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Welcome to some new initials - DRM, HDCP, DTCP and AACS!

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Danielle Nagler Danielle Nagler | 17:24 UK time, Tuesday, 14 April 2009


This time, no DOGs, just the equally snappy subject of DRM, or for those unfamiliar with the topic, Digital Rights Management (and to clear up the others, they stand for High bandwidth Digital Content Protection, Digital Transmission Content Protection, and Advanced Access Content System). Wikipedia as ever offers a helpful set of guides to the topic - try any of these links: DRM, HDCP, DTCP and AACS.

For those who'd rather stay with BBC HD and the subject let me try to explain the issues and what's going on.

The combination of high quality HD content, and connectivity to high quality copying and distribution devices (through blu-ray recorders and IP connectivity) is - if you are a rights' holder - a potentially pretty lethal one.

At the moment, within the UK, it is impossible to record from HD to unprotected devices or recorders, or to connect to them. That means in practice that SD copies (VHS and DVD) are allowed, that you can copy and time-shift HD content using your PVR internal hard disk, but you cannot connect your HD infrastructure to a home network, or to the Internet.

Maybe that has already caused you some frustration - either actual or anticipated. So I want to reassure you that as the steady onward march of blu-ray technology towards the UK continues, the situation is generating a very real debate within the BBC about how we can best enable you to use the devices that you buy in the ways that you want to, while effectively protecting the content we make, and that in many cases others make for us.

While the discussion is ongoing, we have made one change which I hope those of you focused on the imminent arrival of blu-ray recorders will welcome. It will now be possible to make a single HD Blu-ray copy of one of our programmes, although not copies of copies. An HD connection to a protected home network will also be possible, although an HD connection to the Internet or portable devices will not work. The diagram below I think sums up the various paths you might want your HD content to take - and the extent to which that will be possible. I should add that the partial unlocking of some paths should also enable the high quality standard definition RGB outputs from some set top boxes.

This is clearly not a fully open and connected world - but we are absolutely committed to continuing to find ways to allow you to enjoy our programmes as you choose.

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision.


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  • Comment number 1.

    effectively protecting the content we make

    What makes you think any such 'protections' will ever be effective? So far every single DRM scheme that has been tried in any medium has been swiftly and totally defeated with the result that illegal copying continues unimpeded, while ordinary users find themselves pointlessly artificially limited. Aside from being entirely unjust, that has the unfortunate practical effect of pushing people towards unofficial copies of media that have been freed of DRM, and actually promotes illegal copying.

    Why not give up, play fair, and rely on the goodwill of your viewers rather than pre-emptively treating everyone like criminals?

  • Comment number 2.

    is it just me? am i the only person who couldn't care less about copying stuff? sure, i record stuff on my Sky+HD box but once i've watched it i delete it (unless it's something i can't get elsewhere such as a 'special' on one of the music channels showing every video by a certain artist which is not yet available to buy on dvd).

    if a series is worth a repeat viewing/keeping, i will wait and buy the series on dvd/blu-ray - that way i get a MUCH better picture and sound quality (the bit rates tend to be higher) and i get the 'bonus' features.

    when i can do this, why would i want to record DOG-covered shows off of the tv? it seems a bit pointless to me.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thanks for this Danielle, however when are we going to get the HD downloads on the iPlayer web service as mooted sometime ago.

  • Comment number 4.

    Ms. Nagler, you should correct this blog post immediately, as your statement that "At the moment, within the UK, it is impossible to record from HD to unprotected devices or recorders, or to connect to them" is patently untrue. Anybody can record anything they like off of BBC HD if they have a DVB-S tuner card, without dealing with any of the silly copy protection schemes. (Although at this point in time it might be wiser to consider a DVB-S2 card, as the BBC have stated that BBC HD will move to a DVB-S2 transponder at some point in the future: https://www.bbc.co.uk/reception/info/sat_frequencies.shtml )

  • Comment number 5.

    Dear andrew646

    Thanks for the comment. We are aware that these blogs attract an audience far more at ease with technology. The current change has been made to accommodate removable media device in a "normal" domestic set-up and as soon as we can get the technology working properly we hope to change to a programme by programme option. The current setting will also allow non-pc (or mac) devices to connect to home networks as and when the manufactures produce them


  • Comment number 6.

    'It will now be possible to make a single HD Blu-ray copy of one of our programmes, although not copies of copies.'

    Well even taking in the other comments here I think this is a good move.

    I current use a Pace Satellite box (not FreeSat) to watch BBC HD (though not ITV HD) whilst I look out for (and save up for) a FreeSat HD PVR - of which I believe the top end Panasonic ( soon to be launched) will include a Blu-Ray Recorder.

    But I also will still look out for my favourite programmes on a bought Blu-Ray for the highter rate and 1080p picture - plus extras.

    Thanks for keeping us all in the loop, cheers, daveac

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you for your reply, Mr. Quested, but it doesn't affect the point of my first post, which was that what Ms. Nagler wrote is incorrect and misleading because it implies that there is no way to record the unencrypted BBC HD broadcast without getting involved in the morass of content protection systems. If, however, "HD" is changed to "some HD receivers", so that it says: "... it is impossible to record from some HD receivers to unprotected devices or recorders, or to connect to them" then that would be entirely correct.

    Also, a bit of copy-editing pedantry: there are three mentions of "blu-ray" and only one correct usage of "Blu-ray".

  • Comment number 8.

    Content is "protected" because BBC HD is on Astra 2D and someone at the BBC we're led to believe made up the exaggerated story of 2D being a "tight footprint" and various people bought it and everybody wants to be on a satellite that was previously viewed as a piece of junk spare :-D. Virgin Media is a closed system and freeview HD similarly will be more or less only able to be picked up within the UK-ish. Other than that everything else mentioned is a waste of time imho. I still buy blu-rays, sorry but the picture is miles better than BBC HD (whoops that could be taken as insulting your codecs again).

  • Comment number 9.

    Wow! That's an amazing(ly complicated) picture.

    Here's the path I use: Internet->Computer->HDTV

    Anyone who deviates from this path is an idiot.

  • Comment number 10.

    Danielle \ Andy: step back a second guys.

    Is this not a monumental waste of time, effort and money for what is frankly a miniscule problem?

    Why do you freely accept that SD copies are fine and dandy, yet HD copies are soemthing that require complicated technical protection? Why is HD special in this respect? Surely either all content is worthy of protection or none of it is. It's made all the more a mockery of when you insist on tainting the image by spraying "brand" grafitti on it anyway (sigh!). I would perhaps understand if the feed was clean and pure.

    The vast majority of us will stick it on the PVR watch it, then delete it. The tiny minority who want to copy and disseminate it will do so anyway - DRM has been shown to be completely ineffective against determined hackers.
    There are for more important and pressing technical and procedural challenges that need looking at with BBC HD, rather than fighting a technical battle that frankly you are never going to win.

  • Comment number 11.

    I know people have strong views about this but can we keep the conversation civil please.

    People are not "idiots" just because they use technology in different ways.

  • Comment number 12.

    In reply to "heilanner"

    I'm sure it's not just you, but not everything is available on DVD or Blu-ray. Not everything is repeated.

    I record and keep the Formula 1 (sorry Mr Ecclestone) - but only for my own use. When this is available on HD (Hello again Mr Ecclestone!) then I will wish to "archive" the races in that format.
    I'm sure other sporting events have fans that do similar.

    For other items such as TV series then as with you, I am more likely to buy the disc - for example "Heroes" - I bought the first series on HD-DVD, and I will continue to buy on Blu-ray.

  • Comment number 13.

    Dear All

    Copy protection is a big issue. The BBC has not restricted the copying of any of it's own programmes in SD and we do not want to do it in HD however some rights owners do want high quality versions of their material protected from multiple copying and from being distributed on the internet and we have to comply.

    At the moment the technology for protecting material is channel based - that is “on or off” for all programmes shown on the channel. We are working toward a programme based solution where only certain programmes will be protected.

