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Freeview HD content management

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Graham Plumb Graham Plumb | 10:25 UK time, Friday, 22 January 2010

Ofcom has this week published its formal consultation considering the implications of the proposed new Freeview HD content management system. This will attract further dialogue from those who take the view that introducing any form of content management represents an unacceptable restriction on consumers' rights.

So I thought it might be helpful to summarise why the BBC and other broadcasters care about this issue and why we believe consumers will benefit from a stronger Freeview HD platform supported by an appropriate content management system.

Digital Rights Management (DRM), copy protection or content management is never going to be something that we would expect viewers to react to initially with the view "that sounds like a really great idea". The issues are really quite complex and the benefits not immediately obvious (the primary benefit being that the use of such technologies gives access to a wider and more attractive range of HD content). People understandably want to be able to enjoy media in ways which suit them. They don't like the idea that the owner of that media may want to limit the way they can use that content or have some say on whether it can be shared over the internet.

Digital technology has made the copying and internet distribution of broadcast content much cheaper and easier than was ever possible in the analogue domain. For example, it is now possible to buy a box for less than £100 which will record over a hundred of hours of standard definition television. Locating this content is also much easier and, increasingly, fast network connections make it possible (although sometimes unapproved) to freely download or upload broadcast video content.

Programme producers - i.e. the people who make the content, the performers, musicians, writers, etc. - are understandably worried that digital technology makes it trivially easy to access and distribute their work - often without any payment. This situation presents real problems for them. Good quality television programmes are expensive to make and, even where producers are well paid by the broadcaster who commissions their programmes, they are often dependent on sales of this content in secondary markets (DVD and Blu-ray sales, repeat showings on other channels, and overseas sales) to cover the costs of production (and hopefully make a profit).

Broadcasters are not immune to these concerns either. Yes, the licence fee (for the BBC) and advertising (for other broadcasters with public service obligations) pays for most public service television in the UK, but all broadcasters benefit from the income they obtain from secondary sales of the content they produce 'in-house' (or which they 'co-fund'). Consumers also stand to lose as, without this income, the range and quality of the content available (on free-to-air channels) would inevitably suffer.

Broadcasters could have tried to take a 'heavy-handed' approach to this problem. They could have argued to encrypt all programmes broadcast in a digital format, they could have only distributed services on those platforms which provide extensive controls on the ability to record and distribute content, and they could even have tried to restrict the ability of consumers to watch personal recordings multiple times (other than for legally permissible purposes such as study or reporting). In short, broadcasters could have tried to implement a full DRM system for both standard and high definition content. However, and just to be clear, we have absolutely no intention of doing this.

Instead, and in the specific case of the new Freeview HD platform, broadcasters have looked at the content management controls which exist on all other broadcast HD platforms in the UK. Currently all of these other platforms limit the copying and distribution of HD content in one way or another. However, broadcasters have also looked forward, to make sure that the proposed system allows for things like: the networking of media recorders, displays and servers within consumers' own homes and the transfer of HD content from domestic recorders to personal HD media players.

Overall, we believe the proposed system takes a highly pragmatic approach to content management - which offers consumers more flexibility to view and use content than is available on any other UK platform whilst at the same time protecting the legitimate concerns of rights holders.

The key features of this system are:

  • all video and audio content is broadcast unencrypted;
  • content management only applies to HD recordings (there is no impact on standard definition recording or on existing Freeview recorders);
  • time-shifted viewing of recorded HD content is always possible;
  • at least one 'archive' HD copy on a removable device is always allowed;
  • networked distribution and viewing of HD content in the home is allowed; and
  • the system doesn't even prevent the uploading of standard definition copies of HD content to the internet (although it should be noted that for most content and most applications this may not be permissible under UK copyright law).

Indeed, the proposed Freeview HD content management approach is so 'light-touch' that some have argued that it is not worth having. But, this misses a key point - almost any copy protection system can be circumvented (if you put enough effort into it) - and that it is never going to be possible to prevent the determined pirate from lifting content. However, it is still really important to make sure that the unapproved copying and internet distribution of high value broadcast content doesn't become so easy that people don't think twice about doing it.

The proposed system is designed to make sure that the vast majority of consumers (those who buy and use standard products without modification) can watch, record and move Freeview HD programmes between their own devices without ever knowing there is any content management present (like most people don't even know that content on DVDs is encrypted). At the same time, it provides just enough protection to prevent the casual and incremental erosion of the value of HD broadcast content.

