back to article BBC clamps down on illicit iPlayer watchers

A gang of British licence fee payers have grabbed their virtual pitchforks and marched on the Beeb in protest against its decision to ban iPlayer RSS feeds. The changes are designed to stop naughty viewers from using third-party clients to watch the Beeb. Several Register readers have contacted us and complained about the …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    illicit viewers?

    Yes because you're not using a BBC manufactured TV you can't view our online content.

    I wonder how long it will take for nitro to be used by the likes of get_iplayer - since it is plugin based I reckon a few hours should do it...

    1. Cliff

      Re: illicit viewers?

      I don't understand? The beeb didn't make my TV, I can still enjoy the free back catalogue of programmes online?

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: illicit viewers?

        The beeb are trying to restrict the online catalogue to BBC only devices.

        This will inevitably hit those with "smart" TVs, because the likelihood of "updated" firmware being available is, um... small.

        1. Michael Jennings

          Re: illicit viewers?

          I have a Philips Blu-Ray player that adds "Smart TV" functionality to my (older and not very smart) TV. Just about the most useful function of this player was that it ran an iPlayer app. However, a month or two back it stopped working and I started receiving "iPlayer is not supported by your device" errors instead. This is. well, annoying, as I now need to find another way to stream iPlayer to my TV.

          Is the explanation given in this article why it no longer works?

          1. Mike Dimmick

            Re: illicit viewers?

            @Michael Jennings:

            The BBC recently retired what they called 'Big-Screen iPlayer' - source http://www.a516digital.com/2014/08/bbc-to-retire-bigscreen-iplayer-as-new.html

            The BBC list the supported Philips models at http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/information/philips

        2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

          Re: illicit viewers?

          "um... small"

          Please don't overstate your case on a tech site.

        3. Annihilator

          Re: illicit viewers?

          "The beeb are trying to restrict the online catalogue to BBC only devices."

          In what way is my x86 machine with Firefox installed a "BBC only device"?

          1. buyone

            Re: illicit viewers?

            "In what way is my x86 machine with Firefox installed a "BBC only device"?

            You are thinking hardware, the BBC device is a software device (formerly known as a programme ).

            It is a method of locking in the user by not having open standards. It forces licience payers to use BBC manufactured devices (software). This is exactly analogous to forcing everybody in the 1950's to use a TV manufactured by the Beeb (because the transmission format is secret and restricted by law) and not one by Echo, Murphy, Bush etc. It kills inovation and freedom of choice. It stops you building your own TV. It is a monopoly. It is wrong.

            You will, in the future, give up your soul by agreeing to the T's & C's to receive the benifits (Apple, Google) - and thus become a serf. You will also give up the souls of your friends by registering (and you didn't ask your friends permission), this happens now, try registering to anything using facebook.

            Nothing wrong with that ! ! (Irony)

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: illicit viewers?

      Indeed. I can't really see the BBC being able to argue in court that the licence to view the materials online extends only to BBC-approved clients.

      And of course, it would be possible to replicate much of the functionality of get_iplayer by screenscraping the programme catalogue from the iPlayer website. At least get_iplayer played nice and cached the information for 24 hours - I suspect the author of the next hack to come along won't bother.

      And, incidentally, it appears Nitro will have an API key (like Google Maps), so anticipate that as soon as anyone comes up with a useful app their key will immediately be revoked.

      Back to vdr it is, then... They haven't yet worked out how to prevent us capturing the off-air signal, but I'm sure some "creative" is working on the idea at this moment...

      1. FredBloggs61

        Re: illicit viewers?

        "Indeed. I can't really see the BBC being able to argue in court that the licence to view the materials online extends only to BBC-approved clients."

        Apple get away with it?

        1. Master Luke

          Re: illicit viewers?

          "Indeed. I can't really see the BBC being able to argue in court that the licence to view the materials online extends only to BBC-approved clients."

          "Apple get away with it?"

          Apple isn't a national Public Service Broadcaster.

      2. Andrew Jones 2

        Re: illicit viewers?

        "Back to vdr it is, then... They haven't yet worked out how to prevent us capturing the off-air signal, but I'm sure some "creative" is working on the idea at this moment..."

        Well..... the HD channels on Freeview all have the copy protection flag set to on permanently so devices that play nice with the rules have been hampered already. My Panasonic freeview box will happily let me watch stuff it has recorded over the network, and by extension using something like MediaMonkey I can download said content. But it refuses to let me watch anything remotely that was recorded from a HD channel.

    3. Phil Lord

      Re: illicit viewers?

      Quite a while I would think. The important point that is missing in this article is that Nitro is NOT available yet. Even then, it's going to be problematic since nitro requires an API key. Obviously, if get_iplayer embeds one of these in its code base, it will be freely available.

      It's sad and unfortunate, really. The BBCs viewer runs like a pig on stilts on my TV replacement machine, so I download and use VLC instead which works well. Of course, the BBC are deliberately choosing to make this harder. Shame.

    4. TallPaul

      Re: illicit viewers?

      get_iplayer can't use nitro (yet) as the BBC are only releasing API keys to nitro to BBC employees at the moment. However I'm told that there is a fix (not downloaded it yet to try it).

      1. phil dude
        Boffin

        Re: illicit viewers?

        Kodi works fine.

        There is a userscript patch that helps g*player but meta-information is not possible without a more invasive hack.

        P.

      2. thatBilly

        Re: illicit viewers?

        You can still download referencing the PID contained within the iplayer URL for a given programme. Removal of the index just means you can't schedule downloads and search them within the get_iplayer client.

        I'm sure the BBC will close the DRM free feed that get_iplayer utilises soon enough, then there's going to be problems!

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. spam 1

      Re: illicit viewers?

