fee that the bbc makes money off of. its sort of like forcefully paid for public broadcasting.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046428)

in the case of the BBC, if they add DRM, then citizens of the UK CAN'T NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM

Which isn't an argument against DRM, it's an argument against having the British government that involved in broadcasting in the first place.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046800)

Which isn't an argument against DRM, it's an argument against having the British government that involved in broadcasting in the first place.

Not really.. On the whole it's worked quite well when compared to the biassed news reporting and utter drivel that comes out of the US networks...

Re:Consumer? Pah. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30047098)

So what is the argument then? I for one am happy to pay my license fee to fund the BBC as it provides a non-commercial TV service (which for one thing means no ad breaks in my viewing along with other benifits like a non-partisan point of view). Since the Government has no direct control over the BBC, other than re-granting its charter every now and again I don't see how the Government is involved in broadcasting.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

IanCal (1243022) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047496)

Yes, if only the BBC were more like ITV or Channel 5. Why, then we'd be able to watch reality TV without being interrupted by nature documentaries with Attenborough, quality news or original comedies. What a blissful world that would be!

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047526)

Or maybe otherwise. Maybe it's an argument against letting the private corporations stick their fists up government's ass so high.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

mikeplokta (223052) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046384)

Here's a response that the film and TV industries have never yet tried; how about letting people pay them money for legal downloads without DRM on the day of release? It's impossible to stop people downloading content, so you'd think they could at least experiment with letting people pay them for it rather than giving consumers who want unencumbered and timely content no choice but to pirate.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

DdJ (10790) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047254)

Here's an idea: just don't do business with DRM-centric content creators or the distribution networks/agents with whom they've chosen to do business. Give your business to people who want to give away their work for free.

False dichotomy.

I buy a ton of etexts. I pay money for them, and the authors get compensated. But the etexts do not have DRM! This doesn't mean the authors want to give the product away for free, it just means that they don't use DRM to enforce their wishes in this regard. (Baen webscriptions is one example of a publishing house that puts out etexts that don't use DRM. They do put out some stuff for free, but they sell much more, and none of it that I've seen involves any DRM. If you use "Stanza" on the iPhone, you can configure it to talk to their store, and then you can download the books you've purchased directly to the device.)

Re:Consumer? Pah. (2, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047450)

Fine! You've chosen to do business with authors who have decided that they're not worried if you make a million of your anonymous internet friends reproductions of what you've purchased. That's working for you, and the authors involved seem to think, so far, that it's working for them. What's not to like?

In the meantime, other authors have chosen to be more picky about their copyrights. If you find that to be wrong-headed, then don't do business with them. But don't encourage ripping them off, either, as so many people do.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (3, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#30048132)

But the point is exactly that: forget the pirates. They're not your costumers; don't screw those who are based on hypothetical sales that DRM would bring, because you'll only end up with more pirates.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 4 years ago | (#30048400)

Well, then, maybe all of the people who want content, and who are always complaining about the quality of content, should look for a way to get what they want without there being any content creators/providers who do what they do with any prospect of earning a living.
...
If having a say in how your creative work is reproduced strikes you as eeeevil, then you surely wouldn't want to enjoy entertainment or information produced by someone who embraces the idea anyway, right? Right? Because, you know, that would be intellectually dishonest.

What the fuck are you talking about? Do you even understand the argument against DRM?
DRM prevents me from making fair use of copyright material.
If I do not have the ability to fairly use your copyrighted material,
then you have reneged on the bargain that is copyright.

I mean fuck, humanity has created for thousands of years, but only in the last 60 years (hello VCR) has our creativity been existentially threatened by the lack of pervasive DRM.

Selling your work, on your own terms, after you invest the time to create it: that's, like, totally fascism.

Your copyright doesn't pre-empt my fair use rights.
The fact that you want to tell me what I can do, in my home, with something I've purchased,
seems a lot more authoritarian and corporatist (aka fascism) than my desire to prevent you from doing so.

Work for 3 hours, earn for the rest of your life. (2, Insightful)

Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) | more than 4 years ago | (#30048402)

That's essentially what it boils down to. If I paint a wall in a neighbours house, I charge for the time it takes to paint it. I don't expect to "earn" money every time the poor sods look at the bloody wall, now do I?

It's about time we sat down & looked at this copyright/DRM lark seriously. In no other profession can you expect to earn money, 70 sodding years after you are dead, for 3 hours work.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (3, Insightful)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045800)

DRM was never about the consumer. The only people who benefit from DRM are content providers.

At the risk of being burned at the stake, I can think of two scenarios where DRM would benefit the customer:

  1. Try before you buy - This allows customers to get content for free for a limited period of time to determine whether or not they want to purchase it. Note that I'm talking about the DRM on the sample piece of content, not the final product. For example, try a ringtone on your phone for 2 days. If you like it, then you can buy the full (DRM free) version.
  2. Rentals - The rental market is based on the basis that you borrow the content for a limited period of time at a significantly reduced rate on the understanding that it will expire.

In both cases, however, note that both parties get something out of the transaction and the terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance. They get my money, I don't pay full price and they don't get me keeping the content.

Personally I wouldn't want to see rentals disappear. I'm happy with the fact that it's only mine for a couple of days on the basis that I pay only a quarter of the purchase price.

I won't shed a tear for the other forms of DRM.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (2, Informative)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046386)

In both cases, however, note that both parties get something out of the transaction and the terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance.

If terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance, then you can accomplish the same thing without DRM. But that's not exactly a revelation, since the movie rental market thrived for 3 decades without any seriously effective DRM. Interesting that it's starting to die at right around the same time that BluRay, and it's relatively more effective DRM, came out. But I'm sure that's just a coincidence. ;-)

They get my money, I don't pay full price and they don't get me keeping the content.

With DRM or without it, if you really want to keep the content (perhaps because you see time-to-release as a dicksize measurement, or because you just wanted to save money by buying for the rental price), then you're going to be able to. DRM never helps to prevent that. All it is capable of doing, is making access less convenient, and there are a lot more people accessing movies because they're trying to play them, than there are people trying to access movies to copy them.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047052)

If terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance, then you can accomplish the same thing without DRM.

In an ideal world, but the realist cynic in me says that any company that trusts their customers to delete unprotected digital content after two days and not use it again, is going to find that trust broken over and over again.

But that's not exactly a revelation, since the movie rental market thrived for 3 decades without any seriously effective DRM.

To be fair, not having DVD Writers available to purchase in the shops helped for a good while, followed by the fact that it took some time before the DeCSS key was cracked. Even today there are still plenty of people who either don't own a DVD writer or do and simply have no idea that you can copy DVD's.

Having said all that, you're right though in the fact that the rental market is still doing okay as it relies on the trust (and ignorance) of customers to the fact that DVD's can be ripped. In my defence, I was more talking about digital content delivery where the knowledge required to duplicate content is as complicated as ctrl-c and ctrl-v.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30048114)

In an ideal world, but the realist cynic in me says that any company that trusts their customers to delete unprotected digital content after two days and not use it again, is going to find that trust broken over and over again.

