back to article BBC Trust backs calls for Linux iPlayer

The BBC Trust met with the Open Source Consortium (OSC) yesterday to discuss the controversy raised by the BBC's iPlayer, which will only work on Windows XP. The Trust expressed surprise at the strength of feeling raised by the issue and promised to take it up with senior BBC management. The BBC Trust oversees the BBC and: " …

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Working in the Open

Top marks to all concerned, maybe this is only 'talks about talks', but at least they are talking in what seems to be a reasonable manner rather than shouting at each other. Will be interesting to see if this moves things forward faster than the ranting technique.

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Only XP?

What about Vista?

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Hmm...

So the Beeb (who were going to support OS-X all along, just not at the launch) are giong to go to the owners of the content - who they have already had a year of negotiations with - and say "we'd like to do linux too."

The the content owners are going to say "you'd like to make our content available on an OS where there isn't any DRM [which they insist is used] and even if there were, it'd be pretty easily subvertable"

Then the Beeb: "Err, yes."

I'll leave you to work out what the content providers are going to tell the Beeb to do. There will be two short words containing three Fs.

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Open standards

And yet it's not too long ago that the BBC website was serving Ogg audio files ...

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VLC

Nice one... Way to go !!

I have noticed that since all this about the player blew up that BBC Vid feeds now work in Debian 64, using VLC

Power to the People !!

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Anonymous Coward

Linux

Why bother? Isn't this just a waste of the licence fee for the 3 people that will use it?

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Anonymous Coward

Jeez - some people are never satisfied !

Of course those whining about the lack of cross platform support will be the first in the queue to complain about the cost to the BBC licence payer of developing a cross platform solution.

It's a wonder that the BBC is able to produce anything when the new trust is willing to listen to every gripe from tin pot organisations.

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Speccy

I have a speccy 48 and I demand it works on there. i don't care if it delays everyone else, I wan't it now!

Problem was that many of the Linux prats (sorry supoprters) can't ready more than a few words without flying into a "Dear BBC" rage.

The Beeb said from the start it was Beta testing on XP and then add others later.

Linux dicks read this as; it wil only ever work on XP.

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Content Providers

"I'll leave you to work out what the content providers are going to tell the Beeb to do. There will be two short words containing three Fs."

The BBC is their own content provider, and so are likely to be slightly more polite to themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Will iPlayer Infecting Linux with DRM?

Bearing in mind the BBC's statement that not allowing downloads to play after 2 week from broadcast, due to 'contractual restrictions' Will porting iPlayer to Linux necessitate implementing a DRM architecture?

Peter

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More open source religious rubbish

Open source is not a religion. Everyone and everything does not have to respect its rights .

The iPlayer should be available to all UK citizens. It is (or will be) - just grab yourself a widely available (to all UK citizens) copy of Windows from your nearest retailer.

Just because the BBC doesn't support your (personal) choice of OS then tough. The BBC needs to hit maximum market share, it does this by developing a platform for Windows first because like it or not the religion of Linux is in the minority.

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Who's money?

"Why bother? Isn't this just a waste of the licence fee for the 3 people that will use it?"

If that's the case, then as as Linux user, shouldn't I get some kind of rebate on the license fee? Given that I pay for my TV License and find that I'm paying for a service I can't use. (And no doubt the license fee will skyrocket along with the BBC bandwidth costs)

Every day, the BBC starts to look like a bigger and bigger waste of money.

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Anonymous Coward

Release the anger!

Hilarious, regarding the backlash against Linux users here. I thought Apple and Sony were badly bashed here. I was wrong. Linux users are copping the heaviest abused of the lot! I guess The Register serves as some peoples free replacement for those therapists they should be seeing.

Anyone who thinks DRM is platform specific is a moron, and the algorithms are not licensed on a platform specific basis. To the content providers I doubt it was licensed based on anything more than a technical requirements specification, which is something which can be done on a platform agnostic level. To make a product so heavily reliant on a single version of a single companies product is an anti-competitive move, and only further supports a company a monopoly.

PS. No, i'm not a Linux user, not even a fan.

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Content providers

Fraser, the "content owners" are us. We paid for it first time around.

To the Windows trolls: Plenty of people use Linux. Apple is again a major seller of personal computers. Plenty of people want to see the content on other devices. Own a mobile phone? It certainly isn't running XP.

Rich.

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Re: Content Providers

I think you'll find that changed during the reign of Blue Sky Birt.

