back to article Ofcom opens debate on Freeview HD DRM to punters

Ofcom has begun asking the public whether the BBC should be allowed to apply DRM to Freeview HD broadcasts. "This technology," the telecoms and broadcasting regulator said, "would enable broadcasters to control the copying of content from high-definition receivers to other consumer devices and its distribution to others over the …

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Grenade

Yes Please

They can DRM the lot, scramble it and issue you a card when/if you pay your TV license (which I don't).

I will then have the CHOICE to not have TV license and won't be harassed about it.

There is nothing on the telly...

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Paris Hilton

Quite

I have to say that those who cry most for DRM are those whose products I have least interest in. The correspondence is so high that it is an adequate indicator.

Paris 'cos she represents everything I care not for.

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Stop

ERA, ERA

We use the ERA licence to record off air and stream around campus. I expect DRM will screw that process.

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Absolutely not!

The BBC is funded by the British public. Therefore, whatever the BBC does has to be in the best interests of the public. In what way can it possibly benefit me or other people in the UK to have content (that we've helped fund) locked down and protected like this? In what way is it in my best interests to have all this DRM applied to video footage so that the BBC can control (much more tightly) who views it?

Plus of course, how is a majority of TV footage ripped anyway? Simple! It's captured from the analogue (and decoded) video stream, then re-encoded using XVid or something. DRM isn't going to stop this in any way. The proliferation of BBC footage on BitTorrent won't be affected, it'll cost money to implement and it'll only ever hurt the British public that fund the BBC in the first place.

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Missing the point!

This is relating to HD content and not XVID repros of analogue broadcasts.

I have on my FreeSat box a copy of the Incredibles in HD from Xmas Day which I have watched with my son a number of times. This movie will be there for the lifetime of that PVR hard disk. Without the DRM (which is currently inplace on this recording) I would be able to move this recording around my network, stick it on my phone, burn it to disk and share with friends, rightly or wrongly. The HD/Bluray version of the Incredibles is not yet available in this country. What happens when this is released, who would buy it if the entire UK was already swamped with HD copies of this film they have just copied off their PVR courtesy of the BBC.

Do you think Hollywood lawyers would sit back and say have this one on us or would they say see you in court BBC and bring your taxpayers wallet with you.

My PVR automatically DRMs HD content but a few of the older ones dont hence why they are looking to apply DRM at source. Putting non-drm HD content onto a hard disk either by IP or by broadcast I think wouldnt make much difference in court, the end result is still the same. Its just the BBC could be held responsible for the broadcast element and who would want that!

Its not just about this though, its about protecting the sales of BBC HD content in other countries. We have paid for the production of these titles so the BBC are looking after our interests in terms of trying to protect their copyright. There is no team of BBC lawyers hunting down freetards across the world in order to recoup our licence fees so they can DRM their little hearts out as far as I am concerned

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FAIL

What?

"Plus of course, how is a majority of TV footage ripped anyway? Simple! It's captured from the analogue (and decoded) video stream, then re-encoded using XVid or something"

You should try it my way and tap directly into the MPEG2 stream once you've demuxed it. Why on earth would you want to capture it analoguely?

TV captures would be rubbish if they were analogue.

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WTF?

Missing the point entirely...

Why is the HD/Bluray copy of this movie not available here? The only thing stopping people from playing copies imported from other countries is another draconian DRM scheme. Why should someone who purchased a legal copy of this movie in the US not be allowed to watch it here?

And why should you not be able to move this recording around your network or watch it on your phone? Because of DRM you are now restricted to watching it on that one DVR, what if that DVR or its disk fails? What if you want to watch in another room? What if you want to use it to entertain your kids on a long car journey?

These are all perfectly legitimate and legal uses of the content, it's sad that in order to do these things i would need to acquire a superior non legitimate copy in the first place.

The entire UK would not be swamped by copies from the BBC, anyone who wants a dodgy copy of this movie already has one.

Why should people who are willing to pay for legitimate content be worse off than those willing to pirate it?

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Missing a lot of points

"Without the DRM (which is currently inplace on this recording) I would be able to move this recording around my network, stick it on my phone, burn it to disk and share with friends, rightly or wrongly."

That's exactly what I expect to be able and *have right* to do with information that has been *publicly* broadcast. If you don't want you information to be circulated - don't broadcast it in the first place.

