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back to article BBC's download iPlayer goes titsup

Official BBC iPlayer downloads are out of action today because of a failure in one of the system's back end databases. Reg readers who use the Windows-only desktop application noticed performace problems earlier this week. Now the whole system, which is based on Verisign's Kontiki peer-to-peer distribution platform, has been …

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Big deal, no DRM on streams, no story.

Why anyone would want to keep a file built from a 500K stream beats me, the quality's OK to watch as part of a catch-up service, but that's all.

If you want to archive something for future replays, save up your pocket money and buy the bloody DVD you cheapskates.

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Jobs Horns

Mp4 stream still works

Downloaded a Mp4 programme just before lunch.

That seemed to work fine.

The irony....

Regards,

Evil, nasty 'hacker'

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Alert

Someone unplugged the router?!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/2243773541/

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Coat

Given how awful kontiki is

Does the BBC have any stats on how popular their new "Mp4 download" service is compared to their P2P iplayer?

Mine's the one with the felt collar (pun intended)

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bad week?

"The glitch caps a bad week for the BBC's push into TV downloads, but the spokesman said this latest hiccup is nothing to do with the current battle with hackers over DRM-free downloads via iPhone streams."

Bad week for whom? Probably for me, because I didn't get around to downloading any of the h264 shows for free.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mp4 stream still works

Likewise.

The irony is that while they are doing all they can to stop the likes of me from using an illicit method to get the programmes, if they produced a Linux version, with the 30 day restriction built in, I would start using it immediately. I don't really want to keep the programmes after watching them once.

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Black Helicopters

WTF?

I thought the point of P2P was the removal of reliance on back-end server?

Hmmm, I wonder which of EDS/Accenture/etc got the iPlayer contract?

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Pirate

Once upon a time...

The BBC produced a survey to collect views about the proposed iPlayer. The result was overwhelming support for platform independant download.

The BBC chose to ignore the results of their own survey, and launched a DRM crippled MS only service.

After a huge backlash, they then grudgingly offered poor quality streaming, which nobody wanted in the first place. The BBC only have themselves to blame.

Time for a relaunch - iPlayer2.0

Specification:

Encoded in H264

Downloadable files using BitTorrent

No DRM.

It's already happening unofficialy, it won't go away, time for the BBC to give in and provde the service everybody asked for in the first place. there was plenty of time after the survey to arrange for DRM free content, after all broadcasting using a transmitter is not very different from providing the same program over cable or the internet.

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How come...

The Reg hates on the iPlayer so much?

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Thumb Up

Hope it stays down.....

Call me bitter... but my BT broadband seems to be running faster today... wonder why?? :s

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Bronze badge

BBC Crapware

How much do those fools spend on overly expensive and not very good equipment?

Was there anything about their various incarnations of their weather presentation IP on The Register?

It all started in the 1970's when an apparent need was first observed. This was in the days before overhead cameras evidently:

http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=FhoUq6PSJJE&feature=related

The BBC's problem in the old days was that they felt the need to present technical stuff. And of course with progress, that meant lots of studio acreage:

http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1ScfBGh0GQ&feature=related

Something had to give.

So what was the answer? Behold, the green-screen:

http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=Hd6DuebHliY&feature=related

You can see the problem straight away, yes, it is an ideal format for presenting technical stuff but do away with the meteorology aspect and there is room for larger maps so people can see where they live.

Free mugs for anyone who spotted the NZ in the above links. Here is an expensive alternative to weather presentation:

http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=G3FwLD3ceqc

If you pay careful attention you can see a female presenter wondering where all the petty cash went.

And then pointing to New Zealand. The piss taking kiwi bastards!

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Another possibility

Perhaps the Beeb will just cut their losses and dump the entire service. Does the BBC's Charter even mandate that they have to provide this service?

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@karima

i dont know if or why TR would hate it, but for me its simple.

far to big.

DRM.

not Multicast and tunneled.

being big is purely becasous of bad practice in programming, much like many other x86 windows apps/

DRM, well you must have read al those threads and facts so iwont even go there other than say you cant use VLC/Mplayer/MPC etc or any other free and open app .

now, Multicast and tunneling that over the generic IPv4 and IPv6 are the thing for me, and indeed any other tech savy user that cares for effective use of their bandwidth.

