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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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  • by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:28PM (#29442789) Homepage

    Yes I just bought one a few weeks ago to replace an early digital CRT.
    I was surprised to find that it had a USB input, and read from mass storage devices, (albeit only FAT32) and could decode divX, xvid, mp3 and ogg.

    TV manufactures now that everybody torrents, (Heroes 55 million, Lost 51 million, international favourite Top gear), and are just giving people what they want.
    As for the DRM on HD, well whatever. I really don't have the bandwidth to throw away on HD content right now, but when it catches up...sure, I'll torrent that too.

  • by WelshRarebit ( 1595637 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:38PM (#29442935)
    I was surprised to find that it had a USB input, and read from mass storage devices, (albeit only FAT32) and could decode divX, xvid, mp3 and ogg.

    You shouldn't be. Most TV's these days have a full computer inside them, and a large percentage of them run Linux. Here's the list of Sony TV's that run Linux, for example. [sony.com]

  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @01:42PM (#29442985) Homepage Journal
    Forgive my Yankee naïvate, but doesn't the BBC have a mandate to serve the public interest, since they're funded in large part by compulsory license fees charged to all television owners? I'd be interested to know how they're justifying this request to regulators and to the fee-paying public.


  • by lattyware ( 934246 ) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:04PM (#29443315) Homepage Journal
    The BBC's content is our content. Give it to us unmolested please. It's not like people are not going to let the BBC show their series unless there is DRM there.
  • Clarification (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdotNO@SPAMspad.co.uk> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:16PM (#29443553) Homepage

    I'm not entirely sure what the actual reasoning behind this is. It seems as if:

    • The rights holders won't let the BBC and other free-to-air networks broadcast their stuff in HD without DRM
    • None (or very few) of the current Freeview/Freesat (DVB) hardware supports their DRM
    • In order to get the DRM-compatibility out there ASAP the BBC have come up with the idea of trivially encoding their EPG data and then requiring hardware manufacturers to implement the DRM if they want a license to use the "keys" to the EPG data (Note that this is not the same as the EPG data being protected by the DRM)

    It's a clever idea but I can only assume that some or all of the non-terrestrial networks operating in the UK have already agreed to the demands of the rights-holders, otherwise the BBC (and other free-to-air networks) could simply refuse to do anything about it - after all, the content providers aren't going to get very far if they refuse to allow their stuff aired on any networks because none of them will broadcast it with DRM in place.

    As a license-payer I can't say I like it, but with the info I have I can't see that the BBC has much choice in the matter; either they and the other FTA networks agree to broadcast some or all HD content with DRM or the idiot content providers won't sell shows to them any more.

  • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @02:41PM (#29443969)

    >>>It has the incidental effect of making anyone using linux and a DTV card to recieve the broadcasts act illegally

    I match your DRM and raise with a semiautomatic aimed at the nearest MP.

  • by BeardedChimp ( 1416531 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:04PM (#29444353)
    I've been following the BBC's internet blog for quite a while (it's pretty good) and their engineers always come across as hating DRM and if they had the choice they wouldn't use it at all.
    A few months ago one of them said they were pushing to keep any content produced by the BBC DRM free and that it was only because of licensed content that they employed any DRM at all.
    Based on this I'm guessing this is the upper echelons of the beeb looking to push this.
  • by Attila Dimedici ( 1036002 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:12PM (#29444469)

    You really don't have a clue, do you? The BBC is not government sponsored, Prawn!.

    Are you saying that the government doesn't levy a TV tax that goes to the BBC? So if you have a TV in the UK and choose not to pay the BBC licensing fee the government doesn't come around and fine you?

  • Re:Clarification (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @03:58PM (#29445209)

    Great. There's only one minor problem I can see with this.

    All the millions of cheap no-brand freeview boxes which are produced with a different chipset and firmware from one week to the next and the manufacturer lost any interest in supporting it years ago. I know the DVB standard allows firmware updates to be sent over the air, but how often does that happen with the cheap & nasty boxes?

  • Re:Bad summary (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:34PM (#29445795)

    Strictly true but the BBC are trying to skirt around the letters of about three licenses while breaking the spirit of them all.

    DVB says that you shall not encrypt SI. The point being to enable open access to the signalling. So the BBC say it isn't encrypted but compressed. However manufacturers must license from them the data to decode it making it a closed system.

    Broadcast license granted for FtA broadcasts so BBC say it is still FtA despite these restrictions.

    DTLA do not allow DTCP protection to be added to FtA content so BBC claim that it is protected by the license on the compression of the SI.

    I love the BBC and most of what they do and stand for but on this they are just wrong.

  • by Jerry Smith ( 806480 ) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @04:42PM (#29445903) Homepage Journal

    I'd have to disagree. I've lived in other countries - Holland, Belgium and the USA. I might add that I can follow Dutch language tv. I resent been forced to pay a licence for the BBC and the adverts in the USA are too frequent, which is why I had TiVo there. Got one here too.

    On the other hand: I for one am glad to be able to get the extra BBC-channels into my home, even while it costs me 60 pounds a year extra. Yes, in Holland the BBC-channels are widely appreciated, and sometimes better valued than the Dutch counterparts.

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