    The level of protection on the BBC HD Channel has been reduced to allow the new Blu-ray recorders to make single copies and (subject to the manufacturers) home network distribution to IP TVs etc.


  • Comment number 14.

    TBH although I have no desire to copy anything myself, I don't really see the need for copy protection. If its on your PVR its there already. If you want a disc quality copy, then Blu Ray is the way to go. The only reason for an end user to copy it is as a back up in case the PVR malfunctions or corrupts. There may also be the odd case of someone sharing it with friends via the internet but is that so different from them capturing the broadcast FTA via a dish and saving it to their own PVR? It seems exactly the same to me and if you want true disc quality, then as I said above, you go out and buy the Blu Ray. Its not as if broadcast = Blu Ray quality. They can't be directly substituted. Broadcast is merely a way of watching films you wouldn't otherwise buy or watching films as a tempter that makes you go out and buy the Blu Ray copy for its superior quality.

    As for commercial pirates, copy protection isn't going to stop them. AACS was allegedly broken within around a month or two of the first discs carrying it being released. Its highly unlikely that anyone who is commercially orientated is going to be stopped by copy protection. At the end of the day, the only person who suffers with copy protection is the innocent end user who wants to make back up copies or watch it via their pc.

  • Comment number 15.

    Can I ask a couple of questions here? This is my first post on the Blog.
    1. When did the change become effective on BBC HD broadcasts. I ask as "All the Small Things" & "Damages" from last night (14th April), still have the "Enc" Flag on my Humax PVR.
    2. Will it be possible to transfer HD content to an external USB HDD connected to the PVR, and then back again to view on the PVR only? Currently the "Enc" flag prevents this. As HD content takes up the most disk space on the PVR, it would be useful to be able to temporarily move it, and then back again, to watch, but restrict any onward transfer from the USB HDD.

  • Comment number 16.

    some rights owners do want high quality versions of their material protected from multiple copying and from being distributed on the internet

    And I want a pony.

    OK, actually I don't, but why is the response to these requests for the physically impossible not to simply say:

    "We can't do that, no-one can, and we're not going to upset our viewers, impede legitimate use of the material, and compromise our public service commitment in a vain and self-defeating attempt to do something that cannot be done."

    There's a bizarre refusal to face facts here - the assumption that underlies all the arguments in favour of DRM is that DRM works. It doesn't; we know that, you know that, and we know that you know that, you know we do. So why continue the fantasy - this Emperor has got no clothes, and the sooner the BBC admits that the sooner we can all move on.
  • Comment number 17.

    Ewan - and then the rights holders say "if you don't give us some copy protection we won't give you the rights to show our programmes"

    and everyone loses.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm usually very supportive of the BBC in it's stance towards DRM, but in response to Nick (17); do you not think it time that the Beeb started using it's standing in the broadcast world to get what it wants, rather than serving the interests of commercial entities you are far more interested in money than the content that generates it - there are plenty of content providers and programme makers out there, simply don't use the ones that are being restrictive. I'd love to be making programmes for the BBC and I'd happily provide them without DRM restriction required.... I'll e-mail you my details if you know of anyone that's interested ;-)

    That aside, keep up the good work, I will eventually get a whole home HD-AV system that works without 100 workarounds.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just the ability to copy HD content from the HDR to an external USB hard drive would be an added bonus considering the measly 350 GB drive this machine has. I find myself having to watch programmes just to clear space for more HD programmes and this is without ITV HD doing a lot of HD at the moment. If CH4 HD comes to FreeSat (we live in hope) then my drive would be filled by the end of the month.

    Over the Easter break I did some recordings in non-FreeSat mode just to save space on the HDD but it’s an unnecessary inconvenience.

    I don’t know if I have missed something here Danielle, but can you tell me if this has already been implemented or is this something that’s still in, or may be in the future, as all the recording I have made in FreeSat mode have that nasty little X next to them.

  • Comment number 20.

    You're absolutely right Ewan, that the rights owners are living in cloud-cuckoo land if they think that DRM will prevent unauthorised sharing of their content (especially when that content is being broadcast free-to-air, thanks to the BBC's far-sighted decision back in 2003). Rationally, it makes no sense and I think that deep down they know this; perhaps it's more of an emotional security blanket because they tell themselves that their content is "protected"?

    However, even while I don't like that the BBC is getting involved in the morass of copy-protection, I completely understand why the current situation demands that they have to be. As Nick Reynolds points out, if you're someone working for the BBC acquiring rights to show content from Hollywood (or maybe even from UK indies? I don't know what the situation is with them in regards to copy-protection requirements) and you're faced with a contract that says that you absolutely must use copy-protection measures in order to show the programme or film in HD, what choice do you have? Not signing the contract, and thus not showing the content, would mean that all BBC viewers would be deprived of seeing it, which would be seen as a really bad decision by the vast majority of licence-fee payers. Granted, only a few would be affected right now because HD broadcasting in the UK is still in its infancy, but it won't be too long before it becomes standard. The BBC would be making a stand for consumer rights, but they would be shooting themselves in the foot.

    (Incidentally, given the welcome death of the broadcast flag a few years ago, viewers watching free over-the-air HDTV in the United States have no copy-protection whatsoever to deal with. The Hollywood studios threatened to withhold HD content from the broadcast networks unless such a rule was enacted, which the FCC dutifully agreed to, however this was quashed when the Court of Appeals found that the FCC had exceeded its authority.)

    The best way forward, I think, is consumer education. The more people who know that there are legal ways to receive free-to-air content that don't involve the four-letter gruesome threesome (HDCP, DTCP and AACS), the more who are then able to make an informed choice.

  • Comment number 21.

    @Threeplusfive put a 1TB WD PVR Drive in your Humax. I did and never looked back: https://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=592

    BTW ordinary hard drives may overheat your box or draw too much power so best to stick to this range (WD10EVVS is the model code).

  • Comment number 22.

    If it is going to be possible to make a BluRay from some BBC HD programmes when the Panasonic recorder becomes available, why can I not transfer some material now to an external HDD or USB stick from my Humax PVR?
    Protection does not protect rights holders now because if I was in the business of piracy quite frankly I would not give a damn about HD lossless transfers because my customers would not be able to complain, I would lie to them. See? It's criminal behaviour.
    Some of the stuff I would save never does get released or at least not in HD and if it does then I would prefer the legal disc anyway, I'm talking more about home produced material not movies.
    I should also point out that if it had not been for home tapers in the past the archive at the BBC would now be looking a bit thin and BBC Worldwide would have less to market.

  • Comment number 23.


    They didn't learn with satellite:

    They didn't learn with iPlayer:

    It's starting to look a little embarrassing at this stage!

  • Comment number 24.

    NickReynolds: Ewan - and then the rights holders say "if you don't give us some copy protection we won't give you the rights to show our programmes"

    and everyone loses.

    Fair enough. But it is still puzzling why these content providers accept to allow a unprotected simulcast broadcast in SD. What "content" is actually being protected?

  • Comment number 25.

    The BBC has the perfect answer for rights holders who want their content "protected" - On Digital/ITV Digital:

    The BBC, especially the lads in R&D in Kingswood Warren, did amazing work to recover from the failure of the closed/encrypted DTT service provided by ITV.

    The solution?

    An open/unencrypted free-to-air service called Freeview.

    One of the defining successes of the digital broadcasting era.

    Rights holders are much better served by having a technological solution which isn't falsely offering them a segmented and diversified market - they can price properly and schedule releases accordingly.

    It is very unfair to continue to give rights holders belief in technologically solutions which experts in the field, the broadcasters, know to be fundamentally unfit for purpose.

    The BBC has enough real-world examples, at this stage, of money and time wasted by all parties involved (over a variety of different delivery platforms - terrestrial, satellite, online) which ultimately show that the open, unencrypted cross-platform model is the best solution for all involved.

    Do we really need to suffer through this needless charade again?

  • Comment number 26.

    Dear all

    Unfortunately this is not an "all or nothing" situation. The rights holders concerned only want to protect the HD version of the programme. The discussions about standard definition are as you suggest are over. There is no real premium for the HD versions of the affected programmes so the rights holder gets the same HD or SD and the programmes will continue to go out on the SD channels, again as many of you have pointed out.

    So while further negotiations proceed we either protect (in the manner required) these programmes or don't show them in HD.

    HD copies for personal use and HD distribution via personal networks is possible but HD copies of copies and HD direct connection to the internet have been restricted.

    Also as I said before, the current technology works on a channel basis so ALL programmes on the HD Channel have the same level of protection. We are working enable programme by programme protection so only programmes where the rights holder has required HD protection will be restricted as above.


  • Comment number 27.

    "It is very unfair to continue to give rights holders belief in technologically solutions which experts in the field, the broadcasters, know to be fundamentally unfit for purpose."

    It works as well as a door lock does. Easy to bypass for someone willing to put the time and effort in, but stops significant amounts of causal crime.

    iPlayer (and Hulu) has proven beyond all doubt that sometimes DRM works, inspite of the claims of the open sources. People aren't willing to pay what rights for completely unprotected formats would cost for television.

  • Comment number 28.

    I welcome the move, if only that it might mean in-the-home distribution beyond your set-top box. What I'm interested in, as a result of this announcement, is whether the BBC will be pressing Sky to open up its platform to facilitate this. Myself, like the bulk of BBC HD viewers (I would imagine), receive the programming by way of the Sky+HD box. This means regardless of whether the BBC is happy for a HD copy to be made or distributed within the household, Sky block you from doing it. I currently 'deliver' BBC content to other devices in my house (e.g. a variety of iPods), and obtaining missed programming, by downloading the .mov file from iPlayer. If I could get a HD version that would enable a better picture on larger screen devices that would be fantastic (my PS3's upscaling can only do so much...)

  • Comment number 29.

    Dear The_Phazer

    I am not sure what you are trying to say.

    The application of a DRM signal to manage multiple HD copying and internet distribution, costs us nothing and allows us to transmit programmes in HD that we would otherwise only be permitted to show in SD.

    Unless you are suggesting we are preventing you manufacturing large quantities of HD copies I am not sure what the problem is.

    Or if I read your comment "It is very unfair to continue to give rights holders belief in technologically solutions which experts in the field, the broadcasters, know to be fundamentally unfit for purpose." another way, are you a rights holder who wishes far more rigorous protection?


  • Comment number 30.

    @Phazer: I don't really understand your analogy, because if you buy a non-Freesat non-Sky satellite receiver (e.g. a DVB-S/DVB-S2 capture card if you want to watch free-to-air satellite TV on your computer), given that the unencrypted FTA broadcast (shown by the unlocked padlock in the diagram) has no copy protection, what time or effort is needed to bypass it (and indeed, what is there to bypass)?

  • Comment number 31.

    I didn't say it - it's a quote from a post above - hence the quote marks and italicising it (because this new blogging platform doesn't support the blockquote tag like the old one did).

    I was disagreeing with the quote. Because in the real world, in some scenarios, DRM works.


  • Comment number 32.

    Dear The_Phazer

    Understand. I am on a portable so don't get any text formating.

  • Comment number 33.

    @andrew646 The time and effort of understanding what a DVB-S/DVB-S2 capture card and installing it into a spare PCI slot is way beyond the average consumer, just as the carting round of a sledgehammer all day long to smack through door locks is beyond the average thief.

  • Comment number 34.

    I wonder if the rights holders understand what free-to-air actually means?

    (I know the answer to this: some understand perfectly, others understand very little, and their lawyers are a pain in both cases!)

    However, I wonder if they know that, outside of licensed systems like Sky and Freesat, manufacturers are completely free to make FTA capable boxes which completely ignore all flags, and output everything in the clear via any connection that has been (or will be) invented?

    So it's not just PCs with DVB-S cards that ignore these flags on FTA channels - it's every piece of equipment which operates outside of a licensing regime - and of course, as the content is FTA, every manufacturer is free to build such equipment - it's fully within the law.

    As you probably know, some Freesat boxes already have an option to drop into a generic receiver mode, where they still receive the FTA channels, but ignore the Freesat licensing restrictions, and output everything completely in the clear.

    Good move though BBC - allowing one copy. It shows you're having the right conversations.

    (If the channel was FTV through a real CA system, it would mean more - but I for one am glad that BBC channels are FTA!)


  • Comment number 35.

    This would only fuel people to buy dreamboxes so that they could get BBCHD and ITVHD and do whatever they like with their recordings.

    which program makers wont let you air in hd if you dont add copy protection?

    all the scripted tv shows will be released on the internet in 720p quality using x264 video codec and ac3 audio codec, dont the program makers know this? the only people this really stops is the average joe at home wanting to backup his tv shows onto his pc and burn to dvd for archiving, it wont stop bbhd content in hd getting onto the internet, maybe you should explain this to the program makers, this only hurts honest home users.

    regarding the apprentice, will you be airing it in HD on iplayer and upscaling the footage shot on those minidv cameras that you said werent hd cameras? this way bbc's excuse of misleading consumers about the bbchd channel and upscaling content wont apply:)

  • Comment number 36.

    @samuel1984: Why would The Apprentice be in HD on iPlayer when it's not showing on BBC HD?

  • Comment number 37.

    Dear Samuel1984

    Thanks for the post. As andrew646 pointed out The Apprentice is not made in HD and non of the minicams used can produce broadcast quality HD (even if they say they are "true HD" on the side!). There would be no point upscaling a programme from SD to HD if we then apply a far more aggressive compression to it than we would to the SD version.


  • Comment number 38.

    The_Phazer is wrong when they say:

    It works as well as a door lock does. Easy to bypass for someone willing to put the time and effort in, but stops significant amounts of causal crime.

    DRM does the exact opposite because digital media is easy to copy perfectly. You've acknowledged that DRM can be bypassed by those prepared to put some effort in - the problem with DRM is that while most people can't or won't put the effort in, most people simply don't need to. For any given piece of media one person needs to put the effort in, one time, in one place, and then it will be on the torrent networks for everyone else to get with a simple download.

    All that DRM does is annoy reasonable people who want to do reasonable things and push them towards the Pirate Bay, and that can't be good for the rights holders.

  • Comment number 39.

    I give you 3 significant moments in broadcast history - one terrestrial, one satellite and one online - and you give me locks on doors????
    I was hoping for something more nuanced - or at least technical!
    That was my quote and the point was that we have been here before. Bruce Schneier is a world renowned security expert - so when he says in a post specifically about Digital Copy Prevention and the entertainment industry:
    "Digital files cannot be made uncopyable, any more than water can be made not wet."
    I tend to listen to him.

  • Comment number 40.

    @Michael-Walsh: Thanks for that link; wise words indeed from Bruce Schneier and all of his predictions in that essay from 2001 have indeed come true.

  • Comment number 41.

    What also does help is that there are some of us who, for whatever reasons, dislike DRM on principle and half because we've been burned by it before.

    Take regional restrictions on videogames and DVDs. For thigs that have absolutely no chance of being released outside of their country of origin, DRM then is seen as nothing but a bad thing by fans of genres that simply don't sell well where they live. (And, like me, tend to favour them over homegrown content)
    Certain Japanese games get as far as America, and no further. And let's not even start on the DRM/malware issue that plagues many PC games.

    Some American TV shows flat-out never get over here. It's only because I choose DVD players that flat-out ignore region coding (which is a form of DRM) that I get to watch things I actually like.[*] That and, as a Linux user, my entire ability to watch DVDs on one of my platforms of choice is because DRM workaround exist.

    I've also had a case where I downloaded a "free" song form a band's official website. (A Gorillaz/D12 song from about 2001) that, being DRMd, woould not work in my player of choice (WinAmp) despite claiming to do so. (P2P to the rescue...)