      What about us legal license payers? I use XBMC hooked up to my TV because it's better quality and larger screen size than watching it on my computer.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: illicit viewers?

        there is already an alternate plugin available that works. Plus if you need your own nitro API key then I can assume future plugins will simply need people to generate their own nitro APIs. A little more of a mess about but still doable (if they allow regular joes to generate their own keys). If not, it wont take long to leverage someone elses key etc.

    7. Rob Crawford

      Re: illicit viewers?

      No doubt this posting will feature on a future Dave Gorman show

    8. James R Grinter

      Re: illicit viewers?

      I have a 'SmartTV' with iPlayer. Generally the entire TV now crashes after watching one HD programme. Sometimes it crashes before watching any. That's when I have had to resort to watching iPlayer via XBMC.

      Looks like they're determined to reduce the number of iPlayer users.

      (Also, encrypting/protecting the feed, like encrypting the DVB-T2 version of the programme guide - I assume it's just a management "hack" because they were told not to DRM the video itself?)

  2. The BigYin
    Mushroom

    Oh jesus feck BBC....

    ...I am an avid user of XBMC (now "Kodi") as it is *the best* media front-end bar none. Why don't I use a browser? Because a browser on the TV is feckin' crap, that's why!

    Why don't I use the "Smart" features of my TV? I don't have a "Smart" TV, but even if I did I would still use XBMC as it link to the other content on my network.

    Why don't I use iPlayer on the set-top box? Because for some STUPID reason, it doesn't allow me to watch films.

    Do I download videos via the iPlayer plug-in? No, I just watch 'em and move one.

    If you are upset with "get_iplayer" etc, why not take some of the energies you just wasted in going and write something better for XBMC et al.

    edit: There are workarounds it seems. Hopefully the community will deliver what the BBC refuses to (despite the BBC being paid millions to provide a service).

    I wonder when the BBC will start trying to detect VPN usage....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh jesus feck BBC....

      I've already had at least one vpn exit point in the UK not work.

    2. Craigness

      Re: Oh jesus feck BBC....

      What about Plex and Chromecast?

      1. The BigYin

        Re: Oh jesus feck BBC....

        Everything that relied on the RSS feeds is broken. Everything. Your set-top box, your brand new Smart TV. Everything.

        get_iplayer has been patched. Dunno about anything else.

        https://github.com/dinkypumpkin/get_iplayer/releases

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get_iplayer still working here

    Just need to use the URL from the iplayer entry for the program.

    My Samsung recorder iplayer app also flipped out over the weekend, but it's OK now

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Get_iplayer still working here

      Good to know. I only use get_iplayer to download audio streams (mostly plays and spoken books) so that I can store them for long car journeys. It will be a pain if I have to go back to the old model of streaming them in realtime and recording them 'live'.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Get_iplayer still working here

        Sorry, at the moment I can't get the radio feeds to work.

        1. Chemist

          Re: Get_iplayer still working here

          Radio downloads working OK now

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Get_iplayer still working here

        This.

        I use[d] it extensively so I could listen to my favourite shows on car journeys rather than when they're broadcast (usually when I'm at work or asleep, or not on a long car journey!). And no, streaming to the car is not an option..

        Screw you BBC, we paid for those shows, why can't we listen to them in the way we choose?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Get_iplayer still working here

          The BBC iPlayer will support offline listening to radio - some time in summer 2015.

          Perhaps all BBC employees have continuous unlimited data 3g streaming to listen on the site when they are commuting.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Get_iplayer still working here

            The BBC iPlayer will support offline listening to radio - some time in summer 2015.

            But presumably only for 30 days after the most recent broadcast?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Get_iplayer still working here

        The get_iplayer repo* was updated 2 hours ago (at lunchtime) and the TV listings work fine again now. That really didn't take long.

        * https://github.com/dinkypumpkin/get_iplayer

  4. TheProf
    Unhappy

    Still available

    get_iplayer still works but the search and PVR functions are broken. If you want to access iPlayer programmes you now have to manually search iPlayer and plug the resulting pid code into get-iplayer. It's a fiddly workaround but it works.

    1. Fibbles

      Re: Still available

      You can actually just do the following. The program is smart enough to extract the PID itself.

      get_iplayer --get url_to_appropriate_iplayer_page

      1. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Still available

        I use get_iplayer --get --pid="url_to_appropriate_iplayer_page", which also still works

  5. TallPaul

    Smart TVs too

    I'm a get_iplayer user and, to be honest, I don't expect much sympathy from the BBC but it's wider than that, they've hit people with smart TVs too as this post to their site acknowledges:

    "We are aware of reports that some viewers are encountering problems playing programmes on their Smart TV or connected device. We understand that some of the reports refer to the service not loading or the buffering ‘circle’ being displayed on-screen.

    "This is currently under investigation and we’ll update this FAQ once we have further information."

    -- http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/tv/smart_tvs_connected_nov2014

    Apparently it may be possible to fix some TVs by upgrading the firmware ... which is fine if you understand the concept of "upgrading the firmware" and have the means (PC, memory stick) to do so, but lots of users will be completely baffled. BBC shooting themselves in the foot I fear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Smart TVs too

      You'd think they'd have worked out by now some way to update TV firmware over-the-air.

      1. The BigYin

        Re: Smart TVs too

        The answer is simple: buy a new TV.

        Welcome to the future, please ensure your wallet it open and ready to be emptied.

        1. TheOtherHobbes

          Re: Smart TVs too

          >The answer is simple: buy a new TV.

          Or just ignore it. [shrug]

      2. Annihilator

        Re: Smart TVs too

        "You'd think they'd have worked out by now some way to update TV firmware over-the-air."