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why i no longer own a telly

its full of crap and you have to pay over £100 a year for it... then they waste loads of money doing crap like this so people with unpopular systems get a chance to download the same crap they broadcast on tv.

the beeb has long since stopped being a public service broadcaster and the space between shows is full of adverts. for itself. scrap license fee, make it go commerical.

perhaps have a small license fee (like £20 a year) and start a TV channel that *is* actually public service broadcasting?

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@Stu Reeves

Fret not. When the Source Code for the Linux version of the player is released, you will be able and free to modify this to run on your Speccy 48K.

That is the beauty of Source Code: you only need to release one version, and it works on everything.

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Absolutely no change

It's still going to be other platforms asap (well, as asarp, and only as asarp as the BBC can be) with reviews every six months and no set timetable, no absolute limit of two years as was taken out of the original proposal, no change in the notion of using DRM in any way. But apparently this is now being presented as a triumph for the Movement. Huh?

By the way, much of the BBC's content is produced by independent companies. Especially the popular stuff. But that does leave the question of why the BBC isn't letting more of its own work be more free, even if they have to listen to their friends' concerns on other stuff.

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Hey!

Wow, everyone is shouting about how all the Linux users are whinging and costing the BBC money and time...

Haven't you got any vitriol left for the Mac OS X users?

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Content providers

A lot of BBC TV output is provided by third parties (e,g, RDF who provided the now notorious footage of Her Maj). I'm sure they now have agreements in place allowing them to deliver this content over the Internet, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that such agreements require 'watertight' content management.

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Anonymous Coward

Content Providers

"The BBC is their own content provider, and so are likely to be slightly more polite to themselves."

This isn't the case at all - BBC are rarely the rights holder. Other than publically establishing that those attending the meeting from both the Trust and OSC have no understanding of the issues, this has accomplished little.

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tits

How about the bbc keep their player and their content, and I will keep the licence fee. Everyones a winner.

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Ian

Nice, But.

Open Source DRM == Chocolate Teapot

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re: More open source religious rubbish

Andy - you're quite right, if you want to use this you should buy Windows.

In other news, whilst reinforcing that the TV license will still be a legal requirement, the BBC today announced that it's shows will from now on only work on Samsung televisions. Asked whether the BBC thought this was a problem to people who choose not to use Samsung televisions, they said: "Of course not, Samsung televisions are widely available in all shops so if people want to use our services they can go out and buy one."

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WINE

The Beeb should just make sure it works with WINE, and all will be well.

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To all the Linux nay sayers

What if the BBC suddenly said that you could only watch terrestrial TV on Sony television sets. Would you be happy with that?

And no, I'm not a Linux zealot or user. Yet.

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@andy Gibson

Vista compatibility is delayed... Just like Mac Compatibility. Its an XP only shop on launch.

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Linux Not the Point

The point here is that iPlayer should not be tied to a proprietary, closed technology such as Windows Media. The BBC should be using relevant MPEG standards, as they do with their other broadcasting channels. Support in Linux, MacOS, Windows OR ANYTHING ELSE would then flow naturally.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Title

"I'll leave you to work out what the content providers are going to tell the Beeb to do. There will be two short words containing three Fs."

"The BBC is their own content provider, and so are likely to be slightly more polite to themselves."

I'm afraid that the BBC do not own the content, they only have the right to broadcast it in a short window. The independent production companies that make the programs now own the rights.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/06_june/02/newmedia.shtml

-----

the background:

The BBC has agreed new Terms of Trade for commissioning programmes from independent producers, it was confirmed on Monday.

The agreement was reached with Pact, the trade association representing the commercial interests of the producers. It will apply retroactively from January 6, 2004.

Under the new terms, the BBC has agreed that independent producers will own the copyright, and all other rights, to the programmes they produce. The corporation will then licence the programming for use across its TV channels for five years. Repeat usage fees will be paid by the BBC to the producers when the programme is used in a way not covered by the initial licence fee. This licence will also cover "public service" new media rights. The licence can be extended on a rolling two-year basis whilst the programming is recommissioned.

Independent producers will also retain control of all distribution rights to their programme, "subject to certain protections required to protect the BBC's licence," although the BBC will still "be entitled to a share in net profit from the exploitation of all rights in the programming."

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Content Providers

Acctually Mar, BBC are not their own content providers. Most of their material (a certain proportion by law) is produced by external production companies who generally keep all rights to the work.

It is the production companies who are the biggest obstacle to the BBC releasing a truly open iPlayer (sans DRM). It would challenge their revenue from DVD sales and transmission in other territories.

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Law

Errmnmmmm

Shouldn't the Beeb have thought about open systems BEFORE paying someone to write a Windows only platform? It's released in a few days, so now we have managed to pay for a Windows version, next will be Mac... then eventually (in the distant distant future) a Linux system.

It would be nice if they just built one system from the start that worked on all of them....

And to the anon person who said:

"Why bother? Isn't this just a waste of the licence fee for the 3 people that will use it?"

.... well basically because I and the two other guys pay a license fee too you short sighted t*sser....

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BBC should try harder

I'd like to see the BBC get their content rights in order so they can supply as much as possible (of their in-house productions) to a DRM-free implementation, and let the 3rd party content owners haggle about what they provide on the nobody-wants-to-use-this DRM closed source Microsofty product.

I'm pretty confident that an open source implementation would see way more use than most people assume. I don't know many people who would willingly sit at their desktop PC and watch TV, but I believe there's quite a growing market for media centre systems (apple TV and linux-based systems) as well as the portable market (I'd love iPlayer on my Nokia N800 :)

BBC should be leading the way with all this, not playing catch-up. I'd hope they aren't totally at the mercy of other production companies and Microsoft in this respect.

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BBC OS

Maybe they should have their own distro! BeebOS,

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@ Fraser

Why do you think implementing DRM on Linux would be "pretty easily subvertible"?

Lazy DRM would be more easily broken on Linux, certainly, but there's no reason why the sorts of security systems that are already available on Linux couldn't be used to provide DRM.

The problem isn't implementation. The problem is that the content owners usually have no push to use something that would be robust in an open source environment. Well now the BBC, as a content owner, might just have that push.

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Doesn't have to be open source.

The BBC can make an iPlayer available for Linux without making it open source. That could include whatever DRM they like. Cracking it won't be any easier than cracking the Windows version either. Why do people assume that a Linux iPlayer would not have effective DRM?

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Shilling

All this shilling for Microsoft can be a bit wearing, in particular when I get "squirted" by my Lord and master, Steve Balmer. Can anyone recommend a soothing cream which will ease my bottom pains in this regard?

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FFS.

For Anonymous Coward and Stu Reeves...

Imagine for a moment you're on your swish XP or Vista box and you hear about this great new free thing the BBC are going to do, but you can only access it if you have a Mac, and have no intention of supporting Windows. Wouldn't you feel aggrieved? Welcome to the point that's being made. If they were charging for it, so be it - I wouldn't be paying for it, so not using it would be fine. But for me to be paying my license fee just for some Windows dicks... sorry, prats... sorry, supporters to get a free lunch while I'm being told to sling my hook, my money's fine but my operating system is all wrong, that's where the problem is.

Drawing a comparison to a Spectrum is fine. Get your Spectrum on the Internet before you use that line though. Seriously, build an ethernet adaptor for a 48k Spectrum and a TCP/IP stack, and I'll support your case to use it. There's my challenge. Of course, if there's an open standard followed instead of Windows Media Player, anyone with a bit of know-how could write a translator to show the BBC programming - in fact I can think of how to do it already. (FWIW, a 48k version would suffer from lack of dedicated sound chips, a 128k version would be better - and could use the two hardware screens for double-buffering for flicker-free viewing - but a "speccy 48" is what you have.)

Honestly, you Linux-bashing Windows apologists don't know how fab things can be when things are opened up and set loose.

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Mo

O rly?

"So the Beeb (who were going to support OS-X all along, just not at the launch)"

Really? I think you'll find that they use Microsoft's proprietary DRM (which isn't tied into the OS, incidentally, it's just not licensed to anybody for porting to other platforms). If they persuaded Microsoft to port it to any platform besides Windows, it'd be a bit of a coup.

The alternative is to not use Microsoft's DRM, or only use it for Windows users. There's nothing about DRM that means it has to be integrated with the OS, although for Mac users the BBC could just take a look at the iTunes Store, which has been providing downloadable episodes of various TV series in the US for quite some time now. For Linux users, they'd have to do something else.

“The Beeb should just make sure it works with WINE, and all will be well.”

That's not going to help the people who don't use x86. And WINE isn't exactly a production solution at the best of times.