The only reason not to delete downloads is that you might want to watch them again and not be able to. Open up your back catalogue and let me download things to watch when I want them in exchange for a reasonable monthly fee (about what I pay to rent DVDs through the post, but without any of the overheads) and I'll delete them. Why? Because I don't want hundreds of GBs of data that I need to worry about backing up but will probably never access. And even if I did keep copies, what's the problem? I'm paying for access to a service that provides a huge archive of material and keeps getting new material, not for individual works, so why would they care? It's not like they're losing the ability to sell me access to season 3 of a TV show because I forgot to delete season 2...

Re:Consumer? Pah. (3, Interesting)

Otto (17870) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046536)

In the specific case of "rental", I'm always entertained by the comparison of the physical vs. the virtual world here. Specifically, the difference in distribution costs. Basically, rental makes no sense for the digital world in terms of distribution.

Think about it, the cost to download the content is the same whether you purchase it or rent it. The file would be the same one either way, basically. However, with rental, the price comes down because there's some sort of agreement or enforcement to make your copy expire in some fashion.

And if you consider it that way, it actually costs the retailer MORE for rental properties, as they now have to spend money on some kind of DRM scheme to enforce the time-based part of the contract. So the only reason for them to actually do this is volume; they'd have to get a significantly higher volume to make up for the price difference. If it's $3 to rent and $9 to buy, then they'd have to rent *over* three times as much as they'd sell, since there's also three times the bandwidth to be paid for now, as well as the costs of the DRM.

Streaming suffers from this even more, now you pay the bandwidth to transfer the content *every single time* it's viewed.

So why bother with rental at all?

What if, instead, they sold the content at the rental price (or just a hair above it)? Just sell a one-time download (possibly with a confirmation scheme to ensure the download finishes). No repeats, you don't gain ownership in the sense that you can redownload it indefinitely (you delete it, tough luck to you). $3 and you can download a copy and we're done, end of transaction.

Ideally, they'd sell as many as they'd rent in this case (probably more considering it's a "buy" and buyers will take advantage of the reduced costs). The bandwidth usage is basically the same as the rental model, there's no DRM scheme to deal with and no added costs to cope with there. Essentially, they'd be able to make more money this way. Possibly a lot more.

Separation of the market into rental and purchase *doesn't make any sense* in the digital realm. When you have actual physical product to transfer around, sure, that works. But when the cost of each is basically the same, then there's little point in separation based on a price.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047878)

Rentals - The rental market is based on the basis that you borrow the content for a limited period of time at a significantly reduced rate on the understanding that it will expire.

I don't know about you, but I have no desire to make a copy of something I rent anyway. If it's one of those few things worth watching again, I can rent it again. They'd have to pay be to go through the trouble of keeping a copy of every movie I watched.

And anyway, even the rental market is suspect. A real rental market is such because an item can only be used by one person at a time. If I'm renting the pickup truck, you can't also be renting it at the same time. Rental solves this issue without the real cost of producing two trucks so each of us can own one. But with rental of digital material, it's kind of silly.

Re:Consumer? Pah. (2, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046100)

I think the biggest problem is that we no longer have 'art', we have 'content'. When our collective creative output becomes commercialized to this point, is it any wonder that DRM is as prevalent as it is?

Provider?! Pah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30046174)

The only people who benefit from DRM are content providers.

WTF? The content providers suffer more from DRM than all other parties combined. DRM makes it so that only people with patience and special tools (i.e. pirates) are able to play the content, and then everyone else has to get the DRM-stripped it-just-works content from the pirates.

The only people who benefit from DRM are the big manufacturers, DRM-licensing bodies, etc. The idea is to try to keep the player market small.

Need Better Input Than This (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045462)

It surprises me how often people submit arguments to something (even here on Slashdot) and fail to anticipate the opposing view's points. I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM. Everyone just offers up reasons why it is wrong. Well, if you can't offer an alternative then you are condemned to fighting an uphill battle of why your specific qualms are worse for the consumer than the reduction of piracy. Of course, you can argue that a reduction in piracy does nothing for the end consumer but the BBC and UK Gov are singing a different tune apparently. The premium HD content providers to the BBC are interested in this so you'll need a different strategy than just saying, "wrong wrong wrong."

One particular fellow [ofcom.org.uk] doesn't even seem to put two and two together (or spell correctly) and realize that his exact situation is just what they intend to block:

While I appreciate the BBC is keen to retain third party content providers for their HD channels I think compromising the rights of their viewers is not an acceptable solution to achieve this. I believe that it is in contravention of the BBC's responsibilty to provide unencumbered content to TV licence payers.

Personally third party content is of little importance to me, certainly not worth the risk of losing my ability to watch television on my computer via my DVB capture card; I use an open source operating system which will be highly unlikely to obtain a licence for the BBC's proprietary compression tables.

It amazes me that none of these responses addresses the basic needs or the fact that the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect. It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem? That's why it will be eventually put into place if you don't proffer an alternative. Attack the problem at the root of its source and work to show that piracy really isn't a big deal, that's your only choice. Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

Why? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045498)

"I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM."

Piracy is the only response of the market to a fiat monopoly.

With commodities you can "vote with your dollars". But with copyright, it's hobson's choice.

So why must piracy be solved here?

Sell cheap enough to maximise ROI. And they are the only ones who can do this.

Re:Why? (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045724)

>So why must piracy be solved here?

Because without something that the BBC can at least represent to their content providers as a solution, they won't be able to get some of them to agree to let them licence their content.

Here's the answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30046686)

Here's the answer: Don't take content from someone who doesn't want it available without DRM.

There's no need to. BBC Freeplay won't have content without DRM because it cannot: have TV must pay. Even if DRM means you can't play. Ergo, can't have DRM.

It's not like there's not plenty of content out there. Heck, the BBC has STACKS of stuff that could do a rerun and there's all that niche stuff that isn't commercial but is wanted by a section of the license fee payers but unavailable because everybody is chasing the lowest common denominator.

Short of it is: DRM can't be implemented by the BBC licensed under the TVLA terms.

I'm fairly sure if it was a choice between fronting all the money themselves and foregoing DRM, partners of BBC productions would relent on DRM. If the market to the BBC disappears and a product has to face tougher competition in the rest of the market, some will find that DRM isn't worth losing money over and go with the BBC.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (5, Insightful)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045538)

Then let the "content providers" take their ball and go home. If they think they're not leaving money on the table, their call. But keep your digital restrictions out of my living room.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (0)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045630)

Then let the "content providers" take their ball and go home. If they think they're not leaving money on the table, their call. But keep your digital restrictions out of my living room.

What's the difference to you then? The BBC's statement in the article said:

We are committed to ensuring that public service content remains free to air i.e. unencrypted.

So I would imagine it would work just like TV set-top box de-scramblers work in the states: your regular content will continue to work on everything that it works on now. Premium content will be encrypted and you will need an licensed decrypting device or you're just going to see Russians having a snowball fight on your set.

If the premium content providers "take their ball and go home" then you're in the same boat but people willing to buy into the proprietary scheme can't. Yeah, it's bad to promote that sort of system but the consumer loses even more in your suggested scenario.

You're making complete sense to me and I agree with you 100%. But realize that you are not going to convince any politician nor BBC executive with that suggestion.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (4, Insightful)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045686)

The consumer (nay, customer, or better yet, citizen) loses nothing but his chains by resisting and refusing to pay into DRM schemes (with tax money in the case of UK citizens and the BBC). But if these schemes gain acceptability, then all content will eventually be locked down, so all "consumers" lose--even those who were willing to accept that some "premium 'content'" would be digitally restricted. Fortunately, if a human can see or hear something, a human can copy it so it's ultimately all a moot point: pervasive digital restrictions management will only serve to fuel a vast digital "underground" that will be underground only in name as social acceptability of its circumvention outweighs the shrill voice of the shills, the content "industry," and the politicians.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046868)

The consumer (nay, customer, or better yet, citizen) loses nothing but his chains by resisting and refusing to pay into DRM schemes

Nice rhetoric but, the consumers lose access to American* shows at reasonable prices. The BBC should consider using DRM for shows on a bid by bid basis, taking the option of the table is giving in to the extremists!

*The DRM is not intended for BBC produced shows, we own them entirely and unlikely for independent UK shows (most of the BBCs programming), it is only a serious option for imported shows (which are almost entirely US shows)

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047604)

*The DRM is not intended for BBC produced shows, we own them entirely and unlikely for independent UK shows (most of the BBCs programming), it is only a serious option for imported shows (which are almost entirely US shows)

So the exporting content holders have the choice:

Make $0 as the British simply download the already cracked shows

Make exactly the same amount of money that they would make broadcasting the shows to the BBC with or without DRM.

The thing is, I don't want to use Windows and install the umpteenth file viewer for the next flavor of DRM. They are making it so that if I want to watch anything at all, it has to be pirated.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

makomk (752139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046816)

So I would imagine it would work just like TV set-top box de-scramblers work in the states: your regular content will continue to work on everything that it works on now. Premium content will be encrypted and you will need an licensed decrypting device or you're just going to see Russians having a snowball fight on your set.

You're not quite reading that right. By "public service content" they mean stuff like news, current affairs shows, and internally-produced documentaries (i.e. the stuff that fulfils their public services remit). By "premium content" they mean every single show bought in from the US, and probably most or all of the UK-produced fiction series too. It's media industry speak - they think of the HD versions of all their shows as "premium content" that needs to be protected from the evil pirates.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (-1, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045560)

Posted 12 minutes after the story hit the front page, presents a cogent view in favor of the big media/BBC, says we should shut our dirty whore mouths unless we have a solution that will pass every test he can throw at it, has a PDF citation ready to go from some official .gov.uk comment site nobody has ever heard of, and adds in an obvious spell flame/spelling error combo in his post to throw off follow-ups.

My hat's off to you sir, you are quite well-organized for a high 6-digit slashdot poster.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045692)

has a PDF citation ready to go from some official .gov.uk comment site nobody has ever heard of

You mean, from the site of the regulator mentioned in the summary, about the consultation represented in the article?

Re:Need Better Input Than This (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045704)

Posted 12 minutes after the story hit the front page

Er, if you pay $5 once, you can see the stories early when they're plums. Had a while to think this through, hope that doesn't rub you the wrong way. (Note the asterisk to the right of my UID)

presents a cogent view in favor of the big media/BBC, says we should shut our dirty whore mouths unless we have a solution that will pass every test he can throw at it

I don't think that's what I said. I think the article, government and BBC are very clear on why they think they need this. I expressed my disapproval in (what I considered) a civil manner of the responses. I don't think they will hold the DRM at bay. Was hoping to have a discussion and not demand either side nor anyone "shut their dirty whore mouths." But way to put words into my mouth, well done.

has a PDF citation ready to go from some official .gov.uk comment site nobody has ever heard of

That was found in the article on the right side under "on the web." It's the official site for the responses and discussion.

and adds in an obvious spell flame/spelling error combo in his post to throw off follow-ups.

My hat's off to you sir, you are quite well-organized for a high 6-digit slashdot poster.

Really? It's come down to the numbers to the right of our names? I'm flamebait and you're insightful?! I give up.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30046018)

I'm sure that "read the article thoroughly and make links with citations when writing replies on major websites" is part of the instructions in your contract, shill. Who goes through and follows all the links from TFA? Not surprised your company sprung for the extra $5/month, either.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

Narpak (961733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045588)

Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

The problem being that to a very real degree DRM costs developers/producers/consumers money, it doesn't prevent piracy and in the case of certain products have been shown to cause hardware/software damage, loss of data and generally made life inconvenient and hard for users of legally purchased copies of a product. Pirated versions on the other hand have a tendency to have whatever DRM they tried to use removed and thus avoid whatever problems were associated with it; and proving that the DRM was totally ineffective to begin with.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045590)

The BBC is publicly funded. Their mandate to work in the public interest should trump all other concerns. If a studio wishes to make DRM a condition of licensing their content, then the BBC should walk away. It will harm the studio a lot more than it will harm the BBC. They should put the money that they save by not licensing the content into producing original content.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30046394)

Until the British public starts saying "What happened to the good movies and shows we used to get? Why won't the BBC pay for those?" At which point the BBC will be put into a position where the "public interest" is saying "Give us the movies we want".

Re:Need Better Input Than This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30048260)

Good movies and american tv series have long since disappeared from the BBC, channel 4(with e4 and more4) manage to absorb most of them, channel 5 and ITV2 get the stragglers, oh, and the expensive ones all go to Sky for their Sky1 channel(only on paid for satellite). The BBC needs to grow some balls and be brave enough to produce decent quality domestic content, channel 4 can manage it but the BBC seem to spend all of the license payer's money on poorly planned tech schemes(w00t iplayer's almost usable after years of ill-advised drm'd failure), wages for overpaid and braindead executives, wages for overpaid and braindead presenters/DJs and broadcasting extra channels which they're incapable of keeping stocked with content(BBC3 shows some of the most appalling rubbish imaginable and repeats it on the same night it was originally aired)

Increased use of DRM will do nothing but drive people to increased use of piracy, but then i'm not sure straight DRM is the whole idea of this article.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047358)

If DRM leads to cheaper licensing of shows, and consequently more choices of shows to license, and/or a cheaper licensing fee, then DRM could indeed be in the public interest.

Of course, not everyone would be happy about it, but so long as that group is in a clear minority, then I don't see why BBC couldn't go ahead with the plan.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30048168)

If DRM leads to cheaper licensing of shows, and consequently more choices of shows to license, and/or a cheaper licensing fee, then DRM could indeed be in the public interest.

Yes, because shifting the balance of power towards producers and away from consumers has, in the past, always led to a better deal for consumers...

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045600)

>>>have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

Don't. Trust that if you offer a fair product at a reasonable price, then the consumers will buy it rather than copy it. It's the same model that worked with Non-copy protected cassettes back in the 80s and 90s.

Also: The article is about the BBC which is funded by the taxpayers. In my humble opinion, the taxpayers entitled to take the product free-of-charge since they already paid for it.

(goes back to drinking German beer)

"A woman on the radio talks about revolution, but it's already passed her by. I was alive and I waited for this. Right here, right now; there is no other place I want to be..... watching the world wake-up from history. ----- I saw the decade end, when it seemed the world could change at the blink of an eye. And if anything then there's your sign. I was alive and I waited, waited for this. I was alive and I waited for this. Watching the world wake up from history! Right here. Right now."