        Sarcasm? They already have.

        http://www.dtg.org.uk/work/download_schedule.php

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Smart TVs too

      The Beeb ended support for the "Bigscreen" Iplayer that was used in a number of consumer media products (including a number of Sony Bluray players) in September, citing a low usage and the fact that the product was 5 years old. However, the Sony models affected are from 2010 and 2011, so buyers would have had access to the advertised-on-the-box feature for perhaps only 3 years or less.

      The BBC keeps saying it doesn't have the engineering resources to support all these different devices (that doesn't stop it launching services on these devices and then abandoning them), but steadfastly refuses to produce a stable API that would allow connected device manufacturers (and everyone else) to build and maintain their own clients at their own expense.

      But, the general advice to everyone buying "smart" anything is to get a throwaway separate box - anything built-in will be useless long before the device into which it's built stops working.

      1. The BigYin

        Re: Smart TVs too

        "but steadfastly refuses to produce a stable API that would allow connected device manufacturers (and everyone else) to build and maintain their own clients at their own expense."

        Because the BBC is run by technology ignorant middle managers who are only interested in expanding their fiefdoms than providing an actual service to the public.

        iPlayer could become a reference implementation and the community could pick up the slack. This would allow any OS, any device to be supported that the community saw fit.

        As to unflashable TVs...that's a matter for OEMs. Consumers can help by simply not buying a TV that they can't upgrade or install new software on. Which is all of them at the moment!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Smart TVs too

        "The BBC keeps saying it doesn't have the engineering resources to support all these different devices"

        If they've told you that, they're lying.

        They need to get rid of all middle managers who cannot come up with a meaningful answer to "what did you do, today, to make things better for licence fee payers"; when i worked there fifteen years ago we could have taken a support/development team of forty to fifty, stripped out the dead wood, and been left with the eight or nine who actually did anything, and not one person would have noticed or cared (apart from the dead wood, the fungi growing on the dead wood, and things living off the fungi, etc).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Smart TVs too

          "Seat polishers" we used to call them. They'd have meetings about meetings. The actual techy people used to be the best in the business but as time went on they couldn't even pass wind without 3 meetings and a load of interference. It's probably got even worse in the 10 years since I cut and ran.

    3. Tom Wood

      Re: Smart TVs too

      I have an early (2010 or 2011 model) Toshiba "smart" TV - it was never that smart but did have a iPlayer and youtube apps.

      Recently the BBC discontinued the iPlayer service that was used by my TV so the app no longer works.

      Toshiba have had no updated firmware available since I bought the TV in 2011 - I guess once they've sold the TV, they aren't interested any more.

      So, for now we need to use a laptop to get iPlayer through the TV, and the "smart" TV is basically "dumb" again.

      1. Tim Jenkins

        Re: Smart TVs too

        My supposedly 'smart' Toshiba (about a year old, though admittedly end-of-line at the time) which was sold with BBC/iPlayer logos plastered all over its box, stickers and paperwork, now seems unable to digest the new iPlayer format using its inbuilt app, and just hangs on its loading page. No sign of a firmware update on the manufacturers support website, and given their past record, I don't particularly hold much hope for one. Doesn't exactly inspire confidence in iPlayer-on-a-device. Interestingly, both Netflix and Youtube HAVE managed to maintain compatibility with this model despite significant revisions to their own offerings.

        Happily, it's only just occurred to me that the Sky+ HD box has an iPlayer client, which I've never got around to firing up...

        1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

          Re: Smart TVs too

          One would hope that enough people within their warranty period for "advertised as works with iPlayer" devices will lug them back to the retailers and the advertising standards folk.

          Money talks etc. And if retailers/manufacturers start getting enough of a chunk of inventory back, they'll be asking questions of the BBC Board.

      2. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Smart TVs too

        I have said it numerous times, only dumb people buy smart devices (smart tv's, blueray players etc ) and expect the functionality to last. And firmware updates are very uncommon because the devices in question have a short shelf life ... better processors, more memory etc means these TV's only remain on the market for a year or two ... then they get replaced by bigger and better ... the manufacturers have no incentive to release new firmwares ... get something of which you have full control ... a SOC device with your OS, such as a raspberry pi or the like ...

    4. steamrunner

      Re: Smart TVs too

      I wonder if this is a related or just co-indicental issue. FWIW both my PS3 and NowTV box iPlayer's have packed up over the weekend. :-(

    5. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Smart TVs too

      Apparently it may be possible to fix some TVs by upgrading the firmware ... which is fine if you understand the concept of "upgrading the firmware" and have the means (PC, memory stick) to do so, but lots of users will be completely baffled.

      I consider myself a geek and recently tried to upgrade the firmware on my TV. I followed the manufacturer's instructions closely and it failed every time.

      Once I ignored the manufacturer's instructions and engaged my geek brain, I got the firmware to update.

      Unless it's a simple "Press GO" over-the-air (or over-the-net for connected TVs) it's going to be too difficult (or too easy to get wrong) for many people. And as my experience shows, even the manufacturer can get it wrong.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Smart TVs too

        The thing is, they killed the RSS index feed. The actual URLs used still work, it is the index people cannot get anymore. I cant imagine an RSS index feed needing huge amount of resources to keep going so this is just a shit trick to kill those who don't pay for "nitro keys"

    6. Joe Burmeister

      Re: Smart TVs too

      And that's assuming the SmartTV has a firmware upgrade. The manufacture may well have moved on to the new shiny.

      It would surprise me if this was the first time a service used by SmartTVs has been stopped/changed. It wouldn't surprise me if this wasn't even the first time some SmartTVs did not have updates to a service stopped/changed.

      SmartTVs are a dumb idea. We only need a big screen, the smarts and even more so, the software and services for those smarts, change too quickly to be usefully integrated into long lived devices. Same is true of cars, fridges, heating controls and everything else companies are putting smarts into. Just do a damn standard vendor-neutral adaptor and stop building insecure unique snow flakes you are going to abandon at a drop of the hat. I can see why companies do it, consumers buy new long devices for short term smarts issues. But I guess consumers need to learn the hard way why it's dumb. It will take decades for companies to be forced to act sensibly, either by consumers/market or even more slowly, regulators/government. Sigh.