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Anonymous Coward

DRM

The real problem here is the DRM and that's why a Windows-only "solution" was chosen in the first place. The reality is that if a BBC programme is DRMed I can get it online any time I want. So the DRM achieves precisely nothing. The fact that the player requires me to run a buggy ,overpriced, ugly operating system in order to be inconvenienced just underlines what a waste of licence-payers' money it was for the BBC to buy Microsoft's DRM scheme just for the priviledge of maintaining a market for bit-torrents of its own programming.

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To ensure maximum Reg reader outrage

Can I insist that the iPlayer runs on my iPhone?

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Anonymous Coward

which iPlayer?

...but surely the iPlayer already runs Linux? At least my iPlayer does. Ooops my mistake, mine is the original iPlayer, the Netgem iPlayer, the one that the BBC appears to have stolen the name from.

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And...

Most the comments here miss the point. The issue is not about Linux or Mac OS, but about net neutrality. In future people are going to be listening from mobile devices as well as PCs so I trust there will be Symbian and iPhone support...

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Ooooor:

1) Buy a freeview box with a USB output port.

2) Roll your own mp4 file (or, whatever).

Would certainly be quicker than waiting for the Beeb to produce a DRM-friendly client for Linux...

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RE:Doesn't have to be open source.

No, it doesn't have to be open source and there is no reason why OS DRM cannot be as effective as closed source DRM.

The problem is that they are using Microsoft's proprietary DRM and, unless MS release / compile / allow its use on Linux, etc any non-Windows iPlayer would have to use incompatible DRM to the Windows version.

Now, the iPlayer based on a Peer to Peer network. If different DRM solutions were used for Windows and other platforms then you will, in effect, have two different systems and Linux, Mac, etc users will be isolated from the content shared by Windows users.

And before some twonk comes back and says (like they did when I made a similar comment on a previous article) that the DRM is supposed to stop sharing, I'd just like to reiterate that the iPlayer uses P2P. Sharing is HOW IT WORKS!

The DRM is pointless anyway. Most of the content on the iPlayer network will be available on other, less restricted, P2P networks without the DRM, anyway (and is already available to Linux users).

Incidentally. I found myself permanently BANNED from the BBC messageboards for making an identical observation to that above. Not like the BBC are control freaks, or anything.

Here's to hoping that The Register are more enlightened ;-)

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Nev
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What About Solaris!!!!

Well if a handful of people bitching and whining can get support for any old platform, I want a Solaris (On Sparc) player! [Stamps foot]

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Re: More open source religious rubbish

"Open source is not a religion. Everyone and everything does not have to respect its rights .

The iPlayer should be available to all UK citizens. It is (or will be) - just grab yourself a widely available (to all UK citizens) copy of Windows from your nearest retailer.

Just because the BBC doesn't support your (personal) choice of OS then tough. The BBC needs to hit maximum market share, it does this by developing a platform for Windows first because like it or not the religion of Linux is in the minority."

Open source does not equal Linux. There's plenty of open source apps that run on OSX, Solaris, AIX and yes even Windows. Many of these open source apps are better than their closed, paid-for equivalents.

This player only works with WinXP 32 bit. That's like saying in future BBC programmes will only be watchable on a single model of TV made by a single manufacturer AND no longer available in the shops because it's an out of date model. Would you be happy with that? Would be a shame if they didn't support your choice of 42" plasma screen wouldn't it.

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Open standards

Surely the argument should be more about open standards, than an iPlayer for Linux? I feel sticking Linux in the title is rather missleading.

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Anonymous Coward

Linux and open source

Natalie

The problem is that people think Linux=open source Therefore anything that runs on Linux has to be open source.

Its perfectly possible to have proprietary software running on Linux. Oracle do it quite easily.

The BBC of course got into bed with Microsoft and so we ended up with a windows only, MS DRM infested pile of poop for a player rather than a proprietary cross platform application

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Anonymous Coward

If brains...

God some people are sooo dumb

"Just because the BBC doesn't support your (personal) choice of OS then tough. "

Would be a bit tough if they stopped supporting your TV, or your radio, or perhaps your browser. Get a life, this is not about a minority OS, or even two of them, its about the BBC and thier obligation to the fee payer's, its about the BBC using standards, which will benifit all.

BeebOS sounds good, although only 3 people would use it what a shame ;)

I am a windows user, and due to their utter crapness I rarely use IE, and I never use Media Player.

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