Re:Need Better Input Than This (2, Interesting)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045730)

Don't. Trust that if you offer a fair product at a reasonable price, then the consumers will buy it rather than copy it. It's the same model that worked with Non-copy protected cassettes back in the 80s and 90s.

But, but, but HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC [wikipedia.org] !

An alternative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045606)

I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

One alternative: Creative Commons Share Alike - No Commercial - No Derivates.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045628)

The premium HD content providers to the BBC are interested in this so you'll need a different strategy than just saying, "wrong wrong wrong."

The BBC should not be buying in premium content. The reason why all UK TV owners have to buy a license is to provide financing for the BBC, to enable them to provide quality programming other channels consider money losers. The UK already has 100s of channels showing crap from all over the world, including so-called premium TV shows.

DRM has nothing to do with piracy, that's just BS. The sole reason for DRM is to take the industry and consumer over to pay per view/listen models.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045656)

DRM is broken by design, the user has to have a way of decrypting the content in order to view it, so the keys have to be given out...
All DRM will do is stop "casual piracy", that is people making copies for their friends, or recording to view later etc... The serious piracy groups who produce copies and sell them will quickly work out ways to bypass any protection being used. Go on thepiratebay, there is a lot of content available there which has been ripped from DRM encumbered sources, and the pirate versions are better because they have consumer-hostile things removed.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046298)

All DRM will do is stop "casual piracy", that is people making copies for their friends,

Won't even do that - If people can't record their own TV they will simply download it from the Internet (illegally, if necessary).

or recording to view later etc...

Not only does copyright has absolutely nothing to do with piracy, time shifting has nothing to do with copyright infringement (or any other illegal activity).

On a related note, the BBC employ a DRM system on satellite for their HD channel which demonstrates the utterly crazy way these people's minds work: They send a free to air DVB stream 72,000Km in the clear, and then mandate that the 1 metre long cable carrying the raw uncompressed HDTV data from the decoder to the TV must be encrypted. So what does this do for anyone? It makes the lives of the consumers harder (e.g. it effectively outlaws the use of HD over component, so early adopters have to replace their equipment with something that can do HDCP), but at the same time does nothing to stop copyright infringement (someone who wants to record a programme won't be capturing the raw uncompressed data anyway, they will instead be capturing the much more convenient already-compressed unencrypted DVB stream). It also devalues the official hardware, since standard DVB receivers (i.e. those not sporting the FreeSat logo) play the content just fine without this restriction.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30046496)

As a UK citizen paying the license fee, I am one of the many people who know what DRM is and is against it. DRM hampers the service provided to the paying customer more than it hampers it's 'service' to non-paying customers. Having purchased DRM music in my early, naive, days, and having reinstalled Windows (and now Linux) several times, I curse the damn files that I payed for and can't play. Wouldn't it be ironic that I now have to resort to 'piracy' in order to regain the music I payed for?

As far as I am concerned, the BBC gets their license fee whether DRM is used or not.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (2, Insightful)

ericrost (1049312) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045748)

Alright eldavo, here you go: DRM does nothing to combat piracy and only inconveniences legitimate consumers who have duly paid to use said content. Look at Blu-Ray, look at DVD's, look at SecuROM, look at DirecTV, look at TiVo, every single one of these schemes have been broken open by "pirates" who produce more convenient to use products than the locked down "legitimate" versions.

DRM is simply a waste of money, resources, time, and it insults legitimate consumers who are willing to pay and does absolutely nothing to deter copying and piracy, in fact, for some, it only encourages it as its seen as a challenge.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045858)

It surprises me how often people submit arguments to something (even here on Slashdot) and fail to anticipate the opposing view's points. I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM. Everyone just offers up reasons why it is wrong. Well, if you can't offer an alternative then you are condemned to fighting an uphill battle of why your specific qualms are worse for the consumer than the reduction of piracy. Of course, you can argue that a reduction in piracy does nothing for the end consumer but the BBC and UK Gov are singing a different tune apparently. The premium HD content providers to the BBC are interested in this so you'll need a different strategy than just saying, "wrong wrong wrong."

One particular fellow [ofcom.org.uk] doesn't even seem to put two and two together (or spell correctly) and realize that his exact situation is just what they intend to block:

While I appreciate the BBC is keen to retain third party content providers for their HD channels I think compromising the rights of their viewers is not an acceptable solution to achieve this. I believe that it is in contravention of the BBC's responsibilty to provide unencumbered content to TV licence payers.

Personally third party content is of little importance to me, certainly not worth the risk of losing my ability to watch television on my computer via my DVB capture card; I use an open source operating system which will be highly unlikely to obtain a licence for the BBC's proprietary compression tables.

It amazes me that none of these responses addresses the basic needs or the fact that the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect. It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem? That's why it will be eventually put into place if you don't proffer an alternative. Attack the problem at the root of its source and work to show that piracy really isn't a big deal, that's your only choice. Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

i didn't finish ur rant, i stopped at first paragraph...

but omg...i guess i have to use the modified chef example for u to understand?
here it is...do we need to teach the chef how to cook if he makes terrible food? we are on the receiving end, sure we can come up with ways if we feel like it, but ultimately it should be for the content provider to figure out how to cater to the consumers. i guess in your perfect world we also have to be witnesses for the RIAA and MPAA?

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046028)

I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

Time for a bad analogy. You are a Doctor, and your patient has a terminal and incurable disease. You can do nothing and your patient will die or you can pump him full of dangerous, nauseating chemotherapy, and your patient will die in agony. (or you can shoot him full of painkillers and he'll die peacefully)

Sometimes there is no solution, and the best thing to do is let the patient die quietly with dignity.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (4, Informative)

ranulf (182665) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046052)

As one of those who responded, I'm glad I did.

Your comment also highlights that you misunderstand exactly what the BBC were proposing. Their plan was to encrypt the EPG, not the actual programming. Anybody who wanted to pirate the material still could - they just needed to know what time the program was on, the transponder frequency and PID to record the whole MPEG stream. So, this wasn't actually an effective technical measure against piracy. All it would have achieved is making life difficult for people who wanted to use open source software to access the EPG in order to actually discover what programs are on and when, enabling them to enjoy the TV that was being shown rather than expecting them to just flick through all channels until they found something that looked interesting.

It was a definite step backwards in terms of usability and offered nothing to protect broadcasts from pirates. What it did offer was a guaranteed revenue stream for the BBC by selling licenses to set-top box manufacturers.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (3, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046104)

One particular fellow [ofcom.org.uk] doesn't even seem to put two and two together (or spell correctly) and realize that his exact situation is just what they intend to block:

Personally third party content is of little importance to me, certainly not worth the risk of losing my ability to watch television on my computer via my DVB capture card; I use an open source operating system which will be highly unlikely to obtain a licence for the BBC's proprietary compression tables.

Why would they want to block this? Note that he said watch TV on a computer - if he had said that he wanted to keep the ability to illegally copy it then you might have a point, but that's not what he said at all.

It amazes me that none of these responses addresses the basic needs or the fact that the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect.

Why should I (the licence fee payer) be legally required to financially support something controversial like DRM, that I fundamentally disagree with? If the content producers don't want the BBC to have their content then that's fine by me, but it will reduce their profits (by immediately excluding the BBC from the bidding process, they are automatically reducing the value of their content since less bidders means a lower winning bid (on average)).

It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem?

Perceived problems don't need solutions. Real problems need solutions.

That's why it will be eventually put into place if you don't proffer an alternative.

The alternative is to continue doing as they have been doing for decades - allowing licence payers to use the content to the full extent allowed by the law (and yes, this includes building your own receiver). Its worked up till now, why do they need to change?

Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

DRM doesn't actually do anything to reduce copyright infringement. If anything, it increases copyright infringement by reducing the number of people who can get at the content by legitimate means. The choice is going to come down to:
* Replace my whole A/V system with a new system that has extremely limited functionality compared to what I already have.
* Illegally download the content off the internet.
Guess which choice I'm more likely to pick?

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046238)

The easiest way to stop piracy is to lower the price of content. Didn't Apple et al work this out years ago?

Looking at it from the opposition's point of view, they would have to lower costs too. Labour costs being the first and easiest to reduce.

I have highlighted the only problem and that problem is not ours.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

Spykk (823586) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046360)

I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

This calls for a car analogy. Using DRM to stop piracy is like dumping sawdust in with your oil to fix a knock. Sure, the knock might go away for a little while, but at the end of the day you have done far more damage to your car than you would have if you had left it alone.
People may not have an alternative to DRM for stopping piracy, but DRM only stops the most casual of pirates and causes undue harm to legitimate customers.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

segedunum (883035) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046446)

It would be nice if you read at least most of the article in question rather than cherry picking parts and then smashing it with a hammer to fit your own limited viewpoint.

It surprises me how often people submit arguments to something (even here on Slashdot) and fail to anticipate the opposing view's points. I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

I live in the UK, pay my licence fee and have had free and unfettered access to over-the-air broadcasts for years, whether designated as being 'premium' or not. I've been able to use various cheap DVRs to record and play back that content as I like and as has been forced down my throat with the digital switchover. What's changed?

One particular fellow doesn't even seem to put two and two together (or spell correctly) and realize that his exact situation is just what they intend to block: Personally third party content is of little importance to me, certainly not worth the risk of losing my ability to watch television on my computer via my DVB capture card

Well for starters, in your eagerness to jump down this 'fellow's' throat you didn't actually read his comment, specifically "Personally third party content is of little importance to me" which means that he's not too interested in 'premium' content as long as he gets what he pays for as a licence fee payer.

If you actually read the article they're talking about locking down BBC HD content - that we're already paying for! They're even trying to get around this in a backhanded way by encrypting the TV listings because they're not allowed by law to encrypt the video or audio streams. How this can possibly fly with the regulator I don't know because what's the difference between the video and audio and the TV listings? Basically, it will stop people watching HD which few do anyway.

However, again, why should that be stopped anyway even for third-party content? We have had free and unfettered access to over-the-air broadcasts in the UK for decades, and indeed, the BBC amongst others are trying to get us to move to digital and buy all these new fangled free DVRs and Freeview+ boxes that will use many of the same cheap components. It is NOT in any way shape or form the BBC's remit to say what can and can't happen to content at the other end in a licence fee payer's home, nor is it the BBC's remit to start telling people what hardware manufacturer's can make or what more expensive hardware licence fee payers need to buy - AGAIN I might add - to watch programmes that haven't needed any form of DRM in the past when transmitted free-to-air. I'm fed up to the back teeth of this constant retuning and buying of 'preferred' hardware to simply watch TV I'm paying for.

It amazes me that none of these responses addresses the basic needs or the fact that the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect.

Screw the premium content providers. We pay our licence fees and we decide what the BBC does or doesn't do. We haven't had this trouble before and we certainly shouldn't have it for content we are paying the BBC to produce.

It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem? That's why it will be eventually put into place if you don't proffer an alternative. Attack the problem at the root of its source and work to show that piracy really isn't a big deal, that's your only choice.

After all that we've experienced over the years I remain to be convinced that DRM stops piracy for the kind of ridiculous inconvenience it causes to the people who pay money. I pay my licence fee and couldn't give a toss. It's not as if I'm freeloading, which is why I resent the tone of this idiotic bit of flamebait. All I know is that I've been able to get free-to-air broadcasts and 'premium' content for many years without any trouble at all.

I've experienced the whole 'box office' CAM card hardware brain damage, and it's why most of the population simply doesn't use it because it's fucking complicated and divides and conquers TV coverage in a way that makes it too expensive. The BBC has a duty to provide a default level of TV coverage to the population, to the old, the vulnerable, the poor and the non-technical savvy, it's why it was founded and why the licence fee is paid. If you lose that then the BBC loses its whole purpose.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (2, Insightful)

DinDaddy (1168147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046464)

You're ignoring the alternative response you don't like.

The alternative response is what it has always been. Ignore consumer copying, and only go after those who are criminally counterfeiting copies for money. The situation would be the same as it is right now for the content industry, since the content is being pirated anyway. You might even see a small reduction in that since the content owners would no longer be reviled.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046794)

Attack the problem at the root of its source and work to show that piracy really isn't a big deal, that's your only choice. Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

You're assuming that piracy is the reason behind DRM. It's not. As the content producers have shown time and time again by validating the most absurd extrapolations of their positions, it's about control. And always has been. They wanted to ban the VCR, remember, and not because of piracy. They tried to ban the MP3 player. They've said that skipping commercials is stealing and came up just short of claiming using the bathroom during one is too, acting as if this was some magnanimous exception to the rule.

They want DRM on broadcasts for the sake of control, and for the _illegitimate_ reasons like preventing time-shifting and skipping commercials. Piracy is merely an excuse.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

Bralkein (685733) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047032)

I think you're making a reasonable point, but I have to disagree. I'm not sure why I should have to come up with the answers for the content providers, since there are presumably a number of people who are employed by those companies to devise a suitably profitable business model which actually attracts some paying customers. Now I do agree that in saying this I'm probably being a bit intellectually lazy, but I say it's no more lazy than those content providers who are just trying to hang on to the same old way of doing business by offering a single, undesirable course for the future (DRM everywhere) which few informed customers seem to actually want.

However, I'm going to offer a solution anyway, because I think it's an interesting discussion. I'd say that it would be better to offer streaming, on-demand content. If the network capacity isn't up to it today, it should be in a few years' time. I watch Channel 4's on-demand service, which even includes ad breaks. I could probably find a way to rip the streams and fast-forward through the adverts, or I could download the shows on BitTorrent. But all that's too much hassle, the streaming web service is convenient, so I just use that instead and watch the ads, along with many other people I know. Instead of each network having its own site, they could re-sell content to central distributors, where you could go to one site and view content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and everyone else. Make it free, supported with ads (for BBC content people can get it ad-free by going to the BBC site direct, there would have to be a link next to every BBC show) or have a subscription service with fewer ads or none at all. For uninterrupted films, maybe have a surcharge of a couple of quid (not a flippin' fiver to watch bloody Die Hard one time only, thankyouverymuch) which just gets added to your monthly bill.

If access to content is easy and reasonably priced, then I don't think piracy should be too much of a worry. It will always happen to some extent, but as long as they can turn a decent profit, then that's just one of those facts of life. No need for all of this protected path DRM BS then. However, I still think that DRM is crappy enough that consumers are right to reject it out of hand, without equivocation or writing the content providers' business model for them. We're the ones paying, after all.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30047082)

I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM

Alternatives other than DRM? Why not say alternatives other than prayer?

Well, if you can't offer an alternative then you are condemned to fighting an uphill battle of why your specific qualms are worse for the consumer than the reduction of piracy

You mean "why your specific qualms are worse than nothing." DRM doesn't reduce piracy. Visit some torrent search sites to see how well DRM has worked. Look at how many people are downloading a particular file, and then imagine how that number might change, if the original content had 1) more DRM 2) less DRM. How do you think the numbers might change?

his exact situation is just what they intend to block

two problems with that:

  1. DRM can't block that. DRM only makes it so that this person can't conveniently do what he wants, by getting the content directly from BBC. Someone else who isn't as worried about convenience, though, is going to bother with defeating the DRM. And this guy is going to get the content, in a form which does work with his personal computer, from those other parties. Looks like BBC is telling this guy, "we don't want your money."
  2. Why should they block that? What might they gain? I understand that some particular BBC partners might want to prevent this person from being a paying customer, but if we're going to talk about the merits of allowing BBC to use DRM in general, then we need to ask: what's in this for who? How might BBC content partners generally benefit from reduced revenue and increased piracy? Common sense says that they are better off with increasing revenue and reducing piracy, so I think the burden is on DRM proponents to explain why reducing content provider revenue is a good idea.

the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect.

If those premium content providers ever start looking at things in terms of revenue, the BBC will lose them faster with DRM than without it.

It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem?

They should collect as much revenue as they can, by having as many paying customers as possible, by not telling people "sorry, you need to get the un-DRMed version for your particular PVR. No, sorry, we don't sell that. Try some pirate sites." Their only hope of doing this, is to make their version of the content be just as good as the pirates' version. The pirates version will always exist. I'm not saying don't fight the pirates, but they should never sacrifice paying customers to fight pirates, and worse, they should never sacrifice paying customers to ineffectively fight pirates. Encouraging people to use the pirates' version of the files, isn't a serious way to fight the pirates.

That's why it will be eventually put into place if you don't proffer an alternative.

The alternative I proffer, is to not deploy DRM. Look at things in terms of reducing piracy and maximizing revenue, and while my proposal isn't perfect, it does combat piracy and maximize revenue more than using DRM. So, DRM proponents: what is your alternative to not using DRM? At least offer a "solution" that is better than not using DRM. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should be better. If your solution causes loss of profit and isn't balance by anything to make up for that, then your solution is inferior to not using DRM.

In the end, I think the problems are: 1) lack of financial (rather than control-freak egomaniac) greed on the part of content providers 2) ignorance on the part of content providers (some of them may think DRM actually works). We (both consumer advocates, and people who want a thriving entertainment industry) need to educate the content providers on these things. Get them thinking in terms of profits, like they used to, and sell, sell, sell, sell, and sell, which is how they became the multi-billion dollar industries that they are. When you've got people who are willing to pay, don't tell them no and refer them to pirates. Those pirates never did a damned thing for you, or if they did (by getting the word out), it was coincidental and they can't be counted on as legitimate partners. I promise you, BBC, the pirates are not really on your side. But the anti-DRM crowd is. So make your content work with as many consumer devices as possible. It's probably even worth it to spend whatever money you need to, to increase (rather than reduce) interoperability. If someone uses a Linux PVR, find a way to do business with that person. TAKE THE FUCKING MONEY.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047850)

It surprises me how often people submit arguments to something (even here on Slashdot) and fail to anticipate the opposing view's points. I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

When someone offers an inherently ludicrous opinion like "DRM combats piracy" or "2 + cat = rutabaga", it is perfectly acceptable to say "no, that's dumb" without presenting an alternative.

Re:Need Better Input Than This (1)

Silentknyght (1042778) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047888)

Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

One could argue that DRM is in place, by choice of the content producer, to reject the market's economics.

If a CD is heavily pirated at $15, then the market can implement DRM and try to continue selling the disc at $15, or it can realize that the piracy at $15 identifies demand segments for the product at multiple less-than-$15 price points. If someone is willing to pirate it, then logically they want it, and therefore they can ascribe a non-zero monetary value to it, even if it is very, very low.

The solution is to develop an system that allows a single individual to purchase the product at a price tailored to that individual. And then get both the buyer and the seller to be content with the money paid and received, even if it's more/less than a previous sale.

BBC Bias (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045500)

Somewhat off topic, which is why I didn't mention this in the summary, but this is a good example of the BBC covering a BBC-related story in a balanced manner. The subject of the story is the BBC's attempt to do something being blocked, and you will note several things:
  1. The story exists at all.
  2. It contains more quotes from people opposed to the plans than in favour of it.
  3. The people opposing it do not have cherry-picked quotes making them look crazy.

All in all, a good example of how an independent, publicly funded news organisation can work. The BBC should focus on this kind of thing and not on idiocies like DRM. I wrote to Ofcom to oppose this and was very pleased that they have responded in this way. I was slightly less pleased that the form that they sent me asking for permission to publish my letter was a MS Word document...

Re:BBC Bias (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045660)

Now if the BBC would only (re-)learn that you can have multiple sentences per paragraph, it would actually be readable.

Re:BBC Bias (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045694)

It's a trend I've noticed a fair bit though, on their web site they're generally quite pro-file sharing, well, as best they can be, yet when you see their TV shows it's a completely different story- Jonathan Ross for example has been allowed to advocate over the top 3 strikes policy on the BBC and such.

I think what we're really seeing here is merely departmental difference. I believe the BBC's web team are quite technologically literate, quite forward thinking, quite intelligent and generally quite liberal. The rest of the organisation however does not seem to be the same.

It could well be an age thing- it's possible that much of the BBC is made up of the old boys club with celebrities being strongly linked to the media cartels and so forth still. In contrast the web team is most likely made up of people who explicitly went for technical jobs at the BBC or volunteered to go into that team when created. As we know from the sentiment here on Slashdot, technologically minded people rarely support the media cartels stance and so I'm certain this is probably why on the BBC's website we see the good BBC, but on TV we often see the bad BBC.

Re:BBC Bias (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045698)

A media organization reporting on a conflict involving itself? The BBC has gone gonzo now?

I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea to point out the blatant contradiction between "good example of the BBC covering a BBC-related story in a balanced manner" (my italics) and "It contains more quotes from people opposed to the plans than in favour of it." Two legs good, four legs better!

Re:BBC Bias (1)

emm-tee (23371) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046410)

I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea to point out the blatant contradiction between "good example of the BBC covering a BBC-related story in a balanced manner" (my italics) and "It contains more quotes from people opposed to the plans than in favour of it."

Have you missed the point?

The greater number of comments against the BBC's plans which are included in the BBC article represents the greater number of comments/arguments against the BBC's plans, and goes some way to explaining why its plans were rejected.

Re:BBC Bias (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046750)

Which would...not be balanced. Either it's balanced or it's not, and you can't say it's both not balanced and balanced at the same time. Although if that's what you *are* saying, then I am not rightly able to comprehend the confusion of ideas that would arrive at such a conclusion.

Re:BBC Bias (2, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045848)

>>>good example of how an independent, publicly funded news organisation can work.

Yes. But think of all the stories you DON'T see on the BBC because they conveniently don't discuss them. There are many, many of them, and it's become rather well-known that the BBC is pro-European Union biased. http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-411846/We-biased-admit-stars-BBC-News.html [dailymail.co.uk] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1942948.ece [timesonline.co.uk] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_the_BBC [wikipedia.org]

I'd rather watch both sides of an argument (FOX and MSNBC) rather than assume I can trust a single source.

MSNBC and FOX are both to the right (5, Insightful)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046498)

I'd rather watch both sides of an argument (FOX and MSNBC) rather than assume I can trust a single source.

Ahem. On most topics, FOX and MSNBC are on the same side of the argument, or close enough not to matter much. The American political spectrum has become so narrow, and so far skewed to the right, that differentiating between the American "left" and American "right" seems to be more about trying to decide who is further to the right, Gengis Khan or Benito Mousselini, than discussing any real differences.

Then along comes Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who would be considered to the right in any other part of the developed world, proposing sweeping (and belated) healthcare reform, and from the myopic and illiterate perspective of most Americans, they are seen as radically left.

It's amazing. To anyone else in the developed world, MSNBC and FOX are equally far out in right field, both bordering on unabashed extremism. As is most of America, for that matter. The fact that America is still struggling to sort out its medical system, 60-90 years after everyone else did, is telling in and of itself. For a bunch of creationists, the American right sure does seem to believe in Social Darwinism.

The sad thing is, most Americans don't even know enough to be ashamed of the rhetoric that is accepted as normal in politics over there, whether it's on defense, healthcare, women's rights, racial equality, or the so-called war on terror.

It has gotten to the point where "left wing" in America is not packing a pistol to an event where the president is expected to appear. Pathetic...and I don't see MSNBC, or CNN, as reporting these events all that differently than FOX these days. The do seem to be less tasteless in the talk shows they broadcast, but that's a far cry from broadcasting content that contains any real substance or concrete information, much less reporting balanced news a la the BBC.

But then, I'm an American lucky enough to be living elsewhere for the time being, and able to get relatively unbiased information without having to jump through a million hoops, or listen to Hannity screaming on my televison set.

Re:BBC Bias (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047160)

The last BBC News (TV) that I watched gave me the impression that the BBC was anti-EU. It was the day the Lisbon treaty was signed, and instead of focusing on important things, like what it was, why there'd been delays signing it, why the UK (and Poland) had negotiated opt outs from the citizens' rights section (!) etc they just interviewed a load of people saying it was bad for democracy, i.e. anti-EU people.

What does annoy me is that the BBC is becoming more sensationalist. Although nothing compared to the most recent Daily Mail headline I saw: "Sickening video shows drunk woman's brush with death after falling onto underground tracks -- right in the path of an oncoming train!" (I watched the video, and was wondering if the faint red boxes that appear are the results of a potential-suicidee detection system, which it seems they are.)

Re:BBC Bias (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047176)

http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] - bullshit ranting, including a post saying that saying "occupied east philistine" is biased.
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-411846/We-biased-admit-stars-BBC-News.html [dailymail.co.uk] - Daily mail, nuf said
the times article is not as bad but:

Singled out is the coverage of Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concert and the Make Poverty History campaign. The report says there was no rounded debate of the issues.

Debate on what?
I think the best line in an article attack the BBC was:

its coverage of conventional politics is judged to be fair and impartial

The wikipedia article is just a catalogue of criticisms from the daily mail and it's ilk.

It's much more effective to check facts than just be exposed to both sets of lies.

Re:BBC Bias (3, Informative)

ledow (319597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045910)

They aren't perfect by a long shot but yes, this is one of the reasons that the BBC is my main provider of news content. So they damn well should be, though. Why *all* news companies aren't like this, I can't understand. I thought the stereotypical reporter had a reputation for hitting the front page hard with controversial stories that they were "banned" from telling, not regurgitating celebrity crap.

I really don't care if Paris Hilton did X, Y or Z (or all three), I just want a quick summary of interesting things that have happened. I want more details on the ones *I* choose to read. I want them to get updated if the story changes. I want the facts and a couple of in-context quotes from the people involved if they want to say something. I want it online. I want to be able to access and search its archives. I don't need the news-provider to tell me their opinion ("Isn't it terrible? They are ruining the country!") - I have a brain of my own, thanks.

The fact that their entire site (not just the news section) is mostly clean HTML+CSS without all the fancy shit (except possibly on the BBC Schools page where they have interactive games etc.), that iPlayer (although "officially" not supporting Linux or permanent download) actually plays very well with get_iplayer.pl, that it's *always* up and loads super-fast even in the heaviest news scandals, and a million and one other tiny bonuses.

I don't watch the news... haven't for 10 years. I don't buy a paper... haven't for ten years (though I sometimes nick a Metro on the way home - free paper, fair summary of events, available on every London train, and a daily sudoku). I don't subscribe to *any* news outlet or use any other company/organisation to give me news. I get my news from the BBC and random things that catch my eye. The fact that the BBC is the only website that I *expect* to find some well-reported news on is testament to their expertise.

When there's the next big news story and I feel the need to pay attention, BBC News is where you'll find me. If there's no coverage there, I'll be looking on Google (not their News thing) somewhere for it myself.

Re:BBC Bias (1)

WolfWithoutAClause (162946) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047694)

I wouldn't like to bet that the BBC really want to do this though.

It looks to me that they know it's a daft idea, and that they're being politically forced into doing something fundamentally useless in order that the content producers will continue to sell them stuff.

If they make the right sounds, they can let the idea gradually collapse under its own useless weight.

It benefits the consumer by... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045598)

allowing BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, etc. to obtain the rights to show series and films that the rights holders will not allow them to show without content protection in the receiver.

This would things like the HD versions of Hollywood films which the MPAA doesn't want people getting good digital copies of for free.

I find it strange that the BBC has been picked on for this, it is a condition imposed by the content rights holders and the BBC is only one of several companies involved in defining the broadcast platform specifications.

Re:It benefits the consumer by... (2, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046594)

allowing BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, etc. to obtain the rights to show series and films that the rights holders will not allow them to show without content protection in the receiver.

Why do I want the BBC to be spending my licence fee on:
1. Development or licensing of DRM systems.
2. Broadcast of content which I cannot receive without buying a proprietary receiver (and thus paying another licence fee for the DRM system whilst giving me very limited choice on what equipment I use and which parts of my legal rights I can actually exercise).
3. "Premium" content you could get elsewhere anyway.

They should be investing this money in production of their own content, which wouldn't require crazy DRM anyway.

This would things like the HD versions of Hollywood films which the MPAA doesn't want people getting good digital copies of for free.

Those would be the films of which blueray rips were available for download months or years before the BBC show them anyway?

I find it strange that the BBC has been picked on for this, it is a condition imposed by the content rights holders and the BBC is only one of several companies involved in defining the broadcast platform specifications.

Not only does the BBC have a reasonable amount of bidding power (the BBC dropping out of the bidding wars would significantly reduce the profits made by the content producers selling to the UK), but they also have a mandate to make content available to as wide an audience as possible. As far as I can see, saying "you can only receive this content with this proprietary device" is in direct contradiction to that mandate. The broadcast content paid for by the licence fee has always been available at full quality through openly specified protocols/standards(*), there is no reason for this to change.