  6. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

    Sad...

    I understand the Beeb's reluctance to sanction tools like get_iplayer, but I think it's misplaced. It's really not hurting anyone. I've found it very handy in the past, not as a pirate or filesharer, but just as someone who forgot to record something, and would like to simply watch and delete it on my own time.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Sad...

      I would like to posit that tools such as "get_iplayer" actually reduced piracy. People simply used the community tool to connect to the legitimate service.

      Now what is the easiest option for the dedicated BBC viewer going to be?

      Fart around in a browser or with the specific desktop application (no available for all OSs)....or use a plug-in for their current media front-end that pulls content from other sources?

    2. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

      Re: Sad...

      Echo this. get_iPlayer was a Godsend when a programme was on and off iPlayer in a couple of days and if you wanted to watch it on the train etc. The last time I used get_iPlayer I couldn't download anything - is there an updated version?

  7. xyz

    Given that iPlayer is now a stinking pile of ****

    I presume "NITRO" and the reasons for it have more than one eye on the upcoming TV licence review

  8. Chris Wilson

    Why all the concerns about API kets?

    Why all the concerns about the API keys - all the offical iPlayer apps will contain their API keys, just extract them and use them. If get_iplayer is presenting the Official Android iPlayer app's API key then how is Auntie going to know any better?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Why all the concerns about API kets?

      my thoughts exactly, future plugins will simply need a user to generate their own API key. Failing that someone will host their own RSS feed with the index using their key as a scraper.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Meh

    So to summarize.

    Obsolete feed stopped.

    Devices that used this for things other than it was intended for have stop working as well.

  10. Christian Berger Silver badge

    This will only drive people into piracy

    Some won't notice, some will stop bothering and use other means to get the programmes. In any event it won't be a success for the Beep.

    1. myarse

      Re: This will only drive people into piracy

      That's exactly what I did when I found my wife couldn't watch Eastenders using XBMC, and we pay the licence fee.

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: This will only drive people into piracy

        I would argue that isn't piracy.

  11. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Smart TVs are stupid

    All-in-ones simply go obsolete faster. Bad idea.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Smart TVs are stupid

      I knew buying a Smart TV was a stupid idea.

      I knew Smart TVs [Full Stop] Were an even stupider idea.

      Stopped watching TV ten years ago.

      It's a dying medium, but stoopid mucking about by the BBC and others invested in it is going to kill it faster. Once it's irrelevant, they are.

      Guess Star Trek might be right after all. Good news for trombone sales...

      TV was a good idea at the time, crack to the cocaine of the Radio that came before it. Kept most people indoors in the evening (at the expense of some extra pub and cinema revenue) but at least theere were less people getting drunk and getting into fights.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Nitro will almost certainly not support their ways of working."

    otherwise known as "fuck you" in plain English.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: "Nitro will almost certainly not support their ways of working."

      Thank his noodlyness for VM's . I've got up to the date broadband - FFTC but the cabinet is 6 miles away so iPlayer is useless. I do have a friend who has a set-up where I can send him the URL and it will make a copy of the program and then I can download that through my wet string for viewing - if they kill of get_iplayer.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. Michael B.

    Well get_iplayer has already worked around it

    Just updated get_iplayer and it has already worked around the RSS feeds by scraping the webpages. In the process I think it also shows more programmes than the old RSS feeds did.

    So in the process of trying to kill off get_iplayer and XBMC they have just screwed over the Smart TV users and nobody else.

    1. The BigYin

      Re: Well get_iplayer has already worked around it

      Jolly good. I shall await the updates hitting the repos.

    2. EddieD

      Re: Well get_iplayer has already worked around it

      Give those guys a medal...there are a few limitations to work around, but man, that was good.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Well get_iplayer has already worked around it

        ironically enough the XBMC plugin also shows more information by telling you which streams are 720p per program. The interface isn't as slick as the previous one but A-Z certainly works well.

  15. Caustic Soda

    The sad decline of the BBC's engineering and R&D side is a consequence not just of cash pressure but idiotic management. get_iplayer was technically a "pirate" bit of software, but it had a bit of a conscience. BBC could do worse than recruit the people who built and maintained it to tell them how to build a proper bit of software that does a job people want. Instead Auntie has buggered about with iPlayer functionality several times over the years and managed to make it a little bit worse each time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Open Source and open source

      I thought the guy who developed get_iplayer originally was an ex-beeb man. He stopped working on it in 2010 after this post about "different kinds of open source" from BBC management: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/legacy/bbcinternet/2010/03/bbc_iplayer_content_protection.html

      The open source client actually produced by the BBC themselves was a plugin for the Totem player, but that only ever listed a subset (BBC world service content mostly) and has been borked for a while now.

  16. spam 1
    Unhappy

    Here's a thought, why don't the BBC create their own official XBMC plugin or get_iplayer alternative? That way everyone can use it and they don't have to worry about "naughty" people turning to third party clients to make their iPlayer experience a little less shitty?

    Also how have the BBC not been sued by Apple for the name iPlayer?

    1. GregC

      Re :Also how have the BBC not been sued by Apple for the name iPlayer?

      It was established some years ago that Apple could not just blanket trademark "sticking a lower case i at the front of a word". One of those rare days when common sense prevailed...

  17. Red Bren
    FAIL

    A rock and a hard place

    The BBC are in a difficult position. On one side, they have licence fee payers who want to access content on multiple platforms and may not be satisfied or even catered for by the official iplayer app. On the other side they have rights holders to negotiate with, and one of the elements of the negotiation will be the security of the delivery mechanism from "piracy" or out-of-region distribution.

    This isn't just about the BBC, it's a symptom of the conflict between producers and consumers over how content is accessed and paid for. The ideal solution for the consumer would be an open, common API used by all content providers, that anyone could build a player to access, with a payment model that would support TV licences, Satellite/Cable TV subsciptions, or Pay Per View. Sadly it appears that the industry is going down the path of repeatedly reinventing the wheel, releasing own-brand incompatible apps with limited lifespans and support, and creating built-in obselesence that benefits the hardware manufacturers.

    1. M.Zaccone

      Re: A rock and a hard place

      So, what have rights holders lost? If I use get_iplayer to record the Afternoon Play from Radio 4 to listen to later , how have I deprived the rights holder of any revenue? It is not like there's a market for CDs for such things , and the only reason such plays get recorded in the first place is because of license fee payers. For the vast majority of the BBC's output there is no commercial market, and despite it being perfectly possible to get good free digital copies of the likes of Sherlock, Dr Who, Top Gear etc the BBC makes good money selling DVDs of their top shows. Seems to me all the BBC has demonstrated is that open source software is much better than the set top boxes. I salute them !

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: A rock and a hard place

        "So, what have rights holders lost? If I use get_iplayer to record the Afternoon Play from Radio 4 to listen to later , how have I deprived the rights holder of any revenue? It is not like there's a market for CDs for such things "

        http://www.digitalaudiobooks.co.uk/authors/bbc-audiobooks/

        http://www.bbcshop.com/audio/icat/audio

        or even as an example http://www.amazon.co.uk/Diary-Samuel-Pepys-full-cast-dramatisation/dp/1910281425

        1. Nifty

          Re: A rock and a hard place

          OK so the BBC whats to quietly monetize content I've already paid for, and charge so very much that only the very rich or stupid would purchase that content.

          Where's my TV license rebate for the content I've paid for and the BBC is monetizing elsewhere?

          (I've been recording inconveniently timed radio programs since the 80s with timers and cassettes)

          1. Red Bren

            Re: Where's my TV license rebate

            You've already had it. Without the revenue from content sales and international syndication, the licence fee would be higher.

            Personally, I like the idea of overseas viewers subsidising BBC content.

            1. lorisarvendu

              Re: Where's my TV license rebate

              Taking the case of Doctor Who, the iPlayer feed (only available to UK viewers) is ripped and on the internet within 24 hours of broadcast, almost certainly through 3rd party software like get_Iplayer.

              If that causes any reduction of overseas sales of the Series DVD or Blu-ray, then it directly affects worldwide BBC revenue...which eventually impacts future programming and potentially increases the licence fee.

              Not forgetting that the cost of any TV programme eventually released on DVD/Blu-ray includes royalty payments to the writers, actors and performers of any incidental music. The less sales, the less royalties.

              Of course I only download BBC content for my own consumption, as I'm sure everyone else here does. And I always buy the Blu-ray...

              1. Tom 7 Silver badge

                Re: Where's my TV license rebate

                lorisarvendu ripped - almost certainly through third party software? Well possibly but it is still possible to record live from the TV onto a PC and have it on the internet almost live - or use a VM to copy from iPlayer itself so why punish get_iplayer users??

                Its a case of shutting the barn door repeatedly on the horses neck until nobody can ride it.

              2. geckoman

                Re: Where's my TV license rebate

                Dr Who, and various other programs, are available in the US with hours of broadcast in the UK, ON TV!!! no need to rip them, or torrent them etc, so that argument is not quite as valid as it seems.

                I use get_iplayer to copy the program for viewing as I want, untl the DVD/Bluray is available, which I then buy. There are other ways to do it...in fact get_iplayer is working again though not as easily as it used to.

                1. lorisarvendu

                  Re: Where's my TV license rebate

                  "Dr Who, and various other programs, are available in the US with hours of broadcast in the UK, ON TV!!! no need to rip them, or torrent them etc, so that argument is not quite as valid as it seems."

                  Well my point was that the content is on the net within hours of broadcast, and with current web retention, for at least the next 52 weeks. That's got to impact sales of DVDs in the future. Plus it's the full HD BBC feed, without commercial breaks. Yes you can watch it on broadcast, you can even PVR it, but that doesn't enable you to watch it on your PC/Mac/Xbox/IPad/Tablet wherever and whenever you want to. A rip or a torrent does.

        2. Tom 7 Silver badge

          Re: A rock and a hard place

          @graeme legget - they've lost exactly the same amount of money as if I'd recorded it live as it happened. Something that I believe is legal - I paid 10bob for a license a while back so it is for me anyway!

        3. M.Zaccone

          Re: A rock and a hard place

          Fair point, on a planet of 7 billion people, there is someone willing to spend £20 on an cd of an adaptation of a public domain book. Heck, there might even be two people. They are probably the same people who buy annual subscriptions to Norton.

  18. sorry, what?
    Megaphone

    They fear pirates, so what about...

    Printing/secure e-mailing an annual code with each paid-for TV licence and permitting that to be used to gain access to the service (like the "key" that has been mentioned here, but licencee specific)?

    Sure, some folks might foolishly share their key, but couldn't the beeb throttle traffic destined to devices using the same key (with a rapid drop-off in per-channel through-put when, say, more than 5 devices are pulling data concurrently against the key)?

    Allowing *any* client to then pull the data seems fine to me at that point because massive-scale sharing of any given key means that key becomes essentially unusable.

    This makes it possible for the beeb to focus on the service and forget about trying to craft support for all those clients, as has been suggested in earlier comments, since communities will do it for them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: They fear pirates, so what about...

      I'm sure that would work just fine for the hotel industry.