    So in my experience DRM just gets in the way and I'm sure I'm not the only person who thinks that way and finds it hard to be otherwise.
    It stops people using the software or hardware of their choice. It forces "where you live' to be a factor in what you're allowed to watch. It annoys people who have legitimate reasons for trying to watch something, then finding they can't.
    And it doesn't actually stop the content getting out there.

    [*] Although, in the BBC's defense, I have to say that most of my non-imported DVDs of shows are of BBC material.

  • Comment number 42.

    Dear all

    What I find strange here is this application of DRM is there to allow you to watch programmes and allow you to record as distribute them as you feel fit at home. Can I ask what the problem you have actually is?


  • Comment number 43.

    "What I find strange here is this application of DRM is there to allow you to watch programmes and allow you to record as distribute them as you feel fit at home. Can I ask what the problem you have actually is?"

    Maybe it's somewhat unfair. But a blog with a tech-savvy readership isn't really the most likely place to be unanimously favourable of a post painting DRM schemes in a good light. Even in the article itself, Danielle acknowledges that some people may have actual experience of coming across the frustrations of DRM. At that point, it becomes a case of "once bitten, twice shy".

    I guess part of the problem is that it's a post extolling the advantages of DRM on a tech-slanted blog watched/commented by the sorts of people who are slightly more likely to be anti-DRM and vocal about it.
    DRM/AACS and HDCP are almost as likely to get people's backs up as DOGs.

    To be fair, on reading the article, it looks like it's one of the more lenient and permissive DRM plans around. And this is prefereable to many that tend to get used these days. But "preferable" is not the same as "likeable".

  • Comment number 44.


    My problem with it - is something I experienced already with a Blu-ray disc on a PlayStation3. I couldn't get a plasma display to work with as it didn't do hdcp-hdmi.

    So certain manufacturers are locked out. Who gets to decide in the future what is/isn't compliant?

    If you let others be the gatekeepers to say which platforms you can and can't present your content to then they get to dictate your broadcast chain.

    Can you see the danger in this?

    Why is the BBC implementing a technology which restricts platforms/manufacturers it can make it's content available to?

    Hasn't UK plc benefited more positively from the open, unencrypted FTA platforms?

  • Comment number 45.

    As far as I can see the BBC has shot themselves in the foot on this one. As Greg Dyke has said the reason Freeview and Freesat are free to air is to fill the country with dumb boxes so that the licence fee system can be preserved. Without encryption there is no way to make the BBC a normal subscription service. Without encrypted transmission DRM is pointless. Of course alowing one blu-ray copy will not work either. Havn't the BBC heared of AnyDVD which defeats all the current protection systems.

    Clearly from these posts there is almost universal opposition to DRM. It is interesting to note that ITunes is now selling unprotected music. As far as I can see it is a complete waist of the licence payers money. The money should be used on programs not trying to stop people watching it.

  • Comment number 46.

    @Pahzer (post 33) But why do you think Joe Average distributing it to his friends via the internet is costing the producers money?

    Joe Average isn't producing discs for sale and his friends could have watched it for free anyway via broadcast or iplayer.

    Its only the commercial pirate's who are selling it on to 3rd world broadcasters for illegal transmission or making poor copy discs and selling them en masse in street markets who are costing them money not Joe Average.

    Joe Average's mates will either just be content to watch the material they received rather than buy a satellite dish (so what when its a free to air service?) or be inspired to go out and buy a proper copy if they particularly like the content.

    As others have commented, no amount of copy protection is going to stop the commercial pirates because they have the money to invest in circumventing the systems even down to allegedly bribing people in the studios to giving them encryption keys. There hasn't been any copy protection yet to my knowledge that hasn't had the decryption solution posted on the internet within a few weeks of it being released.

    So all copy protection does is hurt legitimate users and their friends.

    Far better to attack pirates at distribution and market level than to try to stop copying at encryption level. Encryption doesn't work against pirates. Raiding warehouses, copying facilities and markets where these discs are being produced / sold certainly does.

  • Comment number 47.

    I love the assumption in this discussion that everyone involved will (or should) act rationally.

    Since when did the world work like that?!


  • Comment number 48.

    Dear all

    Again I ask what the problem is? We have reduced the level of protection and intend to reduce it again only applying it to programmes we are obliged to protect. This is a protection applied to the HD version only - SD is unaffected, rights holders have no financial penalty but they do have access to the ultimate (completely unbreakable) protection for HD programmes.


  • Comment number 49.

    I think the problem is that, in the main, people don't like the intrusion of the "Rights Holders" into their home with digital locks. But the owners of the content are able to set the terms by which it is licensed.

    I know the reason that the HD content has to be locked is that it (in the form of Blu-ray sales) is an important source of revenue, and allowing people to make a perfect copy of that content for no charge would destroy that business model.

    Media companies are struggling to reconcile their obsolete business models with today's reality. Even the BBC has these same issues; for example the BBC archive, which could be made available for everyone but isn't, so that the BBC's commercial arm can continue to make a profit from DVD sales.

    Generally though the BBC's public service remit means that it is much better at providing content in a way that the public wants. I find the iPlayer absolutely invaluable for catching up on things I have missed, and for finding things that I didn't even know had been shown.

    The suggestion that the HD protection is completely unbreakable is a bit silly however. DVD encryption was completely unbreakable until a 17 year old cracked it in his spare time, and the same thing will happen again for HD content.

  • Comment number 50.


    I'll give it one more go -

    You stated:

    "What I find strange here is this application of DRM is there to allow you to watch programmes and allow you to record as distribute them as you feel fit at home. Can I ask what the problem you have actually is?"

    I can do this now without having to get "approved" devices to playback my media. All that happens with "DRM approved" platforms is you end up in an Orwellian "PlaysForSure" technocrash. Just ask Microsoft how that's working out for them!

    Why put anyone in the middle?

    Bruce Schneier's article is worth reading as it's a clear statement as to the pointlessness of trying to put DRM in as a roadblock - the only people you discomfort are the legal law-abiding licence fee payers!

    Why do it?

    The BBC should be religious on production, agnostic on delivery.

  • Comment number 51.

    Thanks Michael-Walsh

    I am aware of the article but have a read of my post 48 again - "the only people you discomfort are the legal law-abiding licence fee payers!" are the very people this protects


  • Comment number 52.


    I'm sorry - but you have truly lost me!

    How does restricting the licence fee payer in their choice of platforms and in their freedom to move their media around protect them?

    Are you saying I won't have to check my HD capable device to ensure it supports HDCP/DTCP? Or that I won't have to replace a non-HDCP/DTCP compliant device with a HDCP/DTCP compliant one?

    I'm very confused now!

  • Comment number 53.

    Andy, one thing that hasn't been mentioned is the problems copy protection causes. Its stops many types of connection being used, it can cause problems between satellite boxes and tv's in negotiating HDCP protection. At Blu Ray level, it causes boxes to run slow whilst HDCP is negotiated and checked.

    I know your hands are maybe somewhat tied and you're perhaps doing your best to reduce protection on BBC HD programmes. But my point is both those in the industry and at consumer level need to be fighting back against this protection as it does cause real problems for end users and is an unfair intrusion into peoples lives.

    Remember when copy protection was on CD's and you couldn't make copies for in the car? How did that benefit consumers and how did it stop piracy? Answer is it did neither. Nor does copy protection on films. The industry needs to target the criminals not the end user.

  • Comment number 54.

    Dear Michael-Walsh

    I am not sure what you mean. We would only advise people to purchase compliant devices because we have had a say in the standards used to build them and are obliged to make sure our signals are compliant. One example of this is non Sky/Freesat STBs - our output must work with these boxes and when changes are made (say going from Dolby Digital to Dolby Digital Plus) the upgrades to the boxes must be successfully applied before we change our standard.