We expect the consultation will attract a lot of interest, particularly from those who believe that any form of content management is philosophically a bad thing, and also from the Open Source community who may still fear that this will be more restrictive than it will actually turn out to be for them. And I completely understand that point of view; I just hope that these communities can understand our position too; that we want to deliver the service which enables more viewers across the UK to enjoy high definition content as soon as possible.

We welcome all further input to Ofcom on this matter and hope that any responses can be informed by the significant additional detail provided in our response to Ofcom's letter that initiated the consultation, and to the consultation itself.

It is now up to Ofcom to decide if the system gets the balance right between protecting the interests of consumers and the interests of broadcast rights holders.

Graham Plumb is Head of Distribution Technology, BBC.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I will, of course, be responding to the Ofcom consultation.

    It's worth noting, however, that all of this conveniently ignores the fact these copy-protection measures are trivial for the people who distribute materials illegally to defeat, and obviously have zero effect upon those who download from them.

    What it does do (and if those pushing for DRM on Freeview HD considered this properly, it's unlikely they would still have a positive outlook on the proposal) is encourage consumers frustrated by both intended and unintended restrictions on material they have received legally to turn to illicit downloads instead.

    In other words, there is no real upside, other than the bliss of ignorance. Congratulations, you'll have just made life for complicated for broadcasters, consumer electronics manufacturers, software developers and consumers themselves for zero actual gain -- and this is aside from the various issues it raises with respect to neutrality.

    I'll be interested to read the DTG's collective response, assuming one is published.

  • Comment number 2.

    Why not make the resolution and bitrate sub-HD, thus forcing people who want a decent copy to wait for the Blu-Ray release. Oh, wait...

  • Comment number 3.

    This only confirms the false market caused by content providers, The prime cause of piracy in the first place in my opinion. When a programme is transmitted on any network in any market, it's in the wild. Is it wrong therefore to prohibit fans obtaining this material when the distributor puts up an artificial wall by delaying the release in other markets it only causes envy and ramps up the interest in obtaining copies via the net and other sources.

    If this arbitrary release schedule was removed and TV series and films were released commercially in all markets simultaneously and thus available through legitimate means globally, then perhaps content management can be justified.

    The industry needs to adjust to the realities of the demands of it's consumers and to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, tear down it's own walls first before building new ones.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Inevitably this system will be a closed shop. We will only be able to transfer content to approved devices using approved software. This doesn't bode well for free, open-source solutions.

    I have a better idea. Stop wasting our money on this anti-viewer policy and stop buying content from the owners who have these demands. I think they'll quickly come around to the fact that any anti-piracy system has been and will be defeated, when our TV tax money stops rolling in.

    The BBC is showing yet again that it has forgotten its duty is to serve us, not content owners. You can't spin it to make it look like you're doing us a favour by not implementing what you call a Full DRM system. We live in a country where we are thankfully considered innocent before proven guilty, as much as you would like to implement a system which presumes the exact opposite.

  • Comment number 6.

    By the way everyone should certainly submit a response to the consultation. It will be interesting to see if the link to said consultation suddenly disappears from this blog entry when the BBC come to realise the magnitude of the feelings of the public against them.

  • Comment number 7.

    '[DRM] is never going to be something that we would expect viewers to react to initially with the view "that sounds like a really great idea".'

    That's the point where you should have stopped. You have not made a single point which is in the viewers' interests. What's in it for me?

    Regarding some of the key features

    # all video and audio content is broadcast unencrypted;
    But what about the metadata? If the content really is unencrypted then all of these other points are redundant.

    # time-shifted viewing of recorded HD content is always possible;
    Until you send a signal to delete something? How can we trust you? Serious question. If I can't control my hardware because you have to certify it, where does that leave me when you "de-certify" something?

    # at least one 'archive' HD copy on a removable device is always allowed;
    How do you tell which copies are allowed? I can copy it to my iPod but then my wife can't copy it to her laptop? How will these devices be authorised? How will you monitor what I'm doing with the content?

    # networked distribution and viewing of HD content in the home is allowed;
    How can you tell if it's in my home? What if my recording is in my home and I want to watch it on holiday? Whether in the UK or abroad.

    Finally - what's in it for me? That's all I want to know - how does this benefit me? As far as I can see, I have to buy new equipment, hope you keep it certified, I can't move the shows around, hope you don't make a sudden change to the encryption of the meta-data, hope that "rights owners" don't make you change to a stronger DRM....

    ...All in the name of being able to watch your HD content. Doesn't sound so great to me. Sorry.

  • Comment number 8.

