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Television Your Rights Online

BBC Wants DRM On HD Broadcasts 267

NickFortune writes "The EFF's Danny O'Brien has pointed out that the BBC has asked a UK regulator for permission to add DRM to their high-definition broadcasts. Apparently, this is at the behest of content providers. 'BBC is proposing to encode the TV listings metadata that accompanies all digital TV channels with a simple compression algorithm. The parameters to this algorithm would be kept secret by the BBC: it would ask manufacturers to sign a private agreement in order to receive a copy. This license would require the implementation of pervasive DRM in the equipment they build.' Ofcom, the regulatory body in question, has detailed the proposal asked for comments, but the window closes today."
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BBC Wants DRM On HD Broadcasts

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  • Fools (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:22PM (#29442667)

    The people who pay the BBC certainly don't want this, and it certainly doesn't add anything of value. Stop this now, BBC. Is it silly season with legislation all of a sudden?

  • by oo_HAWK_oo ( 1619801 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:22PM (#29442677)
    Pointless! It would be hacked the first week its released!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:26PM (#29442761)
  • Re:target? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:31PM (#29442849)

    It's all about the huge move by content creators to a pay per view/listen model. Come back in 10 years or so and it'll already be happened. The rumblings for this model have been around for a few years now. The politicians are gradually being bought or placed, it's just a matter of time before Big Media charges us for each use.

    So let me just tell them to "piss off" now.

  • by mattbee ( 17533 ) <> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:42PM (#29442983) Homepage

    Just from the summary, this sounds like the BBC are proposing a tiny, insignicant technical change to their metadata broadcast and presenting to rightsholders as a complicated and cast-iron DRM solution. Of course it's nothing of the sort, will probably never get implemented, and if it were, sounds like it would be trivial to work around (if only by getting your listings data from an external source, of which there are several!) So I think this is just singing a song the rightsholders want to hear; I'm pretty certain nobody technical at the BBC gives a hoot about implementing DRM, and would see it as an unwelcome obstacle to doing their job.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:47PM (#29443055)

    it's too close to the truth to be ironic, yet too wrong to be informative.

    Let's see... A post that contains enough truth to be convincing but enough falsehoods to be completely wrong. It's almost like the post is designed to elicit responses.

    What did we used to call that kind of post? What's the word? Oh, yes.


  • Uhm - No, thanks. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wild_quinine ( 998562 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:48PM (#29443069) Homepage
    The BBC is paid for by license payers - not taxpayers, but it's a similar arrangement. I'm not even sure they should be allowed to sell DVDs back to us in the first place, since we're the ones who paid for them to be made, but I absolutely draw the line at letting them digitally protect the content I paid for. They can digitally protect it when they're footing the damn bill.

    Obviously this doesn't apply to third party shows they buy in, but for their own stuff, absolutely no protection at all, thanks.

  • by lorenlal ( 164133 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:56PM (#29443191)

    And I'm completely sure that all the legitimate home watchers will have no problem with their existing HD digital TVs requiring a decoder, and it'll do so much good cause you can just put your freaking DVR in after the decoder right?

    Or will this force the Brits to have to shell out for a new TV?

    Yea, solid idea. The DMCA thinks this is a bit too much...

  • Get stuffed BBC (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:58PM (#29443223) Journal

    First the BBC expects me to put up with rubbish SD quality digital television called "Freeview", analogue TV picture and audio is being deliberately degraded to make Freeview look good before the analogue switch off. Then as soon as a few* people** watch the "test" transmission from satellite of some BBC content in HD, they want to cripple it.

    Go f-off BBC, like others, I pay a huge amount in a compulsory BBC tax every year for a progressively worse service and worse programming content. Freeview (digital tv) being pushed by the BBC is rubbish, DAB (digital radio) also being pushed by the BBC is also rubbish, now you want to turn HD into cr@p.

    BTW, we don't want the HD channel wasted with hundreds of hours of pointless Olympics in 2012, shove that cr@p on your Freeview instead.

    * Seriously, there can't be many with HD satellite in the UK....