    Dear davepoth

    "The suggestion that the HD protection is completely unbreakable is a bit silly however. DVD encryption was completely unbreakable until a 17 year old cracked it in his spare time, and the same thing will happen again for HD content."

    The DRM I am talking about is completely free and very simple.

    As I said, there is no real HD premium so if we buy a programme made in HD for BBC1, it will be transmitted on BBC1 free of all protection but subject to the usual laws covering fair copying and home use. If that rights holder says "I require single copy and home network only protection for HD broadcasts" and we say no, the programme will still go out on BBC1, the rights holder will still get the same fee, the artists still get the same exposure but you don't see it in HD. In other words the completely unbreakable DRM is no signal.

    We hope to have programme by programme DRM soon and be able to let you see as many BBC programmes as possible clear of all protection and we always try and negotiate better deals with suppliers and rights holders.


  • Comment number 55.

    I'm glad you're making it so difficult for paying lawful users. You'd hate to make doing the legal thing easier than the illegal thing.

    This scheme only needs to be cracked once and then there are illegal copies that you can never contain. Using DRM is like trying to empty the ocean with a bucket. But you all seem to be dumb enough to try.

  • Comment number 56.

    Dear js14980

    Please re-read the posts. You seem to think DRM is preventing viewing - in this case it is not. The content is already there to be viewed and copied in SD and the majority of HD programmes will be totally un-restricted as soon as we can. What do you think we are making difficult?


  • Comment number 57.

    People read "DRM" and instantly think it's evil, without really thinking.

    The point is, people who have invested time and money in making content don't want people who haven't paid to view it get access. Sounds fair doesn't it?

    They know full well that DRM isn't perfect and that all it takes is for one person to strip the DRM and make the file available, but rights holders have to show they are doing their utmost to protect the investment made in their programming. That includes mandating that broadcasters offer an acceptable level of protection.

    Yes it tends to make things awkward for the end user, but that's not the broadcasters or rights holder's fault - it's just that the technology isn't perfect yet.

  • Comment number 58.

    Thank you ixalon for the understanding.

    Thinking about the diagram in Danielle's post you can see there are a lot of new things coming along. The BBC always tries to encourage the use open standards allowing any interested manufacturer to make devices that work with each other and our programmes. We also want to supply (where ever possible) programmes that license payers have paid for free of charge and restriction, to these devices.

    But equally, we don't want to supply those programmes in the same way to people who don't pay the license i.e. outside the UK, so the least we can do is try to prevent this happening. BBC Worldwide sales are a vital part of the income and help make programmes Planet Earth, Pacific, Dr Who... possible.

    Similarly, other producers who sell programme around the world want to protect their programmes as much as possible. We always try to strike deals that allow free personal use of such programmes (not always possible) but at a price that doesn't mean other programmes will loose out.


  • Comment number 59.

    I just registered at this site to make comment on this one, since there is some big hole between Andy and rest of us here.

    Andy, the problems are....

    1.) DRM restricts a lot of things we want to do, more than you can think.

    2.) DRMs are indeed buggy.

    Let's discuss first problem. It is possible to watch HD channel on TV and record things if I want. But that's all I can do legally.
    With DRM I cannot put the channel into my portable media player (if you think those small things cannot play seni-full HD (1080i), you are greatly underestimating them. Now a portable player Zune HD can play 1080P full HD and even has HDMI out....)
    I cannot put them into my home media server and watch the videos outside of my home. (It is great way to save baggage space.)
    Well, the list goes on and on. AACS, HDCP and DRM prevent me from doing these things and they cause a lot of inconveniences.

    Secondary, those HDCP and AACS are hella buggy to use while completely fail to 'protect' things anyway.
    See, maybe not in case with other hardware, but in PC environment things are very unreliable.

    For example, both my Sony laptop (and yes, it is lemon IMO) and a big LCD monitor are fully HDCP compatiable and should not have problem receiving HD signal from both blu-ray drives and HD receiver, but they don't do; something is wrong with the drivers and setting that prevent me from watching blu-ray disks.

    See, eventually I had to buy AnyDVD to crack the DRMs to watch blu-ray movies. As far as I recoginize, quite many buyers of AnyDVD are the people who have fully-complient, PC based HT system... The reason they bought the program is to make things work.

    I also understand there is nothing can be done at this point.... But I'd like you to tell those right holders that downloading programs from torrents are currently best solutions to many people here.

    By the way is this really full of tech-savvy people anyway? I mean someone should recoginize David (2Bdecided), one of developers of ReplayGain. Almost everyone who has mp3 files have debt to be paid for him.

  • Comment number 60.


    1 - The digital home storage device du jour is the Ethernet-connected NAS. More scalable and flexible than limited internal HDDs of PVRs, but seemingly uncatered for in the HD DRM world. Blu-ray is both overpriced and out-of-date, with researchers constantly pushing the storage capacity of discs, necessitating the purchase of a new recorder. People are also still wary of the technology, having been burned once in the HD-DVD vs Blu-ray battle.

    2 - I fall on the side of the fence asking "why bother?" with DRM. It's common knowledge that AACS on Blu-ray has long since been cracked - a quick Google search reveals downloadable copies available of all the latest movie titles in HD quality. I fully understand that short-sighted content producers are setting this requirement, but feel the BBC commands a position from which it can educate these people that DRM actually hinders the consumer.

    All you're* really doing is confusing the consumer with more and more unfathomable acronyms and making perfectly good AV kit obsolete. How people people got burned with "HD ready" flat screens that can't display 1080p?

    I can't help but think this whole process is a means to try and push the consumer back into the High St. store when their only real requirement to upgrade has been dictated by some licensing restrictions. Now is not the time to try and do that, with consumer spending at an all-time low; it's doing nothing to further the adoption of HD throughout the UK.

    (* "You" = the media industry as a whole)


    P.S. Andy: it's interesting that you mention "Planet Earth" on this blog. I for one was extremely disappointed that the Blu-ray version was 1080i instead of 1080p which the Americans got. Yes, you *can* tell the difference.

  • Comment number 61.

    Dear all (especially wnmnkh and ReticulatedMonkey)

    Thanks for the post. What I really want to make it clear is:

    1. The technology at the time of launch did not allow us do discriminate at programme level so full protection was applied to the channel to allow us to show as many HD programmes as possible.

    2. As we have said, we are trying to get programme by programme DRM working as soon as possible and (I hope) BBC made HD programmes will be treated in the same way as programmes on the SD channels

    3. We are required to apply DRM to some programmes by the rights holders on the HD Channel and as I said in post 54 there is one form of DRM that is totally un-breakable - that is, no HD version of the programme will be transmitted

    Danielle's blog let you know we had reduced the level of control from maximum to Copy Once and Home Network access.


  • Comment number 62.

    The_Phazer: you're quite right that most people don't know what a DVB-S2 card is or have the technical knowledge to install one in their PC... yet. Unfortunately, most people also don't have the technical knowledge to deal with getting a working HD setup once DRM comes into the picture. (Have you ever upgraded the firmware on your TV set? Were you even aware such a thing is possible?)

    Of course, far more people do have the know-how to download HD programs illegally from sites like the Pirate Bay and watch them on their PC. Recording the programs in a non-DRMed form probably isn't the hard part of putting them up on said sites, either. They can probably even watch some stuff before the UK broadcast that way.

    The DRM the BBC is using for BBC HD actually achieves nothing except annoying normal viewers. Of course, it's probably best not to tell the content providers that; they seem to have some illusion that it's effective.

  • Comment number 63.

    This conversation seems rather ironic the day after Pirate Bay recieved a very large fine and a jail term. DRM ineffective eh? If copyright holders and content providers have illusions they also seem to have the ability to enforce them.

  • Comment number 64.

