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Regulator Blocks BBC DRM Plans 177

Posted by timothy
from the hey-at-least-they-report-it dept.
TheRaven64 writes "The BBC's plans to introduce DRM for over-the-air digital broadcasts were today dealt a setback when the regulator, Ofcom, asked them the same question that has been asked of many DRM systems: 'How does this benefit the consumer?' The letter to the BBC is quoted in the article as saying that 'Ofcom received a large number of responses to this consultation, in particular from consumers and consumer groups, who raised a number of potentially significant consumer "fair use" and competition issues that were not addressed in our original consultation.' This does not end the chance of the BBC being allowed to introduce DRM in the future, but it at least delays their opportunity to do so."
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Regulator Blocks BBC DRM Plans

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  • Consumer? Pah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wiggys (621350) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:40AM (#30045368)
    DRM was never about the consumer. The only people who benefit from DRM are content providers. They use DRM as a way of unfairly controlling what you can do with the content you paid good money for.
    • by the_fat_kid (1094399) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:49AM (#30045480)

      but don't you see how that helps the consumer?
      The good people who brought us Hanna Montana and American Idol are looking out for our entertainment interests.
      Oh, I'm sorry, BBC, Coupling and Torchwood.
      If they don't get all of your money, the terrorists win.

      • An old quote from where I come from goes like this... "If you see abundance of money and wastefulness of resources, then understand that someone's legitimate right to those resources is being compromised".

        Yes, art... like any other field should provide a given artist a stable income.

        Yes, the artist worked hard, nonetheless, piracy is a consequence of someone who is finding it hard to pay the bills wanting something beyond his budget. On the other hand, a given (successful) artist who will probably feed gene

        • by daem0n1x (748565)

          Artists usually get shit for their work. It's not about the artists, it's about the big pockets of media corporations that can never get enough. They squeeze the artists just as much as they squeeze the public.

          Guys like Metallica wouldn't complain because they sell so much that:

          1. Their share of the record sales is significative due to the sheer number of records sold (the label gets many many times that, of course).
          2. They more negotiating power to force better deals with their label.

          So basically, if you

        • by dangitman (862676)

          What exactly are the media giants selling, is it art... then why have I bought the same song in LP, Cassette, CD and now mp3s.

          I have no idea, because that's extremely baffling. The LP is of higher quality than the cassette, so why did you buy the cassette if you already owned an LP? The CD is of higher quality than the MP3, so why did you buy the MP3 if you already owned a CD?

          • by leenks (906881)

            Presumably because his MP3 player doesn't play CDs, and format shifting is potentially illegal (at least in some places).

            • by dangitman (862676)

              and format shifting is potentially illegal (at least in some places).

              What places might those be? And what's the excuse for buying a cassette when you already own an LP?

    • Re:Consumer? Pah. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:12AM (#30045764)
      The only people who benefit from DRM are content providers.

      Well, then, maybe all of the people who want content, and who are always complaining about the quality of content, should look for a way to get what they want without there being any content creators/providers who do what they do with any prospect of earning a living. If we can just dispense with this whole notion of creative professionals, and just settle for entertainment created by junior high school vampire romance fangurlz, Bon Jovi tribute bar bands, street mimes, and hippes who want everyone to have their vegan curry recipes (for free!) then everything would just settle down nicely. There's absolutely no need for people who work for years on recording or film projects. It's pointless to expect people to work off and on for a decade on a novel. Those people should never be able to sell their works, they should instead focus on t-shirt sales and readings in coffee houses, where they are compensated with a share of the barista's tip jar. After all, it's absurd for anyone to make a single penny the week after they've spent a year doing the actual work of creating something. All entertainment should be paid for in advance by fans. Selling your work, on your own terms, after you invest the time to create it: that's, like, totally fascism.

      Here's an idea: just don't do business with DRM-centric content creators or the distribution networks/agents with whom they've chosen to do business. Give your business to people who want to give away their work for free. If that really is the way to earn a living as a creative person, then truth of that notion will be plain for all to see. Put your money (or the lack of spending it) where your mouth is. If having a say in how your creative work is reproduced strikes you as eeeevil, then you surely wouldn't want to enjoy entertainment or information produced by someone who embraces the idea anyway, right? Right? Because, you know, that would be intellectually dishonest.
      • Re:Consumer? Pah. (Score:4, Informative)

        by simcop2387 (703011) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:31AM (#30045998) Homepage Journal

        in the case of the BBC, if they add DRM, then citizens of the UK CAN'T NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM, if they own a tv they have to pay the license fee that the bbc makes money off of. its sort of like forcefully paid for public broadcasting.

        • by ScentCone (795499)
          in the case of the BBC, if they add DRM, then citizens of the UK CAN'T NOT DO BUSINESS WITH THEM

          Which isn't an argument against DRM, it's an argument against having the British government that involved in broadcasting in the first place.
          • Which isn't an argument against DRM, it's an argument against having the British government that involved in broadcasting in the first place.

            Not really.. On the whole it's worked quite well when compared to the biassed news reporting and utter drivel that comes out of the US networks...

          • by daem0n1x (748565)
            Or maybe otherwise. Maybe it's an argument against letting the private corporations stick their fists up government's ass so high.
      • Here's a response that the film and TV industries have never yet tried; how about letting people pay them money for legal downloads without DRM on the day of release? It's impossible to stop people downloading content, so you'd think they could at least experiment with letting people pay them for it rather than giving consumers who want unencumbered and timely content no choice but to pirate.