    ** I got my Linux box to work with watching satellite HD. Ironically Windows is very problematic with HD and numerous flakey video watching / recording applications (even the paid stuff).

  • by Shimbo ( 100005 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:07PM (#29443361)

    I'd be interested to know how they're justifying this request to regulators and to the fee-paying public.

    Since Ofcom _are_ the reguator, you can do the former by reading the letter.

    In the end it's whether the content providers are bluffing, and really would refuse bids from the BBC for premium events if they refused to go along.

  • by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:19PM (#29443593)

    My GOD! Hackers will *NEVER* figure this one out!

    That is not the point. The intent here is to create a "protection mechanism" via "technical device" (however ineffective) which serves to trigger the portion of the DMCA law (Britain probably has equivalent legal language now due to copyright "normalization" treaties) which makes circumvention without permission or fair dealing (which requires a specially granted exemption from Library of Congress here in the United States) unlawful. In other words, it doesn't matter that they locked the door with chwing gum and rubber bands, you still "broke in" according to the letter of the law and they can still sue you. In these cases the "protection mechanism" is only there to create enough of a speed bump to trigger the anti-circumvention laws, NOT to present a real technical challenge to hackers.

  • Re:Bad summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:26PM (#29443705)

    Wrong. Read the actual letter. The compression algorithm used is freely available. The compression look up tables have been tuned to specifically work well on the EPG data and as such are copyright the BBC.

    The BBC is suggesting that they be allowed to only give the tables to STB manufacturers that honour the DVB equivalent of the broadcast flag which prevents copying recorded programs off PVRs. Thus giving STB manufacturers a choice: allow the user to copy shows off the box, or allow the user to have an EPG, but not both. Guess which one 99.9% of consumers actually want.

  • by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:31PM (#29443775)

    You're right, the BBC collects their license fee. Under force of law, from anyone receiving broadcast TV, whether they use BBC services or not. You're being intentionally ignorant if you claim that's not a government-mandated tax.

  • by nametaken ( 610866 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:38PM (#29443903)

    They know that. The important part is that it makes you a criminal in a way you weren't before.

  • by charliemopps11 ( 1606697 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:40PM (#29443947)
    These large media companies better learn quick that they are not going to save their industry by making it harder to access their media. As it is now, to get media I have to buy equipment, have it installed, get the dish pointed correctly... it cuts out during storms. Cables isn't much better. The force me to order channels in "Packages" so 90% of the channels I get are either espn (dont want) or home shopping network. I have absolutely no option to get rid of these channels. When I want a DVD they delay the release for months, but will release it in other country's first. I can't order it from those countrys becuase of my DVD players country code. Then they release 1 version of the movie... wait 6 months and release an extended version of the movie... then wait another 6 months and release a directors cut and then even a "Series" pack where you can get all the sequels. OR... I can go to a torrent site... click on the movie. 8hrs later I have the full, directors cut, with all the extra features, in english and I don't have to drive anywhere. Talk about a service I'd be willing to pay for. Oh wait, they wont let me pay for it. Morons.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#29444085)

    News quality is absolutely superb.

    It used to be good. Now its just government supporting propoganda and bullshit.

    I think it's the biggest news broadcaster in the world which is not owned by some media billionaire or controlled by government.

    It is controlled by government, just not officially.

  • by Hertzyscowicz ( 1106209 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:35PM (#29444857)

    a simple compression algorithm. The parameters to this algorithm would be kept secret by the BBC

    My GOD! Hackers will *NEVER* figure this one out!

    The real killer, however, is that it probably isn't quite trivial to install the circumvention software on the actual TV set. So, even when it is cracked, as well as in the meanwhile, the majority of HD TV owners are going to have to shell out for new hardware.

  • by Garrett Fox ( 970174 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:44PM (#29444993) Homepage
    So... it's not a tax and not government-controlled, but your only options are to pay it or not watch television? I guess there's no vehicle tax either, since you could always walk everywhere. Or is there some way to shut off whatever part of the TV is devoted to picking up broadcast signals, so that you can legally have a TV without paying this "optional" fee?

