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iPhone streams start DRM-free download party

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Enterprising Linux hackers have built a new way to download BBC iPlayer programmes that lets online viewers store shows indefinitely - and it's all thanks to Steve Jobs.

Last week, Auntie launched the streaming version of iPlayer for the Jesus Phone and iPod Touch. It's meant transcoding shows to the H.264 format used by Apple's QuickTime player - and a whole raft of other players on all platforms - because Steve Jobs doesn't think Adobe Flash video is good enough to appear on his magnificent tool.

The BBC has "secured" this non-DRM'd stream using the awesome power of browser user agent strings, which are trivial to manipulate. Consequently, penguin fanciers have quickly cobbled together hacks that will grab the whole show as a 512Kb/s video download.

Such files have the advantage that they won't go pop after 30 days because of the Windows Media timebombing that third-party TV production firms have negotiated as a condition of shows being downloadable via the official iPlayer desktop client. Hobbyists have aped the process of grabbing DRM-free downloads on Windows and Mac OS X too.

In a statement, a BBC spokeswoman said: "This is not unusual or surprising. We are working with our partners to ensure that our content is delivered to users in a secure way.

"We have made it clear that BBC iPlayer on iPhone and iTouch is currently in beta, which enables us to pick up on such issues and find a solution before we roll the service out in full in due course."

The BBC says an official Mac download client will be available this year, and a Linux one "within two years".

You can read all about it here, here, and here.

Thanks to all those who wrote in about this. ®

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