        • by mpe (36238)
          Here's a response that the film and TV industries have never yet tried; how about letting people pay them money for legal downloads without DRM on the day of release? It's impossible to stop people downloading content, so you'd think they could at least experiment with letting people pay them for it rather than giving consumers who want unencumbered and timely content no choice but to pirate.

          They'd first have to deal with the issue of wanting different release dates in different places. Otherwise the majo
      • by DdJ (10790)

        Here's an idea: just don't do business with DRM-centric content creators or the distribution networks/agents with whom they've chosen to do business. Give your business to people who want to give away their work for free.

        False dichotomy.

        I buy a ton of etexts. I pay money for them, and the authors get compensated. But the etexts do not have DRM! This doesn't mean the authors want to give the product away for free, it just means that they don't use DRM to enforce their wishes in this regard. (Baen webscriptions is one example of a publishing house that puts out etexts that don't use DRM. They do put out some stuff for free, but they sell much more, and none of it that I've seen involves any DRM. If you use "Stanza" on t

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by ScentCone (795499)
          Fine! You've chosen to do business with authors who have decided that they're not worried if you make a million of your anonymous internet friends reproductions of what you've purchased. That's working for you, and the authors involved seem to think, so far, that it's working for them. What's not to like?

          In the meantime, other authors have chosen to be more picky about their copyrights. If you find that to be wrong-headed, then don't do business with them. But don't encourage ripping them off, either, as
          • Re:Consumer? Pah. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @12:35PM (#30048132) Homepage

            But the point is exactly that: forget the pirates. They're not your costumers; don't screw those who are based on hypothetical sales that DRM would bring, because you'll only end up with more pirates.

          • by DdJ (10790)

            But don't encourage ripping them off, either, as so many people do.

            Eh? Sorry, was someone doing that? If so, I missed it. I hadn't seen any encouragement of ripping anyone off, so your comments are confusing me.

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Well, then, maybe all of the people who want content, and who are always complaining about the quality of content, should look for a way to get what they want without there being any content creators/providers who do what they do with any prospect of earning a living.
        ...
        If having a say in how your creative work is reproduced strikes you as eeeevil, then you surely wouldn't want to enjoy entertainment or information produced by someone who embraces the idea anyway, right? Right? Because, you know, that would be intellectually dishonest.

        What the fuck are you talking about? Do you even understand the argument against DRM?
        DRM prevents me from making fair use of copyright material.
        If I do not have the ability to fairly use your copyrighted material,
        then you have reneged on the bargain that is copyright.

        I mean fuck, humanity has created for thousands of years, but only in the last 60 years (hello VCR) has our creativity been existentially threatened by the lack of pervasive DRM.

        Selling your work, on your own terms, after you invest the time to create it: that's, like, totally fascism.

        Your copyright doesn't pre-empt my fair use rights.
        The fact that y

      • That's essentially what it boils down to. If I paint a wall in a neighbours house, I charge for the time it takes to paint it. I don't expect to "earn" money every time the poor sods look at the bloody wall, now do I?

        It's about time we sat down & looked at this copyright/DRM lark seriously. In no other profession can you expect to earn money, 70 sodding years after you are dead, for 3 hours work.
        • by ScentCone (795499) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @01:03PM (#30048664)
          That's essentially what it boils down to. If I paint a wall in a neighbours house, I charge for the time it takes to paint it. I don't expect to "earn" money every time the poor sods look at the bloody wall, now do I?

          Are you even listening to yourself?

          1) You're comparing a service (like wall painting), which is arranged for in advance and with terms understood to both parties, to - for example - a novel. Which the author risks his time to write, with no known buyers necessarily lined up (unless a publisher really wants to front some money, against future sales, just to keep in the author's good graces).

          2) An author doesn't make money every time you read his book, he makes money when you buy it. If he makes the mistake of only selling it in a way that some readers will find very inconvenient, then he's lost a customer, and has to live with the consequences. But you don't pay a musician every time you pop that same CD in the car's player, or pay a cookbook maker or gourmet magazine publisher every time you make a dish while looing at a printed recipe you bought.

          3) The author doesn't make a penny unless he can find himself some customers that will agree to the terms under which he's selling the book. He may not find such a customer for days, or even years after he has invested the time to do the work. He may not find his second (or second millionth) customer until years more have gone by. But he risked the time it took to create the work in anticipation of finding those customers, later. Are you implying that there's a moral difference between selling a novel week after you finish it, and selling it three weeks after you finish it? How bout 30 weeks? Has the author's investment in his own work suddenly become unimportant to you based on which day it is on the calendar?

          4) "for 3 hours work." Really. That's what you think is involved in producing, say, a documentary, or a symphony, or a graphic novel, and so on? I suppose you think that because a concert pianist only performs for 45 minutes during a concert, that she's only done 45 minutes worth of work in order to deliver that performance? Are you really that obtuse?
          • Are you really that obtuse?

            Nope, however I have neither the time, nor the inclination to respond to your diatribe, unless of course I get paid a penny everytime someone reads my reply, for the rest of my life + whatever number of years your government legislates after I'm dead. Fuck, I spent a number of years in education, learning how to walk, snog, write, type, ride a bicycle, blow my nose - I should be recompensed, shouldn't I?