    Federal income taxes are optional here in the US too -- you have the option of not making any income. This option is chosen by the very poor and very rich alike!
  • Re:Bad summary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Ant P. ( 974313 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:11PM (#29445391) Homepage

    Then I'll take "copy the shows off the box" and use online program guides.

  • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:28PM (#29445673) Journal

    It's tough to compare a US Cable subscription with the BBC system because they are different types of service.

    The Cable system includes wired delivery to your home, which the British system (as I understand it) does not. BBC is broadcast TV, correct? The BBC doesn't run a coaxial cable from their offices to your house and guarantee you reception, do they?

    I currently have a 14-channel lineup which I pay $12US for. But most of those channels would be available to me free over the air if I chose to hook up my antenna and watch them that way, so comparing my 14 channels at $12 with advertising to your 15 channels for $20 without advertising is a somewhat meaningless comparison.

    I'm paying for guaranteed delivery of a service into my house. If my Cable TV goes out for more than 4 hours in a given day, the Cable company is contractually obligated to refund me the equivalent of one days' delivery charge. I also have perfect reception all the time, and a support desk that will send out someone to fix it if I don't.

    I'm mostly paying for the delivery of the TV stations (though some of my subscription fee certainly goes into content). The ads, by and large, pay for the content.

    Of course, as you add the additional 80-1000 channels you COULD get on my cable system and get into the $50-200 a month range, certainly a significant amount of that money is paying for content, and you still have ads. But since you used a limited-lineup BBC-style system, I only felt it fair to compare that to the closest analogue here in the States.

    I can't include radio, because that's a completely separate thing here. Radio stations are all (as far as I've ever heard) free, and are all paid for with advertising.

    The only exception would be the National Public Radio system, which is paid for by a blend of sources including listener donations, corporate underwriting, and US Government taxpayer dollars. They acknowledge their underwriters, but do not engage in actual advertising per se.

    Having said all that, I'd MUCH rather pay AN ADDITIONAL $20 a month and get advert-free programming where a one hour show is actually one hour long. The US standard seems to have devolved to about 38 minutes for a one-hour show, and 19 or so for a 1/2-hour show, and some of that is credits, the opening theme, etc.

  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:38PM (#29445839) Homepage Journal
    That's being pedantic. The Crown is part of government, and anything "mandated by the Crown" is done so by convention only, under direction of parliament - it's been that way at least since the 18th century when the principle of parliamentary sovereignty was firmly established in British constitutional law.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:00PM (#29448959)

    So let's all stop watching it. Seriously. Spend the time getting informed about important issues, teaching kids, fixing things, and writing code, documentation, or blogs. Build something. Accomplish something. Does anyone really *need* television? Movies? Go to the theater once in a while. The one-way content providers are on their way out precisely because we have two-way communications, right? So let's use it. They don't want us anyway.

  • Re:Get stuffed BBC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by smoker2 ( 750216 ) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:55AM (#29450559) Homepage Journal
    The BBC does not expect anything from you. Freeview is just the trading name for DTV Services, which is owned by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky and transmitter operator Arqiva. Most of the channels are produced by independent companies. Also, most of it isn't SD, unless SD means 15 Mbps @ 1024*768. I rate SD as 800*600 or lower. Old shows are low quality, but that's because they're old. You're just a troll. What we actually have is higher quality video, and more choice. What did we have before, 5 channels ? Now I have 18 programmed in and about another 70 I ignore. All for the same price licence. I did have reservations before the switchover because I had a lot of interference from traffic, but now the analogue has gone, my power levels have gone right up as has the signal quality. The BER is hardly registering a tick. I have 2 cards that together can record 2 multiplexes simultaneously. That can be up to 8 separate channels all at once. I can then view the recording and change channel within it. Did analogue have that capability ? I can also separate out individual programs from those recorded multiplexes and save them as standalone files.

    As for DAB you are probably quite wrong there too. It's main problem is the up front costs, and as things are tight, nobody wants to run a station and nobody wants to retrofit their cars with new radios for only a few stations. The technology is way better than FM. The BBC didn't invent it, they just thought it would be good, so they helped push it out.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI