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back to article Steve Jobs rescues freetards from BBC iPlayer wilderness (for now)

Enterprising Linux hackers have built a new way to download BBC iPlayer programmes that lets online viewers store shows indefinitely - and it's all thanks to Steve Jobs. Last week, Auntie launched the streaming version of iPlayer for the Jesus Phone and iPod Touch. It's meant transcoding shows to the H.264 format used by Apple's …

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JB

Who needs a penguin

Windoze peeps can play too

Get a copy of cygwin and use wget.

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@T LI

I don't know about you, but I like watching my TV on a TV. Which isn't something I have a Firefox (or other) browser for, but I do have a multitude of video players, some of which have H.264 support, and the rest can play DVDs that are easily created from H.264 files.

Not something I'd want to archive for later release, but it's still easier than faffing around with P2P solutions.

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Just because no one else seems to have mentioned it...

The reason they've not bothered DRM'ing the iPhone vids is because you can't download anything on an iPhone, I repeat, Nothing, nada, all download links are disabled, and the reason is because there is nowhere to save anything you might want to download*. As such all you can do is stream video, if you lose your connection or the Beeb takes it off-line it's gone for good, no downloading and watching on the tube to work.

Mighty nice of them to trust user agents to identify iPhones though, I'd have expected more people would have been happy with this rather large loophole instead of seizing the chance for another pointless rant about DRM and Linux, kids these days eh?.

*Subject to change without notice, may not apply to jailbroken hardware.

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Linux

iPlayer p2p was DRM free too when I tried it...

I only downloaded one program, but I was able to remove the DRM from it with next to no effort using tools I found on the web. I didn't have to re-encode anything either.

I haven't actually booted into my XP partition since then. It holds no attraction for me whatsoever.

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License to take our money

Surely only license payers should be able to watch bbc programmes this way, not the whole of the planet? I can basically get rid of any TV equipment I have, stop paying the license and still be able to watch bbc progs (and 4od, and the major US channels) on demand over the internet, from any place in the world i happen to be (geo-ip verification is worthless), albeit at a lower quality.

Why should the rest of the world get for free what we must pay a licence fee for?

The license is a load of bollocks, they need to either ditch it or make iPlayer available only to licensees.

It's not even as if I can sit watching a two-hour film with a can of lager (or mug of tea) without a toilet break anyway, at least on itv i can go during the ads without missing anything, which privilege costs me nothing.

Anyway, humourless rant over now.

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might just watch and delete

some people using this loophole might have no intention of defying the *spirit* of this service - ie. catchup not archive

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Boffin

Several points to clear up...

A few things need to be settled.

Firstly, there's acres of comments like this:

"They are still broadcasting this stuff, sans DRM, in a [relatively] high quality format.

"You could always watch it on a televisual decoding device. Or, record it on a video capturator thingy and convert it yourself. Or ask Smithers to do it, if it's too technical.

"It is amazing the lengths some will go to to get a poor quality version of something they already have. This is only out-amazed by the whining of those that already have something and can't get a poor quality version of it."

Surely the point is to use iPlayer if you miss something, rather than to replace all your TV viewing with it? I distinctly remember David Attenborough saying, "If you missed the last episode of Life In Cold Blood, you can watch it now on BBC iPlayer." Not, "Why not watch this on iPlayer, Freetard?"

So YES! The BBC broadcasts in glorious SD and dabbles in HD, and yes, you can set your generic PVR to record things. You can also drive a Reliant Robin on a motorcycle licence - it's literally THAT relevant to what's being discussed here.

Another thing - there's this idea that by supplying a Flash stream, Linux is catered for. Tell that to anyone using a non-x86 distro, like people with AMD64 processors, or Linux on PPC, or on a GP2X. It's merely catering for anyone Adobe has decided to supply a Flash9 player for.

Finally, Linux downloadable iPlayer - it's not in the pipeline. There's no programmers assigned to it, there's just a vague commitment to consider doing it for a 'niche' operating system once some niche products that are easier to monetise are catered for instead.

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Happy

Download rates

I just tested the process and it does indeed work. However I did notice that I got a 300k bytes per second download rate. This is obviously far in excess of the rate that an iPhone would take while streaming and IMHO is likely to piss the system manager off by maxing his bandwidth out if lot of people do it and also provide a method of detecting it. Both of these are likely to cause the process to get blocked quicker.

I did a quick bit of maths and would like to suggest adding --limit-rate=65063 to the wget command arguments. This will give a download time within a few seconds of real playback time.

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Happy

Firefox plugins

are your friends.

User agent switcher and unplug, works nicely and the resulting file plays on VLC media player (amongst others).

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Happy

My right to D/L

I'm in the UK.

Bought and paid for my Laptop (running Ubuntu)

Got a current TV Licence

So i feel it's within my rights to use this "Procedure"

Since the BBC say that iPlayer is for UK License payers to D/L shows for a limited time period from them.

I usually only have them on my comp till i've watched them then they get Deleted.

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RE: BBC Apple Biased

Hmm, I think you've managed to prove the theory about "mactards" - why does it offend you so that other people don't want to use a bloody iPod? I mean, just because someone would prefer to use an Archos (personally, I prefer my Zen) you feel that you need to call them an "in-bred minority" and drop kick their device simply because it isn't "Jobs Approved"? And just a note, if the genre of item got it's name from the device that became synonymous with it, we would be calling them Nomads, since that was the "player du jour" back in the day.

You also say that everyone calls RSS feeds linking to MP3 files podcasts. Well, actually, they don't.

And to your comment about the civilized world wanting to know about Apple launches - seriously, not everyone does. I care as much about Apple launches as you do about Microsoft launches - I imagine that you'd be one of the first to complain if the BBC covered a Microsoft product.

Summed up, you're a jerk.

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@T LI

No it fucking doesn't.

When the hell will people stop saying that streaming iPlayer works on Linux when it doesn't. It only works on 32bit Linux. Since the majority of architectures nowadays are using 64bit this is fucking useless.

I run 64bit, I can't use streaming iPlayer, why? Because BBC decided to yet again go with a steaming pile of proprietary shit and the owners of that technology refuse to release a 64bit plugin.

And before you go on about gnash or ndiswrapper of chroots...NO. Gnash doesn't work, ndiswrapper solution is littered with problems and no I won't setup a chroot to run 32bit Firefox because I have a 64bit system and don't want to run 32bit software or waste my system resources trying to fix the failings of Adobe.

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BBC security?

Call me old Mister Grouch,but what have the BEEB ever produced that warrants ANY kind of security or encryption? Gary.

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Coat

What about the poor bastards running Amiga? O, the outrage!

Perhaps I've missed an extra point or two, here... It is 2:30am, here in the states, after all. But, I seem to recall installing the h.264 codec on Kubuntu64. And I've run some MP4 files on here. To that end, why all the whining?

Furthermore, considering the typical self-styled outsider stance of the Linux community, why the shock and overwrought indignation that the 3rd most popular OS among consumers is being prioritized as exactly that? You seem to forget you're dealing with an entity that survives by appealing to demographics. Thinking outside the windowpane does have disadvantages.

Finally, on the offence taken at the nebulous 2 year timeline for a linux version... When did Linux users actually expect shit to be made for them by anyone other than themselves? I sure as hell don't. And when the HELL did they conceive that their small numbers are socially irrelevant to their choice to snub the vastly more embraced behemoth? I've been waiting and waiting to see someone lend some gravity and momentum to this OS, so as to break the stagnation of duelling distros. But, until such time as one definitive, superior flavor of Linux emerges (pun somewhat intended), any public entity looking to appease the growing masses of penguinistas has to identify the best, most distributable installation format. So, what's the best one to go with? .deb? What about rpms? Ooooo, wait. I've got it! E-builds... No. Wait... Oh, hell. None of them are universal across all distros of Linux. Binary? 'Cause I'm sure all the users out there are that damn good...

Now, I know it's not THAT damn hard to make installer variations from decent source code. But, that says nothing of creating universal code that can comply with all versions of Linux out there. It's also likely to take them a while because nobody is that good at writing shit for Linux except other Linux users. And that's because most coders, especially ones getting paid public salaries, probably stopped learning somewhere in the vicinity of Visual Basic. Most colleges stateside still defer to Windows 2000 for IT training. Taking that into consideration, what damn distro of Linux should any college teach for development? For IT, that question is less than a challenge. But, for programming, there's no clear choice. It's not unlike arguing for a school uniform, but falling into debate over the shirt: arrow collar, tabbed or oxford button-down. All the while, the process has been halted until something shakes out... Think of what effect this phenomenon has on outsiders.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: license to take our money.

It might be worth pointing out, that in order to view BBC iplayer, you will need some kind of device with a display and a tuner or a connection to broadband to receive the picture. If you live within the UK and can satisfy the above criteria, you will, by law require a TV license regardless of wether your device is a T.V. or some form of computer.

It is also worth pointing out to anyone else who is about to shred the TV license and drop the T.V. in a skip, that wonderful though all this download T.V. is, has anyone checked their download thresholds? It doesn't take long to reach your max data usage and then start being charged for it.

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Stop

Re: license to take our money.

Paul Warne:

Simply possessing a device with a display or tuner does NOT mean you require a licence by law. The Communications Act 2003 states that a licence is required if television receiving equipment is installed or used for the purposes of receiving television programmes (i.e. broadcasts).

If you don't receive television broadcasts, you don't need a licence. Using a TV for watching videos, computers and games consoles or monitoring, say, a CCTV camera is exempt. It does help if the equipment isn't tuned to any station, mind, should the enforcement officer visit and you let him in for a poke around.

Receiving television over the internet is something of a grey area. The consensus is that services such as the iPlayer (on-demand programming) does not require a licence, but broadcast television (like streaming News 24) does.

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@ El Scotto

There *is* a unified package management system for all Linuxes (for that matter, all Unixes) and even all architectures: it's called GNU Autoconf. You can package up your Source Code and generate a configure script which will then detect various things and generate a Makefile (a file containing metadata which controls the compilation process; saying where to find various necessary files and where to place the eventual binaries and config files).

Somebody at your favourite Linux distro will -- in time, If the package is deemed useful -- take the source package and make a set of RPM or deb packages especially for that distribution on each supported architecture, containing pre-compiled binaries, dependency and conflict information for automatic resolution and digitally signed to prove that the contents have not been tampered with. Until that happens, if you really can't wait, you just have to learn to use

$ ./configure

$ make

$ sudo make install

and remember one crucial piece of information: Wherever the Source package asks for another package such as libfoo, you need to install libfoo-devel (RPM) or libfoo-dev (.deb) as well (if there is one). This is all for boring historical reasons that are no longer valid but persist anyway.

The Linux community would *gladly* write our own iPlayer client, if it were not for the fact that certain important information is being withheld from us.

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Replt to Neil

Neil Hi,

The second line of your second paragraph is absolutely true and I am totally in agreement with you.

However tour last paragraph is somewhat contradictory, to say that on demand viewing does not require a license but streaming viewing does, leaves me with the notion that most computers attached to the internet, will be able to facilitate and display either method of viewing, thus rendering them all liable to the license fee.

...............Neil further to the above, I have just phoned T.V. licensing to confirm the position, I read them you last paragraph word for word, and they say absolutely you WILL need a license for anything such as and including iplayer, C4od, News 24.

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Unhappy

Looks like things have tightened up

Either I can't copy/paste or the beeb have closed the door. I get 403 errors on all the mp4 streams.

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Paul Warne

TV Licencing wants the public to believe that they're criminals simply for not having a licence - all the scare-tactic advertising and thinly-veiled threats through the post support this. It seems evident that they believe their own FUD and are no longer sure what requires a licence. Take this comment from the BBC itself:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/iplayer_does_not_require_a_tv_1.html

It states quite unambiguously that watching on-demand programming does not require a licence, yet you've just heard from the company contracted to deal with it that it does! Maybe it's down to poor staff training, but it's much easier to tell the concerned that they require a licence (and, of course, collect the fee) than it is to request clarification of the law and risk loopholes being made common knowledge.

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And again

So let's say for sake of argument that we do need a licence to watch iPlayer streaming.

Why are we the British alone in having to pay for content the rest of the world gets free? They need to have some sort of validation dependant on physically having a license, and they could charge a fee for foreign usage. The point I was making, was that I could just move abroad, watch all the uk tv I want on the interwebnet and not pay a thing over my connection fee which I would be paying anyway.

In answer to Paul Warne, I do not currently have any download thresholds.

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H.264 because Flash Video isn't good enough?

Hey, it's all about INTEROPERABILITY.

Even Adobe has embraced H.264 for future versions of Flash. It's not technically or aesthetically better than On2 VP6 but it *is* an open, non-proprietary standard.

In other words, H.264 will be Flash Video, Real Soon Now. Actually I think the latest version of the Flash player can handle it already, but the Flash video encoder is yet to be updated.

This means it's possible to make a video file which will play on youtube, on any MPEG-4 compliant set-top box, and on the iPod. That's pretty cool, no?

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Anonymous Coward

@Chris Williams

Hey! Chris Williams is a c*nt!

Only joking, no harm done. You windows zealots really need to calm down, it's just a joke see.

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Stop

@Michael - lol

You made me spit biscuit on my screen. Stop it at once.

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Unhappy

What about RISC OS?

Why is the Britich Broadcasting Corporation supporting U/S platforms first, second and third, and not British platforms at all?

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