Multicasting your tunneled (because ISPs wont turn direct MC on) video content means users can simply stream this single content to any and all your LAN side video kit at the same time.

Multicasting your streams has always been the most cost effective way to reduce your bandwidth be it LAN side or WAN side, JUST DO IT.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Once upon a time

"The BBC chose to ignore the results of their own survey, and launched a DRM crippled MS only service."

The BBC didn't do any survey - the regulator, the BBC Trust did. Sadly the BBC Trust didn't ask the right question, which is what they'd rather have - DRM and the current licence fee or no DRM and the licence fee increased to £800 - £900 per year so the BBC can acquire the extra rights, because that's how much it would cost.

I suspect that, using this slightly more realistic question, the BBC Trust would have gotten a very clear answer that the general public are quite happy with the iPlayer's DRM over the alternative, thanks.

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Why do they do it?

It must surely be for the intellectual challenge only, that hackers are defeating the DRM on BBC downloads. It certainly cannot be for the rubbish quality of the majority of the programmes that the Beeb are currently broadcasting. There's scarcely anything worth viewing, never mind recording for posterity.

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Re: Another possibility

There's no need whatsoever for the BBC to create this service.

About all the BBC can do is code up and release all their copyrighted work (a la Pathe News) and charge rent for those works the BBC holds but other part-owners don't want released without DRM.

The BBC has the requirement to release what they can because copyright is an exchange of rights with the public. Eventually, the copyright expires and the sea of works available to enrich society and be a base for new works to delight us is increased. And if the BBC don't want to make money from it any more, why not release it from copyright so our society is enriched and the BBC don't have to pay to keep it available until copyright eventually does expire (remember that in the UK we aren't supposed to keep copies, so only those purchased and still readable copies are available to us, and we aren't allowed to format shift to a newer more durable form [or even just to the same form but newer]).

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Stop

What?!?!

"now, Multicast and tunneling that over the generic IPv4 and IPv6 are the thing for me, and indeed any other tech savy user that cares for effective use of their bandwidth.

Multicasting your tunneled (because ISPs wont turn direct MC on) video content means users can simply stream this single content to any and all your LAN side video kit at the same time.

Multicasting your streams has always been the most cost effective way to reduce your bandwidth be it LAN side or WAN side, JUST DO IT."

You see thats whats wrong with web 2.0 - it gives a voice to anyone that doesn't understand what they're talking about. Ahh multicast you're streams and go IPv6 of course, no one thought of that..........

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Alert

MPEG2 Broadcast

Why not buy an MPEG2 "Broadcast" adapter card for your computer and bathe in the warm stream of digital milk flowing from mother Beeb's engorged breast?

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Unhappy

Not just iPlayer

It's not just BBC iPlayer, I'm having issues with 40D - I use 40D quite a bit and for 50% of my download requests today it's turning around with unknown error messages.

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Stop

Residuals!

People forget that many people live or die by the number of times a programme is shown.

DRM is the seemingly obvious solution to this - they can guarantee (*cough*) that n users are watching the stuff.

There are, of course, better ways - better torrent tracker logs, plus better education of others - how many people would begrudge an anonymous count of playback if people knew it actually meant food on the table for the people who'd made it and who'd agreed to do so under conditions that were offered and now need to be either renegotiated - which will take some time, to put it mildly, if even successful - or adapted to? The license fee is a fixed sum, and it has to be shared out somehow.

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Anonymous Coward

iPlayer/RealPlayer

Mac users are getting a raw deal from the Beeb. Today I again tried their Radio streaming. First they push you towards iPlayer. They still talk about "Realplayer 10 BBC" - there's no such thing. If you follow their link to Real and try clicking on the likeliest thing (at the top right as the Beeb says), if Real gets half a chance they chuck RealPlayer 11 at you. And if you do get version 10, it's the dangerous 10GOLD.

