DRM - Digital Rights Management
Dear BBC Governors
I am one of the testers of the BBC iMP project, and it has raised a concern that I do not feel is being met by the people who run the discussion forums, so I wish to bring this to the governors attention.
As you no doubt know, the service allows people within the UK to download BBC television and radio programmes that have been broadcast in the last seven days.
The BBC itself encodes the transmitted programmes into a computer file format. The iMP itself uses a technology called ?peer-to-peer?. This means that users download to their computers small pieces of the file, initially from the BBC?s own servers, but mainly from each another.
Once the whole file containing the broadcast programme has been downloaded, the program then fetches a licence from the BBC's servers that allow them to watch the programme (or listen to the radio show) contained in the file.
This restricts the viewing of the programme to the computer that performed the download and requires that the programme be watched within seven days of the original broadcast.
In effect, the file becomes useless after a period of up to seven days.
However, if the same television (or radio) programme was recorded in other ways, there are less stringent playback requirements:
- VHS tape, there is no restriction;
- Sky+ personal video recorder has no time restriction (although a current Sky+ subscription may be required);
- A Freeview personal video recorder has no restrictions whatsoever;
- A Freeview DVD-R writing machine has no restrictions and the written disk can be watched on any DVD player;
- Under Windows XP Media Centre Edition, no restrictions are placed on playback of BBC content recorded from Freeview or Freesat.
There is also a EU Council Directive (89/552/EEC of 3 October 1989) and this requires the law in member states to not prevent the retransmission of free-to-air material.
Also, there is the fact that as a licence fee payer, a householder has already paid for the programme to be made and transmitted and putting a restraint on the viewing of this material is not in the licence fee payer?s interests.
So, given the aviliablity of technologies that do not restrict the time at which material is viewed, it seems unfair to restrict content from the iMP to seven days.
Therefore it can be argued that it is quite normal to restrict the repackaging of this material (for example by the addition of adverts or promotions), and to prevent the transfer of the programme material outside the EU.
The only reason I can think of it that the BBC wishes only to increase the potential sales of DVD and CDs of the programmes it makes. This is not the BBC's primary mission, but a secondary commercial activity.
In conclusion it is both illegal and against the interests of licence fee payers for the seven day restrictions to be implemented. The only restrictions should be on outside EU use, and against the sale or ?passing-off? of this material.
I would appreciate it if you could give this matter consideration when you make your decision to implement this service to the general licence-fee paying public.