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BBC Threatened Over iPlayer Format

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the and-watch-out-for-apple-with-that-name dept.

Television 269

greengrass sends us to coverage in The Register of the Open Source Consortium's threatened anti-trust challenge against the BBC over its use of Windows Media format in its on-demand service, iPlayer. From the article: "The OSC will raise a formal complaint with UK broadcast and telecoms watchdog Ofcom next week, and has vowed to take its accusations to the European Competition Commission if domestic regulators do not act. The OSC compared the situation to the European Commission's prosecution of Microsoft over its bundling of Windows Media Player with Windows."

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269 comments

Typical (0, Troll)

bit trollent (824666) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613151)

Is this really your idea of freedom?

Where the FUCK is iLife '07 (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613275)

Come ON you homosexual deviants in Cupertino. QUIT FUCKING AROUND and update your fucking software ever so often. You faggots are worse than Debian...

No, and that's what the complaint if for. (4, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613427)

Oddly named bittrollent asks:

Is this really your idea of freedom?

I'm not sure what the question means, but a government agency publishing things in a format that's owned by one company is pushing that company's fortune at the expense of all others. Why should governments cede control of their media and who watches it to a private company, especially a foreign one? People who pay their taxes deserve to be able to watch the results without having to pay the M$ tax.

If there's a problem with software patents involved here, the problem should be taken care of directly. Software patents lead to nonsense like this and should be abolished. There's no justifying the social cost of business method patents, which is what software patents ultimately are.

Re:No, and that's what the complaint if for. (0, Troll)

bit trollent (824666) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613769)

So a government organization should not be allowed to do what it thinks is best without allowing some open source zealot to impose his software on them by legal harrassment? What a free world you want for the rest of us, twitter.

How about the freedom to choose the right tool for the job for yourself withough havine some whiney little peon thrusting his 'free solution' upon you?

While we are at it, what free, open source video format allows you the same DRM protection that is built in to WMP? I really hope you can answer this question, because you can bet that in the production of their content the BBC has entered in to some agreements that will require some form of DRM for redistribution online.

People who pay their taxes deserve to be able to watch the results without having to pay the M$ tax.

Guess what, at least 90% of the people who will want to use this already have Windows and to them this is by far the most convenient solution. Why? Because even when you give it away for free almost nobody feels like bothering with Linux.

Also, aren't there already Linux applications that can play WMP content?

It's closed, and it's broken (4, Interesting)

gjuk (940514) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614179)

The thing is a prime example of bad bad technology. I'm fortunate enough to be a trial user. Only, I've never actually used it. I can't. I've tried and tried but it just doesn't work.

It started badly - it refuses to accept registrations via firefox (no technology issue - just a browser check which barfs). Once I switched to IE, it let me go further - registration followed by the download of a .exe. Firing up the .exe I had to reregister. Multiple times. And got no further. Some days later, an apology email from the BBC explaining that they'd sent the wrong login details.

So I tried again, and after much mucking about, finally got in. The UI is very very bad - but I navigated to my favourite programme, which claimed it had episodes available - but once clicked stated none. So I went for my second favourite programme - same again. And so on.

So - two weeks after first receiving an invitation to give up; after switching browsers, downloading software, installing it, changing my media settings, registering multiple times, and clicking through a clunky interface multiple times, all to no avail, I gave up.

If the bbc were working in an open way - maybe, just maybe, they'd have access to a wider range of talents - or perhaps competing suppliers and technology platforms - and have delivered a usable product. As it is, we're all subject to two monopolies, who'll slowly and cumbersomely work towards a semi-acceptable solution at great cost. And in doing so, the BBC will help Microsoft maintain its hegemony - remember - it wouldn't let us use Firefox just to register and download the software.... defend that.

shitty buttes (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613159)

5 just 5 good fag

Could be worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613181)

Copuld be Quicktime. Ugh.

Re:Could be worse... (1)

Goaway (82658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613273)

You have something against the MPEG-4 standard?

Re:Could be worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613695)

"You have something against the MPEG-4 standard?"

No just the quality of the Windows quicktime player!

Other ways of handling it... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613187)

challenge against the BBC over its use of Windows Media format in its on-demand service


How about just "not demanding" it? You are free to "do without" the content... but that's not a concept that today's society understands...

If no one wants it, it will go away. Otherwise, it also looks like a bunch of whinging.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (3, Interesting)

TommydCat (791543) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613241)

It seems that the Beeb is concerned about DRM -- it's easy to validate this argument as a content provider if it is not a free service.

What choices are out there if the main concern is vendor lock-in? What "open" DRM alternatives exist?

