BBC iPlayer finally hits the streets
For better or worse
The BBC will press ahead with its Windows-only on-demand service when it launches the iPlayer on July 27, the broadcaster announced today.
The end of the beta is sooner than the November launch suggested by the BBC's most recent hints. The development of iPlayer has been beset by controversy over strategy and delays and since it was first announced three years ago, however.
Recently, news broke on The Register that open-source advocates are planning to complain about the iPlayer's use of the Windows Media format to European competition watchdogs.
BBC Vision director Jana Bennett touched on the issue in today's announcement: "We are committed to making it as easy as possible to use BBC iPlayer. Developing a version for Apple Macs and Microsoft Vista is absolutely on our critical path."
The iPlayer allows Windows users to stream programmes for seven days after broadcast, or download them for viewing for up to 30 days. The corporation said today it is working on distribution deals with MSN, Telegraph.co.uk, AOL, Tiscali, Yahoo!, Myspace, Bebo and Blinkx.
The service is based on VeriSign's Kontiki, the same white label P2P technology that Channel 4 uses for its on-demand services. The pair are in talks to unite the platforms. Viewing from outside the UK will be made tricky by IP mapping services the Beeb has deployed, also from VeriSign.
iPlayer is currently in beta here.®
""It's either DRM or nothing at all."
The statement makes no sense! No other BBC broadcasts use DRM. My home recordings don't "self destruct"."
Makes absolute sense in the context of what iPlayer's legal status is.
It is NOT a broadcast facility.
By law you can freely watch 'broadcasts' over the air without DRM and you have a limited right to "time-shift" (though I believe you're not intended to keep recordings forever though it's not enforceable).
By law downloads over the Internet are NOT broadcasts. They are not covered by broadcast laws, they are covered by copyright and usage licences. The very same laws in fact as buying a DVD. You don't have a right to a DVD for free after all do you? ;-) (in fact there have been proposals in the past for a kind of self destructing rental DVD).
To offer anything for download is then not covered by the BBC's normal broadcaster rights. Downloads have to instead be licenced and the rights holders can insist what they like.
Fact is they insist that to allow these downloads for free they need to be DRM'd and restricted to 7 days to give it an equivalent status to broadcast TV and typical time-shifting.
Complain all you like, but the BBC have no choice. Thus it is DRM or nothing.
And to say it again. The iPlayer is NOT a broadcast facility. Your licence fee doesn't entitle you to download ANYTHING from the BBC for free.
Unlike laws change to grant broadcast status to Internet TV then this is the way it will remain.
Getting theBeeb abroad
Have seen the size of the satellite dishes planted in the gardens of ex-pat Brits in the Canaries? They can watch Spendies and the rest to their heart's content. The only fly in the ointment is getting hold of the Radio Times before the stuff goes out!
RE: Craig Collier
"you say everyone is free to get these services, but you have to pay a company like Samsung or Sony to get a TV in the first plac,e"
Correct me if I'm wrong but as far as I'm aware the TV market is not a monopoly.
There is competition which keeps costs down.
TV signals are a standard and are as such able to be received and interpreted by differing companies.
Buying a computer isn't a monopoly, nor is it free. If I want to run Linux I still have to buy hardware.
But I do have choices about how I buy my computer or parts from and of what make they are (just like you Sony/Samsung example)
Its a different matter if Samsung were the only company that could make TVs, not unlike the situation we have here.
Once you have a monopoly over something, such as M$ has here, that can be exploited (well...the users can be exploited, but given that they sure as hell dont give a damn about them, all is well).