    Although the question of whether DRM can ever be effective is valid, lambasting the BBC for what they're trying to do here seems to miss the point! The content originators own their content and are free to restrict the terms on which it can be broadcast if they so choose - given that the alternative platforms (Sky / Virgin) implement far more restrictive schemes I think the BBC deserve a lot of credit for promoting a platform which offers a reasonable compromise for reasonable use. If it's enough to satisfy the content owners (however possible it is for knowledgeable users to bypass) and results in a wider range of HD content being shown then I'm all for it.

    My question is a little more prosaic...

    Will the Freesat PVR & non-PVR STBs currently on sale (eg Humax) be firmware upgradeable to participate in the type of home-network content distribution shown on the diagram? I'm holding off buying anything until this is clear, as it's exactly the configuration I want.


  • Comment number 65.


    I don't think you understand the background or the technicalities of The Pirate Bay or the legal case.

  • Comment number 66.

    Michael-Walsh: the point I'm making is that several people in this thread have said that enforcing copyright in a digital world is pointless. Yet the Pirate Bay case seems to say the opposite.

  • Comment number 67.

    Thanks again for the posts and interesting to see Nick on-line on a Saturday. This is the last post from me until Wednesday, I am going (have been ordered) into the garden and I am going up to our building in Glasgow on Monday and Tuesday.

    Dear makomk - before I disappear under a pile of grass cuttings and weeds can you explain:

    "The DRM the BBC is using for BBC HD actually achieves nothing except annoying normal viewers. Of course, it's probably best not to tell the content providers that; they seem to have some illusion that it's effective."

    Who (and how) does it annoy normal viewers? Also as I said before SD is clear of protection, rights holders get paid etc. etc. and without DRM you don't see the programme in HD so they're under no illusion of its effectiveness.


  • Comment number 68.


    The problem with using The Pirate Bay case though is that it's not really about enforcing copyright. TPB don't rip, host or distribute any content. They track and index torrents - just like Google tracks and indexes websites.

    The legal case in Sweden was more about existing cartels maintaining market segmentation and market share and using legal methods to supress innovation and disrupt new technologies whilst creating barriers to entry for new market players and creating barriers to trade globally.

    Copyright enforcement matters greatly but so too does building new business models and adapting to technological changes.

    If what TPB was doing was copyright infringement then Google's days are over.

  • Comment number 69.

    But torrents, in the main, infringe copyright, don't they?

  • Comment number 70.

    Torrents and Peer-To-Peer technology was what was used initially for the iMP/iPlayer.

    So, I guess you can equate it with the gun debate - torrents don't infringe copyright, people infringe copyright.

  • Comment number 71.

    @NickReynolds: I think you're making a bit of a leap in regards to The Pirate Bay legal case, as there are several more levels of appeal to go through before the case is finally settled one way or the other. Also, it seems the outcome probably won't affect the site's operation, as Darren Waters explains: https://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/technology/2009/04/pirate_bay_beached_but_not_sun.html

    More importantly, on the subject of torrents, while it is a common perception that "torrent = illegal copyright violation", it simply isn't true. Torrents are just a distribution method, like HTTP, and the data transferred can be either legally authorised to be copied and shared or not. Take a look at LegalTorrents ( https://beta.legaltorrents.com/about/faq ) for example, and also take a look at one of your fellow public broadcasters, NRK (the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation), who are experimenting with BitTorrent distribution of a few of their shows and who have set up their own tracker (using the same software that The Pirate Bay uses, in fact):


    Also, may I remind you that according to an article that either you or Dave Lee linked to in the 'BBC on Blogs' section, the BBC is considering distributing R&D TV by BitTorrent at some point in the future ;)


  • Comment number 72.


    To bring the conversation full circle, here's a comment I posted to Martin Belam's blog 2 years ago, with respect to iPlayer, Peer-To-Peer and DRM:

    "All the broadcasters (SKY, Channel4, BBC, etc.) have made the same mistake (or tried to do it on the cheap - choose your phrase) and drunk the kool-aid on P2P.

    DRM is merely reflective of the rightsholders fear of the underlying technology.

    - By using a peer-to-peer system the broadcasters have lost control of their content.
    - The rightsholders recognise that this superdistribution model is fundamentally different from the broadcast model, in terms of scarce resources, content reproduction and control.
    - DRM is seen as the panacea.

    Spectrum is a scarce resource. There is a limited number of channels broadcasting a broad church of content. With peer-to-peer, as long as one person is willing to host the content then you can have, in effect, a dedicated channel to Doctor_Who.S03E11.MP4, The_Blue_Planet.S01E05.MP4, etc.

    With the broadcast model, the broadcaster pumps out the content and moves on. What the person watching does with the content is not part of the pact the broadcasters have with the rightsholders. In a non-Internet world, reproduction on a global scale required a large capital investment. This meant a limited number of broadcasters with whom the rightsholders negotiated. This is no longer the case. Content reproduction and distribution just got "pwned" by the masses. Copyright law is not capable, at the moment, of dealing with the DRM-free P2P model. Rightsholders have no means of dealing with this new model and so seek to impose a technological control solution on top of the new distribution architecture.

    So DRM is seen as a means of restricting content reproduction and imposing control on the distribution - in effect creating an artificial scarce resource.

    The mistake the broadcasters have made is in believing in the underlying P2P technology without fully getting buy-in from the rightsholders (and a change copyright law - a task best left to the "pirates" who won't get sued out of extinction). DRM and cross-platform issues are merely manifestations of the underlying issues.

    There are other technological solutions to replace P2P. I believe this will happen. We will then look back on this period as a glorious failure by the broadcasters in trying one technology, which was ultimately supplanted by a better technological solution (cf Baird's 240 line broadcasts versus Marconi's 405 line system).

    Any parallels to be drawn with the HD channel's strategy? I'll let you decide.

  • Comment number 73.

    Dear all

    Back from the garden and although the DRM/P2P/Torrent discussion going on is fascinating it would be better in an area of it's own. I would prefer stick to the (simpler) subject of the HD Channel where I take the stand that the control applied allows us to show, copy and distribute HD programmes or if not applied, prevents us from showing them at all


  • Comment number 74.

    @ Nick, Pirate Bays prosecution has nothing to do with DRM being effective. In fact its a demonstration of just how ineffective it is, because had the DRM been effective, the would have been no material for Pirate Bay to distribute as the DRM would have protected it all!

    What it does show is that attacking the distributors of illegal content is effective and this is the point many are trying to get across.

    Consumers want broadcasters to help them join in a stand against DRM as it helps no-one but hinders many legitimate users.

  • Comment number 75.

    Andy, the key problem with the 'No DRM means no HD content' argument is that we've heard similar arguments before in relation to every other failed DRM scheme; content producers insisted that DVDs needed copy protection, but when it was broken they carried on releasing DVDs, in the US broadcasters pushed the 'Broadcast Flag' proposal, but when it fell they carried on broadcasting, and film studios pushed the new protections on Blu-ray dics, but now they've been broken they keep releasing things on Blu-ray. Fundamentally, I just don't believe that given the size of the BBC and its influence, not just as a broadcaster, but also as an innovator and setter of standards, the content producers would really take their balls home in the long term if the BBC insisted on HD standards being DRM free.

    In large part the reason that I don't believe that they'd really do that is because of the technical pointlessness of the DRM. Fundamentally it doesn't work, and it particularly doesn't work for the stated objective of preventing things "from being distributed on the internet" (you at comment 13) in the case of the programmes that (I think) we're mainly talking about. Since the BBC can clearly insist on having DRM free terms for anything it's commissioned ("No DRM free HD, no production contract") I imagine that we're mostly talking about imported shows, of which most of the big ones are US imports. By the time such imports hit the BBC they've already been broadcast DRM-free in the US, and then torrented all over the place. At that point there is absolutely no purpose in locking the door on the BBC's stable since the horse of content has long since bolted. What I don't understand is why, in negotiations with the content providers, the BBC's response to a request for DRM is "OK." as opposed to something more like: "Look, your shows already all over the net in HD. You've got two choices here: give us the show DRM free, we pay you, and fewer people go to the torrent sites, or you don't, in which case we don't pay you, and more people torrent the show. Your call."