"The HD/Bluray version of the Incredibles is not yet available in this country."

Exactly - who stops the studios from releasing the films earlier? Do they have a God-given right to create artificial scarceness of their product to manipulate the market and gouge you as a consumer? No. They only have a limited monopoly on reproduction for commercial purposes against which they have implicitly promised to the public to behave responsible. They have broken that promise.

"its about protecting the sales of BBC HD content in other countries. We have paid for the production of these titles so the BBC are looking after our interests in terms of trying to protect their copyright."

Precisely, we have paid BBC to produce that content FOR US, NOT FOR OTHER COUNTRIES. I am not going to give up my rights and convenience to subsidize someone's commercial ambitions, especially, when I am not even invited to get a share! My licence costs the same whether BBC sold a bit of DVDs in China or not. This activity is done by a special division of BBC which has nothing to do with public services.

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Anonymous Coward

Alternative View

" My licence costs the same whether BBC sold a bit of DVDs in China or not."

If BBC Worldwide did not make money and subsidise the BBC then either the license fee would go up or the BBC would do less. I don't mind the BBC doing less (less overpaid stars, less pay for directors who are paid more than the prime-minister, less seldom-seen channels obscure radio stations I can't receive).

How about DRM unlockable with a Licence Fee key ? OK, there would be a problem with people posting their keys on the net but Microsoft control Windows with licence keys and it seems to work. The licence fee needs to remain in place, else the BBC would produce dross only the masses would want to watch - Radio 4, Question Time etc. would be ditched - Radio 1 and East Enders would attract customers.

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Stop

Oops..

Slight flaw in your argument.. Standard definition is still being sold in the form of DVD, which is if anything, a far far bigger market than HD. Surely the studio wouldn't allow it to be broadcast at all if it was cannibalising the sales of the much larger DVD market..

The whole "premium content" wibble is just marketing. How many movies are unwatchable in SD? Excitable videophile and drama queen responses excluded that is.. HD is nice, but not that nice..

A movie makes money on theatrical release, then makes more money at home video release, and finally, it is rented for broadcast by the various TV channels worldwide for the third slice. And people still buy the video.

Simple solution.. Refuse DRM, and if studios don;t want to show their movies, fine. How long do you really think the movie studios will hold out and miss out on all the money from TV broadcast of movies past their prime money making period?

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Paris Hilton

As well as DRM, why not add CRM at the same time?

Although adding these would have their drawbacks (eg, new receiver) Content Rights Management would give the express advantage that only licence-payers could watch. It would remove the ambiguosity of the TV Licencing situation.

Just think of the utopia we could lead, no nasty people knocking on doors to demand a look of the householders TV Licence, no nasty letters with extra cutouts that indicate to anyone who views them that non-licence payers are nasty people who are under investigation and will kick their puppy, no more people sentenced to death for <shock, horror> watching TV without a licence...you get the idea.

Im mot too fussed on DRM but if we have to upgrade the receiver, we should upgrade to DRM + CRM so the protection can swing both ways.

Paris, because she knows a thing or two abour protection, puppies and can watch TV without a licence.

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Not really the BBC

So it's not really the BBC that are asking for this, but the rights holders to the programmes. I'm sure that this won't stop the BBC-haters having a go at them and moaning about licence fees.

What are the other broadcasters going to do, and how are they going to handle the rights holders objections? Are they just going to put DRM on everything?

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Unhappy

No DRM at the BBC

I really don't like DRM at the BBC. I pay them already a lot of money each and every year. Its already paid for, so why not make it public domain. They are after all, a Public Broadcaster!

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But we've paid for it already

By it's "unique" financing the BBC is taking the mickey. We've paid for the programs in the first place with our TV tax, sorry, licence fee.

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Free to air

Freeview is free to air, it's in the name.

BBC is paid for by me and you, we already paid to have this content thanks.

DRM it at your peril BBC since this goes right against the concept of free to the public content, who can do what they like with it, and if you feel you should DRM it, maybe you sholdn't be thinking of transmitting it in the first place.

And using the premise that it might get onto the internet is weak in extremis, is that the best argument you can come up with. If so, fail.

I repeat, we paid our licence fee to have this content.