            • by ScentCone (795499)
              Nope, however I have neither the time, nor the inclination to respond to your diatribe

              Of course you don't. Because you know you trotted out an absurdly wrong-headed analogy, and realize it makes no sense to compare home improvement services with creative works made in advance of, in and in speculation of sales.

              unless of course I get paid a penny everytime

              By different people? Perhaps. That would be a better fit, conceptually, with the actual topic at hand, as opposed to your earlier bit of nonsense.
              • Oooh, snag a finger nail did we?

                I spent a goodly time in the book publishing industry, so am well aware of the creative pain. I was also associated, thankfully briefly, with the music industry, and am well aware of the bleeding opposite.
                My younger brother spent the best part of 1975 writing a book on Advanced Stats & got it published. For the first two years he sold
          • by mpe (36238)
            1) You're comparing a service (like wall painting), which is arranged for in advance and with terms understood to both parties, to - for example - a novel. Which the author risks his time to write, with no known buyers necessarily lined up (unless a publisher really wants to front some money, against future sales, just to keep in the author's good graces).

            Yet people keep writing novels without any kind of publishing arrangement in place. Indeed some authors, e.g. J K Rowling, have great difficulty getting
            • by ScentCone (795499)
              Yet people keep writing novels without any kind of publishing arrangement in place

              Exactly. They are investing their time, and taking a risk. Just like all entrepenuers. And like most ventures, it doesn't work out for most people, because very few are particularly good at what they attempt, or have a clue about the market they're trying to approach.

              There are also authors (including published ones) who "give away" their novels. Including as readings, even audio plays (with a large cast).

              When, where,
        • by mpe (36238)
          It's about time we sat down & looked at this copyright/DRM lark seriously. In no other profession can you expect to earn money, 70 sodding years after you are dead, for 3 hours work.

          Or indeed any amount of work your ancestors may have done for decades after they died.
          • In no other profession can you expect to earn money

            Apologies, how's this then? In no other profession can one expect to earn money.

    • Re:Consumer? Pah. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mr_Silver (213637) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:16AM (#30045800)

      DRM was never about the consumer. The only people who benefit from DRM are content providers.

      At the risk of being burned at the stake, I can think of two scenarios where DRM would benefit the customer:

      1. Try before you buy - This allows customers to get content for free for a limited period of time to determine whether or not they want to purchase it. Note that I'm talking about the DRM on the sample piece of content, not the final product. For example, try a ringtone on your phone for 2 days. If you like it, then you can buy the full (DRM free) version.
      2. Rentals - The rental market is based on the basis that you borrow the content for a limited period of time at a significantly reduced rate on the understanding that it will expire.

      In both cases, however, note that both parties get something out of the transaction and the terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance. They get my money, I don't pay full price and they don't get me keeping the content.

      Personally I wouldn't want to see rentals disappear. I'm happy with the fact that it's only mine for a couple of days on the basis that I pay only a quarter of the purchase price.

      I won't shed a tear for the other forms of DRM.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Sloppy (14984)

        In both cases, however, note that both parties get something out of the transaction and the terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance.

        If terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance, then you can accomplish the same thing without DRM. But that's not exactly a revelation, since the movie rental market thrived for 3 decades without any seriously effective DRM. Interesting that it's starting to die at right around the same time that BluRay, and it's relatively more effective DRM,

        • by Mr_Silver (213637)

          If terms and conditions are understood and agreed in advance, then you can accomplish the same thing without DRM.

          In an ideal world, but the realist cynic in me says that any company that trusts their customers to delete unprotected digital content after two days and not use it again, is going to find that trust broken over and over again.

          But that's not exactly a revelation, since the movie rental market thrived for 3 decades without any seriously effective DRM.

          To be fair, not having DVD Writers available to

          • In an ideal world, but the realist cynic in me says that any company that trusts their customers to delete unprotected digital content after two days and not use it again, is going to find that trust broken over and over again.

            The only reason not to delete downloads is that you might want to watch them again and not be able to. Open up your back catalogue and let me download things to watch when I want them in exchange for a reasonable monthly fee (about what I pay to rent DVDs through the post, but without any of the overheads) and I'll delete them. Why? Because I don't want hundreds of GBs of data that I need to worry about backing up but will probably never access. And even if I did keep copies, what's the problem? I'm pa

      • Re:Consumer? Pah. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Otto (17870) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @11:06AM (#30046536) Homepage Journal

        In the specific case of "rental", I'm always entertained by the comparison of the physical vs. the virtual world here. Specifically, the difference in distribution costs. Basically, rental makes no sense for the digital world in terms of distribution.

        Think about it, the cost to download the content is the same whether you purchase it or rent it. The file would be the same one either way, basically. However, with rental, the price comes down because there's some sort of agreement or enforcement to make your copy expire in some fashion.

        And if you consider it that way, it actually costs the retailer MORE for rental properties, as they now have to spend money on some kind of DRM scheme to enforce the time-based part of the contract. So the only reason for them to actually do this is volume; they'd have to get a significantly higher volume to make up for the price difference. If it's $3 to rent and $9 to buy, then they'd have to rent *over* three times as much as they'd sell, since there's also three times the bandwidth to be paid for now, as well as the costs of the DRM.

        Streaming suffers from this even more, now you pay the bandwidth to transfer the content *every single time* it's viewed.

        So why bother with rental at all?

        What if, instead, they sold the content at the rental price (or just a hair above it)? Just sell a one-time download (possibly with a confirmation scheme to ensure the download finishes). No repeats, you don't gain ownership in the sense that you can redownload it indefinitely (you delete it, tough luck to you). $3 and you can download a copy and we're done, end of transaction.

        Ideally, they'd sell as many as they'd rent in this case (probably more considering it's a "buy" and buyers will take advantage of the reduced costs). The bandwidth usage is basically the same as the rental model, there's no DRM scheme to deal with and no added costs to cope with there. Essentially, they'd be able to make more money this way. Possibly a lot more.

        Separation of the market into rental and purchase *doesn't make any sense* in the digital realm. When you have actual physical product to transfer around, sure, that works. But when the cost of each is basically the same, then there's little point in separation based on a price.

        • by dangitman (862676)

          Think about it, the cost to download the content is the same whether you purchase it or rent it. The file would be the same one either way, basically. However, with rental, the price comes down because there's some sort of agreement or enforcement to make your copy expire in some fashion.

          How does that not make sense? If you rent it, and the customer likes it, they might rent it again, or purchase it, producing double (or more) revenue.

          And if you consider it that way, it actually costs the retailer MORE for rental properties, as they now have to spend money on some kind of DRM scheme to enforce the time-based part of the contract.

          They are also spending money on DRM schemes for the non-rental sales, so how is the cost any different?

          Separation of the market into rental and purchase *doesn't make any sense* in the digital realm.

          Huh?

          When you have actual physical product to transfer around, sure, that works.

          How does it work any better in the physical world, where I can simply rip the Netflix DVD I just rented? If anything, rental works better in the digital realm (in a world with strong DRM) than it does in the physical.

        • by mpe (36238)
          In the specific case of "rental", I'm always entertained by the comparison of the physical vs. the virtual world here. Specifically, the difference in distribution costs. Basically, rental makes no sense for the digital world in terms of distribution.

          Video "rental" is effectivly a lending library. With a physical object (be it a book, video tape, DVD, etc) things such as tracking who has what, fines for overdue items are due to the limitation that only one person can have a copy at once.
          That dosn't stop p
      • Rentals - The rental market is based on the basis that you borrow the content for a limited period of time at a significantly reduced rate on the understanding that it will expire.

        I don't know about you, but I have no desire to make a copy of something I rent anyway. If it's one of those few things worth watching again, I can rent it again. They'd have to pay be to go through the trouble of keeping a copy of every movie I watched.

        And anyway, even the rental market is suspect. A real rental market is such

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think the biggest problem is that we no longer have 'art', we have 'content'. When our collective creative output becomes commercialized to this point, is it any wonder that DRM is as prevalent as it is?
      • by dangitman (862676)

        I think the biggest problem is that we no longer have 'art', we have 'content'.

        The two are synonymous. I don't see how that can be the biggest problem, unless you are under some delusions of a "golden age of art" or that things were once less crap than they are today.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:47AM (#30045462) Journal
    It surprises me how often people submit arguments to something (even here on Slashdot) and fail to anticipate the opposing view's points. I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM. Everyone just offers up reasons why it is wrong. Well, if you can't offer an alternative then you are condemned to fighting an uphill battle of why your specific qualms are worse for the consumer than the reduction of piracy. Of course, you can argue that a reduction in piracy does nothing for the end consumer but the BBC and UK Gov are singing a different tune apparently. The premium HD content providers to the BBC are interested in this so you'll need a different strategy than just saying, "wrong wrong wrong."

    One particular fellow [ofcom.org.uk] doesn't even seem to put two and two together (or spell correctly) and realize that his exact situation is just what they intend to block:

    While I appreciate the BBC is keen to retain third party content providers for their HD channels I think compromising the rights of their viewers is not an acceptable solution to achieve this. I believe that it is in contravention of the BBC's responsibilty to provide unencumbered content to TV licence payers.

    Personally third party content is of little importance to me, certainly not worth the risk of losing my ability to watch television on my computer via my DVB capture card; I use an open source operating system which will be highly unlikely to obtain a licence for the BBC's proprietary compression tables.

    It amazes me that none of these responses addresses the basic needs or the fact that the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect. It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem? That's why it will be eventually put into place if you don't proffer an alternative. Attack the problem at the root of its source and work to show that piracy really isn't a big deal, that's your only choice. Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

    • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:50AM (#30045498)

      "I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM."

      Piracy is the only response of the market to a fiat monopoly.

      With commodities you can "vote with your dollars". But with copyright, it's hobson's choice.

      So why must piracy be solved here?

      Sell cheap enough to maximise ROI. And they are the only ones who can do this.

      • by mike2R (721965)
        >So why must piracy be solved here?

        Because without something that the BBC can at least represent to their content providers as a solution, they won't be able to get some of them to agree to let them licence their content.
    • by alecto (42429) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:53AM (#30045538) Homepage

      Then let the "content providers" take their ball and go home. If they think they're not leaving money on the table, their call. But keep your digital restrictions out of my living room.

    • by Narpak (961733)

      Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

      The problem being that to a very real degree DRM costs developers/producers/consumers money, it doesn't prevent piracy and in the case of certain products have been shown to cause hardware/software damage, loss of data and generally made life inconvenient and hard for users of legally purchased copies of a product. Pirated versions on the other hand have a tendency to have whatever DRM they tried to use removed and thus avoid whatever problems were associated with it; and proving that the DRM was totally in

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:57AM (#30045590) Journal
      The BBC is publicly funded. Their mandate to work in the public interest should trump all other concerns. If a studio wishes to make DRM a condition of licensing their content, then the BBC should walk away. It will harm the studio a lot more than it will harm the BBC. They should put the money that they save by not licensing the content into producing original content.
      • If DRM leads to cheaper licensing of shows, and consequently more choices of shows to license, and/or a cheaper licensing fee, then DRM could indeed be in the public interest.

