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Defective By Design DRM Protest

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Matthew Cashmore | 16:04 UK time, Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Defective by Design Protest outside BBCIt was a very wet morning but that didn't stop around 20 people turning out to let the BBC know exactly what they thought of its use of DRM in iPlayer.

We've pulled those comments together and made a special podcast which you can download from here;

http://blip.tv/file/339619

There are also some photos from the even which you can see here

http://flickr.com/photos/mattcashmore/sets/72157601436583881/

and here

http://flickr.com/photos/cubicgarden/sets/72157601430492360/

and some here

http://flickr.com/groups/87677066@N00/pool/

BBC Five Live's Pods and Blogs also has an interview;

"As an exclusive podcast offering you can hear Ben Lavender who came up with the idea for the iPlayer - though he's no longer with the BBC - talked to Peter Brown of the Free Software Foundation one of the groups behind the protest"

Head over to Pods and Blogs to listen.

Ashley Highfield (Head of BBC Future Media and Technology) has replied to the points raised by the Defective by Design DRM protests. Ashley was happy for his answers to be published and has taken the issues seriously.

The BBC Favours one particluar software developer: Microsoft.

We have an obligation to use the best solution to any given problem, to reach the most people at the least cost at the higest quality. This consideration must take precedence over our desire to use open source solutions where practicable. We have used and do use a number of technologies to offer A/V material on our web site, from a number of proviers, including Real, Microsoft, Adobe, Akamai and Kontiki. In fact we still serve more A/V via Real than we do via Microsoft. We do not favour any one provider, indeed our software selection process is either done to autiable procurement standards or done by our technology partner Siemens. We have no more desire to become beholden to one provider than the OSC/ORG has.

Why launch only on Windows using DRM: It inflicts restrictions on licence fee payers, forces software onto peoples machine to spy on them

iPlayer will be available on all platforms. We will not force people to use a particular technology (unless no viable alternatives are available). But we will always launch on a sub-set of the eventual number of platforms that a service will be available on. We launched interactive TV multiscreen services on satellite before making them available on DTT and Cable. We launched digital radio services on DAB before making them available over IP and DTT. It would be foolhardy to attempt a multiple simultaneous platform launch. We try always to launch to the platform that can have the largest reach to our licence fee payers. It doesn't mean we're not committed to open standards or to getting the service on to Apple or Linux. We are. We do not keep any sensitive user information, and we fully abide by the Data Protection Act.


Open rights group: poor decision to select DRM - should be open platform, no DRM at all - understand rights holders but trends in audio industry towards eschewing DRM completely (e.g. EMI audio).

It took two years to persuade the television industry rights holders (talent, writers, independent producers) to allow free distribution over the internet at all. Their insistance on DRM to protect their back-end commercial opportunity is only fair. It enabled a framework by which all UK broadcasters have been able to offer a free service for a window of time. The UK audience wins. I don't think there is another country in the world where all the main broadcasters are offering (or intend to) their entire schedules free for a period of time on-demand over IP.

The non-DRM model being adopted in the music industry is a commercial model. You pay, you get a DRM file, you pay a bit more, you get the file to keep and copy, DRM free. This is a model that BBC World Wide, our commercial arm, may choose to adopt for its commercial iPlayer. If we adopted this model for the free Public Service 7-day window, then we would effectively rule out any further commercial exploitation of the content, in the UK or internationally (as all the content would be readily available for free). Our rights holders, and our international syndication partners, and our commercial channel partners would not countenance this. The BBC relies on these partners and revenues to help fund our programme making.


Open Source Consortia : single platform lock in

Dealt with above. We believe in Universality, I would not let our content be restricted to one platform. Beyond IP, we are also exploring how we can get versions of BBC iPlayer on to Freeview (DTT), FreeSat, and have plans to launch on cable with Virgin Media. We look closely at all possible platforms for distribution. PDAs, media centres, city centre video screens, kiosks, and so on. Some platforms require particular technologies, and some may simply not be economically viable for us to reversion for or distribute to (we must always weigh up the cost per person reached).

Derek Wall - Green Party - great free aceess, but problem only get it thru MS. Problem in terms of open access.

Well I'm glad Derek thinks its great that we're offering free access, and it won't be available solely via Microsoft technologies.

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