Beeb deletes iPlayer app from iPhone
Lawyers go for developers
Two iPhone developers have been slapped with a 10-page cease and desist order from the BBC for trying to create an app that would cache iPlayer content.
The application, Rewat.ch, has been in development for the last few months, and the two-man Manchester-based team Camiloo dropped the BBC a line when development started. But it was only when the application was submitted to Apple that the BBC noticed and decided immediate action was called for.
The app allows users to select programmes from the iPlayer's RSS service, then downloads the content for watching later when network quality might not be up to scratch (such as when travelling on the tube). Camiloo reckoned it would be OK as the application notes the expiry date attached to the programme, and deletes it when that date arrives - providing the same functionality as various desktop clients did.
But those clients all disappeared when the BBC changed its verification layer. That change hasn't stopped Rewat.ch working, but the cease and desist order certainly has.
The BBC is adamant that the iPhone service is streaming only, and is probably bound by agreements with the companies creating the content, but what's harder to forgive is that the corporation didn't make that clear to Camiloo earlier.
The company contacted the BBC's iPlayer team, and were told that the matter was being looked into and they would be contacted. Hearing nothing, the company took a risk and developed the application.
One could argue that Camiloo shouldn't have taken that risk, but it's a shame the BBC couldn't have responded earlier to a reasonable request to use its content, even if only to let the developers know it wouldn't be allowed before everyone's time got wasted. ®
"One could argue that Camiloo shouldn't have taken that risk"
Yes, one could argue that. Because it is, in fact, true.
Having heard nothing back from the BBC, the correct action is to persist in eliciting a response, not start ploughing time and resources into a project that will likely be killed once it comes to light, with clearly no idea about the terms of license under which BBC iPlayer content is provided and just hoping for the best.
Is this going to turn into a continuing series on sparky underdog developers with bright ideas but no fucking business sense whatsoever ? Because if it is, could we maybe turn the whining down a bit and focus on the lessons that these dickwads are learning the hard way ?
Let's take a look at what we've gleaned so far :
1) Always, always, always RTFM and in particular take the time to read and properly understand any legally binding agreements that you are considering entering to. Ideally this should happen BEFORE you agree to them, duh!
2) If you're considering making money off someone else's content, check the legal situation first, most likely you will need to get permission unless it is explicitly stated somewhere that you don't. This seems pretty obvious, but clearly some people are so terminally dense that it bears repeating.
3) Real companies will bitch slap your ass in court in nothing flat if you fail at numbers 1 or 2, get used to it.
4) Real companies do not do 'nice' or 'fair' or any other cuddly anthropomorphic bullshit, because they are not, in fact, people. They are corporate legal entities with narrowly defined agendas and goals. Any attempt to characterise them otherwise will end in tears. Yours.
5) If you are incapable of analysing the inherent risk in your business strategies it is most likely time to fuck off back to the safety of the cubicle farm that spawned you with all the other crayon waving web monkeys. Or if, in your cock waving arrogance, you told your boss to stuff his job up his arse because you were off to be a K Rad iPhone dewd, the dole queue. With the level of business aptitude you have displayed you should have no trouble getting a new job. I hear KFC are hiring.
6) Apple are dicks, get used to it.
The BBC really are being monumentally stupid. And the content providers too. Their current antics simply mean that illegal content is easier to acquire and consume than legal. So guess what people will use?
The iPlayer was so good it has hard to believe it came from the BBC. Now it is just getting turned into a sack of vomit by all this Adobe crap.
I think it's totally acceptable to question "content rights" when they start micromanaging how "content consumers" watch or listen (sorry, "consume") content. It's apparently not enough for "rights holders" to forbid redistribution, or even to impose geographical restrictions: they now seek to control the recipients' devices, to require time-bombing and remote deletion, and soon they'll be wanting to control the actual user experience as well. Not looking at the screen when the adverts are playing? Not watching the Sh, erm, Brit Awards with Bono and Lily Allen while drinking the right brand of champagne? Quick, impose an immediate content blackout! Kick them off the Internet, too!
That's where your sheepish adherence to the blanket notion of "content rights" defined by a bunch of multinationals gets you.
@ Tim J 13:40
Err, I think it should be free at point of access, as my monthly direct debit proves the fact that I am already paying for beeb content thank you very much. And this isn't a liscense fee bash, I like the beeb (most of it) and happily pay for the hours of entertainment / education / distraction it offers me for large chunks of my day.
Free it is not though.
Yup they took a risk.
Lets imagine that you're not 100% clear from the wording of your car insurance whether it covers you to drive in a particular foreign country. You decide to email your insurers to ask for clarification. You receive no reply so you decide that your insurance will cover you and set off to drive in a foreign country. Having had an accident you claim from the insurance only to find that they won't pay out. You find yourself slapped with hefty repair bills and a ticket for driving without insurance. If you did that nobody would sympathise and I don't sympathise with these fuckwits either.
If the BBC didn't get back to them they should have pestered them until they did respond. Otherwise they should have found something else to do with their time.
Oh and, @MojoJojo, you do realise you've just called the Beeb's attention to that particular app don't you? How long before the cease and desist notice goes out on that one then?