        Of course, not everyone would be happy about it, but so long as that group is in a clear minority, then I don't see why BBC couldn't go ahead with the plan.

        • If DRM leads to cheaper licensing of shows, and consequently more choices of shows to license, and/or a cheaper licensing fee, then DRM could indeed be in the public interest.

          Yes, because shifting the balance of power towards producers and away from consumers has, in the past, always led to a better deal for consumers...

    • >>>have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

      Don't. Trust that if you offer a fair product at a reasonable price, then the consumers will buy it rather than copy it. It's the same model that worked with Non-copy protected cassettes back in the 80s and 90s.

      Also: The article is about the BBC which is funded by the taxpayers. In my humble opinion, the taxpayers entitled to take the product free-of-charge since they already paid for it.

      (goes back to drinking German

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by alecto (42429)

        Don't. Trust that if you offer a fair product at a reasonable price, then the consumers will buy it rather than copy it. It's the same model that worked with Non-copy protected cassettes back in the 80s and 90s.

        But, but, but HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC [wikipedia.org]!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:01AM (#30045628)

      The premium HD content providers to the BBC are interested in this so you'll need a different strategy than just saying, "wrong wrong wrong."

      The BBC should not be buying in premium content. The reason why all UK TV owners have to buy a license is to provide financing for the BBC, to enable them to provide quality programming other channels consider money losers. The UK already has 100s of channels showing crap from all over the world, including so-called premium TV shows.

      DRM has nothing to do with piracy, that's just BS. The sole reason for DRM is to take the industry and consumer over to pay per view/listen models.

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@slaSLACKWAR ... com minus distro> on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:02AM (#30045656) Homepage

      DRM is broken by design, the user has to have a way of decrypting the content in order to view it, so the keys have to be given out...
      All DRM will do is stop "casual piracy", that is people making copies for their friends, or recording to view later etc... The serious piracy groups who produce copies and sell them will quickly work out ways to bypass any protection being used. Go on thepiratebay, there is a lot of content available there which has been ripped from DRM encumbered sources, and the pirate versions are better because they have consumer-hostile things removed.

      • All DRM will do is stop "casual piracy", that is people making copies for their friends,

        Won't even do that - If people can't record their own TV they will simply download it from the Internet (illegally, if necessary).

        or recording to view later etc...

        Not only does copyright has absolutely nothing to do with piracy, time shifting has nothing to do with copyright infringement (or any other illegal activity).

        On a related note, the BBC employ a DRM system on satellite for their HD channel which demonstrates the utterly crazy way these people's minds work: They send a free to air DVB stream 72,000Km in the clear, and then mandate

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ericrost (1049312)

      Alright eldavo, here you go: DRM does nothing to combat piracy and only inconveniences legitimate consumers who have duly paid to use said content. Look at Blu-Ray, look at DVD's, look at SecuROM, look at DirecTV, look at TiVo, every single one of these schemes have been broken open by "pirates" who produce more convenient to use products than the locked down "legitimate" versions.

      DRM is simply a waste of money, resources, time, and it insults legitimate consumers who are willing to pay and does absolutely

    • I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

      Time for a bad analogy. You are a Doctor, and your patient has a terminal and incurable disease. You can do nothing and your patient will die or you can pump him full of dangerous, nauseating chemotherapy, and your patient will die in agony. (or you can shoot him full of painkillers and he'll die peacefully)

      Sometimes there is no solution, and the best thing to do is let the patient die quietly with dignity.

    • by ranulf (182665) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:34AM (#30046052)
      As one of those who responded, I'm glad I did.

      Your comment also highlights that you misunderstand exactly what the BBC were proposing. Their plan was to encrypt the EPG, not the actual programming. Anybody who wanted to pirate the material still could - they just needed to know what time the program was on, the transponder frequency and PID to record the whole MPEG stream. So, this wasn't actually an effective technical measure against piracy. All it would have achieved is making life difficult for people who wanted to use open source software to access the EPG in order to actually discover what programs are on and when, enabling them to enjoy the TV that was being shown rather than expecting them to just flick through all channels until they found something that looked interesting.

      It was a definite step backwards in terms of usability and offered nothing to protect broadcasts from pirates. What it did offer was a guaranteed revenue stream for the BBC by selling licenses to set-top box manufacturers.
    • by FireFury03 (653718) <`slashdot' `at' `nexusuk.org'> on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:36AM (#30046104) Homepage

      One particular fellow [ofcom.org.uk] doesn't even seem to put two and two together (or spell correctly) and realize that his exact situation is just what they intend to block:

      Personally third party content is of little importance to me, certainly not worth the risk of losing my ability to watch television on my computer via my DVB capture card; I use an open source operating system which will be highly unlikely to obtain a licence for the BBC's proprietary compression tables.

      Why would they want to block this? Note that he said watch TV on a computer - if he had said that he wanted to keep the ability to illegally copy it then you might have a point, but that's not what he said at all.

      It amazes me that none of these responses addresses the basic needs or the fact that the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect.

      Why should I (the licence fee payer) be legally required to financially support something controversial like DRM, that I fundamentally disagree with? If the content producers don't want the BBC to have their content then that's fine by me, but it will reduce their profits (by immediately excluding the BBC from the bidding process, they are automatically reducing the value of their content since less bidders means a lower winning bid (on average)).