    There's a convincing case to be made that the use of DRM is (at least somewhat) harmful, while giving no real technical benefit. What I want is for the BBC to make that case to its suppliers, win the argument, and save us from another pointless round of DRM.

  • Comment number 76.

    Interesting idea but BBCi HD Player and Wireless HDMI will allow HD to be broadcast around homes which will be much easier for most consumers.
    I'm not sure how much BBC Worldwide and other rights owners will want competition in the HD sales market from free sources.

    As interesting as the topic is why is it then so hard to transfer the HD transfer of the film Lord of War that Sky broadcast several months ago on its HD service to BBC HD while it was being shown on BBC1 last night?

    Also is there any news on future programming like the 2009/10 season of Championship football rights that the BBC has, and further in year the rugby Autumn internatinals,snooker,darts,match and of the day and the final F1 race and the Winter Olympics.
    And then all the future drama and natural history programming and arts coverage that the BBC is planning for this autumn and winter.

    If the BBC is looking into such various issues that effect HD when will a review be done with the BBC Trust about the next steps that HD broadcasting takes within the BBC.
    It has pledged to broadcast all its current content in HD within 3 years so by late this year or by early next year it will start to have more and more evening content that would require two HD channels.

  • Comment number 77.

    "Fundamentally, I just don't believe that given the size of the BBC and its influence, not just as a broadcaster, but also as an innovator and setter of standards, the content producers would really take their balls home in the long term if the BBC insisted on HD standards being DRM free."

    Clearly you've never had to negotiate a rights deal. In order to get the iPlayer in any form the BBC had to agree to DRM, not just with rights holders but also to satisfy the BBC Trust. The BBC is also a rights holder and a content producer and needs rights protection to exploit its content for the ultimate benefit of licence fee payers.

    "In the lond term" could be quite long, and in the meantime the range of programmes people could actually watch could be severely restricted.

    Anyway Andy is right that this thread is drifting off topic. And it's my fault for pushing it off topic.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think it's worth asserting the general point that the BBC can legitimately promote 'open format' media and could also quite legitimately make the case - with legislators, regulators and industry - for the open formats as a source of 'public value'.

    This is the kind of positive work that a public service entity like the Beeb should feel confident doing. There's nothing in the charter or any of the foundation documents about defending the revenue streams of global media giants or building closed media platforms on their behalf!

    Having said all that, the media environment is an ecology and will remain diverse as to packaging and rights. I think the most important insight from the whole of this fascinating discussion (not off-topic at all, Nick!) is from Andy Quested, explaining that the HD channel(s) will in future be engineered to support both protected and free content in the same stream - that's what I call co-existence!

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog. (but really posting in my personal capacity - in case you should conclude that Radio 4 was developing an HD strategy!)

  • Comment number 79.

    @ NickReynolds I agree with you, as I pointed out the more likely distribution of HD around homes and portable devices will be the BBCiHD Player and wireless HDMI systems.

    If there is enough time for BBC HD to review this when will there be a review of how BBC HD is going to adapt for 2012 when the BBC aims to make all its content in HD.

    By next year there will be enough evening content for 2 HD services and there doesn't seem to be any policy of when 2012 arrives or before that what will happen to non HD content, will it be upscaled? Will we see BBC1 and the others following the model of Channel 4?

    And in the shorter term what programming stratergy there is for the shorter term like the 2009/10 season of Championship football rights that the BBC has, and further in year the rugby Autumn internatinals,snooker,darts,match and of the day and the final F1 race and the Winter Olympics.
    And then all the future drama and natural history programming and arts coverage that the BBC is planning for this autumn and winter.
    And whether shows like Top Gear and Spooks will be made in HD as well.

  • Comment number 80.

    DRM (and cash) are the tribute that broadcasting supplicants have to pay to the Great Content Owners from far away Holywood-land. Everyone knows, with a wink and a nod, that there will always be ways and means to break through this stuff and that no DRM in history has ever survived even light attacks. It's like putting up a huge impressive curtain wall (made of painted fabric) with a huge gate around an Iron Age settlement which makes the travelling potentate feel special, but the vast majority eventually figure out that there is the always-open back gate for when real people need to get in and out.

    All that DRM does is inconvenience people for a while, make money for the DRM technology companies and salve the egos of the rights holders.

    While on the subject of rights holders, ever noticed that in the last so-many years most programmes on the BBC have gone from "(c) BBC" to "(c) Media Company owned by (current or recently left) Senior BBC Staffer". Strange how *our* money is siphoned off to pet interests and that generates no copyright discussions...

  • Comment number 81.

    "At the moment, within the UK, it is impossible to record from HD to unprotected devices or recorders, or to connect to them. That means in practice that SD copies (VHS and DVD) are allowed, that you can copy and time-shift HD content using your PVR internal hard disk, but you cannot connect your HD infrastructure to a home network, or to the Internet."

    Actually technically it is possible to record HD and distribute it across a network. Okay the options are a little technical and not for the faint hearted (it's not as if you can buy a box from Argos to just plug in and have it do everything for you) but it certainly is possible.

    Take the Open Source application MythTV for instance (other similiar applications are available for Windows). Using a reasonable spec PC (something like a dual core CPU, maybe 1GB or more of memory, a cheap but large hard disk and a tuner card) you can turn a PC into a PVR box that will do much more than a standard off the shelf PVR. Depending on your tuner you can capture Freeview (using a Freeview stick or PCI card) or Freesat including BBC HD (although I guess when it goes over to DVB-S2 then you'd need to get a new tuner card unless you'd already got a DVB-S2 card already).

    One of the great things about MythTV is the fact that you can have multiple 'frontends' which can be lower spec PCs (or even a Playstation 3 running Linux!) and I believe other devices are supported too so you can watch the recordings throughout the house, archive them onto DVD or just store them on a big hard drive.

    I can in a way see the point about the DRM (or Digital RESTRICTIONS Management as it should be called). I guess these media companies want to protect their programmes so they can flog us copies on DVD, Bluray, Digital Download etc so making one copy is at least a slight comprimise (I mean they've had this with digital recorders like Minidisc, DAT, CD-R and *shudder* DDC since day one anyway).

    At the end of the day people will find ways around it anyway. Just look at all the Bluray and HD-DVD rips floating around the net and now HD rips from Sky HD.

    What I'm interested to know is how quickly we'll be able to get BBC HD on Freeview after the switchover (I'm in South Devon so we're all digital this week supposidly)?

    Interesting blog article anyway.


  • Comment number 82.

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

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 84.

    Quartus45 and Ewan - You're off topic. This post is not about DOGs.

  • Comment number 85.

    # 82. s At 10:43pm on 21 Apr 2009, Quartus45

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.


    At the very top of this page it says "This time, no DOGs, just the equally snappy subject of DRM,"

    Here's what I said:

    "here's one that will make most of you laugh. What does DOG stand for, please? I've missed something here, I haven't a clue what you're on about!"

    So, once again, would someone please explain what DOG means?

  • Comment number 86.

    never mind, I've now found it stands for Digital On-Screen Graphics. Still waiting for that apology though.....

  • Comment number 87.

    Eh Quartus45,

    The line you refer to ("This time no DOGs...") - if you go to the line itself you'll see that the word DOGs is a link, click on it and it takes you to another of Danielle's posts:


    which explains on-screen channel markers and also has a link within it to a BBC News webpage which explains DOGs:


  • Comment number 88.

    Dear all

    I think we have been very open and candid with you in these HD blogs and I know DOGs (or Bugs if you work in the US) are a contentious issue to say the least. If you add a comment to the DOG BLOG it will be noticed and although we don't answer every post we do take notice and act when we can. If every blog we do ends up moving to one subject (DOGs, bit rate, grain...) the points the original post made just get lost. So if you fancy being amazed the HD iPlayer is 3.2Mbs or DRM on the HD Channel is a wonderful example of an enabling technology (!) then I am more than happy to read and (even better) enjoy the conversations you have amongst yourselves but on the relevant post.



