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BBC Chooses Microsoft DRM Platform

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the unpopular-with-the-penguins dept.

Television 384

bazorg writes "The BBC has chosen Microsoft's DRM technology to limit the viewing of content downloaded from their website. These downloads would allow viewers to catch up on shows that were broadcast on the previous 7 days; they would be compatible only with Windows Media Player and a new product called 'iPlayer'. This iPlayer is not yet available for platforms other than MS Windows, which caused the Open Source Consortium (OSC) to file a complaint to national and EU authorities. 'The BBC aims to make its content as widely available as possible and has always taken a platform agnostic approach to its internet services. It is not possible to put an exact timeframe on when BBC iPlayer will be available for Mac users. However, we are working to ensure this happens as soon as possible and the BBC Trust will be monitoring progress on a six monthly basis.'"

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DRM (0)

Retron (577778) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650267)

Posted a couple of days ago, I thought. What solutions to DRM does open source software offer though?

Re:DRM (5, Insightful)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650543)

I thought leaving it out was considered the solution to DRM.

Doesn't and can't exist. (5, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650575)

It doesn't and never will. DRM and openness are fundamentally incompatible. You can't have an "open source DRM" system, because it would expose the fundamental flaw of DRM -- that it's trying to keep something from you that you already have. [1]

I think what's really galling people is that the BBC is using DRM at all.

[1] It might be possible to build an "open source" DRM system, if you were only talking about 'open' software, and it was just a wrapper around some sort of hardware system that actually held the keys. But that's why I said "openness" and DRM are incompatible -- in a truly open computer platform there's absolutely no way to enforce DRM against a savvy user that doesn't want it enforced on them. The only way DRM works is if you have a 'black box' somewhere, either in software or hardware.

Re:Doesn't and can't exist. (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650765)

It doesn't and never will. DRM and openness are fundamentally incompatible. You can't have an "open source DRM" system, because it would expose the fundamental flaw of DRM -- that it's trying to keep something from you that you already have. [1]

You can't expose the keys, but any DRM system that's based on a secret implementation rather than cryptography is going to be cracked. Ordinarily, that's what's meant by a 'DRM system', and the specific keys are able to be changed.

Even more fundamental than that (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651131)

You can't expose the keys, but any DRM system that's based on a secret implementation rather than cryptography is going to be cracked.

Even ones based on cryptography are going to be cracked, since there's no way to make a cryptographically secure DRM system. The end user has to have both the ciphertext and the key, in order to use the content at all -- therefore they can get the plaintext. It's often not exactly trivial, because the keys can be obscured, but there's no mathematical security there. It's always just a "secret implementation." Remove the secrecy and you break the system, period.

Re:Doesn't and can't exist. (5, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650893)

I think what's really galling people is that the BBC is using DRM at all.

What's really galling me is that the BBC is adding an artificial limitation which will prevent me (a licence payer) from accessing this content at all since I don't own any Windows machines (and I'm not about to buy Windows just so I can watch this content - which I can most likley download illegally in a platform agnostic format anyway). And of course, licence fee payers can't withhold a portion of their licence in response to the BBC intentionally preventing them from accessing content they have a legal right to.

There is a distinct difference between someone not being able to access the BBC website because they don't own a computer (which is fundamentally required to access a web site) and someone not being able to access some content because the BBC has explicitly excluded them through artificial means (there is no reason to _require_ a user has Windows in order to view videos - other operating systems are equally capable of playing videos).

Re:Doesn't and can't exist. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651271)

They may have a statutory obligation to protect the investment in their copyrighted properties to preserve the revenue stream from DVD sales, and revenue from other markets. Hence a rental system for video files. Hence DRM.

And as long as everyone is kicking DRM while it's down, not that RIAA and MPAA et al haven't given cause. We all think permissions are a good idea for computer security. I can see how portable intrinsic permissions could be a very good idea for media. Protecting internal documents. And hey, if it helps convince my gf that the sex tape won't end up on the internet, but I still get to watch it, that's one step closer. Work with me people. I have a dream!

Re:Doesn't and can't exist. (3, Informative)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651083)

It doesn't and never will. DRM and openness are fundamentally incompatible. You can't have an "open source DRM" system, because it would expose the fundamental flaw of DRM -- that it's trying to keep something from you that you already have. [1]
Well, wrong. sort of.

It will eventually have DRM and If I'm not mistaken, there are projects currently working on it. But the thing is, the DRM doesn't have to work by locking everything down. All it has to do is lock the content down. So it isn't exactly that open source DRM but rather DRM that will work with open source.

[1] It might be possible to build an "open source" DRM system, if you were only talking about 'open' software, and it was just a wrapper around some sort of hardware system that actually held the keys. But that's why I said "openness" and DRM are incompatible -- in a truly open computer platform there's absolutely no way to enforce DRM against a savvy user that doesn't want it enforced on them. The only way DRM works is if you have a 'black box' somewhere, either in software or hardware.
It was explained to me that this is possible. I cannot seem to find the links to it but I remember a project who was working on a GPLed opensource product that institute DRM. It went something like a ssha encryption of the binary content and the provider generated an encrypted key based on your key which was based on your account information(from the provider). Then whatever player you were using needed a plugin that used another program to decrypt the media and stream it into the player.

I even had a discussion on slashdot [slashdot.org] with Bruce Perens where he said it was possible to lock down hardware and all with DRM in a similar manor. Of course he was talking about then non-existant revisions of the GPLv3 draft. So this might have changed. I haven't heard anything on it though.