    2. Number6

      Re: They fear pirates, so what about...

      That breaks if you get people from overseas paying for a BBC licence (as quite a few would be willing to do to get access, no worse than any other subscription channel) because the BBC are often only permitted to broadcast bought-in stuff in the UK.

      1. sorry, what?
        Stop

        Re: They fear pirates, so what about...

        I don't follow. I'm suggesting you have to get a TV licence to watch through iPlayer. You can't do that overseas at the moment anyway.

        If the beeb wanted to extend this option to overseas domains they can build information into the key that describes the permitted usage and the key could cost less if it is restricted in the content that can be delivered using that key.

        Sorted.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So that is what broken iPlayer on XBMC.

    So back to torrenting BBC shows as well then.

    Yet again stupid media policy to stop "piracy" encourages free, downloadable, DRM free "file sharing". Sigh.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The way I see it the problem the BBC have is that they haven't yet realized they aren't the centre of the universe any more. Thirty years ago when I was a boy Auntie was nearly the only game in town. Sure there was ITV and Channel 4 came along but the Beeb was the one producing all the best content. On top of that though the BBC were technological leaders as well. Fast forward a few years and the Beeb were one of the first to get streaming TV and radio properly working and they built up a fantastic infrastructure to make it happen. Then...

    The wheels came off. I can't point to any one thing but about 10 years ago they took their eye off the (tech) ball and lost the plot. I suspect that huge disaster of a project to produce a real time accessible archive was one of the driving factors of their demise though.

    Look at it this way, the BBC charge £12/month, Netflix (currently) costs £6/month. Does the BBC have twice the content or twice the quality to justify twice the price?

    1. phuzz Silver badge

      In terms of new programs (or 'original content' if you prefer doublespeak), yes, I'm pretty sure the BBC do provide more content than Netflix. Especially if you include the radio in there as well.

    2. scoobiesnacks

      No, BBC has about 20 times more content than Netflix.

      1. EddieD

        Aye, but look at 4OD sometime - entire series shows that haven't been on for decades (e.g. Chelmsford 123, which always cracks me up, the excellent GBH etc) - okay, there are adverts, but what the hell, they were there when I first watched them.

        I sometimes wish that the BBC would do the same - but I suppose that's Dave's job now...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Had a play with Netflix the other night. Seemd a total waste of money. Just a selection of the same old tripe but available on demand. 6 quid a month seemed a rip off for yet more Downton Abbey or films aimed at 14 year old American kids.

      1. graeme leggett

        So far - part way through - a free Netflix month, I've saved a fortune on Lego-based entertainment.

        And I've watched enough ST:TNG to understand why I don't remember most of them from the first time around.

        And watched the first and second series of Suits. which I did enjoy.

        At the moment off work ill, I'm passing the time with The Eleventh Hour.

        for £6 a month it's not bad value but I don't think I'd be missing out if I cancel before the first month is out.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "...BBC charge £12/month, Netflix £6. Does BBC have twice the content...?"

      The BBC makes an enormous amount of content. All those documentaries, classical music - the Proms, Radio 6 Music, live sessions from current bands, Radio 4 - dramas, comedy, current affairs, intellectual debate and discussion, dramas on BBC1/2, popular shows such as Strictly, Bake Off (cue snide comments from intolerant snobs who object to the production of tv shows not to their tastes), the World Service. Etc etc

      The world would be a much poorer place without the things made by the BBC. Things that are perhaps easily missed by people who think of content only in terms of movies and TV drama serials aimed at the youthful end of the market.

      1. Tim Almond

        Re: "...BBC charge £12/month, Netflix £6. Does BBC have twice the content...?"

        "The BBC makes an enormous amount of content. All those documentaries, classical music - the Proms, Radio 6 Music, live sessions from current bands, Radio 4 - dramas, comedy, current affairs, intellectual debate and discussion, dramas on BBC1/2, popular shows such as Strictly, Bake Off (cue snide comments from intolerant snobs who object to the production of tv shows not to their tastes), the World Service. Etc etc"

        But an enormous amount of that content is filler. Radio 4 comedy? You're joking. Absolutely terrible. Intellectual debate and discussion? Reality: debate shows with rabble-rousers like David Starkey. Live sessions from bands? That's free publicity for their music sales, something they can pay for themselves and stick on YouTube. Bake Off? Free TV given to the BBC on deals to sell the associated cookbooks. Strictly? Cheap TV that'll be forgotten in a matter of weeks. Drama? Well, The Fall's pretty good, and the first couple of series of Sherlock, but I'm struggling to think of much else.

        I have no idea where £3bn of people's money goes. I'm not seeing it on the screen.

  21. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Liar, Liar, pants on fire

    "designed to clamp down on clients such as XBMC or get_iplayer, which allow programmes to be watched or recorded."

    "The iPlayer team continues to work hard to maximise access to the iPlayer across a wide range of platforms and devices."

  22. stu 4

    CONTROL

    Seem to me, this is the beeb's next step down the road to access control.

    At present, anyone in UK can access BBC content via iplayer irrespective of whether they have a licence or not.

    It seems pretty clear to me, that by the bbc phasing out open browser support and tying APIs into propriety approved clients (they have to give you the API key), they can control the client devices.

    Next step is to provide a similar API to check the user has a valid tv licence before viewing ?

    Another 'media company' that just doesn't get it....

    I'll continue to pay my licence fee -it's just about worth it for the 3 or 4 BBC shows I watch (I don't have a tv reciever), but I'll also continue to get BBC content via alternative outlets rather than their shit streams.

  23. Alan Sharkey

    New get_iplayer seems to have a virus

    I tried downloading the new get_iplayer from here http://www.infradead.org/get_iplayer_win/get_iplayer_setup_latest.exe

    and it seems to have a virus in it (according to Avast).