Re:Other ways of handling it... (3, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613289)

What "open" DRM alternatives exist?
None. The whole point of DRM is to be as closed as possible.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613793)

Uh, no. That's like saying that "The whole point of encryption is to be as closed as possible." "Closed" has nothing to do with robustness.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613979)

Encryption usually works on cryptographically sound principles, like not including the key with the ciphertext. Obsfucation is the only reason DRM is at all effective, and that disappears with open source.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (2)

profplump (309017) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614163)

If their goal is prevent people from seeing the content, then PGP/GPG would be a great plan. But their goal is to limit what people who are authorized to see the content can do with it on their own equipment, and that goal is not attainable in any robust system, open or otherwise.

So yes, open vs. closed may have nothing to do with robustness. But logically sound vs. fallacious seems like a more important factor in selecting a robust design.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (5, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613263)

The problem is that I pay for the content via my TV licence, and I don't really like the idea of paying for a delivery method that is inaccessible to me.

(ahem posted from IE6 in windows - at work, honest!)

Re:Other ways of handling it... (2, Insightful)

NexusTw1n (580394) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613535)

I don't really like the idea of paying for a delivery method that is inaccessible to me.
You pay the same TV licence regardless of whether you have a radio or freeview decoder.

Did you complain when BBC3 and radio 6 were transmitted in a format that made it impossible to receive with standard equipment?

The BBC is a multi format platform. They are not required to deliver all content in a form every single TV owning person can receive. Otherwise everything from RSS feeds, to DAB, to enhanced podcasts to on demand digital weather forcasts are suddenly illegal.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (3, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613687)

The difference is that broadcast TV signal is useable by any TV regardless of the brand. Requiring a Microsoft player on a standard run-of-the-mill PC as opposed to a player-agnostic format isn't the same as requiring new equipment for new functionality.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (1)

LO0G (606364) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613873)

I'm confused. Both HD-DVD and BluRay include Microsoft's VC-1 codec as a manditory-to-implement codec. So any device capable of decoding either of the two high-definition DVD formats is required to include a Microsoft codec. Why is this any different?

Even MP3 isn't an "open standard" - it's protected by a series of patents that are owned by various corporations (AT&T, Freunhoffer), so would the BBC be precluded from distributing its content via MP3s?

Re:Other ways of handling it... (1, Informative)

NexusTw1n (580394) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613967)

Freeview isn't available to anyone without additional equipment.

Radios 5 through 7 aren't available on standard radio.

Radio 1's enhanced podcast broadcasts aren't watchable on Microsoft, Sony, or Creative MP3 players.

Requiring a Microsoft player on a standard run-of-the-mill PC as opposed to a player-agnostic format
What is the market share of MS in the UK? 80 - 90% at least? So isn't 'run of the mill' actually, a Microsoft machine? A standard run of the mill TV at the moment doesn't have access to BBC3 and BBC4, does that make freeview illegal?

Also note the beeb use the Apple version of enhanced podcasts to display images in their radio show podcasts, rather than the Windows Media version, so they are hardly in bed with MS.

Either we require the BBC to broadcast in a format everyone can view, in which case we are stuck in B&W 5:4 format, or we accept the BBC pushes multimedia to the edge, which means not everything will be viewable by everyone all the time.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (4, Informative)

makomk (752139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614289)

Freeview is broadcast using DVB-T, an international standard. You can get receivers from a number of different companies from about £30 up (or hard disk based recorders for a bit more), it's built into many high-end TVs, and there are several different available receivers to watch and record it on a PC. Sure, you can't watch it on a normal TV without extra hardware, but it's cheap, probably due to having actual competition.

The iPlayer, on the other hand, requires you to watch the programs on one piece of software running on one operating system produced and sold (and not cheaply) by a single company. Sure, it's currently, the most common operating system, but the two things are not comparable.

I'm not sure what the "enhanced podcasts" are. I think they're .m4a files of the stuff already available as MP3 but with added chapter markings and images. I don't see any technical reason why other players couldn't convert them to a format they support, though I'm not sure how many actually have the correct features...

Re:Other ways of handling it... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19614311)

Did you complain when BBC3 and radio 6 were transmitted in a format that made it impossible to receive with standard equipment?

DAB is an Open standard. If the BBC had declared they would be transmitting BBC 3 or Radio 6 in a Sony proprietary format from now on and everyone would have to buy a Sony receiver, hell yes I'd complain.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (1)

EvilMole (453268) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613597)

By the same logic, someone without a DTV box should be complaining to Ofcom about the fact that they BBC is producing channels which are inaccessible to them.

The beeb is a GOVERNMENT AGENCY (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613325)

The citizens have every right to demand whatever they'd like from their government. You sound like an idiotic knee-jerk apologist for big business who just assumed that the BBC was a private company.