(* It is true that for some time the BBC's DVB-S transmissions were encrypted using VideoGuard due to territorial licensing issues. This hasn't been true for years since the move onto the restricted-footprint Astra 2D transponders, and that content was always available through other official means).

BBC should answer to society, not companies (5, Insightful)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045634)

The BBC argues that content providers expect that DRM be provided. Ignore, for a moment, all other strong arguments against the use of DRM (and against it doing any good anyhow).

The BBC is funded by public money, so they get the opportunity to do stuff without being pushed about by commercial interests - for this reason they are already expected to include programming that is for the benefit of society and the public. I'd say that this is another excellent reason that they should be pressured to take a stand against the erosion of fair use rights. Similarly to certain types of programming, this is too important to leave up to commercial stations - in fact, commercial stations seem likely to push their own DRM agenda based on connections to vested interests.

Fundamentally, the BBC is funded by the public and it ought to limit the extent to which it makes itself and its viewers beholden to commercial interests. If content providers won't play ball, the BBC has the clout (currently one of the only UK broadcasters who are actually doing well) to make them see sense, or do without them and take stuff in-house. If the BBC are going to allow themselves to be directed by private content producers then we might as well just leave it to the commercial broadcasters and save ourselves the money.

Re:BBC should answer to society, not companies (4, Interesting)

Henriok (6762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30045868)

I think BBC might be the most powerful factor in the World for this kind of arguments. We have a publicly paid broadcaster in Sweden battling the same battle but SR/SVT isn't nearly as powerful and looks to BBC for guidance. I, myself, does what I can to make our broadcasters adopt open standards for their broadcasting, but it's seems hard for them to get out of their proprietary delivery technologies (Real/Windows Media/Flash based). Amazingly hard. But I think we are getting there. Baby steps.

Re:BBC should answer to society, not companies (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046270)

We need to get them to see the numbers.

Linux users with working DVB capture cards are few and far between, but users of HTML5 [video] elements utilising open video formats should be ubiquitous over the next year. That's a potential increase in License Fee collection, and any increase is good.

Especially as everyone else is doing the development work for them.

the regulator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30045640)

well, that's obviously the problem... regulation of any kind is BAD, free markets RULE. God, what have the LIEberals done to you guys?\

Anonymous because I haven't regged yet.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30046066)

The issue with DRM is not whether its good or bad, its how its how it is applied.

A proper digital rights management would allow users to purchase only the content they want to see.
Lets say I want to purchase a season of and view it via HD streaming online or anywhere else I can get access to the content. Then a DRM could allow persons to view the content. However the customer's "rightful use" must be guaranteed, allowing multiple and unequivocal access to the media.

What is the real problem? (2, Insightful)

Sterculius (1675612) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046348)

To me, the real problem is greed. If the content providers were content to simply make a profit and live like normal human beings, then prices would be reasonable and pirating would be even more uncommon than it is already. But no, everybody has to try and become a millionaire (ah, so old-fashioned, I mean billionaire of course!). The current thinking is that it is a corporation's job to maximize profit. That makes corporations necessarily hostile to society and civilization as a whole. This type of thinking dictates that they must gouge, hype, stifle competition, and use monopolistic practices to victimize the consumer for maximum gain. In the United States, we can't even pass health care reform because corporations don't want it. These corporations bribe, intimidate, and use the media they control to turn public opinion against the public good. For as long as we continue to believe that greed is good, and that the goal of business is to maximize profits, our societies will continue to decline, and our jobs will go elsewhere, and our governments will work against us.

BBC covering their own backs (4, Interesting)

mr_stark (242856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30046648)

The BBC board are not stupid, they know applying to have tax payer funded content restricted isnt going to fly. They are maneuvering to cover their backs. Despite what they say the BBC are very ratings focused. They are going head to head with ITV (the biggest independent TV station in the UK) over the Saturday night prime slot with their own reality TV/talent show for example.

They want to broadcast popular shows but dont want content restriction to be used as leverage by the content providers. Rather than saying "we wont do that b/c its not in the public interest" the BBC are aiming to say "We cant use DRM b/c its against the law."

Re:BBC covering their own backs (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 4 years ago | (#30047202)

The BBC board are not stupid

With regards to DRM, I am unconvinced about their sanity.

The FreeSat HD specification mandates that HD content must be HDCP encrypted when the stream contains a "DRM flag" (which BBC HD regularly carries), but the DVB-S/S2 stream is broadcast in the clear. So they are basically saying that they are happy to broadcast a conveniently compressed stream 72,000Km in the clear, but the 1 metre long uncompressed link between the decoder and the TV must be encrypted.

What exactly does this achieve?

  * It causes problems with older HD kit, either because it isn't digital (think: HD over component), or has a buggy HDCP implementation.
  * It raises costs by requiring the HDCP hardware be present and licensed in each device.
  * It devalues the official FreeSat hardware/platform since standard DVB-S/S2 decoders don't have this restriction and can be used instead.
  * It doesn't reduce copyright infringement since no one sane would be capturing the raw HDMI stream anyway when there's a convenient MPEG4 stream available directly from the dish.
  * It prohibits PVR manufacturers from implementing certain functionality, such as IP streaming.

They are going head to head with ITV (the biggest independent TV station in the UK) over the Saturday night prime slot with their own reality TV/talent show for example.

They want to broadcast popular shows but dont want content restriction to be used as leverage by the content providers.

ITV use the FreeView and FreeSat platforms too, so they are in exactly the same position as the BBC. Notably they haven't been calling for these platforms to accommodate DRM.

BBC, learn from America's mistake (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#30048044)

Here's what happened in America.

The original deal (which seemed stable to me): The cable TV company (Comcast) provided content that I could watch. I paid them money.

The cable TV company, in switching from analog cable to digital cable, required cablecard or other things that prevented it working with normal digital tuners, and even got the regulators' blessings. So they now offer this deal: The cable TV company will provide content that I cannot watch, and I will pay them money.

If the new deal isn't as good as the old one (e.g. suppose it costs more), you better have a good reason and be ready to explain it. I expect technological progress, though I also know sometimes things don't work out that way. But however the changing offer degrades, there has to be at least something in it for me.

I rejected the offer. They are no longer receiving monthly payments.

Is that your plan, BBC? To copy what happened to my cable TV company in America? (How inappropriate that I say it "happened to" them, since they are the ones who initiated the change. With the tech switch to digital and highdef, from a business perspective, the easiest thing for them to have done, would be to continue the old deal, which worked to both parties' benefit.) Are you really sure you want to do that? I know you're a quasi-government entity, so profits aren't your only motive, but I don't see how your plan might possibly benefit you in any ways, even in non-profit "socialist" terms.

The question of DRM never should have gotten as far as a regulator. BBC should be protecting its own interests, and that obviously means no DRM. Regulators are things that industries should begrudgingly tolerate and be seen as generally hostile. When your regulator, posing as someone who protects the interests of others (your customers), ends up being your own savior, it probably means you've got a bad attitude and a fundamental misunderstanding of your own business.

Whoever at BBC took this matter up with the regulator, needs to be replaced. Not because he lost, but because he won while trying to lose.

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