    Is that where you are all getting the new one from?

    Alan

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: New get_iplayer seems to have a virus

      That's the right place to get it.

      I've been using it for years and never had a problem before, though submitting the latest installer to Virustotal does return a number of positives. I'm inclined to think it's a false positive, however it has already been flagged up on the get_iplayer mailing list. According to one reply there, "This crops up almost every time a release is made".

      Given their very good track record to this point I'm leaning towards false positive, but keeping an eye on the mailing list just in case something has been compromised.

      1. hollymcr
        Linux

        Re: New get_iplayer seems to have a virus

        Agreed that it'll be a false positive.

        get_iplayer is a perl script (and freely downloadable via git) which itself relies on multiple other tools. I assume the Windows installer includes installers for basics like Perl as well as the other tools so it's not surprising it flags an issue. If in doubt download manually from git and/or try a decent O/S!

        That said: if you're an existing GiP user then go for the update (it likely won't work otherwise) but if you're new to it I'd suggest waiting until the dust settles as there was no warning for this change and it's taking a while to catch up. But in a funny old way it would be justice if this change by the BBC only served to promote GiP and others to a wider audience. Barbra Streisand anyone?

  24. Yugguy

    I Player on my Sky BOX but not on my Sky app

    Dear BBC.

    What logic is there behind the fact that I can initiate a download of an On Demand BBC show to my Sky box from the Sky box interface but I cannot inittiate a download of the same show to the same box from the Sky app on my phone?

    Fcking BBC.

  25. Clive Galway

    Isn't there something in the BBC charter that says all programmes must be viewable on non-proprietary equipment?

    I know the BBC treat this with contempt anyway (eg when the only mobile devices you could use were iDevices back in 2008, iPlayer 1.0 which used Adobe AIR only ... ) but can we not slap them with a complaint or something?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Imagine if the BBC had taken that approach with iPlayer! Nobody gets ANYTHING until every conceivable hw and sw platform is fully supported. "No, I'm sorry, we can't let million iPhone users have iPlayer in 2008 - we haven't got an App for the variously soon to be obsolete 3G phones or Android which hasn't really started shipping yet. Sorry huge-numbers-of-punters. Desktop App? Yeah, its in its infancy and the first version is aimed at the huge, absolutely toweringly massive, Windows market. Things will get better later."

      If the BBC rationalise the platforms they support, or roll out on huge numbers mainstream platforms first, in order to make best use of licence money and please the largest amount of punters earliest - good.

      1. Clive Galway

        I meant exactly the opposite.

        eg for example, the use of proprietary software (Flash / Air) over open equivalents such as HTML5.

        BBC DID take that attitude over iPlayer on mobile devices - for a while, the ONLY mobile device you could run it on was an iDevice.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          What's the problem with iPhone coming first? For a while (during a period when Android was in its infancy and barely begun shipping in anything like large numbers), Apple devices were the only ones with an iPlayer app. Develop an iDevice app but then refuse to release it until they've written an Android one? What would the point have been - other than childishness? The BBC weren't making some kind of philosophical stance against other platforms or open standards or wotnot. They were simply getting on with projects to deliver to a huge sector of the market. Other sectors of the market got their turn. The only thing BBC got wrong was being a bit tardy over the Android version. Now that the Android market has overtaken iDevices the BBC treat it much more seriously. They are beginning to treat Windows Phone devices similarly.

          HTML 5 in 2007/2008? Barely out of the cradle. Even Steve Jobs didn't boast about HTML5 being the future until 2010. Meanwhile the BBC had to get a product out and chose something already in use by the towering majority of licence fee payers. It came at a price of, for a duration, users of certain platforms being disadvantaged. However it did at least mean that millions could start to benefit and the BBC could learn and improve the thing. Maybe they could have gone down a non-propretary route. But the world hardly suffered a single thing by them not doing so. People who knowingly choose exceedingly tiny niche platforms for their mainstream consumer entertainment should understand this.

          Meanwhile the BBC have been presenting iPlayer to all sorts of platforms and devices - Freeview boxes, games consoles, DVD players etc etc.

          The main section of the population who have suffered appear to be: People who want to download rather than stream using Linux desktops (teensy weensy tiny section of the population), and Android users until 2010 - who had to suffer using their PC instead while the BBC sorted things out.

          Hardly a matter for the courts.

          It would be nice if the BBC had never got into bed with Adobe. Nice if they halted everything while HTML5 was sorted out. But world of technology is a rapidly changing place and they had to start somewhere.

  26. MrWibble

    I was wondering why I couldn't search this morning. Oh well, the solution is to use the Pid (obtainable from the URL)

    get_iplayer --pid p0295tgm (for example)

    Or use the full URL as someone's mentioned above.

    1. JohnMurray

      get_iplayer --get http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04nv6kr/doctor-who-series-8-11-dark-water

  27. Alan Sharkey

    New get_Iplayer works

    The new one works (I turned off AV while installing it). Like others, I listen to radio plays in the car. I have no intention of selling them on.

    Alan

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    API keys

    There are already Nitro API keys flying about ;)

    1. johnaaronrose

      Re: API keys

      Please tell me where I can obtain a Nitro API key.

  29. SJG

    Time Shifting

    This article (http://www.iplayerconverter.co.uk/articles/recording-tv-radio-in-the-uk.aspx) has a fairly strong argument that saving iPlayer programmes for later personal use is explicitly legal, and in fact there is an argument that the BBC is preventing us from enjoying rights that have been granted to us.

    We shouldn't get hung about technology here - the BBC provides programming which we are allowed to save and watch later. Whether we choose to save a recording on tape, CD, mp3 is not relevant to legality. Ignoring iPlayer for the moment, I can still record from a direct broadcast and then save to mp3 today, it's just too time consuming.