      It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem?

      Perceived problems don't need solutions. Real problems need solutions.

      That's why it will be eventually put into place if you don't proffer an alternative.

      The alternative is to continue doing as they have been doing for decades - allowing licence payers to use the content to the full extent allowed by the law (and yes, this includes building your own receiver). Its worked up till now, why do they need to change?

      Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

      DRM doesn't actually do anything to reduce copyright infringement. If anything, it increases copyright infringement by reducing the number of people who can get at the content by legitimate means. The choice is going to come down to:
      * Replace my whole A/V system with a new system that has extremely limited functionality compared to what I already have.
      * Illegally download the content off the internet.
      Guess which choice I'm more likely to pick?

    • by Inda (580031)
      The easiest way to stop piracy is to lower the price of content. Didn't Apple et al work this out years ago?

      Looking at it from the opposition's point of view, they would have to lower costs too. Labour costs being the first and easiest to reduce.

      I have highlighted the only problem and that problem is not ours.
    • by segedunum (883035)
      It would be nice if you read at least most of the article in question rather than cherry picking parts and then smashing it with a hammer to fit your own limited viewpoint.

      It surprises me how often people submit arguments to something (even here on Slashdot) and fail to anticipate the opposing view's points. I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

      I live in the UK, pay my licence fee and have had free and unfettered access to over-

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DinDaddy (1168147)

      You're ignoring the alternative response you don't like.

      The alternative response is what it has always been. Ignore consumer copying, and only go after those who are criminally counterfeiting copies for money. The situation would be the same as it is right now for the content industry, since the content is being pirated anyway. You might even see a small reduction in that since the content owners would no longer be reviled.

    • by russotto (537200)

      Attack the problem at the root of its source and work to show that piracy really isn't a big deal, that's your only choice. Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

      You're assuming that piracy is the reason behind DRM. It's not. As the content producers have shown time and time again by validating the most absurd extrapolations of their positions, it's about control. And always has been. They wanted to ban the VCR, remember, and not because of piracy. They trie

    • by Bralkein (685733)

      I think you're making a reasonable point, but I have to disagree. I'm not sure why I should have to come up with the answers for the content providers, since there are presumably a number of people who are employed by those companies to devise a suitably profitable business model which actually attracts some paying customers. Now I do agree that in saying this I'm probably being a bit intellectually lazy, but I say it's no more lazy than those content providers who are just trying to hang on to the same old

    • It surprises me how often people submit arguments to something (even here on Slashdot) and fail to anticipate the opposing view's points. I have read a few of the responses and have found virtually no alternative suggestions to combating piracy than DRM.

      When someone offers an inherently ludicrous opinion like "DRM combats piracy" or "2 + cat = rutabaga", it is perfectly acceptable to say "no, that's dumb" without presenting an alternative.

    • Fundamentally, DRM is the only other alternative the market has to offer right now.

      One could argue that DRM is in place, by choice of the content producer, to reject the market's economics.

      If a CD is heavily pirated at $15, then the market can implement DRM and try to continue selling the disc at $15, or it can realize that the piracy at $15 identifies demand segments for the product at multiple less-than-$15 price points. If someone is willing to pirate it, then logically they want it, and therefore they can ascribe a non-zero monetary value to it, even if it is very, very low.

      The solu

    • by RDW (41497)

      'It amazes me that none of these responses addresses the basic needs or the fact that the BBC may be faced with losing some premium content providers if this doesn't go into effect. It's bad alright but what's your suggested solution to this (perceived) problem?'

      Here's one. Call the content providers' bluff. Right now, the BBC and other UK broadcasters transmit vast quantities of third party programming, free to air, in unencrypted digital formats. Somehow, the providers still seem to be willing to make the

    • by MobyDisk (75490)

      Simple solution: lose that premium content.

      You answered your own question with the word "perceived." There is no real problem here, only an artificial one created by the content providers. So no solution is really necessary at all. Those providers are placing artificial rules in place (the DRM) that require technology that is technically impossible, doesn't work anyway, doesn't provide them any profit, and hurts the customer. Those businesses should just fail (or at least, lose the sale in this case). E

  • BBC DVDs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CountBrass (590228) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:50AM (#30045484)
    Be interesting to see if this then get's applied to DVDs.
  • BBC Bias (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @09:50AM (#30045500) Journal
    Somewhat off topic, which is why I didn't mention this in the summary, but this is a good example of the BBC covering a BBC-related story in a balanced manner. The subject of the story is the BBC's attempt to do something being blocked, and you will note several things:
    1. The story exists at all.
    2. It contains more quotes from people opposed to the plans than in favour of it.
    3. The people opposing it do not have cherry-picked quotes making them look crazy.

    All in all, a good example of how an independent, publicly funded news organisation can work. The BBC should focus on this kind of thing and not on idiocies like DRM. I wrote to Ofcom to oppose this and was very pleased that they have responded in this way. I was slightly less pleased that the form that they sent me asking for permission to publish my letter was a MS Word document...

    • by pzs (857406)

      Here is another example [youtube.com], where a presenter of newsnight mercilessly grills a man who is effectively her own boss.

    • Now if the BBC would only (re-)learn that you can have multiple sentences per paragraph, it would actually be readable.

    • by Xest (935314)

      It's a trend I've noticed a fair bit though, on their web site they're generally quite pro-file sharing, well, as best they can be, yet when you see their TV shows it's a completely different story- Jonathan Ross for example has been allowed to advocate over the top 3 strikes policy on the BBC and such.