Did someone at the BBC quietly agree not to bother about Mac users when they made their agreement with MS?

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Flame

multicast

BBC did multicast trials a long time ago - and still do some - not many ISPs support multicast or IPv6 - because the average punter just wants web2.0 and knows no better. as someone who operates a real network I know how efficient the real technology is. we can push around hundreds of 3Mbit streams to all our subnets with little WAN overhead or router load.

each time an individual fires up a single unicast realplayer stream a baby dies

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Content owners have to get realistic

A comment above mentions the 800-900 per year license fee if material wasn't DRMs -- clearly an OTT to try to illustrate a point. The point is that content is only valuable if you can sell it.

I've still got a couple of old rental tapes that I bought used that date back from the late 80s. In those days prerecorded movies cost $80..$120 per tape so it wasn't surprising that demand was low and duplication rife. Once the stuff is ubiquous then its only worth a little -- but you can still make your money from it. The fantasy fee assumes that everyone's interested in broadcasting a show and that they've got an audience to broadcast it to. Its not realistic.

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@AC and web2

see, theres your problem ,you mentioned the so called web 2.0 and ignored IPv4 and the ISPs turning off MC in their routers and related kit.

now if you had mentioned the Mbone, people might understand you had a long time clue ;)

BTW web 3.0 is the thing now ROFL

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BBC MC

"multicast

By Anonymous CowardPosted Friday 14th March 2008 19:21 GMT BBC did multicast trials a long time ago - and still do some - not many ISPs support multicast or IPv6 - because the average punter just wants web2.0 and knows no better. as someone who operates a real network I know how efficient the real technology is. we can push around hundreds of 3Mbit streams to all our subnets with little WAN overhead or router load.

each time an individual fires up a single unicast realplayer stream a baby dies"

Now thats more like it, reasonable ,informed feedback.

if your a very same AC as my first reply then i just dont get your

"You see thats whats wrong with web 2.0 - it gives a voice to anyone that doesn't understand what they're talking about. Ahh multicast you're streams and go IPv6 of course, no one thought of that.........."

if not ,then sorry. but you both mentioned the imaginary PRs and marketeers wet dream 'web 2.0'

sure, theres problems with updating the old post Mbone mindset and protocols, dragging it into the P2p age, but the BBC and the open code torrent developers are more than able to overcome such small problems, they dont seem to have the will though and thats the main problem.

and OC ,the 'near realtime' model is far better suited to MC, but thats not such a big problem if it solves the end users need and wants.

or are (one of) you saying it cant be done without the ISPs turning MC back on in all the kit, again i remind you of the tunnel option while its not optimal, its still an option and has been for a very long time.

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Linux

It's still all about state funded distortion of markets

In case anyone thinks the BBC isn't state funded, here's what the BBC says:

"Because of our special position as a publicly funded institution, we have particular obligations to our audiences, customers and competitors."

http://www.bbc.co.uk/foi/docs/commercial_activities/commercial_policy_and_fair_trading/Fair_Trading_Commitment.htm

First it was "XP" because most people use it

Then it was "DRM" because content providers insist on it

Turns out that when the BBC wants to support a minority platform (in mobile phones, before people complain about Apple users v Linux users) it turns out that none of this is necessary.

Whether or not Linux competes with Apple, Glyn Moody makes a few interesting points about Linux and Microsoft...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/mar/06/opensource.olpc

The question remains: Does the BBC realise what it is doing?

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IT Angle

Siemens

..for 'Partners' read Siemens!

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Alien

Clueless Incompetent

if they could actually get it together on the management process instead of, I have an IQ therefore I can do it my way process, they might actually be able to deploy some technology. BBCW BBC W@nkers all of them.,....

the real story is how they burn project money before a project is defined, privatise all the lefties out and get some real management backbone in, REPLACE the tree hugging spell checkers...

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Gates Horns

"Hackers"???

[quote]

It's emerged that hackers across all operating systems are merrily grabbing high quality DRM-free downloads from the H.264 streams recently launched for iPhone and iPod Touch owners.

[/quote]

Why are they calling these people "hackers"?

In what way is following a URL "hacking"?

And these MP4 files are unencrypted at /source/. It's not like anyone is cracking, or even circumventing, some DRM method. This was the MSBBC's choice to provide unencrypted content ... contrary to the supposedly intractable demands of their content providers (yes, they were more than happy to do that for a tiny minority of iPhone users, but not the much larger majority of Linux users. Doesn't anyone else find that odd?).

The only unethical activity going on here, is the misappropriation of MSBBC tax for the illegal state aid of a convicted monopolist.

"Hackers" ... LOL!

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Linux

Watch it?

Who said anything about watching it they just like the fun of hacking it. I wouldn't do it because I don't care but tell some guys they can't do it and instantly it becomes irresistible.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Happy

I'll race you

Before all of you are done arguing about this, I bet I can torrent all the stuff you were trying and failing to watch.

A handy guide for those who haven't delved in yet:

1. Install uTorrent

2. Surf to torrentz.com

3. Search for 'torchwood s02e06' or whatever your pleasure (hint: torrents uploaded by 'eztv' are normally top quality)

4. Add file to uTorrent, wait about 50 minutes

5. Watch Jack and Gwen kicking alien ass.

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Alien

Your Countries Needs You.

"Once upon a time..." .... By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 14th March 2008 15:27 GMT

Seconded.

"which is what they'd rather have - DRM and the current licence fee or no DRM and the licence fee increased to £800 - £900 per year so the BBC can acquire the extra rights, because that's how much it would cost." ..... By Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 14th March 2008 16:11 GMT

With no DRM, what/whose rights would they be managing, and Authorised by Whom or What?

"if not ,then sorry. but you both mentioned the imaginary PRs and marketeers wet dream 'web 2.0'" ... By popper Posted Friday 14th March 2008 22:11 GMT

In Adult Circles, there are no such wet dreams in Web 2.0 ... IT is for Reality.

You may wish to Ponder the Significance of such Facts.

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Anonymous Coward

"Hackers"???

"Why are they calling these people "hackers"?

In what way is following a URL "hacking"?"

Because it is, and spoofing the user agent would almost certainly be found to be circumventing technical protection methods under UK law if it ever went to court...

"is was the MSBBC's choice to provide unencrypted content ... contrary to the supposedly intractable demands of their content providers"

That's because they're streamed (since there's no way to save the files on an iPhone, they effectively become streamed - the phone does not and will not cache the file in any way).

"(yes, they were more than happy to do that for a tiny minority of iPhone users, but not the much larger majority of Linux users. Doesn't anyone else find that odd?)."

No, given it isn't remotely true - Lunux has had streaming for months, which isn't encrypted either.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Content owners have to get realistic

"A comment above mentions the 800-900 per year license fee if material wasn't DRMs -- clearly an OTT to try to illustrate a point. The point is that content is only valuable if you can sell it."

No... actually it was a very conservative estimate. That assumes the BBC's rights costs for buying out all rights averaging out five times what they do now, and I suspect it would be nearer ten in practicality.

Rights holders can sell it without any television period - one of the major rights holders are the music labels, who sell their music just fine. Same with Corbis. Same with book publishers (most BBC dramas are book options).

There are plenty of other broadcasters too. People assume content agregators have much more vast market power than they ever do.

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Thumb Down

YTS guys working the web?

The mighty Beeb's website seems to be suffering from quality issues of late.

404s are a more common sight thesedays, and today their email confirmation page (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/3042292.stm) is in the 'Most Read' and 'Most Emailed' list.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC: "Hackers"

"..... spoofing the user agent would almost certainly be found to be circumventing technical protection methods under UK law if it ever went to court"

No it wouldn't.

Non-obvious delimitation of boundaries is at least a defence to trespass, and under certain circumstances may even open you up to criminal liability for creating a mantrap.

If the so-called "technological protection method" is as christian as just checking a User-agent: header -- modern web browsers *explicitly support* changing this, and readily-available programmers' libraries make it easy to write programs having some of the functionality of a web browser *including* sending a User-agent: header of the programmer's choosing -- then it can't be reasonably expected to work.

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