Oh and while you're there, what's all this shit with iPlayer stuff not lasting more than a month.

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Stop

Bollox

Get on there and have your say chaps.

Rubbish that the BBC should ask for such.

We pay for this content, we should be able to play it on whatever we like, whenever we like.

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Linux

The

The BBC should stick up for the public, and just make some thing that works, rather than something that's defective by design.

The 'content producers' don't seem to mind their wares being hosed down over most of western Europe for free at the moment... they're only moaning now because they think they can get a deal cut.

Never mind that the Beeb is just planning a simple Huffman-based encoding, rather than real encryption, of the EPG data, and it's obviously got a known plain text so will be easy to break.

Or is the BBC going to start suing the public like the record companies do ?

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Jobs Horns

Alienating iPod owners?

I very much doubt that the BBC would alienate iPod owners, with them being so in-bed with Apple (iPlayer only being officially available on iPhone for a long time, for example, when the device was only available on a single UK phone operator).

Every other media player, perhaps, but not iPod.

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WTF?

Bit Late

Given STB's and TV's are supposed to be coming out Easter time for Freview HD it's a bit late to be putting in to the spec new "features" now, cos the makers won't get them into the box in time.

Great way to help confuse the market,

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Happy

Re: Bit Late

The spec is already written; the Freeview HD boxes that will be in the shops at Easter will support this DRM. The boxes will work regardless of whether the broadcast is encrypted or not.

The consultation is about whether or not the BBC should turn the DRM on at the transmitter.

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Silver badge

OTA Firmware

Firmware gets pumped out over the airwaves these days and can very happily silently update the firmware.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Alienating iPod owners?

Except that iPods used Apple's FairPlay for video DRM - music is unprotected - and Apple refuses to licence FairPlay.

That means the BBC will have to tell set-top box makers they need to put Windows Media in their machines, which will leave iPod owners out in the cold.

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Welcome

Subscription Service

I was wondering whether this might not be a pre-amble to the BBC becoming a subscription service?

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Thumb Down

No thank you

I'll happily do without whatever the content owners won't let the BBC broadcast in order to ensure that what they do send out is unencumbered.

Bascially all DRM does after about day3 is inconvenience the average user. Anyone who wants to rip/copy/torrent will quickly find a way around any protection scheme.

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The answer to this question is the same as...

...the answer to this one:

"Should we scrap the TV licence and adopt a subscription-based revenue model for the BBC?"

If they want DRM, they had better be prepared to go out and sing for their supper. Otherwise, they can forget it.

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FAIL

Well I've said my bit on the consultation site

I don't like it. I don't really care if they block EPG content, I won't care if I miss out on seeing what is available if I have to pay for it.

EPG content is already missing for channels that we have to pay for when I press my guide button anyway.

What I don't like is the idea of having to buy US corporation approved receivers for watching BBC channels, and another for watching Independant Television channels, and another for...

It's all repeats and advertisements anyway.

Who cares if it's in HD?

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Anonymous Coward

No No No

The BBC should be standing up for the people.

They should NOT be putting any sort of DRM on, especially just to please the producers.

If the producers won't permit their art/production/information to be shown without it then that's their loss.

It's like paying to buy music with DRM which tells you what you can and can't do with your purchase... who in their right mind would do that?

Would you purchase a banana that cost extra but didn't allow you to insert it in your anus? - you might want to eat it orally, so why bother with the extra overheads.

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Mythtv

This wouldn't be very good for mythtv, at the moment you can legally get any freeview. If it's encoded you wouldn't be able to play back the data, assuming the decryption algorythms aren't made public, which I can hardly see happening.

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Go

Simples

Don't charge a license fee for non-DRM compliant receivers, force the BBC to make the publice aware of the fact and provide a methodology of allowing manufacturers to give users a choice of DRM or not at installation time.

Buy a TV, choose non-DRM when you install. No license fee. No BBC. Easy to validate this is the case as the DRM-on option would be non-reversible.

Buy a TV, choose DRM at installation time. Enter your license number. Watch BBC. Non-reversible.

Presumably BBC is part of the SKY package so you already pay SKY for that anyway if you have it.

The BBC are always telling everyone how good they are. Fab opportunity for them to stand on their own and reap the reward.

I'll not be replacing my 42" LCD till it goes titsup so I wish them luck billing me for something I can't receive without a subscription elsewhere (e.g. SKY)

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Is it just me?

Why is everyone treating HD content like it is something special. To me it is just the evolution of TV. From Monochrome to 625 line, to colour to overly compress digital, to HD. Why does HD merit DRM and extra payment? In the near future won't everything be broadcast in widescreen HD as that is what the standard will be.

If the BBC want to go down this (stupid) route then they should scrap the TV tax, and watch how quickly they sink as a has been broadcaster, when they give people a fair choice.

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Alert

PC based PVRs

Where would this leave a PC-based PVR system? E.g. I have a MythTV box which picks up the Freeview signal from a Hauppauge card. I like this setup because I can then sling the signal from a single aerial point, plus all the recordings, to a terminal anywhere in the house via Ethernet/Wi-Fi. The PC then doubles up as a general file/print and squeezebox server.

Would PC tv cards be able to support DRM? Or does the MythTV software have to support it? I'm a bit in the dark as to how exactly it works. The PC records the programs by decoding the MPEG2 signal (or whatever it is) and saving the stream to an AVI file. Can DRM prevent this from happening?

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Go

I don't get what the fuss is about.

The DRM proposal *doesn't* mean the HD broadcast A/Vis encrypted - it's still unscrambled, so buy a DVB-T2 tuner card and build your own recorder system if you *want* to copy the HD.

Also, there is no restriction on trans-coding/down-coding (choose whatever term you like) the data to SD or lower resolution - so exporting to SD / iPod / portable is NOT restricted - you just have to choose a box which allows you to do this.

But seriously -- how many STB/iDTV currently allow you to copy the recorded content off in a simple format?? I'm guessing not many.

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Sod it all

Just stop with the HD eh? Too much bandwidth for the BBC. Just how much resolution does The One Show require anyway? The BBC is in a tight spot with strangling competition after all: current resolution is fine, so stick with it BBC. Let Sky et al fight the HD fight.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Already paid for...

Bear in mind that whilst you may consider that you've paid the BBC for the content they broadcast via your licence fee, that doesn't mean that producer XYZ is going to 'sell' their HD programming to the BBC (to broadcast) if it then allows that content to be made available in HD on the internet.

So, stick to your guns, and refuse this proposal, with the result that you won't GET any HD programming worth watching (let alone recording) in the first place!!!

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Go

It's NOT DRM and we should back it

I can't believe The Register hasn't picked up on this. The proposed 'DRM' is entirely harmless and here's why. Scrambling the EPG does NOT prevent the video itself being recorded, it will still be broadcast FTA unencrypted and indeed there are other alternative sources of guide data. The BBC isn't stupid, it _knows_ this and the only conclusion is that they are trying to appease rights holders with a slight of hand. Now I hesitate to bring this up in a public forum where it might undermine what the BBC are trying to achieve, but this backlash against risks the same thing.

The developers of MythTV, myself included, are entirely unconcerned by this move because technically it's so laughable and therefore so obviously not what it appears to be. The BBC tech guys are as smart as they come, we deal with them on regular basis, and they are engineering the Emperors Clothes of DRM - a solution which appeases everyone. It's really quite beautiful and we should be lending them our complete support.

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Oh, so naive!

The fact that this DRM is easily circumventable is not an excuse.

Your friends at BBC must not try to appease the rights-holders but to force them either to provide content encumbrance-free or not to use this distribution channel at all. BBC has enough power for that.

The rights-holders also employ engineers who know the difference between scrambled EPG and encrypted streams. The fact that they are happy to play BBC's games means that they achieve their purpose - to get *A DRM* on BBC. Once they get that - they're in, the next step will just be modifying the DRMs to be more restrictive and so on. They win, I (and you) lose.

Your BBC friends seem to be totally naive if they think they can play these semantic games with the sharks of MPAA kind. They will get eaten.

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Happy

Not naive, optimistic maybe

I wish I were naive, it seems the naive live untroubled lives. We've been discussing this for weeks since we first heard about it, we've been at from all the angles and though we can't predict the future, we're still happy that this is a good thing.

The backdoor to full DRM/encryption angle is a popular one and yes, it's very likely, although not certain, that content providers will ultimately demand more from the BBC. When that happens I don't see the BBC pursuing it, they would need to return to Ofcom and the public for a change in their charter which would be much harder to achieve. At that time they will stop carrying imported content and that will be a great shame (hint, not all imports come from the US). Just because it's inevitable doesn't mean we should accept it now, even if we only get a year of films in HD, that's better than a kick in the teeth. As the tide changed against DRM in music, it will eventually change for video, nothing lasts forever.

Something that I don't think is stated enough in this debate; The BBC are only asking for parity for Freeview with Freesat. This is nothing that isn't already done for BBC HD, no-one complains that the Freesat EPG is huffman compressed because it doesn't stop anyone recording BBC HD or watching it back on their laptops while on the train to work.

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WTF?

Here's an idea

Why doesn't the BBC stop buying a load of crap from the US and make decent programmes of its own instead? You know, like it used to. Then they wouldn't have to worry about the rights-holders getting all huffy.

Unless, of course, the real plan is to prevent us from recording the stuff they plan on knocking out later on DVD for themselves. Members of a public organisation pursuing their own agenda and willfully deceiving the British public? Unthinkable!

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FAIL

OSS ... ?

Ok, I know I'm probs in a minority using MythTV, but hows this DRM help me?

Part of the OFCOM survey included the question :

Question 6: Do you agree that the BBC’s proposed choice of content management technologies will have only a negligible impact on the cost of HD DTT receivers and their interoperability with other HD consumer equipment? . :

MythTV being 'free' how can any cost added on to that be 'negligible' ?

There are many more problems with this project as I see it, and have been and put my two pence in at the OFCOM survey. I get the feeling that it's utterly f**king pointless though.

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Megaphone

Just sent this to OFCOM

RE: Content management on the HD Freeview platform consultation

Dear Sirs,

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the proposed system will do nothing whatsoever to prevent piracy of the content, as the proposed system simply scrambles electronic programme data for non-official receivers, whilst the actual audio and video streams are/will be unaffected.

The proposed system will prevent the official receivers from allowing the user to pirate the content, whilst unofficial receivers will be unaffected.

Therefore any DVB-S2/DVB-T2 receiver, including those designed for computers that cost £30 will be (and are currently) able to record audio and video streams in original high definition quality for distribution on “pirate websites” and p2p networks.

Since the proposed system will do nothing to prevent piracy, the only reason for such a system to exist is to prevent competition in the set-top box market.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Vladi, M.Sc. (I.T.)

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Grenade

Fine by me

Ofcom can allow BBC to use DRM but they must revoke the license fee at the same time. I'd be perfectly happy to see that happen, the only BBC program I want to watch is Top Gear anyway.

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Happy

Try reading the BBC's proposal before saying it's shit

I know it's almost certainly too much to ask, but people should try reading what's being proposed.

The DRM <b>does NOT</b> involve encrypting content. It involves little more than setting a flag saying "don't copy this to the net please" or "only allow one extra HD (but still as many as you like SD) copies" -- the content is unaffected. The BBC explicitly states that license for the DRM stuff will be granted to Open Source folks royalty free, on condition that they agree to enforce the restrictions -- it's basically a software implemented gentlemen's agreement.

Clearly, the BBC are aware that any technical measure that tries to enforce such restrictions will get broken, so they're effectively not bothering -- if you want to strip out the DRM bit on your copy of MythTV, I'd imagine it'll be a case of flicking a config option .... but, do that and start publishing this weeks new HD Dr Who special on the net, and I do hope you get shat on from a great height.

So, basically the BBC are setting things up so that they can claim to content providers that they've got DRM, and they'll get the boxes in the shops before anyone else, because they don't have to agree industry-wide crypto standards for the content, as they're not encrypting the content, which will mean that they'll be the de facto standard, and anyone inflicting real DRM later will piss their customers off.

So, tell Ofcom how lovely you think this is and lets help the BBC kick the real DRM industry in the balls.

Don't believe me?

Try reading: http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/content_mngt/condoc.pdf -- specifically Annex 6, from page 48 onwards.

BTW I have no affiliation to the BBC, and was half way through flaming the BBC to a crisp on the Online Response form when it occurred to me that I might want to try reading what I was knee-jerking about -- it was a rather nice surprise

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Has anyone actually filled out the consultation?

I went through and answered the consultation. (i know its a futile exercise and has already been decided). I made the DRM only restricts legit users point, the possible linux/OSS problem about receiving content, the fact that the bbc should make their stuff free to air, made comments that if they must put copy protection on then all the bbc produced stuff should be unencrypted as we'd paid for it already even if films and stuff aren't, and finally made a comment that the consultation itself was biased towards acceptance as all the questions were "Do you agree ..".

Anyone else going to actually bother to answer it?

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Silver badge

Yep.

I gave them a piece of my mind.

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Gold badge
WTF?

That would certainly hinder Torrenters.

Yeah, like CSS on DVDs has hindered torrenters.

Like the DRM on cable TV has stopped people watching without paying.

Like the DRM on BlueRay has hindered torrenters.

Like the scrambling on Sky stopped people watching without paying.

You want to send someone the encrypted feed. You want to give them a box that decrypts it. You want to let them see it decrypted. B U T You think it will stay encrypted? W T F !!!!

Ha ha ha ha ha ha. Pull the other one.

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Rob
Bronze badge
Unhappy

One more point for the smelting pot

Don't forget we pay our license fee to the BBC, but that license is also need to view all of the other channels on a visual display device that recieves a broadcast signal.

Ergo, you wanna watch sky but choose never to watch the BBC you still need a license, you want to watch five or ITV on your PC you still need a license.

I think the impact will be far beyond just the BBC and this must in someway breach their 'inclusive' mandate of which they have to adhere to because they recieve public money.

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So it will be like Blu-ray

Say you can copy the film to your approved playback device (managed copy), but they don't actually create any way to do it.

The DRM gets broken and a few people find there own way to copy it to their iPods and the rest just download it from the net.

Only macrovision and friends are happy.

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Unhappy

I wouldn't worry

I wouldn't worry about the BBC DRM'ing stuff. They are stuffed the moment Jeremy Hunt becomes Culture Secretary. This is a man who is in the pockets of the local media companies and who fully intends to ensure the BBC is no threat to his mates in the commercial sector. I've been following his comments and speeches quite closely over the past year and he appears to be singing from the Murdoch hymn sheet. He'll do to the BBC what Thatcher did too ITV with the 1990 Broadcasting Act.

And who did "Call Me Dave" used to work for? Oh yes, Cartlon Television, that bastion of quality ITV broadcasting.

I don't have any time for Labour either. They've royally fucked up commercial radio in this country by deregulating whenever the shareholders demand it and the DAB situation is laughable.

I really now have no idea who to vote for in the next election so I suspect I just won't.

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Stop

Watermark it -digital & invisible deterrent, makers need to be paid

Watermarking, digitally and invisibly, of the content with the license payer's account id would allow such convenience whilst deterring the mass sharing of such content that would damage further income streams into the UK's creative industry.

DRM systems tend to be company/product/platform specific. A common DRM standard could fix that, perhaps that might be included in the BBC project Canvas feature list. This would enable the convenience of sharing between your own devices.

Wider sharing recordings between friends could be allowed if limited and done via social networking sites to harvest user habits for targeted advertising : it is give and take: you get to share content for free, they should get something in return for allowing you to do so, you pay them with your information.

Unrestricted ownership of a recording is a burden to me so it's not important to me and I believe many commentators here don't realise the time out of their lives it requires having to manage such material (organising, backing up...). Unless you are a content producer and want to remix someone elses work in an innovative way - but you'd have the means to do that as part of your specialist set up, e.g. via analogue out and re-capture.

If I was working for a film or programme maker, I would want to get properly rewarded for my work and to be able to pay for the food on my plate, the shirt on my back and the roof over my head. See how it feels when the IT job you do could be stolen by anyone, then you'd at least slightly favour the DRM system.

It might not seem fair how the money is distributed but you are part of that imperfect ecosystem, and you benefit from the trickle-down. That's life.

It's never perfect. If you don't like it, go without and make your own entertainment instead of looking at a screen for it. Don't obsess about having to own things.

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@AC - I wouldn't worry

Yep we are screwed. Oh well with auntie pulling this sh*t I couldn't care less what happens to her. Vote green and hope youtube comes along and screws them all over. (well murdoch anyway)

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