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Secret BBC Documents Reveal Flimsy Case For DRM

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the rationale-irrational dept.

DRM 199

mouthbeef writes "The Guardian just published my investigative story on the BBC and Ofcom's abuse of secrecy laws to hide the reasons for granting permission for DRM on UK public broadcasts. The UK public overwhelmingly rejected the proposal, but Ofcom approved it anyway, saying they were convinced by secret BBC arguments that couldn't be published due to 'commercial sensitivity.' As the article shows, the material was neither sensitive nor convincing — a fact that Ofcom and the BBC tried to hide from the public."

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199 comments

Surprise surprise (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051050)

Arguments for inherently impossible protection system that consumers hate flawed, news at 11.

Re:Surprise surprise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051226)

You're a dork. I know - you don't see how you're a dork - but your are.

You are dork because you're missing the other side's arguments completely,. Just saying.

If you ..

never mind .. you're a dork.

Yes, there's irony here..

Re:Surprise surprise (4, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051280)

The other side's arguments consist of "WAAAAH I hate the nature of computers, make them work different so that *I* will be the master of other people's computers and those people will be forced to pay whenever any content my company has a perpetual copyright on is viewed with one, WAAAH!"

Re:Surprise surprise (5, Insightful)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051824)

Seriously, read beyond the title and post something that isn't just a childlike and generic screed against DRM. The big issue here is in how a state broadcaster and a regulator conspired to very much go against the interests of the public. In that regard it certainly is a "news at 11" situation for the more cynical ones among us.

Re:Surprise surprise (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051892)

The big issue here is in how a state broadcaster and a regulator conspired to very much go against the interests of the public. In that regard it certainly is a "news at 11"

Yes it's news, they're both news...although I find this equally unsurprising :-(

Re:Surprise surprise (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052432)

Whether the BBC is a "state broadcaster" is debatable. Yes, they're state funded, but they're an autonomous body required by charter to be politically neutral. It's arguable that enforcing DRM actually is in the public interest if it reduces the cost of the TV licence by providing a revenue stream - which is exactly why they block some iPlayer streams outside the UK; free content in the UK is sold externally, so there's more of an argument for non-UK DRM.

In my experience the BBC have a fairly relaxed attitude to DRM, aside from the legal bluster they're required to go through by law. (If they don't attempt to enforce copyright they lose it.) Non-UK viewing is easy enough with a proxy, and they don't make it particularly difficult to download completely open mpgs.

Re:Surprise surprise (1)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053378)

If they don't attempt to enforce copyright they lose it.

Not in any country I know of. Trademarks are subject to this in the US, but it's not true of copyright in countries that are signatories to the Berne convention.

Re:Surprise surprise (2)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053412)

The BBC is not state funded - it is funded by a license fee which is enforceable by law (if you don't pay, they try to fine you £1000).

.

And while it is required to be politically neutral, it is in fact a nest of Bolsheviks and AGW advocates, and is consistently biased towards the Left.

I only watch it for the odd bit of football and motor sport nowadays - the rest of the coverage (including supposed 'science' programming) is just not worth the effort.

The DRM thing was likely under instruction from Lords Mandelson and Triesmann, who in turn bark to the tune of His Master's Voice.

Re:Surprise surprise (4, Insightful)

Fned (43219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051298)

You are dork because you're missing the other side's arguments completely.

He's not missing them, they're just 100% invalid.

DRM is fundamentally broken, mathematically. It seeks to grant and deny access to the same party simultaneously.

Re:Surprise surprise (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051714)

bbc's secret argument is actually this: BBC MAKES MONEY BY SELLING THEIR CONTENT TO FOR EXAMPLE FINNISH BBC EQUIVALENT.

so if we could just download the drm free stuff from internet shared by uk folk... well. that money might go away.

of course, regardless of the drm, we can download it if we wish and the finnish bbc equivalent will still buy them regardless of piracy - and put it online to stream on a shitty format.

Re:Surprise surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051726)

Hmmm...that's not accurate. I mean, you are overstating your opinion. You are "overzealous". I also don't like DRM, but I'm not under any sort of delusion that it is "broken, mathematically" (except in the very literal sense that many DRM schemes have been circumvented using mathematics). I'm speaking to the metaphor in your statement - the idea that DRM is impossible to implement because it's goal is a paradox. There is no paradox from my viewpoint.

You might rephrase and say "Perfect DRM is impossible" and I would agree, because there is always the chance to "spoof" any sort of authorization. However, I'm pretty sure this is the real world (please let me know when you find out), and the problem becomes "get it to work 99% of the time".