    I know people feel strongly about this but can we keep the conversation civil please. "Rape" analogies are tasteless.

    CompactDistance - the link to the consultation is not going to be removed.

  • Comment number 9.

    Thanks for the reassurance, Nick.

  • Comment number 10.

    @Terence:

    "How do you tell which copies are allowed?"

    Because receivers complying with the specs are "trusted", and "managed" content will only be transferable to other "trusted" devices.

    What it means in practice [within this specific context] is that although the content itself is free to air, once it arrives in your living room, it might as well not be, because no compliant device would, for example, let you copy it onto your laptop and watch it with VLC, or to any other device which does not explicitly support the specifications.

    Thus, a copy you download from an illicit source (such as via P2P file-sharing) is suddenly considerably more attractive and useful than the copy you've actually paid for (by way of the TV Licence).

    The actual 'DRM' (i.e., the coding of the EPG data carried by the multiplex) is very simple - it has to be - but to circumvent it is illegal under EU law. This is a problem if you're the kind of person [or business] who wants to do everything legally, but if you're the sort of person who uploads captured TV programmes to filesharing sites, it's not going to be of huge concern.

    As I said earlier, ignorance is bliss. If you ignore all of these pesky facts, then you can live in a cosy little world where people can only get that broadcast via Freeview HD, and only onto compliant devices, and can only move it to other compliant devices or burn a single HD backup copy onto a Blu-Ray recordable disc, and people will go along with it because there's no alternative. If you live in that cosy little world, as those pushing for this to be implemented appear to be, then that's great.

    Meanwhile, the consumers, along with all of the technical people at broadcasters such as the BBC, know that it's all a fallacy and achieved nothing positive for the industry. And, because it had the net effect of encouraging piracy (even if it is of things you could -- and possibly had -- obtained over the air anyway), the stats on illicit downloads, sales and eyeballs won't quite match up with the distribution company executive's expectations when they land on his desk a year hence.

    Plus, of course, the whole aim is to persuade distributors to supply content for Freeview HD which they wouldn't otherwise, ignoring the fact that most, if not all, of this premium content has already been circulating the BitTorrent networks for weeks (or even months) before it hits the FVHD schedules.

    This whole proposal couldn't be more flawed if that had been the intention all along.

  • Comment number 11.

    As has been pointed out in many places before, DRM will do absolutely nothing to stop the professional pirate. All these proposed measures will do is waste the BBC's resources, licence fee money, complicate the transmission/reception process and inconvenience the average, honest, consumer.
    I believe the only effective way to reduce piracy is to make good quality copies of films and TV programmes available at a sensible price point.

  • Comment number 12.

    'Digital Rights Management (DRM), copy protection or content management is never going to be something that we would expect viewers to react to initially with the view "that sounds like a really great idea".'

    The people that understand what it means are going to be really annoyed.

    The people that don't understand what it means are going to be really annoyed when they realise exactly what it does mean.

    DRM is always a bad idea and some smart people will circumvent it soon enough. They always do.

  • Comment number 13.

    Don't remember this happening when we went from 405 line to 625 line....

    Of course, the higher the bit rate HD is transmitted, the bigger the files will be and the more unlikely it will be available to share in its original format....

  • Comment number 14.

    Graham, I'm interested in your point ".... the Open Source community who may still fear that this will be more restrictive than it will actually turn out to be for them."

    This implies that this system will in some way be able to interwork with open source systems. Can you explain this further? - in particular what you would expect open source equipment to be able to do?

    I am primarily concerned that an overall system that means that broadcasts can only be picked up and displayed by equipment from companies willing to pay / sign up to a closed group will result in equipment that is more expensive, of lower functionality, and tends to require replacing for any new functionality (rather than just a software upgrade). This is very obviously already the case on Freesat HD.

  • Comment number 15.

    As you say in your article, the internet makes copying easy and DRM (sorry "content management") will not stop determined pirates.

    You one need one copy on the internet and it's available to everyone, so whats the point?

    The only people inconvenienced by this will be law abiding licence fee payers.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think as digital media matures, new technology will bring down the "walls" mentioned by ChrisCornwall, and a more sensible form of distribution will emerge which better caters for content providers and viewers alike.

    For now (until the broadcast industry get their act together), this'll do.

  • Comment number 17.

    DRM only serves to disrupt regular and legitimate consumers, anyone who is intent on copying the content to distribute illegally will succeed, while legitimate consumers will be left facing brick walls in trying to actually enjoy the content via authorised means.

