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back to article BBC iPlayer rejects open source plugins, takes Flash-only path

The BBC has quietly updated its hugely popular iPlayer with a verification layer that closes the door on open source implementations of RTMP (real-time messaging protocol) streaming, The Register has learned. The Beeb applied the update to its online video catch-up service on 18 February, just four days after Adobe Systems …

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FAIL

Does this apply to Boxee as well ?

Oh crap, I just dont get it why they seem to think that people only want to use Iplayer on their desktop PC. I have used Boxee on my MediaPC hooked up to my TV for the past months and been watching a fair bit of Iplayer content through TV that way ...

IPTV is the future Beeb, why do you want to restrict how the license paying public can consume your content!!!!

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Paris Hilton

I use Boxee too BUT (big but)...

... I know a lot of people who are ditching their TV and TV service entirely in favour of netTV. In the UK this means you don't need a TV license.

BBC iPlayer is specifically for UK TV licence subscribers as the content held therein is not even available in the Republic of Ireland, yet BBC has always been broadcast there.

DRM etc is a load of shit but I can see why they would want to do this. I don't agree with it.

p.s. Boxee ROCKS. And yes, this will apply to Boxee as well.

Paris, because she lets the whole world see her Flash for free.

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No license

"In the UK this means you don't need a TV license."

Potentially wrong.

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/

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Broadcast ?

"You need to be covered by a valid TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it's being broadcast."

Interesting legal situation - does a stream constitute a broadcast. Could be argued either way. User is selecting a channel and the BBC are broadcasting that stream to them. Could be argued it's a narrowcast?

Ironically, the download of the complete program clearly isn't you watching "as it's being broadcast"

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Rob
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Unhappy

Bet your last pound...

... that a stream will be considered a broadcast.

At the end of the day when a TV Licensing van is driving round trying to catch the non-payers all that van will hear on it's parabolic mic is house no.xx is watching spooks and there's no license on the database for it. Expect a fine and no way out of it :(

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Anonymous Coward

No license required...

.. if you only watch the non-live streams from the iPlayer. This was confirmed on one of the BBC iPlayer websites not so long ago by a big boss there.

I guess I still agree with you that it might even be difficult to class the live iPlayer streams as broadcast since at best they could be multicast and almost certainly unicast for iPlayer from a network perspective.

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Ah...

This explains the iPhone apps that the bbc has spent our license fee on.

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Anonymous Coward

Licence Fee

You're missing the point with your throw away comment about licence fee payers. At the moment you only need a licence to watch or record live TV. So you don't need a licence to use iPlayer. Therefore any complaints along the lines of "I pay my TV licence fee so I demand that iPlayer supports my chosen client software" are pointless.

You could of course stop paying your licence fee, stop watching live TV and use only iPlayer, 4OD and the rest. If enough people did so maybe it would have some impact. Or maybe they'll just change the licenc terms so you'll need a licence to watch iPlayer content...

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WTF?

You're missing the point

No, I think you are missing the point. Think: What funds iPlayer....?

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Stop

Re: Licence Fee

As the AC says above; where do you think the money comes from to create iPlayer in the first place? In fact the same goes for the entire BBC web site (which Licence payers without internet access pay for, but don't benefit from at all).

If the BBC want to get all proprietary and place all sorts of arbitrary restrictions on content access then fine, make BBC channels optional and charge a subscription instead of the Licence fee (then they can do whatever the hell they like). Otherwise the BBC should remember their public service remit to serve ALL licence payers, not just some of them.

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Headmaster

So -- when can rest of world use it?

Consider our hard earned are used to flood the known physical universe with BBC HD, BBC World, Ceebies, etc in other countries why don't they just open the d4mn thing up, get with Akamai (or similar) and broadcast all their content.

Yet another joke from White City -- "Feh, let's consume more RAM on end users systems, open more security holes with SWF, and give the punters less".

Love the logic, if commercial companies like the Beeb (oops they're a gov't "entity") did this, everyone would be broke. That's unless your coffers aren't controlled by those paying for them!

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beebPlayer too

Just tested this with the third party Android program beebPlayer, looks like this has been shut out too. Lame.

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beebPlayer

I tested that too, live streaming seems to work (as does live radio on the UKRadio app)

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Still working for me:-

Just tried "Banded Brothers" as a test and streamed OK.

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Works for me.

Just watched Mock the Week, seems to be working as well as ever. And I am now watching the live stream of BBC One, which is a bit low quality but it always has been for me.

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Define low quality

I think the best proof of innocence if charged with illegally having a TV capable machine is the Radio Times.

One look at the contents available and the judge would throw it out as said TV would not be watched.

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Flame

Content protection my arse

If the Beeb want to protect the content, why don't they put some proper content on it, like their back catalogue instead of picking and choosing the stuff that is usually there. Some interesting programmes are available for a week or two before being taken down. Then there's a load of crap on there that's up for months.

The Beeb has messed about with this for too long already. It's my license fee that helped to pay for the programmes and the development of this service and they're just f***ing about.

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FAIL

<video> and Flash security

Not helped by the brewing browser war over which codecs will be supported in <video> in HTML5.

Flash will die sooner if browser developers side with something like Ogg or if the suspended sentence of 5 years for h.264 is made unlimited.

Will the BBC be culpable with Adobe if a Linux system is hacked because Flash is installed?

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Google...

...they should release the On2 v6 codec (Ogg is based on On2 v3) under an irrevocable free license. Then we can all standardise on that and tell Adobe to ram Flash where the sun doesn't shine.

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FAIL

BBC is pandering to the Content Provider bullies

It seems that the BBC, even being so large, cannot stand up to the bullying of the content providers who partially/wholly rely on their BBC revenue stream. The BBC are just being weak. If the BBC said "No, f*&k off, we are not going to apply DRM which is never in the consumer's interest" the content providers would just accept it in the vast majority of cases despite complaining about the fact.

Even though the open source get_iplayer with flvstreamer is slightly inconvenienced by this move (it resumes the stream every minute automatically), if you use it with rtmpdump instead of flvstreamer it works perfectly. (you have to add the rtmpdump swf verify option to the command using --rtmptvopts in get_iplayer)

rtmpdump is the open-source tool that had the Adobe DMCA takedown notice last year but has since restarted development at a much accelerated rate outside of the US.

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I use XBMC here

I use XBMC and the iPlayer plugin seems to be working just fine, I keep my plugins up to date so maybe it has been tweaked.

I just tested it by watching a bit of Dr Who and a couple of the live streams (BBC 1 and News 24) and it worked without a problem.

Anyway, if this does ever affect XBMC they can do what Boxee (a fork of XBMC) do and just use a browser with flash.

Funny thing is I use the iplayer plugin on my XBMC HTPC more than I do watching the tv via my freesat pvr and more than I use iplayer on my desktop or laptop pc. I'd rather watch streamed tv on my 40" HDTV with XBMC at my convenience than having to sit in front of a computer monitor.

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Still works for me too

Not an xbmc user, but I am using the get-iplayer Debian script with Flvstreamer and it works just fine.

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I shall update...

...and check at the weekend. I have an old xBox, so I doubt it has the jucie to handle Flash.

Thanks for the ray of hope!

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Unhappy

@Mark C Casey

To be clear: in XBMC (bizarrely) live streams are still working. Any "catch-up" streams will cut-off after about 2 minutes of playback.

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FAIL

gah!

I'm getting more and more disillusioned with the BBC, surely as a publicly funded body that is meant to be open to all license fee payers they should be focusing on accessibility with a view to promoting open standards?!!

Well fuck 'em. The iPlayer is shit anyway. It doesn't work properly on half the machines I've tried to access it from (all Linux boxes but as it's flash it should be platform independent). So far the most reliably relatively non-shit online tv service I've found is Channel 4's 4od and even that can be quite buggy.

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I'd be intrigued to look back in 10 years

and trace the career paths of the idiots who decided this:

BBC for a 'decent' period

Short term job in San Hose - just long enough to get their replacements on side.

Then sacked?

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Anonymous Coward

a change of heart?

it wasn't long ago that the BBC actively encouraged this plugin

http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2008/05/bbc_iplayer_on.html

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I wonder...

How that will affect the iplayer application for the iphone.

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WTF?

I wonder...

It doesn't cos iPhones will not do flash - they use simple progressive download using HTTP.

And since BBC is always in bed with Apple's iPhone it will carry on that way.

BTW: Have you noticed how on 'Click' the webscape slot has now been replaced by an iPhone app love-in??

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Aunty Sucks

This REALLY sucks I use the iplayer in media centre and the family really enjoy and use it a lot, now we can't.

http://www.neowin.net/news/main/09/11/26/how-to-bbc-iplayer-in-windows-7-media-center-uk was where i got it from

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Gates Horns

Doh

Bugger. I hope this doesn't nix the iPlayer Downloader Mac app I use to fetch Dr Who episodes. I'll be miffed if it does.

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No more mobile devices

Bang goes the unofficial iplayer app for Android then :(

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Megaphone

SWF Ver has been around a while now

SWF Verification has been around for a while, the problem (or time it takes) is implementing it with your back-end, this can be gotten around but I won't list the ways (that is what google is for!).

I don't see why people don't understand that the BBC doesn't own most of the content it shows, have you never wondered what those productions companies are at the end of the credits? Like all other commercial providers the BBC have to show they are willing to protect the interests of the content produces.

It's not like we can just record what we see on television anyway!!! Oh wait a sec!!! In the end the content produces have created a system where you don't ever own the content yourself your 'leasing it' and then that leasing comes with plenty of conditions.

Welcome to the future!!!

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FAIL

RE: SWF Ver has been around a while now

>> "I don't see why people don't understand that the BBC doesn't own most of the content it shows, have you never wondered what those productions companies are at the end of the credits?"

Try these two links:

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/copyright

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/credit

You will notice they have different meanings, this is important for what your about to read....

The BBC *may* own the copyright (right to copy), but the author / contributors (of significance) deserve "credit" (praise / acknowledgment for their work). In broadcast media this is a common practice to attribute 'credit' to someone who worked on / created this type of content.

If the BBC commissions works by a third-party company, I would expect the BBC to request / demand it owns the copyright once the bill is paid and work complete - this is entirely normal practice. Just like in the real world, where your company likely owns all output of the work you do for them - so long as your paid, you relinquish the copyright - even though you may be the author!

These two terms (copyright & credit) are being misunderstood by your good-self, as the BBC likely owns most of the copyright for these works (or has paid a license to to copyright owner), so has the legal obligation and right to protect them from unscrupulous thieving freetards who think anything that's left unattended can be pinched and redistributed without any regard for the law. Its also common for the freetards to think because they may have paid their TV license that they "OWN" the content. Whilst this is an understandable view, the world and the laws are never quite this simple.

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Flame

Re: You will notice they have different meanings, this is important for what your about to read....

You are right to point out that credit can be given but that doesn't always imply ownership, but it can do so. For example BBC broadcast http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/heroes/. They pay for distribution rights (or at least I think so) but also have the content on iplayer, this means that they have to put protection in place to protect this content at the request of the content producer.

>thieving freetards

The problem as I see it is that producers and distributors think they deserve 'buckets' of cash for it, no matter the quality of said content, so while there will be thieving freetards there is also thieving moneytards.

>"OWN" the content

I wish, I think MOST people are fully aware that they don't own what they buy any more.

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Oh...

I only tested it a little bit with XBMC, apparently it'll work for a while but then it'll fail.

I haven't watched any programs this week on iplayer.

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FAIL

Whats the point of content protecting iPlayer anyway?

Anyone who wants to keep a copy of the program can just video it off air anyway!

Some braincells need banging together down in what passes for the BBCs IT department.

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Herein lies the problem

Ripped off content is often more usable, better quality, and more enjoyable to consume, than the legitimate, paid-for content.

The reason we all know the "You wouldn't steal a car... You wouldn't steal a bicycle... You wouldn't steal a half-eaten doughnut..." advert, is that we've all been forced to sit through it, at some point in our lives (usually a short time, prior, to switching the damn thing off and saying "Fuck this. Where can I download a proper copy of this movie?")