Re:Surprise surprise (3, Informative)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051990)

You're technically correct (the best kind of correct!) but getting it to work 99% of the time is still a ways off and will require some big technological breakthroughs. Even today's best (in terms of cracking difficulty) DRM schemes, HDCP and TPM-enabled DRM, are still crackable with hardhacks - there are even home HDCP circumvention kits, all you have to do is tap into some wires running out of a TV's HDCP decoder (or you could just get an HDCP stripper box and hope the key doesn't get blacklisted). TPM-enabled DRM is the toughest as it places the decryption keys in a tamper-proofed piece of hardware, but even this has been broken using some fancy equipment.

Let's even say, for the sake of argument, that you can use quantum encryption tech to have the data stream encrypted until it reaches the pixels and speakers themselves. A sufficiently sharp camera with some software pointed at the screen could effectively make a digital rip via light, and then you could tie into the speaker cone leads (sorry, no way to do the same for speakers without super-advanced nanotech) and get a good analog audio rip. You'd have a very good rip using the analog hole, which will always exist until there are surveillance cameras in our homes or non-DRM'ed files are impossible to open.

Re:Surprise surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052174)

Good point - the "analog hole" can not be plugged.

Re:Surprise surprise (2)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052462)

That's not the point though. Companies don't care that much if it's 100% unhackable as long as it protects the content long enough (so that most sales are done) or that it hinders mass copying, as with this case. Whatever you described in your post seems like a huge effort, ever for me (and I'm a geek). It's completely out of reach from masses. That is the point.

Also, there are uncrackable DRM's, but with games. There are still titles that haven't been cracked, or have been cracked improperly which leads frustration for the guy who pirated it. It can make him buy it. With games the companies have also figured out that they can give out the game for free and charge for gameplay features or items, ie. free2play. Lots of gamers hate it, but well, they asked for change. Most of multiplayer games and MMO's are also either unplayable or severaly limited, like WoW (and don't say there are private servers, because they seriously suck compared to real ones and the experience is completely different).

Re:Surprise surprise (5, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051798)

It's only broken if you assume general purpose device like a PC. I forsee that once computers get fast enough, small enough, and have little enough heat to dissipate that eventually we will have the components encased in epoxy, with most of the important internals on a single chip, placed in a random place on a board (chips are placed in the same spot during manufacturing, edges are cut differently so they exist in a different physical position in the end product). There will be no media slot and possibly no ports of any kind for hooking up peripherals. It won't have general access to the internet, and will only be able to visit approved services, where all code is signed and encrypted so as not to allow unsigned code to run. If you look at the reason most DRM was cracked, it was because they existed on a run-of-the-mill computer, where the key was stored in memory. Or you have a console, where you can add on a mod chip, or edit the save game files to create a buffer overflow error. If you remove the ability of the user to interact with the machine at that level, then you go a very long way towards most people not bothering to break the DRM. It's only a matter of time before some $25 machine becomes all you need, and the only way, to play your media content, but that $25 machine is encased in epoxy and has no user accessible data of any kind. It just has HDMI out, and an Ethernet port. The software inside will only connect and run certified software.

Re:Surprise surprise, Dear Anonymous Coward (0)

OldHawk777 (19923) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051538)

What's the difference between a dork and an Anonymous Coward? Absolutely nothing
What's the difference between DRM, Corporate Welfare, and theft? Absolutely nothing

Re:Surprise surprise (2)

Raenex (947668) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051620)

Surprise, surprise, a first post that responds to the title only, and not even the summary. The story isn't that DRM is flawed, the real story here is that secrecy laws were evoked to redact commentary from the BBC. Concluding paragraph from the article:

Welcome to DRM Britain. Our BBC will give privileges to American TV companies that the US government won't give them, and our "independent" regulator won't even tell us why.

Re:Surprise surprise (5, Interesting)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051672)

Britain does this... the US government does this... the fundamental problem would seem to be politicians + businesses + money = corruption, as a definitive formula, no?

Re:Surprise surprise (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052626)

well I always thought it was more like
(Politicians + Businesses)*(money + perceived power) = corruption.

I put perceived power in there because most of a politicians power comes from the thought of power that their office holds with what it actually does.

the President of the United States supposedly the most powerful position on EArth really only has three hammers with which to fix things. Lawyers, diplomats, and Military. He has no other tool. what's worse is his diplomats and Military are partially controlled by Congress.

For being so Powerful he really can't do much.

Re:Surprise surprise (1)

Bucky24 (1943328) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053648)

the President of the United States supposedly the most powerful position on EArth really only has three hammers with which to fix things. Lawyers, diplomats, and Military. He has no other tool. what's worse is his diplomats and Military are partially controlled by Congress.

For being so Powerful he really can't do much.

It's that way on purpose, so that the "most powerful man in the world" doesn't become a dictator.

Re:Surprise surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052852)

Nope, it's government's fault, all the way down...