    Even on Blu-Ray and DVD, they force you to watch trailers before you can enjoy the content, I've bought this disc why do they force ads on me still? Illegally obtained DVD and Blu-Ray don't have those annoyances.

  • Comment number 18.

    HD content is still a premium product and should be charged at point of entry as such.
    Whilst the BBCs mandate is to provide the best quality content, this does not mean pushing the latest technological advances. Watching the news or Eastenders is not deminished by only having a SD quality feed.

    People are getting familiar with the cycle of TV - iPlayer - DVD and for the majority this will not change untill it is simple to watch TV over the Web in your front room - where Samsung, youtube etc are positioning themselves. It is a select few who want to torrent the latest series of True Blood from the States to watch on a jailbroken iPhone.

    The BBC are content suppliers and they should focus on getting the maximum return / value at the first time of broadcast. The focus should not be on securing resale value for BBC Worldwide.

  • Comment number 19.

    Now that Freeview HD has started broadcasting, isn't it a bit late for this?

  • Comment number 20.

    "I know people feel strongly about this but can we keep the conversation civil please. "Rape" analogies are tasteless."

    Quite right, although I'm not sure that referring to copy-right infringers as 'pirates' is particularly tasteful either at the moment.

  • Comment number 21.

    Problem is most posters are taking an emotional reaction to DRM without actually *reading* what Graham has to say.
    Put yourselves in his shoes: he HAS to introduce some form of content management (or DRM, whatever), if he is to meet his brief of delivering Freeview HD. As a public servant is not there to fight the content owners, or debate the values or effectiveness of DRM.
    Given the flack he's getting for being open and transparent about what he's paid to acheive (as per the idiotic "rape" parallel above), good for him for coming out and trying to explain the situation.
    IMHO that earns him the right to be listened to.

  • Comment number 22.

    This is yet another example of the BBC ignoring the wishes of the licence payers. The same issue is currecntly running with the BBC HD picture quality. I have no doubt that this has nothing to do with any copyright issue but is realy there to protect the Blu-ray and other revenue the BBC makes inorder to maintain the high executive salaries. Copyright law already exists to protect the rights of content owners. This DRM proposel will reduce the rights of viewers.

  • Comment number 23.

    I don't buy the BBC analysis for a nanosecond. This decision should be frozen until after the General Election. The best solution for copy protection is encryption which would also allow an incoming Conservative Government to begin the process of migrating the BBC to subscription funding. I am hoping a Tory Government will make very big cuts at the BBC and spike any costs to consumers and axe any services which are not justifiable to licence fee payers. It is time to emasculate the BBC's technology independence as it exists to serve its licence fee payers NOT to pander to content and technology companies.

  • Comment number 24.

    Jackofalltrades, I don't believe for a second that we can't have Freeview HD without DRM. We've been managing perfectly well without DRM for a good long time now. HD shouldn't change anything, it's just being used as an excuse to introduce DRM by the back door.

    It's interesting how they're doing their level best to try and avoid describing their system as that dreaded three-letter acronym when that is exactly what it is.

  • Comment number 25.

    mrdtv - Stopping the BBC from being at the "cutting edge" of broadcast technology is both short-sighted and foolish. We need *someone* to research new technology and be responsible for its implementation, and if we start slashing the R and D budgets, the benefits will stop. Not today and not tomorrow, but in twenty years we'll all be complaining about how the BBC used to be so much better.

    I think that a lot of people commenting on this issue are forgetting that the BBC is almost certainly being obliged to implement some sort of DRM in order to be allowwed to broadcast anything they haven't filmed themselves. I, for one, am willing to take some restrictions for better and more varied TV. I am certain that the more restrictions are placed on a program's distribution, the larger the section of the population who will turn to illegal redistribution. However, that doesn't mean that the BBC, who have been trying to reduce the restrictions on the end user to a bare minimum as far as I can tell, deserve our collective ire.

    I do wish we were to be allowed to make, say, five copies of a program instead of one, though. One is an extremely restrictive number.

  • Comment number 26.

    Unless the proposal has changed since the first time it was submitted then this is a no-brainer. I think a number of the posters above have either not read or do not understand the proposal put forward by the BBC.

    The DRM will be in the form of encryption of the EPG information for said channel. Commercial manufacturers will then honour the DRM configuration proposed upon detection of the encrypted EPG.

    What does this mean for users of Open Source systems, this means Open Source users will still be able to receive, record and copy the transmissions but there is a question over how EPG data for the channel will be received. Will the BBC provide the encryption look-up tables to the Open Source developers?