    Grabbing a recording via iplayer (as long as I'm not circumventing encryption) for my own later use is just fine. Unfortunately, the BBC seems to be trying to make this harder for us all. Like many others who have commented here, I time-shift radio programmes for listening in the car or while on a train - something the BBC still doesn't offer.

    Unfortunately, the 'obsolete' service is not so obsolete when both my panasonic TV and sony bravia bluray player have lost iPlayer in this debacle.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      Re: Time Shifting

      Just to add weight to the arguments.

      This:

      Like many others who have commented here, I time-shift radio programmes for listening in the car or while on a train - something the BBC still doesn't offer.

      And This:

      Unfortunately, the 'obsolete' service is not so obsolete when both my panasonic TV and sony bravia bluray player have lost iPlayer in this debacle.

      both apply to me also. I really can't understand why they can't or won't offer downloads for radio programmes. My Android iPlayer Radio app is pretty redundant given that I have an FM radio on my phone and I don't fancy streaming on the move anyway.

      1. EddieD

        Re: Time Shifting

        I use TuneIn (paid for), which allows recording, and series recording... NOt as convenient as get_iplayer, but it worked nicely

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time Shifting

        To be fair, they do offer an enormous list of radio programmes available for download.

        http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4

  30. timshep

    I live in the UK and pay for a BBC license. Why can't the BBC validate who I am via an authentication process using my license number, name, address etc and allow only say 8 virtual licenses (I will need at least 2 personally and there are 5 in my household). If anyone from outside of the License fee areas want access, the BBC should charge a 'virtual licence' charge thereby allowing fair access to BBC programmes for which I have to pay over £150 a year for. The current system is not fair on those of us willing to pay for a quality service without external advertising.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They can't even figure out that my property is licensed in my girlfriend's name and so keep threatening me, "the legal occupier" with court action. The letters go straight in the bin and the visitors have the door closed in their face.

      Bearing this in mind there's no chance of them managing a sensible suggestion such as yours.

  31. Number6

    Filling a Market Hole

    Of course, if they'd taken the trouble to cater for Linux when they launched the original Windows and Mac versions of the iPlayer then most Linux users would have used the official app and there wouldn't have been the need for a workaround. They might be a minority, but they're the clued-up minority who are prepared to get their hands dirty in order to get what they want.

    The BBC ought to learn from it, even to the point of talking to a few Linux developers, giving them a full API and spec and even paying them to produce a full-featured official iPlayer for Linux.

  32. roger stillick
    Coat

    BBC Pay TV on RSS ?? Q= Why can't the world simply subcribe like Netflix ??

    Here in the USA Netflix is per month USD= $19.00, per my daughter... so if BBC per month were USD= $10.00 to $30.00 it would be a bargain for extra-watchable TV...

    IMHO= but there's no commercials... who really cares ?? only the local channels here have actual ads anyway, all the national channels carry their own local ads that when viewed from afar are just hi-camp comix... our sports shows are just 'roid rage exploits and unwatchably boreing when things are 'normal'...

    BBC just might want to morf into something different= a money making corporation and loose the stupid lock on your radios n tv sets... no one cares anymore, (we all just want to watch your stuff), BBC needs a new paradigsm ...RS.

  33. Domino

    Extended warranty

    I bet a few high street retailers might come to regret the hard selling of extended warranties on everything ;)

  34. Elfoad Regfoad
    Stop

    Who wrote this crap?

    What an idiotic, biased piece of rubbish! You might want to mention that third party apps (which by the way are not illicit or illegal) are not the only things that rely on RSS feeds from iPlayer, Smart TVs with official addons are also affected. I am a TV license holding resident of the UK and am completely on the right side of the law.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. BBC scumbaggery

    Not fair at all, its hard enough to get Iplayer to work on older systems as it is.

    Being a resource hogging bloaty bloatware laden bloatfest rivalling N*rt*n I can't even make it work without glitching on my 4 year old Samsung dual core even with everything else turned off.

    Time to break out the nukes methinks.

  36. C E Macfarlane

    I've drafted an ePetition to request that public bodies such as the BBC must use open datat formats. Please sign if you are a UK resident and feel remotely able to support it:

    http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/71556

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    XBMC addon

    My iplayer addon for xbmc stopped working as a result of the twunts at the BBC.

    BBC iPlayer addon from the xunity repo works fine. We're back in the game.

    http://www.world-of-satellite.com/showthread.php?41575-BBC-iPlayer-within-OnDemand/page3&s=a987a16cfc0c4e9126e388a955820dcb

  38. h 2

    Cookie Text

    Is part of this clamp down why I keep seeing 1/2 page of cookie text every time I load the /www.bbc.com/news/ site?

    After 1/2 second or so it then loads the normal webpage.

    Happens at home and at work. :(

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The newly revealed fact that "The iPlayer team continues to work hard to maximise access to the iPlayer across a wide range of platforms and devices" has inspired me. Instead of just paying my TV license, I shall henceforth work hard to maximise payment to TV Licensing.

    Anon because I suspect I shall have equal success.

  40. lee7

    Who Cares.

    The BBC do nothing (on TV, at least) which is of interest to me. Come to think of it, nor does anyone else, but that's beside the point - the BBC TV is truly _dire_. Don't get me started about Downton Abbey or Dr Who & as for Top Gear - it's all TV for the terminally dim. The BBC is run by bunch of hypocritical (the tax thing?) white middle class twits without a clue. If it wasn't for Radio4 & radio5, I'd say "lets dump the lot of the useless parasites".

    Has anyone else noticed that whenever the BBC shows someone using a laptop (trendy reporter in coffee shop talking about problems with Google not paying their tax), it's an Apple. I'm writing this on a mac as it happens, but I realise that I'm in a minority. The BBC has an agenda.

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