What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051094)

They knew that the public would never go for it, so they hid the fact that they had no good reason for it. Sort of reminds me of Soviet-era secret trials, held using secret evidence - no evidence whatsoever is needed to do what you want, because it's 'too sensitive to release'!

Re:What did you expect? (3, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051242)

They knew that the public would never go for it, so they hid the fact that they had no good reason for it. Sort of reminds me of Soviet-era secret trials, held using secret evidence - no evidence whatsoever is needed to do what you want, because it's 'too sensitive to release'!

Or your patriotic duty to believe the state when it tells you your ignorance is all for the best.

In Soviet Russia .. uh .. I dunno.

Re:What did you expect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051374)

In Soviet Russia .. uh .. I dunno.

ooh ooh I know this one!

In Soviet Russia Secret Keeps You

So... (-1, Offtopic)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051110)

Would this be refered to as a Sedec-core, hexadecacore or a hexakaidecacore?

Re:So... (1, Funny)

durrr (1316311) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051126)

Before someone points it out, i obviously didn't read the article, or the summary. Now go read the previous article entry.

Entrenched Interests (5, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051154)

The Entrenched Interests are going to use every means, including illegal ones, to maintain and extend their hold over content that they profit from. When America was established one of the major things that they overthrew (so major that is is part of the original Constitution) was the concept of Forever Copyrights -- and they were better off for it. Those Entrenched Interests never went away however, and they try to chip away at those rights at every opportunity. We are very close to the point, if not past it, where copyright infringement becomes civil disobedience -- if not a civil duty.

Re:Entrenched Interests (5, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051378)

Content owners do have a right to make money from their content.

But the argument for DRM is a poor one. It punishes paying customers while not stopping piracy. Even worse, content owners/providers have to pay money to license DRM technology. It is a lose-lose scenario.

The CEO of Warner Brothers at the time predicted iTunes would fail, because no one would willingly pay for digital content. He compared it to Coca Cola coming out of the faucet for free, so why would someone willingly pay for a Coke?

As it turns out, people do like supporting things they enjoy, and iTunes is the largest retailer of music on the planet. Frankly, I think Apple has enough clout that they could make a difference here. They successfully sell DRM-free music. They need to publicly make the argument for why DRM is a broken concept so that the big players finally listen.

The MPAA/RIAA won't listen to Google because they think Google is the devil.

Re:Entrenched Interests (5, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051454)

Content owners do have a right to make money from their content.

But the argument for DRM is a poor one. It punishes paying customers while not stopping piracy. Even worse, content owners/providers have to pay money to license DRM technology. It is a lose-lose scenario.

The CEO of Warner Brothers at the time predicted iTunes would fail, because no one would willingly pay for digital content. He compared it to Coca Cola coming out of the faucet for free, so why would someone willingly pay for a Coke?

As it turns out, people do like supporting things they enjoy, and iTunes is the largest retailer of music on the planet. Frankly, I think Apple has enough clout that they could make a difference here. They successfully sell DRM-free music. They need to publicly make the argument for why DRM is a broken concept so that the big players finally listen.

The MPAA/RIAA won't listen to Google because they think Google is the devil.

Back in the days of Mozart, once an opera was performed for the first time it fell into public domain. You were allowed to make money on your first show and by doing the best peformance of said show for as long as the public would support you. You were thus encouraged to keep creating.

Roll to the present and if you have one good song, you employ copyright to make money from it for the rest of your life, plus 70 years for whatever offspring you had or the profit of whomever you sold the rights to.

Since Apple is not writing or performing, they'll make money because there's always a new hot song out tomorrow. **AA are terrified they won't have scratch for their lunch money or to keep their stock price up for tomorrow.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051702)

That economic model wouldn't work today. Most new artists wouldn't be able to make much money from one public showing. And as evil as the record industry is, they do pay for the expensive/elaborate tours.

I think you can make the argument to shorten copyright, but I think instead of setting a hard/fast length of years, a simpler solution would be an abandonware system.

5 years from the date of the last retail sale, the content enters the public domain. So long as people are still buying the item (such as the Beatles catalog) the market has determined the item has financial value. If no one has purchased a Rick Astley song for 5 years, then it should enter the public domain.

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051780)

They pay for the expensive/elaborate tours, but really... who on /. really cares to go and see Justin Bieber in person?

Re:Entrenched Interests (3, Insightful)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051792)

So I, being Rick Astley, can simply go to the store once every 5 years and buy my own album? And put provisions in my will for my estate to do the same in perpetuity?

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051832)

If only one person is buying a copy, then retailers won't keep it in stock.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

Adriax (746043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053584)

Except then the music companies could just run a small outlet store that keeps 1 of every album they own in stock, and hire someone as a "service quality tester" to go in and purchase one of every album once a year (or once every 2-4 years).