    At the end of the day this is good news for everyone as the content itself is not changed in anyway.

  • Comment number 27.

    You should never have removed 302 on freeview. Ooh wait this is the internet blog not the press red blog

  • Comment number 28.

    Whit3knight, of course the BBC won't provide the lookup tables to the open-source developers. If they did that then people wouldn't have to buy a 'trusted' device and we couldn't have that now could we?

  • Comment number 29.

    # 26: "What does this mean for users of Open Source systems, this means Open Source users will still be able to receive, record and copy the transmissions but there is a question over how EPG data for the channel will be received. Will the BBC provide the encryption look-up tables to the Open Source developers?"

    This is entirely the problem. I think it's worse than #28 puts it. The BBC can't provide these tables. Or more precisely, if they do it will do the open source developers no good.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2009/10/freeview_hd_copy_protection_a.html#P86676368


    To save the bother of clicking on the link:

    "Just to explain the licensing issue a little further:

    Say you’re a developer, intending to produce a DVB-T2 STB compatible with Freeview HD. You make use of Linux DVB components. In order to be compatible, you sign the NDA and gain access to the obfuscation mechanism so that you can make full use of the incoming HD streams.

    Then you come to distribute your box, and you realise you can’t, because the components that you used require distribution of the source code that you made use of and this source code is now dependent upon the information supplied under NDA by the DTG.

    When Cory spoke of “[Freezing] out British entrepreneurs, such as the manufacturers of the Promise TV, who produce video recorders that run on open source software”, this is the situation he was talking about."

    Big win for the oligopoly.


  • Comment number 30.

    #26 again: But I think you already knew what I've just posted, given your contributions to that thread. Why are you asking the same question? Has the point I've quoted been resolved somewhere? I didn't spot it if so.

  • Comment number 31.

    I'm a BBC licence payer and "Free Software"[1] user, e.g. I use Linux. Particularly, I use Linux as a PVR and home multimedia centre, to record, download and watch TV. How will this DRM affect me?

    Already I am excluded from official access to BBC iPlayer, except at the most awful, low-res level of access. Will I, and others like me, now also be excluded from watching broadcast HD transmission, which are supposed to be FTA to licence payers?

    Note that there are companies who make a living from building and selling PVR systems based on Software Libre.

    1. With "free" in the sense of "freedom" - not "no cost".

  • Comment number 32.

    So the BBC has asked Ofcom to allow DRM on HD material. Why? Because they do not have enough HD material or planned resources to fill the broadcast time at the start of their new HD TV broadcasting.... and have to buy interesting stuff from studios, who in turn insist on DRM to protect their "rights" (or restrict mine).

    And Ofcom is thinking to allow them to do it! Right against their charter of being an open public broadcaster.

    So, the BBC is no longer a "public broadcaster"?

    So, we may think to not have to pay our licence fee? This all starts to sound like Sky TV/Cable business model start-up.

    So, DRM and new HD content is to be only available on different hardware devices that I have to buy, as they introduce yet again another technology which is not compatible with the one that everyone has got already.

    So, a few manufacturers will now be "licenced" to make the decoders, and we will have to replace all our Freeview boxes and Freesat boxes with another generation of boxes. Sounds like collusion to me Studios + BBC + Box makers + LCD TVs all scratching each others back.

    The introduction of DRM is an ongoing theme in media distribution, first in music: the CD has no DRM, but as soon as higher quality music is demanded (HD Audio on disk and download) the labels insist on DRM (the SACD and the DVD-Audio disk and any HD Audio downloads) - at least for music it is not working and DRMed material is not being purchased by consumers. But the same is happening for video, first the Blu-ray disk and now HD TV with DRM. This is an assault on our rights. I have the right to view and resell media I have purchased, DRM stops me doing that. I have the right to play the media on any device I have purchased, DRM stops me doing that (copyright might also, but the DRM is used just to more finely grade the copyright).

    So, why doesn't the BBC stand up to the studios and say no to their DRM. Several others are doing just this. Studios and Labels cannot continue to live in the old industrial-age and control the channels of distribution, they have to move to the internet age where information travels freely. I am not supporting file sharing, or breaking copyright, but artists have to be paid in a different way, not via vast media moguls. I believe that the studios and the BBC have to create a new business model that acknowledges the dis-aggregation of the internet. The issue is similar to what is happening in the music and publishing industries, and now its hitting TV.

  • Comment number 33.

    Could someone explain what the situation is, or will be, abroad?
    Is BBC HD Scandinavia or BBC HD America already subject to DRM because of the platforms it is available on, or will be?