Re:DRM (1)

delt0r (999393) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650617)

The problem with DRM is that it is as much about vendor lock in as it is about content protection. Ironicly is works far better as a vendor locking method than a content control method. M$ will be reluctant to provide licenses for GPL type code for obvious reasons. However they seem to be more open to licenseing there DRM than apple is.

Re:DRM (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650977)

What solutions to DRM does open source software offer though?

never including DRM in the first place sounds like a good solution to me.

Don't worry, it will support all platforms (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650271)

Windows and OS X!

What do you mean "What about all the others?" There are others? Er, when you say "Future platforms" you mean the next version of Windows, right?

We might need to go back to the drawing board on this one...

They will hack it (4, Funny)

yohanes (644299) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650273)

Don't worry, someone will be able to hack a player for Linux/Mac faster than BBC's official one.

Re:They will hack it (5, Interesting)

ralphclark (11346) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650649)

Maybe, maybe not.

Microsoft DRM has been around for a good few years now and whereas the earliest versions were cracked in due course, the later versions are still fairly solid. I don't believe it's yet possible, for example, to watch DRM-protected WMV files on Linux, even if you have the W32 codecs pack installed.

I did see one sort of hack for MS DRM but it was limited in what it could do...if you had a valid DRM "licence" for the protected file you could use the hack tool to create a non-DRM copy of the file. But it couldn't unlock a file for which you didn't have a valid key.

I suppose this type of hack could theoretically be used to unlock MS-DRM protected videos on BBC *if* they use the current form of DRM which relies on you downloading a key and *if* you use the tool to unlock it before the seven days expires.

It's hardly ideal.

OTOH, a much bigger worry is this response from the BBC that "iPlayer will be available for Mac" - it's implausible that they haven't heard of Linux, so this is tantamount to a deliberate slap in the face for Linux users. And checking on progress every SIX MONTHS!? What kind of project management it that? The "don't care" kind.

Common sense prevailed at the BBC while Greg Dyke was around. Since he was pushed out it's all turning to shit again. With people like these at the wheel, television's days are surely numbered. I don't know about you lot but the only thing I watch on TV these days is Dr Who and it wouldn't kill me to give that up. Fuck 'em.

Re:They will hack it (3, Interesting)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650721)

Yeah Linux was clearly referenced in the consultation documents. The fact that they've got into bed with MS and are now not even mentioning Linux stinks. The argument that only MS DRM does what they need might have been a bit more plausible if not for the sudden dropping of any mention of Linux and FOSS.

Re:They will hack it (5, Insightful)

linuxrocks123 (905424) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650791)

> I don't believe it's yet possible, for example, to watch DRM-protected WMV files on Linux, even if you have the W32 codecs pack installed.

Your phrasing means you don't know. I don't know either, and I use Linux exclusively. That shows you how important playing DRMed WMV files is.

DRM is impossible to implement correctly because it is theoretically impossible to do. The only reason any DRM system isn't cracked is because no one has cared enough yet to crack it.

The earliest versions of WMV DRM probably were just so easy to crack that someone did it without really trying, but when they fixed the most obvious holes ... no one really cared enough to actually bother.

If WMV DRM gets used on anything people actually want to watch (like the BBC), it will be cracked.

Re:They will hack it (2, Interesting)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651379)

I did see one sort of hack for MS DRM but it was limited in what it could do...if you had a valid DRM "licence" for the protected file you could use the hack tool to create a non-DRM copy of the file. But it couldn't unlock a file for which you didn't have a valid key.

That's fine, that's all that is needed. A third-party Linux/Mac client would mimic the behaviour of the official client, and from the perspective of the BBC servers, the two would be indistinguishable. A lot of programming effort might be required to clone the Microsoft client, but now there are two good reasons to do it: (1) we want to watch BBC programmes on Linux and Mac, and (2) we don't want our video recordings to disappear after X days.

And in software patent free Europe, the BBC has no DMCA-style legal recourse (that I know of) to stop this. I suspect that the third-party client will be popular with Windows users as well as Linux/Mac/whatever users because of the optional nature of the digital restrictions.

Re:They will hack it (1, Insightful)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651021)

Don't worry, someone will be able to hack a player for Linux/Mac faster than BBC's official one.


This is a lot like the "They came for the jews, but I wasn't a jew..." argument. You can dodge the bullet for a while, but eventually, you have to take a stand. The sooner you start, the more time you'll have to find others who'll stand with you.

Mplayer + Binary Codecs (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650285)

Will the binary codecs for mplayer work with this stream? Not sure DRM is handled in this fashion but it does let you view wmv files.

What makes this really suck... (4, Informative)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650295)

is I have to pay for this junk through my "BBC Tax" even though I won't be able to use it. Here in the UK a TV license is compulsory if you have a TV that can receive a signal EVEN if you pay for a subscription service through someone like Sky or Virgin Media.

Re:What makes this really suck... (5, Insightful)

jareth-0205 (525594) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650519)

Ah, suck it up. It's a tax, always has been a tax. Finding a random situation where you personally believe you pay enough doesn't change the fact that you're paying for a public broadcaster. The BBC is a useful thing to have around, like schools and hospitals and welfare it's a good thing even if you might not use it personally.

Pay your licence and be happy that not everything in Britain is driven by commercial interests.

Re:What makes this really suck... (4, Insightful)

The Great Pretender (975978) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650811)

But surely if you pay the tax you should have unlimited acess to BBC content. So why should the BBC adopt DRM to limit access, it's public.

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650969)

Well, it's never gonna be that simple. I wouldn't be surprised if the BBC would ultimately want to do that, they've been making noises about opening up the archives for a while now. The independent channels don't want this though, as it would undermine their DVD business. (if you can get loads of content for free from the BBC why pay for other channels' content? There's only a limited number of viewing hours in the day)

There's also the issue of BBC likely not holding copyright on everything they show. Then you've got the choice of negotiating with the third party, and they're gonna be a bit more protective. Do you exclude them from the service, or include them with some sort of DRM? Just because there is DRM available doesn't mean it will be used all the time. It's tricky, and I doubt the issue is as clear and horrendous as some /.ers will have you believe.

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

Lennie (16154) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650973)

There is a simple answer to that question:

Because the BBC also shows content they did not create.

Re:What makes this really suck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651355)

To restrict access to licence payers and/or UK residents. A lot of the BBC's funding comes from selling programmes it creates to other markets; they wouldn't pay if it was free on the net.

Re:What makes this really suck... (4, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650991)

The BBC is a useful thing to have around, like schools and hospitals and welfare it's a good thing even if you might not use it personally.

I've got no problem with paying my licence fee so long as I am allowed to access the content. Sadly the BBC seems to be adding artifical restrictions to ensure that I can't access the content without me purchasing an expensive product from exactly one vendor with whome I have ethical problems. This is the same as saying "you can only watch TV on TVs made by Sony" - it completely removes competition from the market and this inevitably leads to an expensive poor quality product.

Also a worry is that the BBC appears to believe that being "platform agnostic" involves only supporting Windows and Mac - no mention of other platforms at all.

Re:What makes this really suck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651065)

that's because 99% of their listeners and viewers sue those 2 platforms. It's a simple matter of market share. deal with it.

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

jareth-0205 (525594) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651165)

Yes, fine, I'd love that too, but the BBC don't own all the rights to everything they show. More than that, they can't just make everything free as the independent broadcasters will cease to be able to sell any DVDs... Anti-competitions laws apply to the beeb too.

I don't believe they *want* to limit the availability, the last 2 Director Generals have talked about opening up the archive, but there is a bigger ecosystem to take into account. I don't pretend to understand it all, but atleast they're moving in the right direction.

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650527)

Do TV tuner cards count as a TV then? Seems you want to watch TV on your computer anyway so this might be a nice way out. Plus you could use your computer as a DVR ala MythTV or similiar packages and skip the whole iPhone mess.

Then again I dont know how the laws work in England, but I would think this would be "fair use".

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

Coopa (773302) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650589)

The only out of the TV license if you own a tv is to prove you use it only for gaming. To do this you remove your aerial, 'detune' any channels on your Tv and basically argue with them when they turn up at your door. This was the advice given by my university to students that just had a tv for games consoles, wish i'd known this before i got caught and had to pay £115(ish) on the spot to buy a license.

Re:What makes this really suck... (2, Informative)

beezly (197427) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650595)

Yes, they are. If it can receive TV signals, then you need a license.

Re:What makes this really suck... (4, Insightful)

GauteL (29207) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650613)

"is I have to pay for this junk through my "BBC Tax" even though I won't be able to use it. Here in the UK a TV license is compulsory if you have a TV that can receive a signal EVEN if you pay for a subscription service through someone like Sky or Virgin Media."

I completely agree that the BBC has a duty to make this available to anyone that wants it, thus choosing an open platform for it. However, I disagree with your sentiment on the BBC tax in general. The TV license is why the UK has a healthy non-commerical broadcaster that produces some very good quality material that maybe otherwise wouldn't be commercially viable. That you pay for a subscription service in addition is completely irrelevant. You still receive all the BBC channels and it is not the BBC's fault that you chose to give money to Sky or Virgin in addition.

Non-commercially funded TV is necessary as a counterweight to commercial TV, particularly as commercial media is consolidated onto fewer and fewer hands. While I won't claim that Non-commercially funded TV is non-biased, it certainly has a different bias.

If you suggest that it should rather be included as part of the regular income tax, then I might agree. The TV license makes no distinction as to people's ability to pay the license, and almost anyone has a TV. Yes, it would be unfair on the people who do not have a TV, but no system is fair to everyone.

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

kazade84 (1078337) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650841)

Hmm, I just noticed that my post came across a bit more aggressive than I intended. I don't mind paying the TV license as I listen to Radio 1 and I do watch the BBC. I was just trying to inform people from other countries that as we are forced (as opposed to choose) to fund it the BBC should provide for all. Guess I reacted to the news post a bit more sharply than I realized :)

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

Nossie (753694) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651041)

I dont pay my 'tax' for this :P

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6449619.stm

fvck the competition...

Stop watching TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650713)

I don't own a TV anymore. I used to have one that I never watched, so I eventually got rid of it.

There are more rewarding things you could be doing which don't require you to pay taxes to companies who burn their candle at both ends and give you products that are locked-down and hard to use.

Re:What makes this really suck... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650945)

Tell me about it. You would have no idea how much crap *I* have to pay for that I will never use!

Christ, my taxes help pay for roads and services in places I'LL NEVER GO! And to educate people I'll never meet or give a damn about! Hell, I even have to help pay for special care for handicaped people, even though I function perfectly fine!

I'm tired of paying for all this "junk" just like youre tired of paying the BBC Tax.

Re:What makes this really suck... (1)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650975)

You are aware that virgin and sky both carry the BBC channels, right?

Not for Linux (5, Informative)

Toffins (1069136) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650335)

Despite the several hundred requests the BBC has received for a Linux iPlayer (so said one insider), the BBC is not planning to make iPlayer available for licence-fee payers who use Linux.

Re:Not for Linux (0, Flamebait)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650481)

My god, that's like ignoring close to half of a very small village! As an American, I'm so glad that _my_ government wouldn't go about ignoring minority views...oh, right. Sorry.

Re:Not for Linux (2, Interesting)

FeatureBug (158235) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650749)

While you're being sarcastic, you might like to know that desktop Linux's share is comparable to or even exceeding Apple's share [linuxinsider.com] and as also reported desktop Linux's share will reach 7.5 percent by 2008. I'm not sure it is a positive step in a democracy for a 7.5% minority to be ignored by a quasi-state-sponsored broadcaster (anyone who owns television receiving equipment is required by law to buy a licence every year, even if they subscribe to pay-tv channels and never watch BBC).

Re:Not for Linux (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650931)

Hey, I'd be pissed if I paid a direct tax (which my gov't like to call a "user fee") and then DRM'd the programming. I mean, it's paid for already, right? I have the same issue with toll roads - I'm paying $.35/gallon for gas to cover road building and maintenance...why the extra charge? I know, don't argue with the europeans over gas/petrol taxes, it's a losing battle of you're on the US side!

Anyway, even 7.5% is a paltry amount for the government to listen to. The only time a government listens to such a small percentage of the population is when that particular percentage controls a disproportionately large portion of wealth and/or donations to political campaigns. I still agree that it sucks.

Re:Not for Linux (1)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651369)

Anyway, even 7.5% is a paltry amount for the government to listen to. The only time a government listens to such a small percentage of the population is when that particular percentage controls a disproportionately large portion of wealth and/or donations to political campaigns. I still agree that it sucks.

Wait, what?

Are you seriously suggesting that a government could get away with failing to provide a public service to 7.5% of the population? In most countries you get seats in parliament for less than that. Here in the USA, we provide much more complicated public services than the BBC to support much smaller minorities than that.

Re:Not for Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650895)

"My god, that's like ignoring close to half of a very small village!"

Village? Heh.

It gives a whole new meaning to the phrases [wikipedia.org] :

The Public: "We want information. Information! Information!!"

BBC: "You won't get it!"

The Public: "By hook or by crook, we will." :-)

Re:Not for Linux (2, Insightful)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650605)

several hundred requests

As opposed to the millions they'd get from people who use Windows?

I'm not sure I understand why everyone is outraged at the fact that the Beeb is not catering to an OS that has less than 2% of the desktop market? I'd be more outraged if we were talking OS X here, but that's not even the case.

I surmise that they need DRM because the BBC Trust requires that only TV tax-paying Britons can watch the taxpayer-funded content. If that's the case, then I don't see what the alternative would be for them, since there are no "free" file formats that support DRM in a stable, tested way.

Re:Not for Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650897)

I'm not sure I understand why everyone is outraged at the fact that the Beeb is not catering to an OS that has less than 2% of the desktop market? I'd be more outraged if we were talking OS X here, but that's not even the case.

I hate to break it to you, but Linux usage has doubled since the release of Vista. IDC/siemens etc. all are reporting increased desktop Linux usage. In 1991, Windows had 2% market share and where is it at now?

Google linux market share 2007.

Re:Not for Linux (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650633)

Why people insist on running Linux when they could use OS X, I'll never understand.

Maybe Linux was the best option in the 1990s, but times change. With OS X, things act in a coherent and sensible way, it does everything you need it to do, and -- above all -- it just works. Plus, it is a fully modern and well-supported operating system.

Re:Not for Linux (2, Insightful)

oyenstikker (536040) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650909)

Because they don't have a monitor.
Because they already have x86 hardware.
Because they like good packaging tools, like APT.
Because they like hacking the OS.
Because they can't afford an Apple.
Because they have everything they want working fine, and don't need any Apple applications.
Because they hate spaces in important file/directory names.
Because they use Linux servers and like doing development on the same platform.

Re:Not for Linux (0, Flamebait)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650709)

Thats funny cos Linux advocates are alwasy telling us that Linux is ready to replace windows, that OpenOffice.org can replace MS Office, Multimedia? No problem on Linux, Wine works great with windows apps etc. etc. etc. Then something like this comes along and suddenly its OMG we are being shut out, theres no way for us to watch this boo hoo.

Linux must run Windows apps (1, Interesting)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650351)

Run windows apps on Linux [computerworld.com] -- eventually, we're going to need to take this step. A standard, unified API to develop for makes it easier on companies that are already afraid that DRM violations will erode their bottom line. If Linux starts running Windows apps, I think more people will switch over, because they run Windows for the easy installation (now nearly conquered by Ubuntu) and the vast library of software guaranteed to run on it.

Re:Linux must run Windows apps (1, Troll)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650645)

Run windows apps on Linux

You might as well have said, "Colonize Mars!"

What you're proposing is a solution that's far easier said than implemented. The WINE Project [winehq.org] has been running for a decade and a half now, and is not too much closer to full Windows support than it was when it started. ReactOS [reactos.org] has taken the approach of reimplementing Windows itself, but is similarly hampered by the complexity and fluidity of the Win32 API set.

Re:Linux must run Windows apps (1)

athloi (1075845) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651063)

Hi,

I read all of your posts that I can find, and I respect your opinion. I hope the following different one can be taken in that spirit. (Argumentation should be fun, like all things in life we can make fun.)

I am not arguing from a purist position, or even an ideological one. I am speaking of practical solutions to many of the issues we are likely to face in the desktop world. I run Linux, BSD and Windows and see each as a balance of strengths and weaknesses.

Why I say Linux should run Windows applications: this would create a single stream of development where now we have several and much duplicated work. It does not make sense to maintain a false adversity here. Linux running Windows apps would not only make Linux more easily adoptable, but would force Windows to respond to some real competition. (I don't consider the Mac to be competition; its actual user base is tiny, and are seen by most people as effete zealots. It will go the way of the Amiga and Atari ST.)

Ultimately, win32 is going to be replaced by the Vista-series APIs and not a moment too soon, because it's archaic and as you noted, riddled with labyrinthine rules and countless exceptions. Yuk! No fun to develop for, unless you've been doing it for so long you can navigate around it.

I know that what I suggest is not easy, but look at all that Open Source has done so far that is considered non-trivial. Sometimes, you have to do what guarantees success even if it's a lot of work. I'd put colonizing Mars into that same category, and yes, I'm for that too.

You might have to write me off as a moronic optimist at this point :) and I won't blame you, but looking at the long-term results and needs, the wisdom of these points might be ascertainable.

Re:Linux must run Windows apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651153)

The WINE Project [winehq.org] has been running for a decade and a half now, and is not too much closer to full Windows support than it was when it started.
Not true. Wine is getting better all the time. I remember even two years ago it was a frustration trying to get any program to even install. Now, about 90% of programs will install, and of those about 75% will run properly. For instance it runs MS Office and Photoshop just fine (still a few bugs, but certainly usable).

Is Wine perfect? No way. It still has a long way to go. And, as you said, the Windows API is in fact being constantly changed. But to suggest that Wine has made no progress over the last decade is extremely unfair to the Wine devs. Wine is indeed getting better and better. Moreover, the recent resistance to Vista adoption, if anything, shows that Wine actually has a chance of succeeding. If they manage to implement the Windows XP API (and completely ignore all the changes of Vista), then they will, in fact, make most people happy and support the vast majority of Windows software.

I'm pretty sure Wine will be stable and feature-complete before colonization of Mars begins. In fact, at the rate Microsoft is innovating, Wine may be finished before MS releases their next OS.

Re:Linux must run Windows apps (1)

muindaur (925372) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650655)

No, that defeats the purpose and says "We give up, have your DRM protected content." It may be easier to run Windows applications but in the end the companies win. They will think we have accepted DRM and we will lose the rights we have to personal use with content. We need to stand strong and show companies that DRM will erode their bottom lines more than not having it. In the case of the UK you need to make your voice heard to the politicians in the House of Commons and get political pressure placed on BBC.

Re:Linux must run Windows apps (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651185)

You've got to pick your battles. Greater market share for Linux or steadfastness against DRM. It is entirely possible that those two goals are mutually exclusive. You clearly favor the latter, but that's not obviously the correct answer.

Re:Linux must run Windows apps (1)

StargateSteve (1054492) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650711)

Windows people: "Imitators, they can't get the programs they want, so they need to use windows software, too." Linux people: "Lookie, lookie! We can do this stuff, too! Anybody listening?"* Mac people: "Windows and Linux are both morons. Steve Jobs will let us watch BBC." *for the record, I do run Linux (Debian), but it's the truth.

Re:Linux must run Windows apps (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650789)

OS/2 ran windows apps, so nobody saw a need to create superior native apps. Where is OS/2 now? This is a dumb way to go about getting software on linux.

What's the alternative? (2, Interesting)

IndieKid (1061106) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650365)

Personally, I don't know of any off-the-shelf-and-easy-to-implement open source DRM solution the BBC could have gone for, and given the choice between using Microsoft DRM and getting an iPlayer out the door now or building something in house that could take years I can see why the BBC made the decision they did.

I'm from the UK, love the BBC, not overly keen on Microsoft. The BBC's promise to keep things under review and aim to get something for other platforms out in ~2 years is good enough for me.

Plus, I haven't heard of any rivals (ITV/Sky/Virgin) promising a non-Microsoft implementation and as far as I know the Channel4 on demand software (http://www.channel4.com/4od/index.html [channel4.com] ) doesn't even work on Vista let alone non-MS platforms.

Re:What's the alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650431)

They presumably don't need a DRM solution - why not adopt what youtube has done - it's pretty difficult to download youtube stuff unless you're technically savvy enough to do major circumvention.

Re:What's the alternative? (2, Informative)

MrDoh1 (906953) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651247)

"They presumably don't need a DRM solution - why not adopt what youtube has done - it's pretty difficult to download youtube stuff unless you're technically savvy enough to do major circumvention."

Or, unless you are technically savvy enough to go to any one of many websites like http://vixy.net/ [vixy.net] and paste the address of the YouTube video into the provided box and have it automatically converted and downloaded for you.

Ah, maybe that's why the BBC didn't do that...

Here's a simple alternative (5, Insightful)

afc_wimbledon (1052878) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650507)

Don't use DRM. As a licence payer, UK tax-payer and voter I want my state broadcaster to, well, broadcast the media, not spend my money on restricting who can see it, and probably inconveniencing the people they WANT to see it in the process.

Re:Here's a simple alternative (1)

IndieKid (1061106) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650845)

Unfortunately your licence fee doesn't go very far - DVD sales of shows like the office, red dwarf etc. provide a massive source of income for the BBC (and a significant chunk of UK exports). The BBC is not going to give up this revenue stream easily (the creation of new programming would suffer) which is why some form of DRM is necessary.

Re:Here's a simple alternative (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651051)

How does not putting DRM on online shows kill the market for DVD sales? Are people actually going to take the online video, pirate it, and use that instead of the DVD. If someone is going to go through that trouble, they would probably just use a TV Tuner to record it, and burn a DVD, or download it off bittorrent, from some other guy who recorded it with a TV Tuner. I don't think DVD sales would be affected much, if at all, if the online offerings didn't have DRM. Most people who buy the DVD do so because they get a better copy, and a nice box that they can put on their shelf. Not because there's absolutely no other way of obtaining the material.

Re:Here's a simple alternative (1)

afc_wimbledon (1052878) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651215)

Quite right. Home taping didn't "kill music", video recorders didn't prevent DVDs (which were launched later) being a success. Similarly, DRM will not help DVD sales, or the TV industry in general; p*ssing off your customers is not, generally, a good sales tactic.

Re:Here's a simple alternative (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651161)

The BBC is not going to give up this revenue stream easily (the creation of new programming would suffer) which is why some form of DRM is necessary.

No it's really not necessary. They could be selling that content on all the various online outlets worldwide for the first six months, then allow free access (with entry of a TV license code) after that and continue selling to foreign markets. Instead they broadcast it over the air for free then try to sell DVDs, and have this outlandish DRM scheme which tries to limit any downloads to 7 days, or 31 days, I forget what their limit is now. All because the BBC and Trust are too stupid to realise that broadcast media is on the way out.

They could probably make more selling episodes of Doctor Who on iTunes/XBox to US customers in the next few years than they'll ever make on syndication deals.

This content is broadcast over the air for free in the UK, and can be recorded by anyone with a PVR, transcoded to whatever format they choose then posted on the internet. If the BBC really want to force people to route around them completely by doing that, they'd couldn't have chosen a better system. It's doomed to failure (as all DRM is ultimately), it's aggravating, and it's unfair to those who pay their license fee and don't use Windows.

Re:What's the alternative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650555)

Does Zattoo (http://www.zattoo.com/) not have a cross-platform DRM enabled player for streaming TV? If they can manage to implement it, then why can't BBC?

Huh (1)

nlitement (1098451) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650381)

Why would a government-owned media company need DRM?

Re:Huh (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650591)

Good point, isn't BBC content already public domain? I mean, UK citizens already paid for it once, didn't they?

Re:Huh (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650815)

No - the BBC does not necessarily own the content it broadcasts since the majority of content is not actually produced by the BBC itself in totality. In most cases, the copyright is held by a third party in whole or in part, and royalties would still be payable.

The BBC is no different to any other broadcaster when it comes to actual content - it just doesnt rely on adverts in order to be able to broadcast said content.

Party like it's 1999 (5, Interesting)

BristolCream (102658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650387)

With the resources that the BBC has available, the technological opportunities now available [mediaframe.org] and the mandate that they have to serve the British public, I am consistently amazed that they continue to align themselves with multinational, license charging companies.

Shame on you BBC.

Re:Party like it's 1999 (1)

fyoder (857358) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650829)

I am consistently amazed that they continue to align themselves with multinational, license charging companies.

In the beeb's defense, I've been listening to World Service on Linux for years. When they have a problem with content they don't have a license to stream (typically sports), they present alternative content. It's not OSS, but realplay, however it isn't costing me a dime. They did experiment with streaming ogg, but determined that it 'didn't scale' (from email correspondence with a beeb tech).

With regard to specific content with licensing restrictions, alternative content isn't really an option. "Due to license restrictions, instead of your selection we are presenting 'Best of BBC Produced Comedy'. We have clear title and believe you will find it much more entertaining than your original selection."

Perhaps there should be some form of OSS digital restriction management. Of course, no group knows better than OSS folk that any DRM will inevitably be hacked, so I would imagine it's difficult to feel particularly motivated to build it.

Why does the BBC need DRM? (2, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650407)

Seriously, what are they trying to "protect"

Re:Why does the BBC need DRM? (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650511)

The BBC gets revenue based on people in the UK. IIRC they don't even make more money based on viewership...

Re:Why does the BBC need DRM? (1)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650593)

Exactly, the BBC's funding isn't directly dependent on its viewership. The viewers pay for the BBC to be run through the licence fee, and now they want to limit what we can do with the content we paid for.

Re:Why does the BBC need DRM? (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650603)

Umm, their intellectual property?

They would rather material didn't appear in countries other than the U.K. since they don't pay the license fee. Everyone else has to pay either via cable channels or by buying the DVD content yourself. The money goes back to the BBC to make more programmes for us in the U.K. to watch. More Top Gear, yay!

If this system didn't exist, the license fee would inevitably go up. We Brits get ripped off enough already thank you very much...

Presumably... (2, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650723)

...their rights to go psychotic and trash recordings, as they did in the 70s. I can't think of anything else they'd want to secure to that kind of level, especially as they have their own technology unit (what do you think dirac came from?).

Ooooh! I know! They're trying to stop people stealing the copy of Micro Live!, where the BBC was hacked on live TV by the Cheshire Catalyst!

What about dirac (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650487)

The BBC was working on a new open source / royalty free video Codec Dirac. I hope they did not drop the effort (looking at the projects websites makes me think there is still live to the project).

http://dirac.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]
http://schrodinger.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:What about dirac (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650869)

Interesting. From the Dirac website:

Why are you releasing Dirac Open Source?

The BBC has always advocated open standards, and has tried to use them where possible. So far, streaming has been dominated by proprietary systems and existing licensing regimes for standards-based systems have not been as attractive as they might be for large-scale broadcasting, particularly for Public Service broadcasters.

(my emphasis)

"ASAP" (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650493)

we are working to ensure this happens as soon as possible and the BBC Trust will be monitoring progress on a six monthly basis.
Huh? So in other words, they've given the BBC at minimum 6 months to come up with a solution, after which they will presumably see that nothing has happened, wave their finger a little and forget about it for another half a year. This doesn't quite fit the sense of urgency I feel goes with the term "as soon as possible".

BBC Trust != BBC (2, Informative)

sqldr (838964) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650571)

The BBC Trust is a seperate organisation whos job it is to monitor the BBC and ensure they're obeying their charter. They report their findings publicly, and if there's a scandal, then it usually results in the boss of the BBC getting the sack. In other words, the BBC Trust will check every 6 months if the BBC has made any effort to produce a linux format player (and whether they should be doing), and if people are still kicking up a stink about it, the public will get to know about it, and it the BBC's board of directors will be "in the shit".

Channel 4 (1)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650499)

Channel 4's UK OnDemand service is the same, Windows only DRM. What happened to the work on the BBC's open source codec?

TV License Fee moving to a computer tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650547)

The real problem I have with this is the proposal of replacing the TV License fee with a Computer Tax: A Department for Culture, Media and Sport Green Paper on the BBC's long-term future proposes an end of the traditional license fee and "either a compulsory levy on all households or even on ownership of PCs as well as TVs".
So as a Mac / Linux user would I avoid paying this fee? I doubt it. So I would end up paying for content I can't view on my computer. I think the complaint is a very valid one.

Re:TV License Fee moving to a computer tax (1)

teh_commodore (1099079) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650751)

Paying taxes for something you don't/can't actually use is nothing new. Homeowners here in Texas pay for public schools, whether or not they have children. And things of that nature are pretty similar across the board.

Absolutely unacceptable (5, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650551)

This is in no way acceptable.

The BBC's insistence to use DRM (Digital RESTRICTIONS Management -- it does sod-all for my rights) goes against their charter.

When the BBC first began, you had no choice but to build your own radio set. There was never any question that some essential part might be kept locked away out of the reach of the General Public for the specific purpose of preventing just any random person from constructing a receiver.

For the BBC to insist that their programmes only be received on one particular make of receiver (however it may be rebadged), and that an essential part (the Source Code for the decryption) be specifically denied to home constructors and experimenters, is nothing short of outrageous.

This country is becoming more and more like the former GDR every day.

Re:Absolutely unacceptable (1)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650885)

Digital RESTRICTIONS Management -- it does sod-all for my rights


The "rights" referred to in DRM are those of the copyright holder, not the end user. The end user does have rights, as well, and these ARE ignored/infringed upon by DRM technologies.

Complain? (5, Informative)

Zelos (1050172) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650693)

Places to register complaints: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/ [bbc.co.uk] http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/points_ of_view/index.shtml [bbc.co.uk] Maybe report the BBC to Watchdog for dodgy business practices ;-): http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/watchdo g/index.shtml [bbc.co.uk]

two questions. (1, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650725)

first, more info http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/6236612.stm [bbc.co.uk] .

1, how did M$ persuade them?

There were many options out there, why on earth did they go to M$? call me suspicious - but I think there is more to this announcement then meets the eye.

2, did the BBC have to pay for this tripe?

or, its bad enough that BBC is using a DRM system from M$, but please tell me that they are not paying for it out of our license money. whats the betting M$ if offering this free in order get a larger audience for their crummy codecs and 'orrible player.

3, why not stick with the embedded player they have been trialling recently?

been a few demonstration pages from the BBC with embedded movies recently (I'll see if I can hunt one down) that have worked very well, kinda of youtube style. infinitely better then the real player rubbish they had been using, totally worthless that was - but at least it worked (kind of) under Linux.

4, why DRM in the first place?

I PVR all my TV so I watch it when I want, its not like that as DRM on it. I always archive any footage I want to keep to DivX, I view it the same way as DVD-R and VHS recording of shows for personal use. My point is - if the information is sent out free of DRM then why an earth are they adding DRM for web broadcasts?

one answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650807)

they didn't come across as retarded children that use dollar signs to spell "MS", so their request to use the WMP codecs were accepted.

Proper response to BBC's use of DRM (Silly) (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650757)

You are an enemy of the people! EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

Re:Proper response to BBC's use of DRM (Silly) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651317)

Thanks for pointing out that your response was (Silly). I was going to take it seriously but then I saw that and caught myself.

Re:Proper response to BBC's use of DRM (Silly) (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651325)

Don't worry, I've got a cunning plan. We'll get a thousand monkeys to transcribe all the videos and post them on our own website. ____ Where will we get a thousand monkeys? I'm not even sure you count as one, Baldrick.

excluding listeners. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650819)

The beeb is just bound and determined to exclude listeners... first cutting back on shortwave broadcasts in the americas, (which, ironically, they argued was no longer neccesary thanks to the internet) and now this.

Yet another incentive for piracy (1)

Woek (161635) | more than 6 years ago | (#19650831)

... and another nail in the coffin of DRM.

Points of View (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19650917)

(AUDIO: Annoying rendition of "When I'm 64", fades out)

TERRY WOGAN (for it is he): I have a letter here from a Mr Penguin of Tunbridge Wells.
"Dear Aunty Beeb," he writes. "Why oh why oh why does the planned BBC iPlayer only run on Windows? Don't you know that many people prefer Linux for its open source approach and its lack of DRM. Some also use Mac OS X.
"How on earth can we be expected to watch that funny clip of Derek Trotter falling through the bar for the millionth time, or repeats of Allo Allo, or footage of that agreeable Mr Clarkson telling us in as many different ways as he can muster that foreigners are not to be trusted.
"Of course, I appreciate that you produce a wide range of output, some if which is highly prized, such as Doctor Who. However, I won't need your iPlayer for that, as I can get it on Bittorrent already.
"So come on, Aunty Beeb!"

Harsh words, Mr Penguin!

And so, friends, adieu.... (etc. etc. ad nauseam)

Steal This Media! (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651093)

All of this obsession about control of one's product goes to show that today's conservatives are dead wrong.

Today's liberal media isn't liberal. It's a bunch of conservatives pushing a liberal product.

As much as they talk about socialism and the idea of shared property, they certainly don't live it. These people in the media business aren't liberals - not the firms, major artists, or even much of the talent. They only walk around with a few Mao bags to have some street credibility, but, at the end of the day, they are grubbing for every nickel they can get their hands on, as much as the fat necked guy that ran Exxon. Today's so called liberal media isn't liberal at all, just talks that way while secretly bitter that they don't have their own fleet of private jets, like the really rich people do.

Liberal media? I dare anyone to post copies of the Rolling Stone, Time, New York Times, online on your own web site. Liberal writers? You go write ahead and start a web site with the text of Alterman, Kos, and others. Liberal movies? Let's see what happens when someone torrents Michael Moore's latest movie. I guarantee you all of these so-called socially conscious types won't wait two seconds to have a DMCA lawywer after you!

Abbie Hoffman is rolling over in his grave! As a Republican, I may not agree with much of what he said, but at least he was a real liberal, and was genuinely refreshing.

Steal this media! That's what he'd say.

BBC and 9/11 video archives (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651111)

I wonder if the decision had anything to do with the 9/11 video recently discovered in their archives. In the obtained video, reporters were describing the collapse of building 7 on 9/11 even though it was clearly standing in the background. They even had a complete explanation as to why building 7 collapsed. Many people believe building 7 was a planned controlled demolition since it was never hit by a plane, had minor damage, and collapsed symmetrically at free-fall speeds(47 floors in 6.5 seconds). The officials(NIST) have no technical explanation for the building's collapse.

The most interesting aspect about the video's discovery was the response. BBC removed their complete 9/11 archive from the Internet, Google actively deleted copies from their video system, Liveleak.com was the only reliable host to provide a copy.

BBC hates DRM (2, Funny)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651195)

Have we already forgotten that the BBC hates DRM? [slashdot.org]

So it would be better if the BBC didn't do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651205)

Seriously, just asking twitter and the other h4rdc0r3 M$ tr0ll$, would it be better if the BBC simply didn't offer anything as oppposed to Windows only content?

Re:So it would be better if the BBC didn't do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#19651321)

> would it be better if the BBC simply didn't offer anything as oppposed to Windows only content?

Yes it would. A public service broadcaster has no justification for _requiring_ products from a convicted monopolist for any service, I'd prefer to see the BBC shut down.

The old days... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651257)

What happened to the old days, where premium content on a website was behind a username/password system?

DRM'ing this content is -pointless- because it is sent over the air unencrypted first. Anyone who would download it from the website and repost it will instead just DVR it and rip it from there. It's an added step, but not much trouble at all. Especially with PC-based DVR.

So who are they really trying to protect this from? The common citizen? Most of them couldn't download the stream if you installed the firefox plugin FOR them. Most of the rest wouldn't bother. And the ones that would will just find another way.

I think this is an answer is search of a problem. Someone has been brainwashed or bribed into thinking DRM -has- to be used to protect content, instead of understanding that it's a choice, and a failed attempt at protection and more costly than it's worth.

I'm an American, and all the decent content will -still- end up within my reach very shortly after it airs. I don't need to go anywhere -near- the BBC's site, though I might consider paying some fees to watch their content online. I find some of it to be quite good. I -can't- if they DRM it, though, as my Windows PC is not in a room fit for relaxing.

BBC has been going downhill for a while (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#19651305)

First, they cut down on spectacular comedy series they have been doing, and instead turned to crappy NBC imitation shows with subjects like forensic detectives, thrillers, crapola and crap.

now going microsoft drm way. beh.

apparently whomever is directing the channel now has no wits.
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