    As you may notice I've been to BBC Three this evening to watch "The World's Strictest Parents" - thought it may come in handy for the next teenage confrontation.....

  • Comment number 89.

    And just to add to Andy's helpful comment - any more comments on the off topic subject of DOGs will be removed.

  • Comment number 90.

    So presumably the BBC will be launching a scheme to issue those with non-'protected' home networks with a licence fee refund? After all, you are refusing to let people with this perfectly capable equipment watch the content they have paid for because of your choice of restrictive technology.

  • Comment number 91.

    Dear MrCynical

    Thanks for your post and I like the name! We are not preventing any one from legitimately distributing and copying programmes. All SD programmes are free of DRM. Our intention is to allow as many HD programmes as possible to be free of protection too. If however it comes to a choice of allowing you to see a programme in HD (with the ability to make a personal copy and distribute on a home network) or not show the programme in HD at all, I think you won't be surprised a my choice


  • Comment number 92.

    Andy, Nick,

    I've found this to be a fascinating topic, enlightening in the most part although, occasionally, technically bemusing for me. I have to say, however, that after reading everything very carefully I'm strongly swayed by the highly eloquent and enthusiastic anti-DRM brigade who I think are winning the arguement. I hear what you're saying too, but I hope you are taking some of their very valid points back to your rights deal negotiations. If I was you, I'd be looking to recruit some of them to help you convince these rights holders that encryption is a pointless waste of everyone's time and the licence payers' money.

    Now, I hope you'll forgive me for straying of topic but I wanted to come back on your comments 88 and 89 that appear here, directly above. Feel free to bump me off to somewhere you feel more appropriate but the thing is, when Danielle was going for weeks at a time without updating the Blog then it was natural for us to stray from the subject of her post because there seemed to be nowhere else to register our views. The result was that in all of her early posts you'll find a mix of comments on a wide variety of topics. Indeed, even her own posts sometimes stray across several threads.

    Pleasingly, we're now getting treated to regular updates on different subjects and so it's entirely logical that we should be asked to stick to the topic of each new post. But Andy, you mention that the point of a post can get lost if we don't remain on-topic so, would it now be a good time for someone to do some housekeeping of the older blogs.

    Although, I've been reading these Blogs for some time I can put myself in the position of someone who's just stumbled across them. Say they're wanting to read everything that's been commented on about 5.1 surround sound, or even the unmentionable D**, before they add their own thoughts. I don't know anything about how forums are run, but would it a viable option for someone at your end to do a bit of rearranging, compiling comments into ordered topics so as to help your newcomers out?

    Finally, while I'm risking your wrath on this off-topic subject, can I also just quickly ask why we aren't allowed to edit our own forum comments for bad spelling, etc. Thanks.

  • Comment number 93.

    Copy protection is a total waste of time and space and punishes regular viewers , and makes pirates tons of money .

    AKA there was macro vision on VHS pirates came out with handy device in a regular scart lead for £10 online connect to your vhs or dvd recorder takes out copy protect so you can copy dvd , vhs , or direct from sky box , removes all copy protect .

    then there was macro vision and region code on dvd , so another pirate lead or a code crack for dvd recorder from local pirate

    then there was copy byte on cd , and yet another lead for sale on net to connect in SPDIF lead to take out copy byte , also works with mini disc and DAT

    and of corse there is the programmes that take it out if you copy on PC , and then the HDMI , there has been for a while a lead on sale on net that takes out copy protect on that as well , works nice on blu ray as well , so what a waste of time money and effort , only people racking it in are pirates and sellers in far east retailing copy removal software and hardware , and of coarse people that sell the copy protect in first place that just gets bypassed any way !

    total farce !

  • Comment number 94.

    paul_geaton - we do have a categories box at the bottom of the page. Sounds like we need to focus on it a bit and make it work better.

    You can use the preview button to check spellings before you post a comment.

  • Comment number 95.

    Nick, thanks for the early reply and on a saturday too (I was expecting to have to wait until monday to hear anything back). If you're going to look at the categories box then I think most HD Blog comments fall into one of these: DOG, Programming, Sport, Audio, Picture Quality, Scheduling, Copyright Protection, Internet, Technical and Future (although perhaps, with thought, there might be a few others). I'd welcome 10 buttons across the top of Danielle's page, which when clicked brought you directly to a chronological list of all the comments which touch on the subject of the heading, no matter which post they originated from. As Danielle's list of posts expands, this would make it much easier for us to keep up with the latest repsonses to our favourite issues.

    Thanks for telling me about the Preview button too, hadn't noticed it before, I've just tried it now but, on my laptop at least, it doesn't seem to do a spell-check like you get with MS Word. Notwithstanding the button though, I would still like to edit my posts e.g., to amend typos, punctuation, grammar, etc.

  • Comment number 96.

    "Dear all

    What I find strange here is this application of DRM is there to allow you to watch programmes and allow you to record as distribute them as you feel fit at home. Can I ask what the problem you have actually is?


    The point is that ultimately, DRM will always be broken, and so all you do is punish legitimate customers by using it. You can argue you wouldn't then be able to purchase the content... but so what? Don't buy it. Produce your own BBC content with the money the British public pay for, and then, after a period of time where you can make money off it (say 5 years), then release that content for free to all via the internet.

    DRM restricts the rights of people to use the content they pay for to use it how they see fit, and presumes that everyone is a criminal. If a content provider won't provide the show without DRM, then refuse, as ultimately they are the ones that lose business and don't get paid.

    Use DRM all you like. Those that don't want it, won't have it. Those that do have it and don't know how to remove it, the legitimate customer, are the ones that ultimately suffer in the end because it took 1 day longer to watch something than you are prepared to let them.

  • Comment number 97.

    It should be noted that the first SkyHD boxes have component output (as well as HDMI) that is unprotected and 1080i. Using a Hauppauge HD-PVR you can record in full quality from any HD channel onto your PC. From there you can encode it as you see fit.

    As for Planet Earth, well the UK Blu-ray is 1080P, but since some of the extras are 1080i the whole disc is classified as 1080i. The actually episodes are 1080P.

  • Comment number 98.

    Firstly, I had trouble trying to log into this blog from IE8 and had to use Firefox.

    About the debate itself, I think ONLY ONE copy is too restrictive. I think that people should at least be able to record a small quantity for personal use in case a blu ray disc "wears out".

    So I think for example that maybe 3 copies should be allowed as a minimum.

    I cannot see why any content provider would be concerned about someone having 3 copies as that does not encourage large widescale piracy.

    This would also allow people to lend copies to friends and family, which, I know is not legal, BUT it can help inform more people about the shows. This would then mean more people might watch them (afterall it does not matter how many people watch it the fee is the same) and then the content provider may recieve increased revenue due to more merchandise being bought.

    If that does not make sense consider the following scenarios if this were applied to Doctor Who in the US.

    Maybe it reaches a stage where Blu Ray/HD is now the norm.

    Someone only has 1 copy of a Doctor Who show so do not want to lend it out.

    Or they have 3 copies so are prepared to lend 1 copy to someone. That person then becomes a Doctor Who fan, or their children are. Then, having become a fan, a child wants lots of Doctor Who toys. Also they may wish they had more and buy the back catalogue. The BBC will make moeny on this because of the licencing, and therefore there will be increased revenue by the toymakers and the BBC because someone was able to lend someone else a copy of a Doctor Who Blu Ray disc.

    Does that make sense?

    So I think only only 1 copy is too restrive but 3 copies maybe fairer to all.

  • Comment number 99.

    I think only allowing 1 copy is too restrictive but allowing 3 copies so people have spares in case of failure is a better policy.

  • Comment number 100.

    I put the last comment in as the one before did not appear to go through. Sorry.


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