  • Comment number 34.

    Could someone explain how the proposed Freeview HD DRM compares with Freesat HD DRM?
    Is there, or will there be, DRM on BBC transmissions via Freesat HD?

  • Comment number 35.

    Nick,

    Is Graham Plum actually going to respond to any of the questions of issues raised in comments on his blogs on DRM? I can't see one single response from him in this and associated blog posts.

    As per http://reportr.net/2010/01/21/the-bbc-blogs-and-accountability/, this looks like another case of a BBC exec not really understanding the purpose of blogs. Where is the *dialog* ?

  • Comment number 36.

    In reading their Executive Summary it seems to me Ofcom have all but, made-up their minds:
    "1.3 Our aims in assessing the BBC's proposal are to ensure that citizens and consumers have access to the widest possible range of HD television content on DTT, whilst not unduly restricting their use of this content and the range of receiver equipment available in the market".

    So, Ofcom accept some restriction is necessary if they are to meet their set aims of ensuring wide range of content, which may not be available unless the BBC accede to the demands of Hollywood.

  • Comment number 37.

    Hi everyone - it's difficult for Graham to comment as this is a sensitive subject. However I can tell you what the BBC's statement is for journalists who make enquiries about the Huffman Look up Tables which are referred to in a couple of comments:

    "The BBC has made it clear that it will provide the royalty-free licences on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms to any party that agrees to comply with the conditions of the proposed Freeview HD content management approach. This includes organisations that wish to make use of this functionality within a system incorporating Open Source, providing that the intellectual property rights associated with the tables remain the property of the BBC"

    People may also be interested in this comment on RegHarware' discussion on the subject.

  • Comment number 38.

    @37.
    Nick, I am sorry but that is just a total contradiction.

    So Graham is allowed to freely pontificate his opinion via his blog post, but not allowed to comment because this is a "sensitive subject".

    It is is such a sensitive subject on which he cannot comment, and presumably subject to OFCOMs ruling, then on what grouds is he allowed to try to influence our, and presumably OFCOM's opinion via this blog post?

    And since when are simple questions like what DRM is applied by BBC to BBC HD America or Scandinavia, or to Freesat, "sensitive subjects"? They either have DRM or they don't.

  • Comment number 39.

    @Nick, I only want one question answered: What's in it for me? I'm just an ordinary viewer - what benefit does DRM give me?

    The consultation has already garnered a large number of responses - you can view them all at http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/content_mngt/responses/

    Bonus points for anyone finding a response in favour of DRM.

  • Comment number 40.

    Shouldn't the beeb get some decent content instead of continually chasing delivery technology. Case in point: http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/prism/
    How much got sloshed around on that one that could have gone to production companies?

  • Comment number 41.

    Terence Eden: I quote from Graham's post above:

    "Good quality television programmes are expensive to make and, even where producers are well paid by the broadcaster who commissions their programmes, they are often dependent on sales of this content in secondary markets (DVD and Blu-ray sales, repeat showings on other channels, and overseas sales) to cover the costs of production (and hopefully make a profit)."

  • Comment number 42.

    DRM is not free, development takes longer and requires more testing. It requires extra code both for the extra instructions to check keys etc, and to decrypt the data. All this adds extra cpu cycles and so uses more energy and contributes to climate change.

  • Comment number 43.

    I'd like to see an answer Citizenloz's post at 37 please.

  • Comment number 44.

    #39. At 4:23pm on 09 Feb 2010, Terence Eden wrote:

    "@Nick, I only want one question answered: What's in it for me? I'm just an ordinary viewer - what benefit does DRM give me?"

    You get to see the the content!

    What is so hard to understand about the fact that if the content owner wants THEIR content protected (by DRM or channel encryption, such as "Videoguard" used by BSkyB) from those who wish to steal the content then you either accept their conditions or you don';t get to see the content. Now it can be argued that any protection can be defeated by those determined to steal the content, but that is true of anything, are you seriously suggesting that people should leave their cars unlocked with the keys in the ignition, people leave their front doors open when they go out, that banks shouldn't have safes...

    As Nick has already pointed out, content of the sort we are discussing, costs lot of money and the makers HAVE to recover their costs AND make a profit - to help fund the next film or what ever.

  • Comment number 45.

    42. At 5:43pm on 09 Feb 2010, Dave Parker wrote:

    "DRM is not free, development takes longer and requires more testing. It requires extra code both for the extra instructions to check keys etc, and to decrypt the data. All this adds extra cpu cycles and so uses more energy and contributes to climate change."