For every aggrieved artist, complaining about freeloaders stealing their stuffz, there are cohorts of pointy-haired executives, who want to take control of our personal electronics, and turn home entertainment into some bizarre variant of the Ludovico Technique.

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Auntie Never Lies ?

"Since launch in 2007, BBC iPlayer has always used content protection in order to provide UK audiences ......"

I believe that from launch, the BBC iPlayer has in fact used 'access protection', based on the IP-address of the incoming request, to shut out non-UK viewers (which is reasonable).

This new arrangement is in fact a form of lock-in to a particular technology and I wonder if Tom 7 has hit the nail on the head.

The BBC statement is misleading to say the least.

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I pay for this content BBC!

Looks like it's broken beebPlayer on Android too.

Words fail me with the BBC.

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FAIL

XBMC

As a long time user of XBMC it is really sad that they have gone down this route. The kids use it mainly to watch iplayer CBBC / Cbeebies and it means there are the shows they want, when they want, without adverts. Something good that worked and the whole (non-tech) family can and did use is now broken. Now iplayer comes through the Wii, and the interface is just awful compared to XBMC. Plus, instead of digital all the way, it's now coming through a component cable.

Bad times.

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Happy

Great News

At last the BBC are being a bit less anti-competitive by levelling the playing field.

Their ability to not use DRM gave them a huge advantage over all the others and now they are playing by the same rules. They are still cheating by delivering to the iPhone (sans-DRM) but maybe that will be stopped soon.

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FAIL

Troll much?

So because everyone else decided to cut their own legs off and stab themselves in the eyes before the big race, it is not a "Good Thing"(tm) that the BBC has done the same?

FFS.

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Grenade

Unlucky freetards

Am I the only one that doesn't care? I can already watch a program on TV, record it on a PVR or watch it via iplayer on a PS3.. Unlucky if it affects peeps abroad who never paid a penny towards the license fee anyway or those that want it in some weird arse format to play on a spectrum 64 can just read books....

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FAIL

This has nothing to do with...

...watching overseas (that's done by checking your IP).

This has everything to do with breaching standards and applying DRM where it doesn't need to be.

Luckily we are outside the DMCA in the UK, so hopefully a patch will be forthcoming.

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Unhappy

ECD

But we *are* subject to the European Copyright Directive (ECD), which is broadly equivelent to the DMCA and also prohibits DRM cracking.

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Alert

You mean " Lucky" freetards...

No support for iPlayer means that i DON'T need to pay a licence fee. Poor windows users have to pay, because they CAN access iplayer. (wether or not they do)

I'm looking for the app that allows content streaming over something like VLC from a fixed server , or maybe i'll just use ol' fashioned Bittorrent . XVID's only... i hate bluray.

Either way, no loss.

BTW... what OS do the PVR's mainly use ?

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Overseas

When I'm overseas I just stream via a UK-based proxy server and that works fairly well. Obviously it's a private one (in my home) and as I pay (OK, my wife does) a licence fee I don't see why not. I assume that if it was an open proxy then the BBC would quickly block it.

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Incorrect

You do not need a TV licence for iPlayer (apart from live streaming) and you certainly don't need one just because you have a device that can receive streaming content (though you do need one if you have a TV card).

The argument is that because iPlayer is funded by the licence fee then licence holders should have free access to it without recourse to propitiatory software. In other words the BBC should use open standards because to do otherwise may deny some licence payers access to services they have paid for.

It has nothing to do with the legality of accessing iPlayer.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh well...

As Google are pushing towards HTML5 anyway, that means You Tube will go that way, so Adobe Flash will have a tougher time of it .. Aunty Beeb will eventually have to ditch Flash, sooner rather than later.

The other problem is that the Beeb pays licences for some content, just like other broadcasters do, and there are occasions where this content (films, and bought in shows) that prevents them putting that particular content on the iPlayer.

I just wish that Adobe would get off its fat arse and sort out a proper 64 bit flash for Linux that doesn't need a process kill every 24 hours.

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