      I think what we're really seeing here is merely departmental difference. I believe the BBC's web team are quite technologically literate, quite forward thinking, quite intelligent and generally quite liberal.

    • A media organization reporting on a conflict involving itself? The BBC has gone gonzo now?

      I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea to point out the blatant contradiction between "good example of the BBC covering a BBC-related story in a balanced manner" (my italics) and "It contains more quotes from people opposed to the plans than in favour of it." Two legs good, four legs better!

      • by emm-tee (23371)

        I suppose it wouldn't be a good idea to point out the blatant contradiction between "good example of the BBC covering a BBC-related story in a balanced manner" (my italics) and "It contains more quotes from people opposed to the plans than in favour of it."

        Have you missed the point?

        The greater number of comments against the BBC's plans which are included in the BBC article represents the greater number of comments/arguments against the BBC's plans, and goes some way to explaining why its plans were rejected.

        • Which would...not be balanced. Either it's balanced or it's not, and you can't say it's both not balanced and balanced at the same time. Although if that's what you *are* saying, then I am not rightly able to comprehend the confusion of ideas that would arrive at such a conclusion.
          • by dangitman (862676)

            Which would...not be balanced.

            But your definition of "balanced" would be a bad thing. Just having the same number of quotes from opposing sides, regardless of merit or interest, would be poor journalism. But if that is what you meant, yes, I agree. "Balanced" reporting is not good journalism.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      >>>good example of how an independent, publicly funded news organisation can work.

      Yes. But think of all the stories you DON'T see on the BBC because they conveniently don't discuss them. There are many, many of them, and it's become rather well-known that the BBC is pro-European Union biased. http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-411846/We-biased-admit-stars-BBC-News.html [dailymail.co.uk] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/politics/article1942948.ece [timesonline.co.uk] http://en.wikipedi [wikipedia.org]

      • by FreeUser (11483) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @11:04AM (#30046498)

        I'd rather watch both sides of an argument (FOX and MSNBC) rather than assume I can trust a single source.

        Ahem. On most topics, FOX and MSNBC are on the same side of the argument, or close enough not to matter much. The American political spectrum has become so narrow, and so far skewed to the right, that differentiating between the American "left" and American "right" seems to be more about trying to decide who is further to the right, Gengis Khan or Benito Mousselini, than discussing any real differences.

        Then along comes Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who would be considered to the right in any other part of the developed world, proposing sweeping (and belated) healthcare reform, and from the myopic and illiterate perspective of most Americans, they are seen as radically left.

        It's amazing. To anyone else in the developed world, MSNBC and FOX are equally far out in right field, both bordering on unabashed extremism. As is most of America, for that matter. The fact that America is still struggling to sort out its medical system, 60-90 years after everyone else did, is telling in and of itself. For a bunch of creationists, the American right sure does seem to believe in Social Darwinism.

        The sad thing is, most Americans don't even know enough to be ashamed of the rhetoric that is accepted as normal in politics over there, whether it's on defense, healthcare, women's rights, racial equality, or the so-called war on terror.

        It has gotten to the point where "left wing" in America is not packing a pistol to an event where the president is expected to appear. Pathetic...and I don't see MSNBC, or CNN, as reporting these events all that differently than FOX these days. The do seem to be less tasteless in the talk shows they broadcast, but that's a far cry from broadcasting content that contains any real substance or concrete information, much less reporting balanced news a la the BBC.

        But then, I'm an American lucky enough to be living elsewhere for the time being, and able to get relatively unbiased information without having to jump through a million hoops, or listen to Hannity screaming on my televison set.

      • by xaxa (988988)

        The last BBC News (TV) that I watched gave me the impression that the BBC was anti-EU. It was the day the Lisbon treaty was signed, and instead of focusing on important things, like what it was, why there'd been delays signing it, why the UK (and Poland) had negotiated opt outs from the citizens' rights section (!) etc they just interviewed a load of people saying it was bad for democracy, i.e. anti-EU people.

        What does annoy me is that the BBC is becoming more sensationalist. Although nothing compared to th

      • http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] - bullshit ranting, including a post saying that saying "occupied east philistine" is biased.
        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-411846/We-biased-admit-stars-BBC-News.html [dailymail.co.uk] - Daily mail, nuf said
        the times article is not as bad but:

        Singled out is the coverage of Bob Geldof’s Live 8 concert and the Make Poverty History campaign. The report says there was no rounded debate of the issues.

        Debate on what?
        I think the best line in an article attack the BBC was:

        its coverage of conventional politics is judged to be fair and impartial

        The wikipedia article is just a catalogue of criticisms from the daily mail and it's ilk.

        It's much more effective to check facts than just be exposed to both sets of lies.

    • Re:BBC Bias (Score:4, Informative)

      by ledow (319597) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:25AM (#30045910) Homepage

      They aren't perfect by a long shot but yes, this is one of the reasons that the BBC is my main provider of news content. So they damn well should be, though. Why *all* news companies aren't like this, I can't understand. I thought the stereotypical reporter had a reputation for hitting the front page hard with controversial stories that they were "banned" from telling, not regurgitating celebrity crap.