Make it require independent retail sales and customer purchases? Massive discount to said store owner for the albums so they could keep them in stock, and a running "promotion" where if someone purchases 1 of each album and sends the receipts in they get prize money equal to the entire purchase cost plus a modest salary.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051882)

Most people would prefer to have the work performed by the original artist rather than a tribute band, and concert tickets are selling better than they ever have done in the past, so I don't agree with your assertion.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052602)

Most people would prefer to have the work performed by the original artist rather than a tribute band, and concert tickets are selling better than they ever have done in the past, so I don't agree with your assertion.

Though I can't cite the source, I did hear or read that bands make far more money on tour (money they get to keep) than they do from album sales (most of which probably go to the record company.) Perhaps this is why bands tour as much as they do.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052672)

But the fact that people have more disposable income, and it's easier to travel means you can keep performing, as you, and that has value.

Cover bands are legal, and the licensing is cheap, and paid by the venue anyway, yet the original performers continue to sell-out stadiums. This would happen with or without copyright, though the writers could be hurt (as they are who get royalties in covers).

Re:Entrenched Interests (2)

ari_j (90255) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053096)

That's a bad idea because (among other reasons that others have posted) it requires you to investigate whether any of the millions-every-day retail sales of content that occurred in the preceding 5 years was for the content you will be claiming is now in the public domain. On the other side of the same coin, the artist would have to do the same except for a much longer time period to prove that at least one sale every 5 years occurred in order to retain his rights.

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053086)

In the day's of Mozart, musicians made most of their money from jobs at court or church, of which writing new music was a part of the job.

Show me the equivalent level of patronage today, then we can talk about recreating that model.

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051508)

I think you vastly overestimate how much they like Apple. This isn't a match made in heaven as far as the cartels go, they've simply given in because of the marketshare apple was able to create in the mp3 player market. They fought getting rid of drm on music, but ultimately they had no choice by then if apple said they weren't going to sell drm songs.

They don't like it, they just realized they'd die completely if they instead pulled their music from itunes.

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051512)

Its a pretty big win for the companies that sell drm technology
you get to sell a product that doesn't work and then collect perpetual licensing fees

Re:Entrenched Interests (2)

Elder Entropist (788485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051630)

He compared it to Coca Cola coming out of the faucet for free, so why would someone willingly pay for a Coke?

Water comes out of the faucet for free, but plenty of people buy bottled water.

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051734)

What do you mean 'free'? I pay a water bill every month.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051908)

Probably less than a penny per litre. The vast majority of your water is used for cleaning rather than drinking.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

SleepyJohn (1481257) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051932)

Water does not come out of the faucet for free - everyone with a faucet pays something for it one way or another, somewhere along the line. If they want better quality they pay more again for bottled water. Could there be a clue here for the cretins that run the media industry?

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

St.Creed (853824) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052148)

Could there be a clue here for the cretins that run the media industry?

Yes. The clue would be "morons pay for anything with DRM on it" since most bottled water is just tap water put in a bottle, with some additions to increase its shelf life. And people happily pay for it.

Water has a shelf life? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053512)

since most bottled water is just tap water put in a bottle, with some additions to increase its shelf life

Water has a shelf life? They should put an expiry date on the label.

Best before ... the end of forever ...

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

Elder Entropist (788485) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052190)

All right, I guess since a glass of water out of the tap generally costs about $0.001 it isn't technically "free".

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

Motor (104119) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051952)

This isn't about piracy.

It's about all the legally made TVs/videos having to obey bullshit rules - unskippable bits, not allow you to record a show, only keeping it for X amount of time.

It won't do a damned thing to stop copying. If you make TVs you'll need to sign a legal agreement in order to "decrypt the content" however trivial that encruption is. It'll just allow content companies to ensure that THEY control the people who make TVs - and will sue any of them who don't hop into line. They make the rules - and the BBC is a content company

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053492)

encruption - the corruption of perfectly good material by chaining it to stupid drm systems.

Re:Entrenched Interests (2)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052160)

He compared it to Coca Cola coming out of the faucet for free, so why would someone willingly pay for a Coke?

People willingly pay for water, for Pete's sake, which does come out of a faucet for free. Sometimes it's perception (bottled water seems to taste better), sometimes it's convenience (I'm at an airshow and it's 100 degrees).

It sounds like Mr. WB CEO has no idea what people want or are willing to spend money on.

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052396)

People willingly pay for water, for Pete's sake, which does come out of a faucet for free.

You do know that in most parts of the world, the water that comes out of faucet is undrinkable?

Re:Entrenched Interests (3, Insightful)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052362)

Content owners do have a right to make money from their content.