    Everything contributes to climate change, how many extra CPU cycles have been caused by people complaining about DRM?...

  • Comment number 46.

    "Everything contributes to climate change, how many extra CPU cycles have been caused by people complaining about DRM?..."

    Good point, all the more reason not to go down the path of this pointless nonsense.

  • Comment number 47.

    Dear all - not my blog but

    ...Now it can be argued that any protection can be defeated by those determined to steal the content, but that is true of anything, are you seriously suggesting that people should leave their cars unlocked with the keys in the ignition, people leave their front doors open when they go out, that banks shouldn't have safes...

    Along with

    ...You get to see the the content!...

    Says it all

    Andy

  • Comment number 48.

    @Boilerplated,

    What is hard to understand is why the content owners are only NOW making a stand about requiring DRM for their content when :

    a) the DRM they're specifying is known to be half-arsed (i.e. the content itself won't be encrypted) so anyone with a DVB-T2 receiver can still record it with no restrictions - provided they use a home-grown solution and jump through a few hoops.

    b) they're happy to simultaneously broadcast the same content without DRM in other countries

    c) the content will STILL be available to anyone who wants to find it online since it only takes one person to circumvent the protection.

    Are these content owners really naive/gullible enough to believe this proposal will make even the tiniest difference to their predicament ?

  • Comment number 49.

    #48. At 10:25am on 10 Feb 2010, Algae wrote:

    "@Boilerplated,

    What is hard to understand is why the content owners are only NOW making a stand about requiring DRM for their content when ../cut/.."


    Irrelevant, if the content makers/owners wanted all the tech bods in the BBC to wear pink hats whilst the content is broadcast and the BBC wants to broadcast that content then all the tech bods will wear pink hats, otherwise the BBC can not broadcast the content - just as if I want to drive your car or live in your house I would have to abide by your ground rules...

    As for only now wanting DRM, well it could be something to do with the fact that it's only recently that unencrypted HD has been widely available in the UK [1] (the BSKyB "Videogaurd" has it's own, built in type of, DRM if I remember correctly), the problem is that anyone with a off-air HD recording could so easily knock-out HQ SD DVDs by the thousand (if the HD broadcast is of a high enough bit rate it might even be possible to burn Blu-ray qualities copies). I'm sure that the content makers are intent on preventing someone time-shifting [2] on one machine and watching it via another, it's just collateral damage, it's a real shame that the few (criminally minded) make it hard for the many.

    [1] yes I know that anyone with a suitable (rotating) satellite dish has been able to unofficially access HD content from outside (of the) UK broadcasters for some time.

    [copyright ramble]
    [2] time-shifting is what you are entitled to do, you are not legally entitled to archive a copy of the content, the problem in law is how long is it reasonable to "time-shift", one day, one week, a month, several months, a year - for someone who is just time-shifting the broadcast because they are on shift work or down the pub it could be argued that 48hrs is reasonable, for a military service person or deep sea diver who are away from home for months on end it can be argued that a three, six or more months is a just time period.
    [/ramble]

  • Comment number 50.

    So how is this situation different from those same content owners insisting that they wouldn't allow their content to be shown in the US without a broadcast flag being implemented.... and then backing down when they realised they were going to lose ?

    There's still nothing stopping someone from 'knocking out' high quality copies of a DVD/Bluray disc from content they downloaded from the US or recorded themselves using a freely available DVB-T2 receiver (which is only a matter of time).

    In any case, the average man on the street (the only one who'll be inconvenienced by this proposal) is NOT the one who'll be copying and selling content at the local market. I certainly don't condone that type of behaviour but no-one who actually wants to do it will be hindered in any way. So what's the point ?

    This seems to me to be a fig-leaf - a nudge-nudge-wink-wink exercise so everyone can claim they tried their best to stop copying without really doing anything except irritating the bloke on the street. Seems a bit of a waste of time to me...

  • Comment number 51.

    I thought the Cory Doctorow article in the guardian, linked to in the BBC on Blogs box above provided some good commentary on this

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/feb/09/ofcom

  • Comment number 52.

    #50. At 12:02pm on 10 Feb 2010, Algae wrote:

    "So how is this situation different from those same content owners insisting that they wouldn't allow their content to be shown in the US without a broadcast flag being implemented.... and then backing down when they realised they were going to lose ?"

    That was there, this is here, don't like these house rules, go live in that other house!

    "There's still nothing stopping someone from 'knocking out' high quality copies of a DVD/Bluray disc from content they downloaded from the US or recorded themselves using a freely available DVB-T2 receiver (which is only a matter of time)."

