iplayer

The BBC, DRM and the demise (?) of get_iplayer

It's never nice to hear about the demise of a piece of simply brilliant software. when I discovered that get_iplayer was being pulled by its developer I was, to use a cliche, gutted. The potential loss of a piece of software that did just what it said on the tin is bad enough but it was impeccably free and open. What's more, it was an example to the BBC about how things should be done. It was the work of one lone, unpaid developer, not the product of professional developers subsidised by the BBC licence. What happened exemplifies everything that is wrong with proprietary software.

For the benefit on non-British readers I should explain that the BBC has an excellent website and it includes the iPlayer which allows visitors to view BBC audo and video content in their browser. When it was launched it was, surprise, Windows only. As many licence fee payers were also GNU/Linux users, they were enraged that they had effectively been excluded from the experience. BBC FUD ensued. Eventually though, lobbying and petitioning paid off and the BBC enabled the iPlayer for platforms other than Windows. You needed (and still need) (Adobe) Flash to view the video content and the content was encumbered with DRM and was not yours for keeps. It was only a thirty-day visitor to your hard drive.

DRM and the BBC iPlayer: an interview with Paul Battley

In this post I will interview Paul Battley, the man who wrote the program that worked around the DRM loophole at the BBC. No GNU/Linux user needs to be told what DRM (aka Trusted Computing, aka Palladium) is and why it is a thoroughly pernicious and Hydra-headed monster that needs to be slain. I hope to make that the subject of a post in the very near future, but in the meantime here is a quick thumbnail sketch of what happened with the BBC's iPlayer, to bring you up to speed. The interview with Paul Battley follows.

No news, but no snooze

Two things piqued my interest recently. One was the iPlayer protests at the BBC, the other was the Wiki tracker project. More specifically, it was the reporting of these events. In the case of the former, it went virtually unreported and made me proud of our independent and open news sources and reporting network. The latter highlighted (again) the many issues of user-generated content. Is there a half-way house?

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