Re:The beeb is a GOVERNMENT AGENCY (4, Insightful)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613403)

Nope, the BBC is *not* a government agency (At least not officially). It's supported by a complex system of licence fees and laws from the government, but it is not in itself a government/public agency.

Re:The beeb is a GOVERNMENT AGENCY (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613575)

Nope, the BBC is *not* a government agency (At least not officially). It's supported by a complex system of licence fees and laws from the government, but it is not in itself a government/public agency.

While you are correct AFAIK, the BBC is effectively a government agency because if you own a device capable of receiving a terrestrial broadcast you are required to pay them the licensing fee or you will see them in court.

State-sponsored monopolies, especially mandatory ones, should be subject to the same sort of restrictions and reasoning as government itself.

Re:The beeb is a GOVERNMENT AGENCY (1)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614111)

Owning a device is not enough. Being caught using the device is enough.

Having an old black and white TV in the attic will not get you in trouble, having a TV in your living room all set up but turned off on the other hand will.

Re:The beeb is a GOVERNMENT AGENCY (1)

spun (1352) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613925)

Really? I did not know that. I really thought it was a part of the government. Well, as regulated as it is, my point still stands, wouldn't you say?

Re:Other ways of handling it... (0, Redundant)

couchslug (175151) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613375)

As the BBC is funded by the TV tax, it's customers have every reason to "demand" appropriate non-proprietary formats from their government provider.

Re:Other ways of handling it... (1)

genmax (990012) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613857)

How about just "not demanding" it? You are free to "do without" the content...
Umm, because its a Public Service Broadcaster that is primarily funded by levying a telivision license fee on the public.

but that's not a concept that today's society understands...
Broad generalizations from inaccurate assumptions - I wonder why you posted as an AC.

Iplayer is temporary? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613213)

I always thought the BBC player using MS formats was a short-term measure.

Wasn't it called Dirac or something?

Good for OGG format? (1)

alexjohnc3 (915701) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613225)

Maybe the BBC will use the OGG format, which will help to make OGG more mainstream and cause more devices to support it!

Re:Good for OGG format? (0, Troll)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613441)

Nope, because that would be stupid. They have some kind of responsibility to broadcast things in a reasonably mainstream method - which is why they couldn't switch entirely to digital in 2002 because it would make it more mainstream and cause more devices to support it.

Re:Good for OGG format? (2, Interesting)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613629)

Any reason why they can't support multiple formats? How about Flash? Not that Flash is the best solution, long-term, but it does work natively across more platforms than either quicktime or windows media and it is installed on most web browsers.

What would be stupid is to continue supporting the microsoft monopoly and helping them expand it onto the Internet. This is about the long-term quality of computing, something microsoft is a very real threat to.

Re:Good for OGG format? (1)

turgid (580780) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613707)

Recently, the BBC did a deal with Microsoft regarding the distribution of digital content via its web sites. As usual, they trumpeted it as if it were a great breakthrough on news.bbc.co.uk. I'm sure google can find it.

Whinny Bitches.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613243)

OSC = whinny liberal bitches. The same turd buglers who want to ban smoking in private bars and restaurants because smoke makes them cough. 90% plus of consumers use Windows and are therefore likely to have Windows Media Player installed which means using Windows Media is a no brainier. Tools.

What BS (-1, Flamebait)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613245)

If I run a website I'll put content out any damn way I please. This is a load of crap, regardless of who they are and what format they are objecting to.

Re:What BS (4, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613277)

If I run a website I'll put content out any damn way I please. This is a load of crap, regardless of who they are and what format they are objecting to.

I see, and do you happen to be an elected government that pays for running that Website by collecting tax dollars from the people (at gunpoint if need be)? I didn't think so.

Re:What BS (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613559)

So if I sit in Britain & buy an NTSC TV & pay for the TV license, then BBC
should be forced to broadcast in NTSC also for me.

Re:What BS (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613865)

So if I sit in Britain & buy an NTSC TV & pay for the TV license, then BBC should be forced to broadcast in NTSC also for me.

Not at all. PAL (which they use) is a standard not tied to any one company. WMA is a proprietary format, wholly owned and controlled by one company. Further, that company has been convicted of criminal actions in illegally forcing that format onto consumers. Do you see the distinction? The BBC should not be forced to provide any given format, but they should be required to provide a format that is not tied to and profits one given company, especially not a criminal one. The can provide WMA all they want, but only if they also support other proprietary formats from competitors; otherwise they are rewarding a monopolist for criminal acts while at the same time denying access to some citizens who have paid the same amount of money. Or, they could simply support an open format that any company is free to implement, which is probably what any tax funded organization should be doing.

Re:What BS (1, Interesting)

NexusTw1n (580394) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614079)

Have you complained about Radio 1's enhanced podcasts, only viewable on iPods?

If not, why not?

It is after all, a proprietary format, wholly owned and controlled by one company, which is why Creative and MS Mp3 players can't play the content.

The BBC is a multimedia company, experimenting and playing with many formats to see what works, and what is popular. That technological interest from a TV company should be celebrated not whined about.

Re:What BS (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614247)

Have you complained about Radio 1's enhanced podcasts, only viewable on iPods?

No.

If not, why not?

Because I'd never heard of them and am not much of a complainer.

It is after all, a proprietary format, wholly owned and controlled by one company, which is why Creative and MS Mp3 players can't play the content.

Actually, they claim to support several different company's players on the Web site. The only proprietary format I see is Realplayer. I disagree with using that format almost as much as I disagree with WMA. Both are closed and proprietary to one company instead of standards. The only difference is real has not been convicted of crimes with regard to promoting said format.

The BBC is a multimedia company, experimenting and playing with many formats to see what works, and what is popular.

The BBC is funded by the government with money that is not collected as donations, but by force of law. As such, they take on more responsibilities than a wholly private company. Just as I would not support a government funded agency distributing patented GM grain to the poor to grow, I don't support locking them in to a given type of media. The BBC has a responsibility to the people and that includes supporting standard formats that we can be assured will be playable to posterity and which promote the free market.

That technological interest from a TV company should be celebrated not whined about.

Would you then support the government moving to all nonstandard nuts and bolts for vehicles, whose pattern is patented by one particular company? Would you vote for a bill to fund such an endeavor? Should the government be applauded for taking an interest in new (inferior) technology like the BBC is or should they be reviled for their shortsightedness?

Re:What BS (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613971)

So if I sit in Britain & buy an NTSC TV & pay for the TV license, then BBC
should be forced to broadcast in NTSC also for me.

Uh, no. PAL is a standard format mandated by the relevant bodies. People are only asking that the BBC choose one standard, not that they support the standard that I arbitrarily decide to use tomorrow.

WMV is not encoded using any formally recognised and platform-neutral codec, and it's DRM-locked. Whatever its benefits, the BBC should know better than to place their customers at the disposal of a single commercial entity, and their social/historical legacy at the mercy of a corporate body whose sole reason for existence is profit.

Re:What BS (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614325)

You do know that WMV is just a container right? And that it is not inherently DRM-locked right? Sounds like your gripe is with the DRM and not with the use of WMV. A lot of people seem to be mixing the two up. WMV files can be encoded in a lot of different ways and with free and open-source tools. What is the problem beyond DRM?

There are over 800 million Windows machines out there, that sounds like a pretty good target to shoot for. People call me crazy though. They don't mess with you anymore after they think you're crazy.

Re:What BS (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613993)

Would an NTSC set be subject to the TV tax? I know that the TV tax is far reaching, and doesn't strictly speaking restrict itself to just TV owners, but with equipment that is wholly unable to deal with the signal, would that still come under the tax?

It is largely moot, as the government over there appears to be moving towards an internet tax scheme which would be based upon computer ownership rather than TV ownership. I don't know if that ever passed, but it would be much simpler to tax.

I've noticed that if there are two things that people in the UK seem to like its absurdly long ques and taxing things indiscriminately.

Re:What BS (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614307)

Yes, a license is required for an NTSC set. See my post below, but a short quote here "Your license fee is because you own ' .... an apparatus capable of receiving television broadcast transmissions...'. It doesn't specify any particular channel (BBC, ITV, Sky etc) or any particular format (PAL, NTSC etc)." After all, converting from one format to another is relatively simple i.e. a few microchips in many video players seems to cope with the problem without too much hassle.

Re:What BS (1)

Chris_Keene (87914) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613853)

"I see, and do you happen to be an elected government that pays for running that Website by collecting tax dollars from the people (at gunpoint if need be)? I didn't think so."

It's the BBC, not the Government. They may have a Royal Charter, and they may receive funding from a TV licence fee (not a tax as such, it is my choice if i have a TV) the technicalities of which are set up via acts of parliment, but not government.

I am not aware of people being held at gunpoint to pay the licence fee (remember not even out Police carry guns except for a few special units).

Chris

Re:What BS (1)

janrinok (846318) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614269)

Your license fee is because you own ' .... an apparatus capable of receiving television broadcast transmissions...'. It doesn't specify any particular channel (BBC, ITV, Sky etc) or any particular format (PAL, NTSC etc). If you own a TV - or some device capable of receiving TV programs e.g. a video tape recorder) you need to have a license. The license fee is paid to the Government. They elect to use the money raised to partially fund the BBC providing that it complies with it charter under which it "educates, entertains and informs" and provides other public service broadcasts.

The streaming via the internet is NOT a TV broadcast, it is the transmission of a program using the internet. Your license fee is actually irrelevant in this instance and the BBC is, unfortunately, free to use any DRM or format it chooses for its internet streams. While I sympathise, and strongly agree with, your sentiment I'm prepared to bet that it will not win any legal battles in this particular case.

Glad to see this. (5, Insightful)

anubi (640541) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613271)

Governments, funded by the PUBLIC should put their stuff in PUBLIC format.

Re:Glad to see this. (1)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613449)

Well, I guess that basically leaves us with Matroska [wikipedia.org] as its at least the only public domain video format I know of. Of course that may mean only .000001% of the public will actually have the required software to see it, but at least its public! ;-)

Re:Glad to see this. (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613533)

You can get software to play MKVs on almost any platform for free-as-in-beer (and often -as-in-speech), unlike Windows Media with DRM.

Re:Glad to see this. (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613709)

Really? What platform can you not play Windows Media on? Even my phone can play Windows Media. I would be surprised if the iPod video didn't support wmv either. Certainly easy in every linux distro out there, No problem on the Mac. All supported out of the box versus MKV which I've never even heard of let alone downloaded a codec for. This is just silly, you don't even need Windows Media encoder to create Windows Media files. The DRM is entirely optional.

Re:Glad to see this. (2, Informative)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613811)

Really? What platform can you not play Windows Media on?

You can't play DRM-encoded windows media anyplace you don't have windows media player. You are asking an irrelevant question, "What platform can you not play Windows Media on?", the actual question is "What platform can you not play DRM-restricted Windows Media on?" And the answer is "most places" - you can't play it anyplace that doesn't have a recent windows media player. And that turns out to be quite a few places.

I have a better question or two, though. Why should the BBC choose a proprietary format? Why should the BBC use DRM at all? Those are the two biggies.

All supported out of the box versus MKV which I've never even heard of let alone downloaded a codec for.

MKV isn't a codec, it's a container format. It's an open container format that supports AFAIK effectively unlimited video and audio streams, internal subtitle tracks, etc. Not ever having heard of it is irrelevant, because it's not a large download and the beeb could provide download instructions.

I'm not really suggesting that anyone use MKV, though. It simply exists, and is Open. AVI is fine with me, as it's unlikely they will release any video streams over 2GB and AVI is well-known. Frankly, I would prefer to see them simply use an MPEG stream to any of this other stuff, because it's the most compatible thing out there (even MPEG4 is widely playable these days.)

This is just silly, you don't even need Windows Media encoder to create Windows Media files.

This is completely irrelevant, because we're talking about playing them, not recording them.

The DRM is entirely optional.

This is completely irrelevant, because we're talking about playing them, not recording them. And the BBC decides whether DRM is used, not the user.

If this is the height of your debating ability, you'd better go to digg.

Re:Glad to see this. (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614103)

As for your first question, why should the BBC choose a proprietary format that 800 million computers in-use today support? That's not even worth answering, it's just plain silly particularly from a news agency trying to reach as many people as possible.

This is not a debate. You haven't actually presented a rebuttal to anything I said, you merely cast it all off as irrelevant.

The problem isn't with WMV, it's with the DRM employed. Lift the DRM and over 800 million computers out there can play the content. Sorry but that's not irrelevant simply because you say it is. Having not heard of MKV also matters a great deal, the format is not widely adopted and so there is limited expertise in it. Since it is a container then that shouldn't really change anything in which case, why did you bring it up? Regardless, the vast majority of players out there won't play it and the vast majority of people out there either can't or won't download and install it. Look how long it took flash to get adopted?

Also not irrelevent is the fact that you don't need Windows Media encoder to produce WMV. You can use free and open source products to produce this content which is very much in fact relevant.

The fact that the DRM is optional is also not irrelevant because it applies to both the recording side as well as the playback side. If it is not employed on the recording side then all players will be able to play it or at least the vast majority.

You really have an odd concept of what a debate is if you think that is what you were doing.

Debate the DRM, that is something actually worthwhile given the tradition of the BBC in it's preservation of history rather than the restriction of it.

Re:Glad to see this. (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614169)

MKV isn't a codec, it's a container format. It's an open container format that supports AFAIK effectively unlimited video and audio streams, internal subtitle tracks, etc. Not ever having heard of it is irrelevant, because it's not a large download and the beeb could provide download instructions.