    Yes, that might become a problem, if it does the content owners might well only sell the broadcast rights to those broadcasters who use better/more secure encryption methods, perhaps disabling HQ recordings (this would mean that any possible recording method would be SD only), time shift would in effect be via a "Box Office" (FTV or PPV) on-demand type delivery.

    Bit-torrent type download, I doubt that many 'commercial pirates' will bother with content that is so easy to obtain, why pay a money for a "doggy DVD" when you can get the same for free in the same way as the pirates have!

    "This seems to me to be a fig-leaf - a nudge-nudge-wink-wink exercise so everyone can claim they tried their best to stop copying without really doing anything except irritating the bloke on the street. Seems a bit of a waste of time to me..."

    DRM will not stop the most determined copier, but it will stop the casual copier, the "Oh, I've got a copy of that film, I'll make you a copy if you want, it'll save you buying it in the shops (or waiting for the repeat)" sort of well meaning but illegal copy that many of us have done at times (and which, collectively, costs the content owns much in lost income), this is not a new problem, "Macrovision" is well known anti-copying 'encryption' protection and yes it's also well known (at least in it's old form) how to circumvent it's effects but that is not the point.

    As I see it, and I can see it from both sides of the fence (I'm a fence sitter if you like, with a leg both sides of the fence), if DRM is not used then much of the content that would otherwise find it's way on to the FTA HD platform will either not get shown in the UK or will only be accessible via, subscription based, encrypted channels - putting my cynical hat on for a moment, perhaps that is what some of the objections to DRM is really about, protecting the income streams of those PTV and PPV channels here in the UK...

  • Comment number 53.

    'That was there, this is here'...

    So the studios are happy to broadcast DRM-free programmes in the States but draw the line at doing the same simultaneously in other countries ? That seems a tad unlikely.

    Sorry, but I don't buy the argument that unless we bow to the mighty content owners, we'll never have any decent content. That wasn't true when VCRs were invented, it wasn't true of the move to digital telly and it wasn't true of Freesat HD so I don't see why it's suddenly an issue for Freeview HD.

    Are you suggesting that we should never have had DRM-free Freeview since it allows people to make good quality DVD copies of Bargain Hunt to be sold in the local pub ? What's different now that the resolution is a bit higher ?

    It seems to me that what's stopping the BBC from having 'great' HD content from overseas is simply that they can't afford to bid as much as Sky. And frankly, that's fine by me. If I wanted to watch the drivel churned out by Fox, I'd have a sky subscription.

  • Comment number 54.

    53. At 1:43pm on 10 Feb 2010, Algae wrote:

    "Sorry, but I don't buy the argument that unless we bow to the mighty content owners, "

    Yes, you finally get it...

    "It seems to me that what's stopping the BBC from having 'great' HD content from overseas is simply that they can't afford to bid as much as Sky."

    When has HD from Sky been without encryption and thus FTA?!

  • Comment number 55.

    So the only reason US shows air on Sky and not the BBC is because Sky is encrypted ?
    That's a little hard to believe.

    I submit the bucketloads of cash in Murdoch's pockets might have a little more to do with it !

  • Comment number 56.

    #55. At 2:44pm on 10 Feb 2010, Algae wrote:

    "So the only reason US shows air on Sky and not the BBC is because Sky is encrypted ?
    That's a little hard to believe."


    Considering the aspect we are debating, quite possibly yes, certainly were films and the like are concerned - remember that this blog is about content management, copy-protection in other words, not the cost of obtaining broadcast rights although the two elements could well be linked, the content makers/owners wanting higher prices if the content is less managed (to off-set possible later revenue losses.

  • Comment number 57.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 58.

    Graham - please be clear - when you ask the open source community to understand - are guaranteeing open-source devices will be permitted full access, or are you saying that you intend to lock them out.

    I beleive that locking viewers into to a monopoly (or cartel) is not what a funded by a licence service should do!

    If you wish to become Sky - then give up your licence fee

  • Comment number 59.

    #58. At 12:17pm on 27 Mar 2010, John wrote:

    "I beleive that locking viewers into to a monopoly (or cartel) is not what a funded by a licence service should do!

    If you wish to become Sky - then give up your licence fee"


    Or just no bother offering the service to anyone, which is the far more likely outcome, the militants in the Open Source community are just being utterly selfish...

    If Sky were forced to publish their accesses keys and algorithms do you think that they would bother offering the prime content they do?

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

 

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