      I really don't care if Paris Hilton did X, Y or Z (or all three), I just want a quick summary of interesting things that have happened. I want more details on the ones *I* choose to read. I want them to get updated if the story changes. I want the facts and a couple of in-context quotes from the people involved if they want to say something. I want it online. I want to be able to access and search its archives. I don't need the news-provider to tell me their opinion ("Isn't it terrible? They are ruining the country!") - I have a brain of my own, thanks.

      The fact that their entire site (not just the news section) is mostly clean HTML+CSS without all the fancy shit (except possibly on the BBC Schools page where they have interactive games etc.), that iPlayer (although "officially" not supporting Linux or permanent download) actually plays very well with get_iplayer.pl, that it's *always* up and loads super-fast even in the heaviest news scandals, and a million and one other tiny bonuses.

      I don't watch the news... haven't for 10 years. I don't buy a paper... haven't for ten years (though I sometimes nick a Metro on the way home - free paper, fair summary of events, available on every London train, and a daily sudoku). I don't subscribe to *any* news outlet or use any other company/organisation to give me news. I get my news from the BBC and random things that catch my eye. The fact that the BBC is the only website that I *expect* to find some well-reported news on is testament to their expertise.

      When there's the next big news story and I feel the need to pay attention, BBC News is where you'll find me. If there's no coverage there, I'll be looking on Google (not their News thing) somewhere for it myself.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      It's important to remember that the BBC is made up of individuals, just as is any other entity. Just as you are the government [youtube.com], you are everything else as well, including [potentially] the BBC.

    • I wouldn't like to bet that the BBC really want to do this though.

      It looks to me that they know it's a daft idea, and that they're being politically forced into doing something fundamentally useless in order that the content producers will continue to sell them stuff.

      If they make the right sounds, they can let the idea gradually collapse under its own useless weight.

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:01AM (#30045634) Homepage

    The BBC argues that content providers expect that DRM be provided. Ignore, for a moment, all other strong arguments against the use of DRM (and against it doing any good anyhow).

    The BBC is funded by public money, so they get the opportunity to do stuff without being pushed about by commercial interests - for this reason they are already expected to include programming that is for the benefit of society and the public. I'd say that this is another excellent reason that they should be pressured to take a stand against the erosion of fair use rights. Similarly to certain types of programming, this is too important to leave up to commercial stations - in fact, commercial stations seem likely to push their own DRM agenda based on connections to vested interests.

    Fundamentally, the BBC is funded by the public and it ought to limit the extent to which it makes itself and its viewers beholden to commercial interests. If content providers won't play ball, the BBC has the clout (currently one of the only UK broadcasters who are actually doing well) to make them see sense, or do without them and take stuff in-house. If the BBC are going to allow themselves to be directed by private content producers then we might as well just leave it to the commercial broadcasters and save ourselves the money.

    • by Henriok (6762) on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @10:21AM (#30045868)
      I think BBC might be the most powerful factor in the World for this kind of arguments. We have a publicly paid broadcaster in Sweden battling the same battle but SR/SVT isn't nearly as powerful and looks to BBC for guidance. I, myself, does what I can to make our broadcasters adopt open standards for their broadcasting, but it's seems hard for them to get out of their proprietary delivery technologies (Real/Windows Media/Flash based). Amazingly hard. But I think we are getting there. Baby steps.
    • We need to get them to see the numbers.

      Linux users with working DVB capture cards are few and far between, but users of HTML5 [video] elements utilising open video formats should be ubiquitous over the next year. That's a potential increase in License Fee collection, and any increase is good.

      Especially as everyone else is doing the development work for them.
  • To me, the real problem is greed. If the content providers were content to simply make a profit and live like normal human beings, then prices would be reasonable and pirating would be even more uncommon than it is already. But no, everybody has to try and become a millionaire (ah, so old-fashioned, I mean billionaire of course!). The current thinking is that it is a corporation's job to maximize profit. That makes corporations necessarily hostile to society and civilization as a whole. This type of th
  • by mr_stark (242856) <tim@trgrDEGASay.co.uk minus painter> on Tuesday November 10, 2009 @11:13AM (#30046648)

    The BBC board are not stupid, they know applying to have tax payer funded content restricted isnt going to fly. They are maneuvering to cover their backs. Despite what they say the BBC are very ratings focused. They are going head to head with ITV (the biggest independent TV station in the UK) over the Saturday night prime slot with their own reality TV/talent show for example.

    They want to broadcast popular shows but dont want content restriction to be used as leverage by the content providers. Rather than saying "we wont do that b/c its not in the public interest" the BBC are aiming to say "We cant use DRM b/c its against the law."

    • The BBC board are not stupid

      With regards to DRM, I am unconvinced about their sanity.

      The FreeSat HD specification mandates that HD content must be HDCP encrypted when the stream contains a "DRM flag" (which BBC HD regularly carries), but the DVB-S/S2 stream is broadcast in the clear. So they are basically saying that they are happy to broadcast a conveniently compressed stream 72,000Km in the clear, but the 1 metre long uncompressed link between the decoder and the TV must be encrypted.

      What exactly does this achieve?

      * It caus

  • Here's what happened in America.

    The original deal (which seemed stable to me): The cable TV company (Comcast) provided content that I could watch. I paid them money.

    The cable TV company, in switching from analog cable to digital cable, required cablecard or other things that prevented it working with normal digital tuners, and even got the regulators' blessings. So they now offer this deal: The cable TV company will provide content that I cannot watch, and I will pay them money.

    If the new deal isn't as go

  • Not that I like DRM, but how is the consumer better off with no imported shows than with DRM-laden imported shows?

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.

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