Yeah, but the real question is this: what restrictions exist on the use of the AFAIK codec? It's great that it can handle "effectively unlimited" streams and all that, but that doesn't do me any good if it's all bound up in patents and overly-restrictive licensing terms...

Re:Glad to see this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613887)

Certainly easy in every linux distro out there

You mean every x86 Linux distro out there. Good luck getting it to work on Linux on any other hardware platform (and there are quite a few that are common--PPC and ARM to name two).

Re:Glad to see this. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613909)

Matroska isn't a video format, it's a multimedia container. You can stick just about anything in there. AVC, ASP, VC-1, MP3, AAC, TTXT, SRT, Vobsubs you name it.

By the way there are open video codecs like Theora or the BBCs own Dirac. Unfortunately they are both not ready for primetime. I have never used theora, but I read it probably won't be able to reach ASP (XviD/DivX) quality wise. Diracs development has picked up in the last couple of months, but there are still problems with colour drifts and blocking in high motion scenes. Also currently both encoding and decoding are dog slow. Can't even play 640*480 on a brand new core2duo in real time.

Re:Glad to see this. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613613)

Police cars are funded by PUBLIC money so they should be built by the PUBLIC, or how about buildings funded by the public, no company should make those, it should be a group of Amish doing it for the community (they don't read forums right?).

Common, stringing keywords together is just a rhetorical trick, funny how this post was modded up.

Anyway, I hate format lock-in, which is what all the music services do, but it considerably reduces the cost of operations so you can either raise taxes (or duties, yea i said it) or go with the lowest bidder. The public's willingness or unwillingness to do that is a totally different philosophical/economic/political argument.

Needs to go further. (5, Insightful)

twitter (104583) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613621)

Governments, funded by the PUBLIC should put their stuff in PUBLIC format.

and when software patents get in the way, the PUBLIC should demand that law serve the PUBLIC interest. Software patents are bogus and they are the only reason there's a format problem in the first place.

Re:Needs to go further. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19614143)

On the other hand, if there had never been patents perhaps there would have been minimal economic motivation to create the technology that requires the format.

The BBC shouldn't need to be told. (2, Insightful)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613307)

The OS landscape changing as it is now (not necessarily as fast as we'd like it), this move is valid. Personally I don't like to use Microsoft products, no exception to Windows Media Player on Mac (a bit of a bitch to find and install the proper CODECs).

I like to at least have a choice of media formats available...

Re:The BBC shouldn't need to be told. (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613459)

MSFT dicontinued Windows Media for the Mac last year. Now in order to view WMV files one most manually download a third party codec. It does have an installation program but yea.

It also chokes on a large section of WM9 files. They do work on it, but it's hit or miss sometimes. and don't even think about DRM encrusted files.

Re:The BBC shouldn't need to be told. (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613491)

Yeah, I don't use WMP to play WMV on Mac either. Especially since MS stopped developing the player for mac and gave it out to a 3rd party developer. So now I use the www.flip4mac.com Flip4mac plug-in and view WMV content in Quicktime.

Typically I tell clients to place video on the web in Quicktime if you're looking to hit the largest market segment with only 1 format. But from what they are saying, they want a time bomb that would disable content after x number of days and I'm not sure there is anything out there in Quicktime land that does this.

That being said, several US broadcast networks have been able to figure something out. I watched a number of lost episodes online. Not sure what their format was, but it decent quality and only 2 30 second commericals. I can live with that.

Re:The BBC shouldn't need to be told. (1)

Falesh (1000255) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614067)

I agree that their on demand stuff should be in open formats. The BBC is usually pretty good with stuff like this, I'm not sure why they went down the Real Player and WMP rout.

Hmm. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613319)

Nothing else to do than poing fingers at a media player?

They're a major source of world news, and someone wants to start a fire because of pure hate for Microsoft?

It's not like they didn't take the time to measure out their options, they're a media broadcasting company for Christ sakes. They've been around a few decades before media player even existed, and I'm pretty sure they're wise enough to decide on their own player even if they needed to purchase it with pocket change.

Re:Hmm. (1, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613395)

It's not like they didn't take the time to measure out their options, they're a media broadcasting company for Christ sakes. They've been around a few decades before media player even existed, and I'm pretty sure they're wise enough to decide on their own player even if they needed to purchase it with pocket change.

Obviously they aren't or they wouldn't be going with windows media with DRM which they have no business putting into the files in the first place. They're a state-sponsored, court-enforced monopoly which anyone with a device capable of picking up their signal must fund, and they're putting out files that a significant number of the licensees can't do anything with. Obviously, they're missing the fucking point.

Re:Hmm. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613607)

oh grow up, 99% of the people using the site are happy with the format, and the 1% of whiny bitches who arent know how to get a wmv player if they want to. Stop using a third rate O/S and then whining that nobody supports it. Grow up.

Re:Hmm. (2, Insightful)

janrinok (846318) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613513)

Except they are not a company; they are a corporation paid for by government funding raised by charging all citizens for their TV license. The argument being stated here is that if I pay the license fee, surely I have a right to be able to watch their content without having to install Windows on my computer. I assume that you pay taxes and license fees in your country, wouldn't you complain if you were prevented from getting any benefit from the money raised?

Re:Hmm. (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614211)

I dunno, last I checked I quite easily watched all the WMV porn I liked on my SUSE, Ubuntu, or Fedora installs. Why must I install Windows to watch WMV? My phone even plays WMV files. Perhaps you're more concerned with the DRM? That would make a lot more sense. Get rid of the DRM and then the problem goes away.

Re:Hmm. (1)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614285)

Do you see any of the revenue brought in from the advertisements sold on the station?

I don't expect my kids to get a free year in college because my government actually tried to make back a few million on the hundreds of billions they spend each year, by using a "drm infested" software.

Not only that, but they're going to be using your precious tax dollars (that you get SO much of) to buy NEW software bundles to install throughout the corporation... when it wouldn't have cost them any extra otherwise.

Real Player (3, Funny)

Cerberus911 (834576) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613343)

They should just switch to Real Player, then everyone will be equally (un)happy.

Re:Real Player (1)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613731)

RealPlayer on linux makes me somewhat happy the times I have to use it. The core is open-source (Helix DNA), and it's about on par with all the other video players in Linux. (I believe that SuSE also uses Helix instead of gStreamer). I heard the Mac player isin't stellar, but is far ahead of the Windows version

No it's okay (2, Insightful)

matt me (850665) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613435)

They're going to bring a Mac client as well, which means that *everyone* will be able to watch TV. That's how they report the story.

Re:No it's okay (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613523)

Sure they will. There are countless of web sites where Mac's are left out due to WMV. Its about time somebody stands up against this BS.

Re:No it's okay (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613927)

Why would a Mac be left out due to WMV? Perhaps due to DRM but the format itself works on pretty much everything these days. Did Apple intentionally pull support from Quicktime for it? Seems silly given that roughly 800 million computers out there have Windows Media Player.

Re:No it's okay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19614073)

Had you actually checked the subject before posting it would be quite clear to you that Microsoft has all but abandoned WMP [http://www.microsoft.com/mac/otherproducts/otherp roducts.aspx?pid=windowsmedia] on the Mac platform. The only way to play WMV files on a Mac are via a 3rd party tool. This has the restriction of not being able to play DRM'd files at all.

Re:No it's okay (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614167)

Had you actually read my post you would have seen I was talking about Quicktime which had support for WMV built-in since WMV 6 came out. I knew MS stopped development but there is WMV support all over and on almost every platform.

Hmmm (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613503)

The same way if they will use ANY format, wav, mp3, ogg, fuckit, mp4 or whatever, there is the same posibility to be sued. No format is perfect and there will always people unhappy about the used format. So stop playing games "my daddy is stonger than yours" and stop crying a river and be a man once in your life and let everybody choose the freaking format they want, be it open, close, yellow , sour or whatever they want. Freedom is NOT about what you think is better for everybody. Freedon is about accepting that people are free to do what they want even if it's not the best for the majority. So shut the f**** off. What? You pay taxes and don't want that format? So do I and I don't care in this case. Repeat after me: you are not the only one...

"public broadcasting" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613547)

BBC: "In order to maximize public value, the BBC must balance extending access to content with the need to maintain the interests of [private] rights holder"

I have asked PBS the same following question:

How do I donate to support public media only. (Not supporting the rent paid for media data that is held in private, and strictly prohibited from public viewing without access fees during the 95 year monopoly)

The point of PBS is becoming unknown to me, with commercials for ADM, Walmart and Microsoft, and broadcasting privately owned works from companies such as Sony.

Anyone know what the public replacement of PBS and BBC is?

So what SHOULD they use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613561)

Assuming they need to control the content - 'cos otherwise DVD sales etc are dead, hence lost revenue, hence more expensive TV licensing in the UK, ie more tax - what SHOULD they use?

m4v? Um, no.... not open enough
Ogg? No DRM
MPEG? No DRM
WMV? Tried that
Real? PleaseForTheLoveOfGodNoMoreRealSpyware
divx? no DRM?

Not much left, really....

So, OSS fan boi's, enough of the "dont use WMV" - what SHOULD they use? And things without come form of control dont count :)

Re:So what SHOULD they use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613831)

Your assumption is wrong. DRM does not increase sales.

Since BBC is supposed to resemble public tv, shouldn't they be showing things that are more open for public viewing? (instead of media, whose "owners" demand strict control to prevent the extra public access).

In general, it is public interest and a 95 year copyright publishing monopoly that generates sales, not DRM.

Re:So what SHOULD they use? (4, Insightful)

asuffield (111848) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614305)

Assuming they need to control the content - 'cos otherwise DVD sales etc are dead, hence lost revenue, hence more expensive TV licensing in the UK


The BBC already broadcasts their programming, in MPEG-2 at more or less DVD quality, unencrypted, over the public airwaves, all over the UK - in the form of digital terrestrial television. This is their primary reason for existence. There is no sight or sign of DRM anywhere near it. It is utterly trivial to record this with a computer and DVB capture card, hardware which is cheaply and widely available. Most popular BBC programmes are already recorded in this fashion and posted on thepiratebay.org within 12 hours.

This is the same content that they are now releasing onto the internet. It is quite obvious that if they didn't need DRM to broadcast it over radio in the first place, they don't need DRM to broadcast exactly the same stuff again over IP. It is further obvious that the simplest thing for them to do would be to use exactly the same codec that they are already using. There is no apparent reason why they should suddenly propose a far more limited and ineffective system just because the carrier system is IP rather than radio.

It is pretty obvious that Microsoft is involved in this one somewhere, and that's almost certainly illegal.

No amount of DRM on the IP version is going to have any effect at all on the material available on TPB, because all the content is already on the net and will continue to be posted there from the digital terrestrial broadcasts (no proposals are currently being made to post any of the BBC's considerable archive of material on the net, only some of the things which are currently being broadcast). The quality is better in the terrestrial broadcasts than in the iplayer system anyway, so iplayer is never going to be used as a source for TPB when the far better DVB version is readily available. The entire proposal is retarded: they are seriously suggesting a service which is lower quality, less convenient, and already less popular than TPB, with DRM crippling thrown in just to make it entirely unwanted. It's a complete waste of time and money, because everybody with an interest will just keep using TPB instead.

Okay, from a view across the pond (2, Interesting)

ducomputergeek (595742) | more than 6 years ago | (#19613679)

I find this interesting that they are debating the formats and everything, yet US broadcasters have found ways of streaming online (through flash video?) okay. And since these are private enterprises, I'd think they'd be even more concerned with protecting IP. Granted, there are usually a couple 30 second ads (at least with Lost) you have to set through, but none the less they've found a way.

Now on the flip side, these are private enterprises and can do pretty much whatever the hell they want in terms of formats, which usually means finding a way to reach the largest audience possible while still protecting the content. But it seems to me that as conventional TV dies, from DVR's and competition from cable/sat channels, they are trying to expand viewer ship and trying to find what works online. I'm not sure anyone's got it quite figured out yet, but are trying.

illegal alternatives provide the best service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19613839)

So here I am thinking that as I am forced to pay towards subsidising Microsoft!!

While using Linux I'll have to download nice mpeg4/xvid copies of broadcast BBC programs via bit torrent. Or even get a digital tuner and start providing my own. This will give me copies of the programs that will not 'time out' on me, are available in full resolution and encoded using DRM free software.

Those among my countrymen who genuinely still respect and understand the principle of the BBC will join me in this. Those that don't will continue to cough up their hard earned for no reason other than the fact that they now have more bovine tendencies in them than any real Brit could tolerate.

Leave the BBC alone (2, Interesting)

kkiller (945601) | more than 6 years ago | (#19614245)

However much I'd love the beeb to be using a opensource version of the iPlayer, they have bigger fish to fry right now than this. The BBC Trust process has meant that the iPlayer is incredibly late, considering its been in planning for several years. More legal trouble could mean the Player never leaves beta at all - leaving the BBC even more irrelevant. In addition, each move the Beeb makes is analysed and scrutinised by a jealous commercial opposition who see new markets which the BBC has picked up and feel threatened by a well-funded, well liked public broadcasting upping the benchmark. It never used to be a problem but it has already seen the death of BBC Jam - the online schools service, leaving their education department in limbo - and has meant that iPlayer is not the product that was originally intended. The ability to download a series has been ripped out, for example.

Now the open source movement wants to harass them as well? This needs to stop. In time the BBC will realise that the Kontiki platform is poor, sucks away bandwidth without asking and renders all their material unportable. They can do that on their own terms with consultation from their users - they do not need more legal trouble which will take up time and leave the BBC even more vulnerable. The public corporation is not the for-profit corporation's bitch.
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