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BBC calls DRM cops on iPlayer download party

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Updated The BBC has swooped to close a loophole in its recently-launched iPhone streaming service that allowed Linux, Windows and Mac users to grab a high quality DRM-free download.

We reported the hack yesterday morning, but today an email from Auntie assures us the party's over: "We've released a fix to prevent unrestricted downloading of streamed TV programmes on BBC iPlayer.

"Like other broadcasters, the security of rights-protected content online is an issue we take very seriously. It's an ongoing, constant process and one which we will continue to monitor," it said.

The downloads were made possible by simple manipulation of user agent strings, which iPlayer developers had used to authenticate that the new H.264 streams were being delivered to an iPhone or iPod Touch. We've asked the Beeb what's changed today and will update this story if we get an answer.

The BBC played the beta card yesterday, telling it was aware of the hack, that it was "nothing unusual", and it was already working to block it. The contracts with third party production companies that allow the national broadcaster to offer downloads insist that DRM that locks the files down after 30 days is part of the package.

Tech chief Ashley Highfield has fingered such contract restrictions as the reason why the desktop download client, which accounts for about a ninth of iPlayer usage, has only appeared on Windows so far. ®

Update

The BBC press office says the block is tip-top secret and they can't tell us what's been changed. Anyone from the iPlayer team care to comment anonymously?

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