Really? OK, I'll make a movie that nobody wants to see, and nobody wants to buy, and spend my life's savings on it! Society will owe me money! Wooooohoooooo! I'm in the benjamins, baby!

Absolute statements are rarely correct. In Real Life [tm] a group of citizens have decided to permit certain types of unfair restriction of trade in order to achieve a greater good. But nobody has a "right" in the absolute, moral sense, to make money for painting a picture, recording noise, etc., etc. It is a contrived, fictious legal right meant to serve a purpose, and if it is not serving said purpose it then the law is unjust.

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052594)

Content owners do have a right to make money from their content.

A RIGHT?!?

I think people have the right to ATTEMPT to make money from their content, but not a right to make money from it. Extended copyrights have given a right, just as you say.

When we talk about entitlements in the U.S., we don't normally think of the RIAA and the MPAA and others who got the government to give them many more years of copyright than had been allowed in a sane, non-purchased, government. It's past time for copyrights to go back to 20 years again. (although I do like that system of public domain after first public performance.

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052900)

Yes, do they have the right, legally and morally. Their creation is their creation. They may give it out freely in the public domain, or under creative commons. Or they may pursue revenue from their creation.

The RIAA and MPAA are a bunch of douchebags, but that doesn't mean that content creators don't have the right to monetize their creation if they choose.

Since you brought up entitlement, people who think they are entitled to content for free are equally douchebags.

Re:Entrenched Interests (5, Funny)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051668)

Yeah, why doesn't the BBC hold itself to the values upon which America was founded! It's like they don't think the constitution applies to them or something!

Re:Entrenched Interests (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052264)

first 'B' in BBC stands for "British"...

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052846)

Watch out for that jet passing overhead! Man, that was flying at a really low altitude!

Re:Entrenched Interests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053468)

You really deserved Insightful for this, not Funny. Looking over the comments so far it tells a tale of many Americans (no offence, guys) spewing invective about the evils of copyright while simultaneously knowing sweet bugger all about what the BBC is and how it actually works.

Re:Entrenched Interests (4, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051670)

Those Entrenched Interests never went away however, and they try to chip away at those rights at every opportunity. We are very close to the point, if not past it, where copyright infringement becomes civil disobedience -- if not a civil duty.

Civil disobedience is defeated. First of all, if you want to commit civil disobedience, you've got to be able to show your situation is at least as bad as Jim Crow, or you'll be sneered at rather than sympathized with. Since no one in the mainstream will believe DRM is as bad as Jim Crow (even if they believe it is bad at all, which is unlikely), you're done there.

Second, civil disobedience won't work when the result of disobedience is that you are quietly punished. You need to be _noisily_ punished without being portrayed as a mere criminal, which means you need the support of the media... who are your opponents.

Third, most mainstream people agree with the RIAA's position, when push comes to shove. Oh, they'll violate it left and right, but if you put it to them, they'd agree it's wrong to do so. And they'd see anyone trying to fight about it as merely trying to avoid responsibility for their actions. Authority bias is rampant today; if you can be seen as an authority (as the RIAA is), anyone opposing you is automatically wrong.

Re:Entrenched Interests (2)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051856)

Nail, head hit. To the unwashed masses, DRM is made to be just like a lock on a vending machine or a fish-resistant guard on a deposit box. It is something that sucks, but people dismiss as part of what they get.

I doubt this mentality will go away anytime soon. Just like how people compare copyright infringement with theft (or murder). Infringement [1] is more akin to Beavis and Butthead sneaking into an empty theater to watch Twilight than someone shoplifting a DVD of it.

So, we will deal with the DRM cycle where new stuff comes out that is Draconian, and it gets cracked or people just don't buy it, and the content producers go for another notch.

The ironic thing is that in markets where DRM wins, such as consoles... prices for stuff are always increasing. Weren't we promised lower prices if the pirates went away?

[1]: Infringement on a non commercial nature. Of course, copying someone's CD to sell it is a completely different ballgame and is actual theft (as it removed legitimate revenue from the IP holder).

Re:Entrenched Interests (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053346)

I'm sorry, what does this have to do with the BBC?
You talk about the use of means to maintain control over content for profit, but when the owner is itself a publicly owned body, what's the problem if the people in the country in question have free access?

Torrents as usual (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051156)

It may not be the letter of the law, but I pay my license fee, (which i consider good value), and if I want to get a program I won't mess around with the official DRM laden client. I'll just grab an HD torrent.
As for DRM in the TV itself ... what's that even for? Recording from TV is as antiquated as wax cylinders.

Re:Torrents as usual (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051250)

I'll just grab an HD torrent. [...] Recording from TV is as antiquated as wax cylinders.

Where do you think most of those (non-film) torrents come from?

Re:Torrents as usual (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051390)

True, somebody's gotta do it...

Re:Torrents as usual (1)

Lithdren (605362) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052184)

This is why the entire concept is broken though.

Its not so much that someone's gotta do it, its that only one person needs to, and suddenly (thanks to services like Bit Torrent) it's now available to everyone.

This is why the entire concept is broken from the start. Even if the only way to record the video involves recording each and every pixel on the LCD Monitor its decrpyted to, frame for frame, you can bet someone, somewhere, will figure out how to do that. As long as its actually watchable, it's able to be pirated. So only people who actually legitly pay for the service get hurt, as eventually to be effective, it cant be watched.

Some would argue we're virtually already to that point.

So here's a chance for government to really work (5, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051192)

...so if the government were headed with a real leader (ie instead of a toady to their special-interests), they would confront whoever was the HEAD of the board that made such a statement.

They could discuss the fact that while some government activities necessarily need such protections ("we'd tell you but it's too secret!"), the corrosive and pernicious nature of such justifications when they are revealed to be absolute bullshit makes it critical that any government official resorting to said evasion to protect what is otherwise a weakly-justified decision needs to be punished in the most public and visceral way to show that we (the Government) bears that public trust most seriously.

And then punch them in the face, knock them to the ground, and fire them - banning them from ever working for the government in ANY capacity, ever.

What are the odds that would happen?

As an American, I would love that to happen more here, too.

Re:So here's a chance for government to really wor (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051232)

What are the odds that would happen?

In the same country that has "super-injunctions" and doesn't find them funny or disgusting at all? Somewhere between zero and negative infinity.

Re:So here's a chance for government to really wor (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051472)

Well it couldn't happen as discussed, because _neither_ Ofcom nor the BBC are a function of government. Ofcom is government-approved (but not an arm of the government), and the BBC is wholly independent (with a constitution established by Royal charter, but not under Crown control).

Our government is wisely engineered almost totally out of this picture.

Re:So here's a chance for government to really wor (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051394)

...so if the government were headed with a real leader (ie instead of a toady to their special-interests), they would confront whoever was the HEAD of the board that made such a statement.

They could discuss the fact that while some government activities necessarily need such protections ("we'd tell you but it's too secret!"), the corrosive and pernicious nature of such justifications when they are revealed to be absolute bullshit makes it critical that any government official resorting to said evasion to protect what is otherwise a weakly-justified decision needs to be punished in the most public and visceral way to show that we (the Government) bears that public trust most seriously.

And then punch them in the face, knock them to the ground, and fire them - banning them from ever working for the government in ANY capacity, ever.

What are the odds that would happen?

As an American, I would love that to happen more here, too.

I think there's a rule somewhere which says you can't punch the Prime Minister.

Or did you have someone else in mind?

Re:So here's a chance for government to really wor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051698)

...so if the government were headed with a real leader (ie instead of a toady to their special-interests), they would confront whoever was the HEAD of the board that made such a statement.

Leaders are human beings. Every single human being (yes, this includes you) has special interests. Are you suggesting an unfeeling, emotionless computer to lead human beings? Should we address it as "Friend Computer" when it happens? And who'll program Friend Computer? The human beings with special interests? Maybe you'd like to raise a team of test tube babies who only know Friend Computer's needs and don't have the slightest clue how human society works? How will Friend Computer deal with special cases regarding differences in human beings that aren't in its programming? Will it simply declare the nonsimilar humans to be imperfect and flawed and remove them just to simplify processing and coding?

Or are you just whining because the current leader's special interests don't include you? Would you feel better if some other special interest group were calling YOUR "real leader" a toady with special interests and calling for revolution?

Re:So here's a chance for government to really wor (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053114)

...so if the government were headed with a real leader (ie instead of a toady to their special-interests), they would confront whoever was the HEAD of the board that made such a statement.

No.

It is antithetical to the very nature of the BBC for them to give in to government pressure. Ever.

Government Agency Lies (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051214)

Not really surprised, is anyone? Probably lied for a reason, rather than out of laziness or bull-headed intransigence, but you'll either have to dig a bit more or ask yourself, "Who benefits from this lie?"

sleazy but the rights holders may be the victims (3, Interesting)

Jerry Atrick (2461566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051256)

Luckily the encryption is simply a 'secret' huffman table and already available for MythTV, MediaPortal and I guess every other OSS PVR software usable in the UK. It's almost as if the secrecy was about BSing the rights holders knowing full well there was no actual protection in place...

Mmm, anyone can find this story on the BBC itself? (2, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051266)

Guess this might finally convince those who think the BBC is unbiased about how wrong they are. The BBC has been caught out so many times in the past yet people continue to believe they are any more credible then Fox or Reuters. Unbiased != telling me what I want to hear.

Re:Mmm, anyone can find this story on the BBC itse (4, Informative)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051602)

Right here [bbc.co.uk] .

On this new Guardian piece? Not that I can see yet. But having read the piece, why would they? There's nothing new in it. The Guardian now get to add some quotation marks to exact wording for things which were all described before.

Worse, they quote plain-English paragraphs then paraphrase it and tell you what you should interpret from it. All supposition, opinion and subjectivity.

DRM on BBC broadcasts is an arse, but so is this article.

Re:Mmm, anyone can find this story on the BBC itse (3, Interesting)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051742)

How exactly does this show bias on the BBC? It was a matter that directly and primarily affected their programming. They were always going to have to pick a viewpoint and stick by it. If being in favour of DRM was a biased viewpoint, so is being against. As the whole issue centred around them, they couldn't pick the middle ground either.

The BBC is more than willing to be incredibly critical of itself, if you'd have seen their coverage of the Hutton Inquiry, you would've known that. I've never seen any news agency quite so willing to cover news stories that damn themselves.

body or the subject (1)

Blue Stone (582566) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051308)

Reasons that spring to mind for such a flimsy case:

Is someone getting a future payoff (going to work for these 'rightsholders')?

Is someone just so crap at negotiating, they can't even understand that these US rightsholders don't use DRM in their own countries and so have no real leverage to insist on it elsewhere - admittedly, this would require incompetence of the highest order, but we are talking about BBC management, which has proven both spineless and ineffectual in any number of areas.

Regardless of the reasons, whoever negotiated this should be sacked for selling out every license fee payer and for no good reason.

There is NO case for this DRM.

Secret laws ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051376)

and finally, the full rules set out by DTLA for its DRM were governed by confidentiality agreements, which meant that UK manufacturers would be ordered to comply with a set of secret rules that the public wasn't allowed to know.

So, I'm of the opinion that any law, regulation, or treaty which the public isn't allowed to know the specifics of should be null and void.

You simply can't have "secret laws" in a free society.

And, once again it seems the US-based media companies are trying to get laws abroad they can't have domestically. Then they'll point to those laws as something that needs to be done domestically in order to keep pace with the rest of the world.

At this rate, the "rights holders" will be the ones who dictate to us how technology can be used on the assumption that everything everybody does is "stealing" from them. (My god, two people could watch this show and nobody would know!!)

Re:Secret laws ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051558)

While I agree with your post, this 'secret rules' is akin to a contract or non-disclosure agreement, not a 'secret law'.

Re:Secret laws ... (5, Insightful)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052164)

While I agree with your post, this 'secret rules' is akin to a contract or non-disclosure agreement, not a 'secret law'.

Except, in this case, this "non-disclosure agreement" was in direct contradiction to an existing EU law:

the proposal violated the EU common market by breaking foreign TV receivers and it meant that popular free/open source receivers and recorders would be frozen out of the UK device market

The fact that they tried to keep this secret because they had no really good defensible reason highlights the problems with it.

Your NDA can't spill into things affected by laws and policies that are written down.

LOL "free society"? What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051850)

>secret laws
>free society

Since when was the UK a free society? Apparently no one told the American Revolutionaries. Or has some profound constitutional change happened in England in the last couple hundred years?

Democracy does not equal freedom. Ask the Germans. Ask the Irish.

Re:Secret laws ... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051946)

The law itself, that broadcasters are required to use DRM for HD transmissions, is freely available from legislation.gov.uk . What is secret is the reasons the BBC gave to parliament as to why it should be implemented.

Typical commercial BBC trying to compete (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38051486)

I imagine US executives have scared the BBC by saying they'd go with ITV etc. They know the BBC has a truly monster budget (£3,500,000,000/year) and see themselves as a competitive institution rather than a national broadcaster. The only point of having a national broadcaster is to see things you wouldn't otherwise see on commercial (news, weather, local, documentaries, education). There are lots of people with big salaries in the BBC trying to justify competing with commercial channels. We know how ridiculous the BBC is with money. They paid Jonathan Ross £millions whereas the British people lost nothing when he went to ITV to be paid for by them still free for all to see. The BBC is a crazy organisation.

UK public overwhelmingly rejected the proposal? (0)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051574)

Guess the UK's population is smaller than I thought given that only 432 people responded. Not only that, as most people generally wouldn't have known about it, let alone cared enough to write a letter, it's probably safe to assume only a strong feeling, unrepresentative minority responded. You don't have to be a statistician to know that the figures given there are largely worthless.

On the organisation side of things, the only organisation listed which likely doesn't strongly favour Free Software is the RNIB who objected on the ground it could interfere with tools blind or partially sighted people use to enjoy TV.

However, even if the statistics of people opposed did genuinely reflect the wider population it would still be moot. OFCOM does not rule based on numbers supporting or opposing, it rules on the arguments or complaints submitted. If numbers alone were enough, every time the tabloids whipped up "outrage" over two people of the same sex kissing etc. the program would be banned.

Re:UK public overwhelmingly rejected the proposal? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051774)

You don't have to be a statistician to know that the figures given there are largely worthless.

Imagine at your work you're in charge of ordering lunch for your department (maybe 300 people). You send out an email asking for suggestions and you get 10 responses back, 9 of which say "anything but Taco Bell". Apparently, your response to this would be to say "well, I'm sure that's not a representative sample so screw 'em" and order Taco Bell anyway.

Re:UK public overwhelmingly rejected the proposal? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051972)

OFCOM is not a democracy. It is obligated to do what it deems to be the best decision, not the most popular one.

For all you know, the 9 people may have been members of the "McRib appreciation club" and they could've eaten at Taco Bells but wanted to eat at McDonalds whereas the 1 had allergies which meant Taco Bell was the only option for him, it was that or he wouldn't be able to eat lunch.

A more apt example is sewage treatment plants. No one ever wants to have one near them so if you went by that, you couldn't build a sewage treatment plant anywhere. Eventually planners have to ignore dissenting voices and listen to everyone to find the least worst option and get the plant built.

Re:UK public overwhelmingly rejected the proposal? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052006)

A sample of just over 1000 people is good enough to very accurately predict how people plan to vote at the next election, so 432 people is a big enough sample size to get a reasonable feeling about what people think. The fact that it is a self-selecting sample is of course a different matter. I suspect the vast majority would go for the "don't care as long as my tv/pvr work" option, but it does show that very few people actively support the idea.

Re:UK public overwhelmingly rejected the proposal? (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053536)

With a poor enough sampling method, sample size is irrelevant. As an example: how useful would a survey for "The most popular breed of dog in America" if you asked 1000 people who were all attending the "international poodle lovers convention"?

Your last sentence probably explains the conclusion of the OFCOM inquiry. Few people get especially bothered by DRM, if they know it exists at all but lots would be affected by drops in budget for programs or for more expensive licencing deals.

Not so much DRM as receiver manufacturer lock-out (5, Informative)

ChumpusRex2003 (726306) | more than 2 years ago | (#38051842)

The technical issues behind this fracas are even more banal, and so trivial that it's already been reverse engineered. In effect, the "DRM" was purely a closed specification, and not a technological measure such as encryption.

Unsurprisingly, the specification has already been deployed in popular open-source projects.

For those interested, the technical extent of the "DRM" and "encryption" was the use of a pre-calculated Huffman table, which must be embedded in the receiver firmware, in order to obtain the programme guide.

Re:Not so much DRM as receiver manufacturer lock-o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052552)

For some reason I find the idea of Huffman coding as encryption to be outrageously funny.

Video and audio not encypted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38052482)

According to http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/8259154.stm :

"Under licensing rules, the BBC is not allowed to encrypt the actual video or audio streams.

So instead it is requesting that it be allowed to encrypt the data associated with TV listings without which set-top boxes are not able to decode the TV content."

Does this just mean that the data for the EPG is encrypted? That will definitely prevent piracy.

It's a con trick (5, Interesting)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 2 years ago | (#38052666)

It's a con trick by the BBC.

No-one wants DRM on the BBC's broadcasts; not even the BBC themselves. But many content providers, especially American ones, are trying to insist on it. So the BBC have devised a very clever way to con the content providers.

The trick is to put DRM into the broadcast version of the program guide, that tells you what is on when. This was announced with great fanfare as "the BBC is adding DRM to its broadcasts", with no mention of the small technical detail that the actual video and audio will have no DRM. So the content providers think that they have got their way, but there will be no impediment at all to (for example) capturing a broadcast off the air and making a torrent out of it. Articles like TFA are part of the con: they help convince the content providers that they have got what they want, which in turn induces them to sell stuff to the BBC that we might otherwise not see.

The commercial set-top-box manufacturers don't care, because they have to cater for genuine DRM on the commercial channels anyway. And the hobbyists who are running software such as MythTV don't care, because they download the program guide from the BBC website, which conveniently provides it in machine-readable form with no DRM.

When was this article written? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38053052)

the trust approved BBC1 HD earlier this month

BBC1 HD has been broadcasting for over a year.

I find it so strange... (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38053452)

Whether the tyrant is a corporate thug or a bloated bureaucrat, that jack boot goose-steps just the same. It is time for us to forever alter the conversations surrounding wealth, competition, social and global benefit, altruism and enlightened self interest. More important, just as we gave up slavery as an acceptable social practice, its time for us to give up political and economic blind self interest. Accommodating corporations of any type, at the expense of human justice is a crime against humanity.

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